Fourth of July Family Camping Trip

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Fourth of July Family Camping Trip!!!

This weeks To Do List Tuesday topic is…

…Camping Meal Planning!

That’s what I am doing this week as the top item on my To Do List because Saturday we head out on a family camping trip with my brother and his family! I will be preparing our family’s “Camping Meal Plan” for our Fourth of July Camping Trip today so I can begin my prep work for the food on Friday. Camping is about having fun, making memories and being one with nature for a bit, therefore planning ahead and being prepared can save you valuable time and stress while preparing your meals. This is a trip I definitely want to save myself some time during and allow myself more room for memories!!!

Here is some of my camping background:

As a kid camping was the only summer vacation I knew until middle school. We would visit different campgrounds around various parts of Ohio as a family unit of 4, myself, my brother and my mom & dad. By the time I was eleven my parents had purchase a piece of land in southern Ohio for my dad and brother to use for hunting property and within that first year we had built a cabin on our land for us to use, allowing an alternative to tent camping. We had no running water, no gas heat and very minimal electricity available in our cabin but it got us off the ground inside of tents and into a large one room barn with a loft making week-long stays more comfortable, less wet when rain interfered and easier to achieve a few times a summer. We had a grill on a small deck platform on the front and my parents did most of our cooking on that or with the use of our fire pit.

When I met my husband and learned that his family had also instilled a love and appreciation of the outdoors in him, I knew camping would become a common practice in my life again. We were only together for a year or so before we purchased our very first tent as a couple and began building our Camping Kit! Many of those first purchases are still in our Camping Kit, one thing that is no longer included however, is a traditional camp stove…….

…..WHY? This may seem silly, a camp stove helps you eat right? Well in my experience one of these……..

…………… can help you eat when camping MUCH FASTER!

In our original Camping Kit as a couple we had purchased one of these ever so popular portable camp stoves and after our second camping trip the “convenient carrying case” was already broken and no more than a few uses later the handle to open the lid melted right off. I felt like I had wasted my money and the few times I had used it to cook it felt like I was preparing our meal with a stove version of an Easy Bake Oven. The food took forever to cook, it overcooked one side to a char but somehow the food was still cold, or worse I would fully prepare my hubby’s food and watch him eat it all before mine was even half done cooking! Frustrating to say the least, that was about 14 years ago and that was also the last time I prepared meals for a camping trip with the sole use of a portable camp stove. Now my meal planning takes a totally different approach. The bonfire is my primary source of food heating now and I plan to share some of my favorite Bon Fire Cooking Tips here, but first a look inside my Camp Kitchen!

Camp Kitchen

I plan to cover this in more detail in a future post about how I set my Camp Kitchen Up! Keep an eye out for it!

 

Here’s the deal with this specific 

Fourth of July Family Camping Trip!!!

My brother has two sons who live in Florida with their mother, while he resides here with his fiance & their combined 5 other children. It’s been years since my little family has seen them and they happen to be in town for a few weeks this summer! When their visit in Ohio with my brother was set on the calendar and it was scheduled to span over the Fourth of July, the idea of a family camping trip seemed natural.  My girls couldn’t be more excited to have some time to spend with their cousins and I am excited to have the opportunity to spark some memory making fun!

We will be heading out Saturday morning to a campground a few hours from home, a place that has been the site of memory making for our family for years! That cabin my parents bought when I was a child has since sadly been sold, but it is right around the corner from the particular camp grounds we will be staying at. As kids, my brother and I grew up visiting those camp grounds to access the beach and shower houses with my parents during our long stays at the cabin. After the cabin sold and about 4-5 years ago, my brother, my husband and I stayed a fourth of July weekend there with the combined 5 kiddos that we had amongst us. The oldest of my brothers sons had a broken arm at the time, wrapped in a cast and unable to be doused with water at the beach and limiting his adventurous abilities.

We went knowing there was a beach, but when we were kids there was a cement platform in the lake for jumping off of and 2 aluminum playground slides in the water as well. When we arrived for that last trip as adults, we came to find a full floating inflatable playground in addition to our childhood options. We felt terrible and so we planned then to make sure to take another camping trip at a later date when the cast would be gone. Unfortunately we didn’t anticipate it taking so many years to pull off that camping trip, BONUS now we get my sister-in-law to be and her brood of kiddos too! Together we will be camping…….

the 4 adults and………….

children in the gender/age line-up as follows:

B16, G15, B15, B13, B12, B10, G9, G7, G5, G2

We will be missing one of my nephews but sadly he is unavailable due to a conflicting schedule. He will be missed for sure but with the combined 10 kiddos that will span 16 – 2 years old it is sure to be a great opportunity to create memories!

Here’s the line up of meals I have planned to feed my share of this bunch and then some:

Our 4th of July Camping Menu

Saturday, July 1st
Lunch:
Deli Meat Sandwiches
(sub rolls filled with a variety of deli meats & cheeses with a selection of condiments for sandwich dressing)
*Served with cut fruit & potato chips.
Dinner:
Foil Pack Dinner
(Pre cut chicken & beef cubes drizzled with oil & seasonings. Add veggies of choice of cherry tomatoes, potato chunks, mushrooms, onion & sweet peppers. Fun for each person to personally build to taste!)
*Served with condiments for dipping & rolls warmed over the fire with butter.
Sweet Treat:
Birthday Cupcakes!!!
(Cupcakes for Uncle Len’s Birthday!)
*Served with Sherbet!
Sunday, July 2nd
Breakfast:
Pancake & Bacon Sticks
(Precooked bacon warmed & covered with pancake batter allowing them to be dipped and eaten with fingers! Less waste!)
*Served with juice &/or milk boxes of choice & a piece of fruit
(apple, banana, bunch of grapes)
Lunch:
Deli Meat Sandwiches
(sub rolls filled with a variety of deli meats & cheeses with a selection of condiments)
*Served with veggies, dip & potato chips.
Dinner:
Choice of Walking Taco’s or Frito Chili Pie’s
(Pre cooked taco/chili meat to build your own)
*Served with mini bags of Dorito’s & Frito’s and a selection of taco toppings.
Sweet Treat:
Smore’s & Roasted Marshmallows!
Monday, July 3rd  
Breakfast:
Sausage Egg & Cheese Breakfast Burrito’s
(Precooked scrambled eggs & sausage stuffed with cheese & wrapped in foil to make burrito’s!)
*Served with juice &/or milk boxes of choice & a piece of fruit
(apple, banana, bunch of grapes)
Lunch:
Hot Dogs & Cheeseburgers
(Topped with cheeses & a selection of condiments)
*Served with watermelon & potato chips.
Dinner:
Overstuffed Fire-Side Baked Potatoes
(Fire roasted baked potatoes to be topped)
*Served with bacon crumbles, chili, cheeses, sour cream, scallions & other toppings.
Sweet Treat:
Dessert Hobo Pies
(Bread filled with pie filling, chocolate & Nutella)
Tuesday, July 4th   
Breakfast:
Hashbrown Breakfast Muffins & Cereal
(Precooked scrambled & cheese filled hashbrown muffins with cereal side)
*Served with juice &/or milk boxes of choice & a piece of fruit
(apple, banana, bunch of grapes)
Lunch:
Cheddar Bratwurst
(Fire roasted with a selection of condiments)
*Served with watermelon & pasta salad.
Dinner:
Barbeque Ribs @ Home
(Fire roasted baked potatoes to be topped)
*Served with baked beans, corn on the cob & left over camping sides.
Sweet Treat:
Strawberry Shortcake @ Fireworks!
(Shortbread circles topped with strawberries & whipped cream)

Before I get to the actual Prep Ahead Process, Here’s a few BONUS tips!

*When planning my menu for a camping trip I try to choose meals that will repeat ingredients but in a slightly new way and I try to set meals in a certain order across our trip based on the reuse of ingredients as well as the ease of cooler storage.

