10 Packing Tips for Sleepaway Camp

 

The time has come – you have picked a camp, submitted forms, pick electives – and now it is time to start packing.  Think of this more as a marathon than a sprint.  Start early – don’t wait until the last minute!

  1.  Buy high quality labels.  Labels have come a long way since my mother had to sew millions of printed labels on every piece of clothing.  I have used these labels for years and they stay on the tags of clothing really well.  They also make labels for water bottles, shoes and anything else you can think of.  The biggest problem I had was labeling black socks.  If you want socks back – buy white ones where you can use a black sharpie.
  2. Involve your camper.  Bring him to target, let her pick-out her shampoo.  Most importantly your kid needs to be involved in the packing.  It was actually a great bonding time for my son and I.  Running through target at night – and getting his opinions on bedding.
  3. Follow the camps suggestions carefully.  There is limited space for your camper to keep their things in the bunk.  If you decide to send 4 sets of sheets instead of 2 there will be no place to put it.  This list will also contain special items that they might need.  My camper needed a plain white shirt for a tie-dye project.  It might also tell you special color items of clothing for color wars or special dress-up items.
  4. Buy good quality duffel bags – I was going back and forth with whether to buy cheap bags or nice ones like these.  I decided with the nice ones.  I don’t want to waste money buying new ones every year if the cheap ones break.  These bags will last and I figured he can take them to college!
  5. Pre-stamp, pre-address, and pre-return address all stationary.  The goal is to remove all barriers to letter writing.  It is the most wonderful thing when you get that letter from your camper.  It might be totally spelled wrong, or it might say almost nothing – but it is still awesome!
  6. Find a Mom from your camp to pick her brain!  If you have a friend with an older kid at your camp – take them out to coffee and ask all of your questions.  If not, ask the camp to introduce you to someone.  This person can give you all the tips about the best way to pack and of course the things your camper “needs” that isn’t on the list.  Some wise Mom’s last year told me that the campers love to bring pillow “husbands,” a rug for the end of their bed, and a plastic drawers to go on top of the cubby.
  7. Find out what the “currency” is.  In my day we all brought “cool” stationary to trade and pet when we played card games.  My son was allowed to bring gum last summer.
  8. Make your camper try on all of the clothes they are planning to bring – new or old.  These kids can grow a lot in a year.  Make sure everything fits and that they actually will wear it.  Don’t send fancy stuff – it all comes back pretty lived in.  
  9. Start gathering things now!  Packing for camp is more like a marathon then a sprint.  If you start buying things now – labels, duffles, camp t-shirts and pile them in a closet you will be in good shape when camp begins.
  10. While writing this list I asked my son for his tips.  He said….  Extra underwear!!!  I followed the packing list closely but for whatever reason that was not enough underwear for my son. Whoops….

Top 10 tips to survive spring sports season

I know we are only a few weeks left of the spring sports season (summer here we come!!!). I am working on sleepaway camp tips – but wanted to get these ideas down before I forgot.

  1. As soon as you get team roster – email the list to see if anyone is interested in carpooling. If you work or have multiple kids playing sports you will either need a carpool or a clone to survive.
  2. Consider a prepaid cheap phone. I felt uncomfortable leaving my 11 year old cross town while I was with my 6 year old at a different practice. If there was some emergency I wanted him to call or text. I got a $19 phone off of Amazon and paid $30 for 360 minutes. A good investment for piece of mind.
  3. Look at used sports equipment. If your child is trying a sport for the first time you might not want to shell out money for top of the line new equipment. In Boston there is a high quality used sporting equipment store that sells new and used. Play it again sports.
  4. If you have to buy a uniform – make sure you follow all ordering deadlines. You don’t want your child to miss out playing because hey don’t have the uniform.
  5. Get a dedicated bag for that sport. It doesn’t have to be a sport specific bag – any bag will do. I found that if one bag is for that child and that sport we are much less likely to misplace a glove, stick or pad. I nag them until they put all the equipment back in the bag (even when they are practicing at home) and then have a hook in the garage for that bag. When we are running late for a game or practice – we can grab and go.
  6.  Always bring a water bottle for the kid and for yourself!
  7.  Remember sunscreen for everyone even early in the spring when it still feels cool.
  8.  Bring a chair for yourself. These games can go on forever – comfort is key! I leave a few in the car for any other family members that might join for the game – grandparents or siblings.
  9.  Is is always colder then you think it will be. I keep a blanket in the car for emergencies. I also always bring a jacket even if the sun is shining.
  10.  Thank the coach every chance you get. For younger kids – the coaches are parents. Without them none of this could happen. At the end of every game I encourage my kid to thank the coaches and I do the same.
I am not even getting into not putting too much pressure or stress on your kid. To me this is obvious. I stress having fun, making friends, learning new things and trying your best!!!!

