Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Keeping a routine during Summer Time!

One of the hardest things for me during the summer is changing up our routine and helping my kiddos adjust to being home all of the time. This summer I'm trying to help them understand that just because they are home, it doesn't mean that they get to be lazy or just play all day. They still have things that they need to do each day before playing. Don't get me wrong, their day is mostly filled of having fun, but I do need to have some help around the house. I also want them to having active learning experiences daily to help them stay sharp and remember what they learned in school. Soooo with the help of Power of Moms Summer Camp and Family Systems Programs, I'm trying to have a fun filled summer with the kiddos!
First I made a daily to-do list for each child. My kiddos LOVE lists so hopefully they will LOVE checking off this list each day. It's a basic list of things that they need to do each morning, afternoon, and evening. I'm laminating them so that they can use them over and over. I think I will tape them to our wall by our calendar and other family items. Here is a blank one and one that I have filled out.  So far, it's working well.
One suggestion that the Summer Camp program says to do is to have themed days for the week. I found a couple online that I liked, but decided to do my own twist. Here is a copy of what I came up with.
I'm still working on the daily jobs and will share that schedule after I get it done. I hope this helps someone out! The most important thing is to enjoy your kiddos and make some fun memories this summer!


Family Vacation: South Dakota

We just got back from our family vacation to Western South Dakota. We live about 10 hours away, but thought it would be a great trip for our family. It involved a LOT of driving (both to SD and around to the sights), but our kiddos did great. It helped that Grandma & Grandpa came along with us.

I have had a lot of people ask "What is there to do in South Dakota?" There is actually a lot to do. I was pleasantly surprised :) I decided to share some of the fun things that we did. I'll also attach our itinerary just so you can see how we did everything. Obviously, depending on how much time and the age of everyone going on the trip, would depend on what you do. But at least it gives you a jumping off point.
Highlights

  1. Mount Rushmore - I know, I know, everyone knows about Mount Rushmore. Can I just say that is truly is amazing and spectacular! 
    •  Make sure that you go to the movie and learn about why and how it was built. 
    • Go in the morning for great lighting and less people.
    • Go to the evening Ranger Talk and lighting ceremony. Stay for the retiring of the flag for the opportunity to honor all of the veterans in the audience. 
    • Get the Jr. Ranger booklets for your kiddos to do. Then make sure they get their badge. (my kiddos learned a lot and thought it was great to get a badge). 
  2. Wind Cave National Park - This is one of the largest caves in the world. It is really cool. This is a great choice if the weather is stormy.



    • Go there first thing. They often sell out of tours. (It's first come, first serve).
    • Natural Entrance Tour is good for kids. We went on this one. It was a lot of walking and not as much talking. The kiddos LOVED walking through the cave and seeing how cool it was. They were patient during the stories that were told, but I think much more talking would have lost their attention. 
  3. Custer State Park - There is so much to do here!
    • Sylvan Lake is a fun place to stop for lunch. There is a beach where you can get in and swim. You can also hike around the lake and some cool rocks in the area. 
    • Needles Highway is a must drive. It is beautiful and majestic. Lots of great photo ops.
    • Wildlife Loop is great especially in the morning or early evening. We went during the middle of the day and didn't see as much as we would have at a different time of day. We saw buffalo, prarie dogs, wild turkeys, burros, deer, and antelope. 
    • Iron Mountain Road - Another cool drive with fun tunnels and bridges. If you can't do the whole thing, start on the Keystone side and just go up through a couple of tunnels and then turn around and go back down. 
  4. Story Book Island - This is a MUST DO if you have children younger than 12. It is a park themed after stories, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes.  We played there for a good 3-4 hours. It is free and one of the highlights of the trips for the whole family. I don't have any picture without my kiddos, but just trust me, it's SO FUN!
  5. Crazy Horse Memorial - This is amazing. I found it fascinating to learn so much about people dedicated to a cause and what they are willing to sacrifice for it. 
  6. Stay in Hill City - Hill City is centrally located but isn't as much as a tourist trap as Keystone and Custer. It's a quiet little city with some fabulous eating places (Bumpin' Buffalos, Alpine Inn, Hill City Cafe) and some fun museums and shopping. We stayed at Trails End Cabins. Can I just say, if you can at all possibly stay there, do so. Doug and Mary are the owners. They were so helpful and kind. They were willing to make suggestions and answer any questions that we had. There is a firepit, hot tub, patio, and bbq area that we enjoyed using. It is just a couple of blocks off of the main road and borders a forest area. It feels like your in the forest away from the city. Their prices were comparable to other hotels in the area and the service was beyond compare! 
That was our trip in a nut shell. If you want to see how it all came together. Here is a copy of our Itinerary. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Calling All Odd Squad Fans!

