Making Vacation Memories

I know all parents desire a family vacation where their kids come home with great family memories. Today I want to share a few tips that we have learned for creating those unforgettable moments and still having a great time.

IMG_0667First of all it is very important not to expect every moment and event to be extra special. I have tried too many times to make everything we do memorable and honestly that makes for a tired and stressed mommy (and I will add tired and stressed daddy and kids).

IMG_0677I would encourage you rather to pick one thing to focus your energy on and make it big, fun, and exciting. I still plan other fun activities, but I don’t stress as much about those. If I purpose the one big event to be what I want us to remember and cherish from our vacation, I am able to plan it better which makes for a more relaxed and happy event.

IMG_0635For our last vacation our memorable event was building a huge sand castle. I love this activity for many reasons. One: who hasn’t dreamed of making a giant sand castle, two: it didn’t cost anything, and three: we could go as long as we wanted and be finished when our little ones had had enough.

Here are my 5 tips for keeping it fun for all and helping to make the memories last.

IMG_0622Tip #1: Pick something that everyone can be involved in.

While the rest of our family enjoys body surfing and we could have easily made this into our memorable event the problem with it was that Eli didn’t like being anywhere near the big waves. Instead we had to pick something that everyone would enjoy and get involved in.

Eli is almost two and hasn’t mastered sandcastle building but boy does he know how to dig. He dug holes and filled buckets of sand for mommy.

Tip #2: Assign everyone a job.

When everyone knows their job they can feel proud about the work they are doing and nobody is walking around getting into trouble or messing up someone else work.

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IMG_0643IMG_0656Tip #3: It is the process time that is important.

Remember the activity is about doing it together and not about the end result. Our tower walls were not perfectly straight or all the same height but they were created by Eden and I working together. Working together and her feeling good about her work was so much more important than a perfect castle.

IMG_0694Tip #4: Capture the memories.

I have found the best way for the kids to remember your great time is to have pictures for them to look back at and then talk about the time together. This also goes back to Tip #2, give someone the job of taking pictures of all the details. Just be sure to get a few pictures of the photographer too.

IMG_6243Tip #5: Plan your activity for the right time of the day.

Each trip is different but this time we planned our activity around nap times and to avoid extreme temperatures. After dinner when the beach was shaded was the perfect time for working on our sandcastle. This activity would have not been as fun in the middle of the day with the hot sun beating down on us. I also didn’t have to worry about continually putting on sunscreen.

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It was a happy coincident but we were able to tie our sandcastle theme into a special ice cream treat one evening. The local ice cream parlor had a Sandcastle Challenge that included eating 7 scoops of ice cream (we got to pick our flavors), a crushed waffle cone, 3 kinds of syrup, cookies, nuts, whip cream, and lots of cherries. All was served in a sand bucket and the kids had a blast using the shovel to eat.

 

 

Busy Wallets

Schools out (even for us homeschoolers) and I know many of you will be traveling with kids this summer. Here is an easy to make busy activity to help keep the kids busy while traveling. These busy wallets are old wallets that I filled with as many wallet type items I could find or make.

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I made several different types of cards each with an area to personalize. After the kids names and information were added I lamented them to make them more durable. You can print your copy of these Wallet Cards and personalize too.

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I also added a couple recipes, a shopping list, pretend money, and a couple old gift cards.

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In Eden’s wallet I used real money. This was a great way for practicing money values and counting money. I also let her use her money to buy candy and such along the drive.

IMG_6295Eli mainly enjoyed taking the cards in and out of the wallet and looking in all of the hidden pockets. I used a man’s wallet for Eli but he preferred the one I used for Eden as it has a zipper which was great practice for opening and closing. We also used the different cards to practiced his color words.

Hoping happy travels and busy kids for everyone.

 

 

Family Camping

IMG_5925This past week our family enjoyed a 3 day camping trip along with 3 other families from church at one of our local state parks. Even though Onondaga Cave State Park is only a short 20 minute drive from our house it was a great little get away.

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We enjoyed the usual campfire favorites of hotdogs, smores, and foil hobo dinners. It is amazing how food cooked over the campfire can taste so good. I think part of it is the work that goes into it.

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This year we thought Eden was old enough to learn how to safely be around the fire and try cooking a little herself. We started her with an easy meal of Ramon Noodles, canned oranges, and fresh peppers. She thought this was one of the coolest things she has done in a while and was very proud of her meal.

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Eli was all about camping. He loved the freedom of being outside and thought drinking from the camping mugs was so much fun. Eli got new responsibilities too and was taught how to wash dishes which turns out he is pretty good at doing.

Nature Scavenger HuntOur camp site was located right next to the parks playground which occupied the kids most of the time. I had thought that they would have gotten bored at some point and ahead of time made up this camping scavenger hunt. The first day Eden was really excited about looking for each of the items but as soon as the other kids got there they were off, busy, and happy. So I guess I will save this and pull it out to do it while on a hike. You can print a copy of this Nature Scavenger Hunt to use on your next outdoor adventure.

I also found these cute little foldable nature booklet that Eden really enjoyed making. Check out Fablious Fleece’s blog and print a copy for yourself here.

 

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Onondaga Cave State Park is know for its caves. Instead of a traditional hike we enjoyed a hike through the underground maze and learned about the caves history. (side note – we are learning about caves right now so this was a great little field trip too.
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We camped from Friday night till Monday. On Sunday we got up early and Joseph lead a worship service at the camp ground for everyone in the group.

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Can’t wait for our next camping adventure. Now to finish putting all the camping gear away….

A New Routine

I can’t believe it has been over a month sense my last blog post. We have had a few changes to our daily routine and I am still working on getting our new routine nailed down. While the following pictures have nothing to do with a new routine, I thought they were cute and didn’t have a blog to share them in. IMG_0103

Eden no longer goes to preschool two days a week but is now home all the time. I love my daughter and I love that I get to homeschool her but I do miss my two “get things done” days. Tuesday and Thursday use to be the days for laundry, children’s church preparations, homeschool organization and prep, baking, shopping, and blogging.IMG_0119

Eli has also added to our change of routine by transitioning from two naps a day to only one. We use to get a lot of homeschool instruction done during his nap time which was so peaceful and easy. Now I have to work to keep an almost two year old busy and happy so he is somewhat quiet while I work with his sister.IMG_0115

IMG_0132Slowly I am figuring things out and things are running smoother. My favorite new part of our daily routine is running the dishwasher every night.  I have a wonderful husband that unloads it for me each morning which means I can load as things are dirty throughout the day.

I am hoping if I put it in writing for everyone to see that I will stick to a new blogging schedule. I had considered blogging only twice a month but I fear it won’t become regular and I will be more likely to miss one. So I am going to try and make Sunday evening my new blog deadline. We will see how that goes (well, seeing how it is already Monday I guess I am not getting off to a good start but an extra day camp with the family was worth it – hmm, maybe next weeks blog should be about camping.)