Tag Archives: summer

The Dunes


We spent the weekend visiting Evan.  He was supposed to have a twenty-four hour pass but it was revoked at the last minute due to aggression.  However, his therapist was very understanding of the distance we traveled and gave him a ten hour pass.  When we arrived we took him out to dinner.  He was pretty keyed up about seeing us and was wide awake.  This was unusual because typically he goes to bed very early. 


The kids were especially excited to see him.  Being Evan, he had gifts in hand for each of the boys.  On the first night he gave them a toy motorcycle.  He had also colored a picture for me. 


On the ride from dinner Evan had fallen asleep in the car.  While walking up the path to the center he sleepily inquired “Momma, do you see our shadows?”   I smiled and acknowledged that I did see them looming ahead. 


Climbing the mountain

Climbing the mountain

We picked Evan up early the next morning.  This time he presented each of his brothers with a coloring book.  We stopped by Target to grab snacks for the cooler.  Then we ate an early lunch and headed for the beaches located at the Dunes.  Ethan and Evan were in awe of the sand mountains and couldn’t wait to climb them.  Nicholas, an old pro, gave them pointers as they raced up Mount Baldy. 


Almost at the top

Almost at the top

It was a beautiful day for beaching.  It was not too hot, the sun was shining, and the air was breezy.  The water was full of waves, too.  Evan was busy collecting rocks (which gave me an idea for a Christmas gift) while I buried Nicholas in the sand turning him into a merman.  Ethan pretended to be a surf board while my husband sat back enjoying the scenary.  Jazmine spent the weekend with my brother.

Beautiful Day

Beautiful Day

After enjoying the water for a couple hours we headed to the LightHouse Premimum Outlet Mall for a little shopping.  Then we went to another beach to see the lighthouse upclose.  Usually we like to walk on the big jagged rocks that border the lighthouse walk, however, due to the choppy water and high level of bacteria at this beach, we used the catwalk that is suspended above.  When we reached the lighthouse I was able to take some great pictures.

Nicholas getting wiped out!

Nicholas getting wiped out!

We spent the rest of our time eating elephant ears, feeding the ducks, walking the gardens, and watching the boats in the harbor.  Our final stop was for dinner at Red Robin’s.   


It was sad saying goodbye to Evan.  To prolong the visit he talked nonstop as I signed him back into the center.  I can only hope that this extended time with us gave him some motivation to hurry up and come home! 



Get a Leg Up


I am a to-do list Queen.  It’s apart of my anal nature.  I was inspired to post my list after reading Just a Glimpse,  thanks for the idea!  My list contains what I would like to have done before school begins for me on August 8th.  Some are more practical in nature while others more personal.  I try to do any and everything I can to make the school year go a little more smoother.  Rarely do I use summer for vacation purposes.  Here is my beginning of summer to-do list and the progess I have made:

1.  Take the kids to dentist and well child appointments. 

I’ve taken Jazmine for her immunizations and both Nicholas and Evan to the dentist.  The well child visits will come toward the end of the summer. 

2.  Work on scrapbbooks

I haven’t spent as much time as I’d like scrapping.

3.  Have fun with the kids

I think I have managed to do this.  Of course, I’ve used Cheap Summer Thrills as my guide.

4. Read what I want that is not related to a 12th grade English curriculum!

I’ve read several books that I have enjoyed this summer.  I am currently reading Teacher Man by Frank McCourt.

5.  Organize Evan’s Academic Binder

I have managed to get it sorted.  It is just stuffed with his educational papers and my notes.  I am still afraid to tackle this head-on!

6.  Organize the kitchen cabinets

Last week I had Nicholas and Ethan do it for me while I did the laundry.  I had them create an alphabetized spice list on the computer that I am going to hang inside the cabinet, get rid of mismatched dishes and containers with missing tops and vice versa, and organizedthe pots and pans by size and usage.

7.  Clean out the garage!

Done! I did it as soon as school was out!

