Things that Go: Books and Activities for Kids

Lately, my little guy has developed quite the personality. He is expressive and happy and obsessed with all things that go (especially trucks). Some highlights from his usual week include watching the garbage truck go down our street, seeing semi trucks from his car seat, and watching the construction workers at the new apartment complex near our house.

 

He is also finally to the point where he will listen to me read longer books. This is excellent news because I think I have read Moo Baa La La La at least 1,235 times (it is a fun book but anything can get old). So, with our new found book freedom we are exploring the world of things that go. Trucks. Bulldozers. Trains. Etc.

In addition to longer books, it is nice that I can tell that he has a definite interest. This has given me a reason to find all kinds of truck/car/bulldozer activities to keep him busy and we want to share them with you!

Things That Go Books

Things that go is pretty broad for a book list. My kid hasn’t really honed in on a favorite thing that goes yet, he seems to love them all. However, these are some of the books that we read all of the time!

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

This book features a little blue truck as well as a dump truck. It also includes farm animals and a good moral about friendship.

Freight Train by Donald Crews

This book teaches both colors and the names of the different cars on a freight train. As a side note, there is a pull apart book called Inside Feight Train by the same author.

Dump Trucks on the Move by Judith Jango-Cohen

This is an informational book we found at the library and have since had to check out 4 times. It has minimal words and basic information about dump trucks, front end loaders, and excavators. My son just grunts in happiness at every dump truck shown.

A New Toy Truck: Touch and Feel Board Book by Rufus Downey and Amy Cartwright

This is a book pre-made with STEAM activities on each page. It’s about a little dog who builds a toy truck for his brother.

Tractor Mac: Friends on the Farm by Billy Steers

This is a lift the flap book and just one of many Tractor Mac books. In this adventure, Tractor Mac helps Carla the Chicken find her ten chicks all over the farm and under the flaps. It includes a train, firetruck, plow, airplane, and more.

What Can A Crane Pick Up? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

This story is a comprised of a whole bunch of silly rhymes that detail exactly what a crane can pick up. Turns out, a crane can pick up not only another crane but men in business suits, boxes of underwear, and even you. My son thinks this one is hilarious.

Toot! by Kristen Hall

This story is about a little train who saves the day despite being picked on and coming up against obstacles. I like it because it teaches something. My son likes it because there are three trains and a crane.

I Stink by Kate McMullen

This book is told poetically (more rap than Shakespear) from the point of a garbage truck. It’s full of trash examples and includes an alphabet. (This is not my favorite book but my son loves it.)

More Things That Go Books

This is such a small sample of books for such a broad topic. One day I hope to break this down into more specific groups of books and activities but for now, here some links to other blogs that have reviewed many of these books (and some).

Things that Go Activities

Language

  • As you read the various books, take the time to say the correct names for the different types of trucks, cars, and other construction equipment. Learn the terms for the parts of the trucks as well (piston, cover, load etc..) It may not interest you to know the difference between a front end loader and excavator but if you have a truck loving kid they will remember the names and be better for it.
  • Help your child find the same item in multiple books. For example, give them the term dump truck and point out the dump trucks in several books.
  • Create a Name Train as seen on Tippy Toe Crafts.

Field Trips

  • Visit a construction site (from a safe distance). Identify the equipment present. See this reference sheet.
  • Ride on a train or in a taxi. Identify other vehicles that you see on the way to your destination or at your destination.
  • Visit a farm and identify the farming equipment.
  • Point out trucks, construction equipment, airplanes, and trains during your normal daily activities. Things that go are absolutely everywhere.

Math

  • Look for things to count in the books. In Freight Train we count the train cars, in Tractor Mac we count the lost chickies, in What can a crane pick up we count the objects on each page (pairs of underwear, men in business suits, etc.)
  • Count things in real life (at home or on a field trip). Three trucks. Four cars. Three cranes.
  • Add things in real life or on field trips. How many machines are at the construction site altogether? If Mommy can see five cars and Daddy can see three cars how many cars can they see in total? These kinds of questions are precursors to story problems and using the vocabulary early will help them in math later on.
  • Count how long a specific machine takes to do something. How many seconds does it take for the train to get to the next stop? How many times does the excavator move the dirt?
  • Build trucks made of basic shapes. See the tutorial on Little Family Fun.
  • Monster truck race math game as seen on Stir the Wonder.

 

Science

Art

Dance/Drama/Games

Social Skills

  • Teach your child to look left, right, then left again before crossing the street. Ask them why it is important to do that each time.
  • Ride a train and talk about train etiquette. Look at the signs on the train and discuss what they mean. Ask your child why they think the rules are what they are and how rules keep us safe.
  • Visit a construction site (stay behind the fence) and talk about why the fence is there.

Whew, that is a lot of information. Does your child have a favorite “thing that goes” and a book that goes with it?

The Build Box: Fostering Engineering Skills in Kids

Promoting engineering skills and thought processes in little people is not as complicated as the word engineering might lead you to believe. Before I had my son I worked as a science camp teacher for several years. Many of my classes were full of preschoolers and they had some of the best ideas I have seen.  

Then, as an elementary teacher, I  taught various after school classes that had to do with various aspects of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) including a MESA class for girls, Tech 101, Beginner Art, Beginner STEM, Science Time, etc. These were some of my favorite after school classes because I loved seeing what the kids were capable of engineering.

One teaching tool for engineering that I found worked particularly well for four-year-olds all the way up to 14-year-olds was a Build Box.

What is a Build Box

A Build Box is a box full of engineering supplies that kids are free to use as they need. The box is accompanied by an objective and some requirements to help kids get going. As I used build boxes in my jobs, I found that many kids were inspired by the stuff in the boxes as well as the idea that they could take and use what they needed.

Creating a Build Box will require some up front spending but you can make a fairly decent one for under twenty dollars if you visit the dollar store and save your recyclables.

What is in a Build Box?

Build boxes are full of lots of good stuff. Below I have a list of the items I used to use. However, what you can put in them varies greatly. The amount and types of items you will need depend on the ages of the kids you are making it for as well as the size of the group.

*Supplies for older kids

Get a Box (I recommend getting a large plastic one with a lid so it is easy to store when not in use).

