Thursday, May 27, 2010

100 Ways to Enjoy Your Summer and Keep Your Family Busy! 11-15

More Summertime ideas for the family!!

11. Need some kid craft inspiration?  Heather Swain's book Make These Toys is a fantastic book that will give you plenty of ideas for fun crafts made from everyday things.  

12.  How about the DRIVE-IN?  We LOVE going to the drive-in during the summer.  Find a local drive-in near you at 

13.  Make some Homemade Ice Cream!  If you have an ice cream maker break out and make some YUMMY homemade ice cream for you 4th of July celebrations or just because.  
14.  Sidewalk Chalk Neighborhood Mural Contest! Have plenty of chalk for your 4th of July party!  We love doing sidewalk-chalk murals on 4th of July with all the neighbor kids.  It's a great tradition and brings everyone together.  Check out a previous blog post here.

15.  Lemonade Stands!  This is a SUMMER MUST!  Click Here
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Friday, May 21, 2010

100 Ways to Enjoy Your Summer and Keep Your Family Busy! 6-10

Here are 5 more ideas for your summer bucket list!

6.  Car Wash Day - Let the kids wash the car...their bikes, big wheels, tricycle....if it's got wheels let it be washed!  My kids love a bucket of water, some bubbles and a rag.  They can spend hours washing all of their vehicles.
7. Service Project - Look around your neighborhood or community for opportunities to serve.  There are many ways that your children can serve right along with you.  Maybe the local animal shelter, picking up litter at your neighborhood park, our helping an elderly neighbor with yard work...there are 100's of ways to service.

8.  Cooking and Baking - Have some cooking and baking lessons in your very own kitchen.  Maybe your 4-year-old learns to make a PB&J sandwich or you 16-year-old gets to learn how to make pizza from scratch.  Whatever the ages, there are lots of items on the menu that will allow for a fun day in the kitchen.  

9.  Butterfly Farm - We tried this a long time ago and it was one of the highlights of our summer.  We purchased a butterfly kit and literally raised butterflies and then set them free later in the summer.  A great place to purchase is  

10.  Indoor Fort - Some days are just meant to be indoors.  When temps hit in the 100's or the humidity is at a whopping 99%, life is just better inside with the AC.  My kids LOVE to make forts all over the house.  We pull all the sheets and blankets out, keep the lights off and enjoy a nice cool day in the forts. 
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Monday, May 17, 2010

100 Ways to Enjoy Your Summer and Keep Your Family Busy! 1-5

I have to honestly admit, I'm more excited about summertime than my kids are this year.  I cannot wait for the break!  The alarms in our house start going off as early as 4:55am.  So I'm ready for some extra sleep-in time but more than that, I'm ready to have some fun with my kids.  Many of favorite memories of childhood are those of summertime, and I only have 2 more full summers with all 5 of my kids at home.   I intend to make these next two summers completely amazing and create a lifetime of memories...and do it all on a budget. 

For the next few weeks I'm going to share some of my favorite summertime traditions but also new ones that I've found and saved over the last year or so that I have been anxiously awaiting to try out. By the end of this blog series there should be at least 100 fun and wonderful ways to enjoy summer with your family and not spend an arm and a leg.  Because if you're like us, we don't do much long distance traveling in the summer.   First of all there are too many off us and second, we're homebodies and we love to enjoy our own backyard.  After all, we live in Florida, it's a beautiful backyard.  

1. Summer To-Do List - Before summer even gets started sit down and make a list of all the things you want to do this summer.  Everyone contributes to the list....let EVERYTHING get put on the list.  Even if Disneyland is out of the question for travel, add it to the list of that's what your 8 year old wants.  Take the time to explain to them later that although you won't be making a trip to Orlando, encourage them to be creative and use their imagination and that together you can plan a fun "Disney Day" at home.  No idea is too big or too small.

2. MOVIE TIME -Check your local movie theaters for their Summertime Movie schedule.  Many play FREE movies all summer long.  It's a great time to head in for the cool AC and if you have little ones you have to tow along they'll blend right on in with all the noise. ;o)

3. Camps & YMCA's - If your family enjoys camps whether it's week long sports camps or outdoor adventures through your local YMCA, plan for those now.  Many camps are already open and some are filling quickly.  YMCA's offer great adventures for reasonable prices.  Check your local churches for vacation bible schools and even local ranches and farms for horse camps.
4. Grow Something - Plant a garden or a few veggies in pots or even a flower.  Have each child be in charge of their plant.  Maybe even plant sunflowers. By the end of summer they'll be a few feet tall and will last into the fall.  I remember growing them one year in a square shape, which made the coolest fort ever!

5. New Skills - Find out what new skills your children want to learn.  Pottery?  Cake decorating?  Basketball? Fishing?  Make plans now to sign up for a class at a local studio or community college....or teach them yourself or find a friend that knows the skill and ask them if they want to trade off teaching the kids new skills.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

BEST RIDE EVER! Aerosmith roller coaster @ Disney Hollywood Studios!
For more Wordless Wednesday Visit

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air....

