Showing posts with label Seasons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seasons. Show all posts

What We Did This Summer


Remember that summer to-do list I posted back in June?  Well, we ended up crossing quite a few things off my unreasonably long list.  We squeezed a lot of fun into summer, and as we are turning toward fall now, I wanted to record how we made the most of this summer, all the unusual circumstances notwithstanding!

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Trampoline Games - Check!  I taught the kids "pop the popcorn", and they had so much fun when I joined them on the trampoline!

Catch - Derek bought the boys some gloves, and he's been practicing catch with them this summer.  We never signed either of them up for baseball, but it's one of my favorite sports, and I'm glad they are getting some practice in!

Spray Bottle Sidewalk Paint - Check! We did squirt bottles instead of spray bottles, and it was a hit! But they used it up way too quickly.



Ice Cream Playdough - Check!  We used this recipe, and it was interesting - not much different than regular play dough, except it smelled like frosting.  I think this is basically the same way you would make fondant.  It's a fun recipe to try if the cooked-playdough recipes scare you!



Homemade Bubbles - We did try this!  It looked cute, but it wasn't my favorite because the cornstarch kept separating from the mixture.  But it did work!

Glow Sticks In Kiddie Pool - The weekend that we went porch camping, I also let the kids play in the kiddie pool.  I threw a few glow sticks in it that night so they could see it from the tent!  It wasn't as glow-y as I wanted it to be, but still fun.



Treasure Hunt - I put together a scavenger hunt for the kids to find some candy, using some free printables!  The prize wasn't anything super special, but they still loved it.  Clyde asked to do it again the next day, so I guess it was a success!

Reading Challenge - We did participate in our library's reading challenge!  I took the kids a couple weeks ago to get their prizes, which included a book, a journal or bookmark, and coupons for a free entree at Noodles and Co.

Nature Hikes - We took several nature hikes this summer, and it was so nice to get outside so much.



Play In A Creek - Check!  We found a creek in June, and the kids splashed around while I read.  It was lovely, and the kids begged me to go back.  Unfortunately the next time we went the creek was dry!  We'll have to remember that it dries up by mid-summer next year.


Swimming - We managed to go swimming twice!  My kids are finally getting to the age where taking them to the pool is less stressful and more fun.  The big kids do pretty well in the deeper parts of the pool, and the little three are great with their floaties on.  Wyatt and Gwen were even big enough to go on the slide this year!



Park Days - We visited several parks, including one where splash fountains were on, and the normalcy of just going to the park this summer was so good for all of us!  My kids desperately missed the park when they were all closed during the spring.



Historical Sites - We had to delay one of our historical site plans until September, just because of finances and weather. But we did add in a more local historical site, and I am totally counting it as a school field trip!  We also visited some local fossil beds one weekend.



Fishing - We went fishing twice, with plans to go more this fall!  We went to a lake near our church on my birthday, and we also fished in ponds that are very near our house.  The ponds looked really promising, but the fish didn't like our bait, so we are going to try live worms and go again soon!








Stargazing - We went stargazing in Arches National Park!  It was the perfect place to stargaze as an International Dark Sky site.  We found an empty parking lot, and laid on the pavement for about an hour, just staring at the stars with the kids and talking.  The boys also saw their "first meteor", which they were super excited about!  It was a good one too, with a long tail streaking across the sky.



Porch Camping - We try to do this every summer, and it's a big highlight for our kids!  There is just something special about sleeping in a tent.  And a bonus is that they spend alot of time playing in the tent the next day as well!



Campfire - The burn ban was lifted for a couple glorious weeks, and we snuck in a campfire a few days before the re-instated the ban.  It was lovely, and even Georgie got into the marshmallow roasting this year!



Regular Movie Nights - We tried to have a movie night with the kids every Friday this summer, with pizza and dessert!  We are definitely going to continue this tradition.  It's fun to introduce the kids to some of our childhood favorites!

Firework Fruit Kabobs - I did make these for the 4th of July!  They were so pretty.




