Friday, June 30, 2017

A Pinterest Summer: Directed Drawing

We are three weeks into the summer and I have accomplished quite possibly nothing on my "hope to get done over the summer" list.  It's quite possible that we are full on summer-ing over here.  The house is in a constant state of mess because there are crayons, papers, books, and pillows everywhere.  Forts have been built, taken down, and rebuilt. Our only commitment has been swim lessons. . . and I can't even begin to tell you how amazing that is!  We seriously have become serious homebodies this summer!   At the end of the day, my greatest accomplishment might be that I kept the kids alive. . . and the dishes got put in the dishwasher! 

One thing we have been getting done is our weekly Pinterest Project. . . because I thought it would be fun.  I honestly have no regrets because we are all having fun doing new things.  Also, Pinterest is a fantastic resource for finding inexpensive ideas to keep your kids busy.  Today's is one of my favorite ones because it is my go-to activity with the kids when we are on a break.  In fact, we will probably do this one more than once before the end of the summer!
Today, I am going to introduce you to Directed Drawing.  You might have seen these before, but if you haven't they are basically step-by-step drawing instructions for kids.  I usually do them along with the kids so they can see how to do it.  On the day we did this, they got super excited and picked out an armadillo drawing.  It wasn't my first choice, but they came out so cute!  These drawing activities help grow fine motor skills and help boost their confidence when they see that they drew something that kind of looks like what they were going for. . . I mean, just look at Weston's face!
We used watercolor paper, which is a bit thicker than regular drawing/painting paper, which we've used in the past.  Usually, we go over the drawing part in oil pastels or a sharpie, but I forgot.  We went straight for the watercolors and it still came out wonderful! 

Here's the link to the armadillo directed drawing.

If you want more, just search directed drawings in the Pinterest search bar. 

If you missed last week's post all about pool noodle fun in the backyard. . . check it out here.

Do you have a pin that you are curious about and want to see us try to tackle it?  Message me or send the pin my way.  You can follow me on Pinterest here. 

Have you tried a pin this summer?  Post it on FB or IG and use the #oftrbsummerpinchallenge . . . maybe you will make it on the blog!  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Plum & Mango Popsicles

 This post might be torturous.  I mean delicious Popsicle are enough to make you drool and then I throw in two of the cutest boys with those same delicious Popsicles.   We make a lot of popsicles during the summer time because it's hot and it's just so easy.  Plus, we don't have to worry about anything Weston eats if we make them.  Oh yeah, and they are pretty much all fruit, so no dyes, minimal sugars. . . it's so easy!

Our plum tree went crazy this year.  I have never seen it produce so much fruit in the 7 summers we have lived in this house.  My only theory is that this year it rained and since we've been in a drought for so long, we really didn't know what this thing was capable of.  Needless to say, we had more than enough plums this year, that we sent a large amount to work with Jon and baked and baked! 

I needed to use up some that we had picked in the first picking and the kids were asking for popsicles, so I figured that they would be perfect!  They were a hit.  They were gone within the weekend.  I'm pretty sure that these boys could live off of popsicles and ice cream.  Since the popsicles are pretty healthy, I will let them.  It's too hot to eat real food!  Seriously. . . these boys devoured them.  I guess that's a good thing. 
 So. Cheers to the Summer!  (ignore our dead summer grass. . . sad face).  Cheers to a summer of delicious stone fruit, adventure, and relaxing.  And cheers to these delicious popsicles! 

Plum-Mango Pops
adapted from many recipes on Pinterest

frozen Mango pieces

Slice up some plums, making sure that the pit is out (of course!).  I didn't bother taking the skins off, but it's entirely up to your preferences.  Puree in a food processor until super juicy and not much is left of the skin.  Pour into another bowl and set aside.  Rinse the food processor container so you can do the mangoes.  You want enough puree to make about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of plum puree.

