HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (AND A DISCOUNT!)

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I’m super-excited to announce that I’m offering MY VERY FIRST ETSY SHOP SALE!  Because my birthday is in August, I wanted to offer you all a very fine discount…just because!  So head on over to my Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/MakingtheMostBlog?ref=ss_profile and enter the code HAPPY28 on checkout!

Enjoy!

P.S.  Keep your eyes peeled; new posts to come soon!

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Avoid the Summer Slide: Review Packets Worth Investing In

I spent quite a while this past month searching for a summer packet for the kids.  Now before you think I’m crazy, I don’t make them do schoolwork all summer.  If you saw my last post, you know I love to fit in lots of fun.  But I also hate to think that my kids missed out on great learning opportunities and fell behind just because I decided to let them completely veg out over the summer.  Must be the importance of education that my grandma ingrained in my head.

So finally I came across some great packets that I thought would do the job.  I hate spending money, but I don’t have the patience to make my own worksheets (or the knowledge for that matter!), and I worry that the workbooks available at the store cover the common core.  What better way to know than to get it from a teacher.  So we decided to invest.  And $6-$7 per packet really isn’t bad for keeping your child up-to-par for three months.

Here are my favorites.  I hope you like them as much as I do!

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On My Way to K by Miss Kindergarten Love – $6.75 at TPT

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Ready Made for 2nd Grade by Lyndsey Kuster @ A Year of Many Firsts – $7 at TPT

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1st Grade Summer Packet by Faith Wheeler – $7.50 at TPT

Know of some other great summer packets for this age group?  Please share!

Planning Summer: Theme Days

Not one of my parenting priorities, but just something fun: theme days.  Having theme days allows to do a variety of different things under a certain theme.  This keeps the kids busy and sometimes allows me to be more closely involved with their play.  Here are some of the theme days we have planned for this summer:

First Day of Summer Party
Construction Day
Craft Day
Yard Game Day
Sports Day
Splash Day
Spa Day
Last Day of Summer Party

I always plan for plenty–that way, when I don’t get to all of them, we still remember the ones we were able to have fun with.  Our favorite: Spa Day!  Last year, each of the kids invited a friend over, and we painted nails, made homemade chocolate face masks, and did some hair.  This is another MUST DO for this year!

What are some of your favorite themes?

Planning Summer: Getting Outside

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Another item of great importance to me and my parenting style is exercise.  I have always struggled with my weight, and there are several weight-related diseases that run in my family.  It is my goal to encourage active behavior early in life so that my kids live a healthy lifestyle as adults.  Because of that, I like to make sure I get the kids outside to play.  I also remember some of my greatest fun as a kid being outside.  I hate to have my kids staring at the TV all day when they could be running around.  Here’s what we are planning to do this summer to encourage that behavior:

Camp out in the back yard
Roast hot dogs
Make s’mores
Corn roast
Go roller skating (this will probably be on our sidewalk)
Fun day at the park
Start a water fight
Picnic at the creek
Watch the birds
Plant a garden
Catch bugs (be careful with this one–last year, Rapunzel caught a bee!)

Our #1 outdoor activity is the local parks’ summer program.  Every year, they set up little platforms at various local parks, and you have to follow the directions provided to find them.  Each one has a piece of plastic on it with an image cut out, and the object is to place a piece of paper over the image and color it with crayon so that it shows up on the paper.  The goal is to get all of these, and we have for the last two years in a row.  It sounds easy, but they change up the parks every year, some trails are fairly difficult, and some can be over 2 miles.  We spend most of our time over the summer on this, and we have many great experiences from the last two years (too many to mention!).  Check with your local library and park programs; maybe you have something similar in your area!

What do you like to do outside with your kids over the summer?

Planning for Summer: Being Creative

One of the most important things to me when parenting my children is encouraging their creativity and the creative process.  Since the start of my parenting journey, I’ve been all for creative play: less about the toys that do things for you and more about the dolls and legos, crayons, paper, etc.  Apparently I did a good job of this too, because my kids have this knack for making just about anything using paper and an ENTIRE roll of tape.

So that being said, of course I am all for encouraging creativity throughout the summer.  Here are some of the things we plan to do to keep those creative juices flowing:

Make our own bubbles
Blow those bubbles
Find shapes in the clouds
Write in your journal
Learn a dance
Make a video
Create a collage using pictures from magazines
Play with sidewalk chalk
Create a photo booth and take pictures
Make oobleck and play with it
Use your imagination day!
Build a fort
Write a story
Draw pictures to go with your story
Make a sock puppet
Put on a show with your sock puppet

I’d also like to visit two area arts festivals over the summer as well.  It looks like a huge list, but when you space things out and group some of the smaller things together, it really isn’t too much when your kids are home all summer.  Better building that creativity than having their face in a cell phone!

I still have a couple of days to fill.  What creative things do you like do with your kids?

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?

Taking Care of Friendship

Today, as I attempted to catch up on the backlog of emails in my inbox, I perused through some of my favorite blogs.  As I was doing so, I happened across a few articles about friendship, the importance of developing friendships, and the like.  It got me thinking.  I don’t like to jump on the bandwagon, but when something speaks to me, I feel I need to write it.  (And by the way, you can check out what I read at incourage at The Art of Simple.)

On the radio the other day, I heard one person ask another what the difference was between her friendships 10 years ago and her friendships today.  Well, 10 years ago I was in my senior year of high school.  I can still remember all of my friends from back then, but I think I knew deep down who was real and who wasn’t.  Sure I had my “friends”, but then there are always FRIENDS–you know, real friends.  The ones who wanted me around even though I didn’t want to smoke, drink, and have sex.  The ones that would come to all the sporting events with me or just walk around the mall.