Special Kid Drinks - At the beginning of the summer, I froze a bunch of kool-aid ice cubes.  When we were having a boring day, I'd just pour Sprite over them for the kids - it's sweet how something so simple can make you "the best mom ever", ha!


Popsicles - I didn't do great at serving up the popsicles this summer, but I redeemed myself in these last few weeks!  Popsicles all around.

Spaghetti Salad and Broccoli Salad - These are our favorite summer foods, and I made a batch of each to take on our end-of-summer trip a couple weeks ago.

Circus And County Fair - We visited our county fair for the first time as a family this year!  I was really happy they went ahead with it.  There was also a free circus at the fair, and the performers were great!


Dates - Derek and I were able to go on a date night this summer (rare occurrence)!  We went mini-golfing and had a take-out picnic in the park.  We also had a whole weekend away at the Gaylord hotel!  It was beautiful, and we had a great time.







Boys' Birthday Party - We threw a joint birthday party for the boys!  We did a party for the girls last fall, and had plans for a boys' party in April.  We ended up doing it in June instead!



End Of Summer Trip To Arches - We ended up taking a weekend trip out to Arches before we started the school year!  It was a really lovely trip, and I'm going to share more in another post soon.  I have too many pictures to share here!



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Stuff We Didn't Get To:

Regular Game Nights
Trampoline Sleepover
Drive-in Movie
Bible Verse Memory Challenge
Make Bird Feeders
Origami "Fortune Teller" with Boredom Busters
Puffy Paint Ice Cream Cones
Hand-clapping Games
H.O.R.S.E.
Tic Tac Toe rocks
Homemade Bouncy Balls

I am hoping to add some of these into our fall plans, and if not, I'll just tack the rest onto next summer's bucket list!

Did you all do anything out of the ordinary this summer?


The Kickoff To Summer



Despite today feeling decidedly fall-like outside, Summer has actually begun!  The start to summer has looked different this year for all of us.  Usually the kickoff to Summer is the library used book sale, which didn't happen this year, and another major annual event, our local homeschool conference which I've enjoyed for the past three years, was also cancelled.  But we've still managed to have some fun and get in the summer spirit anyway!  Here's what we've been up to.



A Bad AirBnB Experience

Alright, you have to allow me to tell this story before I get to the fun stuff.  The last week of May we took off for a road trip to the Gulf Coast!  Coronavirus tensions were higher then, even though it was just a few weeks ago, so we packed up all our food and activities in the van, and planned to drive with as few stops at possible.  I figured when we got there we'd check into our AirBnB and just keep to ourselves and enjoy the beach.

I decided to book an AirBnB since when we were planning our trip it was still questionable whether hotels were open or not.  I figured it would be nice to have a whole house to ourselves anyway.  

We arrived at the house at maybe !0:00 PM local time, and basically got the kids settled and went right to bed.  When we woke up the next day, we started looking around...and realized the house was not really clean.  I guess since you pay a cleaning fee on the AirBnB website, I always just assume they hire a cleaning lady, and I also assumed they'd be extra thorough in cleaning since they had just allowed rentals again after the virus shutdown.  And the "recent reviews" said it was "sparkling clean".

Well.  The host basically admitted to me that all they did was steam mop the floors and clean the bathroom.  There was clutter on top of the cabinets and in all the closets, the closet door was hanging by a hinge and a light fixture was broken, there was dead flies and dust on all the windowsills, thick grime in the dishwasher, grease splattered in the microwave.  Dust on all the shelves.  At first we thought we could maybe do a quick dust job ourselves, but the more we looked around, the more grime we found.  So I requested a refund (only got a partial one), and we decided to look for a hotel instead.  The host was rude about it.  

Here's the kicker guys.  I was going to leave a review to let other people know that the place was not actually clean, but then I realized that your review is not published on AirBnB until or unless the host decides to review you as a guest.  So basically I could write a negative review, and the host could just decide not to publish it.  Which explains why all the available reviews claimed "sparkling clean" when it was clearly not sparkling clean.

Let's just say I don't trust AirBnb anymore.