  • Tape (this one is super important especially if your kids are little)
    • *Duct tape
    • Scotch tape
    • Masking tape
  • Glue
    • Glue sticks
    • White glue
    • *Glue gun
  • *Stapler
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • String, thread, yarn, fishing line, etc.
  • *Toothpicks
  • Popsicle¬†sticks/Tongue depressors
  • Bobby Pins
  • Rubber bands
  • *Safety Pins
  • Paper Clips
  • Brads
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Buttons
  • Clothespins
  • Straws
  • Clay
  • Dowels
  • Foam
  • Paper plates
  • Paper cups (several sizes)
  • Paper Bowls
  • Printer Paper
  • Newspaper
  • Cardstock
  • Construction Paper
  • Cardboard¬†
    • I saved empty food boxes (cereal, crackers, macoroni, etc.) The thinner the cardboard is, the easier it is for kids to cut it.
  • Containers
    • Egg cartons
    • Cylindrical¬†containers (I wash out cottage cheese, sour cream, peanut butter, and yogurt containers instead of recycling them)
    • Rinsed out milk Jugs
    • Other interestingly shaped containers you might otherwise recycle
  • Colored markers
  • *Permanent markers
  • Pencils
  • Graph Paper

Rules for a Build Box

I used these rules whether I gave everyone an objective or not. Often they created their own objectives but I did ask them to have an idea of what they were doing before they started. Looking over the materials available and doing some hard core thinking can go a long way.

  • Preschoolers¬†– Third Grade
    1. Know what your objective is.
      • What are you going to make?
      • What will it do?
    2. Make a plan
      • Draw your ideas on a piece of paper.
    3. Decide what you think you will need.
      • Write down, draw a picture of, or tell an adult what you are making and what you will need.
    4. Start engineering (building)
  • Fourth Grade – Seventh Grade
    1. Know your objective and rules.
      • What are you going to make?
      • What is its purpose?
      • What requirements must it meet?
    2. Make a plan (pencils and graph paper)
      • Draw your ideas.
      • Don’t be afraid to write how it will work and what you need to do.
    3. Make a supply list.
      • Write down a list of the supplies that you think you will need.
    4. Engineer it.
      • Troubleshoot and adjust your plan as needed.
      • Take notes.

Build Box Objective Ideas

Ideas and objectives for build boxes are endless. Here are a few examples to get you started. They are easy to modify and come up with based on age and personal interest.

  1. Objective: Engineer a bridge between two chairs.
    • Requirements:
      • The bridge must be at least 12 inches long.
      • The bridge must be able to support at least two paper back books (or one pound, or a certain toy, etc.)
  2. Objective: Engineer a model building that can be placed on a chair or table.
    • Requirements:
      • The building can only be made of four materials.
      • The building must be at least 12 inches tall.
      • The building must be able to remain in place even if someone shakes the table.
  3. Objective: Engineer a toy.
    • Requirements:
      • The toy must have a purpose.
      • The toy must withstand being dropped from 4 feet.
      • The toy must have a name.

For worksheets to help you with this process and more objective ideas, subscribe to Mommy Practice and gain access to my library of learning supplies.

Subscribe To Mommy Practice And Get Access To My Free Library of Learning Supplies

What are you and your kids going to engineer with your build box?

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10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Mom

I have been a stay-at-home mom for about a year and a half now and I think I have learned more in the last 17 months than I did during four years of college. The trouble is, my new set of skills is a less appreciated, taken for granted, not noticed, and often mind numbing.

I know that sounds kind of harsh but I truly feel like mom skills are often disregarded completely. They are glue, they are necessary, they help everything function, but they are kind of invisible (unless they are not done).

I am the magic laundry washer, dish washer, dinner cooker, grocery buyer, and high-chair clean up patrol. These things get done every day, the house stays clean, my family stays happy and taken care of. It never ends. (Read 7 Tips Guaranteed to Make Your Home Feel Cleaner)

Before I became a mom, specifically a stay-at-home mom, I just had no idea what it entailed. My rosy vision of life after my baby came was far from reality. So, with that in mind, here are ten things that I wish I had known before becoming a mom.

It Is Hard

I gained a whole new level of appreciation for my mother after I became one myself. It really is a tireless job. I don’t think there is any other job that requires you to be on call every hour of every day. There is this tiny person who depends on you for everything. Then, if you breastfeed, that dependency seems even greater because that tiny person literally needs you near all of the time (Read 9 Reasons I Hated Breastfeeding and the Five Things that Helped Me Keep At It). Then there is a home to look after, and meals to cook, and a million things to do and remember each and every day. Motherhood is no walk in the park and is not for the faint of heart. This is hands down the hardest job I have ever had.

There Is Not More Time

I specifically remember a day when I was sitting at work rubbing my pregnant belly and thinking how nice it would be to not have to get up early and to sleep in and play with my baby. . .I know pretty bad. I was very naive. As a new mom, I did not have time for exercise, or leisure activities, or showering, or sleep.

There were many things that I thought I would suddenly have time for once I quit my nine-to-five and stayed home all day but I just didn’t. I was busy every minute of every day and I could never quite pinpoint what I had to show for it. Rather than having more time, I found I had less and that it was very precious. (Read Me-Time Hobbies for Brand New Moms)

You Will Miss Going to Work

In the beginning, I was so jealous that my husband got to go to work each day. He got to go and use his brain, speak with other adults, contribute to society, get paid, and most importantly, leave the house.

Now, I am not saying that stay-at-home moms don’t use their brains or contribute to society (I think they probably contribute to society more than any other profession) but in the first few months it was hard to realize that. I had to tell myself each day that my baby was alive and well and that I had done a good job. I also had to reconcile myself to a new working standard and come up with ways to make motherhood a job that I wanted and could handle (Read 5 Secrets That Can Make You A Successful Stay At Home Mom).

You Will Feel Lonely

Going from a job where I was engaged with people all day long to hardly seeing anyone was tough. I had days and weeks where I just felt lonely and trapped. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my baby more than I thought possible but mentally and emotionally it was a huge adjustment.

You Will Feel Stagnant

Like I said earlier, I have learned tons of new skills as a mom. I can change a diaper anywhere, I can clean my house, I garden, I understand kids clothing, I can get stains out, I cook much better than I used to, and the list could keep on going.

