Friday, May 31, 2013

Things to do with your son during summer II

This is the second part of things we do during the summer since all of the lists I found were of no help at all.  Maybe I am looking in the wrong place. Maybe they are all the same. Maybe mine is the same as all of the others, but my child has never said he was bored. He is an only child and still I have never listened to that word come out of his mouth in the past seven years.  Maybe I am just lucky with a great kid that is happy to play with Legos alone or happy to have a friend join him.  He is not picky.  He likes many things.  The only activities he will dismiss readily are the ones strictly targeted towards girls like dolls or almost anything pink.  He is a happy little monster.

Disclaimer:   This post does not have pictures to give you an example since I was too busy having fun with my son to grab a camera.

Alright, back to the list.  We will continue with something I thought of one rainy summer night after ants infiltrated our home and tried to take over.

5.  Camp out.  You do not have to leave the home for this.  You can and make it a big adventure. It is a lot of fun that kids will usually love, but our favorite is camping out at home.  It is not exactly what you may be thinking.  We have stayed in a tent in the back yard.  It was fun.  More fun was staying in the bed of our truck on an inflatable air mattress or a blowup swimming pool in the yard. (do not add water)  No tent means plenty of star gazing and airplane watching. Grab a few blankets and pillows and you are all set for a night under the stars.  Our rainy day/ant invasion fix is something that any household can do.  I simply grabbed a full size mattress from a bedroom and put it in the floor of the living room. Sheets and blankets already on it set up for our use.  We grabbed our favorite pillows, threw some spare sheets and blankets over the top for an inside tent and added a window for movie watching.  Best to secure this tent between the couch and a coffee table or chairs.  You can get a little fancy and use fishing line to hang sheets from the ceiling.  To tired after a week of working for a tent? Then do not make one.  Just grab the mattress.  Anything out of the norm is fun for kids

Tip: Eat ice cream here too.

6.  Have a car wash, bike wash, ATV wash or dog wash.  Yep it is summer.  Use water.  Every thing gets dirty.  Do I need to add more details on this? Here is a little help when using a water hose: water parks have spraying water features for a reason.  It is fun.  So are water soaked sponges full of foamy soap.

7.  After the wash down while the water hose is out, throw down a tarp or big piece of plastic like new furniture comes wrapped in. You can also buy these fun little slippery slides.  Drive a few large tent stakes or nails in the corners to keep it in place.  Add water a little soap or some slippery oils then get on it.  It is amusing. Even more so if you place on a non-level area in the yard.

Tip: Place over soft grass or sand.  Rocks hurt. One use will not ruin your perfectly  manicured lawn.

8.  Let the kid pick out a movie.  Rent one, buy one or go see one somewhere.  Make sure to provide snacks and drinks.  You child has to suffer through boring adult outings like buying groceries or going to the post office, so you should be able to make it through a movie or two of your child's choice.

9. The zoo.  It is there for a reason. Go see animals.  As are museums directed towards children.  Books stores are also a great outing and who does not want their child to learn to read?  They are a lot cheaper than amusement parks. Not as much fun, but still entertaining for kids.

10.  If all else fails and you are completely hopeless on how to keep boredom away (or just too lazy to try). Invest in a DS.  Any kind will do and they will travel well to all of those boring adult outings kids find themselves stuck in.  This will only work if you let the kid pick out the games. 

Tip: A video game or movie day is the best for when moms and dads are sick.

It is summer. As stated before, anything out of the kids normal routine will be amusing.  Try something new.  If it does not work out for your kids, then learn from it to see what will work better next time.  Go back to your childhood.  Think of the things that you loved to do and chances are your child will also like them.  Put your own twist on old activities and personalize things for your family.  If you guys really love star gazing then add a camera or research constellations in your area before the sun sets.  Your child will remember the little things you do and love them the most. 

Disclaimer:  I am not responsible for accidents that happen while you are attempting any of the items on this list.  Some parents or children are not very logical and could be hurt by pillows or blankets during use.  There are also wild animals at the zoo. Some of which like to throw their own fecal matter at visitors.  This is not my fault. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Things to do with your son during summer

I am slightly is awe of all of the pages I have been reading.  I mean seriously, the ideas and list I have read of things to do with your kids during the summer are just plain stupid.  Well, not stupid but things anyone should know how to do or could do if they would just shut off the tv and step outside. Do we really need someone to tell us how to use sidewalk chalk? All of the list are plain activities that any kid should be able...hmmmm allowed to do.  What is wrong with the world when someone has to tell you that it is OK for your child to go play in the dirt with cars?  Why are so many parents afraid to let their child play outside in the dirt or mud?  We have showers or baths that are usually given daily anyway.