8. Gather and donate all used/unwanted items


9.  Schedule a diabetes test


10.  Finish and press poetry book


11.  Do touch-up painting where necessary

Not yet

12.  Potty train Jazmine

In progress!

13.  Have lunch dates with adults

Sadly, I haven’t had a single one!  It is very hard to find “me” time.

14.  Give my car a deep detailing and take care of any other pressing automative needs

Done! I even took it to the dealership to get the handle repainted after they failed to do so when it was in last time for a repair.  After getting painted, they sent it over to the service department to address a recall need.  I love killing two birds with one stone.

15.  Clean the carpet

No…but it really needs it!

16.  Map out curriculum for the upcoming year

No…but I really should!

17.  Attend an advanced writing workshop

Yes, and it was wonderful!  We got paid to write whatever we wanted for a whole week!  This experience was too delicious for words.

18.  Organize loose photos

Not yet.  I have sooo many that it is overwhelming.  I don’t know whether to use albums or boxes…decisions, decisions

19. Go Green!


20.  Mend fences where they are broken

In progress.  This one is really important to me because life is too short to hold grudges.  I don’t  want any more enemies; Satan is enough!!!

21.  Prepare things for Evan’s homecoming

I’ve been reading a lot of literature, setting up counseling, researching schools, holding his current school accountable, and I’ve even redocrated his room!

22.  Frame and mat Nicholas’ artwork

No…summer isn’t over yet!

23.  Continue exploring the Word

Actually, I’ve been pretty steadfast about this!

24.  Drink more water

I’ve progressed moderately with this one

What’s For Dinner?


This is probably the most popular and  most annoying question asked at our house!  I enjoy cooking and try my very best to be creative.  But it takes a nice chunk of my time to plan a menu that everyone likes and to create a grocery list  that reflects the season and temperature.  I live in a house full of picky eaters, myself included. Here is ONLY a small sampling of the things each of do not like:

 My husband is allergic to shellfish which cuts out seafood recipes.  He does not like peas, lima beans, jambalya, basil, cilantro, lamb, or tomatoes.  Nicholas does not like cheese, mushrooms, milk, cabbage, onions, peas, brussell sprouts, olives, or fish.  Ethan does not like cheese, sour cream, asparagus, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, or olives.  Evan has the most neutral palate of us all.  He pretty much eats everything I make with relish.  However, due to his acid reflux, he can’t eat things that have a high acid content.  Even little Jazmine has her preferences.  She does not like bread, bacon, pizza, or lettuce.  And me, I don’t  like cumin, cinnamon, smoked sausage, sweet potatoes, very spicy food, honey, mustard, raisins, beans, feta, rosemary, or ketchup.  I am not short-order cook so I refuse to make multiple dishes. 

 A little frustrated with this I joked to my husband that I was going to designate a night of the week to each family member for cooking.  I proposed the following schedule:

Monday: Mommy’s Magic

Tuesday: Daddy’s Delight

Wednesday: Kids Can Cook

Thursday: Toddler’s Table (yep, Jazmine has to carry her weight, too!)

Friday: Forage the Fridge

He found this hilarious, but I was only half kidding.  However,  I put my culinary fantasy on hold and instead looked online in search of recipes and was delighted to find that the New York Times had written an article about this very subject.  I found several quick recipes to try this week.  Happy Dining!

Kierra is Here!!!


My husband picked up Kierra yesterday for her summer visitation, which lasts five weeks.  Kierra had been counting down the days.  I was too!!!  For some reason this year is different.  Maybe because Ian and Imani are here as well.  In the past I have a mixture of emotions before Kierra gets here.  Ranging from being excited all the way down to being anxious.

Usually BM sends some form of a verbal demand ( that we ignore).  If she wants to make a request she is capable of doing so herself.  Which normally happens because we do not follow through with her demands.  We are firm believers of not sending messages through children.

