Browsing Category: mother’s sanity

#savemychristmas

savemychristmas

This past weekend my children were packing for a weekend away at the grandparents, while the husband and I were packing for a weekend away with each other. (Best Christmas present we give ourselves every year.) As my daughter contemplated what to bring (she comes by her over packing tendencies naturally), she began to stress over her advent calendars.

Does she take them with her?

Does she open them early, since she would be gone one full day of advent?

Does she open them late?

Is Christmas ruined?

Did you happen to catch the part where I said advent calendars? Yes, my children have multiple calendars they open each morning in December helping them countdown the days until Christmas. We usually try and purchase them each a Lego Advent Calendar as an early Christmas present (except for the years in which I forget to buy these cursed things in October and panic when they become terribly overpriced by Thanksgiving). Both kids also have a 99 cent chocolate advent from Trader Joes (Again…purchase early. Stores sell out pre-Thanksgiving. I purchased so many when they were released the cashier half-jokingly asked if I was reselling them on Facebook. I told him I only do that with Hatchimals. These festive chocolates were for our various homeschool co-ops, thankyouverymuch.)

(And I do not really do that with Hatchimals because I did not know they were a thing until too late)

If you are counting, so far my daughter is up to two advent calendars: the Lego and the chocolate. Last year right before Christmas the husband and I stumbled up a Nutcracker-themed charm bracelet Advent calendar (Open a box each day and get a charm) drastically reduced in price at Neiman Marcus. We snatched it up and stored it away for this year.

That is now three advent calendars.

Finally, the girl crafted a calendar of good deeds at church a few weeks ago. This is similar to the old school paper chain of yesteryears. Every day she pulls off a chain and performs the good deed. She was quite proud of herself for making one of those good deeds read, “Be kind to Mommy.” I did not question why that was not a daily occurrence for her.

See her delimia? The girl has FOUR advents to maintain on a daily basis. A mere weekend away makes everything askew.

Christmas time is magical. City streets glow with festive lights. Radio stations blare carols 24/7. Commercials are jolly as people frolic in the snow in their newly purchased luxury SUV.

Yet sometimes we are left feeling exhausted, frantic, and bit sad.

Questioning how in the world we are going to maintain things like four advent calendars (or crazy shopping lists or 27 school holiday events or the laundry) while merrily counting down 24 days until Christmas…

If this is you, understand I am right there with you. I struggle between finding the joy of the season and not letting the pace of the season completely tackle me and leave me stranded in a sea of wrapping paper, half-eaten peppermint bark, and an abandoned list of all the holiday movies I must watch this year.

Follow along with me this week as I discuss ways to Save Your Christmas, helping your family fight free from the stress of the holidays and find ways to simply enjoy the season. I have some giveaways to share as well as some opportunities to keep up with casa de phillips in the new year.

If you are looking for ways to carve out more JOY and less busy as we near December 25th, hopefully this little piece of the internet will help you in this task.

At the very least it just reminded you to purchase Lego advent calendars early next year.

 

 

Why Mama Needs a Hobby…other than laundry

You know what make social media super great at times?

When people unknowingly fall for things posted by The Onion.

People ranting about social issues, people selling the lasts MLM product(*), people “vaguely” referencing family drama all under the guise of “asking for prayers”…those make social media a beating at times.

Yet nothing makes me feel more giddy than when someone posts a link to an article by The Onion…a notorious SATIRE site…along with a comment about “Can you believe this?”

I can giggle at this because I have TOTALLY been that person before.

Lately, my favorite Onion post on Facebook has been the one about how mom spends beach vacation doing the same household chores in closer proximity to the beach.

Can I get an amen?

Sometimes as moms we loose ourselves in motherhood. We find joy in parenting, in taking care of our homes (thanks, Joanna Gaines!), in tending to our spouse. These are all good things. However we can look up one day and realize past loves…reading, crafting, biking, muesem-hopping…have all taken a backseat to taking care of our families. If faced with a questionnaire in which someone inquires about hobbies, moms suddenly find themselves writing down such options as “Stain Removal from Resaleable Gymboree Clothing” or “Reloading the Dishwasher for the Third Time that Day“.

Readers, if you would answer a questionnaire with similar answers, it is time for you to get a hobby.

This summer, I have set aside a time to work on one of my hobbies. I made it very clear to the kids that I am working on something that is important to me and I would like peace and quiet to finish the task. If they need me for something super important, they are welcome to come and talk to me. Otherwise I am to be left alone.

