Super Summer 2014 Is Almost Here!

Before I even knew it, June was upon me!  I always feel like I’m in a frenzy, trying to get things done.  Working.  Driving the kids.  Other work.  Soccer.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Taking care of the kids.  More chores.  Groceries.  Working.  You know.

So many of you have already entered the blissfulness of kids-are-home-for-the summer.  For some of you this might be wonderful.  For others, this may be terrifying.  I have a love-hate relationship with school summer vacation.  Yes, I love being able to do things with my family.  But I have to say I really DO NOT like to take them to work with me.  It seems like no matter what I do or give them, they are still constantly fighting, hungry, thirsty, wanting to sit on my lap, using all the tape, drawing on things they’re not supposed to…

But back to the fun part.  What I like best about summer: memory-making.  I love love LOVE knowing that I am making memories with my kids–the kind of memories I remember spending with my grandparents over the summer when my dad was working.  Church camp.  Ice cream.  Fireworks.  Museums.  Outdoor activities.  I loved fishing with my grandpa, playing wiffle ball in the back yard, playing in the lake.  Going to the library.  Ah, but we’ll save that for another day.

I realized I am way behind in revealing my summer calendar!  I hope you will check out my summer calendar and come up with some awesome ideas of your own to fill in there as well!  Oh, and while you’re here–let me know what you think and what your favorite ideas are!

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Thinking About Summer: Visiting Museums

A few weeks ago, when we were still seemingly in the midst of Winter, I suddenly had the urge to plan out our summer.  So that’s what I did.  Yep–at the beginning of March, I planned out the months of June, July, and August.  Complete with camp adventures.

We knew a while ago that we were doing camp.  Princess Anna is going to Mom & Me Camp for the first time (and she is already packed!), and Rapunzel is going to “Big Girl Camp” for the first time!  We are all so excited.  But of course these camps are short term, and I have a lot of summer to fill.

I’ll be talking in the next few posts about how I scheduled our summer and will be ending with our summer calendar.  But one of the first things I decided to do was to visit museums.  Our family hasn’t been in a financial position…ever…really to visit any museums at a cost.  And just about all of the museums in our area come with a cost.  This year, we aren’t incredibly well off per se, but we are at least finally able to pay our bills, and I knew that our kids could benefit immensely from visiting museums.

Because museums are quite costly, and because there are few I wanted to visit, Prince Charming and I decided to use any extra money I make on the side to put toward a family membership with a children’s museum that has affiliations across the country.  We went with the Family Plus membership, which allows us admission for 6 people (so we can ALL go!), up to three adult cardholders (so a grandparent can take them too!), guest discounts, free access to members-only events, express entry on busy days, and discounts at the museum store, on birthday party packages, on guest memberships, and guest admissions PLUS 50% off general admission to 200+ member museums.  Even if we only visit each museum once and don’t use any other benefit, we are still saving over $26.

Now Princess Anna has this problem called I-have-to-touch-anything-and-everything-especially-if-Mom-doesn’t-want-me-to.  (Reason #2 why we never really went to museums before.)  That’s why our membership includes admission to museums like Port Discovery, Hands on House, and Please Touch Museum.  Now I can breathe a sigh of relief.  I can’t say for sure if we will do this every year, but at least for this year I am pleased to provide my kids with some active learning at a discount.  And what’s better than having your kids learn while having fun?

A Disney Frozen Birthday

Check out the Disney Frozen birthday at my new home by clicking here.

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!

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!

Returning for Summer

I have 89 emails in my inbox.

I should read them.  Or sort them.  Or something.

I should be working.  Or keeping my kids from drowning our potted plants in their pool water.

But I’m not.

I haven’t been here for about 3 months.  Three days after my last post, my oldest biological daughter’s father passed away unexpectedly, and I didn’t know how to deal with telling the world.  A wild mix of emotions was involved, including past hurts, what ifs, anger, some depression, grief.  You name it, I felt it.  Then dealing with his family–that was a whole issue in itself.  I discovered who was really family and who wasn’t.

Well anyway, I’m back for now.  I actually was reading through all of the emails in my inbox when I felt the urge to write today.

Summer is quickly approaching.

By noon next Friday, we’ll be parents of a preschooler, an elementary-schooler, a middle-schooler, and a high-schooler.  Scary territory.  Scary and exciting.

And we have an exciting summer ahead of us!

After scouring Pinterest, the web, Facebook, and my friends’ ideas, I put together a plan for my kids over the summer.

First I made our Summer bucket list, borrowed a calendar from another blogger, and filled in some blanks with some of my favorite ideas.  I left Tuesdays and Thursdays mostly open for the summer park program.  As soon as I get the map for the program, I’ll be able to plan those days as well.

Of course our plans may change based on weather, health, and ability, but we’re going to try to accomplish everything on our list.

Check out our plans for the summer.  I hope it helps you to plan yours!  I can’t wait to share our adventures with you!

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Happy summering!

Check it out!  Linking up at:

Lil\'Luna

Too Early to Think About Summer? I Don’t Think So…

Child Lying in a Tent

A few weeks ago, I received an email from our church conference about upcoming summer church camps.  I was so excited, and I couldn’t wait to plan!  More recently, we have been receiving snippets from the school and hearing about other camps in the area.

Believe it or not, it’s time to plan for summer camps.  Camps book quickly, so in order to ensure

you’re spot, you need to sign up early.  Not to mention early-bird discounts.

Rapunzel and I are planning on attending Mommy & Me camp again this year; Cinderella and Wendy have a certain camp in mind that they would like to attend as well.  Tinkerbell is still too young.  That’s great and all, but Mommy & Me camp is only a weekend-getaway.  That means I still have three months to plan out.  Thankfully I am partially at home now, so I don’t have to worry about childcare.  But it creates the problem that I need to find things for these kids to do.  I just can’t stand the thought of them Facebooking and watching TV and playing on the computer for three months.  Talk about frying your brain.

One thing I know we are definitely going to do this summer is participate in our local library’s reading and outdoor program.  Last year, Tinkerbell won a camping set for completing the outdoor program, and two of our other daughters won items as well for their reading.  Plus it kept them busy and active for most of the summer and provided some quality time for us.

I do have some printables set out in a binder for the times that I’m in the office with all four kids.  Here are some of the resources I use for my printables:

I also keep up with Money Saving Mom, who is always posting links to free or discounted printables and activities.

I’m also considering signing the young ones up for a one-week theatre camp if we can afford a scholarship and finding a cheap swimming class in the area for Rapunzel.  She is six, and I’d really feel much more comfortable if she learned how to swim.  I was around her age when I had swimming lessons.

Outside of that, I’m a little stuck.  I came up with a few activities, but I doubt they’ll keep us entertained all summer.  Here’s what I have:

  • Learn about the family history
  • Do a craft, crochet, knit (this isn’t much trouble for Cinderella)
  • Make a collage
  • Color
  • Play with Play Dough
  • Play with Chalk
  • Put together puzzles
  • Word and number puzzles (Sudoku, word finds, crosswords)
  • Play a board game
  • Play cards
  • Do a scavenger hunt
  • Volunteer at a local agency/home
  • Work for extra money
  • Come up with a charity idea or an event, plan it, and carry it out

What do you do with your kids for the summer?  What is the best activity you’ve ever done?