The activities on most of the list I have read, my son and I do on a daily basis.  I was searching in hopes of getting a few new ideas to change things up. No such luck.  So here is our list.  The list in the order that he tells me to type them, starting with his favorite.

1.  The sandbox.  This was also my favorite as a child.  There is so much to do.  Add water or don't.  Use one car or twenty.  Grab a tree branch to landscape your creation.  Dig tunnels or just let it sift through your fingers.  The sandbox is better than any video game, but oh my gosh what about the tiny grains of sand or the bugs? Get over it.  Your child's sandbox is cleaner than any toilet or sink they will touch at school and probably better than their pencil too.  Yes a cat could use it as a litter box and then fleas could over take it. (You could also fall while walking today, but I bet you will at least get up for the bathroom or to get a snack.) No problem, cover it after use.  You should be watching your child anyway and not on the other side of the planet texting. You can even cover and text at the same time.  Once a month add a little cinnamon and tea tree oil to "season" your sand and prevent tiny bugs including fleas.  Yes, it is that easy.  Don't have a sand box? No problem.  Play on the ground.  That bald spot on your lawn is there for a reason.....your child to play in. So you live in an apartment, yeah, it's called a park.  Some look like the structures outside of your local school with the slide things.  The bright colors usually give them away. (There are also small inside sandboxes or email me if you need help building one. They are really not as messy as you are thinking.)

2.  Swim and then swim again.  This could happen anywhere from extra tub time to a local pool to the beach.  We cheat. We had a large pool, now a large pond plus we live within a few minutes of a lake and a couple of rivers.  There is also a natural spring on our property so we have this one easy.  There are many stores that sell water toys.  Get some.  Most are cheap and easy or spend as much as you want.  Don't want to spend money?  Screw a two litter soda bottle onto a water hose an stab a few holes in it for a sprinkler. Give them a bowl, cup or strainer from the kitchen while in the tub.  Play in the rain.  As long as it is not lightning, it is safe and the most fun your child will have. Ever. This is also your last chance at being a kid again so go for it.  As they grow older so do you. Use sunblock (helps with the aging) and let the kids play long enough that you have to re-apply it. 

3. Plant something in the ground or in a container. We play in the garden every day.  I do mean  play.  We take care of our plants first by watering, harvesting and looking for bugs or weeds. Here is the shocker.  While doing this we actually touch the soil.  We might use our hands to dig weeds  out or we might actually sit on the ground be it dirt or grass.  We may even find a bug or two to examine.  It is a great learning experience for him.  Kids will see how things grow and how animals or bugs are useful and harmful. Don't know what you are doing? Then learn together as you go.  You found this blog, surely you can research a little plant or bug. Most plants even come with a little piece of cardboard with directions on how to care for it.  Don't forget number 2..... while watering have a water fight.

4.  Eat ice cream and make ice cream. Do it often and at unexpected times.  I have even surprised him with an ice cream bar during bath time.  Sit on you front door steps talking and eating.  Eat by your sand box, during a movie, (there is usually a pause button at home) after watering your garden, before watering, while watering.  Take a cue from Dr. Suess.  Eat it anywhere.  Well almost.  My son has been caught on the toilet with a bag of chips he squeezed by me.  I do not recommend that for the record.  Make simple frozen treats by freezing their favorite drink.  The dollar store has little brightly colored trays you can use to make this easier and cheaper.  They look similar to ice cube trays.  The secret to popsicle trays is that there is a stick for holding the frozen goodies while eating them. Want a  frozen fudge bar? Mix up some milk with chocolate syrup or a little chocolatey hazelnut for the ones not allergic to nuts. Fill your little trays with the sticks and of course pop in the freezer.

 New water toy.
 Using the toy as a reason to get deeper into the water the next day.
 All his idea from pot to flowers and all growing with  his care.
 My flowers.  He planted and helped hang. We have watched it go from tiny little flowers to an overflowing basket.

