Five things to do for a smoother start to the school year

School is just around the corner. As a teacher, I feel like we only just left school for the summer. As a parent, I am looking forward to the kids getting their routine back. While we are busy squeezing the last little drop out of summer, I have begun to think about what we can do to make our back-to-school transition go more smoothly.

1. Organize your children’s closets

Does your kid’s closet currently resemble an avalanche? If so, that’s really going to stress you out when you’re trying to get everyone dressed but their closets are insane.

Just grab a sheet of plywood, a saw, a drill, and some wood screws and build yourself a closet organizer.

2. Teach your children to prepare the night before

Pack your lunches, lay out your clothes, and get your book bag ready the night before. There’s no point in scrambling to find what you need in the mornings. This will only stress you out and make you feel rushed.

3. Establish bedtime routines and after school routines about three weeks before school starts

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Don’t wait until the week before school starts to begin going to bed early. Make sure kids know what you expect them to do when they first get home from school and what times are bath time and bed time. We start working on this a month to three weeks before school starts to get it ingrained. We also use a checklist similar to this one to help:

Source: Pinterest

4. Go back-to-school shopping early!

If you wait until the last minute, items may be sold out. Get your back to school shopping done sooner rather than later and you won’t have to worry. Also, if you forget something, there is plenty of time to get it.

5. Take some time off

Rest. Don’t jam pack your schedule the last few weeks before school. Take one to two weeks to relax and prepare for school to start back. Spend time together and just enjoy one another. For the days are long, but the years are short. Someday, back to school time will be a distant memory.

Have a wonderful weekend.

15 Free Summer Activities For Your Family

I don’t know about you, but we struggle to find fun, free ways to occupy our time toward the end of summer. There are plenty of activities you can pay to do, but that gets expensive. Today, I am going to share 15 awesome ways you and your family can have fun this summer…for free!!

1. Go on a nature walk

You don’t even have to leave your house. Go for a walk around your yard. Check out the trees, the flowers and see if you can spot any small animals or insects. You never know what you may find (but watch out for snakes).

2. Blow bubbles

This one may cost just a little, but it’s a lot of fun for your little people. My girls are now 10 and 5 and they still love blowing bubbles. You can even make your own bubbles from dish soap.

3. Have a Photo shoot

Put on a cute outfit, play dress up or do each other’s hair and snap some pics! The sillier, the better.

4. Bake something from scratch together

You would be surprised what you can make from things you already have in your cabinet. Whip up some delicious treats and enjoy them together.

5. Swing on a swing

This was my absolute favorite thing to do as a kid. I absolutely loved it. So it’s no surprise my kids love it, too.

6. Have a water fight

Use water balloons, water guns, soaking wet sponges, water hoses, or whatever…grab something with water and have an all out battle. It’s a blast!

7. Go on a picnic

Grab a blanket and some snacks and head outside. You don’t even have to leave your yard. Find a shady spot and spread out the blanket, and have a tasty snack.

8. Make a backyard movie theater

Source

String up a white sheet and borrow a projector. Use your smart phone and a DIY projector if you can. This is a low cost way to have some easy family fun.

9. Set up an obstacle course

Use what you have to create a backyard obstacle course- hula hoops, pool noodles, a slide, you name it. Then, pretend you’re a contestant on American Ninja Warrior. It’s a blast- you can even take turns being the announcer.

10. Karaoke or dance party

Put on some costumes, pick up a toy mic, and belt out one of your favorite songs. We have tons of fun with this at our house.

11. Build something

Grab some blocks or LEGO’s and have a contest: let your imagination flow and see what you can come up with.

12. Make a bucket list

What is something you want to do during your life? Where do you want to travel someday? Make a list and share it with one another. You may be surprised at how similar yours and your family members’ lists are.

13. Go to the library

A lot of places will let you get a library card at age five. Most libraries do not charge a fee unless a book is lost or damaged. Check out some books from your local library and enjoy them together. Our local library even offers a summer reading program and story hour each week.

14. Make something fun

Draw or paint something, make a bracelet or sew a pillow. Look at the craft supplies you have and see what you can create.

15. Exercise together

Take a walk together, do yoga together, or try a YouTube exercise video. Find one you all like and give it a try. Exercise has so many benefits- it helps you sleep, it boosts your health and it evens put your mood. Use it as a free, fun way to spend time together too .