*Investing in a large and tight sealing cooler will make the entire trip easier! If you are using a collection of smaller or middle range coolers I encourage also packing your coolers based on meal time as well (ie. all your breakfast & lunch foods in one and dinner needs in another). I do always encourage keeping your beverages in a separate cooler no matter how many coolers you need to use to store your food. Drinks are the main reason people open coolers, if you keep them in one easy to identify cooler then your food and perishables won’t suffer the consequences of the cooler being opened every time someone is thirsty!

*I STRONGLY RECOMMEND you purchase a quality set of Plastic Food Storage Containers, it will pay off when your solid ice turns to arctic water. Having a water tight seal will benefit you greatly by allowing you to still use most of that arctic water without it seeping into your food storage containers, allowing you not to drain that water & waste extra money on a ton of new solid ice. My personal favorite are THESE by Rubbermaid.

2.5 Gal Easy Find Lids Container                                                                                                     EFL_44pc_Front5

Value Pack: 9 cup / 14 cup Easy Find Lids                                                                                            5.5 Cup Easy Find Lids Container Rectangle

Available in a wide variety of sizes you can purchase a variety that work best for you and your families go to dishes. Last, HERE’S a great resource for other camping hacks!

Now Let’s Get to the Prep Ahead Process!

*For this process I prep ahead not in order of when the actual meals will be served but rather in order of meal time (i.e. all breakfast prep before moving on to any of my lunch prep, dinner prep, ect.). This keeps things more sanitary first and foremost but it also allows me to keep my small kitchen less cluttered and more efficient, keeping only a small collection of my shopping list ingredients at hand on my counters. It also allows me to gauge the quantity of one ingredient that I use in one dish, in relation to the other meals that will also need the same ingredients.

I put together a PDF of my Grocery List for this menu (keep in mind the items on the list that specify quantity will feed a small army, so for the average family of 4-6 I would stick with half the quantities, but adjust as you see fit to the appetites you are feeding!). In addition, I typed up a PDF version of My Prep Ahead Process to walk you through my Prep Day. I plan to complete the bulk of my shopping Friday morning, with the exception of my produce because we have a local farmer’s market on Saturday mornings and I will get better produce for my money going there Saturday morning before we head out! The rest of the meals will each have some level of prep in order to obtain maximum ease at time of execution & preparation over the campfire. I did my best to walk you through my process for prep and my fireside instructions, but of course make whatever necessary changes you see fit to best suit your family!

Prep Ahead Process & Fireside Prep Steps

Pancake Bacon Dippers

Here I am finishing up the last of our pancake & bacon dippers at last years family 4th of July Camping trip in the mountains of Pennsylvania!

With the food made simple there’s more time for memories!

I put the extra effort into prepping the day or so before the trip to allow us to eat well while not spending the entire time at the campsite preparing, cleaning up from, and waiting on meals. This leaves time for fun activities and excursions around the campgrounds! Here are a few of the campsite activities I have planned to keep the kids entertained while they are bound to the campsite, though I do anticipate more time at the beach and looking for adventure but in those in between moments and moments of downtime I like to have a trick or two up my sleeve to ward off melt downs.

The First Activity is: Painted Rocks, I don’t know if your neighborhood or home has caught up with the rock painting phenomenon or not, but we have a whole Facebook Group devoted to it in our county. I will be taking a collection of acrylic paints & paintbrushes for the kids to paint rocks they are bound to collect around the campsite.

Painted rock / rock painting / rock art / painted stones / adventure / up / balloons     99 DIY Ideas Of Painted Rocks With Inspirational Picture And Words (56)

Next is this cute UP Adventure Booklet that I found over at http://www.family.disney.com, where I found a few other great UP inspired activities that seem cute as well. For this campout we will just use the booklet though.

In addition, I searched Independence DayCamping Hiking while I was looking around http://www.family.disney.com and found these great coloring pages featuring Mickey & Minnie & their pals too.

I borrowed this idea for Outdoor Adventure Hunts from this brilliant mom, I printed mine on paper and taped/stapled them to lunch bag sized paper bags with handles so the kids can easily carry their hunt finds!!! Here is another previous solution I have used for this idea!

Scavenger Hunt Bags

This is a picture of some I made for a Labor Day Camping Trip we took our girls on the summer after #4 was born! I personalized the bags and also the Scavenger Hunt to the areas I knew we would be visiting and the activities I knew we would be doing!

 

To go with them on their “Adventure Hunt” we will assemble some Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars, like these from “Make Life Lovely”.

Well there you go! After a marathon of a To-Do List Tuesday, our meals are planned, activities are prepped and the steps and processes, tricks & tips that come so naturally to me have now been turned into a detailed document to be duplicated by anyone interested to try them. I hope I have inspired you in some way, to try something new for your next family camping trip and I also hope that something I shared will help you take less time working and more time making memories while you camp! Don’t forget that a little planned time to prepare ahead can make all the difference in the memories you make! Now go forth and Dazzle in the woods or wherever you plan to travel with your crew this summer, just remeber the point of trips and vacations with the ones you love is to make memories!!!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

K.O.B.F Week #3 Ocean

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This week continues Mission: Keep Our Brains Fresh

Week #3 – Ocean

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As previously explained in Mindset Mondays, I am on a mission to keep my kiddos brains fresh this summer break from school. Every year I try to focus on hiding some learning opportunities into our summer fun and this year my oldest daughter and I have put together this weekly plan of attack.

Our Plan As Follows

Every week of summer we will have a new weekly theme and we started these themes on Memorial Day (Monday) as this was the first official full week of summer break for us. Read about our first weeks K.O.B.F. plan K.O.B.F Week #1 Outer Space and our second week K.O.B.F Week #2 Science as well. We should have started week three last Monday, however life happens and I am no stranger to that fact, so sometimes plans change. This past Monday upon our return home from Romantic 10 Year Anniversary Road Trip my husband found himself admitted to our local hospital for 3 days. This left me holding down the fort with 4 crazy excited little girls that we were home but stir crazy as I was back and forth to the hospital regularly.

My girls spent the week doing some left over worksheets from previous weeks and really focusing on reading, (and as it goes sometimes, more screen time than normal) once they completed their daily chore’s and Summer Devotion Time.  SO this week I am excited to be home from vacation, with my husband out of the hospital, following his discharge orders & making the appropriate follow-up appointments AND back to the normal swing of things around our house during the summer with my kiddo’s. I’m even more excited that our theme is ocean, especially after having just spent a relaxing trip with my toes in the sand & ocean tide again!!!

Here’s the overview if you wanted to follow along:

The weekly themes my oldest daughter (she is helping me run & organize it this summer, just call her my “PA” personal assistant!) and I have decided to focus on are as follows:

  1. Outer Space 
  2. Science
  3. Oceans – This weeks learning theme!
  4. Bugs & Butterflies
  5. American History
  6. Colors & Shapes
  7. Caves
  8. Dinosaurs
  9. Super Spy School
  10. Rainforest
  11. Lego’s
  12. Water Fun

The idea we have regarding the weekly learning theme’s is to focus on a different theme each week that gives us a commonality to incorporate multiple different subjects under the same topic, much like daycare’s and preschools do. Each Monday I will be posting a new blog with our weekly theme and some of the lesson ideas and tools we will be using that week. I plan to focus about an hour an afternoon on a different subject each day but which days I execute which “assignments” will depend on the flow of each week . We will only be taking an hour out for assignments on typical school days, Mon. – Fri. As I mentioned before, I don’t want their summer learning to ever feel like they are attending summer school for 3 months straight.

Each week I hope to cover these subject areas in our daily

Mission: KOBF hour are…

…Arts & Crafts, Vocabulary, Reading, Math, a Physical Activity or Outing, and also a few Fun Food Ideas!

 

This weeks Ideas:

– Art project or craft, I don’t plan for this to be a big production every week. Most weeks will likely be coloring, painting or drawing, but again, depending on the theme for the week, I may change-up the difficulty level & intensity of the arts & crafts sometimes.