Despite these new skills, I often used to feel stagnant. I wasn’t going to school, I wasn’t creating (much), I just didn’t feel like I was moving forward and learning (even though I was). Mom learning was just different than the academic learning that I craved. (Read Me-Time Hobbies for Brand New Moms)

You Will Get Better at It

Time, practice, and necessity make motherhood easier. Eventually, you will be able to go to the grocery store without fear and sleep again and have a hobby. As hard as it is at first, it gets better and more enjoyable as time marches on. (Read 5 Secrets That Can Make You A Successful Stay At Home Mom or Easy 2-Step Time Management)

You Will Give Unconditional Love

I try to give and get unconditional love to and from my husband and I think we do a fairly good job. However, the love I give and get from my baby is a little bit different. Mostly, I think because it was so automatic. I knew as soon as he was in my arms that I would do whatever I could to keep him safe and make him happy and help him to be good. Before having my son, I had heard plenty of stories about instant unconditional love and for me, they were right. (Which surprised me since I am not really a baby person.)

You Will Get Unconditional Love

This is the one that surprised me. I knew (or at least really hoped) that I would love my baby but I didn’t expect or think about, the fact that he would love me too.

When he was little he was always happiest in my arms. Now that he is bigger, he gives me his biggest happiest smiles. He runs to my open arms, he hugs my legs, he calls my name when he is sick and sad and tired, he climbs into my lap, and he looks at me like I am the most important person in the world.

My husband is top notch and loves me with all his heart but there is something to be said for all of the love and trust that you get from a child who is completely dependent on you. It is humbling and makes me a better person daily.

 

You Will Have Magical Moments and Days

For ever monotonous, unappreciated moment there is one full of magic. Being home all of the time is often very dull but it is often wonderful. The law of opposition is definitely in full force for stay-at-home moms.

Keeping a home and raising a child requires that many of the exact same tasks be done over and over again. Laundry. Dishes. Cleaning the bathroom. Wiping down the dang highchair. However, being at home all of the time also allows you the opportunity to see many firsts and to know that you were a huge part of them.

I got to see my little boy roll over for the first time, take his first steps, say his first word, paint his first picture, smile for the first time. I get to see the look of pride and accomplishment on his face when he learns new things, I get to be here as his sense of humor develop, I’m the one who secretly watches him from the doorway when he pretends to read to his toys. So, as hard and sometimes slow-moving as motherhood is. I wouldn‚Äôt trade it for something else.

 

It is Worth It

Motherhood is hard, tiring, lonely, and busy. It requires more love, patience, and faith than anything else I have ever done. It takes all of your time and so much practice. But it is worth it. There is not a more fulfilling, life changing job out there and don’t let the world convince you that your time could be better spent. This is where it is at.

My question for you. If you could give your pre-mom self one piece of advice, what would it be?

 

15 Kid Friendly Destinations in Salt Lake City

Let me start by saying that I was never one to actively look for destinations in Salt Lake City, even though it is like 10 minutes from my house, until I was a stay at home mom. Then, suddenly I wanted to be outside doing stuff rather than on my couch watching Netflix (which is all I ever wanted to do after teaching for ten hours a day).

So, after my son turned one and was a little bit more fun to take on adventures, my husband and I started looking for kid-friendly destinations in Salt Lake City. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a Groupon for a *Salt Lake Connect Pass which has enabled us to go to all kinds of new places this year without breaking the bank.

So, if you find yourself wanting some adventure in your life or if you are planning a trip to SLC, then check out these destinations! My list starts at the center of the city and moves outwards. I have put * next to the places that are on the connect pass.

-As a side note, kids under two are free at many of these places so if, like me, you have a one-year-old, now is the time to try them and see what is worth going back to later.

Temple Square

City Creek Center

  • Address: 50 Main St. Salt Lake City, UT 84150
  • This is an outdoor/indoor mall and is free to visit. It has a creek running throughout¬†and is the home to many shops, restaurants, and retailers. It is directly across the street from Temple Square and is easily accessible¬†by Trax.
  • Huge underground parking complex that is free for the first two hours (2017).
  • List of Restaurants
  • List of Stores
  • My one-year-old’s favorite things are the centrally located splash pad and fountain, walking along the indoor creek, getting a free balloon from the Nordstrom’s kid section, and crossing the covered see-through bridge from one side of the street to the other.

*Discovery Gateway

  • Address: 444 W 100 S, Salt Lake City, UT, 84101
  • Admission and Parking Information
  • This place is perfect for kids. My one-year-old loved it but so did my fourth and fifth graders. There are several sections of the museum and many learning through play opportunities.

*Clark Planetarium

  • Address: 110 S 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT, 84101
  • Admission and Parking Information
  • This one is a bit over the head of my one-year-old but he does like to wander around and look at the different exhibits.

Memory Grove Park

  • Address: 300 North Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
  • No admission this is a city owned park.
  • This park is kind of famous for being ideal for photography. It has a beautiful stream, greenery, pillars, scenic buildings, etc.
  • My one-year-old mostly likes to walk through it and look at the water. But it is a great scenic area for a walk and/or a picnic.

Utah State Capitol

  • Address: 350 North State Street, 120 State Capitol, Salt Lake City, UT 84114
  • This is a public building so there are no admissions, however, if you want to see everything, you may want to book a tour.
  • Parking Information
  • I have not taken my one-year-old here yet but have visited many times with my family and students. Depending on the age of your kids, you may want to prep them with a virtual tour or an activity sheet to help them get more out of being there.
  • For older kids (and adults) I highly recommend visiting while the legislature is in session.

*The Leonardo

  • Address: 209 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
  • Admissions and Parking Information
  • I personally found the website for the Leo super confusing but it has been one of my favorite places to visit. It is perfect for adults and kids older than two or three. I did not take my one-year-old when we went there and I thought that that was a good call.
  • Just know that the many of the exhibits change regularly, most of the museum is very interactive, and there are often extra things going on (I participated in a pie eating contest when I was there). So, check out the calendar on their website so you can pick a day that you want to go.

Liberty Park

  • Address: 600 E 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
  • No admission to the park itself, however, there are things in the park that require money if you want to participate (Tracy Aviary, paddleboat rentals, concessions, and rides).
  • There is a lot to do and see in this 100-acre park. Some of our favorites are Tracy Aviary (see below), the playgrounds, the splash pad, the lake, and the other water features.

*Tracy Aviary

  • Address: 5 East 1300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
  • Admission Information
  • Free parking directly outside of the aviary.
  • My son loves this place but he is a little bit obsessed with birds. There is a fun bird show (about 30 minutes), several indoor exhibits, and many outdoor areas as well, there is also a playground and a river. This is definitely worth going to if you have small bird lovers.
  • Wednesdays are usually free in the winter months but check before you go.

