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?

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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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?

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

7 Things You Need to Know About Staying in a Hotel

Empty Hotel Room

I had every intention of pre-posting for this weekend, but nothing worked out the way I planned.  One thing I did discover this weekend is that neither Wendy nor Cinderella has ever stayed in a hotel before!  What an interesting experience.  They were so excited.

Needless to say, I needed to give them the scoop.  And what better subject to post on since I had to brainstorm anyway.  No sense in wasting precious brain power!  So here are the rules I laid out for them:

1) Never leave the room without your room key!

2) Do not order room service.

3) Don’t open the door to the adjoining room.

4) It most certainly is okay for you to open the packaged soap on the counter to wash your hands (one of the girls learned this the hard way).

5) Leave everything cleaner than or as clean as you left it.  This is a rule my grandma always taught us, and I try to carry this on.  I’m sure the hotel staff appreciates the courtesy.

6) Rule #5 does not mean you can keep things.  You can keep the free coffee packets, the paper/plastic cups, and the toiletries, the notepad and then pen, but don’t keep the key cards or the towels.  I know people who have kept one or the other.

7) Always do a sweep of the room before you leave: top to bottom, under beds and dressers, bathroom closets.  Make sure you have everything–because we’re not coming back for it.

What are some of your tips for staying away from home?

These are the main ones I came up with