Tuesday Time Out- World Butterfly Exhibit at the Krohn Conservatory

Yesterday we had our first Tuesday Time Out following our new summer schedule. Unfortunately, it almost fell apart and ended up being just us. One of our friends is very ill (to the point that she might have to be hospitalized..Yikes!), one just said she wasn’t going to be able to make it after all (not sure why), another had to back out because of a doctor’s appointment for her daughter that she forgot about, and another is getting ready to go on vacation and just needed time to pack and get ready. I decided that the kids and I would go regardless because I had already promised and didn’t want to back out, when our last family said they could still come and we met up with them.

We decided to go to the World Butterfly Exhibit at the Krohn Conservatory. It is an exhibit that runs only until the end of the month and features hundreds of butterflies from around the world. When we initially decided to go there the weather was supposed to be bad on Tuesday, but it wound up being a very nice late morning/early afternoon so we packed a picnic and found a great spot up in the park overlooking the river. It also happened to be close to a really cool playground spot so they got to run around for a while and slide and climb. 

The Butterfly Exhibit was really fun. The kids got to color and cut out a butterfly to add to the butterfly wall if they wanted to. They were given a cardboard flower that the butterflies are supposed to land on when you hold it out, but they moved theirs too much and were not patient at all! They got pretty close to catching a few of them but the always flew off. But they enjoyed seeing all the different sizes and colors. Some of them were really beautiful! One was a big blue one and another was black and hot pink. It was really cool!

Waiting for butterflies

Trying to catch some..I think Micah scared them!

After we saw the butterflies we went through the rest of the Conservatory. I forgot how beautiful it is. The kids loved the waterfall and the very large Koi fish! It was a really fun day and a great visit to our Conservatory. 

There’s a 104 Days of Summer Vacation

Even though this is only our second year of school I have already learned to dread the next 100+ days that will be coming along. I am not a schedule person. I’ve never been a schedule person. I’m more a fly by the seat of my pants and see what happens kind of person, which, let’s face it, makes parenting more than a little challenging! Kids need structure, and routine, and frankly we get a big fat FAIL in that department! We have noticed over the past few months especially that our kids really need this structure, so I’m going to have to fight really hard against my wing-it nature to create some structure around here this summer. Being due with baby #4 at the end of August, which means that I have to get through the ENTIRE, miserably hot, Ohio River Valley summer big and pregnant with three active kids means I also can’t handle a free for all summer this year. So what’s a schedule/routine challenged/desperate mama to do? Well, turn to Google of course!
I started by Googling things like creating summer schedules for kids, summer wish lists, fun summer activities, etc. and found a wealth of information. If you struggle in this area like I do turn to Google. There are so many very smart mommies out there who are kind enough to share their knowledge with all of us somewhat challenged mommies 🙂 After reading several articles on creating summer schedules for kids I decided to assign each day of the week a theme.

Mondays will be Mission Monday, following in line with getting back on my FlyLady routine. (If you struggle in the area of organization and chaos like I do, I highly recommend FlyLady! When I really follow her like I have in the past it is so much more calm around here!) I don’t know about you but our weekends tend to be very busy and we spend most of it running. We tend to come home, dump things, grab more things and take off again. So by the end of the weekend the house is trashed! The dishes have piled up and things are crazy! So Monday is the day to get the house back in shape. I will spend the time teaching the kids certain chores I want them to learn (based on their age and ability) and prepare them to be ready to help out more after Eli’s arrival. This one day of focused cleaning at the beginning of the week will leave the rest of the week open to do fun things (with a little maintenance every day of course!) Monday will also be pajama and TV day. The kids will have the option of staying in their PJs all day if they want to and they will also get to watch all the TV and play all the computer/video games that they want. I’m hoping by giving them one day a week to indulge it will be a little easier to limit these activities during the rest of the week! 

Tuesday is going to be Time-Out Tuesday. This is the day when we will get out and take fun trips to places around town. This is the day for park play dates, picnics, trips to the zoo, the water park, etc. I have invited some friends to join us on our Tuesday adventures. So every week I’ll send them a message on Facebook of where we are going, how much it will cost (if anything), etc. I am excited to do some fun things this year, and have my mommy friends along to join in on them with us. 
Wednesday is going to be Whatever Wednesday. This will be an at home day for them to do whatever they want. My mom got them a pool for the backyard which they can splash around in when they want to. They can play on the swing set, ride bikes, scooters, etc. But as every mom knows, after a few days you eventually hear the dreaded words “Mom, I’m Bored!!!” So I decided to follow the lead of some of those very smart blogging mommies and create “I’m Bored Jars”. 
I took two jars that we had gotten years ago when we were going to do “Obedience Jars” with the Brianna and Jonah. Those lasted all of maybe two months and were abandoned to the back of a cabinet. So I took all the stickers off those jars, grabbed some scrapbooking supplies and set to work. Sorry I don’t have any step by step pictures, but my camera is on the fritz lately. (Come to find out, we really just needed a new camera card! Who knew!?!)

