Sunday, July 20, 2014

3 summer fun ideas for families with teens and toddlers

Hi all! I am Jo Davis, author of the blog “Surviving Teens and Toddlers: A Mother’s Tale Straight from the Trenches”—my story of raising five kids ages 17, 15, 14, 11 and 13 months while trying to keep my sanity. All of my posts touch on the gap between the teens and the toddler. Mostly, the posts are my observations, but some are tips and ideas for other parents of teen and tots. Today, I share a tip with all of you, one that I have recently discovered out of necessity. Enjoy.
It is the peak of summer. You have tried every traditional summer activity, the vacation, grandma’s house and even a few trips to the mall. You’ve scoured Pinterest and tried things so weird that your children will never trust your sanity again. You’ve performed every Facebook suggestion, Tumblr idea and Parents Magazine tip. Nevertheless, summer is still here--more than half over actually--and you have NO IDEA what to do with the couch potato teens and mischievous (probably naked) toddler for the rest of the summer.
No clue.
I’ve been there. A few weeks ago when I ran out of things to do and the kids seem to run out of energy to find their own activities. The biggest dilemma? What on God’s green Earth, can I do to engage the teens and appease the toddler? This took some thinking and a few trial runs before I came up with a formula of sorts for entertaining the gap, or planning activities to fit a family with both toddlers and teens.
3 Formulas for Summer Fun
This is going to take a little thought on your behalf, parents. The following formulas are only criteria to look for in potential activities for the family, along with a few examples. Make this your own, to fit your tribe.
1. Open Air + the Arts
You can never go wrong with activities that take place in the wide-open spaces.
These places allow room for the toddler to run, play, sing, dance, get loud and go nuts without bothering other people nearby. The teens get to talk, laugh and get comfortable as well. The arts part is a wide component to this formula. It includes anything from a drive-in movie to an air show, music festival (during the day when bands are most family friendly) or even plays in the park. It’s basically anything that engages the teens’ by the senses—which works for the toddler as well.
2. Food for the Eyes + Random Facts
      Toddlers love shiny things and colors. So do the teens, but with a little something more. Believe it or not, random facts do capture the teen’s interest. They love knowing something odd, freaky, crazy or just plain weird about some of the most mundane things. Surprising facts about history and culture can be found at any museum—art, science, history and museums built to honor special people or places. Walking tours are another option. You can strap the toddler into the stroller and let the teen navigate you through a tour of historical sites, art, or buildings. Anything to engage, stimulate and keep them moving.
3. Getting Dirty + Good Deeds
Okay, this one may a harder sell for the teens—volunteering to do anything is against their nature. Trust me, they will change by the end of the activity. Why? Doing  a good deed makes us feel needed and more connected with our fellow human race. (Don’t tell teens this. They will try to commit you if you do so.) Not even the surliest teenager can resist the feeling. The getting dirty part is for the toddler of course. You can find volunteer opportunities around you or in nearby towns such as the local parks, the zoo, botanical gardens, or beaches. Beach cleanup is an example, or trail maintenance with the local park service. These opportunities are posted on social media sites and the websites of the parks, beaches, etc.
There you have it, 3 summer activity ideas that you can use to help plan out the rest of the summer. They are designed to work for the kids on both sides of the age gap so that you can do things together, as a family. Just know that the hardest part comes after the planning. That’s figuring out the most creative way to get the teens off the couch (and if he is anything like my Mikey) your toddlers to put clothes on for entering public space. I’ll leave those ideas up to you.
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Friday, July 18, 2014

InstaFriday 12

Here I am again with my 12th week of InstaFriday hosted by Life Rearranged.

I'm growingto4 on Instagram if you want to follow me.

Reading to Cody the therapy dog at the library

Spotted a deer while out for a walk in the woods

Mike went skydiving

Unloading stuff from storage and found my beloved Todd

The kids playing with my old Littlest Pet Shop toys

Marley woke me up at 7:30am to tell me there was a deer with antlers in the backyard. When I got up a while later she had fallen back to sleep with her favorite cat. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Slimming Down

Back in February I decided it was time to lose my baby weight. Yes, Mason is 2, but it's still baby weight.  First, I bought some new running shoes thanks to Meijer's buy one get one for $1 sale. Mike got some too.  Then, I bought a treadmill. I will say, I HATED running. I always said I would never run unless someone was chasing me, but with Marley in school and Mason at home, I couldn't really afford to go somewhere to work out so this was my next best choice.  I also downloaded the C25K app on my phone. It's a great app for beginning runners because it slowly progresses each week, until you can run a 5K.  

So once I had everything all set up, I weighed myself on the Wii Fit to see where I started. EEK!   Then I got on my treadmill and ran for 30 second intervals. It wasn't that bad at all.  Since the app has you run then walk it was so easy because I wasn't overdoing it. 

Each week has a three day schedule and then it ups its length of running and shortens its walking times.  I couldn't believe I was actually doing it.  I would just turn on some Netflix and go. So easy!  

In the 8 weeks that I did the app I lost 15 pounds!  I couldn't believe it.  I also downloaded a calorie counter app on my phone, but I wasn't super strict at all.  If anything, I had to eat more than what I normally did to get my recommended number of calories.  

I haven't ran since we moved in the beginning of May but I managed to lose another 3 lbs since then. I am officially down 18 pounds since I started just 5 months ago.   Once Marley goes back to school in another month I will start running again but this time with the 10K Trainer app.  I just need to lose 2 more pounds until I am back to my pre-baby weight!  

I usually hate when people say 'if I can do it, so can you',  but it really applies in this situation.  I really hated running before, but I did complete the 5K at the end of the 8 weeks which I never thought would happen in my entire life! 

*I am in no way a health expert and you should always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine.*

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mike's adventure in skydiving

Last Saturday, we headed up the airport for their fly-in breakfast. We had already eaten so we were just going so we could look at the planes and the fire station had trucks there too.  Before we even pulled in the parking lot we saw the skydivers. Mike was excited already.  We walked around for a while and then we made the decision that he would sign up to skydive!  He was so excited, but I could also tell he was pretty nervous.  He had on flip flops so I ran home to get his shoes and I grabbed the cameras too.  After he jumped we also purchased their pictures since I didn't get very good ones from the ground. I lost him in the sun light and missed all of the landing- oops! Here's the video I made of what I did take and some of the good pictures.  

I also have to share some of the funny pictures and remind you that if you go skydiving- keep your mouth closed lol 

Sorry Mike, but those pictures are just too funny to keep to ourselves. 

I would love to do this someday, but I might cry or pee from fear.  It's definitely on my bucket list and I'm glad Mike got to cross it off of his.