Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Slow Summer Days: Why Our Kids Are Not Signed Up for Everything

Summer is in full swing here and we are taking full advantage of the time off from school.  We aren't filling our time up with summer camps and classes, but instead we are intentionally staying home.  Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that almost everything has a summer program.
We could easily sign our kids up for something every week we are off. 

But you know what? I'm not signing them up.

Well, Kayla is signing up for one dance camp so she can try a different style of dance. And the kids are going to Vacation Bible School. But that's it. 

Aren't they bored? Don't they get on your nerves?....Yes, sometimes. But that's ok!  I actually want my kids to be bored. If my kids are bored, they will eventually find something to do.  If they don't, they are bored all day. Let me tell you that it only takes one or two long and boring days before the figure it out and start to get excited about their free time and all the possibilities. 

 They end up using their imaginations and creating something out of a fort or a box. Cardboard boxes are a hot commodity in this house.  They will spend hours making something out of a box. When we bought our book shelves, they used the boxes to make a movie theater. Really it was a puppet theater but they called it a movie theater. They made little puppets out of paper and popsicle sticks for several Disney movies. They had a blast!  

Another time it was a drive-in. 

Imagination has been taken out of everything. It isn't encouraged in school and at home we often don't give it time to develop.  Our society is so quick to fill our kids' time. We think they need to be busy all the time.  And video games. Even if they are limited, they can become a crutch.  Playing games...even educational ones, don't require any imagination. It's all there and done for them. 

I am also trying to add in a few adventures.  An adventure can be anything out of the ordinary. Maybe a spontaneous trip to the lake (20 minutes away for us). A surprise ice cream run in pajamas. A super messy craft or experiment that I wouldn't normally do. Even as simple as playing outside later than normal. We live in the south and it is H. O. T. during the day.  I love bedtime and I am usually pretty strict about sticking to it. But you know what? It feels great to play outside in the evening after dinner. Sometimes they even sleep in the next morning!

We are spending the summer soaking up the free time together.  We only have 18 together with each one.  Kayla is turning 10 this fall...so we have 8 left. We're making them count!

And here's this cutie just because he's cute. So squishy!

Are you having any little adventures with your kiddos this summer?  I'd love to hear about them! 

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sidewalk Paint

Sidewalk paint is such a fun activity for the kids!  All you need is cornstarch, water, and food coloring. 
This is by no means a picky recipe. I just eyeball it. I added cornstarch and water to each muffin cup and mixed. It should be pretty watery. Then I let the kids add the coloring. 
The trick is to stir the paint with the paintbrush when you dip the brush brcause the cornstarch settles. 

Hope your summer is off to a great start!

Monday, June 8, 2015

5 Things I Do When I Feel Overwhelmed

As mamas we have so much on our plates. Our to-do lists are endless and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and slip into survival mode. 

I can't possibly do all things well and with a great attitude. I know that I need God to do all that through me. 

Here are 5 things I do when I'm feeling overwhelmed. 

1. Clean the Kitchen
Do the dishes and wipe the counters down. I make sure I put away anything that doesn't belong as I go. 

2. Vacuum
For me, vacuuming makes a big difference. The floor gets picked up quickly and the vacuum lines make me feel like the room is so much cleaner. Vacuuming is a quick way to make a difference. 

3. Declutter a room
All I do is grab a grocery bag and quickly walk around getting rid of things we don't need. Most of what I pick up is just thrown away but if someone could use it, I just put it in the donation bag in my closet. 

4. Clear off your bedroom surfaces
Having my dresser and nightstand a cleared when I go to bed feels so good.  I don't want the last thing I see to be something not done. I sleep much better (or at least I think I do) when my room is uncluttered. 

5. Make a to-do list
I take a couple of minutes at night to write down what I need to do the next day. I try to be realistic. I know I'm not going to get to 5 projects.  I also wrote down something just for me. Something I like to do. 

Here is a bonus.... I don't sort the laundry. Well, at least not as carefully as usual. My goal is to just get it done.

My babies are blessings. I need to remind myself to enjoy them and see them as that even on the days I am in survival mode!   

Here's to a great week!

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Friday, June 5, 2015

4 Things I Learned in May

Ok. So I have been following The Nester for a long time and recently started binge listening to the Hope*oligie  podcasts at night while I'm cleaning up. 

Love it. 

Wish there were more.  

