Teaching Kids to Set the Table – FREE PRINTABLE!

One goal of mine last week was to begin teaching my kids to set the table.  Now, seeing as I have a teenager, a pre-teen, an elementary-schooler, and a preschooler, you may be wondering what took me so long.  Well, I don’t know how things work at your house, but over here it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them–they always forget!  So this time I found the perfect solution.

I LOVE this printable placemat that I found at Parents Magazine website.  They usually have a lot of good resources for activities, crafts, printables, and plain old parenting advice.  I wasn’t actually looking for a placemat printable on their website; I just ran across it, and I’m so glad I did!  Click on the image below to download this FREE printable:

Printable Place Mat from Parents Magazine

 

After printing it out, I laminated it and set it out for Rapunzel and Tinkerbell.  They took to it right away.  It wasn’t much later that Cinderella discovered it and wanted one for herself, so I went ahead and printed one for both her and Wendy.  This is SO easy!  Not only do they have a fun new placemat, but they also have a visual example for when they DO set the table–hopefully this will help them remember when they’re gone!  Right now we’ve been on track putting everything in the right place, and the only question I received was, “Where does the bowl go?” (lol)

I’d definitely recommend this as a resource for learning to set the table–and now I know it goes for any age! Try it out yourself!

It’s Funny…

You know how I’ve been talking about flexibility lately?

Well this week was another one of those weeks.  I seem to be having a lot of those.  The funny part is that I was trying to catch up on my reading for the Bible study I’m involved in at church. Starting way back at four weeks ago (because that’s how far behind I am!), the lesson was on…FLEXIBILITY!  I think Someone is trying to tell me something.

My favorite lesson was “Day 5” of the study, entitled, “Follow God’s Plans”.  The lesson begins with the readings of Acts 10:9-48 and Acts 16:6-10.  In both of these stories, God leads His people where He needs them to go–not necessarily where they planned to go.  Wherever God has made His plan evident, He succeeds.  It is our plans, as humans, that fail.

The next reading comes from Psalm 33:10-11.

10 The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations
    and thwarts all their schemes.
11 But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever;
    his intentions can never be shaken.

And lastly, from Proverbs 19:21:

21 You can make many plans,
    but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Isn’t it true?  As much as we try to plan out our days, our weeks, our years, and our entire lives, it is rare that everything goes as planned.

I can’t even tell you how many times I made all of these great plans…only to be deterred.  I was going to go to a college four hours away; I ended up at a college close to home.  I decided on a major in Business Administration (I hated it!); I ended up in Professional Writing.  I planned to do whatever I wanted; I ended up with a baby.  And then a husband.  And two step daughters.  And then another baby.  And here I am.  I planned to be a lifer at my former employer; here I am seven months later, spending more time with my kids, getting more done at home, doing Gods work, and blogging on the side.  Oh, and selling Thirty-One!  (Can’t forget that!)

How different my plans were from God’s!

As much as it is frustrating to have our plans thwarted by circumstances we can’t control, try to remember that God may just have different plans than you do.  Hang on…you’re in for quite a ride!

Summer Scavenger Hunt (with FREE Printable!)

I know it’s been a while since my last post.  I must have had a crazy week, because it’s been a blur and now I can’t remember what on earth I did.  I can tell you I didn’t do anything I had planned, that’s for sure!

I did spend most of the day planning for the next two weeks at home, searching activities, creating activities, moving plans around, etc.  One thing I was looking for was a summer scavenger hunt.  I couldn’t find a whole lot online that I really liked, and I had my own things in mind anyway, so I made one up myself.  I’d love for it to be a little snazzier, but I don’t have great access to good graphics right now so this is what I have.

When you look closer at it, don’t freak out.  I’ve created this scavenger hunt to be a summer-long hunt.  This scavenger hunt is not meant to be completed in a day!  If you want to complete it in a day, by all means go ahead…but this is supposed to allow the kids to keep their eyes open all summer, notice certain things when they go somewhere different, and learn in the process.

Click on the image below to access the FREE printable!

Summer Scavenger Hunt - FREE Printable

PLEASE NOTE: If you’d like to share this printable, please do not post the PDF.  Instead, please link to my blog page.  Thanks!

Good Fathers

father and two daughters

My dad, my sister, and I in the 1980s (I’m the little one)

Today wouldn’t be complete without a tribute to fathers.

I had considered writing a regular ol’ post just because I haven’t for a while and I wanted to catch up, but instead I decided it just wouldn’t be right to post anything different on Father’s Day.

I’m a lucky girl.  A blessed girl.  I have a wonderful father.