Have you had one of those quiet moments where you sit back, relax and take a good look around, a deep breath of fresh air, and really doesn't get any better than this?  

If you have, tell me about it....because I haven't had a moment of sitting back and looking around for a long time...and the only deep breath of fresh air I've had is from gasping for air as i force myself to finish my 6 am workouts before the crew takes over my life.

I've been neck deep in life....and can I just really doesn't get any better than this.  

I sometimes used to have this habit of thinking to myself.....when the kids are older I won't have to sit and do homework with them anymore, they'll be able to do it all by themselves, or when they're all in school I'll have time go to the market alone (alone, is that really possible) and actually remember to use my coupons, or when the older ones are off to college I won't have to drive 100 miles round trip to soccer and worry about who's using their cell phone too much.

Funny thing...I want all of it...every crazy chaotic moment of it to be my life....I don't want this part of our family to change.....just yet.  I want to keep spending hours at the kitchen table doing homework with all of my kids....i want to keep taking my toddlers to the grocery store and push the big race car shopping carts around as we clear isles and make huge obnoxious scenes...i want to keep driving with my girls up and down the freeway so we can just be together.

My breath of fresh air comes when my 3 yr old twins will, without fail, ask to brush their teeth 8 times a day and want to change their clothes just as many times....or when my 7 yr old begs me to please jump in the pool and swim with him even though I just took a shower and did my hair for the first time in 3 days....or when my 14 yr old text me from school, yes ME, of all people, to thank me for helping her study for her test that she got an A, or when my 16 yr old talks to me for over 50 miles about her friends, life, interest and spiritual experiences.

That is fresh air.  Life is constantly happening and I'm not going to miss one crazy moment of it....which is why I've been MIA here in the blog world.  I've attempted to start posting probably 20 times, but something always seems to pull me away.  But I think, maybe, hopefully, once again, I can get back to blogging just a little bit.  My extended family has been drilling me about doing a blog so they can keep up with the family.  So we'll see...hopefully I can get back on track and get back to the fun blabbing and chatting that we do around here in the blog world.  But I can't promise anything spectacular or exciting....

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Writing Your Love Story

With Valentine's Day knocking on the door, Lve is in the air. What a prefect time to reflect, write and share your Love Story. Many people never take the time to write down the details of a love story. We all have a love story....some are fairytale-like and others...well, let's just say lessons can be learned. 

Take the time to sit down write a few words in your journal or "type" them up and tell about how you met, your first kiss, when you knew "he" was the one. Or how about the first time your eyes met? The first time your boyfriend met your parents? Your first date?  Or even your first KISS?  You can't help but have those sweet feelings flood your heart again and put a smile on your face. 

Something fun to do is have your hubby answer the same questions and create a "He said, She said" version of your love story. My hubby and I did this...Oh, it was fun!!! And let's just say we both remember our Love Story VERY differently...but I so remember the day we met in 4th grade.... his adorable perm, checkered Vans, and gray parachute pants with safety pins all the way up his calves.......beautiful....just beautiful!

Take time to remember why, how, where, and who you fell in love with....  

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
--Mignon McLaughlin

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Strawberry Pickin' & Jam Makin'

Since I moved to Florida 4 years ago I have found lots of new hobbies and fun things to do....but this by far has become one of my favorite traditions to do each year with my kids and best friends.

We live near the Plant City, Florida area, which is also known as the Strawberry Capital of the world!  It's convenient, close to home pickin' and CHEAP!  Where can you get PERFECTLY beautiful organic grown strawberries fresh off the vine for under 90 cents a pound?!

I'm heading out Friday morning for our annual picking and I'm so excited to try Freezer Jam this year.  Every year I do the traditional jam making that is yummy, but incredibly messy and not that easy with 5 kids running around.  So this year I'm tackling the Freezer Jam.  If you haven't heard of it or you are slightly nervous about making jam, you're going to love this alternative.  It is so delicious.  You get fresh tasting sweet strawberry jam with out the cooked berry taste or the mess...or the hot boiling water...

Strawberry Freezer Jam

  • 2 cups crushed FRESH strawberries
  • 4 cups  sugar, measured into separate bowl
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 box  SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin 
  • 5 (1-cup) plastic containers and lids (Clean with boiling water. Dry thoroughly)                       
  1. Crush strawberries thoroughly, 1 cup at a time. Measure exactly 2 cups into a  bowl. Stir in sugar. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add water and pectin in small saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring 1 minute. Add to strawberry mixture; stir 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy.
  3. Fill the containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to 1 year.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

My WORD for 2010

At the end of 2008 I had stumbled on this great idea of having a WORD to define you and move you through the upcoming year.   The first time I saw it was at Ali Edwards's Blog.  Once again, I've been in deep thought about "MY" word.  Last year my word was PEACE.  Looking back, I'm so pleased and proud of myself  becuase I truely found the PEACE I was looking for.  It's funny though, it came in so many different ways, none of which I expected.

This is a little bit of what Ali's blog says:

The idea behind the one little word concept is to give yourself something to focus on throughout the year. "A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow."
Also from that same newsletter:
Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2009?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It could be a thought or a feeling or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word - this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our hearts speak to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet. Again, be open to the possibilities.