*Red Butte Gardens

  • Address: 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
  • Admission Information
  • Free Parking right outside the entrance
  • We love just walking through the gardens, they are spacious, gorgeous, and full of water features, plants, flowers, and animals (specifically fish, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds, though I once saw a bobcat).
  • There are many paved trails but there are also areas that look more like real mountain trails. You can also walk back into the canyon or play in the water features in the children’s garden.
  • Information on Summer Concerts at Red Butte

*Natural History Museum of Utah

  • Address: 301 Wakara Way (literally right next to Red Butte Gardens), Salt Lake City, UT 84108
  • Admission Information
  • Free Parking and Overflow Parking
  • Content/exhibit wise this museum is great for older kids and adults. However, my baby loved walking through it and seeing the fake animals, dinosaur bones, and other exhibits. He also enjoyed digging for bones, playing in the erosion tank, and exploring the children’s room on the bottom floor.
  • As a side note, there is access to the Bonneville Shoreline trail right outside of the museum. If the weather is good and you are prepared it can provide a nice walk or hike. The Living¬†Room¬†trail is quite popular.

*This is the Place Heritage Park

  • Address: 2601 E Sunnyside Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
  • Admission Information
  • Free parking
  • This place offers many activities and a lot of historical experiences including a treasure house, ¬†pony rides, train rides, hiking, a Native American village, and more. My one year old liked walking the streets and seeing the animals.

*Hogle Zoo

  • Address: 2600 Sunnyside Avenue (across the street from Heritage Park), Salt Lake City, UT 84108
  • Admission Information
  • I am not personally a fan of zoos but my little boy loves them. This zoo is not super huge but it is big enough to explore for several hours depending on how much time you spend on each animal.
  • During the winter it usually offers free days if you are willing to bundle your little guys up and brave the cold. In the past, they have been the last Wednesdays of November, December, January, and February but you will want to look that up before you go.

Seven Peaks

  • Address: 1200 W 1700 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84104
  • Admissions Information¬†but if you are going to go more than once then just jump through the hoops and get a Pass of all Passes. These can often be purchased for even less if you go through third party websites like Groupon or CityDeals¬†and use current coupon codes which are easy to google (valpak often works on CityDeals).
  • A parking pass costs 10-20 dollars depending on where you purchase it. However, there is a public park across the street (no crosswalk). Do with that information what you will.
  • This park is a bit of a mess. As an adult, I looked at it and thought that it was in pretty sad shape. As a kid, I didn’t notice any of the less desirable qualities and thought it was awesome. My one-year-old loves playing in the kiddy area and the wave pool and the lazy river. He thinks it is a great time and with the Pass of all Passes we can just go for an hour or two and not feel bad, I think it is cheaper than most rec centers.
  • They do have a no food policy and charge for tube rentals. My advice would be to go with very low standards and know that your kids will probably have a great time.

 

Whew, that’s my list. It is by no means a comprehensive list but it does comprise all of the kid-friendly destinations in Salt Lake City that I can personally vouch for.

*The Connect Pass includes several other destinations not in Salt Lake City but in Salt Lake County. The ones on my list are all within the city itself.

My question for you is, what family friendly activities would you add to my Salt Lake City list?

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10 Super Simple Ways to Improve Your Marriage

Giving marriage advice has been part of almost every wedding shower I have ever attended. Before I was married, I didn’t have a clue what to write on that cute wedding themed index card. After I was married, I had a lot of ideas but didn’t think that they were super valid because marriage was so new to me.

I have now been married for about six years and have successfully navigated school, student teaching, job changes, caring for a relative, moving, remodeling, and having a kid. And guess what, a lot of the stuff that I thought wasn’t valid in the beginning is exactly what has helped us through the more stressful parts of our marriage.

Marriage is tough but doing some very basic things can easily make it the most rewarding and cherished relationship in your life (as it should be).

 

 

Say “I Love You” Daily

I know that there are five love languages and that affirmation isn’t everyone’s thing. Despite that, saying “I love you” to each other on a regular basis is a good reminder to both you and your spouse. It also makes it harder to stay upset or frustrated. Take a look at the person you married remind yourself of the reasons you love them and tell them so.

Make Your Spouse a Priority

No one likes to feel like the last checkmark on a list. Least of all the person you promised to love and cherish forever. Let them know that they are important to you. Put your phone down when you are talking to them, plan a date, surprise them for lunch, actively listen to what they are saying, be interested in their interests. Just put them first. If both people do this, then both peoples needs are met.

Spend Time Together Each Day

I would recommend more than ten minutes, but even ten minutes can go a long way. Talk, cuddle, go on a date, go buy groceries…. Whatever you do though, be with them, put your phone down. There is nothing more annoying in these situations than playing second fiddle to a phone. Don’t be that spouse. There is no substitute for good, solid, uninterrupted time together.

Go on Weekly Dates

That sounds like a lot, especially with kids, but they can be easy. My husband and I generally plan two legitimate out of the house babysitter dates a month and two easy after the baby goes to bed date nights. Netflix and cuddling can be a great date as can cooking together, making something new, playing games, reading, or learning from each other.

Have Regular Open Conversations

Stop playing games. Don’t assume the other person knows what you are thinking or can read your mind. Skirting around a subject, holding grudges, having off-limits topics, the silent treatment, and contrived drama are useless and stupid. In my experience, marriage is better when both parties are open, honest, understanding, and kind and all kinds of conversations happen regularly.

Talk Kindly About Each Other

Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Don’t get caught up in other people’s conversations and start bad-mouthing them. Be the person that they can always count on to have their back. Praise them in public and in private and you will be quicker to remember their good qualities than their bad ones.

Trust and Be Trustworthy

This is clearly a two-way street. I was lucky and married someone I trust completely in every regard. In turn, he knows that he doesn’t need to worry about me because I have never given him a reason to mistrust either. If you are not at this point figure out what steps you need to take to get there.

Read Scriptures Together

I am LDS and this is something that we have made a habit of doing since our marriage started. Reading scriptures daily and inviting the Spirit into a home is a great way to lessen contention and fill it with peace. It is also a good way to reconnect with your spouse each day.

Pray Together

There isn’t anything quite like kneeling together and asking God to help you with and bless your marriage. Praying together gives us the opportunity to thank our Heavenly Father for each other and the many blessings we have been given. It brings us together, helps us to be grateful, and keeps us on track.