Sure, my dad has his faults.  For one, he is generally late.  Secondly, he is a terrible mess (some days I’m not sure where I come from, because I’m a neat freak and he is so…NOT).  And last, he has a tendency not to say things that need to be said.  Like that he loves his daughters.  That he’s proud of us.

If it weren’t for his random acts of kindness, I’m not sure I would know he does.  His phone calls during the day when he’s on a long drive and he’s “BORED” to the cash he slips me when he knows my family is struggling to the times he stops by my office to drop off a Reese’s peanut butter cup or a Pepsi just because…that’s how I know my dad loves me.

But most of all, I know my dad loves me, because he raised us.  From the time I was still an infant until I was ten years old, my dad was a single dad.  Even in the 80s and 90s that was unusual, but my dad did it.  And not just the kind of single dad who had his kids every other weekend.  He was the single dad who had us 24/7.  And my sister and I are 15 months apart.  I don’t know how he did it.  Thank goodness for babysitters and grandparents.

Speaking of grandparents, the second best man that ever lived is my grandpa.  If you ever wanted to meet a saint, you’d have to meet my grandpa.  I’m not sure if there is a single fault in that gentleman.  Maybe that he likes sweets too much.  🙂  When my dad would go away on business trips, we’d fly out to see my grandparents and stay with them for a while.  We had such fun.  My grandma is gone now, but we still have my grandpa, and I’m so glad my kids have had the opportunity to meet him.  He is a man that everyone admires and looks up to and loves.  I hope one day I can be as good a person as he.

I should probably get in trouble that Prince Charming is not #1 on the list, but at least he’s made the top 3!  As a single dad, my hubby helped to raise his daughters on his own.  While there were certain things out of his control, he certainly did his best to raise his daughters right.  He’s a great disciplinarian (when I am not), though when I go away…well…that’s a different story.  And even though he picks on our girls WAY too much, you can tell he loves them.  His fault is in that he is just like my dad and doesn’t tell them enough.  I just hope they see it in the way that I see it through my dad.  I’ve been blessed to marry a man who accepted my daughter as his own and was crazy enough to have another one with me.

And even though a few years ago, I never would have said this, I have to say Happy Father’s Day to Rapunzel’s father.  His is still very much missed and loved by many, and even though we went through some very difficult times, I have been so blessed to have Rapunzel.  I would not be the person I am today without him.

I’ve had many male figures to look up to throughout my life.  I’m blessed in that.  I know there are many who never have a father.  But I am truly grateful for the fathers who love and support their children and do whatever it takes to be there for them.  As much as they drive us crazy, the world is a better place with good fathers.

Hello Summer!

Well, as I announced to my Facebook friends earlier today, as of today we are officially parents of a preschooler, an elementary schooler, a middle schooler, and a high schooler!  I don’t know whether to be excited or scared!

No matter how you look at it, one thing is true: it’s summer, and the kids are out of school.  Now officially begins our Summer of Fun 2013!  I’m so excited for more first summer (mostly) at home!  You have seen my calendar already, so you know we are booked for more fun than we can handle.  We’ve already started some activities, as my last week’s posts have indicated.

Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to do a few activities this week, but after Tinkerbell’s end-of-year preschool picnic today, we were able to squeeze in some of those.

little girl playing Pop the PIg game

Game Day was supposed to be on Wednesday, but we were able to fit that in today.  Kids this young still have a relatively short attention span, so this didn’t take long.  Our first goal for Game Day was to play a favorite game.  TInkerbell loves Pop the Pig, so we played that one first.

Our next task was to play a game we had never played before.  Surprisingly enough, we found one.  Thank goodness–Rapunzel’s teacher sent home foam dice and a few summer worksheets, one being a dice games packet and one a card game packet (learning activities in disguise!).  We played one of each.

I love these packets that the teacher sent home–they’ll keep the kids’ brains working over the summer so they don’t lose that important segment during their time off.

Last thing today: dance party!  This didn’t last very long either.  The kids didn’t want to do a whole lot right away, but once they got into it, it was dance party turned ring-around-the-rosie slash horseplay followed by some rest time on the floor.

I’m looking forward to the park’s fun day tomorrow. it’s supposed be chilly but not rainy and the kids always have fun there.

What did you do with your kids on the last day of school?

Plans Foiled (Again!): Learning to Adjust When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

Yesterday, my plans were foiled again.

While I was working at church, a friend stopped in to visit.  I had Tinkerbell with me, as she needed to be picked up early from preschool for a short day (they only had preschool graduation practice yesterday).  Suddenly (and when I suddenly, I mean it!)–she started crying hysterically, holding her ear and telling me that it hurt and it was “bubbling”.  Whenever she did stop crying, it wasn’t for long.  She’s had the sniffles and a cough in the morning and evening hours for about three weeks now, so I figured I ought to take her to the doctor right away.  Luckily, I was able to set up an appointment for 1:30 and went straight there from work.  Bet you can’t guess what the issue was.