Some days this hour in the morning comes and goes and the children hardly realize they are leaving me alone.

Then there are days when they simply cannot help themselves and find the need to ask me all sorts of pointless questions.

Perhaps they fear I am lonely. Or doing something uber fun. Or eating secret chocolate chip cookies without them.

Whatever the reason, there are days that this sacred time I have carved out is bombarded by two long-legged kids throwing themselves across my bed tossing out such important questions as “What is the schedule for next Tuesday?” and “Are there any chocolate chips in the freezer?”

Earth-shattering stuff.

I answer their questions and send them on their way, reminding them that mom is working on her hobby and needs some quiet during the designated time. Fortunately I have children who understand the need for peace and space (praise hands for kids that are slightly introverted like their parents) and generally respect the time I have allotted for my hobby.

hobby

Want to carve out time for your own personal hobby? Here are some steps to start down that path.

1. Choose a Hobby.

This is obvious, right? However, as we venture further into this mothering gig sometimes past hobbies become a bit of a blur. Take time to think about what you would like to do/create/visit. Think about available resources. If your hobby includes hiking the mountains and you live in West Texas, it may be time to dream up a different option.

2. Tell the Family

No one will know that mom is wanting to venture out on her own if she never mentions it. Tell you family about your hobby. Explain to them why it is important to you and why you want to pursue this. Remember, your kids have hobbies as well. They “get” wanting to do something you love (unless they are in the under three crowd and their hobby is tearing about the house. In that case, talk to your spouse about your hobby.)

3. Make a Plan

Nothing can happen in regards to your hobby until you make a plan for that hobby. For example, when I decided to specifically devote time to my hobby this summer I allocated a time in which to do this hobby. For me, I work on it from 8-9am in the morning. I keep this time sacred. I do not allow cleaning the bathrooms to take precedence or opt to drag the kids to the grocery store instead. This hour is hobby time.

4. Get started.

I am a big fan of Jon Acuff and especially his book “Do Over”. Good stuff there, readers. Sometimes we can make a plan but we never actually get started on said plan. You know those chore charts taped to your fridge to remind your kids to pick up their dirty clothes and brush their teeth?  That same principal will work for you. Jon Acuff has a whole movement helping adults actually make a plan happen by marking off in 15 minute increments when one actually DOES what they planned to do. Get the printable here.

 

What is your hobby? How are you going to make that hobby happen?

Share with all of us so we can be inspired to step out of the laundry room and embrace some time for ourselves.

 

(* I love me a good 31 bag and some essential oils. In no way am I criticizing my MLM friends.)

Confession time

Every Thursday afternoon my kids take a homeschool PE class. They have been enrolled in it all year and it is one of the highlights of their week. They are learning different skills and building muscles.

It is one of the highlights of my week as well.

Confession: I totally hide out in my car with a book, my phone and a large ice tea during this hour long class. Because of the nature of this class, parents are encouraged to stay. Unless the weather is horrible, the class is held outside . All the parents seem to congregate under a tree and chat for an hour while the kids run around like the little crazy people they are.

Except me.

I want that hour of quiet to read my latest book or catch up with a friend on the phone . I want to have absolute quiet and not have to make awkward conversation about curriculum (the go-to homeschool discussion topic when meeting new people). So every week I watch PE from the comfort of my car, watching the kids as they attempt to do such “fun” things like army crawling across a muddy field .

Another confession about this time: the coach attempts to get parents to participate at the end and I delibertly sabatoge my ability to play.

Yeah, I took PE in both school and in college. I do boot camp three times a week. I run around with my kids. I am good, dude.

The game he wants us to play is called “GaGa Ball” this generations answer to the “cruelity” of dodge ball (seriously…it is safe dodgeball. What type of kids are we raising if they may enter adulthood never knowing the fear of having a ball thrown directly at one’s face? ). Playing involves scaling a wooden fence and entering an all dirt arean. One then must knock a ball around with their hands and attempt to hit other players shoes.

Therefore every Thursday I either have on the following: super nice shoes, a dress, or a skirt. Such a wardrobe prevents me from having to scale a fence and play a dusty game of GaGa ball. Mr. Coach, I pay you to play sports with my kids for an hour so I can have a bit of peace.

