Monday, August 20, 2012

The School Bus Milestone

Never did I plan on taking such a long break from Lexi's.  The whole family just dove head first into summer and, boy, what a summer we had!  Though we are accustomed to the extreme, inconsistent weather, it almost felt like I no longer lived in Northeast Ohio with this year's heat and drought.  We ordered a pepper barrel online to use as an Eco-friendly water source for the garden.  It sits dry, unused, lonely.

Neglected Rain Barrel

We don't live in the biggest, coolest city but I am very impressed with the amount of free stuff I found within a 10 mile radius to keep the kids entertained the past few months.  We made great use of the area Metro Parks.  We hiked, biked, and illegally fed water fowl.  Simply tossing rocks into a creek provided many, many minutes of fun for us city folk.  We also visited and often would meet the cousins at various playgrounds.

The next city over has a free wading pool.  Many city websites list the parks, trails and playgrounds locations and amenities provided, including fees for the pools, if any.  The same city has a fountain for the children to get wet and play in.

We packed lunches several times to take to a park but their favorite picnic was held in our backyard, on an old blanket, several feet away from the patio table they eat at all the time!

PB&J 'flower,' with pepperoni face, celery, hot dog 'spider,' grapes, bell pepper, and dried apricots

Another popular summer spot was the library.  Besides the summer reading program with goals and incentives, they had free shows that included a Bubble Lady (she uses all sorts of household items to make bubbles and her grand finale is blowing a big enough bubble to fit a kid in), puppet shows, movies, and they even bring in a safari guy with live, exotic animals for the kids to meet and pet.

The kids also enjoyed walking around the fairs and festivals.  Our city has a free festival that ends with a light parade and fireworks.  If you are lucky enough to get a free local newspaper, I find so many activities and events in that more so than online. 

You can register and search for a nearby bowling alley on the website  I print a coupon that is sent every week via e-mail and my kids get to bowl free!  I just paid for shoes, which my youngest child was too small for anyway so I only paid $3.00 for both of my kids to bowl two games.  Lifting a six pound ball between 20-40 times wore them out more than any of the hiking and swimming did.  This was a great idea.

Other online searches provided me with science experiments using household items and educational games.  My son's kindergarten teacher sent him off with a folder full of worksheets to practice reading and math in order to keep prepared for first grade.  We worked one sheet most days to keep his skills fresh.

The kids also helped out a lot in the vegetable garden.  Starting in spring, they plant the seeds indoors, then help transfer, water, weed and harvest.  Previous years we have had difficulty keeping the animals from destroying our crops.  My hubby reinforced the fence but I think my 6 year old may have caught me several times praying for the animals to stay out!  His idea was to build a scarecrow.  Brilliant!  And we did it for free!  We found scrap wood in the hubby's workshop along with an old pair of jeans.  I had twine in my garden box along with scissors, and found an old shirt, gloves and hat, and safety pins ('cause I don't sew nothing, mmm-kay).  We needed straw to stuff him so the kids and I went to a nearby farm to purchase a small bale which would have been $3.00.  We waited a little bit while another customer was purchasing horse feed.  The owner offered us the straw for free since we were so patient (how nice)!  Once home, we assembled our guy, my son insisted on drawing his face which melted off the first rain we eventually got (those washable markers), and the scarecrow continued to not only keep the animals away, but successfully freaked our neighbors (and us) out several times.  He's a total creeper.

Basil and Thyme

Hot Peppers, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Green Beans

That was summer in a little more than a nut shell!  Today my big guy got onto the school bus for the very first time, by himself, someone driving him besides his parents, grandparents or Thea (Greek for Aunt).  He went heading out the door 40 minutes early this morning saying, "I'm going to go wait for the bus."  Thank goodness he wasn't nervous because I was.  I'm not walking him in to his classroom.  That is weird (I think my Mom walked my brothers into homeroom until they were like in tenth grade!)  He has to buy milk.  Where do I put the money?  He can buy his entire lunch if he wants to.  Oh no!  Hopefully he won't notice any of the other kids' lunches for a while (and this is the dumbest sentence I've written so far.)

First Day of First Grade Lunch

Alex picked everything that went into his lunch today.  I think his taste is much more sophisticated due to him choosing a grilled cheese made with Colby cheese, along with fresh peaches and pasta salad.  I can't wait to hear how today goes for him!