Be Intimate

Hug, kiss, whatever. Being physically close to your spouse does a lot for a marriage emotionally. When done kindly and sincerely physical touch and intimacy, in general, affirm love, bring couples closer, and heal.

My question for you is, what is the best marriage advice you have ever heard, gotten, or given? Respond in the comments!

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If you are anything like me, then you find it hard to function when your home feels dirty. I have a hard time doing anything fun or even sleeping when there is clutter. This unfortunate quirk has forced me into several habits that help me keep my house clean all of the time (or at least the majority of the time) so that I can focus on something less boring.

Decide Which Areas in Your House Bother You the Most

The number one area in my house that bugs me, is the kitchen. If my table is covered in stuff (which happens incredibly quickly) or my floor has gone a day too long without sweeping, I have a hard time thinking. The kitchen is followed closely by my bedroom, the front room, and the family room. I have found that when these areas are clean, my whole house feels clean.  So, I pick a handful of rooms that I can control and put my primary focus and effort there.

On the flip side, I have given up trying to bring order to my husbands work areas and surfaces. I shut the door to the office, laundry room, and garage and pretend they aren’t there. He has a different way of working/organizing. To me, it looks like a mess, but it works for him. So yeah, I trick myself into believing I have a clean house.

This tip is hard because it asks you to accept the fact that you don’t have control over the whole house. The more people you live with, the less clean your house is going to be (simply because everyone’s definition of clean is different). ¬†Accept that, and you are halfway to a clean house, more freedom, and less restricted happiness.

Don’t Collect Junk

This tip seems easy but it definitely¬†takes conscious effort. When L was little, I found myself¬†at the store a lot just to be somewhere that wasn’t home. While I was at the store, I would buy stuff. Stuff I did not need and sometimes even want.

It is one hundred percent easier to keep a ¬†clean house when you are not filling it with purposeless stuff. So, buy deliberately, with a clear purpose in mind. Ask yourself why you are buying something, what and how often you are going to use it, and where that thing is going to live when it is not in use. If you can’t come up with convincing answers to these questions, don’t buy it.

On the same note, getting rid of the junk you already have makes your house cleaner and less cluttered.

Have A Place for Everything

If your item passes the, “is it junk?” test, from above, then make sure it has a home or definitive place within your house where it belongs. We live in a small house and I organize a lot. So, the “homes” of my objects change from time to time but everything always has a place where it goes.¬†The idea that everything has its own spot, should make it easy to put away.

Put Things Away Instead of Just Down

Like I said earlier, my kitchen table collects everyone’s¬†stuff like that’s its job. By the end of a busy day, it can have everything from half eaten food to shoes on it. Yeah … shoes. Unfortunately, the table is the junk drawer of the house. This, to me, is unacceptable because you know we eat there and… I need the kitchen clean to think properly.

This tip, when implemented by everyone in the house literally keeps the house clean. Put dishes in the dishwasher when you are done, put clothing in the laundry basket after you take it off, put the toys away when you move onto a new activity. . . If everyone puts their stuff away in its predesignated place when they finish using it or enter the house, then the table or floor or counter does not become a dumping spot and clutter disappears.

Admittedly, there are only three people in my house right now and of the two of us who understand this concept, only one of us implements it. However, I still think it is a habit to strive for. Even though I am the only one who does it, it still keeps my house drastically cleaner than it would be if I didn’t do it.

Have a Quick Morning Task List

Each morning, I spend 10-15 minutes on my quick cleans. These are things that keep my house tidy and running with minimal effort (because mornings are hard). ¬†I should also note that if I manage to do these items before my baby wakes up they take hardly any time. If I wait until he is awake to “help me” they take a good hour.

The first thing I do is make my bed (2 minutes). This makes it far less likely that I will have a nap during the day and it immediately makes my bedroom feel clean. The second thing I do is collect the laundry from the day before and sort it in my laundry room. If I have a full load ready, I start it and set my phone timer to remind me it is going (2-5 minutes). The third thing I do is make sure the dishwasher is empty and the dishes from the night before are put away so that my counters are clear (2-5 minutes).

Doing those three tasks each morning makes it so that my house feels clean, I have a place to put dishes other than the counter for the rest of the day, and guarantees we will have clean clothes.

Do a Nightly Walk Through/Task List

On the flip side of the day, I spend another 15-30 minutes making sure my house is ready for the morning (nights are not as hard as mornings). After I put my baby to bed, I fold and put away any laundry I did during the day (5-10 minutes). Then I check the dishes situation: load or unload the dishwasher, wash big pans and bottles, and clean off kitchen surfaces (5-10 minutes). Finally, I walk through my key rooms and pick loose items up. We don’t have a whole lot of extra stuff so this is pretty easy and usually consists of putting away things my one-year-old moved or played with throughout the day.

Set Aside a Specific Time or Day Each Week to do General Cleaning

This is the only task on the list that takes a large chunk of time. All of the other tasks make my house feel clean throughout the week with minimal time and effort. This task helps me to keep a legitimately clean house.

I set aside each Monday (because weekends are messy) to put my house back together and do a slightly deeper cleaning. Monday is the day for bathroom cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping. It is also the day I encourage my baby to help and show him how to clean. I know he is little but I want him to grow up knowing how to clean, that a clean house is attainable, and that it’s normal for boys to clean.

I have a cleaning rotation for Mondays that works well for us. If you would like more details, subscribe to my newsletter below.

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I want to know what suggestions you have for making your home feel clean. Please share your comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, read Two Step Time Managment for Getting Stuff Done.

Me-Time Hobbies for Brand New Moms: The First 4 Months

As a brand new mom, I didn’t have time for any of my former hobbies. I was too busy trying to decide whether I should sleep, eat, or shower because only one, or if I was lucky, one and a half of those things was going to get accomplished.

Going from a full-time job and enough free time to pursue the things that I enjoyed,¬†to being barely able to shower was a something like a slap in the face. My hobby list pre-kid¬†included things like painting and hiking and traveling. My hobby list with a newborn was sleeping, eating, and getting clothes on. Seriously, I didn’t even wear a shirt some days what with the never ending breastfeeding (see my post on that here).

The loss of freedom, me-time, and hobbies made the first three months of my son’s life some of the hardest of my life. Now, looking back, and reflecting on what I have learned about being a successful stay-at-home-parent, I know that it is important to take care of yourself.

