Planning Summer Fun

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Have you ever faced the problem of how to keep your kids busy over the summer? It can be hard to do, especially if you and your spouse both work full time jobs. Last year, my husband was a stay-home dad for most of the summer, so it was fairly easy to keep them occupied. Then I went to a third shift position, my husband went back to work and the last bit of their summer was spent watching movies or playing on their tablets, only leaving the house on my days off.

I knew I didn’t want to do that to them this summer! I’m still working third shift, hopefully my last summer on this shift, so it will take some work on my part.

I started by making a list of some things we could do this summer:

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It was a quick list I made at a friend’s house, so I was just listing everything that popped into my head.

Later on, at home, I made my board:

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You could make yours to show the week, as I did, or if you wanted, you could do an entire month. I figured if I did a week at a time, it would allow the kids to pick the activities they wanted for that week.

Then the fun part, make your activity cards:

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These were the ones I made to start. I already know I’ll be making more, including some blank ones for one time activities. For instance, we’ll be making a day trip later this summer to meet my favorite author again, but that won’t need a permanent card. Or when we throw my husband out of an airplane this summer for his turn at skydiving! Dry erase markers to the rescue!

Originally I was going to attach the board to a cookie sheet and use magnets to attach they activities, then Tony had a brilliant idea. Velcro:

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Now I can hang the board up anywhere! Thanks honey.

It’s going to be a busy summer, trying to squeeze sleep into this delightful mix I’ve thought up. What’s a little lost sleep compared to a great summer for my kids though?

Happy summer all!

Summer Fun

My drive home from work is usually decompress time for me. I think about anything other than work, which is my only rule. I could just sing along with my current playlist, currently the Home soundtrack, or think about what life would be like as a butterfly. It’s quite the varied list! Today, in typical Cleveland fashion, started out sunny and humid, turning suddenly to a torrential downpour. All I could think about was playing in the rain……
I walked in the door and told my family that was the plan. Chiara put on one of her dress-up dresses, informing me that it was her ‘rain dress’. We then grabbed our umbrellas and went outside to splash in puddles. It was so much fun!

Puddle splashing attire

Puddle splashing attire

Tony and I were spinning our umbrellas to fling water at the kids, they were running around beneath their umbrellas, Chiara with her cute cherry blossom and pandas and Arthur with Bumblebee, that’s a transformer for those who don’t know!
Zuko even came out to play for a bit, just running circles around us and shaking water off in every direction.

Zuko loved playing in the rain

Zuko loved playing in the rain

Now that the kids are our of school for the summer, I want to try to take more time to do different things with them. I’ve started a list of things to keep us entertained this summer, which I may or may not make into a fun poster, like my friend Jenna did with her fun fall list, but I’ve got some fun things so far! I’ll try to channel some creativity over the next day or so and come up with something visually appealing!
What about you? Do you have any fun family things you do once school is out?

Balloon Rockets

Super fun and super easy! Is there anything else I need to say about this activity? It’s summer. Kids need activities, or kids get bored, and bored kids make mommy and daddy crazy. End of story!
This was an interesting pin I found a few months ago, I decided today was perfect! The kids were fantastic while we had someone in to look at the basement today, so they deserved something fun.
This was really easy, so I liked it that much more. All you need is a straw, a balloon, some yarn and tape. I blew up the balloon (be sure you don’t tie it off!), then I had Tony tape the straw to the balloon. He then fed the yarn through the straw.

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I had taped the yarn to the wall across the living room, the original pin says to use chairs, but I wanted a good distance.

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Tony held the string tight, I was holding the balloon closed, we did a count down and released! We ended up doing this about a dozen times before I wanted a break. The kids were loving it though! We’ll definitely be doing this again, in fact I left the yarn attached to the wall. It’s curled up on the fish tank and waiting for action!
The original pinner was talking about how this has scientific applications, a force exerted in a direction, and so on and so forth. I’m sure when the kids get older, I’ll get into all that, but at 7 and 4, they couldn’t care less about the physics of it all.
I did have a video of this working, but apparently I can’t upload it without paying some kind of fee. If I ever work it out, I’ll come back and fix it!
So just have fun with it!

Another Way to Blow Up a Balloon

Another Way to Blow Up a Balloon
This was a fun, snowy day activity for our family. Kids get to be a little crazy when they’re cooped up in the house during a snow storm! Mom and dad can quickly follow suit if you can’t shake things up. This was a simple thing to do, and I had all of the requirements on hand. If I did, I’m sure you will too.
All you need for this fun little activity is a plastic bottle, like a soda bottle, baking soda, vinegar and balloons. You start by filling the bottle about 1/3 of the way up with vinegar. The next step was a little interesting to figure out, but Tony and I made it work. You need to put baking soda in the balloon, we filled it about half way (half of an empty balloon is a few tablespoons). I held the balloon open with both hands while Tony put in the baking soda. Next step is to stretch the balloon opening around the bottle opening without spilling any of the baking soda. A little tricky, but possible!
Before Inflation
The next part goes fast so be sure everyone is paying attention, even though I’m sure you’ll do this multiple times. Once everyone is watching, flip the balloon up so that the baking soda falls into the vinegar. The reaction is fast and intense. I’ve always loved the way these two elements interact. If you want to get science-y you can tell your kids this is called a double replacement reaction. It’s the same chemical combination you would use to make “lava” for the science experiment volcanos.
Inflation
Sadly this doesn’t make helium, which would’ve been the coolest ever, but it will inflate fast! My kids were giggling like mental patients every time we did this. We went through almost a half a bag of balloons before I decided that was enough vinegar for the day. Since Pinterest has taken over my life I’ve started buying vinegar by the gallon! We did play a bit of a guessing game to find the right vinegar-to-baking soda ratio. Some of the combinations barely inflated the balloon and others bubbled the solution into the balloon. It doesn’t really matter if it bubbles up, it will all settle back down.
Enjoy your own experiments with your family! Remember it’s just a good time for everyone!
Original idea came from http://www.momto2poshlildivas.com/2012/01/blow-it-up-exploring-gas-with-balloons.html