This time, I did not have any butterflies flying around in my belly.  I was not worried about what BM would or wouldn’t do or.  I have been at peace with things.  BM is going to be who she is and there is nothing I can do to change that.  I, on the other hand have not given in to anything that she does.  Making my life a lot less stressful.

Every year we have to go and buy Kierra a few things that she needs for the summer.  We went to court when Kierra was six so that BM would send appropriate necessities, like clothes for instance.  Since then she has followed the court order but we seem to have to go get her some things anyway.

When Kierra came in yesterday she was so excited that BM had taken her on a shopping spree.  I was excited for her.  She came in with new luggage, shoes, and clothes.  She could not stop talking about it.  I’m happy because now this will give us more spending money this summer.

We are going to Seattle to visit my family in a few weeks.  This will be Kierra’s first time on an airplane and our first ever week long trip with all of us.  My nephews (1 and 3) have been calling non-stop wanting us to come right now.

I have so many plans this summer thanks to Morroco’s long list of fun things to do.  It’s refreshing not to have to ask permission for Kierra to go along with us!

Cheap Summer Thrills


Here are a few ideas that won’t break the budget.  The price of gas has already managed to do that for our household!

  • Swimming at a public pool is really cheap, but better yet, if you know someone who has a pool or a pool in their community, you can go for free as their guests.
  • Summer reading programs at your local library
  • A cheap and attractive way to decorate your yard is with “designer stones.”  Buy as many small stones as necessary and many different colors of paint and various brush sizes.  Allow the kids to decorate their rocks and place in the yard.  We just finished designing 15 more small stones to use as a border  for the front of our yard.  My husband even participated in this one.
  • Local musuems are a treasure.  Most of them offer at least one free night per month.  Not to mention that they have all types of them–everything from the state police museum to a Batman musuem in our city.
  • Visit the zoo and take a picnic lunch
  • Feed the ducks at a local lake, pond, river
  • Places such as The Home Depot and Lowe’s often offer monthly craft corners for children free of charge
  • Craft stores such as Michael’s and Hobby Lobby offer crafts for reasonable prices
  • Local parks…need I say more?  Another way to perk up this mundane trip is to take a camera and strike a pose.  I love candid shots, plus the greenery is so lush in the summertime.  Also be sure to take a variety of balls (basketball, soccer, baseball) for more fun.
  • Make use of your city’s downtown.  They usually have neat stores to browse and window shop
  • Play board games and make a popcorn that you have never tried before such as marshmallow or salt and cracked pepper along with lemonade or sweet tea.
  • Catch bugs
  • Create a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood
  • Biking
  • Have the kids go through their possessions in search of things they don’t want and have a yard sale.  Do something fun with the proceeds.
  • Matinees.  Here in our city we have a reduced price theatre that shows movies for .50 cents on Tuesdays.  On other days the price is a mere $1.50 and the movies are pretty current.
  • Drive-in theatres
  • Have the kids create a play and perform it in the back yard for family and friends.
  • Have a family car wash day. Allow the kids to suit up and help wash the family vehicles.
  • Take advantage of restaurants where kids eat free
  • Enjoy plays put on by children theatre groups–they are often reasonably priced
  • Children, ethnic, and cultural festivals.  We recently had a blast at the American Indian Festival.  We had buffalo burgers and Indian tacos.
  • The State Fair–is there anything like “fair food”?  I can’t wait to try a deep-fried latte!
  • Have/help the kids prepare a simple summer dessert.  They will be so proud of themselves!
  • Speaking of dessert, eat dinner at home and take the kids out for dessert at a restaurant.  Our kids love when we do this.
  • If you have voice recording functions on your computer, encourage the kids to make CD’s of any kind, comedy, drama, songs, poems…
  • Take the kids to pick their own berries at a strawberry patch
  • Write poetry
  • Enter contests (coloring, drawing, writing, photographs–any kind), because you can’t win if you don’t enter)
