Sunday, May 29, 2016

Summer Learning Challenge Week 2

It's Memorial Day Weekend and our first full week of summer vacation!

It's also a crazy, busy week, as my daughter is in full-blown Tech Week with her theatre production. I feel blessed that she was accepted in the play that wasn't out until after the school year, because the 4-5 hour a night practices plus school would have been too much!

Here's what we're doing with this week's Summer Learning Challenge:

Incoming Third-Grade Boy:

  • This is sis’s TECH WEEK! So it will be weird and busy. As they say in theatre, break a leg! What part of the English language is “break a leg”? _______
    (Note, my kids talk all the time about idioms. I don't personally understand it, but it's their thing. Seeing if they catch this!)
  • —Make Tangrams with your sister.
  • Cook a meal.
  • Don’t forget to do at least 1 book report this week!
  • Take care of your garden.
  • Read Seaman’s Journal. (This is a book, told from a perspective of a dog who traveled with Lewis and Clark, that we got at the Lewis and Clark site in Missouri.) Write a nonfiction book report.
  • Write a letter to your friend who moved out of state.
  • Make a crossword puzzle for your sister.
  • —Do the Lewis and Clark challenge. (OK, this is actually an online Junior Ranger program!)
  • Play Math Baseball!

Incoming Sixth-Grade Girl:

  • HAPPY TECH WEEK! As they say in theatre, break a leg! What part of the English language is “break a leg”? _______
  • Make sure your theatre stuff is cleaned and put away each night.
  • Find and pack a quiet activity in your tech week bag.
  • —Work on your sewing project.
  • Make Tangrams with your brother. 
  • Take care of your garden.
  • Pick a badge and work on it. Show mom what you did.
  • Read.
  • —Do the Lewis and Clark challenge
  • —Pack your camp backpack.
  • Get enough sleep! 

How is your summer learning going? Share your updates below!

Note: This post does contain affiliate links, which help support our family's adventures and this blog.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Summer Learning Challenge Week 1

Summer...learning? What??

I admit it. I want my kids to cherish their summer vacation at home, but I also don't want them to have their brain rot in front of a screen, either.  So this year I've instituted a weekly summer challenge to keep the kids' brains active and hopefully stave off some of the "I'm boreds."

How am I doing this challenge? Each of my kids is getting a binder with activities tailored toward their age and interests. My almost third-grader, who refuses to do AR until it's deadline time, has to focus a bit more on reading and retention. The carrot? For every five "book reports," he earns a Gatorade. Crazy, but it was just the incentive this little boy needed.

My almost-middle-schooler? She has different struggles: Follow-through and turning work in. So we're focusing on completing all the Junior Girl Scout badges she said she wanted to earn before she becomes a Cadette. I don't have to worry about the reading part, as she blew out the school record for AR points accumulated!

So between you and I, they're learning. But we won't tell them.

Week 1 Activities: Incoming 3rd Grade Boy

  •        Make sure all your school papers you don’t want to keep are recycled and the school supplies put away.
  •        Sign up for summer reading program.
  •        Read a book and finish your first book report of the summer. Remember, for 5 book reports you get a Gatorade!
  •        Take a hike with mom if the weather is good.
  •        Figure out how old our trees are in our yard! Use a measuring tape to measure around the trunk of the tree. The distance around the trunk of a tree is called the circumference. Write this measurement down on a piece of paper. The measurement of the circumference in inches is also the approximate age of the tree in years!
  •        Play “Defensive Multiplication” or another math game that’s not on the computer.
  •        Take care of your garden.
  •        Make a birthday card for Dad.

Week 1 Activities: Incoming 6th Grade Girl

  •        Make sure all your school papers you don’t want to keep are recycled and the school supplies put away.
  •        Sign up for summer reading program.
  •        Take a hike with mom if the weather is good.
  •        Organize your closet.
  •        Play “Defensive Multiplication” or another math game that’s not on the computer with your brother.
  •        Make a birthday card for Dad.
  •        Start your sewing project Grandma got you when we visited!
  •        Take care of your garden.
What are you doing with your kids to help them stay active this summer? Share your ideas below!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Easy First Communion Menu

My child's First Holy Communion was an amazing experience.  But it was also stressful for mom. 

The reason?  How to celebrate. 

Creating a First Communion party menu is a challenge at best.  A Google search and you'll be dismayed by big-budget catering menus or elaborate lunch plans. But we're a relatively simple family on a simpler budget. On top of that,  Mass was at noon,  which meant we'd have hungry second graders and guests by the time we got home. 

Oh, and did I mention the 80% chance of storms all day that day? What to do? 

If you're a mom like me,  who needs an easy go-to meal for your First Communion party, today I'm sharing our party plan with you. Hopefully this will ease some of the stress of this big day! 

Stress Free First Communion Party Menu

Day before:

  • Bake cupcakes.  (Homemade or from a mix)
  • Make coleslaw or Asian Ramen salad. 
  • Prepare veggie dip if you hadn't pre-bought.
  • Slice veggies for vegetable tray. (If you didn't buy pre-cut.)

That morning:

  • Start barbecue chicken in slow cooker.

After Mass:

  • Shred barbecue chicken; serve on buns.
  • Cook hot dogs.
  • Set out foods and enjoy a RELAXED meal with your loved ones - because this is what this kind of celebration is about!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Being Messy in God's Work

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”

I was blessed to be a part of's Daily Gospel Reflection Series for 2016. What an amazing experience!

Today's Gospel reflection focuses on the messiness of God's work, how God's path isn't always easy or comfortable. I liken that to this experience. Writing about the Gospels, or teaching about them in a way others might relate to, isn't something I'm used to doing. Others have had that gift and used it well. Being pulled to use my ability to write - in a new way for me, sharing the messiness and uncomfortableness that it can offer - was a difficult but rewarding experience.

I've waited six months since the story was submitted to see it live. If it strikes you, share your thoughts. If it inspires you, I'll feel blessed.