Basically I am now working on activity ideas to put in the jars. One jar will contain independent activities, or activities that take little guidance from me. The other jar will be things that require my supervision and participation. In order for them to pull from that jar they will have to check with me and make sure I have time to get involved in a big project. I have a feeling this jar is going to create some really great memories!!

Some ideas I have to put in the jars so far:

-have a tea party
-make homemade bread and jam
-play in the sprinkler
-have a water gun fight
-make a sidewalk chalk art display
-paint with ice cubes
-make cookies and deliver them to neighbors
-have a lemonade stand and donate the money to the Ronald McDonald House
-build an indoor fort of blankets
-make homemade bubbles
-have a dance party
-create a scavenger or treasure hunt
-have a water balloon fight
-make homemade playdough
-perform the Mentos experiment
-make ice cream in a plastic bag
-perform the Ivory soap souffle
-read for 15 minutes
-color a picture
-build a city with Legos
-play Barbies/Bratz
-set up the train track and play trains
-ride your bike for 30 minutes
-play on the computer for 30 minutes
-choose a 30 minute show to watch
-make paper boats and have bath tub/swimming pool boat races
-do a chore of mom’s choice (that will be in there several times!! lol)
-find 5 toys you don’t play with anymore and give to mom to put in a donate bin
-find 5 books you don’t read anymore that are in good shape to be donated to the library or Children’s Hospital.
-find 3 items of clothing that don’t fit anymore. Give to mom to put in a donate bin.
-make homemade finger paint (this will be used to paint pictures on paper and to body paint!!!)
-Have a shaving cream fight
-Make a homemade Slip and Slide
You are starting to get the idea. So I’ll print up strips and put them in the jars. Anytime they say “I’m Bored” they have to pull from one of the jars. I wonder how many times they’ll have to pull “Do a chore of Mom’s choice” before they start to come up with activities on their own and won’t want to pull from the jars anymore! lol I’m excited about my little jars! And I like that they’re cute too, so I can leave them on the counter and not feel like they’re just clutter!
Thursdays we will continue our summer tradition of Swim Thursday at our friend Lisa’s house. There is a group of us that have been doing this for a few years now and we all look forward to it so much! We bring our own lunches, snacks and drinks and spend the day swimming and splashing! It is often the highlight of our week!
Friday will be Friend Friday. This is the day that will be set aside if they want to invite a friend over to play or spend the night. That way I don’t have to fight off requests all week of “Can So-and-So come over?” If they want to play with neighborhood friends through the week that’s fine, and I’ll try to keep them outside as much as possible. This day applies more to friends that don’t live in the neighborhood. Plus, it fights off having requests for sleepovers in the middle of the week when Steven and my mom have to go to work the next day. Giggling girls who stay up all night don’t allow for much sleep! 🙂
Then the weekends are Family Fundays! That’s when we’ll tackle some of the things on our Summer Bucket List! I asked the kids the other day what they want to do this summer. I got some pretty standard answers from a 5 and a 7 year old: go swimming, go to King’s Island, go to Coney Island, go to the Zoo, go to a Red’s game, have play dates, go to the park. King’s Island and the Zoo are give ins this year since my mom got the kids zoo passes for their birthdays this year, and she got us King’s Island passes for Christmas. So yes, we will go to those two places often! Parks and play dates, well, yeah. And go swimming, well obviously swim Thursday takes care of that request! So I came up with some more ideas and together Steven and I will decide what we will try to tackle and when. Often it will depend on the weather for that coming weekend (there is nothing worse than walking around the zoo when it’s 110 degrees outside!!) and what other events are on the calender (birthdays, holidays, etc.) 
So that’s our weekly theme days. I am trying to instill in them a daily routine, but that’s just gonna take time and patience. So far, so good though. (But seeing how it’s only day 6 of our summer vacation, I don’t want to jinx us! lol)

School’s Out For Summer!

May 30th was the last day of school for Brianna and Jonah. Brianna will be heading into 2nd grade in the Fall and Jonah will be starting Kindergarten. This will be a big year for Bri since in the Catholic Church 2nd grade is when children receive their First Reconciliation (confession) and First Communion. So we’re looking forward to everything that will happen with this coming school year. But for now, we’re planning on enjoying a very fun and carefree summer (thanks in part to the new summer routine which I will post about next! lol) Here are a few pictures from the last day of school. 

Does she look like a happy girl or what?!?!
Jonah and his buddy
He is so excited to start “real” school in the fall!
Jonah and his wonderful preschool teacher Mrs. Gilvin. He loved her and she made his time in preschool wonderful!

