Great Kid Ideas for Summer

 

 

Summer Fun

Photo: “Sprinkler Karate” By Lotus Carroll

Like most moms, I want my kids to have a fun summer, but I don’t want them trashing the house, binge watching Netflix (that is for moms only!) or eating 10 bags of chips a day.

So I have been checking around to come up with some fun (and educational) ideas for summer.

I love our public library Summer Reading program,  but I admit that I don’t get the kids in to check off their sheets often enough. . .plus the program ends a full month before school starts! So, this year I am downloading this fun (and free) program.

We tend to do a great job keeping our kids reading all summer, but what about math? Our 13 year old began using Khan Academy at school this year, and I grew to love the website. It is a totally free program that will virtually tutor you, and your kids in math from kindergarten through college! The interface is fun and intuitive. I’m feeding off of the competitive nature of my 11 and 13 year-olds by setting them up at the same level of math and letting them “race” to the finish! IF you have teens you will want to look into the brand new launch of the FREE SAT prep course through Khan Academy that was created in cooperation of the College Board.

How fun would it be to have Summer Camp at Home? I think we will be trying some of these ideas!

I would love to cook through a cookbook with my kids this summer. Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!)looks fun. I might also want to try Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family Friendly Experiments from Around the House (Hands-On Family)or ChopChop: The Kids’.

I’m always looking for art projects for the kids that do not take a lot of prep work for me, and that won’t make a huge mess.

I’m also having all four of the little ones (13 down to 5, so not so little!) do a chore of the day. This week I really hope we can get to my front garden beds, and just maybe I will plant something!

I’m starting a Pinterest Board for Summer ideas, and I would love to have you all join in! If you want to be invited to pin to the board, simply follow it and leave your email in the comments and I will send you an invite!
Follow Dakotapam.com’s board Summer 2015 ideas on Pinterest.

What are you up to this summer with your kids? I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

A Little Like a Whole New Me

These past two years have brought on a lot of changes for me.

  • I took on a full time job
  • My oldest kid graduated and went to college
  • My youngest two can dress and feed themselves (this is HUGE!)
  • I’m a MUCH more confident version of me
  • I’m finally, ever so slowly, getting into shape

Did you see that last one? One of my more popular posts is this one on weight loss. And I stand by that. I still try to eat more real, whole foods rather than super processed ones. I still have my Fitbit, and my job is still fairly sedentary. BUT I have added in a gym membership and a supportive friend. I may or may not have lost any weight. . . I don’t own a scale. . .but I have lost inches. I’ve dropped at least a pant size, maybe two.

I’m finally comfortable in my own skin.

I’m not really at my “after” point. . .but I don’t freak out when I see photos of myself anymore!

For example, here I am the other day, accepting a donation for work. I’m not skinny by any stretch, but I also did not feel the need to hide completely behind that check, or do that silly stick my butt out and lean forward to look smaller thing that I’ve seen suggested. And those pants! I just picked those up a month ago and was thrilled to go down a size, but YOU GUYS, they are actually a little loose! I'm shrinking

*side note: If you are local, go thank the folks at Kupper Chevrolet! They donate $25 per car sold for an entire week and April and donate to our organization! (They actually do this all year long and donate to 52 local non-profits. . .how cool is that?)

So, as I began shrinking, I once again began to really care about how I looked. I wanted to look put-together. But I do not have a huge clothes budget, shrinking or not! I never really did get a grasp of how clothes work together. For all of my love of playing with paper dolls as a little girl, if left to my own devices, I’d perpetually dress like a Catholic school kid, with hhaki chinos and a navy blue polo; or like the Target lady with the same chinos and a red top.

So, one day, due to the magic of Facebook, I discovered the blog “Get Your Pretty On”. Allison makes fashion look so easy. I was immediately drawn to her very doable, teachable, capsule wardrobe. I love that her style challenges have a shopping list of very specific pieces that all work together, and then she leads you through 21 days of that wardrobe. I learned to put clothing items together that I never would have, and I tried new items that were outside of my comfort zone (like those super cute white denim crops up there, that I would have passed right by in the store!).

