a fresh school year and a fresh perspective

Ten years ago this school year, I left the house in my new suit and heels for my first day of school on the other side of the desks.  I was young, a new graduate, and I needed to support my husband and I while he went to school for his dream career.  I loved school so much, I figured teaching would be a good fit.  I must have been right because eight years later, I was still in the classroom, but longing to be home with my babies.

This morning, I began my ninth year of teaching.  I wore flip flops and shorts, and no one cared.  I started class a few minutes late so I could squeeze in a morning workout, and there were no reprimands.  There were no bells, no jammed lockers, and no buses to flag down at the end of the day.

We talked about God, read the Bible, and no one objected.  The students asked questions and we paused for discussion until intrigue was satisfied.  I listened to my kids play, read, and run around in the backyard.  I had time to prepare for tomorrow and still make dinner fresh from the lease.

I think I could get used to this…

 Dove en Brochette, from Texas Monthly Bacon Wrapped Dove (adapted since Man doesn’t do cream cheese y’all), game advice from Those doves you bagged are tasty, if you cook them right.


Spark Some Summer Fun

A year ago, I left a teaching job to stay at home full-time with my three little bambinos.  I started writing about our little adventures, big ideas, and family meals.  Then, in the fall, my oldest went off to kindergarten.  We survived!  Summer officially begins this week, so I am taking some time to turn off the electronics, shuttle kids to swim lessons, find a campfire to roast some marshmallows, and relish some time with our party of five.  Before I grab my swimsuit and stock up on water balloons, here are some things that might help spark some summer fun.  Happy June!  And, Happy Summer!

Create a summer bucket list, wish list, checklist…Call it what you want, but actually writing down family outings, fun food, and quick trips helps you actually get them done.  Use small post-its for a flexible calendar (items are easily moved if weather or budget don’t cooperate), get the kids to create a summer checklist a poster their first day out of school, or make it family affair and brainstorm together one night during dinner.

For our list, each person was given their own colored note card.  Each picked three things they wanted us to do as a family this summer (we keep it simple – that’s still 12-15 activities).  I hole punched them and put them in my meal planning binder so when I make a menu for the week, I can keep an eye on each person’s list and add things to the family calendar.

Head to the clearance aisle or dollar store and stock up on fun summer goodies you can hide back and spring on the kids during a hot lazy afternoon.  I tucked away birthday party candy for reading time, beach inspired paper plates, dive sticks for the pool, new sidewalk chalk, Velcro catch mits, and a handful of new kid-friendly snack & drink recipes.

Surprise a friend with a Summer’s Here!  Basket.  The boys brainstormed for our fave mother-daughter duo.  We grabbed a dollar store bucket and filled it with sunscreen, beach towels, nail polish, bubbles, a beach ball, water balloons, a kite, a water gun, gummy bears (my kids think gummy bears MAKE any gift or occasion), a special Minnie-Mouse cup, sidewalk chalk, and glow sticks.  We will leave it for them to find when they come home from their last day of school.  Most of the items in ours were right around $1, so we were able to give a lot for just a little out of our weekly budget.

Throw a Welcome to Summer Party the last day of school.  Break out the slip and slide or sprinkler, water balloons, hop scotch, bean bag toss or any other DIY backyard fun to let your brood know you’re glad as glad as they are that summer has begun.  I’m going to try Valerie’s  water sponge bombs – she has so much great stuff! Check out my Summer Pinterest board for more ideas than I have time to make!

Pick them up from school the last day and go on an impromptu family vacation or outing.

Complete a Mom Challenge.  I like this one from iMOM.  It is 30 days, so it’s perfect for June.

Prepare to keep your sanity.  Read about some of these parent tactics (this mom’s creative gounding, his get along shirt, and their creative consequences), assemble your own incentive program (my kids chose a marble jar model – Super Summer Jar), make or order a cute chore chart, and plan out some scheduled activities.

Super Summer Jar

Find local lessons, camps, or classes to enroll the kids for some away from the house fun.  Check into summer reading programs at your library and easy games you can play with them to help retain all the academic strides they made this school year.  Avoid that famous line, “I’m bored!” with these free printables (I’m Bored and I’m Bored too).  Just post them somewhere easy for the kids to find and when they come find you, point them to the idea sheet.

I'm Bored too  I'm_Bored!

The main thing is to be present with your kids.  Big or small, they will just remember they enjoyed hanging with mom & dad (or grandma!).  How do you create sparkle in your summer?