Summer Bucket List

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You might be thinking this is a really strange time to post a summer bucket list.  Yes, I know my older two boys start school again in 15 days (not that I am counting!).  We have been working on our bucket list all summer – but now with only two weeks left of summer we have the most time we have had all summer.  Camps and vacations are mostly done and the boys are actually sick of our local pool.  Time for Mommy to get creative.  Referring back to our list is going to save me from the “Mommy I am bored” chants.  Here is our list that my boys and I created in June.  Pick a couple of fun summer things to do with your kids before school begins.

Here is my complete list and a link to a word document you can customize for your own family 2015 Bucket List

Summer Bucket List 2015

  • stargaze
  • go on a scavenger hunt
  • swim in a lake
  • make s’mores
  • go to Newport, RI
  • go to New Hampshire
  • watch a movie outside
  • go on a factory tour
  • take a sewing class
  • water balloon fight
  • swim in the pool
  • have a picnic
  • pick strawberries
  • family game night
  • tv night
  • nature walk
  • make popsicles
  • go to the library
  • read 15 books
  • bowling
  • go to the beach
  • go to the farmer’s market
  • take a boat ride
  • eat ice-cream
  • build a sandcastle
  • play in the sprinklers
  • watch fireworks
  • build a fire
  • have a bbq
  • play hopscotch
  • puppet show
  • build an indoor fort
  • make and fly paper airplanes
  • farmer’s market
  • bubbles
  • splash in puddles
  • visit a museum
  • ride bikes
  • have a water gun fight
  • do a science project
  • stay in pajamas all day
  • Mentos experiment
  • go to a new park
  • write a story
  • mini-golf
  • tie-die project
  • make a book
  • have a dance party
  • relax
  • go on a hike
  • take a night walk
  • plant our garden
  • find shapes in clouds
  • make popsicles
  • fly a kite
  • watch a sunset
  • do something good
  • soaker ball sponges
  • family photo shoot
  • draw with chalk
  • have a picnic
  • eat dinner on the deck
  • go to NY
  • melt crayons in the sun
  • donate old books, toys and clothes
  • play tennis
  • play a family game of basketball
  • play Frisbee
  • play dress-up
  • indoor obstacle course
  • Visit Daddy’s work

Just Show Up!

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I am an adult.  I no longer have a ready made group of friends from school, my parents or my extra-cirricula activities.  How to create a community for yourself and for your family?  My main piece of advice – JUST SHOW UP!  There are so many opportunities in your child’s school, community, religious organization – JUST SHOW UP!  Maybe it is not your favorite thing to do, maybe your best friend won’t be there, maybe your kids best friends might not be there – but you are creating an opportunity for your whole family to be involved in your community and to make personal connections – JUST SHOW UP!  When my son’s school has parent events or family events in the school – there are some families that I can always count on to be there.  If all the parents were polled I have a feeling that these families would be the most happy with the school.  They would feel the community – because they show up.  Be one of those families that others can count on.  Be one of those families who go to the soccer games, the bake sale, the school play.  Just by showing up – you can make your community better and thereby make your family a stronger part of that community.

NaBloPoMo November 2014

Book Club – our first 10 books!

