Adventures, Encouraging Words

Let them figure it out


I don’t know if you can tell by the picture but my kiddos got a frisbee stuck in our magnolia tree. I have been watching them try to get it down for the past 30 minutes. They haven’t come to me for help and I am just letting them figure it out. I did jump in when they decided that a shovel was the best method. I suggested the broom and pointed out that the ladder was available. Other than that I haven’t given any help on how to solve this problem.
Sometimes as parents we jump in to quickly to solve the problem for our kids. Sometimes we wait to long and then there is disaster. It is a delicate line we walk as parents. When to reel in the kids and when to let them go. I say that if it isn’t going to cause a disaster, like someone getting hit on the head with the shovel one is using to get a frisbee out of a tree, let them go for it. Social situations are different, especially with a kid with a disability. Those I try to step in sooner so I can have my son actually do what is needed to resolve the situation.
Like all things knowing when to step in is a learning curve for us parents. I really would have liked an instruction book. Sigh, and now the frisbee is on the roof.
May God give you patience and grace. Keep on trail blazing.

Adventures, In the Kid Zone

The Summer Challenge

Summer is almost here and we get excited because we are together again. My daughter currently is attending a charter school and we have adopted her school schedule (which I love) for our home school schedule as well. So back to summer. Even us home school families get the summer blahs or just burned out during summer. So how do you make summer fun but not exhausting? Here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful for our family.

1. Don’t put your kids in a bunch of summer activities, aka day camps. This just frazzles the family. We usually pick only 2 things. Usually it is VBS and swimming lessons. My daughter has added a week long camp for art or dance. This year we are doing more swim lessons so camps are out. By limiting ourselves there is more room for spontaneous fun with Dad and friends. Our lives are so busy during the school year; why pack in summer as well? Everyone needs a rest.

2. Organize your time but be flexible. I know this is hard to do. I “organize” by making a list of activities I want to do with the kids. This does not exceed 1 per week. For example we are going to the Zoo, Discovery Center, Museums, and visit the Capital Building. To afford all of this you need to be creative. I have a family pass to the Zoo and Discovery Center. The passes are worth the upfront cost. I renew one at the beginning of the summer and another in the fall. The Museums have one a day a month where they are half price or free. The Capital Building is a self tour and doesn’t cost anything. Find out what is in your town. If you live in a small town this is where # 6 comes in real handy.

3. Make the outside fun. Take inventory of your outside fun things. Do you have chalk, bubbles, bug catching supplies, pool or sprinklers, bikes working, water bombs (post to come later how to make these), hula hoops (another fun DIY project), and the like? Home needs to be fun and that fun should be outside as much as possible. TV does not come on until the heat of the afternoon in our house. For most of the items mentioned I have a fun bucket. My kids are 10 and 8 so I can point to the fun bucket when the “I am Bored!” monster creeps into our house and off they go. For you moms with younger children this is a time to make their own fun bucket for age appropriate items. These are only for outside play and having a special bucket or box come out makes it even more fun for toddlers.

4. Plan for high heat and rainy days. This doesn’t seem to be a problem in our house IF we have spent enough time outside and away from our toys. Coming inside when the temperature rises is a welcome relief when kids are tired. On rainy days, no we don’t have them often in Southern Idaho, I get out a movie or our craft box. Legos are a must in our house. Puzzles and games are taken down from the closet.

5. Have a cleaning party at the beginning of the summer. Take a weekend and clean the house, inside and outside. Getting on top of chores is a key for a less stress summer. This way you are only mopping up after daily messes instead of deep cleaning after a week of partying. You can then have 1 hour in the morning to clean, yes it can be done, and the rest of the day to play. In the afternoon there is a quick pick up before dinner and then right before bed. This is our new plan because last summer was a total bust in this area. I procrastinate on cleaning and really need to work in this area of my life.

6. Combine forces! I have a great little group of moms from my church that meet once a month. During the summer we each pick an activity to host. Usually it is in the morning at a park. One mom in our group has a neighborhood pool that we will use. I am hosting a movie day during the heat of August. By having each mom take something we will have about 2 activities each month that we will not have to plan. The kids have fun with friends and we get to sip on iced coffee and chat! Win Win Baby!

7. Set your expectations to Relax Mode. Don’t have them set so high that you are running here and there and becoming frazzled. Keep summer to a minimum on the planning scale. You will be doing enough planning for a family vacation and trying to get your older kids off to summer camps. Some weeks will be busier. Some weeks will be more fun and you will feel like you are rocking it! Some weeks will make you feel like a slug. This is okay.