This week our arts & crafts will be very largely based on coloring pages incorporated in the link I provided for the vocabulary section below. Also I have a large supply of toilet paper rolls on hand for random crafts or repurpose needs and I found this great idea to make toilet paper roll fishA simple fish craft made from a cardboard tube using a flatten and cut technique

I may complete a “Field Trip” with them to a local beach to acquire sand & shells to be used for shoebox diorama’s as well. For now we have a fair amount of rain in this weeks forecast though so that will be played by ear! 

****Here are a few other ideas I don’t think we will have time for but may be fun for you and your kiddos! Like Crystal growing Seashells as explained and documented by “Little Bins for Little Hands” blog, I as excited to come across this demonstration because it can sneak a little science into your week of learning!Crystal Seashells Borax Crystal Growing Experiment Also this could be super fun to do, a cute  Swimming Jellyfish Paper Plate Craft idea! 

 

– Vocabulary Lesson, this may be as simple as providing a list of words to have my 7-year-old copy for practice neatly writing into a short sentence each and also for my older daughters to include in a creative writing assignment.

This week our vocabulary lessons will come largely on Monday & Tuesday through the Ocean themed printables and coloring pages that I found from this homeschooling momma here at 3 Boys & a Dog Blog. (This is a resources I will likely refer back to also, she has a vast collection of coloring pages & worksheets on many topics) 

 

– Reading, storytime style taking turns from one week to the next depending on the difficulty of the book chosen each week. Some weeks my 7-year-old will read it out loud other weeks it may be one of my older two and on some occasions it will still be me (we have quite the expanse of books in our home so most of the books will likely come from our existing collection but I will share those titles when available in advance).

This is another area where we can accommodate a pretty wide variety of reading selections based on the beach & ocean from our personal book collection. As in previous weeks, I will encourage my girls to find selections they will enjoy to read to each other while I prepare for our weekend campout. However since I will be home, I will try to slip one or two into a bedtime storytime session one evening. I don’t have any specific book titles to offer but I always encourage a trip to your local public library to let your kids explore the many titles and find books within each topic that interest them specifically. This helps them get excited about books even more when you let them have an opinion on what they read!

 

– Math, this will be a practice session with themed math worksheets whenever I am able to find or create them within our theme. On some occasions though they may be hands on activities, like baking or cooking, or measuring to create (i.e. helping to prepare a dish for a camping trip or family cookout=measuring lesson)

This week our math lesson will be an activity. I took some inspiration from one of my favorite blogs, “The Imagination Tree” to come up with our math lesson for the week. Their idea was to Fish for Letter Sounds as explained on their page. I decided instead to write numbers on the ping pong balls and give them a basic math problem. The first one to “catch” the correct answer using their net to “fish” will win a point. After a series of problems the winner will be presented their Prize Goldfish Cup!

 

– Physical outing or activity, it may be as simple as a dance session to some kind of music that fits the theme or it may be a game or sport altered to fit the theme but whatever it is it will get our hearts pumping! ( because our family has a wide age range we may personally incorporate multiple variations of play to whatever activity we do. Take the liberty of personalizing our recommendations to fit your families dynamic & age span).

I plan to sneak a beach obstacle course in during our Field Trip to the beach if we can manage that around the weather. I will draw out the course in the sand and encourage them to run it against each other 2 at a time. Running in sand is a great way to get a little extra leg burn into your play!

 

– Snacks, I have always been a food lover and as a creative person I find it fun to “play with food” in my family fun theme’s, learning experiences and celebrations. I’m a super cheesy person and love a good theme! I will use our weekly themes as an opportunity to look at our meals, snacks and treats through a different lens through the summer so look out for some fun snack/treat ideas inspired by our theme selections!

Now this is the one area I may have let you down in last week but I do have some simple fun ideas planned for this weeks Ocean theme! I do always encourage you to challenge yourself to come up with some cute ideas based on your kiddos diet & preferences. If you do get creative please share them in the comments or via my Dazzling Domestic Dreamer’s Facebook Page! I would love to see what you come up with! Here is what we will be doing this week, we will be decorating Ocean Cupcakes and making a Simple Seaside Snack Mix. In lieu of a lunch or dinner I will serve Fish & Chips!

For the cupcakes I am going to bake some boxed mix cupcakes and frost them with basic blue frosting. Each girl will get one cupcake and a variety of ocean themed candy to decorate their cupcake, like these sour octopus gummy’s, this great gummy sea critter variety pack, and not to be forgotten, one of my favorite’s Swedish Fish! For the Simple Seaside Snack Mix I will place some goldfish crackers, salty  sunflower seeds (inspired by the salty sea water) the last of the gummy candy’s and some pretzel rods (inspired by driftwood) into a large Ziploc bag so I can shake it to mix it up. Each child will get a personal sized cup to snack on! My last idea is to serve Fish & Chips by way of fish sticks & seasoned oven fries for dinner one evening!

We’d Love You To Join Along!

As I can fit them into our theme I will be looking for “field trip” opportunities and we always welcome friends along for those fun outing so watch out for those in our weekly plans if you are local to us! Also we welcome play dates in the summer schedule too. If you can’t join us in person we would still love to hear about your fun summer themes if you decide to put this plan in place to fit your kids and your family! Share pictures and stories in the comments!

Whether you plan to execute this identical to my plan and future blogs on the topic, or whether you use is as a vague guide, or even not at all doesn’t really matter to me. What matters to me is that you are proactive about allowing your kids brains to properly be stimulated WITHOUT electronics this summer and that you make it fun for your kids specifically. Remember, while you are doing this you aren’t just keeping their brains fresh, you are creating memories!  So go make memories this summer in general, but their teachers will thank you in the fall if you implement some form of our K.O.B.F Mission this summer, and don’t forget to check back for more ideas on our future themes and other summer fun memory making ideas! Now Dazzle your way to an Ocean themed week of Learning & Intentional, Productive fun!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

12 Weeks Of Virtue Week 5: Patience

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Today kicks off week 5 of our 12 Weeks of Virtue Summer Challenge that I am doing with my family this summer. As explained in my introduction to our 12 Weeks of Virtues Summer 2017 Challenge this blog series is based on a 12 week challenge I designed around the book “In This House We Giggle” by Courtney DeFeo that I read this past April. The line up of virtue’s and schedule during which I am completing this challenge with my family is included in PDF form 12 Weeks of Virtue Summer Plan.

Our first virtue was Joy (check that out here at 12 Weeks Of Virtue Week 1: Joy),

Second virtue was Love (check that one out here at 12 Weeks Of Virtue Week 2: Love)

Third virtue was Forgiveness (check that out here at 12 Weeks Of Virtue Week 3: Forgiveness),

Fourth virtue was Faith (check that one out here at 12 Weeks Of Virtue Week 4: Faith).

You and your family can start at anytime from the beginning or in any order you choose according to your family’s desire. Our fifth value that is our focus of this weeks devotions is Patience…..

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Like so much of this book, In This House We Will Giggle and the other sentiments the author Courtney DeFeo includes, I love the statement above, but I feel an overwhelming panic deep inside over having to teach this virtue to my children because I have VERY POOR PATIENCE!!! Yes, this virtue is something that we need to thrive to teach our children early and well but how do you teach them something you struggle with yourself so terribly. That’s like asking me to teach my children Calculus when I can barely tackle basic math day-to-day.… I know that I have said that I struggle with some of the other virtues in previous weeks, but none compare to my struggle with PATIENCE. I actually stopped praying for patience, because I realized God only put me in more situations to demonstrate patience when I did pray for it! All joking aside though I really do struggle with this virtue more than probably any of the others. So let’s get into it…

What is Patience? 

The Kids Definition of Patience is:

Waiting with a happy heart.