Yes, he is swimming in the rain and no it was not a thunderstorm with lightning.
My pretty purple toes playing in the sand.

Well, those are our top four and since it took up quiet a bit of space, I will post more later.  It is not a list of 101 things to do during summer, but it is things we do daily.  Maybe I am too easy going or too much of a child myself.  I do love my tv, but I also love being outside with my child.  It keeps us both active and happy.  Now I am off to play in the rain with my little monster since a little shower has just popped up.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Lake

A weekend of fun at a nearby lake had the little monster completely happy and tired.  He enjoyed all of the traditional camping stuff like fishing, tubing and campfires with s'mores. He took a few toys like his toy truck with boat, trailer and play fishing gear complete with little plastic fish.  Now we are at home taking meds for a cough and stuffy nose. 

 One afternoon riding around on the water.
 Waiting very impatiently for his Uncle to cook lunch (I have an amazing hush puppy recipe I need to post soon) so he could eat then get back to what he loves.
 His surprise tubing. He loved, but was ready to catch a few fish.
Finally, caught his own and stopped his complaining. Well at least for a little while. Then he was just too tired for anything but enjoyed it too much to quit.

So we bribed him with more chocolate, fish and ice cream.  He did not make the ice cream he was out until just a few hours ago.

Hopefully, we gave him a few more fun memories.  I will check on the garden today since he is so snotty.  He will fight me over it, but I think he needs a little more rest so he can get over this junk sooner and back out there with me in the garden.  This is nothing new.  Every year he will get sick at Christmas or during the first week of summer break from school.  At least relaxing is one of my favorite things to do and he loves to snuggle when he does not feel well.  Bonus!!

This will give us time to plan out next water adventure. We are thinking of a float trip in North Arkansas.  I think he would love the mountains and riding in a canoe would make him super happy.  What are your plans for the summer?  Any ideas for me and the little monster?

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Growth for the Weekend

This is the container the little monster has planted and nourished this spring.  It has grown a lot for him.  He is super excited about the growth of the Dahlia in the center.  I am excited as well.  I can not wait to see the huge nine inch red flowers. I am also excited for him.  He will also be amazed at the size of them. 

He loves his soft little "trees".  They produce new little "trees" every  few days for him to find.

Our hanging baskets are full and overflowing with blooms despite the fact that a few birds have tried to take them over.  This morning is a little too windy for good pictures, but they still make me happy every time I look out the window.
 I had to re-pot my Marble Ball Dahlia since I have never had tubers preform so well.  They now have a new and bigger home as of last night beside my spring mums I have rooted.

My deep purple calla lilies are finally getting taller and unfolding their leaves.  I can not wait to see their first flowers.  They are gorgeous. I always have a soft spot for dark blooms.

 Our pumpkins are doing well!  They need a little weeding this weekend, but they are thriving and will soon begin forming runners.
 Our Serrano Peppers after being transferred from their little sprout  homes.
 How could I forget the full moon that is rising this weekend?
 No I do not promote violence I promote healthy living.  This is part of our new fun fitness routine.

Finally, our new pet. This little guy looked lost when he roamed into our garage.  We lured him into a jar a few weeks ago, fed him and he seems to be eating very well.  The wait is on to see what he will turn into.  I did a little research, but all I found is that he may be poisonous.   I can not find pictures of what he might look like as an adult.

So that is what is going on in our yard this weekend. How about yours?  Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend with family, friends, fresh food and beautiful flowers!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Begonia for Kids

The little monster found a Begonia he really wanted so we got started this week.  We tried waited for a sunny day, but that did not work.  One rainy afternoon we went out into the carport and got start on his little project.  Of course he would choose a red waxy begonia with red flowers and leaves.  The pot was a bonus.  He took it from me.  It was a gift for Mother's Day from church.  Our church was amazing this year giving all mothers these cute little red pots, a candle, fingernail file and a packet of seeds.  Since I would not be able to celebrate Mother's Day without  the little monster, I was more than happy to let him do what he wanted with it.

So we found a way to beat the rain and stormy weather.  Now it is sunny just in time for fun day at school.  Thankfully there are only two days left of first grade.  I am very proud to say my little monster had all A's this year and we are both ready for the week to end so we can start summer break full of writing, reading, fishing, summer trips and of course taking care of our plants!  What are your plans for the summer?  Any ideas on fun summer trips for seven year olds? We have plenty of ideas but are always open for new or better ones. 