HeartMy friend Erica and I live in different towns, with kids at different ages.  We were having trouble seeing each other on a regular basis so we thought a once monthly book club would be a good excuse to hang out.  After one false start (we only met once) we now have been meeting for over 6 months and going strong!  We just finished our first 10 books.  I thought I would share the books we have been reading with my personal ratings out of 5 *

1.  Shanghai Girls  by Lisa See – 5/5*

2.  The Language of the Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – 5/5*

3.  What Alice Forgot  by Liane Moriarity – 4/5*

4.  The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult – 4/5*

5.  Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline – 5/5*

6.  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – 5/5*

7.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 4/5*

8.  I am having so much fun here without you by Courtney Maum – 2/5*

9.  One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – 4/5*

10.  The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman – 4/5*

 

NaBloPoMo November 2014

The Case for Playdates – pro and con

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Playdates are always a hot topic in my house.  My boys go through stages where they always

Pro

For shy kids it can be important to have friends over in their home to come out of their shell.  It is a good way to make new friends, kids and adults.  It can encourage already established friendships.  It is also a great way for parents to get to know their kids friends.  We can also see how our kids interact with their friends.  It is a nice way to treat/reward kids that does not involve food or presents.  It can cause creative play.  The above picture was taken by #1 at a playdate with two friends where they decided to make a stop-animation movie with legos.

Con

It takes planning!  You can be stuck wiping some random kids tush.  You can deal with rude, disruptive or not pleasant kids.  Your kid can be so excited that he has a friend over that he acts out in an unbearable way (this happens at my house constantly!).  More kids = more mess.  It is important for kids to play with their siblings.  Introducing another kid into the house can cause massive fights between siblings.  Extra driving, extra cooking, extra cleaning!!!

Conclusion:

I take the position of everything in moderation.  My boys get out of school early on Fridays in the winter so we can get ready for shabbat.  They have no after school activities on that day and all homework has to be handed in at school that day.  This is then a good day for playmates.  I can arrange to pick-up friends right from school to avoid extra driving.  These playmates are not making interrupting regular activities.  If the kids are behaving (fingers crossed) I can actually get some housework done.  I don’t go too crazy with playmates on the weekend – I like for the 5 of us to spend quality time together.  Everything in moderation!

NaBloPoMo November 2014

Crafty Tuesday – Pool Noodle Lightsabers

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With a busy life it is hard to find time to get the supplies and motivation for crafts.  I try to gather a bunch of ideas on pinterest and then buy or gather any supplies we would need.  If I already have the idea and supplies – a last minute craft idea becomes easy and fun for all.

My boys love star wars (who doesn’t?) and play fighting.  I came across a lot of ideas for pool noodle lightsabers and we adapted it to fit our supplies and our preferences.

Supplies

1 pool noodle for every two lightsabers

Silver duct tape

Black duct tape

Serrated knife

Scissor

Directions

Use knife to saw each pool noodle in half.  Have your kids decide if they want a traditional lightsaber or a double-sided one.  If they want a traditional use the black and silver duct tape to make any kind of pattern you want on the edge of one of the ends.  It can be one or two strips or more.  As you can see from the pictures, each one of the lightsabers we made are different.  If they want a double-sided lightsaber you put the duct tape in the middle of the noodle instead of the end.

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The great thing about these lightsabers is they make a cool sound when they hit another lightsaber – but they are safe to play with.  My kids have the plastic ones you can buy in a store – but they can really hurt if you “accidentally” hit someone with it.  DSC03289

NaBloPoMo November 2014

Getting Culture Into Your Kids

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Once upon a time, before I had kids, my husband and I would spend glorious weekends holed up in our apartment watching entire seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ordering take-out and staying in our pajamas.  They were wonderful times – but we were also missing out on the world and all that our wonderful city of Boston has to offer.  Kids has definitely changed my attitude.  Don’t get me wrong – if anyone wants to babysit some weekend my hubby and I would love to catch up on some episodes of Homeland!  On a regular Saturday during the year, it is so important that we have some sort of activity to get us out of the house and break up the day.  Bonus points if it adds some culture to our lives.

I start looking for my inspiration on bostoncentral.com  It has a great calendar that lists family friendly activities all throughout town.  It usually links to the specific event and provides info like what age the activity is for and how much it costs.

This morning I woke up and realized we had an entire free day today.  I jumped on bostoncentral and found this amazing production the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra was putting on.  An hour before the performance the kids could color, listen to demonstrations and even try out the instruments.  My kids loved the trombone!  We then saw a very professional and engaging performance of Peter and the Wolf.  We were out of the house on a cold November day, spent family time together, and got some culture in all of us!

NaBloPoMo November 2014