Part One: Waiting…

My biggest difficulty when it comes to patience is the WAITING! I have a very hard time waiting. Depending on what I am waiting on, sadly affects the happy heart part, but I am working on that actively in my faith walk and I am passionate about figuring out how to instill that virtue in my children. As a child I remember my mother telling me regularly, “Patience is a virtue, be patient” but despite my mothers frequent prompts and virtually seamless demonstration of patience, it is the one area of my faith walk that really challenges me.

Part Two: With a Happy Heart…

This, as I mentioned earlier, for me is based on circumstance more often than not. I am humbled in this virtue knowing that my trust in the Lord and His promises should make the happy heart part easier. Sadly I fall to flesh desires more often than I am proud to say when it comes to waiting with a happy heart. I like to be in control, I like to know the plan, the steps & the process and when I don’t I all too easily become unhinged. I will keep working on this personal flaw. I am thankful for God’s grace every day and every time I fail in this area.

This chapter in the book is incredible for not just explaining patience and what it means to have patience, but it also gives you some tools to be intentional daily when trying to create an environment that encourages our kiddos to demonstrate patience. Once again there are some great “Catch Phrases” for talking TO your children about patience as well. This chapter also reminds us why Patience is so important in the first place….

If we trust in the Lord, we need to trust in His timing. If we can teach our kids to trust in God’s timing with the little things in their days then we will enable them early to trust in God’s timing in the much bigger things later in life. My first years of adult decisions were not always made patiently waiting in His timing and the lessons I have learned are priceless but the road has been far more of a struggle than God ever intended for me, all because I didn’t embrace Patience and trust in God’s timing. A mistake I pray for my kids to avoid.

It’s because this area in my faith walk is an area that has been the most constant struggle for me in my years of knowing Jesus that I was further confirmed about this journey to giggle more that God wanted for my family this summer and also in this blog series. This blog series is quite literally an act of me following Him and in doing so I must also be disciplined in patience for Him to use this blog how He plans in His time, NOT MY TIMING! This blog is for Him and I will actively work patiently to prevent myself from sabotaging His will for it. Like so many other things in my life, I feel God leading me in a direction and asking me to follow certain steps, except all to often then I lose my patience and hurry ahead ill prepared or I just throw the towel in all together impatient for the process. I also tend to not just lose my patience but also my temper and my words unfortunately sometimes. My mission with my blog is an active challenge for my patience. I will keep using it for His will and I must stop questioning His plan for it or His timing for that plan.

This chapter has acted as a very humbling reminder to myself that I MUST be better in this area. I MUST be a better example to my children and it is because I need the visual reminder this week more than absolutely any other week, that I have again included printable decorative PDF. For each virtue I look for a quote that I have found either in the book “In This House We Will Giggle” or elsewhere to encourage me each week as well. This weeks quote jumped of the page at me again and will actively convict me through the week as I begin my battle with my patience and inherently my temper also. I will be printing it for my office also so I can reference it easily & of course regularly. Inspirational Quote – Patience

Each week I am going to share with you my “Weekly Outline” for each new Virtue and the PDF’s for the printables that I created and intend to use with my children for this 12 Weeks of Virtue Challenge.

Weekly Outline:

Sunday – Introduce PATIENCE Virtue & the Memory Verse for the week & explain the Weekly Activity (the weekly activity alone is a great reason to order or buy the book). For each chapter there is a two page Activity Idea detailed and explained. This weeks activity is Taste the Sweet Rewards of Patience and it may be a perfect opportunity to test my Patience as well, because though this weeks Activity Idea is a fun and very creative way to teach your children (and potential grandchildren and so on and so on) patience I can see it not working out the way at least one of my girls will like so I may have a bonus teaching lesson! Once again I recommend you pick up the book “In This House We Will Giggle” by Courtney DeFeo to get the full two page Family Activity Instructions & explanation! A quick general explanation is that you will be creating a now or later choice option with your children incorporating a smaller immediate treat they know or a mystery treat that is better but not until the next day.

Memory Verse: But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.   Romans 8:28

I have created a PDF that includes a printable Memory Verse that I plan to print and display on my refrigerator door for the week on the top and the Family Discussion Questions for the virtue that you can print for free to use.

Monday – Daily Devotion for the day, read Psalm 27:14; 37:7-9 and introduce Taste the Sweet Rewards of Patience

Tuesday – Daily Devotion for the day, read Proverbs 16:32 and discuss first 5 Family Discussion Questions included in the Memory Verse PDF

Wednesday – Daily Devotion for the day, read Romans 12:12 and partake in a Bring Out the Giggles Idea. The book includes “60 ways to bring out the giggles” and in my 12 Weeks of Virtues Summer Challenge Schedule I included 12 that I chose for my family. I encourage you pick up the book at your local Barnes & Noble or pick it up online through Amazon so you can read the whole book and also have the full list of “60 ways to bring out the giggles” to choose what will appeal to your family most!

Thursday – Daily Devotion for the day, read 1Corinthians 13:4-8 and discuss the remaining 5 Family Discussion Questions.

Friday – Daily Devotion for the day, read Ephesians 4:2 and participate in this weeks Encourage Activity, this weeks we will be drawing pictures of patience and giving them to the most patient people we know!

Saturday – Daily Devotion for the day, read The son of laughter in “The Jesus Storybook Bible” as well as participate in a fun Family Activity Day, for this I will be introducing a Family Fun Night while they enjoy the wait a day treat from Tuesday reminding them how they need to practice self-control & patience while they wait for today to come. The anticipation of this Family Fun Night will test their patience well.

Virtue five-Patience Overview of the week

Virtue Five Memory Verse and Discussion Questions-Patience

10 Ways to Break a Bad-Mood Cycle a great tool from the book to reference through all 12 weeks!

Lastly I also created a FREE printable PDF including the other six Daily Devotional verses included here Devotions Verses-Patience. I encourage you look up all 6 of the bible Daily Devotions at the start of each week. You can just look them all up at the start to the week and then cut these cards apart to use each one as a page marker for the verse in the bible so you can be prepared. Even though I provide these each week I still encourage you pull your bibles out & be in the pages of His word looking them up in the translation most comfortable for you. I bookmark them for quick reference but encourage my 3 oldest girls to take time to look them up in their own bibles. With all 3 of my older girls reading it helps get them familiar with their bibles and gives them ownership over the task.

I hope you choose to join me & my family in this 12 Weeks of Virtue Summer Challenge and if you do decide to, please let me know in the comments! I will be trying to post the remaining Weekly Virtues outline’s in the morning part of the day on Sundays for the next 7 weeks. My week will be busy as my husband and I are preparing to head out-of-town a Family Fourth of July Camping Trip but I do still intend to have a few new pieces to release throughout the week. Life has a way of making certain things and people priorities when you try to live intentionally in God’s will though and that means sometimes my plans for myself change! Have a blessed and Joyful LOVE and GRACE filled week, remember the best way to teach FAITH is to live faithfully and be sure to exercise a little PATIENCE as you head into a busy holiday full of summer fun! Check back tomorrow for an unrelated post about how I plan to keep my kids brains academically fresh during the summer! Go Forth & Dazzle your summer away making memories with your kiddo’s everyday!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

K.O.B.F Week #2 Science

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This week continues Mission: Keep Our Brains Fresh

Week #2- Science

As previously explained in Mindset Mondays I am on a mission to keep my kiddos brains fresh this summer break from school. Every year I try to focus on hiding some learning opportunities into our summer fun and this year my oldest daughter and I have put together this weekly plan of attack.

Our Plan As Follows

Every week of summer we will have a new weekly theme and we started these themes on Memorial Day (Monday) as this was the first official full week of summer break for us. Read about our first weeks K.O.B.F. plan K.O.B.F Week #1 Outer Space. We should have started week two last Monday, however life happens and I am no stranger to that fact, so sometimes plans change. This past Sunday in my prep for the week I was putting in my organization hours for the new week ahead and I found myself suffering from headaches and dizzy spells whenever I sat down at the computer, so I was only able to get so far with the technological preparations. Monday my headaches continued and then Tuesday upon finally having relief from the headache, I discovered I had somehow been locked out of my laptop. This meant that finding the necessary printables and science experiment specifics on my computer was not possible until the end of the week when I had finally resolved the problem. After fighting a bit with my technology again I was finally able to put some occasional time on the computer allowing me to begin the catch up project on my work Friday.