That being said, my hobbies probably won’t be what they once were for many years. I can no longer leave my paint out for weeks at a time or hike whenever I feel like it or drive down south out of the blue. However, just because they won’t be the same as they were, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still important.

The list below comprises five hobbies that even brand new, sleep deprived, overloaded, parents can do to get some “me-time”.

Easy Brand New Parent Hobby Ideas

Read

I hadn’t ever used my tablet like a book until I was nursing. It was far easier to prop it up and turn the light down while I tried to learn how to breastfeed than an actual book would have been. I got reading material by installing the Kindle app on my device and signing up for Book Bub to get free and discounted books. The quality of what I read went down a bit because I wasn’t able to read anything very deep in my slightly comatose state. But, I was still able to live someone¬†else’s life for small snippets of each day giving me some “me-time” even whilst a small human was attached to me.

Another way to get e-books is to look into what your library system offers. The Salt Lake County Library System uses an app called Overdrive that can be used in conjunction with your library card number to check out e-books. (Many libraries use this app.)

Walk

The first few months after baby are tough on your body. There is a lot of recovery happening as well as a lot of being a milk factory (if you choose to breastfeed) or turning off the milk factory (if you don’t choose to breastfeed). Walking, for, me, was an easy way to ease back into some kind of workout and routine. I use the word routine loosely because for us it just meant we walked in the morning after one of L’s feedings (roughly between 9 and 12).

I walked with him in the sling and in the car seat/stroller combo business. I started out going around the block, then two blocks, and so on until I could walk without hurting. I  stayed very close to my house at first in case we needed to head home for either of us.

I just walked by myself for the most part and sometimes that was great. Fresh air and peace are very rejuvenating. But, in retrospect, I wish I would have occasionally used the time to listen to talks or books or to call a friend. Walking with another actual person is great too, if that is an option for you, I highly recommend it.

Learn

If you are like me and always like to be learning something new, use the time you have nursing or pumping to learn an entirely new skill. I have found Lynda.com to be a great place to study new material. The site has courses available on many subjects and can help you continue to develop new skills in your sleep deprived state. The site does cost money but if you live in Salt Lake County, you can sign up for a library card through the Salt Lake City Library and get free access to the site. I suggest looking into the photography courses because you now have an excellent subject to work with.

Other learning options I have enjoyed are:

  • Free College Courses are offered at various places on the internet. They don’t give you college credit but they do give you college knowledge. Edex.org is a good place to start.
  • E-Courses. Pick a subject,¬†google “subject” e-course and you will have plenty to choose from. Some are free some are not.
  • Informative Blogs (there is a blog for everything). If you like knitting find a knitting blog, if you want to be more fiscally responsible there is a blog for that. Find a good one and start learning.

Cook

When I got married I couldn’t cook a thing. Learning to make food was just not a high priority for me ever. I don’t know why . . . I love to eat. After I got married I mastered casseroles (which I later found out my husband just barely tolerated). I slowly got better over the next five years but have improved drastically since I had my baby. I figured I was home and making food anyway so I might as well make it good. I started using¬†Pinterest like a recipe book and learned how to make a ton of new meals.

Experimenting and cooking more regularly has also come with the added benefit of making me more comfortable overall in the kitchen. I’m not scared of raw meat anymore and I can look at the food in the fridge and figure something out every time.

Watch TV

If your brain is too tired to learn something new, which makes a lot of sense, picking a tv show to help you through the hard months might be a viable option. I am not generally a big tv person. We have cable and it isn’t even hooked up. When I was nursing though, I watched a couple of different shows that helped me survive the transition to mommyhood. TV was another one of those things I could do that didn’t require much brain power or effort but still helped me get a little bit outside of myself. My personal favorites are Psych, White Collar, and Boy Meets World . . . for reals.

Please comment below about hobbies that you would recommend for brand new parents.

The links in this post are not affiliate links as of June 2017. They are links to products and services I used and enjoyed.

 

 

Dating “Green Lights” for Marriage Success

 

It is a good thing that a marriage success isn’t based on the ideas of an eleven-year-old. When I was about that age I wrote a list of all the characteristics I wanted my future spouse to possess. It was a nice introspective activity but my well thought out, rather extensive list of requirements¬†was neither realistic or attainable. Holding any real person (especially a teenage boy who I watched grow up) to a list of standards that I myself was far from, would have been a sure-fire way to end up alone.

I have known my husband for over half of my life and I’m only 27. Our love story is a bit unusual for being a real story but it definitely¬†isn’t unheard of. ¬†We met, and I use the term loosely, on the first day of seventh grade. We were in band¬†class together, I know romantic. I noticed him from across the room because he was being an obnoxious 12-year-old boy.

Anyhow, I was acquainted with him for a year. Casual friends with him for the next four. Seriously dating him for the following two. Not dating him at all for the two after that (he was on a mission, I didn’t wait). Then married to him.

Later this year (2017),¬†we will have our sixth anniversary. So lately, I have been thinking about all the of the reasons that I chose him, even though he did not fit the cookie cutter dream boy I came up with as an eleven-year-old. I dated other people, but there were things about him that I just didn’t find in other men. . .

After some thought, I have decided that people are just not perfect and we all come with our own issues. Therefore, I don’t think a comprehensive list of standards is the answer to finding lasting love. However, I think there are many variables that can make all of the difference in a relationship and in both partners individual lives. I’m no expert, but I am very happily married.

That being said, the following items are my retrospective list of “green lights” ¬†to look for in both a potential spouse¬†and yourself. ¬†Find someone who .¬†.¬†.

Makes You A Priority in Their Life

Even when we were dating, I always knew I was number one. My husband went out of his way to help me, and spend time with me, and talk to me. He used to ride the train to my dorm to help me carry my laundry home. I knew I was important.

You want someone who makes you feel loved and significant. Not someone who will make time for you if their favorite tv show gets canceled or if their best pal is busy. Conversely, you want to feel the same way about them. If you still prefer someone or something else to your significant other, there might be a problem.

Shows You Respect

In my experience, marriage works best if it is a partnership. My husband has always listened to what I have to say. He is willing to discuss anything with me and make compromises. Neither of us is always right, we listen, consider, and take turns.