No worries, though. I am back on duty as soon as that last game of fake dodgeball has ended and the kids pile into the fa

 

Surviving Summer: Water Balloons

The first time the water balloon burst in my face, soaking my shirt and my recently cleaned bathroom mirror I attempted to laugh it off.

The third time I held back curses against the maker of water balloons.

The fourth time I contemplated laying on the bathroom floor and crying.

The fifth time I threw the entire package of 250 water balloons into the trash, cursed their maker and questioned how anyone with normal sized fingers was ever supposed to tie those slippery little things.

Obviously it is summer at casa de phillips and Pinterest is inspiring me to be all crafty and fun with my kiddos. I love me some Pinterest, but I do have to give myself a little bit of credit and acknowledge that I was crafty in the pre-Pinterest days as well. However, now I can merely find hundreds of ideas of ways to entertain, teach and play with my kids in mere seconds.

Today’s inspiration involved water balloons.

These particular water balloons were purchased in what I believe to be a moment of insanity last summer. They called to me from the section of the Target Dollar Spot, promising hours of water fun for my kids. These little pretties sat unopened in a play bucket in our garage for a year. Apparently that moment of insanity cured itself last summer and I never felt the urgent to actually open the purchased balloons and put them to good use.

Until today.

Summer has a new bit of pressure for moms. I believe that the pressure used to be “How am I going to entertain my children during the summer break without listening to cartoons 24/7, breaking up arguments and wondering who has been putting popsicles in the cat food bowl?” Now summer has morphed into “How am I going to creatively and energetically entertain my children in such a magical way during summer break without listening to cartoons 24/7, breaking up arguments and wondering who has been putting popsciles in the cat food bowl?”

Make no mistake, I love every summer entertainment tip out there. However, it can put a bit of pressure (IF we allow it…such the key phrase here, Mamas) on the mom as she attempts to make summer AMAZING! MAGICAL! MOMENTOUS!. Suddenly mom finds herself standing in the master bathroom of her home, hair dripping, water staining the mirror, surrounded by 15 ripped and broken water balloons.

As I stuffed the package of water balloons into the garbage, my two kids ran into the bathroom ready for this fun and amazing game I had promised. They had finished their school work, done their chores, ran around the house like crazy people, argued about the origin of Charlie and Lola and now were ready to have all this fun mom promised.

“All that fun” which I just happened to have stuffed into the trash can.

Deciding that I could either burst their little bubbles or get a bit creative, I opted for the later. We hunted down a pack of spare balloons (likely leftover from a birthday party) and attempted to fill those with water. This endeavor was way more successful than my previous attempt. We hauled out the balloons to the driveway, grabbed some sidewalk chalk and created “The Great Balloon Toss of 2012”.

In all honesty, the game did not work so well. The balloons did not burst until the 5th or 6th time they were thrown. I forgot to have the kids keep the score about halfway through the game. We did not even attempt to do a fancy over-the-shoulder throw or a closed-eye toss.

 

Yet the kids thought it to be the best game ever.

 

 

Which made it successful in my book.

 

 

Plus, the mirror in my bathroom is REALLY clean now…

School’s Out for Summer….now what?

Our home school journey ended for this year last Thursday and Miss E. wrapped up preschool yesterday.

In fact, here is the standard first day/last day of school comparison picture.

 See what happens when you feed children? They grow. It kindof makes my mommy heart hurt just a bit to see how old she looks on the right.

As school is finished we now enter that glorious time known as summer.

Also known to suburban moms everywhere as “Project: Keep-my-children-entertained-so-they-do-not-drive-me-bananas“.

 

This year I have a new summer schedule. As the children have grown older, our summers are a bit more full. I like such “fullness” because it allows us to have things to look forward to and keeps the word “Bored” from our vocabulary. I have cooked up a whole new summer schedule that I will be blogging about soon. In the meantime I wanted to share some tips for moms for keeping their sanity during the summer months.

 

Make a Schedule

 

Remember summer as a teenager?  Alarms clocks really only have to be used for Sunday morning church services. Breakfast can be eaten at 11am. Major decisions involved choosing between lying out at the pool or at the lake that day.

 

Yeah, those days are done.

 

Summers for moms can be three months of one test of patience after another. Although moms desire for the summer months to be relaxed, approaching this time without a schedule can lead to a disaster.

 

I really encourage moms to make a basic schedule for the summer day. This prevents kids sitting in front of the television all day in their PJs. It is a way to provide order and structure to the day. You may not use this every day, but it is a good place for families to start when organizing their summer.