Yep–ear infection.

Ordinarily, I would try to fix it myself.  Check out my link for earache remedies here.  But with end-of-year activities coming up, I hated for her to miss them.  So we went with the antibiotics right now.  While we were there they gave her some Tylenol, and finally, about half-way home, she finally calmed down.  Now, you’d never be able to tell there was a problem.

As a side note, did you ever wonder why they don’t make adult medicines taste good?  It’s just not fair.

Needless to say, we didn’t have game day yesterday, but I’m hoping we can (maybe) squeeze it in today after our dance party.  Though if we can’t, I can always tack it on to something else.

That’s the thing about making plans.  If you’re going to survive life as a Type A personality (like me!), you need to learn to be flexible–which means flip-flopping plans if necessary, squeezing it in some other time, or just agreeing to wait until a better time in the future.  If you don’t, you’ll go insane.  Believe me–I know!

So whatever your plans are this summer, I hope you relax and go with the flow, adjusting where necessary.  Happy relaxing!

A Day In the Park

two little girls running toward lake

Yesterday was a very eventful (but good!) day.  My intention was to go by the calendar and head for the rail trail in the afternoon/early evening.  That wasn’t quite how things worked out, but…as I’ve said before–some of the best laid plans are foiled.  This foiling turned out okay though.

This morning, I dropped Tinkerbell off for her very last day of regular preschool this year.  *sniff*  I came home, did as much as I could in forty-five minutes, and left again to help Rapunzel’s kindergarten teacher with Watermelon Math Day.  Let me just say…thank God (literally!) for kindergarten teachers!  I don’t know how they do it!  I most certainly don’t have the patience for a class full of 20 rowdy five- and six-year olds!  Anyway, Rapunzel was thrilled to have me help her class, and I love being able to take part in her education.

After picking up Tinkerbell from preschool, doing some work for my dad, and finishing up some more chores around the house, we all piled into the car for a forty-five minute drive to another Home Depot.  Prince Charming wanted to pick up a new hose that was apparently a great deal this week ($20 for a 100-foot hose), and this particular store was the closest that had one in stock.

While we were out that direction, we decided to do some rubbings for the summer park program.  Sure beats driving out there a second time later.

The first post was relatively easy to find.  There was a playground nearby, so we let the kids run around for a little bit before moving on with our adventure.

The second post was about a mile or so into the woods over a bumpy, rocky trail with lots of roots and trees across the path.  This would have been a lot easier without a stroller, but I know for sure that Tinkerbell would not have made it even halfway in.  This trail was tough but provided for some good photography.

two geese and their goslings

The last trail was only half a mile, but I’d have to say it was the most gorgeous–I don’t know if it was just the terrain or the weather, but I got some great photos and took in some wonderful scenery.  What was even better was that we got to see a family of geese.  This ordinarily wouldn’t be special, but we saw the mommy and daddy goose with their fluffy goslings!  We were able to get close enough where the parents even began hissing at us.  We also saw a water snake at the edge of the lake.  This was the highlight of Tinkerbell’s day–not mine!

I’m so glad we were able to go out on such a lovely day as a family.  I’m looking forward to our next adventure already!

Homemade Lemonade

ImageSo since we planted our garden Sunday instead of making homemade lemonade, we saved the lemonade for yesterday.

On Sunday evening, when I went out to purchase our vegetable seeds and two more packets of flower seeds, I went ahead and picked up 12 medium-sized lemons for this recipe.  Here’s what you need for a regular batch of homemade lemonade:

1 c. water
1 c. sugar
6 medium-sized lemons
3-4 c. cold water

Yes, I intended to keep the water measurements separate.  Here’s what you’re going to do:

homemade lemonade

  • Cut the lemons in half.  I went ahead and did this first just so I had a head start on squeezing them while my sugar-water mixture was boiling.
  • Mix 1 c. water and 1 c. sugar in a small pot and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until water has dissolved.
  • While the sugar-water mixture is boiling, squeeze the lemons using a juicer into a pitcher, being careful to separate seeds.  Thankfully, Prince Charming decided to do this, because our juicer was flopping all over the place.  (In reality, he couldn’t stand to see me struggle with it and just decided we were all better off if he did it.  lol.)
  • Add 3-4 cups of cold water to the lemon juice.  We doubled the recipe, so I used 7 cups of water as not to water it down too much.
  • Add sugar-water mixture to lemon-water.  Stir.
  • Chill until cool or serve immediately with plenty of ice.  I’d recommend against adding ice to the pitcher so it doesn’t get watered down.