Update: Did a little more research, and it looks like only the HOST will not be able to see your comments until after they review you?  If so, that's much better.  The wording in the AirBnB emails is confusing.

A Lovely Gulf Coast Vacation Anyway

Once we left the nasty AirBnB, (and once I got antibiotics for an ear/throat infection that developed while we were down there - another long story), we actually had a really wonderful trip!  We enjoyed a really nice hotel in Houston for a great last-minute deal, saw a movie at one of the theaters that was open in Houston, went back to a hotel in Galveston as soon as one opened up, and spent a ton of time at the beach.  I even finally figured out how to handle my curly hair in the humidity on this trip (the trick is to not try to straighten it, and just not care at all).  It was so fun and refreshing to go somewhere that felt almost normal, and I was sorry to go home.  I'll share more pictures and all the details in another post soon.



A Birthday Fishing Trip And Date

One thing that is not cancelled is birthdays!  And mine is in June.  We threw around a few ideas for things to do on my birthday, and we finally settled on going fishing.  I love going fishing, and feel like I could really get into it if we had more time/resources.  As it is now, we almost never catch anything because 1) the fishing is not that amazing in our state unless you have a boat, and 2) we have a bunch of noisy little kids with us every time.  But I think the experience of getting outside and enjoying nature is what makes it fun.  







We still really want to catch a fish sometime though.  I think we are going to try another state park soon that has a smaller pond with fish in it.  The fish in this lake were out the in the deeper water where our lines wouldn't reach.  We saw them jumping a couple times.  Or maybe we should just invest in a pair of waders so we can get out there further.  We will catch a fish someday.

Derek also took me on a birthday date!  We went mini-golfing, and then got take-out and ate it in a park while the sun was going down. It was lovely!



Back To Church And Playgrounds

Another great development is that our church was finally allowed to reopen.  It's different than normal, but it's just so good to be with other believers and worship together in person again.  Online church is fine in a pinch, but I strongly believe it's not a substitute for meeting with other Christians in person.  There's a reason the Bible says not to forsake the gathering together with other believers.  Anyway, that's been a nice bit of pseudo-normalcy lately.

Playgrounds also opened this month, so we've been taking advantage!

Nature Hikes

It's been interesting and kind of fun to me to see how everything being closed has allowed people to get back out into nature a little more.  During the little kids' nap time the other day, I took the big three on a nature hike, and there was so many people on the trail!  But I love how even when nature is a bit more crowded than usual, there is still so much space for peace and quiet and exploring.  Seriously guys, try to get outside more.  Also, state parks are hidden gems.





Summer Planning

Every year I pull out a calendar and a list of things we want to do during the summer, and I start plugging things in.  I have a process, because I want to make sure all of the things we most want to do during the warm months actually happen!  I wrote all about my planning process (including some ideas for stuff to do this year) on Rooted Family if you're interested.

Anyway, I have my list of ideas gathered (it took a little more research this year than normal), and sitting down to plug my ideas into the calendar is on the to-do list today.  I really believe that simple little bits of fun can really make the summer memorable.  I started freezing koolaid ice cubes this week so I could make the kids colorful summer drinks (just add Sprite), and it turned out really well.


The kids were so excited when I ave them the drinks.  The girls adorably clinked their glasses together and said "Cheers!"  And Wyatt actually wrote me a card to thank me for the summer treat.  That whole "the way to a boy's heart is through his stomach" thing is a cliche for a reason.  They made my day.



That's pretty much everything we've been up to lately!  Keep an eye out for a vacation post, coming up soon!  

And don't forget to read my post on planning an epic summer on Rooted, especially if you are discouraged about the summer not feeling normal.  You can still make it memory-filled, even in this weird time.


Stuff To Do In The Winter With Your Kids



How is winter treating you?  

I have always loved snowy winters and every year I wish it would snow more - I am certainly getting my wish this year!  We have had snow every few days for a few weeks now.  I love that when I look out my window everything is pretty and white, and seeing the snowflakes fluttering to the ground puts me in the mood to bake and snuggle on the couch with a book.