 

Sample Schedule:

7:30am: Get up, make bed, and get dressed for the day

8 am: Breakfast

8:30-9:00: Morning chores

9:00 -9:30: Family Reading Time

9:30 – 11:30: Summer Activity

12:00: Lunch

1:00 – 2:00: Quiet time in rooms

2:00 – 3:00: Organized craft/learning activity

3:00-4:30: Outside free play

4:30- 6:00: Dinner prep, independent play, eat, clean-up

6:30-7:30: Family Down Time

7:30:Bath, books, bed

8:30: Lights Out (earlier for the littles)

 

Weekly Activity Schedule:

Monday: Home

Tuesday: Library

Wednesday: Service Project

Thursday: Pool

Friday: Field Trip

 

Be careful not to over schedule…

 

We are fortunate in that we live in a large metropolitan area. If one desired, their child could attend various camps, lessons, and events every day of the week during the summer.

 

And start off school in August completely exhausted and worn-out.

 

Be cautious when signing kids up for summer activities. Carefully pick and choose one major thing (sleep-away camp, if age-appropriate) and perhaps two smaller things (an organized sport and a lesson of some sort). Resist the urge to sign kids up for everything. It might feel beneficial to let kids experience a whole lot in their two months of summer, but in actuality it is harmful.

 

 

Set Goals and Objectives

 

Have a family meeting a few weeks before summer begins and brainstorm ideas of what each member would like to do that summer. Some possible areas include:

Something they want to learn,

 Something they want to eat,

Something they want to Do,

Something they want to make.

 

Really have fun with this brainstorming session and make a master chart. After the session is over, narrow the chart down into realistic, attainable goals/activities that the family can attempt to accomplish over the summer.

 

This is a great way to bond as a family during the summer. It also forces mom and dad to PLAN AHEAD when getting summer organized.

 

Join a Reading Program

 

Summer is an excellent time to get kiddos reading. I am a big proponent of families joining in reading together. When kids see parents reading or have parents read to them, they develop a love for books. Kids should read or be read to at least 30 minutes a day. Many local libraries, restaurants, and businesses have summer reading programs.

If joining a structured reading program sounds like too much to keep up with, create a family reading program. Set a goal for each family member of the number of books they hope to read during the summer months and then set a family reward for when everyone reaches their goal.

Reading chapter books together as a family is a great way to bring everyone together and share time immersed in a story. Some great chapter books that kids of all ages enjoy are: Little House on the Prairie series, Magic Tree House series, Chronicles of Narnia, My Father’s Dragon series, Hugo Cabret. Also, check out the dollar spot at Target. They carry a wide range of classic novels written in a style perfect for kids.

 

Take a Weekly Field Trip

Nothing can make kids (and moms) feel cranky and stir-crazy like sitting around the house. Plan a weekly field trip for each week in the summer. Personally, I like to schedule ours for Fridays. The great thing about the internet is that someone in your area has likely already comprised a list of activities that are free/cheap for families to enjoy. Just use your favorite search engine and get ready to paint the town red!

 

If you live in my area, here are some activities that we enjoy:

McKinney Avenue Trolley (free)

Fort Worth Botanical Gardens (free)

Farmers Market (Grapevine, Coppell,Dallas…all free)

U Pick Farms (Fall Creek Farms)

 W

Museums (look for ½ price days, discounted rates after 5pm)

Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive inDallas

Summer Theater (Oh Look! In Grapevine, Casa Manana)

Summer Concert Series in the park

 

Learn Something

Carve out time weekly (daily) to work on educational pursuits with your kiddos. Do not feel like you have to do something extravagant with your kiddos in order to do something educational with them during the summer. You can make it as simple as picking up some workbooks for the summer or really dive into something elaborate. The important thing is to carve out time daily to focus on academics, despite the age of the child.

 

Math Drills (works for all ages)

Science Experiments

Do-it-yourself Games (color matching, sight word bean bag toss)

Published curriculum: Five in a Row

Investigate a subject and make a lap book

Have a family summer research project

 

Host a Kid Swap

Despite having a routine in place and a focus for the summer, we can still get a bit weary of our kids and they can get weary of us. Enter: The Kid Swap. Team up with a fellow mom and decide on a few dates during the summer when you each host a kid swap. Perhaps you take turns where one mom has all the kids while the other mom gets some free time to herself or maybe you just trade one of your kids for one of hers. When doing this be sure to establish some basic ground rules between the two families. When hosting, plan one structured activity for the kids and then allow for some free time. Keep the kid swap to less than three hours long.