My kids enjoyed a traditional lazy week of summer playing outside once they completed their daily chore’s and Summer Devotion Time BUT  they expressed many times during the week the fact that they missed having the work and my 2nd daughter brought it up at least twice a day. I felt super bad but alas plans don’t always pan out as we’d like.

The weekly themes my oldest daughter (she is helping me run & organize it this summer, just call her my “PA” personal assistant!) and I have decided to focus on are as follows:

  1. Outer Space 
  2. Science– This weeks learning theme!
  3. Oceans
  4. Bugs & Butterflies
  5. American History
  6. Colors & Shapes
  7. Caves
  8. Dinosaurs
  9. Super Spy School
  10. Rainforest
  11. Lego’s
  12. Water Fun

The idea we have regarding the weekly learning theme’s is to focus on a different theme each week that gives us a commonality to incorporate multiple different subjects under the same topic, much like daycare’s and preschools do. Each Monday I will be posting a new blog with our weekly theme and some of the lesson ideas and tools we will be using that week. I plan to focus about an hour an afternoon on a different subject each day but which days I execute which “assignments” will depend on the flow of each week . We will only be taking an hour out for assignments on typical school days, Mon. – Fri. As I mentioned before, I don’t want their summer learning to ever feel like they are attending summer school for 3 months straight.

Each week I hope to cover these subject areas in our daily

Mission: KOBF hour are…

…Arts & Crafts, Vocabulary, Reading, Math, a Physical Activity or Outing, and also a few Fun Food Ideas!

~This week I am taking a slightly different approach than most weeks, as we are focusing on a different area of science to study each day. The 5 areas of study we will be focusing on this week are:

Monday- Human Body

Tuesday- Five Senses

Wednesday- Chemical Reaction Day

Thursday- Weather

Friday- The Sun

The week will be front loaded with a few more of the hands on activities because Wednesday evening my husband and I will be leaving to go out-of-town and my oldest will be in charge of the lessons each day with the supervision of my mother.  However I am still going to be sure to find many printables because at the end of every day during Space week my middle girls were looking for more worksheets!

 

This weeks Ideas:

– Art project or craft, I don’t plan for this to be a big production every week. Most weeks will likely be coloring, painting or drawing, but again, depending on the theme for the week, I may change-up the difficulty level & intensity of the arts & crafts sometimes.

This week our arts & crafts will be very largely based on Wednesday our Chemical Reaction Day. I have a few science experiments planned for that day so my husband & I can spend a little quality time with our girls right before we head out on our anniversary trip. I plan to use this afternoon to do a few fun experiments like the Elmer’s Glue SlimeHomemade Bouncey Balls, and last will be a Filter Paper experiment with markers and water (these will be reused in a few weeks when we do bugs & butterflies too!) I do also have a few ideas that seem simple enough to be executed by my oldest daughter with my moms supervision providing it works into their plans on Thursday & Friday for our weather & sun units. The first is Shaving Cream Rain Clouds as demonstrated beautifully through that link provided for this activity. Another fun activity may be to use new watercolor paint they received from their grandma at the end of the school year to paint some weather related images to cut out and create Weather Mobile’s like this great example! Also for Sun they will paint paper plates to use when they create their Sundials as explained further in Math.

****Here are a few other ideas I don’t think we will have time for but may be fun for you and your kiddos! Like Making plastic with milk! Also this super fun idea to do an Oil & Water Experiment would definitely be one if we weren’t traveling that I wanted to do! One last activity we may still try later in the summer but would be fun for Friday when we cover the Sun is this cool idea for Solar Oven Smore’s!!!

 

– Vocabulary Lesson, this may be as simple as providing a list of words to have my 7-year-old copy for practice neatly writing into a short sentence each and also for my older daughters to include in a creative writing assignment.

This week our vocabulary lessons will come largely on Monday & Tuesday through the Human body & 5 Senses printables that I found Here at Crayola’s website & also Here at Kids-Pages.com. (These are resources I strongly advise you refer back to as they have a wide variety of coloring pages & worksheets on many topics) Here is another great “Guts” Printable and this great Body Systems Booklet that my girls enjoyed today as part of our Human Body Day! For our weather day I plan to leave some of these worksheets for my girls to have extra entertainment while I am gone and so I found these cute vocabulary & word tracing weather coloring worksheets

 

– Reading, story time style taking turns from one week to the next depending on the difficulty of the book chosen each week. Some weeks my 7-year-old will read it out loud other weeks it may be one of my older two and on some occasions it will still be me (we have quite the expanse of books in our home so most of the books will likely come from our existing collection but I will share those titles when available in advance).

This is an area where we can accommodate a pretty wide variety of reading selections based on the weather and the sun from our personal book collection and since those are the topics they will focus on Thursday & Friday I will encourage my girls to find selections they will enjoy to read to each other while we are out-of-town. I don’t have any specific book titles to offer but I always encourage a trip to your local public library to let your kids explore the many titles and find books within each topic that interest them specifically. This helps them get excited about books even more when you let them have an opinion on what they read!

 

– Math, this will be a practice session with themed math worksheets whenever I am able to find or create them within our theme. On some occasions though they may be hands on activities, like baking or cooking, or measuring to create (i.e. helping to prepare a dish for a camping trip or family cookout=measuring lesson)

This week our math lesson will be incorporated in our science experiments because we will be measuring ingredients on Wednesday. I do also have plans for them to assemble Sundials with paper plates and paint brushes on Friday as part of their Sun lessons. The plan is based on this idea from Kids Play Box and it involves tracking the shadow hourly also incorporating time tracking into our math lessons. Our last Math lesson for the week comes by way of  These Rainy Day Clip Cards created by this talented momma that I printed to use for Thursday’s weather day. I plan to cut them and laminate them so they can be used over and over for more numbers practice in the future!

– Physical outing or activity, it may be as simple as a dance session to some kind of music that fits the theme or it may be a game or sport altered to fit the theme but whatever it is it will get our hearts pumping! ( because our family has a wide age range we may personally incorporate multiple variations of play to whatever activity we do. Take the liberty of personalizing our recommendations to fit your families dynamic & age span).

I plan to do some driveway chalking with my kiddo’s in the driveway, and trace their outlines encouraging they draw & label their bodies. This time outdoors will naturally include some running, skipping & casual playtime.  Also I think Human Body Day creates a natural opening to teach my 2 yr. old The Hokey Pokey with help from my older girls! Another great idea for a Field Trip that may work into your schedule better than my own would be to visit your local Science Museum as a family on Saturday!

 

– Snacks, I have always been a food lover and as a creative person I find it fun to “play with food” in my family fun theme’s, learning experiences and celebrations. I’m a super cheesy person and love a good theme! I will use our weekly themes as an opportunity to look at our meals, snacks and treats through a different lens through the summer so look out for some fun snack/treat ideas inspired by our theme selections!

Now this is the one area I may let you down a little this week, I have not spent any time looking for cute food or snack ideas related to science this week since I will be packing, & prepping to be out-of-town but I do challenge you to come up with some cute ideas and share them in the comments or via my Dazzling Domestic Dreamer’s Facebook Page! I would love to see what you come up with! 

We’d Love You To Join Along!

As I can fit them into our theme I will be looking for “field trip” opportunities and we always welcome friends along for those fun outing so watch out for those in our weekly plans if you are local to us! Also we welcome play dates in the summer schedule too. If you can’t join us in person we would still love to hear about your fun summer themes if you decide to put this plan in place to fit your kids and your family! Share pictures and stories in the comments!