However, every year I also seem to forget how hard it is to be stuck in the house with multiple young children for an extended period of time.  We are definitely getting some cabin fever over here.  I have to remind myself that during this coldest time of year, we are all happier if I put a little effort in to plan specific activities to do with the kids, instead of leaving them to their own devices.

I'm re-reading this post I wrote for Rooted.com about winter science activities to do with your kids - in the midst of busyness and all these snowy days, I forget all the fun ideas I had!  If you are struggling at all with winter doldrums, go check it out and maybe it'll stir up some ideas for you too!



What I Hope To Accomplish In 2020



Over the past week I've been seriously thinking over how I want to handle goals in 2020, and I think I need a way to more frequently check in with myself on my goals.

Last year I made very specific, measurable goals that I wanted to accomplish by the end of 2019.  Specific and measurable is good, right?  Except that I was thinking too far in advance, and my goals, though measurable, were still too big.  My end goals became a little overwhelming to me, and when they started to seem unattainable, I just gave up.

This year I decided to make overarching goals for the year, but I'm going to try to make "little step" goals for each month (or two) that will move toward those overarching goals.  Does that make sense?  I'm hoping to write a post each month about how I did and share it on the blog for some accountability as well - if I write about it, I'm more likely to feel like I can't give up on it!



I decided on four categories this year, spiritual, marriage and motherhood, social, and financial.  I did not include health and blog categories as I did last year, mainly for simplicity's sake.  It's easier to focus more intently on less categories.  I also feel like I don't do too shabby at keeping up on this blog and my health anyway, so I'm skipping making goals in those areas for this year.


Spiritual

Overall Goals: Memorize Hebrews, and spend more time in prayer each day.

Little Steps:  Memorize Hebrews chapter 5, and start a prayer page in my journal.

There isn't much to explain here.  If I want to actually memorize Hebrews this year, I need to just buckle down and do it.  Last year I spent alot of time reviewing and solidifying verses, but this year I want to focus on the initial effort of getting them into my head.  I may not know them as well as I'd like, but once they are in there tentatively, it's easier to solidify them later.

I also have a Bible study bullet journal, which I use only irregularly when something stands out to me in my quiet time. I'd like to make it a more useful tool for my prayer time.  So over the next month I need to figure out a way to set it up to track the things I want to pray for.

Marriage And Motherhood

Overall Goals:  Be a happier and more thankful wife and mother.

Little Step:  Start the day with hugging each kid, and greet Derek immediately with a hug when he gets home.  

This goal makes me sound a little pathetic, but between getting the kids up and dressed, making beds, doing my own hair and makeup, making breakfast, getting started on school...sometimes I forget to take a minute to look into each of their sweet faces, and give them a hug and "good morning" before all the craziness starts.  I'd like to change that.  For Derek, he usually gets home right about the time when my nerves are frayed from all the chaos of the day.  I don't always greet him properly either, so that needs to change as well.


Social

Overall Goals:  Spend less time on social media, and spend more time investing in and encouraging my real-life friends (including family).

Little Steps:  Clean out my friend list on Facebook, and send some snail mail.

I'm cheating a little with this one, because I actually already cleaned out my Facebook friends list, and I am hoping to write more about that process next week.  Stay tuned for that!  My other goal is to send out some good old-fashioned snail mail.  I used to be pretty good at letter-writing, but I probably only send out one letter a year now.  I'd like to write at least one longer letter to one of my dear long-distance friends, and at least one short note of encouragement to someone.  I think it's a pity how much snail mail has declined, because I know the joy of receiving something in the mail that isn't an advertisement or a bill.


Financial

Overall Goals: Save $1000.

Little Steps:  Save $100 in February.

That's fairly straightforward, isn't it?  I have a secret project in the works that I need some money to accomplish, so I need to really buckle down and save a little more successfully this year.  Last year I saved only about half my goal, so if I can catch myself up to where I originally wanted to be at the end of 2020, so much the better!

Reading

Overall Goal: Read more books that I own but haven't read.

Little Steps: Participate in the Read Your Bookshelf project!