 

 

Spend Time outside Every Day (and not just in the pool)

 

Summers are brutal here inTexasand once we continuously hit the 100 degree mark, going outside can be tough with little ones. However, growing bodies need time outdoors to run and play. They need time to explore nature. Do not let the heat deter you from taking little ones out to play. Some guidelines for getting outside everyday include:

  • Get out early. Consider taking a breakfast picnic to a local park.
  • Stock up on cheap outside fune: sidewalk chalk, water balloons, little race cars and army men, jump ropes
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt.
  • Keep a nature journal.
  • Create an obstacle course in the backyard.
  • Organize a neighborhood bike club.

 

Keep Meals Simple

Our generation is starting to step back into the kitchen. There has been a resurgence of women wanting to cook healthy, decent meals for their families. With this resurgence brings elaborate dinner plans and long hours logged in the kitchen…not the best way to spend every late afternoon in the summer. This summer be committed to providing simple, easy meals for your family. Avoid resorting to fast food but also avoid the 10 step recipes that call for 20 different ingredients.

 

  • Take advantage of the Farmers Market, providing simple fruits and veggies for the family to eat.

 

  • Have a stash of snacks ready to go that are healthy and easy for little hands to grab on their own by creating a snack station.

 

  • Teach kids how to make their own breakfast and lunch.

 

  • Bring the family into the kitchen with you.

 

  • Make a simple summer menu consisting of about ten recipes and simply rotate them during the summer months

 

Serve Someone Else

Summer break can be very kid-centric. It is based on the idea that kids are getting a “break” from the hard job of school. This is correct, but kids need to also understand that there are others living outside of their immediate circle of friends and family. I desperately want my children to understand that not everyone is living the suburban lifestyle they are so accustomed to…that the world does not begin and end with them. Take time this summer to serve others as a family.

 

  • Random Acts of Kindness (blessing strangers with gift cards, acts of service, quarters taped to a machine)

 

  • Find out who in your neighborhood/church/community needs help with a yard. Even young kids can help pull weeds or tote trash bags.

 

  • Bake treats for a fire station or nursing home

 

  • Collect school supplies during the summer for all the back-to-school drives in August

 

 

 

Plan this summer, take time to create some good memories with your kiddos, but also just relax. Keep it simple. Take time to enjoy the family rather than the constant hassle of creating a three month long party for your little ones.

 

 

“Mom Gives Up Diet Soda and Survives”

I am a thirsty person.

I truly believe I was born thirsty, as I have always felt the need to be drinking something. I drink a crazy amount of liquids during the day. Bless any wait staff who works the table I sit at in a restaurant because they will be doing double-time to keep my drink filled.

My thirstiness intensified when I was pregnant with both of my kiddos, which I did not even think was possible. I would order two drinks when out to eat and advise the waiter that I would be in need of LOTS of water.

In the past, my go-to drinks were diet sodas. I lived for the Sonic Happy Hour and Route 44’s. I would often run out at night once the kids were in bed and grab a big gulp of soda for the husband and myself at the nearest gas station.

Like I said, I am a thirsty person.

In the fall, I started to realize that despite my extreme thirst, I probably needed to back off of the diet sodas. My weight was not really were I wanted it to be and money seemed to be falling out of my wallet every time I scooped up a mega-large, extra-caffeinated, fake sugar soft drink. I always figured since I was drinking diet soda, that consuming so much of this sweet nectar of goodness would not effect the size of jeans I wear.

Then  a study came out discussing the negative effects of artificial sweetener and how it can sabotage one’s diet plans.

Oops.

The children began noticing my soda habit as well.  They were taking such notice that they were requesting their own carbonated drinks. The boy has had Sprite a handful of times, but that is it. The husband and I do not want little soda junkies for children and have kept their liquids to milk, water and juice thus far. It was starting to become a bit hypocritical to tell them they could only have healthy drinks while I was frantically attempting to poke a straw into my gallon-sized drink and get my soda fix for the morning.

At the beginning of October, I gave up soda.

Surprisingly my local Sonic did not call to see if I had fallen terribly ill. They also did not shut their doors and declare bankruptcy. In fact, they seem just as busy as they were in my hay days of swinging by and grabbing one (or two) extra large drinks.