I hope some of these tips will be helpful for you. I will let you know through out the summer how we are doing.

May God give you grace and patience. Keep on trail blazing.


It is Never to late to Start a Family Tradition

Our oldest is 10, our youngest is 8 and we are still coming up with fun family traditions.  In fact we just started one last weekend.  We are calling our new tradition Dessert First Sunday.  Yes, that is correct, every  most Sundays we are going to eat dessert first and then have dinner later.  My parents invited us out for frozen yogurt late in the afternoon.  Well I was taking a nap so the hubby took the kids to let me rest.  When they got back they brought home dinner.  As the family conversation moved to having dessert and then dinner and how funny it was, a genious statement came out of a child’s mouth.  “We should have dessert first all the time!”  Then a more genious statement came from my hubby, “We should have dessert first Sundays!”  That was immediately a big hit.  So there it is: Dessert First Sundays.  Hopefully this will become a special tradition that the kiddos can carry on into their families!  I am hoping for a Dessert First Revolution!  So there you go.  It isn’t to late to start a family tradition that may last for generations!



It Be Pirate Day!

Ahoy! buckos it’s talk like a pirate day!  Time for a swashbuckling good time!  We be wearing our eye patches today and reading some pirate books.  So sail over to yer library and check out these books:

Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies

Henry and the Crazed Pirate Chickens

How I became a Pirate

Pirates Don’t Change Diapers

And for the older kids who can forget Treasure Island!

A pirate treasure hunt is a mighty fun time using your nature studies, arrrrr!

Adventures, Nature Studies

April Nature Studies

Well up here in the Northwest the old adage “April showers bring May flowers” is a reality for us.  What better time to study the water cycle?  In my home town we have a Nature Center and a Watershed Educational Center.  Both are free!  Even if you live in a small community that doesn’t provide such resources you can make up your own field trips.  Wether you live in the wet Northwest Mountains or the Southern Deserts, there are plenty of ways to teach about the water cycle just by going out into nature.  Plan a hike near a body of water.  If you are in the desert chances are you can discover a watering hole, natural or manmade.  Or just talk about how the plants and animals survive with so little water each year.  In the middle of the city you could us a fountain or manmade waterfall as an object lesson of the water cycle.  There is so much out there and it is just up to us to do a little research and get-up-and-go to achieve a great study!  Here are some resources to help get you started.

Teacher Resources

Create your own water cycle

Another good starting point


Spring Break!

My daughter attends a public charter school.  This weekend starts our spring break for two weeks!  This is a time for less “school” and more “educational fun”.  On our agenda this week is making homemade gummy candy, homemade oreo cookies, the zoo, hiking, our local botanical gardens, art museum, and the local aquarium.  Two weeks off of school is amazing!  The first week is spending time close to home baking and crafting.  The second week is going out and about.  If you live in the Boise area the first Thursday of every month there is free admission to the Art and History Museum.  Sweet!  I encourage all families you teach at home to take a week off for Spring Break.  What is so great is that you pick your week off.  Now go have fun!


A Boy and His Whale Shark

     First let me help you see the whale shark.  In the bottom left corner is the tail folded under.  Then as you follow the paper up from the tail you come to the fins, the paper on top of the body.  Then you see the squarish head, just perfect to feed on plankton.

      It is difficult to get into my son’s head at times.  Without the vocabulary to express one’s self it is difficult at best.  My son loves cars, trains, and anything with an engine.  He will race around the house with a “rocket ship” that can be anything from a bottle cap to a stick.  I must admit I worry at times about his creative and analytical skills.  He seems to be so one-sided.  He has never really been into “art”.  By art I mean coloring with crayons or painting.  Other kids seem to love this; not my son.

    Homeschooling gives me a chance to expose his little mind to different things.  At the end of February science was watching documentaries on sharks.  What he was getting out of it I couldn’t really tell.  Then the other day, out of the blue, he came to get me.  He excitedly exclaimed “Mom, look a whale shark!”  I walked into the kitchen and lo and behold there was a paper whale shark on our floor.  I was amazed at the ability of my son to take crumpled up packing paper from a box and turn it into art.  It is moments like this that show me he is doing well and thriving.  My daughter shows progress bit by bit.  My son has proven that he will take giant leaps in education.  I will just have to plug along and wait for those moments where he scales his mountains.

We tried to tape this behemoth to his wall but it wouldn’t stay up, it was too heavy.  So we threw away the body.  I folded and kept the fins so that he can draw a baby whale shark later this week.  The second shark we can easily tape to the wall.