I was able to clean out my closet and take out the things that don’t fit or don’t work, and now I know I am left with clothes that I love and that work together. Having Allison is like having a very fashion competent and budget savvy little sister. I love that Allison styles clothing for the way real women shop and dress: comfortable shoes and cute tops from Target!

There is a new Summer Challenge coming up, and I’d love for you to join me!

This graphic has a sneak peek of one of the outfits. Those shorts will likely become a skirt for me, because I work in an office :) But I look forward to getting some on-trend seasonal advice and some fun in my closet. It is likely that I already have quite a few of the pieces, and we are always to shop our closets first. Who is in??

I Have Thoughts You Know. . .

I’m that bad kind of mom who allows the children to watch movies before bedtime. I’m not even going to feel bad about it. They are fed, and loved, and then things stay relatively tidy while they watch. Oh, and then they will snuggle with me.

The twins take turns selecting movies. I’m mean, so I always have veto power. Frozen more than once a week is too much. Non-ballet Barbie movies are limited. (I have to be in the room with them, yo!)

Last night, Emily chose Julie & Julia. My favorite. (Let me interject that Emily is a hopeless kiss-up. She may or may not enjoy this movie, but she knows that I LOVE it. She also loves to annoy her sister who probably wanted to watch Frozen. Again.)

One of my favorite lines is near the beginning when Julie laments her failure as a blogger. “I have thoughts. . .I can write a blog.”

And then I remembered. I have a blog. And I have lots of thoughts.

Some of them are random and disjointed. Like, in the past month I have blown through more coconut oil than I have in my entire life. I discovered that it is the best eye moisturizer ever for night. I actually use it all over my face. It has never looked better–and no, it has not caused me to break out. Then, I ran out of half and half for my coffee this weekend (and ladies, whole milk is simply no substitute.) So I bit the bullet and tried this Crazy Coffee. It really is amazing. I have been trying to sneak some coconut oil into my diet, and this just may be the thing.

I’ve also been thinking about my work wardrobe. I’ve been at my job for two years and I need to refine things. I’m drawn to the concept of a Capsule Wardrobe, but I’m a bit overwhelmed by the options out there. So there is that.

I also have thoughts about how awesome my husband really is. His willingness to pitch in and often, pinch hit makes my life so much better!

I’m still working out, I’m still not losing weight. However, I feel fabulous and I like the way I look. . .so there is that, right?

My Bestie just moved considerably closer to me (though she is still 5.5 hours away). I’m super excited about this.

I’m annoyed that all of the concerts and plays and track meets and school activities all happen during the last 4 weeks of the school year.

My college kid will be home for the summer in just one month. Phew! That first year just flew by!I love how our relationship is changing, and I am enjoying seeing the great young man he is growing into.

Work is going great and I am in my “busy season” now until the beginning of December. If any of you want to join in on a fun golf tournament this summer, check us out. You will be golfing for a great cause!

So there. . .I have thoughts. And so do you. What are you thinking about lately?

 The One in Which I Get Into Better Shape

If you follow my Facebook page (and you totally should!), you would know that I took a major plunge back in January. A friend and I joined a gym as workout buddies. 

I’ve tried a lot of different things to get and stay in shape. 

When the twins were much smaller and much fussier, I would pop them into a double stroller, slip some earbuds in, and walk the 2.5 mile hilly trail by my house. If I was really lucky, they would fall asleep by the time we got home. 

Then the girls got older. They were no longer content to sit. They wanted to explore. So, I still got out to walk, but those walks were shorter and were at toddler speed. 

Also, the problem with outdoor workouts is that they are magnets for excuses. Too hot, too cold, too icy, to dark, too windy.  If I have a chance to make an excuse, I will.

We joined our local YMCA as a family more times that I can count. Then, we would have a great week of working out and then our “gym time” deteriorated to standing in the shallow end of the pool catching toddlers and coaching budding swimmers.

Home workouts seemed to be a great solution. They worked fairly well when I was a SAHM. On a motivated day (read: once a month or so) I would pull out one of my many fitness DVDs and get a good workout in, vowing to repeat it the next day. But, the next day I would have tag teaming twin naps, or a headache, or homemade cake, or a blog, or Facebook. Then, once I began working outside the home, those home workouts would have to be in the evening, when there was a steady stream of teens in and out of the house. . .no thank you.