Giving up “the juice” was difficult for a few days but I pressed on. After about a week, it was not as difficult. Once a month passed, I did not really even miss it that much.  I have had a few sodas since October, especially during the holidays. However, I quickly realized that once one goes without drinking soda on a regular basis they taste much too sweet and syrupy to be enjoyable anymore.

Since giving up soda, I drink water (lots and lots of water), coffee, iced tea and the occasional (small) glass of milk. I use Truvia or Splenda (in a pinch) to sweeten my tea and coffee. Artificial sweetener is no longer a staple in my diet. My jeans fit just a bit better, my mind feels a bit clearer and I no longer attempt to work our schedule around getting a large soda to drink.

 

Yesterday on Pinterest, I found this interesting diagram of what soda does to the body.

 

 

It is not good, folks.

 

By the way, I also gave up BREAD in October.

BREAD.

That one was hard, but I’ll save that story for another blog post.

 

What food/drink have you given-up that has had a postive effect on your health?

 

1 Day Down…184 left to enjoy!

Well, the school bell officially rang this morning and first grade has begun.


Our proud new first grader on his first day of school:



The required teacher/student picture:



Our home school class:



Day one went really well. The teacher seemed to have things together. The students were eager to learn (E. called me “Teacher Mommy” most of the day). The janitorial staff was a bit questionable but the cafeteria lady did serve up a mean lunch of leftover mini hamburgers and yogurt. The principal even managed to stop by a few times and see what was going on (and let the students practice their new skill of jumping off the kitchen island into his arms. Potential PE credit??)  Overall, everyone was pleased with Day One.


I have many, many more sentiments and thoughts to share regarding homeschooling. However, this teacher is pooped after day one and Season Three of Mad Men (thanks, Kelly S!) and my husband are waiting for me downstairs.


I will share soon about our decision to homeschool, the path we plan to take with homeschooling, pictures of our school room, our curriculum for the year and our daily schedule.


In the meantime, one more picture of that cute little first grader (and his sister) who now lives under our roof here at casa de phillips


“Mom, I’m Bored!” Places to visit in Dallas to combat summer boredom

*Welcome to those of you who saw my segment on Fox 4’s Good Day! To learn more about me and my blog, go here*

 

***

The month of July is settling in and the activities that held children’s attention at the beginning of the summer are starting to lose their spark. The normal go-to sources of entertainment such as local zoos, community pools and activity centers have been exhausted. Temperatures are rising, patience is wearing thin and everyone is starting to feel just a bit of the summer stir-crazies. Children are starting to whine “I’m bored.” before they even finish their morning bowl of cereal and moms only line of defense is  the haughty comeback of “Only boring people get bored.”

The result of this exchange: A grumpy family before the clock has a chance to reach eight o’clock am.

No fear, mothers. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is home to a vast amount of places that will provide countless hours of entertainment for those restless children. Cries of “I’m bored!” will quickly transform into “Mom, you’re the best!” as everyone enjoys taking part in some of these fun, unique activities.

 

Cowtown Wake Park

 

Would you love for your kids to learn how to wakeboard or wake skate, but do not have access to a boat or a lake? No problem. Cowtown Wake Park offers kids the chance to learn a variety of water sports in a safe, contained environment. Utilizing a cable system, Cowtown Wake Park provides kids and adults with the chance to enjoy summer water sports without having to be pulled behind a boat. Located on an artificial five acre lake off the banks of the Trinity River in Fort Worth, Cowtown Wake Park is the family’s answer to unique outdoor summer fun. Summer camps, birthday party packages and individual teaching are all available.

 

Fall Creek Farms in Granbury

 

Summer is the perfect time to stock the kitchen with fresh fruits and vegetables. Fall Creek Farms in Granbury, TX (about a 30 minute drive from Fort Worth) allows families to come and pick their own fresh fruit. Berry picking season is already closed but their peach crop is ripe and ready for eager harvesters. This farm hosts over 500 peach trees on their property. Visitors can tour the orchard on a tractor-pulled trolley, stopping to pick whatever peach appeals to them. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead to confirm pick times.

