Summer Vacation Begins! (plus: a free printable weekly planner)

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Today was their last day of school and honestly we couldn’t be more ready. Don’t get me wrong, we had a pretty terrific school year. The kids learned a lot and made some great memories and I hit a pretty stellar balance of being a Super Volunteer Mom without feeling like Overburdened Mom-Martyr Person. BUT.

We are ready for late mornings, lazy afternoons, no homework, video game marathons, swim lessons, no homework, summer reading, family vacation, no homework… you get the idea. Mostly it’s the sleeping in that I’m looking forward to, tbh. I bet you can guess what my kids are looking forward to most.

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I decided to dive into Summer Vacation Mode with a new weekly calendar layout:

weekly planner grid

This is how I organize our days each week and plan our dinners. I print out a copy and laminate it so I can use dry erase markers on it – and it works really well! I keep mine on my fridge for easy access. They usually last me about a year before they stop erasing well, which is about how long I can usually go before I want to redesign it anyway.

The format is intentionally pretty minimal apart from the splashy background which I found to be surprisingly easy to write over without looking too busy. Perfect for laid back summer days but I honestly feel it will be sufficient for the school year, too. Feel free to save the image and print it out for your own organizing needs.

Okay so how many days are left until summer vacation starts at your house?

What are you looking forward to most this summer?

 

Summer Reading 2018: Choose Your Own Adventure (Free Printable)

A couple of years ago I started making summer reading challenges for my kids because I found the programs at the library a little lacking / redundant for a family of bookworms. My kids don’t need encouragement to read in the summer so keeping track of pages and titles seemed unnecessarily tedious for us and not really a challenge tbh. No shade, I think the programs are a great idea for kids who need that encouragement, it just wasn’t my jam personally.

This was back in 2016 – I read this post at Kate’s blog and was like YES. I had to copycat and create a challenge for my own kids – and thus our Summer Reading Bingo was born. It went over really well with my kids. You can steal mine or make your own if you want – just click this link.

Last year I felt the need to simplify the challenge because of a particularly busy summer and probably just because I like change. So I made a summer reading challenge that fit on a bookmark! This was great for a busy summer and my kids loved it, too. Again, feel free to go steal that one if you need something super quick.

This year, I continue to need to shake things up because I have too much time on my hands or something. I was thinking about those Choose Your Own Adventure novels from when I was a kid  – did you love them, too? I was also thinking about how sometimes kids need to feel like they are in control – they don’t want to be told what to read or even what genres to read. We all like to make our own choices, right?

And so, I present to you our reading challenge for 2018:

I’m pretty excited and just in case you are hoping to shake up your summer reading, too – feel free to steal my idea – you can right click and save this or make your own in a word document – or picmonkey.com, my fave place to make cute graphics. (This isn’t some sneaky sponser post btw – they have no idea who I am, I’m just sharing and caring like that.)

Do you do summer reading challenges with your kids?

Family Interviews for the New Year (With a Free Printable)

I’ve been doing these family interviews with the kids for several years now. When we started BB wasn’t old enough to write and honestly wasn’t old enough to answer! When she was two I gave her multiple choice options and let her pick her “favorite” that way.

This year that little girl is eight years old and has ideas of her own to spare. Here is her interview this year:

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Things of note:

  • Her feet have grown 1 1/2 shoe sizes since last January.
  • She apparently likes measuring the perimeter of things (but can’t quite spell it yet)?
  • She has more BFFs than she can fit on a single line.
  • She loves to cuddle with momma and loves that her daddy is… tall.
  • She is loving Wonder Woman this year – which is the main reason she’d change her name to Diana if we let her. I choose to think that deep down it’s because my grandmother’s name is Diana but you know.
  • She also cannot spell the word illustrator but she thinks youtuber is a valid career path. So.
  • “Realistic Diana” means her action figure of Wonder Woman in a ball gown from the recent movie.
  • We just watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy over the course of two days so it’s now both of my kids’ favorite movie.

Now here is an interview with my favorite 11 year old, MM, who drew a picture of himself with a sonic screwdriver, Stargate and Tardis. Of course.

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  • MM’s feet grew two shoe sizes or we don’t buy him shoes often enough? One of those things.
  • MM likes to measure the circumference of things.
  • MM writes entirely in cursive and it’s very hard to read. Sorry about that. Feel bad for his teachers.
  • MM agrees that I give great hugs and his dad is good at tickling. At least someone appreciates it.
  • MM also wants to be a youtuber. Is there a college degree for this? Hopefully he follows through on at least one career path that pays him regularly.