My entire family loved  this recipe, so I’d have to say it was a success!  I doubled the recipe, and it’s almost all gone.  We’ll definitely be using this recipe again!  Hope you enjoy!

DIY Raised Garden Bed

do-it-yourself raised flower bed

For a while now, I’ve been wanting a raised garden bed in our backyard.  Our front yard is only so big so I didn’t have any more room for flowers, and we definitely didn’t have any space for a vegetable garden.  Our back yard has been so run down by the dog and the kids that I was afraid to plant anything back there for fear it would be trampled.

I’ve been checking out Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs just keeping an eye on things. I’d also looked at some kits and talked to some friends who had them or knew people who had them.

Then yesterday, we finally had just enough money that we could build it.  My loving husband did some research in the morning and went out to Home Depot for the supplies.  Here’s what he picked up:

1x6x6 picket fence boards cut to 5 ft and 2 ft
2×2 grading stakes for corner posts
1×2 grading stakes for added support
Top Soil
Potting Soil

building a raised flower bed
Initially, Prince Charming put together the planter before driving the stakes in the ground, as our ground isn’t very level, and he wanted to make sure the box was level.  He is, however, planning to try it a little differently today.  I’m providing instructions for his plans for today.

First Prince Charming cut down the picket fence boards to 5 ft and 2 ft.  We wanted our box placed between some existing metal posts in our yard and about 2 feet out to cover the torn up yard, so ultimately the box would be a final 10×2.  Our box is 6″ high.  Height for raised flower beds tend to vary between 6″-12″ on planter boxes depending on your preference and your yard.

Next, Prince Charming attempted to level out the ground (as much as possible) so that the box would be level.  He then drove the corner stakes into the ground and screwed the 5-foot and 2-foot sides of the box to stakes.  After that, he drove the center stakes into the ground halfway between the corner stakes and attached the respective sides to those stakes.

After all this, we filled the box with 4″ of top soil followed by about 1″ of potting soil, and we were done.

We put one planter box together yesterday and will finish the second one today.  Eventually we’ll build two more, but for now we’re just sticking with two.  This project cost us a grand total of $65.81 for both boxes (including soil), which makes each box $32.91 (including soil).

Hubby did great with our resources on this one!  Most boxes you have to spend at least $30 on (for just the box), and we’ve noticed that they tend to bow outward after a while.  These should be fairly sturdy, and are even cheaper than what you’ll find at the stores.  You can’t beat it!

two girls with dirty hands

Cinderella and Tinkerbell show proof of their hard work!

Thanks to Home Depot for the good prices!

And…since we ended up putting together the raised flower beds yesterday, we switched the days on our summer calendar.  So yesterday was our “Plant a Garden” day.  Tinkerbell and Rapunzel planted some flowers and greenery my stepmom gave me, and today we will plant some vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots.  We’ll also make our homemade lemonade tomorrow.

This was a great family activity.  THANK YOU to Prince Charming for spending all his time and effort on this project for me!  Even Wendy and Cinderella helped out a little bit (even though Cinderella had a strenuous weekend helping my in-laws).  I can’t wait to see our plants grow!

NOTE: For those concerned about the chemicals in pressure-treated wood like fence posts, I am currently not concerned with the risks, as the dangers from these chemicals are very small.  If you’d like more information, please visit the following links:

 

Movie Review: Chasing Mavericks

Chasing Mavericks CoverOn Family Movie Night last Friday, Wendy chose Chasing Mavericks (we had a Redbox code!).  At first I was a little nervous; Tinkerbell is not one to sit well through non-animated movies.  Fortunately, this was a good pick.

Chasing Mavericks, a movie released in 2012, tells the story of Jay Moriarty, an accomplished surfer who became famous at age 16, when his wipeout was filmed while surfing Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California.  This movie was based on a true story–one of my favorite genres.

There are a couple of words used in this movie that I would have preferred to avoid, but overall it was a great movie.  Rapunzel was a bit scared during a couple of scenes, but nothing gave her nightmares.  Tinkerbell fell asleep halfway through (thank goodness!).  And Wendy commented the next morning on how much she liked the movie.

I’d have to say that I also enjoyed this movie.  It wasn’t my favorite movie of all time, but it was definitely a good one, and I’d probably watch it again.  The theme of this movie was an encouraging one: it talked of chasing your dreams–not quitting when things get tough.  And that’s something that everyone (young and old) needs to remember.

So next time you have a family movie night, check out this one.  And then let me know what you thought.