Whether you plan to execute this identical to my plan and future blogs on the topic (feel free to use this PDF Document I compiled a few of the 5 Senses & the Sun printables I plan to use this week here, KOBF wk #2 Science)  or whether you use is as a guide, or even not at all doesn’t really matter to me. What matters to me is that you are proactive about allowing your kids brains to properly be stimulated WITHOUT electronics and that you make it fun for your kids specifically. Remember, while you are doing this you aren’t just keeping their brains fresh, you are creating memories!  So go make memories this summer, but don’t forget to check back for more ideas on our themes and other summer fun memory making ideas! Now Dazzle your way to a Science filled week of Learning & Intentional, Productive fun!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

K.O.B.F Week #1 Outer Space

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This week begins our Mission: Keep Our Brains Fresh

Week #1- Outer Space

As previously explained in Mindset Mondays I am on a mission to keep my kiddos brains fresh this summer break from school. Every year I try to focus on hiding some learning opportunities into our summer fun and this year my oldest daughter and I have put together this weekly plan of attack.

Our Plan As Follows

Every week of summer we will have a new weekly theme and we started these themes this Monday as this is the first official full week of summer break for us. The weekly themes my oldest daughter (she is helping me run & organize it this summer, just call her my “PA” personal assistant!) and I have decided to focus on are as follows:

  1. Outer Space – This weeks learning theme!
  2. Science
  3. Oceans
  4. Bugs & Butterflies
  5. American  History
  6. Colors & Shapes
  7. Caves
  8. Dinosaurs
  9. Super Spy School
  10. Rainforest
  11. Lego’s
  12. Water Fun

The idea we have regarding the weekly learning theme’s is to focus on a different theme each week that gives us a commonality to incorporate multiple different subjects under the same topic, much like daycare’s and preschools do. Each Monday I will be posting a new blog with our weekly theme and some of the lesson ideas and tools we will be using that week. I plan to focus about an hour an afternoon on a different subject each day but which days I execute which “assignments” will depend on the flow of each week . We will only be taking an hour out for assignments on typical school days, Mon. – Fri. As I mentioned before, I don’t want their summer learning to ever feel like they are attending summer school for 3 months straight.

Each week I hope to cover these subject areas in our daily

Mission: KOBF hour

– Art project or craft, I don’t plan for this to be a big production every week. Most weeks will likely be coloring, painting or drawing, but again, depending on the theme for the week, I may change-up the difficulty level & intensity of the arts & crafts sometimes.

Our plan for Outer Space is to use a printable I found that allows each of my girls to color a set of the planets & then we will use paper plates to create solar system mobiles.

I also found these links that will encourage coloring and creativity during the week as well:

 Book of Space Words – this will also make a great “lesson” to incorporate vocabulary.

If I found a new planet booklet – this definitely encourages creative thinking!

– Vocabulary Lesson, this may be as simple as providing a list of words to have my 7-year-old copy for practice neatly writing into a short sentence each and also for my older daughters to include in a creative writing assignment.

As for vocabulary this week, I am kicking off our lesson with this cute video about the solar system to introduce the theme and a series of vocabulary words. Solar System Preschool Video I have found a few vocabulary tracing worksheets about the 8 planets & the solar system that I plan to have my kids practice their handwriting while learning new words and I also found a short essay template along with other worksheets that I have included in pdf form with a collection of other pages I decided to incorporate into our week conveniently put together in one document. There are however some other great alternative printables at this link for Solar System For Kids worksheets allowing you to take advantage of alternate lessons. This is another GREAT RESOURCE for preschool printable packs you cn purchase for a small price. Though I didn’t use these, they were too cute not to share and I will be saving her page to refer back to in future weeks!

– Reading, story time style taking turns from one week to the next depending on the difficulty of the book chosen each week. Some weeks my 7-year-old will read it out loud other weeks it may be one of my older two and on some occasions it will still be me (we have quite the expanse of books in our home so most of the books will likely come from our existing collection but I will share those titles when available in advance).

I don’t believe we have any books in our home library on the solar system, so I plan to take them to our public library this week, as they have been asking for weeks and we have been too busy to sneak a trip in before now. While there I will focus their book searching efforts to those in the solar system content of course. I came across this Planet Report Template that I plan to have my kids complete on Friday at the end of our Solar System Fun. So if they each pick a book they are interested in while at the library, it will make completing that report worksheet even easier (though I do have some teaching material I intend to use included in my pdf document).

– Math, this will be a practice session with themed math worksheets whenever I am able to find or create them within our theme. On some occasions though they may be hands on activities, like baking or cooking, or measuring to create (i.e. helping to prepare a dish for a camping trip or family cookout=measuring lesson)

This particular week there isn’t really a practical way that I could find to apply math into the weekly lesson but I was fortunate to find a worksheet that includes a solar system picture that is color by number math problems. It is also included in the pdf that will be attached at the end of this post. This website has quite a variety of great  Solar System Activity Worksheets also so you can customize to your child and their needs, skill level, and interest.

– Physical outing or activity, it may be as simple as a dance session to some kind of music that fits the theme or it may be a game or sport altered to fit the theme but whatever it is it will get our hearts pumping! ( because our family has a wide age range we may personally incorporate multiple variations of play to whatever activity we do. Take the liberty of personalizing our recommendations to fit your families dynamic & age span).

I took some inspiration from this momma and her awesome Astronaut Training Course and we will be running an outdoor version of an Astronaut Training Course complete with an asteroid field they must navigate, spaceship tunnel, propulsion training on our sit ‘n spin, and completing their training with “anti-gravity training” on our neighbors trampoline.

– Snacks, I have always been a food lover and as a creative person I find it fun to “play with food” in my family fun theme’s, learning experiences and celebrations. I’m a super cheesy person and love a good theme! I will use our weekly themes as an opportunity to look at our meals, snacks and treats through a different lens through the summer so look out for some fun snack/treat ideas inspired by our theme selections!

This week I have a selection of simple snacks to incorporate into our meals & snacktimes through the week. Here are a sampling of the choices I made:

  • I saw this cute banana & graham cracker rocket idea and knew right away I would be using it for a surprise breakfast treat one morning this week!Rocket ship banana snacks:
  • Being fresh off of Memorial Day weekend we have watermelon on hand so I thought I would dig out some of my star-shaped cookie cutters & let them cut watermelon stars on afternoon.

  • We also will do “Cheddar Sausage Rockets” for lunch one afternoon my wrapping a cheddarwurst with a croissant so it looks like a rocket ship! 

  • To go with our Rocket Dogs I figured we could have some cheesy “asteroid” balls because my kids will always think I am a rock star if I serve them cheese balls!
  • Another snack idea I thought was super fun was to make marshmallow & pretzel stick constellations.
  • An easy and fun sweet treat to fit into our Outer Space themed week is Moon Pies! I can’t say my kids have had these classic treats so this week I will be introducing them to Moon Pies! 

We’d Love You To Join Along!

As I can fit them into our theme I will be looking for “field trip” opportunities and we always welcome friends along for those fun outing so watch out for those in our weekly plans if you are local to us! Also we welcome play dates in the summer schedule too. If you can’t join us in person we would still love to hear about your fun summer themes if you decide to put this plan in place to fit your kids and your family! Share pictures and stories in the comments!

Whether you plan to execute this identical to my plan and future blogs on the topic (using this PDF Document I compiled the majority of our printables for KOBF wk #1 Outer Space)  or whether you use is as a guide, or even not at all doesn’t really matter to me. What matters to me is that you are proactive about allowing your kids brains to properly be stimulated WITHOUT electronics and that you make it fun for your kids specifically. Remember, while you are doing this you aren’t just keeping their brains fresh, you are creating memories!  So go make memories this summer, but don’t forget to check back for more ideas on our themes and other summer fun memory making ideas! Now Blast Off to a week of intentional, productive fun!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Getting a Handle on the Summer Schedule

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When life hands you just the right tool at just the right time…

Summer is one week and one day away for our school district. Lazy days are upon us in just 8 days, sleeping in late, swimming like a fish, toes in the sand, cookouts, star-gazing, catching fire fly’s, bonfires and relaxing schedules right? Well at least in my dreams summer is filled with 12 weeks of pure relaxing summer bliss……………but then I wake up the first morning of summer break to the sounds of my little munchkins, pitter pattering through the house, bickering with each other (since my girls are 50/50 in the cheerful in the morning category) and trying to fix themselves breakfast. It is at this point every summer that reality comes crashing in and I realize that though we will fit those items into our summer it won’t be all fun & relaxation and we will have anything but a relaxing summer schedule.