You want to be with someone who respects you as a thinking individual and who values your input, not someone who wants to control every aspect of the relationship. If you find that either you or your partner is “in charge”, then something is probably off. Neither person should have all the power or hold all of the cards. Marriage is a two-way street and each person should have a healthy respect for the other.

Makes Trust Easy

One of the things I have always loved about my husband is that I have never had to worry about him. I know he is with me and he wouldn’t do anything to mess that up. We have a very open communication system. We both know where and how our money is used, we know each other’s daily schedules, we know who we spend our time with. We don’t keep secrets. We don’t do drama. This makes trusting each other easy and natural. It also makes jealousy a non-issue in our marriage.

Find someone you can openly communicate with and who makes you feel secure in the relationship. As a side-note, jealousy should not be used as a tool within healthy relationships. I would say if you or your significant other are using jealousy to manipulate then you have some things that need to be better discussed.

Makes You A Better Person

This one is tricky. I don’t think it is safe or fair to go into a relationship with the intent to change the other person. However, if you find yourself with someone who makes you want to be better I think that is a win.

For example, my husband is always encouraging me to try new things or follow my dreams or meet my goals. He supports me when I try to better myself or health, he helps me learn new skills, he studies the scriptures with me and tries to help me find time to develop my interests and talents. He does not tell me what to do or how to do it. He does not try to micromanage my schedule or the people I see. He just helps me by constantly encouraging my best habits and I try to do the same for him.

Is Secure Enough to Allow You To Be Yourself

This kind of goes with the last one. My husband has never asked me to give up friends or hobbies or family members. He has always let me be who I am. There are some bad habits I have given up but that is because he has been a good influence on me not because he insisted I do it. (I don’t think habits are what make you who you are anyway.)

If you find yourself in a relationship where you are constantly changing and making personality sacrifices and giving up things that you love while your partner remains unchanged . . . then there is clearly some unbalance. You want to find someone who is secure enough with himself and his relationship with you to let you be you.

I’m not saying that people don’t ¬†or shouldn’t change after they are married. Change is healthy and expected. I’m saying that if you are with someone who expects you to change everything about yourself to fit their agenda then he or she may not be the person you want to end up with. Relationships require balance and give and take and complimentary personalities. Relationships should not be two people who think and act identically because one person wills it to be that way and the other has given up everything that made them who they were.

Happiness requires balance and give and take and complimentary personalities. Relationships should not be two people who think and act identically because one person wills it to be that way and the other has given up everything that made them who they were.

Puts Your Happiness and Well-Being Before Their Own

In a “me first” selfish world this one sounds novel and a little revolutionary. However, if each person puts the needs of his/her partner before his/her own then both partners needs get met and they develop a stronger love for each other because it’s easy to love those who you serve.

This is a hard, if not impossible, thing to do in a one-sided relationship. If you are giving and giving and meeting someone else’s needs without having your own needs met, burnout is imminent unless you are a saint.

Has Similar Priorities

There a lot of things on my eleven-year-old list that didn’t really matter. I didn’t really need someone who was 6′ 2” or who had big muscles or who could play the piano or speak Italian. However, there were a few things that mattered a lot. As a unit, I think it is important to have similar if not identical overall priorities. What those are, depend on the couple.

In my marriage, we both agree that church, family, education, and financial stability are high priorities. This makes it easy for us to make choices, spend money, and communicate. If my priorities were church, family, and financial stability and his were video games, friends, and going to the gym we would have a difficult time making big family decisions.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with video games, friends, and going to the gym I am just saying that it is important to be on the same page with when it comes to the big stuff.

In Conclusion

I am not a marriage expert. I have only been married for six years. This is not a comprehensive list of things to search for in a spouse. This is just the list I have come up with that details some of the big things that allow me to enjoy a happy, successful marriage. So, if you are wondering if you have found the one, go through the list and see how he stacks up. Then, and this is the important part, see how you stack up.

What have I missed? What are some other “green lights” to look for when neck deep in the dating pool?

 

 

Color Books and Activities for Kids (Toddler and Up)

Colors books and activities are everywhere for kids. As my¬†little guy has been getting better at comprehension and speech, I have realized that adjectives are tricky. I didn’t notice this often as a fifth-grade teacher. ¬†Excepting language barriers, most of the kids could use adjectives to describe nouns without thinking about it.

 

I was reading a new color book with my son yesterday when it hit me that colors are tough. On the page we were looking at, there was a big red heart labeled red. How was he supposed to know that the word red described the object? Deep stuff for a one-year-old.

Now, all my years as a human have led me to believe that colors aren’t forever a mystery. In fact, they seem to be one of the easier subjects to grasp. When I took Spanish in high school, I think we learned colors within the first week. Must have been my teacher’s way of telling us to calm down. “Don’t worry kids I will teach you green and all will be well.”

So, despite the fact that kids will probably learn colors eventually, whether or not they are explicitly taught about them, I have tried to compile some worthwhile color activities for the small dudes.

Color Books

If you are short on color book ideas, there are already many posts dedicated to their compilation. Check out these lists at The Reading Mama,  3 Dinosaurs, and My Bored Toddler for some descriptions. Some of the books repeat but there are a whole lot to choose from.

The favorites at our house are:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

As you read this book you visit a handful a different brightly colored animals who tell the reader which new animal they can see.

Freight Train by Donald Crews

This book teaches both colors and the names of the different cars on a freight train. As a sidenote, there is a pull apart book called Inside Feight Train by the same author. It is not focused on colors but my son loves it.

Alphaprints: Colors by Rodger Priddy

This book has a textured page dedicated to each of the seven colors. It is a collage style book that features real objects and drawn objects as well as full sentences.

Others Include (in case you didn’t check out the other posts):

Color Activities

Language

  • Use color words consciously outside of books. Tell your kids the colors of new things and things they see every day. Green shirt. Blue wall. Purple flower. Green bike.
  • Give your child color options. For example, ask your child if they want a green cup or a red cup.
  • As you read the books identify the colors of everything. There might be something blue on the red page. Acknowledge that.
  • Have your child identify the colors of various objects (if he/she can speak). If they are comprehending but not speaking, give them a color to find. For example, can you find something orange in the room?
  • Clap out syllables for color words:¬†pur¬†“clap”¬†ple
  • If your child is advanced help them learn less frequently used color words (maroon, chartreuse, burgundy, scarlet. aquamarine, cerulean, coral etc.)

Field Trips

  • You could go anywhere!
  • Go to a store and describe, find, or have your children describe and/or find different colored objects.
  • Take a nature walk and look for various colors outside.
  • Visit a park and find colors on and off of the playground. Does the green slide look the same as the green grass?
  • You could have a field trip in your own house and do the same kind of thing if you wanted to.

Math

  • Look for things to count in the books. In Brown Bear, you could count the total animals, or the people on the last few pages, or the number of colors on each page. Freight Train allows opportunities to count train cars, buildings, or wheels. In Colors, we always count the ants. Pay attention to the pages, there will be something you can count.
  • Count things in real life (at home or on a field trip). Three purple flowers. Four white socks. Three blue balls.
  • Add things in real life or on field trips. How many purple flowers and yellow flowers are there altogether? If Mommy has two blue buttons and you have three green buttons, how many buttons do we have total? These kinds of questions are precursors to story problems and using the vocabulary early will help them in math later on.
  • Look for and identify various colored shapes in real life and in literature.

Science

  • Mix various colors of food coloring together and see if you can make new colors. Mix It Up, is a good book to accompany this activity.
  • Make colors disappear! See easy instructions on Mess For Less.
  • Find the different colors in a rainbow. I would use the method on The Pinterested Parent and have a good discussion on rainbows. This could also be done as art.
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Art found on Eating Richly. (Also art.)

Art

  • Color. Use various mediums (crayons, markers, chalk, etc.) and work surfaces (paper, cardstock, the sidewalk, etc.) Talk about the colors and ideas that are being put down.
  • Find the different colors in a rainbow and color them. Tutorial on¬†The Pinterested Parent. This could also be done as science.
  • Color mixing on coffee filters from The Kitchen Table Classroom.¬†She even suggests a book!
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Art found on Eating Richly. ¬†(Also science.)
  • Realistically just about any art project you do is going to have something to do with color or the lack thereof so be creative. If you want more ideas just Pinterest the keyword rainbows.

Music

  • I Can Sing A Rainbow¬†(You can sing it faster and more happily than the guy in this video. . . )
  • Here is a whole list of preschool color songs from Teaching Mama
  • This Color Song would be fun in a classroom setting not so much with a single child.

Dance/Drama/Games

  • Have your kids¬†make up a dance for each color. If they (or you) are struggling with those instructions then come up with a list of things that are a specific color and decide how those objects might “act” if they could. For example, some blue things are the ocean and the sky. So, maybe the dance could be a little bit like your child’s perception of the ocean and a little bit like his/her perception of the sky.
  • Come up with a play about colors. In my experience kids are creative. Provide some props and let them have at it. Props could include brightly colored clothing, blankets, dishes, utensils, toys, etc. If you are doing this at home, your kids will be able to find other props/costumes that they may need.
  • Here is a color skit that was done by Studio C that you could show your kids for laughs or inspiration if you think it is appropriate.
  • Perform one of the color songs with your own made up actions.
  • Have a contest at one of the field trip locations to see who can find the most objects of a certain color. This can be done silently or out loud depending on age and ability.
  • Play “I Spy with My Little Eye” and have all of the clues have to do with colors. For example, ¬†I spy something green. Guess. It is next to something red. Guess. It has yellow stripes. Etc.

Social Skills

  • Have a discussion about how people are all different colors. They have different skin colors, and eye colors, and hair colors. That is what makes us all so special, we are all different and that is a great thing!

Technology

Whew, that is a lot of information. What did I miss? Do you have books or activities that should be added to this post?

Outdoor Activities for Indoor People

I love the outdoors but I know, hard as it may be to believe, that there are people¬†out there who don’t. A few years ago I was teaching a youth group and we were setting goals. I remember being slightly shocked that one of the summer goals I saw was “go outside sometimes”.

Sometimes? I am outside as often as I can be. This business of having it be a goal sometimes was new territory. So, I started thinking, what are some of the things that keep people inside versus outside? Regulated air temperature? Entertainment? No decent ideas for outdoor activities? The fridge? General convenience?

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Okay, there is a lot to be said for just staying inside. But there are benefits of being outside as well. Exposure to sunlight. Fresh air. Time to think and disengage from all of the inside obligations. Enjoyable exercise (for those of us who struggle with the gym). Beauty . . .Well, hopefully. I admit I am spoiled when it comes to natural grandeur or even just grace. Utah is gorgeous.

Anyway, I have put together a list of activities that provide outdoor people and indoor people a chance to meet one another. (Since it is possible that they have only met in places like the grocery store where everyone must go to buy chocolate.)

Outdoor Movies

The Salt Lake area is especially good at outdoor movies. Individual cities and resorts show them throughout the Summer. Indoor people get their entertainment and their food and outdoor people get their fresh air and sunlight (if they go early enough for the sun to be out). See the list for Salt Lake area movies for 2017

See a list of outdoor movies for the Salt Lake area (2017) here.

Reading

Admittedly this isn’t a great way to meet people, but it is still a good indoor activity that can be done outside. It can be simple. Take your lemonade and book out on your deck or porch or into your backyard. It can be a little bit adventurous. Try a park bench or take a blanket with you and find a nice spot. It can be rejuvenating. Take your book and hammock and head for the mountains.

Games

If you are an indoor person, there is a good chance that the type of game you enjoy has something to do with an electronic device, so bear with me. Yard games can be just as fun and they allow you the opportunity to engage with other people¬†(most of them are not as fun when played alone). Heck, they don’t even have to be yard games. You could take a deck of cards outside and call it a yard game. Either way, games outside equal entertainment, socializing, fresh air, and sunshine.

Barbeques

One of the first things we did when we got our house was put a fire pit in our backyard. It is one of my favorite parts of Summer. We love to invite old friends and potential new friends over to roast hot dogs, eat Dutch oven food, enjoy smores, and talk. Often, we do the same things up the canyon . And on those days when we don’t want to start a fire, we just use the regular old BBQ. Regardless of the food eaten or the method it is made, there is still food and fresh air and fun.

Swimming/Sunbathing

I am not really into tanning, I want my super paleness to stay cancer free. However, I still enjoy being in the sun in my SPF 50+. An outdoor pool or lake is a great place to get those rays. It also provides the opportunity for exercise, socializing, play, and fresh. . .ish air.

So this summer, make sure you get some green time into each day if you can. I firmly believe that being outside is good for the soul.

What are your favorite low-key outdoor activities during the hot summer months?

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