Check back later today to see how out pumpkins are looking they are showing off in our garden already as are the sunflowers.  Everything is loving the recent rain.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring Mum Propagating and care


Spring time is the perfect time to propagate your mums.  Mums are a favorite for most people during the fall, but for fuller and more abundant mums, they need to be multiplied during the springs.  They are very easy to grow and have a very low cost. Due to their low cost many will use them to accent their home during the fall and throw them away after one season.  I hate seeing this.  They will come back every year and only need a little pruning each year.  If you have established mums from last year, all you need to do is to start trimming back the brown stalks that were left behind from the previous season once the first green, new growth has made it's presence known during spring.This will create a well rounded, thicker mum form last years plant.

I finally found the hard to find red mum in my area.  It was very tiny with only two tall stalks sticking up out of the ground.  I was hoping to find at least three of these little red flowers, but of course I am not that lucky.  I did find a cute little white one that had a very tall stalk. So I set off with my plan to propagate them for this fall.

Since I could not get the amount I wanted, I had to create them.  I took the tall white one first since I wanted it in the middle of the red.  I cut the white mum stalk  in half to make them about the same height.  I planted the original mum and roots in the center of the pot I had picked out for this use.  The cutting was around five inches.  I placed one inch of the cutting into the soil beside the original plant with roots. 

Then I gently pulled the two stalks of red mums apart that had grown in the same container.  I planted them and their roots on either side of the white mums in the center.  I grabbed my garden shears and cut each stalk in half giving me two more red stalks of around five inches each.  I placed these in the front and back of the white mums completely surrounding the white with the deep red. 

The first four days you should mist the cut mums with water to keep from drying our.  After the four days, water daily and fertilize once a week.  This will thicken scarce mums you find or will help you make multiple pots for the fall if done in the spring.  They are very easy to root and will give you great reward.  Anyone else out their getting their mums ready for springs?  Any want to do a mum swap this spring?  I have not tried this before, but they should travel well as cuttings or with roots if kept moist.

The trip to those perfect rounded pots of mums you see in photos is trimming.  As your mum grows, trim the few places that get a little out of control before the blooming begins.  This will give you the perfect mushroom shape fall mums.  Think of mums as a child needing a hair cut every once and a while and you will be on you way to a fun fall!

Monday, May 20, 2013


Finally the start of the first fishing week of the year for us.  This is the beginning of one of the two weeks my brother and I actually completely get along with no fighting at all.  We are usually pretty close but we disagree on a few things.  This week we will not and a week next month will be the same.  It has been this way for years during our annual fishing trips.  I am waiting for him to wake up now so we can begin our brother/sister bonding for the day and maybe find a few fish while we are telling stories about complete idiots. 

This weekend turned out great. The little monster got to do his two favorite things: catch fish and eat them.  He even caught a long nose gar that he proceeded to ride like an alligator.  I think he has watched too much tv. 

 my brothers baby bass
 my colorful little guy
 my large pink bream

Saturday was very pretty out for fishing and then an early family fish fry.  The weather was so nice we even talked our grandmother into coming to eat.  Although she will not turn down fish, bacon or potatoes.  I am thinking she was there more for the fish since she sees us every day any way. We had a great dinner thanks to my brother, his wife and our mom and dad. I did nothing and a very proud of that.  It hardly ever happens that way.

We had so much fun fishing for a few hours before dinner.  I got a much need break from the little monster although he was slightly angry that he did not get to go with us the first time out.  He did  a little fishing with mom and more swimming.  He was so tired he even took an elusive nap. Then, ate more than any of use at dinner.

It is a little cloudy today, but we are going back out in the boat for a little while.  Afterward, it is back home for me to get the little monster through his last week of school and finish mowing the yard before the storms come in. I can not wait to see my flowers!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Finally a New Camera

I have not had a new camera in so long that it is depressing.  My old camera would not even hold the new SD cards since they had so much more memory than the old cards available when I first had it.  I did not even buy that camera.  It was a gift and I used it until I finally upgraded to a smart phone with a better, easier to carry camera.  Finally, I bought my own camera. My first non-phone camera to ever purchase!