 

Adventure Day Camps on Lake Grapevine

 

Many mothers believe if they have not signed up their children for summer camp before the beginning of July, then it is simply too late to do so. Not the case with Adventure Day Camps. Adventure Day Camps is a camp for children ages 4-13, hosted on the banks of Lake Grapevine. Parents can sign children up for summer-long camps, week-long camps, one day camps or even 1/2 day camps. Campers learn a variety of outdoor skills and games including archery, camping, Frisbee golf, kayaking and swimming. Arts and crafts and games such as treasure hunts are also offered. Day camps run now through mid-August.

 

Texas Geocache Challenge hosted by Texas Parks and

Wildlife

 

Have a GPS device and kids who love a good treasure hunt? Then the Texas Geocache Challenge is your family’s answer to combating summer boredom. Geocaching a popular type of treasure hunting where families us a GPS device to help them find treasures (Known as “caches“) hidden by others. This summer the Texas Parks and Wildlife commission is getting in on the geocaching craze and have hidden a large amounts of caches throughout Texas. Participants can search in their local area or canvas the entire state in search of these caches. Their website has detailed information, including printouts and directions for how families can get started on this challenge. The great thing about geocaching is that the whole family, regardless of age and size, can get in  on the fun.

 

Dinosaur World in Glen Rose

 

Glen Rose, TX is the tourist place for dinosaur enthusiasts. Dinosaur World, an outdoor museum, will not disappoint the Glen Rose visitor in search of some dino action. Dinosaur World has 22 acres, filled with over 100 life-sized models of dinosaurs for families to discover and inspect up-close. Children will enjoy the daily dino dig, a place where they can become paleontologists for the day and search for treasures (which they get to keep!). Rather than hitting the hot, crowded amusement parks this summer step into the prehistoric world of the dinosaurs at Dinosaur World in Glen Rose, Texas.

 

Summer Theater

Dallas/Fort Worth is home to many children’s theater companies. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy theater with the family and support local children’s performing arts. Many of these companies offer low pricing ($5!) and a variety of child-friendly show times. Some current summer productions include Cinderella, Mulan, Seusical the Musical, Dora the Explorer LIVE! and Pinkalicious. Have a performer in the family? A lot of these companies also offer summer camps for the aspiring thespian.

Local children’s theater companies include:

 

Step out and enjoy these unique summer boredom busters that DFW has to offer!

 

 

 

Summer Pool Guide 101

Casa de phillips currently resides in an area known for crazy high summer temperatures. The local weathermen attempt to spice up the weather forecast (which remains the same all summer long: HOT) by adding funny graphics of a sweating sun or by sharing exactly how many 100+ degree days we have experienced in a row.

Yeah, those crazy weatherman antics do not make it any less hot.

Such crazy high temperatures limits our time outdoors past 9am, which can be really tough for a mom home with children.

My solution: the pool.

In years past, taking the kids to the pool has been a somewhat stressful situation. There is the ever-present fear of someone drowning, the risk of a toddler pulling on an unfortunate part of my swimsuit and the wrestling match one must engage in when attempting to put a swim diaper and swimsuit on a wiggling baby.

Fortunately the swim diaper days are long behind us. I do still have to issue the stern reminder of “Do not pull on Mommy’s swimsuit”. And potential drowning is a risk whenever anyone enters a body of water.

However, we are at the point where I can actually breathe a little at the pool.  I know my kids can swim and fend for themselves (somewhat) in the kid’s pool. Am I the mom laying off on a secluded beach chair with a book and Sonic cup? Not yet. But I am the mom who can splash around with her kids and actually enjoy the pool rather than stressing over the fact that the baby has headed off in one direction while the toddler is chasing after something in an opposite direction (Been there. Done that. Likely have the high blood pressure and gray hair to prove it).

This summer, take a few minutes to get the family prepared for pool fun before hitting the water. Below are a few of my favorite Pool 101 tips.

Keep the pool bag packed

 

Our pool bag stays packed from the end of May to the beginning of September and lives in the laundry room. Keeping it packed means minimal prep time each time we leave to soak up the sun.

The contents of our pool bag includes:

  1. Sunscreen (spray, lotion and face stick)
  2. Pool toys (labeled with our name)
  3. Goggles
  4. Snacks (prepackaged…these obviously have to be replaced. I attempt to replace them once arriving home from the pool so they will be ready to go on the next visit.)
  5. Towels (We throw all swim stuff in the washer upon arriving home from the pool. Rather than carting clean dry towels upstairs, I simply stuff them in the pool bag so they will be ready to go next time.)
  6. Money/Pool Entrance Card

The only thing I have to toss in is drinks and we can hit the pool!