With 4 kids that are all interested in many different activities (marching band, theater, basketball, gymnastics, youth group ect.), a husband working full-time and my own personal goals & career aspirations to fit into our summer schedule it can feel overwhelming to start with. Then factor in our on a whim summer adventure’s, family fun time, my small business (and “me-time” job with a mission that is Thirty-One), the never-ending list of “Honey do’s” as homeowners, my desire to incorporate devotion time & character building lessons into the rearing of my children and the hope that with a little planning I can keep their brains from turning into sludge over the summer and it may seem all together impossible……..BUT God has been using these last number of seasons for me as a mom to children in many different ages and stages at the same time to teach me the value of a plan, a schedule and a structure and to mold me into that style of parent in my own way.

Managing the chaos…

As a creative minded, strong right brain dominant thinker I tend to be a bit unplanned, spontaneous, and free-spirited of a person. So that means schedules, order, structure & numbers are not areas that comes natural to me at all. Did I mention I am a great procrastinator? I am, an amazing procrastinator actually. I have always said that I do my best work under pressure, as a high school fine art student all of my favorite work was finished at 3 am the morning it was due. Further proof that my brain as God designed it (in whatever damaged state it is at currently since it’s been mine to manage for over 3 decades) struggles to follow through, juggle thoughts & feelings and delegate tasks. God gave me the desire in my soul to do big things and the skills and personality to do so, however there’s been a battle in my head over that desire (for more years than I’d like to admit) between Satan & God.

It’s almost like the two are literally playing tug ‘o war with my thoughts, keeping me from believing that desire could ever turn into more and therefore keeping me from acknowledging the tools God has been equipping me with to be successful in Him. You see God designed me, so it goes without saying, He knows what makes me tick, He knows what ticks me off, He knows all the little things and all the big things and He knows the desires of my heart, because He placed them there.

So knowing this, it’s no wonder Satan would try to create uncertainty, doubt and difficult thoughts in our truth, because if we listen to him we would then deny our God-given gifts, and His will for us.

An uprising was beginning in me…

For many years I was stuck in that cycle, somewhere bouncing between knowing what my heart whispered and hearing what my head and the world screamed. I would let doubt, “practicality”, and fear hold me back. It was about the time I was becoming a “Mother of 3”  that God began an uprising in my spirit and my heart. I was plugged into a church that was just the right tool, at just the right time to begin arming me with the armor to fight back against Satan’s doubts. He plopped me ever so perfectly into an incredible community of believers with more spiritual teachers & Mentors than I could count brushing shoulders with me on Sundays and many of the days in between as well. It was a season of great personal growth in me as a mother, as an individual and as a daughter of Christ. It was also a time of great spiritual growth in my family. This season will come to inspire many more stories for future writings aside from this one, I assure you.

For this topic currently, this season for me between “Mother of 3” and “Mother of 4” are anything but pretty on a personal level. The fight was real and Satan won more times than I like in my head, but with each personal failure, with each low point God equipped me with a new lesson and a new tool. Some spiritual, some personal, some social (because mentally this is an area of great strain for me) and some very tangibly. This is one of those TANGIBLE TOOLS that I am certain God plopped right in my path to finish His molding of me in that season. To put a bookend on the “Volumes of Testimonies” from that season and seamlessly transition me into wholeheartedly embracing the next season He has for my family and “The Volumes of Testimonies” still to come for us…

The Tool…

The absolute most perfectly perfect planner for me! The best part is it really can be the most perfect planner for ANY of you because it puts the designing, creativity, need for clean lines and structure if that’s you, need for freedom and bold colors and visual stimulation if your like me. It lets you incorporate specific goals, hobbies and life tools, all into your planner however you see fit. Now I am getting ZERO kick back or benefit for writing this, it is simply my desire to share a tool God plopped in my lap with others to give you the opportunity to take control of your schedule back!

Now I found these on sale at Pat Catan’s yesterday when I went in to pick up a few last-minute items for my oldest daughters Pinterest themed 15th birthday party that is this upcoming Saturday. The display immediately caught my eye because I always feel the pressure to get ahead of the inevitable chaos that will fill our summer stealing away days if I am not careful. I have learned in this past season from “Mother of 3” to “Mother of 4” to get ahead of a problem in most cases and one way I do so in the case of our summer sanity is by planning, thinking ahead and spending just a little “Me Time” working on a plan and schedule ahead of time.  This is why as soon as I saw the sale sign and the selection of products available of the Create 365 THE HAPPY PLANNER I knew this was a God Wink as I call them and to top it off the items were 40% off! Now I am not certain how long this sale is for but the selection was quite vast.

Among the selection was a variety of choices of the base planner itself (which I did not purchase because I have one that God already plopped in my lap previously and will discuss further in a moment). What I did get were two of the multi sticker themed packs, Mom and Faith, a tube of 7 rolls of decorative washi tape and a small set of magnetic mini bookmarks. Also there were available, sticker packs that are Fitness Minded, Goal Minded, Teacher geared, vacation/travel geared, and over all just different style or design. There really was something for everyone I thought. There were plenty of accessory type add on’s as well from clips, pens, pouches & cases depending  of the planner and size you choose.

My Planner…

Now as I mentioned before, I only purchased the sticker packs & a few accessories to get down to creating and designing my existing planner, well two planners. I purchased a new calendar/basic planner a few weeks back with anticipation of getting ahead of the summer chaos and I immediately began implementing it for our bills and other important scheduling but I was disappointed that it lacked room to be able to include a devotion area, or goal setting pages that I had come to appreciate on the planner I was replacing. Typically I am replacing my planners in the summer but I do try to get 18 month calendar books so that can swap to January occasionally. It all depends on what planner I am coming off of really. If I’m  honest to I have gone weeks or months at a time without looking at it (and if I’m entirely honest that coordinates with my weakest mental state, most unorganized and frequently late weeks & months too). I function better when I let my Left Brain in on the action a little bit, especially now that I am managing schedules for 6 people! But it has always been a challenge for me to do so without putting my Right Brain to sleep. That is why I knew it was God when just 2 days after purchasing my new planner that I had IMMEDIATELY begun implementing (eliminating the ability to return it…) I came across this BEAUTY in a CLEARANCE bin at Jo Ann Fabrics (again picking up a few things for the Pinterest party I am planning). I can never resist the urge to dig through those big clearance bins when I am in any store but especially a craft store. My best deals and most favorite finds ALWAYS come from there!

So Here are a few page inserts from the new planner that I purchased for less than $10 on clearance. The only Bummer is that I have to wait to use it until January because it runs January-December but it can be completely customized as well and has blank dates on the calendar pages. I spent just a little time last night setting up my devotion pages with some of the stickers from my faith pack and I customized each Monthly cover with a quote sticker from one of the two different sticker packs. I said a little prayer  for God to guide my hands through choosing the sticker for each month with anticipation of them all being fresh reminders when I begin implementing that calendar in January.

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I will continue working on setting this one up, dating the months, filling in birthdays and important dates for just a few minutes at the end of each planner session with the planner that I AM USING this summer through December. So here is a sneak peek of that too!

Now like I said before I am not getting any kind of reimbursement from the planner company or Pat Catan’s but I wanted to share the info so you could maybe utilize the sale to get a hold of your summer before it’s wasted away!  I did check Amazon too, they carry a wide selection also with some available through PRIME! I found this great 24 Month Planner Starter Kit so you should check it out On AMAZON too and find the right solution for you!

