My Monday Mess – 8/5/2013

Just got back from camping and this is what I’ll be tackling today!

Monday Mess 8/5/2013



As usual, the van and the camper get unloaded and everything gets dumped in the porch!  I’d better get to work!

What Beautiful Mess are you dealing with today?


Summer Planning Round-up

EEEK!  School ends in 2 days! 

If you have school-aged children, you know exactly what I mean.  Yes, it’s lovely to have a more relaxed schedule, have more time to play and enjoy your kids, not have to help them with homework, etc., but you also have the kids at home with you.  🙂 

My two older children love to bicker.  And bicker.  And bicker some more.  Honestly I’m not looking forward to having them together 24/7.

So I’ve started to plan for the summer.  Learning experiences.  Field trips.  Camping trips.  Very Important Playdates (read:  time away from one another).  Some sports activities.

I thought if you’re a new reader, you might like some of my ideas for summer from the past. 

~  Read about various local field trips we’ve taken here.  (A side note:  do NOT spend money on the Jell-o Factory.  I mean, come on, there’s not even any jell-o to be had!)

~  Thinking about camping?  Go here.

~ Get some ideas for traveling with kids here.

~  And, I thought I’d posted about planning for summer, but I couldn’t find it!  So I’ll give you the highlights of what we do here..

  1. Print out a calendar of the summer months.
  2. Find out what your kids are interested in, and pick a topic for each week of the summer (e.g., farms, fish, gardening, etc.).  We usually don’t include the week after school ends, or the week before school begins.
  3. Brainstorm, for each week, a field trip, a food, and a craft that is related to the topic.  The internet is a great resources for all types of subjects – you can find crafts, coloring pages, activities like word searches and crossword puzzles, recipes, etc.  I usually try to find these types of activities and print them out a week ahead of time.
  4. We picked Wednesdays as our field trip days, and then spread out the food / craft / other activities throughout the week. 
  5. At the beginning of the week, go to the library and find a few books about the subject (age-appropriate).  Then depending on age, you can either read the book to them or have the kids read it.  The library is also a good resource for other summer activities – reading programs and whatnot.
  6. I’ve found that doing this planning with the kids is a great way to keep them engaged and busy during the summer.  I’ve also found it helpful to clearly outline to the kids at the beginning of the summer how much screen time (and when) they’ll be allowed, as well as to reiterate what the house rules are.  We have even printed out a weekly schedule that includes when they can watch tv / play on the computer / have playdates / field trips and put it on the fridge to remind them.  I also print out the house rules and put them on the fridge as well.

And, last but not least,

~  Make some ice cream with your kids.  Instructions are here.

Well, I hope this helps you get more enjoyment out of your summer!  Happy Summer Vacation!

TTAH Tuesday – Go Camping

Hi there!  Sorry about my missing last Tuesday… we were camping.

Which leads me to my Try-This-At-Home tip for today.  Go camping.

We try to go every summer.  Before kids, we camped in a tent.  After kids, we rent a cabin.  However you can manage it, you and your family should do it.  Here are some benefits to camping (definitely not all-inclusive):

  • memories.  some of my favorite memories from childhood are camping / traveling memories and they are meaningful and wonderful.  even things that don’t go right end up being things you’ll laugh about later.
  • no phone, no TV, no computer, etc.  it’s a great break from the technology that can end up running our lives at home.
  • fun.  laughter.  play.  the joy of shared experiences as a family.  and not having to worry about the ever-present to-do list related to the house.
  • dirt.  every kid needs to get dirty – and I mean really dirty – once in a while.
  • seeing strangers’ kids misbehave.  it brings a certain perspective to your life.
  • at the very least, it’ll give you some fun pictures to scrapbook!

And I’ll give you my three best camping tips to get you started:

  • make a list of all the things you’ll need.  then file it away and use it next year.  this is most helpful if when you get home you add to it all the things you forgot.
  • if you’re new to camping and you have small children, check out a Jellystone campground near you.
  • remember that camping IS relaxing, but not the same kind of relaxing that you experienced on your honeymoon to Cancun.  there’s some work involved.  but the kids will love it and you might even be able to tackle that book you’ve been wanting to read while they’re having fun making mud pies.

So go ahead and camp.  You’ll never forget it.