We made it through the birthday party! Yay! This was definitely challenge. I had to do it the old fashioned way! I watched several episodes of the show and played the games online. That helped to get the ideas flowing! Here is what I came up with.
 1. Badges as name tags
I made a page of badges and just printed it on yellow paper (saved me tons of colored ink :)). As each child came, they wrote their name and we taped it on their shirt. They also each received a small magnifying glass (dollar store, party favors section).  Unfortunately, the magnifying glasses didn't even make it through the party. (I think I would have just included them in the party favor envelope if I did it again).
2. I found a picture of a magnifying glass. I printed 3 pages off (2 per page). On each one, I wrote a mission (and numbered them). Here are some pictures of them.

I hid them all over the room and we had to find each mission clue and then do it before finding the next clue. We ended up skipping #4 because we had already done it as part of another game. The kids loved finding each mission.
The missions that we did were:
#1 - The shape monster came and hid all of the shapes. Can you find the shapes??  Each child looked for the shapes. After we found them all, we sorted them by shape and then colors.
#2 - The centigurps have escaped! The only way to get them back into their boxes is by carrying them on your head. Work with your team to get them in quickly! I bought a pom pom maker (such a great tool, I got mine at Micheal's) and made 20+ bright pink pom poms. They were a big hit! We divided the kids into two teams and gave them the same amount of centigurps. One child from each team ran with it on their head and dropped it into a box. Then ran back to their team and the next child went. The kids LOVED it and had a fun time. They enjoyed the centigurps so much that we put them all on a small parachute and tossed them up and down. When they all fell off of the parachute, we stopped and the kids had to catch them and put them back on. 
#3 - Agents need to stay in shape! Practice by going through the obstacle course. My friend has a gymnastics triangle and a hopscotch carpet. We borrowed those and used folding chairs for the kids to weave around ( you could use cones , we just didn't have any). We also had them throw ball pit balls into a basket. You could use anything around your house to make a fun obstacle course. The kids loved this one too! 
#4 - The ball pit balls are going crazy, try to keep them in the parachute without losing any! We didn't do this because we had used the parachute with the centigurps. 
#5 - All agents need to refuel. Take a break and have some lunch! I usually don't do food at parties because I would rather spend my time and money on games and the gifts we send home. However, I bought some cheap pizza and juice boxes for this party. I did this so I didn't have to worry about feeding my kids after the party. It was nice to take a break and eat for a few minutes. 
#6 - It's important to practice you counting skills! Play a little game of dice and cover the numbers as you go. I found some big dice at the dollar store and a four-leaf clover with numbers on it. The kids rolled the dice and cover the number. It was a fun game. 

After all of the missions were complete, we opened presents. We still had a few minutes before the party ended, so we decided to make special agent called #5 (that's how old the birthday child was turning). I found a number 5 and printed out a bunch and cute them out. The kids colored them, made arms and legs, and decorated them. 


As the party favors, I tried to put thing in that connected with the games we played. They each got a balloon, bouncy ball, two centigurps, a detective notebook and pencil.  I was going to put two dice in them, but forgot to pick them up at the dollar store when I was there. All of the items went into a small manilla envelope that had Top Secret written on it. I wrote their names on the envelopes as they picked them up. They had strict instructions that the envelope was top secret and should only be opened at home! The kids thought it was great!
The notebook had pages of activities that they could do. Some of the pages, I found online and edited them to make them work. Some I made my self. The notebook were the size of a 1/2 sheet of 8.5x11 paper. 
My kiddo that wanted the Odd Squad party was delighted with how it turned out. To me that meant that it was a successful party!
Here is a link to the files that I used.  As always, if you have any questions, please let me know! 
Have a Extraordinary Day!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Odd Squad Party Invitations