This one is more just for fun, but I also do have a ridiculous amount of books which I haven't read.  Chantel at An Intentional Life created this fun themed challenge to get us reading our unread books, and I'm going to try to participate each month!  In January I have to read a book with a color in its title (I'm gong to read "The White Cottage Mystery" or "Greenglass House"), and February is supposed to be a book that is also a movie (I want to read "The Princess Bride"!).



There we go!  My goals for 2020, and my little steps for the month of February.  I'm giving myself the extra two weeks in January as freebies, to help me get into the swing of things.  The plan is to check in with myself at the end of February and report how I'm doing on the blog (you guys are basically my accountability group, ha!).

What is your main goal for 2020?

A Fall Scavenger Hunt (& Thoughts On Memory-Making)



"Mom, do you remember when we did that fall scavenger hunt?"

I have to be honest, when my son asked me this on our mountain drive yesterday, I was totally drawing a blank.

"Um, no?" I said, puzzled.

"Yeah, we had to find like a red leaf, and a spider's web, and stuff, and you gave us candy corn afterward."

I honestly have no memory of this event ever happening.

See what I mean when I say I have a bad memory?

My son insists we did this scavenger hunt though.  After searching in the far recesses of my brain, I may have a vague recollection, but I have no idea where I found scavenger hunt inspiration the first time.  In an effort to duplicate something that clearly made an impression on my kiddos, I decided to put together a scavenger hunt for them today.

I considered putting together my own list of items to find, but did some quick googling first, and boy, I'm glad I did.  There are not just fall scavenger hunts online, there are lists of fall scavenger hunts online.  I found these papers for us to try out on this website, but thought I'd share the ones that stood out to me!



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I don't think you could complete this scavenger hunt list in a day (or at least we couldn't, since it includes some items we would find in the city or plains), but it would be great to do over the course of a week or two!  I like the pictures of the items for younger kids who can't read yet, but the actual things to find are good for older kids too.

This fall scavenger hunt is great for older kids who can read, or to do together as a family! My oldest son (eight years old) is working on this one.

This is an ideal fall scavenger hunt for younger kids because it has really simple items accompanied by pictures!  I gave this one to my four year old today.

This nature scavenger hunt has pictures and words, so I think it would work well for a variety of ages!  My middle two (six and five) are doing this one as I type.

If you kids in early elementary who might be up for a nighttime scavenger hunt, this one looks fun!

This is not really a scavenger hunt, but I love these kind of identification guides.  This one is a leaf identification guide that would be handy!

And if you are in a pre-Thanksgiving mood (or just want to bookmark this for November), I liked this gratitude scavenger hunt, a Thanksgiving Day scavenger hunt, and this Thanksgiving Reading challenge!

If none of these are interesting, or if you just want to see way more options than the ones I picked out here, check out the post 18 Fall And Autumn Scavenger Hunts For Kids - they had a bunch to sort through, these were just a few that I ended up saving!

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What was interesting to me about this whole scavenger hunt conversation was how different things stick with us, and so many things just slip away.  I can barely recall (maybe?) doing a nature scavenger hunt with my kids.  I feel like it would have been when my son was in kindergarten.  But here we are a few years later, and he still remembers that we did that.

What does all this have to do with memory-keeping?  I guess this post is more about memory-making.  You can't have one without the other.  So often I think that I have to orchestrate elaborate plans or make an elaborate effort to make a memory for my kids.  But this was so simple.  It required so little effort from me that I hardly remember it the first time, but it was really fun to my son.



My kids are running around outside right now as I type this, searching for spider webs and deciduous trees and pinecones.  I found a couple printables to hand out and basically said "have at it".  I promised them "corn candy" (as they call it) if they found as many items they could.  They are laughing and exploring and shouting every time they spot something on the list.



So I guess the point I'm trying to make with memory-making is to encourage you to take heart.  You don't have to try very hard.  Do something out of the ordinary now and then.  Mix in some candy.  They most likely won't remember that it wasn't perfect. They'll just remember the fun.








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