 Pour a cereal bowl full of mango pieces and either defrost them for a few hours before, or zap them in the microwave on the defrost setting for a few minutes.  This will make them nice and soft.  Pour into the food processor and add a bit of honey.  Puree til you get a nice smooth consistency. 

Prepare your popsicle molds.  Pour a little bit of plum puree into the bottom (it's actually the top upside down) of each mold.  Add some of the mango puree, but leave some room at the bottom.  Top with remaining plum puree.  Add sticks and stick in freezer for at least 6 hours before eating. 

This recipe made 5-6 popsicles. 

I used this mold for these popsicles.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Pinterest Summer: Pool Noodle Fun

 This week marked the first official week of summer and boy, was it a scorcher!  We had some seriously high heat and spent as much time inside as possible.  One of our goals for this summer is to find something on Pinterest that is kid friendly and fun and try it out.  None of that pinning and forgetting around here!  Each week, I will post what activity we chose and what adaptations we made and what we thought about it. 

So, to start out this summer series, let's talk about Pool Noodles.  They are seriously amazing!  Not to mention that there are probably a hundred different pins for who knows  how many different things to do with pool noodles.  There are a crazy amount of things out there.  Back in May, Weston's brilliant kindergarten teacher found this video floating around Facebook with a bunch of pool noodle activities for kids and we went with it.  Parents brought in dollar store pool noodles and some of my wonderful mom friends came over and we went to work! We cut, duct taped, and hung out.  We had so much fun!  Not to mention they came out really cool! 

We made Rackets, bean bag toss, ring toss, and kick ball croquet.  All of these were used for 3 kindergarten classes to play with.  They survived.  Seriously, they held up, they lasted, and the were awesome!  The ring toss even survived three classes of second graders!

The Bean Bag Toss:
 This game came because we just had so many extra noodles that we kept making things.  It was super easy to make, with just 5 pool noodles and some duct tape.  We made 3 rings and then duck taped them to the two outside noodles and then to each other.  Eventually, we added noodles to use as a place for the kids to stand and throw.   You can also prop this up on dowls and throw balls through the circles too. 

Kickball Croquet:

 This game was so much fun!  We just took pool noodles and stuck them in tent stakes and really long nails that were in the ground sticking out.  The original directions called for sharpened pencils to be hammered into the dirt and then stick the noodle over it on each end.  This probably would work well if you have wonderful moist dirt.  We don't.  It's like hard clay, so the tent stakes worked perfect.  Long nails worked well, too, but if they popped out it was hard to find them in the grass.  So, try pencils and if they don't work, try something else. 

We altered these rackets a bit from the original video.  The video used mesh fruit bags to make an area for the ball to bounce off.  We were trying to make this is as easy as possible, but also we wanted them to last.  We tried one leftover mesh from a previous purchase and it tore so easily.  We didn't think the mesh bags would survive one group of kinders.  So, we played around with it and found that if we wrapped the paddle part with duct tape so that the sticky sides met in the middle and stuck together, it would create a great paddle to use with a softball sized whiffle ball.  These things not only lasted 6 rotations of kinders but also will be able to be used next year!  How cool is that?!?

 Ring Toss:
 This game was so easy!  We made a bunch of round circles using a whole noodle and duct tape.  Then, we cut a few noodles to different sizes and then hammered some 12 inch dowels into the ground.  The  noodles just go over the dowel and the kids throw the rings.  This was a hit with both the kinder classes and the second graders. 

Basically pool noodles rock!  There are so many pins in the world of Pinterest that can provide some use out of pool noodles, so you might see more posts using them. . . because 1. Gotta keep the kids busy and 2. they only cost a $1 at the dollar store! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

10 ways to really Summer with kids (and survive!)

It's summer! (sing to the Frozen/Olaf tune. . . because that's what how I typed it).