My sweet boy that is turning 5 in a few weeks, informed me that he wants to have an "Odd Squad" party! I was less than excited to organize this party because Odd Squad is a brand new show on pbs. The problem is that I have to create everything from scratch because there just isn't much out there for this show yet. It's a great little show that has odd things happen and the kids figure out the solution using math concepts. My kids LOVE it.
So today, I made up the invitations. I thought I would make some for those who might want one as well. I just found a graphic of the badge and went from there. This is what I came up with. I have a pdf file that I'm willing to share, just leave me a message and I'll email it to you. I also have a black and white version. There are four invites to each page and you just print them back to back. I used the black and white ones and printed them on yellow paper. It turned out great (and easy). I'll post more about the party after it actually happens! Good Luck!
UPDATE: Check out the next post for more details and how the party went. Also there is a link to the files that I used.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Birthday Gifts - Week 1

I was going to blog as I did each thing on my birthday list. But I don't have that much time, so I'm going to write (try to) once a week. I have found that I have changed some of the original ideas to fit our needs/experiences. Regardless of the changes, they are still random acts of kindness.
 So here are the things that we (I try to have the family help me) did this week.

#4. - Flowers to Hospital - actually I let C pick out flowers for his grandma who had a knee replacement a few weeks ago. He thought it was great! He said "We have to find one with purple flowers, because purple is her favorite color." He was so excited to give them to her.

#9. - Books for needy child - Again, I changed this one. It was Parent/Teacher Conferences this week. Of course, there was a book fair as well. We let L & C pick out books for their classes. It was fun to see how excited they were to give the book to their teachers. The teachers were excited to get a new book too.

#19. - Be a personal shopper for someone - I just picked out books for L's teacher. She had a credit and wanted some books, but was tired and didn't know if she would make it to the book fair before it closed. I offered to go get the books for her.

#30 - Let someone in front of you in line - My cart was full and guy came up behind us with just one item. I let him in front.

#35 - Make dinner for someone - I helped make dinner for the teachers one night during conferences. The lady that was in charge got sick and they needed some help. So I helped out.

I realize that I didn't do one each day, but I have been trying. The part that I love best is seeing my children experience the joy of serving.


Friday, January 25, 2013

My Birthday Gift

I had the wonderful experience of spending my birthday at Disneyland. That in and of itself made it a special day. A few months ago, I saw this blog post. I was planning on doing something similar for my birthday, but it didn't work out with being at Disneyland.
So I decided that instead of doing all of those things in one day, I'm going to try to do the following things over the course of the next 36 days. I'm not doing them in any particular order, just what I feel like needs to be done that day. Here is my list, but it is subject to change :)


Random Acts of Kindness

1. Mailman package
2. Firefighter treats
3. Assisted living visit - hand made cards.
4. Flowers to the hospital
5. Homemade coloring books and crayons in waiting rooms
6. Change in the vending machine
7. Treats for mechanic
8. Food pantry
9. Books for needy children
10. Notes to church leader
11. Treats for librarian
12. Collect carts at a store
13. Presents to random children at a park
14. Send a note to a missionary/ military person
15. Hiding dollars in toy aisle of Dollar tree
16. Buy something from dollar store to give to someone
17. Buy a book to pass along
18. Read a book to a child
19. Be a personal shopper for someone
20.  Treat someone to lunch
21. Leave a gift for the server
22. Mail out some coupons with a note.
23.  Leave diaper and wipes on a changing table
24. Run an errand for someone
25. Pick up trash
26. Leave a smile
27. Pass out silly bandz to random kids.
28.  Drive nice
29.  Donate to good will
30. Let someone in front of you in the line.
31. Give a care package to a homeless person
32. Spend time playing with your children.
33. Call a friend just to talk
34. Mail your neighbor a thank you card
35. Make dinner for someone just because
36. Pay for the car behind you at the drive thru
I have some other ideas as well, but am planning on making it through this list first.
Today was my first day at it. Today I did number 31. I keep a stash of "homeless" care packages in my van. When ever I see someone with a sign, I try to give them one. It is neat way to help someone who is in need without giving them money. It is also neat to see my children help me "find" the people we want to help.
Some ideas of things to include in a 'care package' are:
granola bars
gloves
socks
hats
fleece blanket
bottle of water
tissues
soap
chap stick
little cup of fruit & a plastic spoon
wipes
deodorant
Here is a website with lots of other ideas too.
I just pop a few items in a grocery bag and tie it shut. I then store the grocery bags in a plastic box by my seat that I can get to easily while driving.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Disneyland 2013!