Review safety rules…everytime

 

A day at the pool can quickly take a drastic turn when a swimmer gets into trouble. This year, both kids can swim independently. However, that does not mean that drowning is not a possibility. We always talk about the basic safety rules of the pool in the car as we drive to our swimming destination.

The rules we discuss include:

  1. No running in pool area. Ever.
  2. No holding onto other children while swimming.
  3. If you feel in trouble in the water or go too deep, swim to the wall.
  4. Never touch the drain on the bottom (we are not too this phase of swimming yet, but this is such an important rule).
  5. Swim with an adult.

The best safety rule for parents is: KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR KIDDOS. We often meet friends at the pool. The moms usually can spend time relaxing in the shallow part of the kid area while the kids swim. However, our eyes are always on the kids. My friends could have a horn sprouting from the top of their head which would go unnoticed because I rarely look at them when having conversation in the pool. Drownings often happen when a large group of kids and adults are swimming together, mainly because the adults become distracted by socializing with each other. Enjoy your time at the pool but keep those eyes on the kids.

Have supper on stand-by

For whatever reason, swimming makes the family HUNGRY. We often hit the water in the afternoon, thus making us arrive home right before dinner time. Wanting to keep the family budget in check (as well as our waistlines), hitting the fast food line is not really an option. On pool days (which are almost everyday for my two fish), I have supper prepped and ready to cook before we leave for the pool. I attempt to simplfy dinner anyway during the summer and especially do so on pool days. I might have a crock-pot meal waiting for us when we get home or perhaps have sandwhich items laid out and ready for our arrival. Having supper on stand-by for when you get home from teh pool allows everyone the chance to maintain the relaxed pace of summer after exiting the water for the day.

Play

It’s true. I have said (more than once)“Don’t get my hair wet!” while swimming with my kiddos. Apparently I have morphed into an elderly woman who gets her hair set on rollars once a week. Sheesh.

Although I do have my moments of being un-fun, I also love to play with my kids in the water. Now that they can swim and I am no longer simply carrying them around the deep end, we can have a really great time playing together in the pool. This summer, do not simply linger by the pool’s edge while your kiddos splash around. Get in there with them and make some summertime memories together.

Isn’t summer the best…especially when one can spend time at the pool?

A sneak preview of summer survival fun

Tick, tick, tick.

Summer is rapidly approaching. Are you ready?

Earlier this week I mentioned that I would be sharing the phillips family’s summer schedule next week. Until then, I wanted to give you a little sneak peak into one of my summer survival tips:

Reading Programs.

Last summer, the children and I participated in two reading programs. One at our local library and one at a Half-Price Books retail store. Through these programs, the children earned free kids meals to local restaurants, free ice cream, small toys and a stack of $3 gift cards. They also (unknown to them) learned accountability, responsibility and the pride in completing a task. Miss E. completed the programs as a “listener” while her brother completed them as a “beginning reader.” This year, E. will be able to do a combo of listening and reading while Isaac will be a full-fledged, chapter book-loving reader.

Interested in getting your children plugged into some great reading programs? Check out the list below.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Pizza Hut: This reading program is for kids in K-6 grades. It offers kids a chance to win a large sweepstakes once they have met the reading requirement. Although winning a sweepstakes is not going to happen to every reader, the website for this contest is a valuable source of book suggestions, literacy activities and fun learning games.

 

 

  • Build-A-Bear: In the past, Build-a-Bear had a summer reading program for kids. Although their website does not yet have details regarding this year’s program, it should still be in operation. Read books and earn fun Build-A-Bear prizes!

 

  • Public Library. Most importantly, do not forget the public library. Take advantage of reading programs and special events hosted by your public library this summer.

PBSkids.org (a favorite website of ours) has a campaign devoted to developing strong literacy skills in children. Sometimes as parents we want our children to accomplish a task (i.e. reading) but do not know how to help them with such an accomplishment. The Raising Readers campaign is a great place to start!

Happy Reading this summer!

If you know of a reading program that I left off of this list, please be sure to share it in the comments section. Thanks!

**Wondering why my oldest child is sitting outside in May under a blanket? Well, he had a fever the day this picture was taken. Bless his sweet little heart. I was sad for his fever but my mama heart always loves to see my babies wrapped up in quilts from their infancy.

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