I don't know about  you, but I was so ready for my kids to get out of school and for things to slow down!  I look forward to the summer every year because I welcome the change.  I purposely don't commit to much over the summer because the school year is just so busy.  By the time school gets out I, along with the boys, eagerly welcome the quiet days of summer.  Weston is a huge home body, so he would prefer just to stay at home and play.  Ethan is happy being at home, but loves to go on adventures, so we work hard to fit that in.  I am content mixing up the days a little bit.  This momma loves being home, but goes a bit stir crazy being home all day every day.

So, in light of that, I thought I would show you some of the things we are doing this summer to stay sane.

1.  Summer Review 
This year, we are working our way through the Summer Brain Quest books and they are amazing!  They have the kids excited and LOVE to do them.  They are broken up into 7 themes/levels that your child works through.  They cover math, science, language arts, social studies, etc.  Each time they finish a page, they put a sticker on their progress map.  They even have extra stickers for bonus questions, reading logs, outdoor quests, etc.   I also really like that they are very specifically labeled for "the summer between grades" instead of just putting one grade and then not knowing if that if for going into or just leaving.  Summer bridge books can be very confusing sometimes and this one is not!  Ethan and Weston love the outdoor quests.  They played a math game with side walk chalk, numbers, and rocks.  They both got to play it together. If the kids had their way, they probably would have already finished it, but I am only letting them work on 3 pages each day. 

2.  Art and Science Projects

At least once a week, we are going to do an art project and Science thing.  I love arts and crafts (probably not a big surprise there. . . ha ha)  and Ethan wanted to add science experiments this summer.  I think it's important to spend time with our kids doing those things.  Today, we did a directed drawing of an armadillo (search Pinterest for directed drawing. . . their are a ton!) and used watercolors to fill it in.  Last week, we built marble runs using Lego Duplo blocks and sliced pool noodle pieces.  That was so much fun!  We are also going to be doing some cooking with kids . . . they both love to be in the kitchen and helping whenever they can.  Now is the time, they get to learn skills.

4.  Go on Adventures. 

We have one BIG trip coming up in July and have scheduled a few day trips here and their throughout the summer.  Some of them cost money, and others are just day trips.  We celebrated the first day of vacation with a day trip to our favorite beach and then last weekend we headed North to the boardwalk and went to an Earthquakes Soccer game for Father's Day.  We are also planning on some inexpensive adventures that are more local. . . like golfing, bowling, the zoo, baseball game, movies, etc. 

3. Take the fun outside

We don't have a pool, but we still manage to cool of pretty well.  This week not so much. . . it's too hot to be outside at 9am!).  We have sidewalk chalk, sidewalk paint, water guns, nerf guns, roads and cars, and this year, we bought badmitton to add to the fun.  We usually play outside first thing in the morning or in the evening when the backyard is mostly shade. You can also find local splash parks or friends with pools to add to this!

5. Play Games.

Things are different now that both kids are school aged.  One of those things is that you can play a real game. . . Last week, we had incredibly cool temps so we spent as much time playing outside as possible.  Also, during the school year, things are so busy that we don't always have time to play a game.  Just a little bit ago, I found Weston playing Zingo with a stuffed giraffe.  Seriously.  Our favorites right now are Uno, Bounce Off, Zingo, Sorry, and Candyland.

7.  Read Books. 
We are scheduling time for reading this summer.  We Are doing our local library's summer reading program, as well as Barnes and Noble's.  Both kids love to read and so do I.  I am reading though a stack of fiction I picked up last summer on the library's discard cart.  When the kids read, I read, so It's kind of a win.  I also have books on tape that the kids are working their way through.  Ethan and I just finished the BFG last night, so one night this week he will get to to stay up and watch the movie.  He's a bit excited. 

8.  Make time for yourself.
I am serious.  Find ways to  give yourself a break.  Every day we do quiet time where everyone goes to their special spot in the house and reads or plays quietly.  It's not perfect, but it works.  I also am going through the She Reads Truth Romans study with some friends this summer and we are meeting at various locations over the next few weeks.  We get together talk about the Bible, pray, and chat.  It's like having a girls night every night!  We also have my in laws (who are wonderful) coming to hang out with the boys a few times this summer, so my husband and I can have some "us" time.