Whether you get this starter kit or a different one, whether you just buy accessories to jazz up the function & style for the planner that you currently have and/or use, or whether you stick with a routine that you have established and works for you it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we live INTENTIONALLY as moms, friends, wives, co-workers and daughters of Christ, because not living intentionally is a giant waste of the time and potential that your God Almighty has blessed you with and I for one know that when I am not careful and intentional it opens me up to the enemies lies. I don’t want to live in the enemies lies and I hope you won’t either. I pray you can discern the little God Winks the are placed in your life as ways to better you as a servant for Him, like I did with the finding of my planner, instead of looking at these whispers from God as something else to fail at or crowd our life & schedule.

Remember we are His children, created for His purpose so we can tell HIStory through our lives and He only wants The BEST for US…….He just may see that a little differently than we do, so look, listen and anticipate God Wink Opportunities, they are all around you when you try to find them!

Now I encourage you to find a system that works for you, if you need help feel free to ask me or ask a current Mentor in your life for their best tips to staying intentional with your time. Time wasted is music to the enemies ears, so go forth and be productive & most importantly INTENTIONAL with your time!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Summer Fun Book Buckets!

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It was brought to my attention today that the school year has officially ticked along ever so systematically for the last 9 months and we are now simply less than 2 weeks away from Summer Break Beginning! I LOVE SUMMER, I love, love, love summer, I absolutely without a doubt, no questions asked, emphatically love summer break! (Did I get my point across, I LOVE SUMMER!) So I am going to share with you one of my absolute FAVORITE Summer Break Tips that I do with my girls, “Summer Book Buckets”. It’s become somewhat of a tradition and my children look forward to this at the end of every school year now, but first, a little background before I dive into the specifics!

Here’s some background…

Once I became a mother of two and it wasn’t just me and one little sidekick looking for adventure anymore, summer became quite challenging for me. I found myself hoping and wishing for school to begin by July of my first summer as a mother of 2 children. Entertaining my (then) 6-year-old had become difficult with this little (then) 7 month old addition to our family tagging along and so by the middle of July I was approaching every day of summer with a “just survive” mentality and by the time I was sending my oldest little girl to 1st grade I was thrilled that I had somehow survived the rest of the days of summer and still managed to check all the things off the back to school checklist. That was until Halloween at least, by that point I was feeling dreary & grey (not unlike the Northeast Ohio weather I lived in) and I was regretting wishing the warm golden days of summer away! Now it was about this time that I realized I needed a better approach to summer so we could THRIVE through our next summer break instead of simply SURVIVING it. I made it through that fall and creeped by right into winter able to distract myself, at least a little, with the holiday hustle & bustle and before I knew it we were nearing spring.

{Now here’s a side note: I hate rain, it drives me a special kind of batty, really it’s like nails on chalkboard to me if I’m honest, so I don’t love Spring by any means but there are many things about Spring that I do appreciate, mainly that the warmer weather is on the horizon}.

The fact that Spring was in the air had me daydreaming towards summer again. This year I was determined to soak in the days and appreciate the summer instead of wishing it away. We had a vacation planned, we were also planning a few random camping excursions and I had decided to sign my oldest daughter up for a summer swim class. I was not going to let my being home with my 2 girls for most of the summer wear me down again. I would kiss every last night of summer goodbye having fully appreciated the day…..well that was until I found out I was expecting baby #3 around mid July of that summer and then morning sickness (all day sickness actually) had me once again waking up with the “just survive” mentality. I did just that until fall, sadly looking forward to 2nd grade beginning and a break from being sole caregiver, teacher & entertainer all day. My pregnancy sickness didn’t fade (in fact I had it almost my entire pregnancy, bummer) and I just couldn’t get through the holiday’s fast enough so I could get to my 3rd baby’s due date in the middle of March 2010. I had begun my stretch as a SAHM just a few weeks before giving birth and welcoming her into our family in the middle of March. After getting settled in at home as a family of 5, I again began anticipating the summer but this time with a completely new level of excitement.

I have been guilty of  letting myself get wrapped up in the difficult seasons in my past and have been known to wish them away. I was guilty of rushing my life a fair amount as a new mom of my oldest for those first few seasons and it’s something that once I recognized it in myself I have consciously tried to prevent moving forward. We are only blessed a certain number of days here on earth, in the company of others and when we coast through life, when we wish for the next season, when we hope for a future we are unsure of, we are taking for granted the time that we do have and the people we are with. I realized after a health scare with my 3rd daughter in the first month after her birth that we must live our time here intentionally, because we never know when our time or the time of a loved one is up…

 

So here I was at the beginning of summer weather, in the midst of an unusually warm May, just a few weeks away from school being out for Summer Break again except now a mother of 3. My oldest was completing her 2nd grade year and reading like a miniature little book addict like I was at her age.  She always had a book in her hand and was reading quite well, ahead by at least a grade. She was also turning into quite the little helper with her sisters. It was clear to me that I needed to get ahead of my summer plan so I took to Pinterest. This was just weeks after it launched as a site and it was still pretty ground level. I started searching summer/end of school year ideas and I remember being disappointed that so few ideas came up. I looked through the few results and decided to use them as a jumping off point for what would become my new tradition…………..

Summer Book Buckets:

A  GREAT way to get your kids excited about FUN reading to help keep the brain fresh over summer vacation. A good way to encourage an alternate down time entertainment idea instead of the electronics. A creative way to make books seem less like a mandatory for school activity and more like a fun playtime activity. When you encourage reading from a young age and also continue through the summer months I have found it creates a healthy relationship with books for most children. I used plastic beach buckets the first few years that I did this because they are great tools for the beach or splash park and my kiddo’s love sand and water. I didn’t want the book part of the “Summer Fun Book Buckets” to be the only focus so the beach bucket was a fun idea to start. I would also encourage you try to include a few other non book items related to your children’s other favorite summer activities. Here are some picture’s I found from 2 different previous years…

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About 5 years into this plan I switched to metal buckets. It was the year after my 4th daughter was born and I found them at TJ Maxx just in time for Easter. I was lucky enough to find them in each of my daughters’ favorite colors too. They are multi purpose through the year as Easter baskets & “stair clutter buckets” and they have a chalkboard plaque on the front. I do not use all new books, I typically only include one brand new book if any at all. My plan is always to include at least 5-7 books in each girls bucket (however I have done as many as a dozen or more before).

When I executed this idea that first summer, my oldest was such a good reader and advanced to the point that I needed to have quantity for her because the substance still needed to be age appropriate, but 1 age appropriate book kept her occupied for an afternoon if I was lucky. She would read an American Girl chapter book in just a few hours so I would visit the discount bookstores and thrift stores. The recent addition of “Buy Sell Trade FB pages” has given me a new outlet to obtain books inexpensively the last few years also. I do watch store sales in anticipation throughout the year now that it has  become an annual tradition and I stash them until the end of the school year. I find that by choosing titles they are interested in and curious about they will want to dig right into them! As I mentioned before I mix in some non-book summer related items like a new beach towel sunscreen & sidewalk chalk or bubbles to complete my “Summer Fun Book Buckets”.

As a bonus here are a few of my other go to end of the school year ideas that I do with my kids

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Hang poster paper on the door and make a list with your kiddos of things to do over the summer before you go in!

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Crepe Paper the door so when they get home from school they can burst through!

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Ice Cream is always a great way to kick off Summer Break too!!!

I hope this inspire’s you to try one of these ideas to get your kids off to an exciting new start to the 12 weeks of summer! Check back in the upcoming weeks to see some of the ways I plan to keep my kids on top of chores over the summer, limit their electronic use, and instill some character building Virtue Lessons! Plus I will try to update on all of our fun adventure’s, celebrations and new ways to sneak Family Time into our busy summer schedules! I hope you have an AWESOME Summer Break!!!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca