Sunday, December 18, 2011

TOS Review: Vintage Remedies

My friends and family think I'm weird. It started five years ago when we began treating Music Man's ADHD with diet instead of medicine. We took artificial flavors and colors out of our diet and began eating differently than most of those around us. It took some getting used to but we soon adjusted and we are so much healthier for it. As my kids got older they began questioning some of the decisions I make related to our eating habits. It was challenging when we would visit family and friends who still ate what we called "bad food." 

Enter Vintage Remedies for Guys.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TOS Review: I See Cards Fractazmic

We love games around here. Card games are probably one of our favorite types of games!  And learning, well, yeah, we love that too. (Seriously!) 

Fractazmic is a fractions card game. The game play reminds me of Gin Rummy. Instead of a group of cards in laid out in ascending order, in Fractazmic the object is to add the different fractions up to make a whole, or "1."

There are three colors of cards (or suits) and these adorable cartoon pictures that help kids see the fraction in their head. My boys thrive on seeing how math works. Fractazmic is a great hands-on activity that shows how the part of a whole fits together without the mess of cooking (which is how we usually work with fractions!)

What's It Gonna Cost Me?

Other Products 
Pyromath (I reviewed Pyromath in 2010.)
Prime Bomb
I See Cards (A car game that also teaches Spanish!) 

Check It Out
The online versions of Fractazmic and Pyromath are available on the I See Cards website. Play for your chance to win your own deck!

Final Word
This is a great game for learning, but don't expect your kids to want to play this on game night.  It is a nice change from our regular math routine and definitely teaches.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received Fractazmic free of charge from I See Cards for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, December 5, 2011

FFH One Silent Night Winner!

Congratulations, Karen D! Be watching your email for a download link for 'One Silent Night!'
I love Christmas music!

Karen D

November 16, 2011 4:38 PM 

TOS Review: Artistic Pursuits Book 1

I first heard of Artistic Pursuits last year but since we were so young in our homeschool did not look into it very much. When given the opportunity to review it this year, I jumped at the chance. I chose Book 1 since my kids are early elementary. 

Book 1 is a great place to start. With 32 lessons, it is very do-able to get through in a school year. It is designed to introduce art history as well as a hands-on art project that relates to the particular era and medium being studied.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Nester had a guest poster a few days ago, her friend Haley from The Tiny Twig. She talked about a really cool girl party for the holidays themed around "favorite things" (a la Oprah.) She also invited us to share a few of our favorite things ($30 and under.) So here are mine!

Epson Salts
Yep, this is seriously one of my favorite things. If I every have a Favorite Things party, everyone will be getting this. A $3 bag of epson salts from Wally World. There is always at least one bag in my house (usually several!) I soak my feet every night after my kids go to bed. Yes, I said EVERY night. My hubby even knows I function better after my foot soak and gets it ready for me most nights! It is my super-cheap absolutely necessary indulgence after homeschooling, taxi-driving and attempting to keep my house in decent order. Try it. Twenty minutes of heaven.

Good Earth Lemongrass Green Tea
It was the first hot tea I ever loved so much I would drink even last drop!! I love teas but would often only drink about half a cup before I would set it down and forget about it. Maybe it was my ADD-having-to-do-several-things-at-once self. But I think they call it multi-tasking now. Anyway, not with this tea. I savor each sip. I get misty-eyed when I run out. (OK, not really, but it is that good!) (And it goes great with an epson salt foot soak!)

Lemon Vinegar
If you spend any amount of time with me, you will soon discover that I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS. That basically means that I react like I have allergies to any artificial fragrances (like perfume, candles, air fresheners) or harsh chemicals (anything that most people clean with.) I used to clean with plain ol' white vinegar. It isn't fancy and doesn't smell great, but I didn't react to it. AND it did the job. However, after discovering The Grocery Shrink last year, I have been making lemon vinegar and on occasion, orange vinegar! You just toss the lemon (or orange or lime) peels into a jar and cover with plain ol' cheap white vinegar. In a few days (or weeks if you forget it) you will have this pretty colored vinegar with a nicer smell to it. (The peels will be looking pretty yucky by then. Sometimes I remove them and sometimes I don't!) If you add a little lemon essential oils to it, the smell is even better!

So there are three of my favorite things. I love the idea of hosting a Favorite THiiiiiinnnnnnngs!  party with girlfriends. Do you have something special to celebrate the holidays with your girlfriends? What "favorite thing" would you share with them?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Making December Birthdays Special: Decorating

Decorating for birthdays at Christmas can be a challenge. While some folks choose to decorate with Christmas sprinkled in, I have always tried to keep the birthdays and Christmas separate. When I had my first  "Christmas baby" I chose to decorate after his birthday. That wasn't too difficult since there were still several weeks to enjoy the Christmas decorations. However, when his brother came along with a due date just days before Christmas, I knew I was going to have to change the way we decorated. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Making December Birthdays Special: An Apology

I have no excuse except that life got the better of me. I had every intention of this series being posted on the our Mondays in November. I actually have three half-prepared posts in my head and only one partially drafted. Unfortunately, they won't be available this week. This week I am cooking and baking and hanging with my fam.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers. I hope you are spending  your holiday with those you love.

I'll be back with Making December Birthdays Special next week.

'Grace Effect' Giveaway Winner

And the winner is .....
1 Hey Dawn! I'd love to see this book. :) saralynmcd@....
November 16, 2011 4:38 PM

The book is on its way, Saralyn. Congrats! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Review: FFH One Silent Night

We love Christmas music in our house. So when I was given the opportunity to review a Christmas CD, I jumped at it. (Look at that album cover. So precious!! Totally got me in the Christmas mood. And I so wanna make one of those kissing balls too now!!)

FFH released their latest album, One Silent Night on October 18, 2011. A group who originally formed in 1991, FFH is a group I have listened to since my college days. They produced six independent albums before being picked up by Essential Records. After much success in the Christian music scene, they took a break from touring in 2006. It was during this break that the members of FFH experienced lifechange. That lifechange pours out through their music and their passion for telling the world about Jesus is even stronger than it was before. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

TOS Review: Time Timer

The Time Timer is exactly what the name implies. It's a timer what shows the time counting down with a visual cue of how much time has elapsed and how much is left.

Music Man still struggles with the concept of time - it is too abstract for him. We have had various therapists recommend using a timer for different activities throughout his life when he struggled with getting ready or eating too slow etc. I have use numerous timers in the past but they never really worked for him. He just didn't get it. And now he does. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TOS Review: Math Mammoth

I became familiar with Math Mammoth last year when it was recommended to me by a friend. At first glance I was impressed by the ease of the website and the cost of the curriculum. We ordered a couple of ebooks that we thought would be most helpful to round out our first grade year (Money and Clock.) Once I started really looking into them, I was thrilled that I had found such a great thing at such a bargain price!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review: The Grace Effect

It has been a long time since I have read a book I did not want to put down. The Grace Effect took the honor as the only book I have done that with this year. Reading like a novel, but so much more, author Larry Taunton chronicles his journey of the adoption of his daughter, Sasha, from Ukraine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

TOS Review: Bower Books The Person I Marry

The Person I Marry is a must-have for anyone with children. Perfectly suited for any age, it is never too young to think about the type of person you should marry one day. My boys have already begun hearing about "love" and "girlfriends" and ask all kinds of questions about marriage. This book has helped me steer them on the appropriate path in thinking about marriage (even at the tender ages of eleven and seven!)

Throughout the book, characteristics of the qualities on that page are beautifully reinforced in the background. Each double-page spread deals with a certain aspect of marriage and gently confirms what a person should look for in a husband or wife.

Written and illustrated by husband-wife team Gary and Jan Bower, this book strengthens God's design for biblical marriage. I think it also allows to open the conversation towards only dating (or in our house, courting) one who displays these characteristics.

I've read many children's books by authors who aim to rhyme  just because they think a children's book "should" rhyme. But then the rhythm and flow doesn't work out and it seems forced. The Person I Marry has perfected rhyme and rhythm. I can only assume the other books follow the same rhythm and rhyme! The story comes alive within the words on each page.

What's It Gonna Cost Me?
The Bright Futures Series

Other Products 
The Bright Futures Series
     There's a Party in Heaven!
     The Jingle in my Pocket
     What do Heroes Wear?

Mommy Love (board book)

Daddy Love (board book)

I'm a Michigan Kid!
An Artistic Tour of the Great Lakes State

Over Land & Sea, A Story of International Adoption
(written by Steven Layne and illustrated by Jan Bower)

Check It Out
Visit Bower Books to take a look at the beautiful oil paintings of Jan Bower. Her paintings are amazingly lifelike and capture such detail!

Final Word
I want every one of these books in our home library. They are absolutely beautiful. The messages are timeless.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a digital copy of The Person I Marry free of charge from Bower Books for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Making December Birthdays Special

happy birthday by cafemama

happy birthday, a photo by cafemama on Flickr.

Both of my boys have birthdays in December. They are the first and second weeks of December followed by Christmas the third week. When I learned that I was due on Thanksgiving with my oldest, I began researching how to deal with a birthday at the holidays. I wasn't too worried since he was due at Thanksgiving and he would certainly be here before Christmas was in full of swing. My due date came and went and he was born two long weeks later, a full week into December. Four years later, his brother was born in mid-December, coming a week before his December 20th due date.

I laughingly tell people we party all the month of December. And we really do. But the holiday season in full swing, I feel it is especially important to make my boys feel special even though everyone around them is focused on Christmas.

The Big No-Nos For Christmas Birthdays
  • Do NOT combine presents (birthday/Christmas) since the child's birthday is during the holiday season.
  • Do NOT wrap the birthday present in Christmas paper.
  • Do NOT go to a Christmas function on the night of the child's birthday.
  • Do NOT have a Christmas-themed cake, decorations or card.

Over the next three weeks, I will share how we do birthdays in our house. We are on a very frugal budget so I aim for big impact with little cost.

Next week we will talk about how to decorate for a birthday in the midst of the holidays.

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    TOS Review: Apologia Educating the Whole Hearted Child

    When I began homeschooling out of necessity, I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew I was fed up with public school not providing for my child and that I could certainly do better than the education we were told he would get in his local school district.

    Little did I know how much our lives would change with homeschooling. It is a lifestyle, not just something we do for a few hours everyday to satisfy an education requirement. But I knew very little about the lifestyle when I started homeschooling. I focused on education and “catching him up” - laying a foundation that was not there. Had I known about Educating the WholeHearted Child when we began this journey, I think the first year or two of homeschooling may have looked a little different. (And perhaps it would have been quite a bit less stressful!)

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    The Mighty Macs (A Review)

    I love a good movie. But I have loved very few sports movies. Mainly because I have seen very few good sports movies. And The Mighty Macs is a good sports movie. But there is so much more than sports in The Mighty Macs. Set in 1971, Cathy Rush is a recently married woman whose odds are against her. The world (and her husband) are still pulling her to stay home and be a wife. She wants to pursue a dream. 

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    This Blog is Not my Home

    It's not my job either. I thought I wanted it to be my job.

    I love writing. I love blogging. I love the blogging community. But I love my children more. I love my calling more. And my calling is my children.

    A few months ago I began consciously noticing how much I was on the computer while my kids were awake. Then I noticed things that didn't get done because I was blogging. Or emailing. Or Facebooking. Or reading others' blogs.

    Then I started thinking about the legacy I was leaving for my children. Did I want them to remember me on the computer? Or Facebooking on my  phone? Or blogging?

    I started listening to myself ...
    "Let me just finish this post."

    "I need to send one more email."
     "After I finish reading this, we can do that."

    Or do I want them to remember we played? And built forts. And created art.

    Do I want them to remember that I was there for them - not just caring for their daily needs, but getting down and living life with them. 

    This blog is not my home.

    This is.

    And this.

    Amy at Raising Arrows wrote on a similar subject this week.

    It took me over a month to get this post ready since I am only writing now when my kids are not awake. I have some reviews and other commitments that will take precedence over more personal posts, however, know that I am not abandoning my blog. I just have more pressing things on my plate at the moment.

    Like homeschooling my boys and building forts. :)

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Cooper and Me

     Cooper and Me is a cute little book written by a mother-daughter team. An artist from a very young age, Alexa Peters, wanted to give back to others through her illustrations. The idea for this book was found in her sketchbooks.

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    Raising Real Men

    Being that I am a girl, raised by a single mom with only a sister, I knew nothing about boys.

    And I am blessed to be the mother of two of them.

    They are loud.

    And rowdy. 

    And they can't sit still for anything.

    And I love it.

    Homeschool Mother's Journal 09/30/11

    Today is my first entry for the Homeschool Mother's Journal. I hope to go back and add the past few Fridays in so I have a complete record of the year.

    In my life this week…
    Mimi came to visit. It was a quick visit centered around taekwondo testing.
    In our homeschool this week…
    We've been struggling with structure and getting things done on time. I am still working through our schedule and tweaking it a bit.

    Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
    taekwondo testing
    orthodontics appointment

    My favorite thing this week was…
    Watching my mom's reactions to how well my boys are reading now.

    What’s working/not working for us…
    Farm Boy is doing much better with his independent work. Still tweaking math curriculum and making sure there I'm not over-scheduling the workboxes.

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Carlito C. Caterpiller's MathHouse Games

    We are always looking for math games around here. I have two very oral kinetic learners who love, love, love to play! So of course I said "yes!" to reviewing a product for math games. And my goodness, isn't he just so cute??

    Carlito C. Caterpiller's MathHouse Games is a set of full-color cards of 40 math games. The games introduce math abstractly through fun hands-on activities. In Carlito C. Caterpiller's MathHouse Games, there are three stages to understanding math:
    • Stage 1: Quantity
    • Stage 2: Numeration
    • Stage 3: Operations

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    TOS Review: Games for Competitors Tri-Cross

    Created by a family and based out of Atlanta, Tri-Cross, a Classic Game of Strategy for the 21st Century, is like nothing else (we totally agree there!) It is challenging and gets increasingly harder as desired for more challenging play. The creator describes Tri-Cross as a mix between Stratego, Chess and Checkers.

    Because Farm Boy loves chess and checkers so much, I felt he would love Tri-Cross too. It was a bit challenging though as it is recommended for ages 10 and up.

    Earning several awards, I think Tri-Cross is destined to a household favorite - it is here!!

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    REVIEW: Visionary Womanhood Gatherings (and a GIVEAWAY!)

    Twenty years ago I didn’t even realize what I didn’t know. Visionary Womanhood Gatherings (p. 22)

    When I met my husband I was not even a glimpse of the woman I am today. My life plan had me graduating college (though I had no idea in what), moving to the big city (I thought Atlanta,) becoming an independent employee (again who knows in what kind of job!) and living up the simple life, advancing in my career and not being dependent on a man. I did not have any plans for marriage. Or kids. 

    And then I met him

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Ginny Owens CD Winner

     I am still loving this CD so much! It wakes us up every morning as we have it set for our alarm. What a wonderful way to wake up (instead of loud, laughing DJs!!) 

    And the winner is .......

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    TOS Review: Before Five in a Row

    I first became familiar with Five in a Row when my oldest was just a wee one. I was attending a MOPS group and one of my closest friends was planning to homeschool. I was fascinated by the concept of homeschooling but at the time had no idea I could since my oldest had special needs. (But THAT is another story!)

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    REVIEW: Ginny Owens "Get In, I'm Driving!" (And a Giveaway!)

    Ginny Owens has been one of my favorite artists for the last ten years. Her music helped me through the most trying time in my life. One song in particular still wraps God's arms around me whenever I hear it. And now, after five years, she has come out with her ninth album! I was so excited to hear it was being released and that I was going to have a chance to review it!!

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    TOS Review: Wise Alec Civilize This!

    We are total history buffs in this house. We also love a good game. So when I saw Wise Alec Civilize This! by Griddly Games in the TOS Homeschool Crew cue, I was totally excited. I headed over to check it out and got even more excited!! I just knew this would make a great Fun Friday activity in our house.

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Happy Saturday and Grace Card WINNER!

    Happy Saturday Everyone! It is going to be a quiet one around here. Maybe some sewing, more purging and lesson planning for next week.

    And the winner is ....

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    The Grace Card and a GIVEAWAY!!

    How do you love someone that you really hate in the depths of your heart? 
    That is the theme of this movie. 

    Set in Memphis, a city near and dear to my heart, this movie really hit home for me. The main characters deal with the death of a child and the struggle the family ensues as a result of it. I felt it was a true portrayal of how the death of a child affects the whole family and the different ways people react to a loss. Other issues in the movie include race relations, family dynamics and job stress. This movie is Rated PG-13 so if you have younger children, be aware of that!

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Our Schoolroom 2011-2012

    We are blessed to have a dedicated schoolroom that we can use for most of the regular school year. It does not have air-conditioning but it does have heat. We don't use it from June-September/October though the kids will go in there from time to time to read or play on the floor. I love having a dedicated space and look forward to getting back in there. I am still adding things and the look of it changes here and there, but the feel of the room stays the same.

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    My Name is NOT Monkey Girl by Miriam Jacobs

    I came across My Name is NOT Monkey Girl while searching for a flag bracket for our homeschool.

    I plan to buy this book for our home library and an additional copy for our local library. I want to encourage you all to do the same. As the mom of a special needs child, it is heartbreaking to see your child ridiculed. This book was written and published by Miriam Jacobs, the grandmother of a little girl named Candace. Proceeds from the book will pay for the continued surgeries she needs to reconstruct her face after the birthmark removal.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Toilet Seat Two-Fer (Or How to Keep Your Skinny Minnie From Falling In)

    Signs You Have a Skinny Minnie
    1. Pants and shorts never fit correctly.
    2. S/he has long legs that go on for days.
    3. Belts are not a fashion accessory, they are a necessity.
    4. You adore clothing lines with adjustable waistbands in size slim.
    5. Even with size slim adjustable waistbands, the kid may need a belt.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    2011-2012 Curriculum

    We began homeschooling in June 2009. We had just moved back to GA in January 2009 and the last part of the school year didn't go very well. We dove into homeschool as soon as the regular school year ended and never looked back. Now we take June and July off for summer break, but we start our summer school a few weeks into August.

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Dried Onion Soup Mix

    I don't use a lot of processed foods. This first came out of necessity and needing to be frugal. Then I bought even less of them when we started the Feingold Diet to combat the symptoms of ADHD. I further scaled down my purchase of processed foods when I began realizing that I wanted the most control I could have over what I was feeding my family.

    With our changes in diet, I began trying to new recipes. My family prefers their favorites however and some just aren't very healthy. I attempt to make them as healthy as possible, making changes where I can. One such change is making my own spice mixes. This began with Feingold and continues today.

    Dried Onion Soup Mix

    8 teaspoons dried onion flakes
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley (I use 2 t since I love parsley!)
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I use 1/8 t since my kids prefer less spice.)

    Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and use immediately. Or you can store in an airtight container for up to six months.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    The Happy Birthday, Month

    I try to make birthdays special for my boys but sometimes fail when it comes to making my husband's birthday special. Today I posted at The Happy Housewife on how I attempted to make his day special this year. This year, instead of a birthday, he had a Happy Birthday, Month!

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    REVIEW: Robert Pierre's I'm All In (and a Giveaway!!)

    Can you imagine recording an album, let along three? Most of us can't.

    Could you imagine leading a group or worshipers every Sunday morning? What about 800 worshipers?

    Robert Pierre did this while he was just a senior in high school. 

    The theme for Robert Pierre's I'm All In, is surrendering to God's will for the next stage of life after high school. With a packed summer of touring before he begins college this fall, I'm All In speaks to the young person struggling with leaving all they have ever known in their lives - the enormous unknown of moving on after graduation and becoming and adult.

    Robert Pierre's soothing voice is mesmerizing and brings you into personal worship with the Father wherever you are.

    I'm All In, which releases tomorrow, is available on pre-order through iTunes. Check out Robert Pierre on Facebook and hear a sampling of his music through his website.

    I cannot wait to see what this young man will do for God with this rest of his life.

    Who would like to win a copy of Robert Pierre's I'm All In?? One lucky winner will receive a copy of this CD.

    To enter, tell me what you were most concerned about when you were finishing high school. PLEASE be sure to leave me a way to contact you!!

    This giveaway closes at 11:59 PM on August 2, 2011.
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Menu Plan Monday 7/18/2011

    This is my first official Menu Plan Monday post! I do so much better with our meals when I actually have a plan - no more last minute trips to the store or 5 o'clock freak outs because I have forgotten to plan dinner.

    So without further adieu ... the menu!

    Marinara and Angelhair, salad

    lentil tacos/taco salad

    Chicken Bowls

    Date Night at Home!
    grilled salmon, veggie kabobs and baked potato (brown rice for me)

    homemade pizza

    Family Reunion
    Since we are on a special diet, I have to take our meal - BBQ, mac and cheese, salad and green bean casserole or homemade baked beans. I will also take dessert and homemade bread to share with everyone.

    reunion leftovers

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    REVIEW: Bright Ideas Press Wondermaps

    Farm Boy is a serious geography nut. He started learning the States when he was a wee five years old. He is fascinated with any kind of map and has quite a collection. And he practically started drooling when I showed him Wondermaps from Bright Ideas Press.

    Wondermaps is an amazing map program with over 300 ways to completely customize your geography learning experience! Choose a simple, black and white map or a full color map with terrain gradients and geological features!

    Wondermaps Screenshot
    Farm Boy was able, with very little instruction, to create printable PDF maps with just a few clicks. He is currently learning the European countries and loved looking at all the features he could add to his maps, including rivers, names and borders. The full color gradients are beautiful!

    What's it Gonna Cost Me?

    This curriculum is a bargain for larger families since it can be used over and over again for elementary through high school!

    Wondermaps is available for Windows or Mac. You may order a digital download or CD (or both!) The free Adobe Acrobat is required to use this curriculum.

    Check it Out!
    Not convinced? Check out the six minute Wondermaps Tutorial (below) and feast your eyes on the many features available! 

    Other Products
    Bright Ideas Press is well-known for its Christian Kids Explore Science series. They also have the very excellent Illuminations curriculum for upper elementary through high school, All-American History and All-American History, Jr for elementary aged kids! Bright Ideas Press also carries Mystery of History.

    Final Word
    We absolutely love Wondermaps! This belongs in every homeschool family's permanent curriculum library.

    Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of Wondermaps from Bright Ideas Press for the purpose of review. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and by clicking and purchasing I will receive a small compensation. All opinions expressed are my own and I received no other compensation for my review.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Tips for Camping with Kids from a Camping Rookie

    My major in college was Outdoor Recreation and I totally scoffed at the thought of car camping, much less a camper. I loved backpacking and the whole "pack it in, pack it out" philosophy. However, having kids, especially one with special needs, has changed my thoughts drastically. We had access to a camper this past weekend and jumped at the chance to get out of town. So we embarked on our first real camping trip away from home. On a holiday weekend. With two days to prepare.

    And it was awesome. And we also learned a lot.

    Tips for Camping with Kids from a Camping Rookie

    1. Pack everything the night before. If you have to make a stop or two in route, you may end up with cranky kids and that's no way to start a vacation.
    2. You don't need as many clothes as you think you do. Everybody recycles clothes and nobody is really truly clean in the woods. Even with a kid who changes clothes often at home due to messiness is fine with dirty clothes while camping.  
    3. Take lots of yard games. Our boys brought a soft nerd-like bat and ball and a soccer ball. Not great for a crowded campground. The Saturn ball was a great boredom distractor though, as was Uno and Checkers.  
    4. Take some friends with you! Camping is a great family activity but it is even better when you have someone to share the memories with. If you plan ahead, sites can be reserved next to each other. You could even spring for an additional campsite between the two families once the kids get old enough to stay in a tent alone.  
    5. If the college kids next to you party all night, do not hesitaite to contact the appropriate authorities. You paid for your campsite and deserve a good night's sleep.  
    6. Get up early one morning to watch the sunrise over the lake, beach or other body of water. I watch it almost every day at home but it is worth getting up to see it over the water.  
    7. If you go to another state, find out the laws before you go. Think boating, life jackets, car seats, bike helmets etc. If you plan on fishing, find out the those requirements and laws too.  
    8. Try to get recommendations on a campground before you go. Find out if it is family friendly or more of a fish camp. It is also helpful to know if the No Alcohol rule or Quiet Time hours are actually enforced.  
    9. Don't go out on a holiday weekend on your first real camping trip. We did and there was a reason for it. We went in to the weekend knowing it was going to be crowded and it was fine for us. however, I would not recommend it for a typical rookie. :)  
    10. Be flexible. Kinda goes without saying if you have kids but for a planner like me, a reminder is sometimes necessary!

    So there you have it - ten tips I wish I had known before we left home on Friday. You'll hear more about the trip in the coming weeks. We can't wait to go again!

    Do you camp with kids? What is your best camping with kids tip?
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