FREE PRINTABLE

Just save the image below and print it out to interview your own kids!

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Interviews from 2013 | 2014 | 2016 | 2017

Easy Last Minute Advent Idea: Holiday Jokes and Puns

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We have a beautiful advent calendar that was handmade for us by my sweet and talented step mom or Meme as my kids call her. It’s one of my favorite Christmas decorations but sometimes the stress to fill it with Pinterest worthy goodies / activities / treats / toys can be overwhelming. But why make things hard for ourselves?

Because my Super Mom Skill is delegating like a boss, I’m using the powers of Google and my laser printer and taking advantage of some clever bloggers who came before me. I decided on a theme – basically dad jokes holiday style – and then told Google about it and Google said, “Of course it exists already!” There are a lot of choices but these four were my favorites:

Four Free Printables for Advent / Holiday Jokes

Lindsay at Artsy Fartsy Mama whose adorable holiday themed jokes printables are so freaking adorable! Lindsay also shared 24 non-candy Advent ideas recently if you are looking for more great ideas.

Bianca at A Little Delightful shared holiday jokes to fill Christmas crackers a few years ago. They print out nice and small, about the size for a fortune cookie so if space is limited, these are perfect.

Leandrea at Coupons are Great shared some more adorable holiday jokes to tuck into your little ones’ lunch boxes. So even if you aren’t worried about Advent calendars right now, lunch box notes are another fun way to use these jokes!

MJ and Modern Parents Messy Kids has a whole advent calendar printable using, you guessed it, holiday jokes and puns! Apparently I’m not the first one to come up with this idea. If you don’t already have an Advent calendar and your looking at the calendar right now like OMG – just head straight here and download their printable and you are GOOD TO GO.

Does your family use an Advent calendar?

What are you filling your Advent calendar with?

What are you drinking while you fill it?

PRINTABLE | A Quick & Easy Summer Reading Challenge

Our summer vacation is coming to a close – two more weeks until my kiddos go back to school. I was looking over the summer reading bingo sheets today and thinking about what’s working and what isn’t working.

I love a lot of things about this set up – my kids didn’t seem to get much use out of the coupons that you can win at our library’s summer reading program and keeping track of reading minutes or titles all summer sounded a lot like homework. Thus my bingo sheets were born.

Fast forward two years though and I feel like the bingo sheets are met with enthusiasm for the first week or so and then mostly forgotten. Every so often I’d go over the sheet, asking them questions like “Did you read any books about animals?” or “Did you start reading a new series this summer?” and even though the answer might have been yes, they were often unsure having forgotten exact titles.

My kids have been reading a ton this summer – quantity has not been an issue. If anything, our system just seems to be unnecessarily complicated. And we’ve been busy enough to not have time for unnecessarily complicated systems. So I decided to make a pared down reading challenge that highlights our favorite aspects of the current system.

Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy does an annual reading challenge that I love and this year’s challenge included a handy bookmark to keep tucked in your current read. I loved this idea and decided to incorporate it into a new reading challenge for next year.

I know a lot of you still have several weeks of summer left and thought I’d share this here in case you want to motivate your kids to squeeze in some extra reading time before school starts.

BEHOLD: The Summer Reading Challenge For People With No Time For Summer Reading Challenges

2018 summer reading

Print it as a bookmark or open up your favorite photo editing site and make your own – I use picmonkey.com to make all my graphics and highly recommend it. It’s all online and has tons of graphics and fonts and flexibility. / Plug

Summer Reading B-I-N-G-O!

We have no shortage of summer reading programs here, some better than others (Barnes and Noble’s took roughly twelve minutes; a local used bookstore is strictly keeping track of minutes read which sounds like homework). We’re rolling deep in reading lists but when I saw this post at Mom’s Radius I couldn’t help myself. I dove headfirst into Picmonkey and created this:

summerreadingbingoYou can steal mine or you can make your own – it was really pretty easy. The hardest part was coming up with ideas to fill all the spaces. I changed them up a little bit for each kid to suit their age and interests. And of course there is a chance that my kids will say, “oh cool” and then forget all about it. That’s okay, too. Summertime and the livin’s easy, right?