  • Odd as it sounds, allow your older children to help you shred documents.  Nicholas loves to do this.
  • Make pickles, butter, or ice-cream
  • Take them on a shopping spree at a thrift store looking for treasures (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure)
  • Create a family crest ( a good idea for stepfamilies and can even combine last names to make one that includes everyone–silly is good i.e. “The McGarvalaniskis’)
  • Design t-shirts with fabric paint and/or paint markers
  • Create an end of the summer photo essays using pictures to detail all the fun they had
  • Make a scrapbook in which everyone creates a layout
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Write letters/post cards to relatives and friends, even if they live stateside.  Everyone enjoys a pleasant surprise in the mail from time to time
  • Visit a local nursing home and adopt a friend or read stories to them
  • Tour the sports arenas in your area.
  • Form a family band and perform
  • Go fishing
  • Fly a kite
  • Create magnets for the fridge
  • Teens can use the summer as an opportunity to shadow someone in the profession they desire
  • Visit the local farmers market.  I love to do this because I am so in awe of fresh produce and what it takes to grow it because I can’t even grow a cactus!
  • Plant a family garden
  • Check out KidsBowlFree.Com
  • Host a spa day filled with massages, pedicures, manicures, and facials for guys and girls all on the homefront using ingredients on hand.
  • Give each child a plant to “raise” for the summer
  • Design “Russian” eggs by blowing out the insides and decorating the shell
  • Study a foreign tongue using books and tapes and see how fluent you are by summer’s end
  • Listen to books on tape
  • Rearrange and/or redocorate their bedrooms together
  • Be spontaneous when the opportunity arises.  Today while parking the car at my doctor’s office, my husband noticed a Lifeline helicopter.  My husband simply asked if the kids could look at it and the pilot was delighted to oblige them.  While I went inside for my appointment, they spent the hour receiving a personalized tour of the copter and hearing many stories. 
  • Visit a half-price bookstore and allow each child to get a reasonably priced book.
  • Help an elderly relative for a day.
  • Chill out and go ice-skating in the summer
  • Have lunch on a college campus–a good way to introduce your little ones to the concept/importance/atmosphere of college.  Makes for good discussion, too.
  • Volunteer
  • Host a sleepover
  • Play in the sprinklers
  • Teach your children how to prepare simple meals by having a weekly cooking lessons (so important for later in life!)
  • If you have a game system, play with your child once in a while.  Allow them to teach you and find out why it fascinates them so.  The first time I sat down with Nicholas to play he was in total shock.
  • Try foods you have never tried before together to broaden their horizons.
  • If possible, take your child to work with you for a day.
  • Visit a relative that you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Take them for a tour of your old elementary/middle/high school
  • Do crossword puzzles–better yet, create your own.
  • Create your own story using a blank book found at teacher supply stores or craft stores.
  • Record family stories for future generations
  • Make silly family videos
  • Learn calligraphy with your kids
  • Go rock climbling
  • Visit a skateboard park
  • Play double dutch. Rhonda and I did this with a group of kids at a popular children’s spot and had a blast! There were more adults than children participating.  It was like stepping back into childhood.
  • Visit car shows, antique and contemporary
  • Go yard saling.  My mother, stepdad, and her sisters perfected this into an art.
  • Make a pillow or quilt from an old clothing
  • Open at sun tea stand
  • Visit a “bark park”
  • Bake healthy doggy treats together for your (or the neighbor’s) pooch
  • Select a book that everyone in the household reads together.  You can even have members participate on a chapter basis if time issues are a concern.  We did this last summer with “Maniac McGee.”  I began by reading it outloud and then they each took turns helping me read.  They really enjoyed this approach.
  • Upload a funny video on YouTube
  • Create a family newsletter for all relatives
  • Build something original with Legos–the sky really is the limit with this toy!
  • Chill out and go ice-skating in the heat of the summer–need I say more?
  • Your suggestion here:

Here are pictures of our “family stones.”  Enjoy your summer!

