Tag Archives: swimming

Fun Things for Summer

Well, this summer will be another one spent finishing up the school year. “But it’s summer!” the kids say. It is, and for that reason, we’re going to try to keep the formal schooling to just a couple hours a day. But we’ll still have time for some summer fun! 😉

Summer movies – Our local theater offers summer kids’ movies twice a week for a dollar per person. While we’ve already seen them all on video, we might still go to one or two for the fun of the theater experience.

Roller Skating – The roller skating rink offers year round “homeschool skate days.” Twice a month, homeschooling students meet to skate together for two hours. We missed the skate days during the school year, so this summer we’ll catch up!

Swimming – In pools, lakes, and rivers, my kids love to swim. Our state park fees are very minimal; for just a couple of dollars admission, we can spend a hot day splashing in the icy cool water.

Reading – Our library offers a reading program for children of all ages. After reading a certain number of books, they receive special prizes, such as ice cream coupons. Yum!

Field Trips – A friend of mine who organizes a field trip group keeps the activities scheduled all summer long. I know blueberry picking is already on the agenda.

Friend Days – Summer is the perfect time to plan for friends! We’re already planning  some themed “get-togethers” this summer (the girls especially love themes).

Scout Activities – With so much to do during the school year, my oldest son doesn’t have a lot of time to work on extra merit badges. Summer affords the perfect opportunity for him to get them done.

House Projects – There the list goes on and on. Besides just cleaning up and cleaning out, we need to give several rooms a fresh coat of paint.

Whew!  Looking at the list, I know we’ll be spending good quality time together — which, as my oldest prepares for 10th grade, is becoming more and more important, as he’ll be leaving for college in just a couple of years.  What will you be doing this summer?


Summer is just around the corner, but we usually continue with school through June and most of July. Though much of the children’s free time is spent swimming at the pool, we also have fun trying new hobbies and working on crafts together.

A couple of years ago, we were involved in a 4-H sewing club, and the girls made some neat items — from little handbags to hats to toys to doll clothes. One year, when my son John was in the club too, every student designed and sewed their own quilt square; the teacher put all the squares together, and we gave the quilt to an elderly friend at a nursing home. We’ve haven’t done much sewing since then, and this summer would be a great time to start again.

Not long ago, as I was browsing through websites, I stumbled upon a sewing site for kids. If you have a child who is interested in learning to sew this summer, or if you lead a 4-H or homeschooling sewing club, be sure to visit Kids-Sewing-Projects.com

This site is so user/teacher/homeschool friendly that it’s worth a look even if you hadn’t considered adding sewing to your student’s day. Here you’ll find sewing lessons for preschoolers, beginners, and intermediates, organized to gradually take the student from simpler lessons to more difficult ones. If you find that your child is enjoying sewing, you can purchase a curriculum ebook featuring over 100 pages of lessons and projects.

What’s more, this site presents several ways for the kids themselves can be involved. They can enter the sewing contest to win a gift certificate and an ebook, or they can simply share their current projects on the “Your Projects Page.” There’s also a page for asking questions, and the author of the site will try to answer them for you.

Ready to get started? Just click on Kids-Sewing-Projects, and see what your child can do!

Kelly Park – Rock Springs

pics_2_017While visiting in Florida, we took a day to visit Kelly Park in Apopka, FL. If you are ever in the area during the spring or summer, this park is a must-see.

The main feature of the park is Rock Springs, a clear, cold freshwater spring that comes up from a break in a rock outcropping. The spring becomes a stream that visitors can lazily float down on inner tubes, and it eventually empties into a pool where they can swim before continuing on a little further. Lifeguards are stationed along the stream and around the pool. The park has a well-build boardwalk to follow as you enter or exit the stream, and there’s also a sandy beach where small children can play.

Although the floats aren’t provided, you can rent a tube from $3 – $5 per day from nearby businesses, or you can bring your own. We did some of both — took a few floats we had on hand and rented a couple more, but the kids also enjoyed swimming down the stream with no inner tube at all.

Our other favorite activity to do at the park is search for shark teeth. When we reach the end of the first part of the stream, everyone hops out of their floats, reaches down to the bottom, and pulls up handfuls of shells and rocks. We carefully search through them, looking for very small shark teeth or some other treasure. This past trip, we found a different kind of tooth, which we believe to have once belonged to an alligator.

You’ll also find playgrounds, pavilions, and picnic tables at the park, along with a couple of bath houses and a concession booth. Entrance to the park was just $1 per person or $5 for a carload of eight. All in all, it was a great way to spend the day. It was also the impetus of a new homeschooling investigation: Just where do all those shark teeth come from?