Since I started listening, I began following Emily's blog, Chatting at the Sky and found a fun monthly link up. 

Here's my list. 

4 Things I Learned in May. 

1. Playing mind tricks on myself works. 

Since Joseph arrived in January, I have been in an almost constant state of behind. I'm behind on laundry. Behind on cleaning. Behind on cooking. 
I'm mostly ok with it. This is just our life with three kids who are usually at home with me. I know I need to give myself a little grace. Or a lot. 

I started playing mind tricks with myself to feel like I'm ahead.  At the end of the day I have a routine for getting the house in order and then myself ready for bed.  Doing something early that is usually at the end of the routine makes me feel like I'm ahead. I'm doing the same amount of work, I know. But I feel like I'm done early. 
Makes me smile every time. 

2. 15 minutes can be all it takes to stay sane.

I love to create. It is usually some form of hand lettering. This month I started taking at least 15 minutes a day to work on something. Usually it's just writing in my idea notebook but doing something I love to do feels good!

3. I like the quiet.

I have a child who, when she's in a good mood, will talk, make noise or sing...constantly. I asked her if she just really likes to use her voice (nice way of saying 'is it hard for you to be quiet') and she said yes, giggled, and went about her singing. 

I don't. 
I like for there to be quiet. I like to think. Our second child is like that. 
Jury is still out on the third, but I have hopes. 

4. I am horrible at texting.

I have a very quick trigger finger when it comes to texting. I hit send so fast that I don't even have a chance to notice that I type things like "these lightning notices are really creaking me out" to my friend during a storm. Or no oroblem instead of no problem. And I always feel I need to fix them with another text even though I know the person I'm texting is capable of figuring out what I meant. I can't help it. 

The best example happened the other day....technically in June, but it confirmed what I began to own in may.  I have kids. I'm busy. So I dictate a lot of my texts.  The other night I was getting all the kids ready for bed when a friend was expected to come pick up a sign for the dance recital. I set the sign outside in case I couldn't get out there when they arrived. I don't know her TOO well yet..which made this much more embarrassing.  I was trying to say that I saw them pull up but I had a naked baby on my bed. We had just finished bath time. INSTEAD my pone decided to tell her that I saw her but I had to MAKE a baby on my bed.

Not at all the same. 
Totally different.

Totally embarrassing.

There you have it. 4 Things I learned in May.

Hope your weekend is great and all your texts are correct!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

We Grew Crystals!

At some point during the year I asked the kids what they wanted to learn about.  Kayla chose crystals. So a quick Pinterest search and we came across this tutorial.  
All you need is alum and water.  We learned that alum is a sulfate that is used to make pickles crunchy.  Next time I can a batch of pickles I'll try it!

Start by stirring in a teaspoon of alum in about a cup of hot water until it dissolves. Continue this until it no longer dissolves.  Just to give you an idea, we were in the 12-14 teaspoon range.  

Now you have a saturated mixture.
We kept a science journal this year (when I remembered to have them add to it) and we kept an almost daily record of this experiment. On the first day I had the kids write just a couple of sentences about what we did and they drew a picture. 

That's it for day one. 

Day 2.  You'll see a bunch of tiny crystals covering the bottom of your jar.
After the kids check it all out, have them pick out a big one. (it's still tiny) Now tie a piece of fishing line to it. This was the hardest part of the whole experiment. Tie the crystal to a pencil. 
Before you return the crystal to the liquid, clean out the jar. Pour the liquid into a second jar. You will have to do this on an almost daily basis from here on out. You want your crystal to be the only one in the liquid so it can grow as big as it can. 
Now that you have clean liquid, lay the pencil across the top of the jar and let the crystal hang in the liquid. Make sure it isn't touching the bottom or sides.
Don't forget to record your steps and observations in your journal!
Check on your crystal every day. It will grow quickly! Remember to clean out any new crystals that you find. You can retie your crystal to keep it from growing around the fishing line. We left ours while we were out of town and they grew over. No big deal. 
Record your observations!
The picture above is just a few days into the experiment. The picture below is a few weeks. At this point we were only journaling once a week. 
See how long you can keep your crystal growing. We left ours for a while and a new crystal had formed under the main one. 

Over the years I had tried different ways to grow crystals. This was by far the best result!

I post pictures and updates regularly on Facebook and Instagram. Follow along and see what we're up to!