I hope you have enjoyed this list! What ways does your family like to spend time together and have fun?

Sunday Musings: Life as a Lumber

I hope everyone had a blessed week- we had spring break, so I chose to take a week off from blogging to focus on my family and getting a few things done around the house. It was a much needed break and I feel so much better.

I’m happy to be back at it again, from work to blogging. I’d like to share what we’ve been doing with you.

1. We went to church

We have been listening online to a local church for more than a year, and on Easter Sunday, we visited in person for the first time. We had a wonderful experience there and will attend again. It was wonderful to be back in God’s house again amongst other believers.

2. Our greenhouse is thriving

I’ll be the first to admit- I often just DO things without researching or reading the directions. Sometimes it works out well and sometimes it doesn’t. This greenhouse is only slightly different: I researched a bit, but I am mostly learning by doing. So far, it’s working well. We will plant our garden at the end of the month.

3. We plowed a bigger garden

Last year, the garden we grew was a little two small in square footage. Our veggies grew too close together, which often meant that we missed ripened veggies since we couldn’t see them. This year, we tilled a much larger area than we actually need so we can spread things out. We use a Wizard chain-driven tiller I inherited from my grandpa. It is older than I am but it works great. It’s a workout for sure, but I know he’d be happy to know we are using it. Plus, he has a hand in my garden, even though he isn’t here physically.

We will plow the garden one more time before planting.

4. Back to school!

Miss E went back to school this week- as in back in the building to school. In class. In person. She resisted a bit at first, but I think she is happy to be back. I’m also getting ready to get most of my students back four days a week.

5. The chickens went outside!!

Our chicken littles are no longer living in a wash tub in our bathroom- they have transitioned to our coop! I think they are much happier living outside. I’m much happier not finding chickens flying around my bathroom.

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Join us for the following articles this week:

1. Scrap wood challenge: chicken coop/rabbit hutch part one

2. Healthy school lunch ideas

3. Farmhouse Friday: spring decor roundup

Have a wonderful week!

Lumber in my Minivan: What we’ve been up to!

We meant to post some really neat things this week- we really did. But life has been crazy lately with work, school and dance, and we also were hit with a stomach virus.

Everything seems to be back to normal and we have some really neat things to share with you this week. Just as things are starting to return to normal in our house, we have decided to update you on some recent happenings in our humble abode.

We are in the midst of competition season and the girls are on their way to their first dance competition of the year!
We recently bought four little bantam chicks and the girls are enjoying raising them.

Our littlest lumber is headed to kindergarten this fall! She recently went to her kindergarten registration and her screening.

So many plants are currently coming up in our greenhouse and we are so excited!

Join us later this week for some chicken projects and some garden goodness! Have a wonderful week!

How to fill your kids’ love tank (on Valentines and every day)

These times are difficult, and if you’re like me, you are struggling to balance work, home, and all of the different things you are currently worried about. Sometimes, even when I believe my children know I love them, I don’t always do enough to fill their love tank. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, but why do we tend to focus heavily on showing love on Valentine’s Day, rather than all year long?

The best thing we can give anyone is our time- and today I’d like to share some simple, fun and easy ways to fill your child’s love tank all year long.

1. Spend time with them

family making breakfast in the kitchen
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Kids won’t care if you spend a lot of money. I always thought we had to buy something or pay for an experience for the kids to be happy. My kids are perfectly happy to play with us in the backyard or help cook dinner. Ask your kid what they enjoy doing the most with you and go from there.

2. Listen to them…actually listen

photo of woman and girl talking while lying on bed
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Sometimes, in the age of devices and screens, good conversation falls by the wayside. I try to have at least one good conversation a day with my kids- ask them about their day, what they think about a song playing on the radio, or something. Kids have lots of interesting things to say and sometimes they just want to know someone cares about what they have to say.

3. Snuggle

focused students doing homework at home
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Snuggling doesn’t have to be just snuggling. Snuggle up together with a good book or while watching a movie. Kids feel safe and loved when they’re near you.

4. Let them make a decision

calm stylish kid recreating in green garden
Photo by Allan Mas on Pexels.com

You don’t have to let them make a major decision- it can be something simple, like “What are we doing today?” or “What would you like for dinner?” Kids feel important when you let them choose.

Lastly, I try to get one good hug in with my kids and husband every day. It helps us connect to one another and feel loved. What are some ways you fill your kids’ love tank on a regular basis?