Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Summer Doldrums

I think today is the turning point. We are more than halfway through summer. The kids have been playing well together, we've been having fun, and staying busy. But today the kids are starting to antagonize each other and are "so bored" because there is "nothing to do."


We've got three more weeks and some change until school starts. I can't say I'm ready to turn my kids back over to the school system, but I'm starting to lose my summer momentum and excitement. Summer requires a lot of planning (outings, adventures, learning), entertaining, and cleaning up. I basically put anything productive on hold for the three months of summer. And I really need to make that doctor appointment. Even sitting down at the computer to bang out a blog post is next to impossible. As a matter of fact, as I write this, my kids are in the kitchen doing "experiments." Like I said, cleaning is a big part of summer fun.

Don't get me wrong, I embrace unstructured playtime. It forces the kids to use their creative minds. They rediscover toys in their closets they got for Christmas but never had time to play with. But when they get so tired of each other or start to get frustrated, it's time to switch gears. And I'd better have something to pull out of my bag of tricks before everything starts to fall apart.

But this is when it gets tough. We've already done many of the things on our summer bucket list. They novelty of summer is gone and the days only get hotter. Friends are in camp or out of town and are hard to get a hold of.

Three. more. weeks.

A long time to kids, but a blink of an eye to adults. 

I think I'll go play another game of dining room table ping pong on the with my son.

Our 2014 Summer Bucket List

It occurred to me to share our bucket list in case anyone else is looking for things to do this summer. We probably won't complete them all, and have actually already done quite a few, but it's a great thing to refer to when I'm planning out our week. So without further ado....


  • Go to our favorite diner for milkshakes & lunch
  • Make Mak-It plates (you draw on paper, send it away, and get it made into real melamine plates...I have some from when I was little that we still use)
  • Use our Game Stop gift cards and turn in our old video games for new ones
  • Go to the Southeastern Guide Dogs facility for a tour and take a puppy for a walk
  • Clean up trash out of the mangroves
  • Go on a bike expedition
  • Have a Flick 'n Float (movie in the pool)
  • Build a giant rollercoaster out of K'nex
  • Ride the downtown trolley around town
  • Go to the children's museum
  • Have our cousins over to play
  • Go geocaching
  • Go sailing
  • Go to Adventure Island
  • Play shuffleboard at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club
  • See a sunset at the beach
What's on your summer bucket list? Comment below!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ten Out-of-the-Box Get-Outside Summer Boredom Busters

10 Summer Boredom Busters
After our hectic schedule of baseball games, school projects, carpooling and more the first half of this year, I'm embracing a very unstructured summer. No swim team practice this year, no camps (so far), and nowhere to be at any particular time. To fill up our days, here are a few of the fun summer activities we're planning:

1. Frisbee Golf

Our city happens to have a few parks with Frisbee golf courses. It's played like real golf, but with discs. Each player uses a Frisbee and counts how many throws it takes to get to the basket. We bent the rules a little and let our youngest player start where he wanted. If you don't have a municipal Frisbee golf course in your town, do it urban-style and pick landmarks around your neighborhood, like trees, mailboxes, and fence posts. Better yet, do it when people are at work so they don't get mad at you for trampling through their front yards and hedging their bushes.

2. Geocaching

My kids love to do this. Its basically an internet-based scavenger hunt. Go to to create a free account and get GPS coordinates to hidden caches that are planted all over the place (you'd be amazed). When you find the cache, usually a small film canister or medicine bottle, you get to write down your team's name and date, and sometimes you can take a small trinket with you, as long as you leave one behind. We've found them on bridges, in trees, in the dirt, and under benches. Most give clues for the kids to unscramble to help you find them.

3. Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

We used to do this a lot when the kids were little, but you can make it as challenging as you like to accommodate older kids. Create a list of items you think you will encounter on your chosen path. We used to go around the block and look for things like a cat, ants, pinecone, bird on a wire, garden hose, etc. Draw or print out pictures for little ones. With bigger kids you can increase your search area and go out on bikes together.

4.  Trash Clean-up

One year my oldest chose to pick up trash out of the mangroves for his service project and ended up really digging it. I love having the kids continue to give back during the summer, when it's not assigned by a teacher. They get a great feeling knowing they've possibly helped save a bird or sea animal from choking on a plastic bag.

5. Make a Movie

We once tried to re-create a video we saw on You Tube where we put our yellow Labrador Retriever at the table, put a shirt on him, and stood behind him with the kids' hands through the arm holes so it looked like he was a dog-man eating breakfast and reading the paper. It was hilarious. Let your kids come up with an action movie or recreate a scene from a favorite show or movie. It'll be a great keepsake (just be sure not to accidentally delete it like I did).

6. Play Tourist in Your Own City

My kids loved the time we went downtown and rode the trolley and hopped on and off at different spots for lunch and sightseeing. We did the tourist things like looking through the pay telescopes on the observation deck, getting ice cream, looking in souvenir shops, and walking through the parks. It's eye-opening sometimes how fun your own town can be. If your kids are game, you can also dress up and pretend to be from another country or town with made up names and accents.

7. Try a New Sport or Game

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut with the same activities. Summer is a great time to try something new. When's the last time your kids did: ice skating, roller rink skating, racquetball, wall ball, horseback riding, synchronized swimming, bocce, shuffleboard, or four square? Even being a spectator of a different sport can be fun. Sometimes I take the kids to the local skate park (in the morning before the teenagers are awake) to watch the older kids do their tricks and let them try the small ramps on their Razor scooters.

8. Kid Olympics/Challenges

My kids love to watch the challenges on Survivor and someday I want to set up a course with mazes, puzzles, and rope knots for them to solve. Throw in a few long jumps, a diving competition, and obstacle course races with friends and you are the one of the most fun moms of the summer. Just finding the time to actually throw this together is the hard part...

9. Outdoor Movie

One of the joys of being out of school is the flexible bedtime. We're planning a flick 'n float this summer after the sun goes down. We'll use a borrowed video projector to play a movie on the side of the house while we enjoy the movie from our rafts. Of course you don't have to have a pool to enjoy an outside movie. Pull out blankets, pillows, and camp chairs to the lawn, project onto any wall or your garage door and enjoy your outdoor theater.

10. Water Day

Who doesn't like splashing in the water on a hot, humid summer day. Go all out and pull out the Slip 'n Slide, put the garden hose at the top of the slide, and fill up your water balloons and squirt guns. Have a frozen t-shirt contest: soak a t-shirt, ball it up and stick it in the freezer, and when it's frozen, take it out and have a contest to see who can break it open and put it on the fastest. Search Pintrest for oodles of water play ideas and tell yourself that running the water for an afternoon will still be cheaper than going to a water park.