As is no surprise, I haven’t seen most of my “friends” since I graduated high school.  There’s the one I fell away from, the one I’m always talking to, and the one I wish I talked to more.

Then you go to college, make a bunch more superficial friends and a couple of keepers.  I have two of the keepers.

But then you graduate from college and you enter real life: get a job, get married, have kids…and somewhere among the diapers, the milk, the laundry, the soccer games, and the instrumental concerts, you lose touch.  Your friends are two hours away in a new place and you want to be there with her during this transition but you can’t get away long enough to even see her place.  Or she’s three hours away, and you get to see her once–maybe twice a year when you take vacation with your family.  Or she’s just about an hour away but she works full time on the night shift, and the only time you get together is with the kids–which they love (the kids and your friends!), but all you want is some real grown up time sometimes.  Even the friends you make through your kids’ friends (moms unite!) are out of reach most days–they have busy schedules too.

I miss my friends.

Take some time to read Jennie Allen and Tsh.

And then take the time to pursue meaningful friendships.  Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, whether you feel like the frazzled mom with no friends or the laid back mom with a million, call up a friend or send her an email–whatever it takes to refresh those precious friendships.  Male or female, single or married, ten kids or no kids.  We need those friendships in our lives.  We were made for friendships.  So pursue them.  Cultivate them.  And then tell us how you did it.

And while you’re at it, pin this prayer from Elisa Pulliam.  Or print it.  Or just visit it over and over again and pray it every time you see it.  You’ll be glad you did.  And so will they.

The Prayer of a Friend

Scrapbooking (and Smashing!) Heaven

Yesterday, I was on the hunt for lots of miscellaneous scrapbooking and smash booking STUFF.  At this point, I really don’t remember exactly what I was looking for, but I’m sure I got way off track in the process anyway.  I have a major problem with scrapbooking supplies.  And digital scrapbooking supplies.  I have yet to really get into digital scrapbooking, but I am seriously considering it.  The only down side is that I can’t paste any other additional ticket stubs or keepsakes in it.  (If you have a solution for this, please let me know!)

Anyway, I’ve found a bunch of great scrapbooking freebie sites along the way, and I am highly addicted.  I sure hope you like them as much as I do!

Miss Tiina – I found this one a while ago.  She has a ton of free printables: fonts, project life cards, etc.  Love love love!

Pixel Scrapper – This is most definitely one of my favorites not just because of the amazing designs, but because you get free credits every day–for stuff you can download for commercial AND personal use!  I’m always looking for things to use for my blogs, and now I’ve found something awesome.  If you need something along these lines, I highly recommend checking out this site.

The Lilypad – I love the wonderful designs on this site as well.  Can’t say much more about it–it really just speaks for itself.

Check them out and let me know what you think!  Who is your go-to for free or cheap digital downloads?

Sickies

it is, undoubtedly, still cold season–at least at our house.  I can’t even seem to muster the energy to write (what I feel is) something that sounds remotely decent.  For four weeks, we have had sick germs floating around our house.  It started when “the boy next door” got sick…and made his entire family sick.

Before we knew it, Rapunzel was sick.  Exactly a week later, so was Princess Anna.  The next week, I was down and out.  No sooner had I pseudo-recuperated from the stomach bug than I came down with a sore throat.  By mid-week last week, Rapunzel and I both had strep throat, and she also had pinkeye.  But that’s not all–at that same time, Prince Charming came down with the stomach bug!

Thinking the worst was over, we breathed a sigh of relief…until this morning, when Wendy came down with the stomach bug…and then Princess Anna was cranky, then hot, then in pain.

I don’t mean to complain, as I have recently been feeling very blessed in other areas.  And we are very blessed that this is the worst of our problems.  However, I picked up some Lysol at Rite Aid this evening.  Cinderella sprayed every surface she could think of, I scrubbed the sinks, and on the task “menu” for tomorrow is disinfecting every surface I can find.

My struggle here is that my sister has gotten me thinking about more organic products, and now I worry about what I’m using.  Next on my list: finding some great pinterest ideas for disinfecting our house.  Keep an eye out: maybe I’ll find something good!

What’s your go-to disinfectant?

Sore Throats Soothers

I had every intention of writing last week, but alas, my plans were foiled once again.  I hope all of you out there in the world had a better week than I did!

My week started out with an infection, mid-way through I caught the stomach bug, and on Friday I picked up a sore throat…which I found out today is strep throat.  Which I also found out today Rapunzel has…along with pinkeye.  We are just a mess over here.  I think I will be disinfecting my house soon.

Well in the meantime I was searching some good remedies for sore throats.  The most popular remedies for sore throat pain:

  • Vinegar (you’ll most often find apple cider vinegar)
  • Lemon Juice
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Lozenges or Lollipops

You’ll even find one remedy that calls for 2 tsp. of vinegar, 2 tsp. of lemon juice, 2 tsp. of honey, and a dash of cinnamon in a cup of hot water.  Let me just say–you have to do this only if you are desperate!  It worked after about an hour or so and lasted another hour or so, but this combination pushed me very close to the edge of throwing up.  I’d almost rather drink them all separately.

Lozenges and lollipops work, because they cause your mouth to create more saliva, coating the throat.  I found gum helps me as well.

If you’re congested too:

Humidifiers are often recommended to release some congestion.  Strangely enough, I’ve heard that rubbing Vicks on your feet alleviates congestion, though most often we will rub it on our chest.

If you’re dealing with a sore throat right now, I hope some of these tips will help ease your pain!  Feel to comment some of your tried and true remedies!