The Boy, The Book, and The Birds

2620931433_07ac966408What a day we had yesterday. My three younger children and I went on what we thought was a quick errand, but what turned out to be quite an adventure — such a long adventure, in fact, that it will take two posts to tell the story, but here it goes…

My oldest, John, was headed off to his first week-long scout camp, and we were late pulling everything together. After a rather hectic morning making sure he had everything he needed, he hopped in the truck with my husband and headed to the campground in the mountains — which was actually only about ten minutes from our house.

As soon as they had left, however, I found his scout book, which he had told me the day before he had to have at camp. I grabbed the book and rushed out of the house, but they were already gone. Perhaps I could catch them? I called to my other three children to run to the car, and away we went.

The problem was, I didn’t know the shortcut to the campground — the way my husband had probably gone. He didn’t have a cell phone with him, so I couldn’t call; besides, we had rushed out in such a hurry, I didn’t take along a cell phone either. I had seen signs for the camp from the highway, though, so I was sure that even if we didn’t see them on the road, we’d only be minutes behind…

…Or many minutes. We went up and down the same stretch of highway looking for that sign about three times. Just when I was about to give up, it occurred to me that I might not have gone far enough, and we drove a little further. Sure enough, there was the sign. What a relief, since a quick glance at the gauges revealed we were running low on gasoline. There weren’t any gas stations nearby, but I was sure we’d have enough to get to the camp and then home again. After all, the camp wasn’t that far away…

…Or was it? We continued down a winding mountain road, eventually spotting another sign for the campground. We turned to the right and kept going and going another couple of miles. Had we missed a turn? My older daughter, Cassie, was sure we had, and our gas gauges kept getting lower and lower. Finally, we spotted the campground up ahead.

The ten-minute trip to camp took us about thirty-five minutes, but we made it just in time, reaching the campers and delivering the book right before they went off to take a swim test. My husband was going to watch the test, so we waved good-bye and headed home. I was thinking I should ask him about the shortcut, but they were already walking away. Anyway, I was sure all I had to do was continue the way we were going before that second turn. After all, the other way led back to the highway. We didn’t have much gasoline left, but we didn’t have far to go…

Or did we?

Photo by Philms

Yes, Dad Can!

laundryCN_8203Since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, most of our household chores have followed the traditional division of labor – I clean the house, fix the meals, and wash the dishes while my husband mows the yard and makes minor repairs around the home. Because he’s busy with work during our school year, most all of the homeschool responsibilities fall on me as well. I bring him in as principal when I need to, but generally, I do all the teaching. 

This past month we’ve had to change all that. I had a project commitment that was due at the end of June, and it was taking all my extra time to finish it up. Fortunately, my husband had some time off – he could take care of the things I couldn’t do. And he did! 

It’s been a good month, with a lot of quality time for Dad and the children. He took them everywhere I would have taken them – to the pool to swim, to the free summer movies, to music lessons, to friends’ homes to play. He listened to them read aloud and made sure the rest of their schoolwork was completed. He also took on one major household chore: the laundry. He washed, dried, and folded the clothes all month, enlisting the kids to help him with the process. He streamlined my system, making it easier and more efficient. 

What my husband learned: it’s fun doing things with the children, and relationships are strengthened when they spend time together. What I learned: Dad can do it!  He can help with school, run errands, and clean the house. He might even come up with better ways of doing things, making the chores easier for me when I take them over again. But now that I know, I might not take them all back. I think I’ll leave the laundry for him. 🙂

Rattlesnake Steak

file000838868154Our camping trip in Tennessee over Memorial Day was a fun time of visiting with family members. It was also the first time I had ever eaten rattlesnake. 

On the last full day of the trip, most of the children and a few of the adults decided to take a short hike to a deeper place in the river known as the Swimming Hole. The hike involved following a path through the woods; a large group of children went on ahead and my brother, his grown son, and two of his son’s friend brought up the rear. It was on this path that my nephew nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. 

Thankfully, all the younger children had already gone by. My nephew and one of his friends went into action and quickly killed the snake. They brought it back to the campsite among the excited shouts of the kids. 

My niece’s husband, a true southern boy from Alabama, knew just what to do. Surrounded by a host of curious children, he skinned and gutted the snake. They saw the two mice it had eaten recently along with its heart and entrails. Quite nauseating to me, but great science for the kids. 

My nephew then sautéed the snake in salad dressing and put it on a grill over the campfire. When it was well-done, he cut it up and passed it around. Now I’m not an adventurous eater at all, but how often do you eat rattlesnake fresh out of the woods? Everyone took a small piece, including me. And you know, it wasn’t bad — sort of a mix between fish and chicken in flavor. Even my peanut-butter and jelly eating five-year-old gave it a try. 

Camping is always an adventure, and this trip was no exception. Next time we eat rattlesnake, though, I’d prefer it to be in a restaurant. I’d rather avoid the snakes on the path.