10.  Relish the Screen Time. 
I'm just going to say it.  There will be days where we will sit around and just veg.  I'm okay with that.  I need days like that and so do my kids.  It's summer.  It doesn't happen every day, but we watch TV.  We eat lunch and watch movies.  We redbox movies and eat popcorn in the middle of the day.  Sometimes we get hit our favorite drive thru and eat it while watching a movie.  Video Games will be played, Devices will be used.  I honestly think it's okay.  So, we won't be unplugging for the summer. 

That's just 10 things.  I know there are more, but this post would be really long.  I did not mention chores.  Don't worry. . . those exist.  My kids clean and help around the house.  We take advantage of the summer time to train and work on cleaning skills.  New chores get introduced and hopefully by the end of summer, the house will look a bit cleaner.  Probably wishful thinking. 

What are some things you are doing this summer?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Connection Time: It's been busy!!

Oh my goodness!  It is plum out exhausting ending the school year. . . and I am not even teaching!  We are in our first week of vacation and we are literally playing catch up. . . the house has been forgotten about for 2 weeks and that just needed to change.  It has been a whirlwind of fun though.  We celebrated my mom's retirement of over 40 years of teaching with a big party with friends and family and then we kicked off the end of the school  year with class activities for 4 days straight in BOTH classrooms.  Needless to say, it was exhausting and fun and worth every minute.  We took to the beach on Friday to celebrate the summer and to reset our clocks to vacation mode with a little bit of an adventure.  This week, we are just trying to find our house and to set up a routine . . . and soak in a little bit of quiet. 
The weather got amazing this week and so we got to play games outside in the cool breeze!  That will probably NEVER happen again so, we savored every moment of it!
This beach girl got to go to her happy place.  Bring on the relaxing summer!
Did I mention that we finished up the school year?  It's been a wonderful year with both kids in school.  I think that's a whole blog post though.  Look for that this summer!
We are finally taking care of our bathroom floor and now I want to repaint!
We even fit in a trip with my parents to Yosemite so we could have some time with them before they leave California for the next 4 months!  The falls are at an all time high and it was wonderful!
I am also reading Romans with She Reads Truth.  The cool things is that some of my friends wanted to join me and so we are meeting once a week for the next 7 weeks and digging into God's Word.  And seriously.  Romans.  It's filled with so many nuggets or truth about who God is and what he has done for me!  We are a week late into the study because we wanted to wait til we were all done with end of the school year crazy.  I am reading week one right now and it's amazing! If you need something to get you into God's Word this summer, go check out She Reads Truth.  My husband is even doing the same study through He Reads truth. . . except its all manly over there!  He loves it and we get to talk about it too.  It isn't too late to start. 

So, let's start the summer with getting connected. This is one of my favorite blog posts because it's when I get to share what's going on in my heart and life. . . even the mundane.  And you get to share too!  Just pick one or two or all of them and post them in the comments below, or find me on Facebook or Instagram and share something. 

Here's what's happening around here:

Outside my window the sun is shining. . . it's really hot.  We started the week with the most beautiful below average temps. . . think 70 degrees when it should be triple digits!  The triple digits are back and well. . . we like the cooler temps.

I am thinking
of just how much I actually enjoy the laziness of summer.  I am sleeping in, the kids are letting me.  TV is being watched, not a whole lot of plans, but we are keeping relaxingly busy.  Is that a thing?  If not, I totally made it up.  Next week, I will be sharing how we survive summer and most of you will think I am crazy.

From the kitchen
It's been kind of quiet around here in the kitchen department, but I did make some delicious popsicles (be on the look out for that recipe!) and some plum goodness (Our tree went crazy this year. . . I think it was the rain!).

I am wearing
yoga pants and t shirt. We are cleaning bedrooms and doing some laundry today.  It's all about  comfort for me and I just cannot clean or do things in regular clothes.  Please tell me I'm not alone!