I really want a DSLR, but have not used one or do not have the time to study and take classes about it's use right now.  So I chose one that had more mp than the DSLR I had researched, smart auto features for quick shots and a way to change settings myself to learn what settings are good for  certain types of picture.  I also picked one that had the same ISO as the more technical camera I had originally wanted.  I wanted this for low light photos and night photos.

So far I have not been disappointed.  It is so much better than anything else I have owned and I have learned a few tricks with settings already.   I purchased the Nikon L820.  It has an amazing price and so far it has not upset me.  I think it is a great "learning" camera.  Maybe next year I will take the leap to the higher value cameras with more settings.  For now I am very happy playing around with this one.

It picks up amazing detail and color with every shot.  Focus time is pretty fast.  The only thing that I have not been able to focus one was a full zoom night photo. This photo was taken through a fence at the baseball fields in full darkness with highly active kids.  With the lighting and fence it was hard to capture a nice full zoom picture during the game.  Closer pictures were not a problem and neither was the next game that was not at night.  Below are both full zoom photos.  The first is a night shot without much detail.  The second is a day shot that looks great.  I can even crop the photo to get a better picture of him and still have all of the detail of the water falling off.

This camera has been great for action shots of baseball and animals.  Full zoom without a tripod will make a  few pictures a little blurry, but anything less will give a great picture.  The 120 fps has helped the little monster with his swing since he is a visual guy.  He now sees what it means to swing late. 

 Ducks swimming away.

I love the effects that the camera has for editing.  My favorite is the color selection.  You can select a color to stand out before or after the picture has been taken.  The rest of the picture will be in black and white.  So the first thing I did was take a photo of my lovely blue toenails!  I will spare you a picture of my feet and show a before and after picture of a very pretty rose.

 Before, a little shaking since someone screamed "Mama" at the time.
 After color selection

I am very pleased with this camera.  It has been the perfect Mother's Day gift for myself.  I would like to get a rechargeable battery for a little longer battery life. I also need a tripod for the higher iso night photos I would like to take.  I love the HD video option.  Everything in one device is so easy.  You never know when a kid will do something that needs a photo or a video.  This usually happens to me when I am not prepared, but now I will not miss anything.  My favorite thing by far is the details this camera captures flowers.  Now blooms can last forever.  I already have plans to make a few into canvas art!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Planting Tomatoes...Ending with a Swim

Monday afternoon we planted more tomatoes.  My little monster said that we needed more tomatoes to eat with salt, so we planted more.  He also finally realized that they are the key ingredient in salsa.  He said that we could never have enough tomatoes then.  I swear him and my mother eat ten pounds or more of them a week. 

We finished off a raised bed to put a few more plants in.  This bed is not full yet since the little monster planted a few seeds that are not big enough to transfer to this bed.  We have a few spots saved for them. That is why the bed is not full in the pictures below.

We up-cycled an old, larger bed.  The wood was cut to three foot by nine foot, nailed together, and then filled with dirt.  I was out of pins and stakes, so we just used a few rocks to hold down the lining for now.  We used a bought lining to prevent weeds.  Some of our other beds have newspaper.   (We are fresh out of reading material to use as a weed preventative.)  This small step will help out a lot in the long term since we have so much going on in the ground. 

We cut out the planting spots for the plants and in they went.  Once they were all in the ground, the kid got to have fun with the water. A good drenching of the newly planted tomatoes ended the project, but not the fun.  He watered the other twenty plus tomato plants around the yard. 

Since he was already wet, we went to the pond to feed the fish and check on growth down there.  We had a few little sunflowers that had been eaten on by something, but everything else looks amazing.  Wisteria seedlings are growing fast, elephant ears are getting huge, and the little fish are feeding well.

The little monster decided it would be a great day for a swim with the fish.  So off he went.  Snorkel and all. The dog and ducks even joined him!  He had so much fun that he did not mind taking a shower.  He usually fights me on this every night.  Then, he turns around and fights me when it is time to get out.  It turned out to be a great day around the house.  That is until night fell and a mocking bird decided to sing all night from they bed he had made in the  middle of my petunias!

 The pipes sticking up are structures to provide a fish habitat.
 Looking for fish, frogs and turtles.
 I do not know how he swims because he will not stop talking.
 Finally got to see his eyes!
 The three male ducks we have left.
The guardian of the house and keeper of the fish.