Once again, I found myself pulling between 2 different WORDS....

But after much thought my word for 2010 is Hope.

There are many things I Hope for.  They're important and wonderful things.  I know that by having Faith (which was the other word I was pulled between) and Hope that those things I want most in life will happen.  Hope is a belief and feeling that what is wanted can be had and will turn out for the best.  

We also did this as a family last night and I was so impressed with the words my family picked.  My husband is foucsed on "POSITIVE".  My 16-yr-old's word is "DISCIPLINE".  My 14-yr-old picked "INNER-STRENGH".  My sweet 7 year-old son picked "RESPECT".  And of course my little twins picked "SPARKLE" and "HAPPY".  

Need some help with words?? Check out Ali's List here.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Family Pictures From "You-Know-Where"

You can see that our VERY first family pictures (which included 7 of us) went VERY well.....
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

12 Days of Christmas

Previously Posted 12/2/08

Sunday, Dec. 13 is the day start the 12 Days of Christmas if you want it to end on Christmas Eve, and Monday, December 14th will begin the 12 Days of Christmas if want to end on Christmas.

Hopefully have read one of my old posts from last year about how as a child my family was given the "The 12 Days a Christmas".  You can see how this simple and sweet project can not only change the holiday season for another family, but also your own.

Here are some tips and ideas on how to prep this project and get your family excited about the secret Santa project they'll be doing. 

I was bouncing around the internet a few days ago and came across this adorable kit with download-able printouts and directions. It's called 12 Days of Christmas Kit by Sandy. For $2.85, I'm thinking it's money well spent. What I love about this one is the ideas and gifts are homemade and inexpensive. I don't need to remind everyone that money is tight, so leaving boxes of $20 bills probably won't be happening any time soon....these gifts are cute, usable, eatable, and easy to find. With the printouts (very cute!!) the gifts look adorable!

....I must confess....I'm happy that money is tight for everyone, including our family. I'm happy that we're being forced to remember why we celebrate this beautiful season. Maybe we should see it as a tender mercy and a blessing in disguise. Immersing your family in service and holiday projects, starting family traditions, keeping old traditions will remind us and keep us focused on Christmas...

Sorry....back to the 12-days....

So if you can spend the $2.96, go download her cute kit! It has a letter for the first night, all the tags and poems, pictures of ideas, and the gifts are easy and cute! If are some cute ideas!! These are ones that I have done, friends have done, had done to my own family, etc.....

TIP: Wal-mart, Dollar Stores, Dollar Section in Target have everything you need if you need to go out and buy something.

"Anything" items could be as simple as bubbles for kids, microwave popcorn, candy, homemade cookies & treats, ornaments, crafts, nativity pictures, holiday wrapping supplies, fruit, mini puzzles, games, eggnog and dollar mugs, cocoa, homemade greeting cards or stationary....

Day 1 ♥ A partridge in a pear tree: One of ANYTHING, one pear, one basket of pears, dove ornament.
Day 2 ♥ 2 turtle doves: Two of ANYTHING, Dove candies or chocolate turtle candies,
Day 3 ♥ 3 french hens: Three of ANYTHING, anything "French", chicken noodle soup (hen is a chicken ;O), 3 Dozen cookies or treats of any kind.
Day 4 ♥ 4 calling birds: Four of ANYTHING, 4 bags of goodies, "calling" cards.
Day 5 ♥ 5 golden rings: Five of ANYTHING, donuts (my fav), ring pops

Day 6 ♥ 6 geese a laying: Six of ANYTHING, Easter eggs filled with treats, Fixings for omelets, 6 pack of soda or favorite drinks
Day 7 ♥ 7 swans a swimming: Seven of ANYTHING, Bubble bath and bath toys, Ugly Duckling Storybook

Day 8 ♥ 8 maids a milking: Eight of ANYTHING, milk maid caramels, Ice cream toppings, chocolate milk, cow print items, cow ornament...pretty much anything milk or cows!
Day 9 ♥ 9 ladies waiting: Nine of ANYTHING, Ladyfinger cookies, box of art supplies for kids
Day 10 ♥ 10 lords a leaping: Ten of ANYTHING, frog items, I heard this one represents the 10 commandments?? I stick with Ten of Anything...but let me know if you think of something creative!
Day 11 ♥ 11 pipers piping: Eleven of ANYTHING, Christmas CD (download and make it or buy it)
Day 12 ♥ 12 drummers drumming: Twelve of ANYTHING, drum ornament, drummer boy "something", ice cream drumsticks.

So here's a list to get the creative juices flowing! Start getting your items and ideas together now. I like to start on the 13th so our last delivery is on Christmas Eve. If you know the family will be traveling or leaving town, start earlier or finish when they return. Organize and start now because the days will fly by quickly. Plus its fun to get the hubby and kids excited about it. Be sure to sit down this week or by Saturday and plan out your gifts, pick a family or two and prep to begin Sunday or Monday. This is good time to "make" some homemade ornaments or crafts that you'd like to give as well. Please pass on your ideas and share them with us all!