We just got back from our family vacation for this year. We went to Disneyland. This was the first time that I had been since I was about 10 years old. Our children were so excited to go for the first time. I tried to find out some tips for going with young children, children with special needs, and being pregnant. There were lots of websites that I found to be helpful. I decided that I would share some things that we found useful during our visit to the Magic Kingdom. Take them for what they are worth!
(We had 3 day passes with one Magic Morning Entry to Disneyland. We have 3 small children (3,4,7) and I'm 6 months pregnant. Our oldest is on the Autism Spectrum. We were also trying to save as much money as possible:)

Tips:
1. FOOD: Take lunch and healthy snacks with you. We ate breakfast at our hotel and then headed out for the day. We made lunch before leaving and took TONS of food with us in our stroller to munch on throughout the day. This proved to be very nice because we didn't have to stop to eat dinner, we just ate a snack. After the park closed (8p.m. in the winter), we took time to eat. 
     We found that having a fridge and microwave in our hotel room was so nice. It meant that we could make our own meals if we wanted to. We also found that Mimi's Cafe and Food 4 Less were two places that had reasonable prices. We utilized their coupons and were able to save extra money.
2. WATER:  Take a water bottle and stay hydrated! There are numerous water fountains located in both Disneyland and California Adventure. We took water bottles with us and refilled them when ever we had a bathroom break. For me, I found that I stayed hydrated better if I took the lid off of the water bottle rather than sip it from the spout. I also found that the days that I stayed hydrated, I felt better and wasn't as tired by the end of the day.
3.  SPECIAL NEEDS: We picked up a "Guest Assistance" pass the first morning that we were there. Basically you talk to a  cast member about the needs you have and they give you a pass to help you out. It was a blessing for us.
4. PREGNANT: I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to go on a lot of the rides. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that there were no warnings concerning any health concerns on most rides. I also learned that the warnings are only "recommendations" and that they won't stop you from riding those rides. I have to admit that I did choose to go on some of the rides with warnings. That was a personal choice and I recommend that you decide what your body and baby can handle. If I had any question about my safety, then I didn't go on it.
     Another tip that I would recommend is purchasing a maternity support belt. If you are just barely pregnant, you may not need one. However if your tummy is showing, I would HIGHLY recommend it. There are several on the market. This is the one that I used, but I'm sure any of them would work fine. I found that this was a lifesaver! I know that it helped me in a lot of ways. At first, I was very embarrassed to be wearing it. But as I wore it, I saw how much it helped and I stopped complaining about using it. I don't know how I would have made it without one.
     The last tip for pregnant women, let your husband pick up the little ones, push the stroller, and do all of the extra stuff that needs to be done. I didn't do this the first day and by the time that we got back to the hotel, I was feeling it. The next two days I was better about it and it made a HUGE difference. My husband was a star about helping me out and I appreciated it SO much!
5. MAGIC MORNING: I didn't realize that the Magic Morning entry only applies to Tomorrow Land and Fantasy Land. For us, we had our choice between Tuesday or Thursday. Since our first day in the parks was on Tuesday, we opted to save it for Thursday. It was hard to get up and get going that morning because we were so tired, but I'm glad that we used it. We chose to hit Fantasy Land because it gets SO busy during the day. It worked out great for us and we were able to ride the rides we hadn't gone on because of long lines.
6.  TIMING:  We found that timing was everything. We tried to get to the parks early and found that to be very rewarding. On Tuesday, we were there when California Adventure opened up. We walked into Cars Land and found that EVERYONE was headed for the Radiator Springs Racers ride. We noticed that Lightning McQueen was waiting for people to come see him. We were able to walk right up and talk to him. We also were able to walk right onto the other two rides. By the time we went on the Racers ride, we didn't have to wait as long. It was sweet!
7. HIDDEN GEM: A hidden gem that we didn't know about until the last 30 min. of our last day was
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail! This is taken from  the movie "Up" and is a course for children to earn "wilderness badges" My husband had mentioned it, but I didn't know what it was until we were passing by and saw the signs. Our children LOVED it. It was a great way to end the day. They were tired and complained about going in, but once they were in, they didn't want to come out! My only regret was that we had tried it out sooner.
Our trip to Disneyland was magical and wonderful! I hope that the insights that we gained can help your trip to be just as magical for your family. We highly recommend going in January! It was warm, not crowded, warm, fast lines, and did I mention WARM? (At least from our perspective of 20degrees :)
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