I am creating
a clean house?  ha ha!  Actually, I am trying to get stuff cleaned up so I can start some projects next week!

I am going
on an adventure this weekend and it means some slightly cooler temps and cool ocean breeze and hopefully a little bit of sand between my toes.  

I am reading
a fiction book! I've been reading a lot of non fiction lately and I have a stack of fiction that I picked up in the discard section at the library. . . working my way through that stack.  Did you see the post on the book A Family Shaped by Grace?  You should read that one!  The book has some crazy wisdom in it and some really neat ideas.  Also, if you buy your book by the end of next week, you can get a freebie video from the author! He's awesome, so you should check that out!

I am hoping that the boys get their bedroom cleaned with a lot of intervention. . . but that's wishful thinking.  Right now I think a sword fight is happening instead of them working.  Bleh!  I wish sometimes we could just snap our fingers and be done with the hard stuff!

I am hearing
kids playing instead of cleaning. . . ugh.  Also the clothes in the washer just finished so I should probably start another load.  Exciting things, huh? 

Around the House
things are getting cleaned up.  The busyness of the last few weeks left this house in a bit of disarray.  But, this week, we are weaving cleaning with fun and tackling part of the house each day.  Tomorrow our new bathroom floor gets installed and I am so excited!
One of my favorite things
is Pinterest!  Seriously.  This summer, our goal is to try something kid friendly from Pinterest and share it with you guys on the blog.  We will share our fails, or suggestions, and the fun factor. This will start next week. . . Be on the lookout! 
A few plans for the week:
This week, we are cleaning, getting new bathroom floors, going back to the beach (a different one that last weekend) and taking Jon to a soccer game for Father's Day.  We are grilling up some veggies for Father's Day and spending time with Jon's family.   I am also reading through Romans with some sweet friends and meeting with them once a week! It's like a girls night each week. . . it might be what keeps my sanity over the next 2 months!

 Now, it's your turn!  Grab your coffee and let's connect! You don't have to do them all! I can't wait to hear from you! You can even private message me if you don't want to make it public. 

Outside my window
I am thinking
From the kitchen
I am wearing
I am creating
I am going
I am reading
I am hoping
I am hearing
Around the House
One of my favorite things
A few plans for the week
What I am listening to  

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

A Family Shaped by Grace: A Book Review

Families are messy.  I don't think there is really any way around it.  I love my family to death and love spending time with them, but it is still messy.  So, when I got the opportunity to join Gary Morland's launch familyA Family Shaped By Grace, I jumped at the chance for several reasons.  First of all, the book sounded intriguing.  Doesn't everyone desire grace for their family?  The second reason, he just happens to be the dad of two of my favorite authors: Myquillyn Smith (also known as the Nester) and Emily P. Freeman.  It just had to be good. 

I love stories, especially how God gets a hold of his children and sets them on the right path.  This book weaves together Gary's story of redemption and the miracle that happened within his family as he put his trust in God and changed the health of his family life completely for the better.  It's a beautiful story of how God used Gary to put a stop to unhealthy habits that were trickling down from previous generations.

I thought a lot about peace while I was reading this book.  I always think of myself as a pretty peaceful person, but the reality is, I get anxious and antsy about so many things that I didn't use to bother me.  I am not sure if it changed once I became a mom, but I was challenged to believe that I am complete in Him.  My peace doesn't come from my husband, or my sons. . . it comes completely from Him.  I realized in reading this book, I needed to own that.

Throughout the book a part of me would tell myself, "my family isn't that dysfunctional" and then I would read another line and God would whisper that it still applied to my family. There are so many nuggets of wisdom throughout this book that I plan on going back to this book every now and then and checking to see if we are still on course. We are messy, sinful people and when we throw family into that the mess is just magnified, so if you are a part of a family, you should read this book.  It will change you.  I promise! 

You can find this book over here on Amazon. . . Today is the first day it's available. . . Go check it out! 


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