Balloon Powered Lego Car

Balloon Powered Lego Car
This was a fun afternoon for the whole family. We got hit with a snow storm, one of many to hit Northeast Ohio, and the kids were starting to go a little stir crazy. Meaning mommy and daddy were going a little nuts too. I dug this one out of my Pinterest hat and started playing with Arthur’s Legos. They were conveniently spread over the living room floor, so it seemed like the thing to do. Arthur likes playing with me, so he was ok with it! Tony was relaxing on the couch, asked what we were doing, so I explained: “I’m going to build a little car with an opening on the back for a balloon, so it will move across the floor.” His response was to join us on the floor.
The kids weren’t really sure what we were doing. Arthur continued to build whatever struck his fancy and Chiara started playing with the balloons. Tony and I came up with several styles of cars.
My sad little car
Tony’s, the one up top, was the best design, but you have to expect that from the crazy guy who modifies lawn mowers for his own purposes! The one shown here was my design. It did move, but not near as well as Tony’s did. The amount of space you have for air to exit the balloon is very important. My first attempt had too little space, the refresh had too much space. Tony discovered the secret:
proper opening
Tony used one of the arches from Chiara’s Lego set and it seemed to let just enough air out to give it a nice long run. My style had a nice burst of speed, but it fizzled out really fast!
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My car in action
The picture on the hardwood is my sad little car only making it half the distance of Tony’s! It was really interesting blowing up the balloon while it was in the frame we built. I would say if you have Legos, to give this a try on a snowy or rainy day. I know a lot of the US is getting hit with crazy amounts of snow, so hold this one in reserve!
Original pin came from http://thecraftymummy.com/2013/03/balloon-powered-lego-car/
If you want to check me out on Pinterest, look up Stephanie DeSantis and follow me to see what I may be blogging about next!

Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, NC

This place is amazing! Located at 201 East Hargett Street in Raleigh, NC, it’s a fantastic place to spend a day with your kids (or grandkids). My mom had my children for a week over the summer and she had taken them there and told me what a great time they had. She sent me a few pictures too and it sure looked like fun!
We came down to see my parents for New Years, and while my mom was at work, I was looking around on the internet for different things to do. I don’t really have a problem spending vacation with family doing nothing, but mom doesn’t want us to be bored! I knew we only had mom’s two days off to plan prolonged activities, and luckily one of them was New Year’s Eve. I stumbled across the Marbles Kids Museum website, http://www.marbleskidsmuseum.org/, knowing they had been there before, and they had this event going on called the “Noon” Year’s Eve Celebration. It is a celebration of the new year, but it’s aimed at kids, so instead of midnight, they “ring in the new year” at noon.
We decided to go, thinking that even if the even was a dud, the kids would still have fun doing the regular stuff. It was very crowded, but we all still had a great time. They had a great time making their own hats for the party out of provided supplies. They turned out quite cute too!
Chiara's Hat
Arthur's Hat
Arthur was a bit impatient to get back to playing, so we didn’t put a lot of flair on his! Chiara on the other hand wanted all the flair we could give her!
As it got closer to noon, we gathered by the upstairs railing, looking over the main event area, similar idea to Times Square. The friendly staff was handing out little buckets of confetti made from streamers for us to throw. They had laid bubble wrap all over the floor on the main floor for the kids to stomp on, simulating fireworks. They also handed out signs to people to show the numbers during the countdown. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 HAPPY NOON YEAR!!
We threw our confetti and the kids had so much fun with it!
After the event, we spent another three hours looking around and playing on the different stations available. We had fun on the pirate ship setup, the kids jumping off the “plank” and climbing up to the bow.
Pirate Ship Playland
They have a ton of different stations on the first floor for kids to pretend to be any number of different things. A veterinarian, an EMT, a newscaster, a farmer or regular setups like a grocery store.
Veterinarian Station
Upstairs is more of science center setup. They have giant Legos for kids to test their engineering skills, an area dedicated to building things like you would in shop class, and the marble setup that gives the museum its name.
Josh's inverted pyramid
Arthur's Tiny Toolchest
I could probably post about twenty more pictures, but I’ll restrain myself! This is such a great time if you are in the Raleigh area. I would strongly recommend this stop for your family. You and your kids will take away some great memories for only $5 a piece! Such a great deal!