So, in the words of Elsa, I let it go. I let it all go. . .

I was a 42 year old woman who was becoming embarassingly sedentary. Add in the desk job, and things were not looking–or feeling–good. Not good at all. 

So, one night I was texting back and forth with my fellow night-owl, Kim. She was feeling the need to get back into shape. One of us suggested joining a 24 gym and working out after the kids go to bed . . .around 9 pm at night. 

So, we did it. 

We bit the bullet. 

We committed to a monthly fee (half of which is reimbursed by my health insurance if I show up 12 times a month). I dusted off my water bottle. 

We started *really* slowly. Our first few workouts were simply walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes, then a half hour, then speeding it up, then adding an incline. We started to add in a few dumbell exercises. We kept it VERY low key. I rewarded myself with reality TV on the treadmill (I have no cable at home). Some days we really had to talk each other into going. I used some Junior High excuses to not work out. (p.s. you *can* work out on your period, even if you don’t want to.)

Sometime in the last three weeks we realized that a change had happened. We noticed that we actually enjoyed our time at the gym. Instead of being sore, we felt good. We would go to work out, even if the other could not be there.  

Our gym time was becoming a habit. 

This last week, we decided to kick things up. Kim has a stunning Kentucky Derby party dress to fit into, and my sister in law is getting married, on the beach, in June. . . 

We’ve added two days of cardio plus circuit training, and we’ve increased our walking time (and intensity) to an hour three times a week.

Yes, I fairly painlessly went from couch potato to working out 5 times a week for an hour each.

I’m pretty sure that I have not lost a single pound. I’m not terribly driven, so I’m not sure I’ve even lost inches (though I likely have). But I HAVE noticed some HUGE changes.

Since working out regularly:

  • I sleep better.
  • I crave fewer sweets and I rarely drink soda anymore.
  • I drink a lot more water.
  • I have more endurance.
  • My anxiety level has decreased dramatically
  • My joints are much happier–fewer aches and pains.

My friends, it is time. It is time for you. Don’t work out to lose weight. Don’t work out to lose inches. Work out to feel better. Work out to take a break from housework or work or whatever else consumes your time. Find a system that works for YOU. I have friends who are very successful with each of the sytems that did not work for me . . . fitness is certainly not one size fits all. 

You may just find that you surprise yourself!

Chime in! How do you keep in shape? I’d love to hear your fitness journey, share yours in the comments!

Computers Need Spring Cleaning Too!

Computer Spring Cleaning

Spring really is coming. . .soon, even if the weather does not seem to support it.

We like to spruce up and organize our homes when spring arrives, but have you done any spring cleaning with your computer yet?

I’m coming up on a two year work anniversary. With my job I inherited a computer with a ton of files. . .and a filing system that was not my own. In two years, my computer desktop and download folder have become a jumbled mess.

Thankfully, I have come across this great calendar from Singlehop that will help me (and you!) get my computer in order. The tasks are spread out over the course of three weeks, so I won’t get too bogged down. I’m most excited to know that I can get this mess of folders organized so that I can find what I need with the click of the mouse.

SingleHop_Calendar

How many of you store documents and photos on your desktop so that you can find them easily. . .only to have such a jumbled space that you never can find that document that you want? How many of you actually go through your download folder and actually file the things that you download–or delete them when not needed anymore? I thought so, guilty, right?

What is most important is that you find a filing system that works for you. Since I plan events that repeat year after year, it makes sense for me to create a folder for each event and then a folder for each year of the event. It also makes sense for me to archive some of the event documents that are more than five years old. . .right?

And photos. . . it really is OK to delete the blurry photos and the accidental foot photos. And, while you are digging through those photo files, why not tag them so that you can easily find the photo you need without needing to scroll through hundreds of Christmas tree photos (been there, done that)

Once you get everything in order, make sure you have a great back up system in place–either an external hard drive or a cloud based storage system.

I’d love to hear how your computer clean up goes and if you choose to join me on this challenge!

You can download a handy PDF of the calendar here: SingleHop_Calendar.

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