Family Stones


Painted Stones

The Dells


Our trip was a blast!  I am so glad that we had the opportunity to go.  The weather was awesome.  It took us 8 hours to get there, but the kids handled it well.  They passed the time eating, sleeping, studying the landscape, listening to their ipods, and playing ISpy with me.  My husband even joined in to help us find as many different license plates as we could. We ended up spotting 24 states and 1 country. 

Much to Nicholas’ dismay, once we arrived in Wisconsin, we began our trip by shopping at the the Tanger Outlet Mall.  We found some real bargains. It wasn’t like a typical mall because of the open air design. Next we spent some time walking around the downtown area and got the kids a bite to eat at Houlihan’s.  I wanted more local fare, so my husband and I ate at Moosejaw’s.  I had a delicious cheese, beer-n-brat soup as well as an elk burger. While we ate dinner, the kids enjoyed dessert.  We ended the night by taking the kids swimming at the resort pool which was full of bells and whistles.

We spent the next day at the “World’s Largest Waterpark,” Noah’s Ark.  It was the ideal time to go, because we did not have to wait in any lines since school was still in session.  If you can believe it, I even rode more rides than Ethan! We rode water rides with names like “Dark Voyage,” “Black Anaconda,” “Flash Flood,” “Point of No Return,” and “Bahamas Falls.”   I rode about 12 rides that day.  It was like nothing I’ve ever done before–but wait, I haven’t!  Usually I am too prissy for those kind of things, but I was determined to have a great time and really let my hair down.  Most of the time I was scared to death–but I loved it!  The remainder of the day we spentsightseeing and ate dinner at “Famous Dave’s.” For dessert, the kids made their own candy at a candy shoppe.  We also took a nature walk along the Wisconsin River trail.  As if they did not spend enough time in the water earlier, when we returned to the resort, they wanted to go swimming again!  While my husband monitored them , I sat in the hot tub and read.  It was so relaxing!

Saturday morning we ate breakfast and then got ready to take a tour on the “Ducks.”  We spent an hour touring the Dells via land and water.  We had two “splashdowns” in Lake Delton and the Wisconsin River.  The kids loved it!  Ethan was especially spellbound. I think this was his “real” first vacation.  After the Ducks, we had lunch at a McDonald’s that looked like a log cabin.  It was really neat and fascinated Ethan. Our final bang was going to another waterpark, “The Wilderness.”  It featured a large variety of wild rides.  My husband and I opted to sit and watch while enjoying cool drinks in the comfort of the shade.  We left just as Wisconsin was issued a tornado watch.

Our trip home took two hours longer, thanks to the traffic in Chicago.  But again, the kids were real troopers.  We stopped for dinner in a little town of all places called “Morocco!”  I see the signs often when we drive to Michigan, but this was our first time stopping in “my’ town! Once we finally arrived home, I had my husband stop at Taco Bell so that we could try the new “Fruitista” and cool down a bit.  The weather was really muggy and sticky. 

The only thing missing was Evan.  I really wished he would have been able to go.  However, if he earns and keeps a weekend pass before summer is out, we plan to take a mini-trip to the Dunes.  But this time was well spent in my efforts to bond with Ethan.  I took over 150 pictures and made sure to take some with just him and I.  Also when certain rides required two people, I often paired up with him.  His excitement was really heartwarming and he seemed so much more relaxed than normal.  When I mentioned that I couldn’t wait to get the pictures developed so that I could begin a scrapbook, he agreed.  He told us that he has looked through our family vacation photo albums many times , but that this time, he would be in the pictures as well.  Wow! That statement spoke volumes and caused me to think about some things.

It was a real blessing that we were able to go, have fun, and arrive home safely. Thank God!

School’s Out!


I am so elated–school’s out which means that I don’t have to work! I need a break because I am mentally and physically exhausted. I am also in the process of getting a new laptop, which is why I have not been around lately.

On the home front, Evan finally earned a pass and we went down to visit him. We had such fun! I really miss the little one. I will be posting about our visit with him, our vacation to the Wisconsin Dells which begins tomorrow, and other happenings here shortly. Stay tuned…