Memorial Day Camping Trip

Last summer, over Labor Day weekend, we took the kids on their first camping trip to Brown County State Park in Indiana. They had a great time and fell in love with camping. You can read about that trip here if you missed it! We’ve been waiting for a chance to go again and Memorial Day weekend presented the perfect time. The problem, we quickly discovered was that campsites fill up very far in advance and trying to find an open site that wasn’t primitive (this pregnant mama needs a shower and a flushing toilet!!) was almost impossible! The Wednesday before my mom called and said she found an open spot at Big Bone Lick State Park with water and electric and a few hundred feet from the bathroom. “Book it!” I said and we quickly prepared for our weekend. Luckily the park is close to home so it didn’t take long to get there and set up. Unfortunately that weekend the temperatures decided to shoot up into the mid to high 90’s! Did I mention the campsite was in full sun also? Yeah, the days were roasting, but the nights were perfect and we ended up having a really great time! 

Big Bone Lick State Park is a great park. The bathrooms were very clean, there are lots of trails, a nature center, a museum (this site used to be the living grounds for Mastodons and Bison and the museum has tons of fossils that have been found on the property over the years. Very cool!) They still breed bison on the property and you can walk over and see them. 
On Saturday we went over to the nature center and museum. The nature center was closed so we decided to go ahead and do a hike. It was a little less than a mile and on concrete so it was pretty easy. The kids really loved it.
Mommy and her girl!
Reading about the sulfur springs that used to be here. People used to come to the area to drink the water and bathe in it. They believed it had healing powers! EEEEWWWW!!!!
Happy kids!
The bump…26 weeks…14 to go!!
He walked every hike we did…no carrying this kid 🙂
 After the hike around the nature center and visiting the museum we drove down to Rabbit Hash, KY. We have lived in this area for 22 years and have never made our way down to Rabbit Hash. It was actually a charming little “town” and mom and I decided that we need to go back one day when we don’t have kids and a car full of camping stuff. They had some amazing antiques there for sale in the merchantile. And the little General Store was too fun. Oh, and I will go back for that BBQ’d hog they were selling at the barn. It smelled AMAZING!!!!
Micah chilling in the back on the way to Rabbit Hash-yes, thumb in the mouth and finger up the nose…that’s how this kid rolls! lol
The antique shop in Rabbit Hash.
Yes, I do believe this is an old outhouse.
The original founders of Rabbit Hash, KY.
This sign cracked me up! Apparently we are only 10 miles away from Sugar Tit! Can you believe there is a town somewhere called Sugar Tit?!?!
The adorable Mercantile.
What’s small town USA without a general store? And a huge flag flying in front…God Bless the USA!
The Rabbit Hash Historical Society…cute little old log cabin! 
Saturday afternoon we decided to beat the heat and go to Steven’s Uncle Tim and Aunt Pam’s house for a swim. They only live about 20 minutes from the park so it was very convenient, even if it felt a little like cheating! But it beat getting heat stroke! (The temperature had risen to 97 degrees! Yikes!) When we got back to the camp ground mom had a fire going ready to put the dutch oven on for BBQ chicken and baked potatoes. The chicken was amazing and a baked potato made in a fire always tastes sooo good! Mom had also gotten an ice cream maker that we took with us. We made some strawberry ice cream. The kids loved every minute of it..they’d never made ice cream before! It made so much we had enough to share with camper next door to us. And they had enough to share with the camper next to them. Amazing and amazingly good!! Later that evening after showers we gathered around the table for a game of Apples to Apples. It was so much fun, probably one of my favorite memories from the trip! 
Amazingly yummy BBQ chicken!
Making ice cream.. this is why you get a site with electric! lol

The yummy result!
Do you think he likes it?!?!
Nina and her girl!

Playing Apples to Apples

Those are some worn out kiddos!

 Sunday we went on a hike up to the lack. It was really pretty and a dirt path with lots of trails to stay on and branches that have to be balanced on and climbed over. Much more of a real hike and the kids had a ball! 
We also went back to Steven’s aunt and uncles house for the family Memorial Day get together. We figured since we were still technically in town we should show up! Plus, the temperatures got back up into the high 90’s so I’m not gonna lie, the pool and the air conditioner were a God send! lol
Jumping in with Morgan.
Do you think he played hard!?!?
Monday we took one last hike before breaking down camp. Jonah wanted to check out the bison. He had been there once with his grandpa but he really wanted to show Brianna and Micah. We hiked back there. It was hotter than hot (already at 10 am) so we got through quickly so we could go back and get everything ready to get the heck out of there. The kids loved seeing the bison and going on one last hike. 
As you can tell we had a great time! Sorry this post is so heavily photo laden! I’ve got to find a better way to do this (maybe like figure out one of the many slideshow options that are out there! lol) And just so you know, it was painful to write this post…it took almost 2 hours thanks to the unbelievably slow performance of Blogger. Has anyone else noticed how slow it’s been since the new format rolled out! I’m gonna pull my hair out with anymore posts like this, so I promise the next one won’t have so many photos! 🙂