Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer 2014 Bucket list

Summer break is here, which is otherwise known as the busiest time of year! I sometimes have to remind the children that the only change in our day-to-day routine is the absence of school work, not complete absolution from any and all chores or other work.

Actually, I am continuing to do a little school work with Miriam and Becky over the summer. At their age, taking three months completely off would just lead to some major loss of what they just spent the last year learning. Plus, I get to devote more one-on-one time to them during this time. The older kids are continuing to spend some time each day practicing the piano, plus we are making an effort to speak/learn more German than we have time for during the school year, and they are reading lots of non-fiction books during their "silent time" each day. Other times, they spent those couple of hours on an art or science project they enjoy. I guess learning never stops in earnest around here. :)

Still, that leaves our mornings wide open for special activities and fun! On our routine, everyone is to be ready down to the shoes, and have their younger "charge" ready, by 9 am. That includes breakfast done and mess cleaned up, hair and teeth brushed, and the morning chores all taken care of. Since the sun comes up before 5 a.m. in Arizona this time of year, the kids are usually up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed no later than 6 a.m., more than enough time to get ready by our goal of 9 a.m.

Back in April and May, I came up with a bucket list for this summer, with not a little help from Pinterest. We try to do at least one fun activity each day, except on Sundays, which are the closest I will get to a "day off" while having a house full of people that demand to eat three square meals each day.

Here is what we have done so far:

Toy car snacks: The kids loved these! So much so, that they were all gobbled up before I got a chance to grab my camera. We also made some from cantaloupes and grapes. If you follow the link, you will find more great ideas of what fruits and veggies to make these out of. 
Source here

Make ice cream or gelato: This has been an almost daily occurrence. Just check out my Pinterest board of ice cream recipes! I may or may not have even fed my kids a dinner of ice cream a time or two this summer... which, really, is hardly the end of the world considering wholesome ingredients such as milk, cream, egg yolks, and honey. A couple of times, we have also made waffle cones to serve the ice cream in.
My favorite flavors have been: fresh mint (and I usually HATE mint ice cream) with chocolate chunks made of raw cacao paste, banana Nutella, and tiramisu. If you are a fan of pistachio (my husband is), you will LOVE this one. I have yet to try other enticing flavors such as cake batter, buttered popcorn, and root beer (that one's for Father's Day). 
 Going swimming - another daily activity

Sign up for the summer reading program at the library, and go to special summer programs they offer: Solomon is in the TEEN category for the first time this year. Yikes! Where did time go??!?!? He was just a newborn, like, yesterday. I remember it so clearly. Waaaaaaaaah!

We have already attended several of the special performances, all of which were (as always) great fun.

The one, the only Arizona Rick
Make projects from various incomplete art books: Over the years, we have accumulated a number of books that give step-by-step instructions, with some pre-printed pages and supplies.The older kids really enjoy helping the younger ones with these.

Make watermelon flavor moon sand: I didn't even take a picture of this one. Not sure where in the instructions I went wrong, but it was a complete flop. By the end of it all I had sand that was nothing like moon sand, smelled terrible, and left my hands dyed bright red.

Make pretend-play ice-cream: This one turned out great! All the kids loved playing with this stuff.

 Notice the cherry on top... :)

This little guy quickly figured out that the ice cream was technically edible

Build marshmallow guns: Another popular activity this summer. I showed the boys how to build the first one, and then let them build the guns for all the other kids. We still need to decorate/paint them.

 The girls made up some sort of pole dance with the PVC while the boys were working

 Action shot!

And here is what we still have planned for this summer:

  • have a board game night and popcorn at church
  • go on a camping trip
  • set up the projector in the back yard and watch a movie/docu while floating in the pool after dark
  • put light sticks in the pool and yard and go night swimming
  • set up the terrarium OR hamster cage
  • go to the homeschool convention (we are exhibitors again this year!)
  • visit the Arizona Science Center
  • visit friends in Prescott
  • go hiking at Mt. Humphreys, the highest point in the state of AZ (guys only!)
  • go kayaking at Canyon Lake
  • go to the kids' favorite playground/splash pad super early, have a picnic breakfast there
  • go geocaching
  • light the fire pit, make s'mores
  • have a lemonade stand
  • make marshmallows from scratch
  • build a puzzle as a family here and there over several days
  • have a water balloon and sponge ball fight
  • make cotton candy
  • make personal pizzas
  • see fireworks
  • go bowling
  • go to IKEA
  • have a tug-of-war on stumps
  • freeze an ice block with trinkets for a treasure hunt
  • build a balloon dart board
  • surprise the kids with a donut tree for breakfast
  • throw paint-filled eggs at canvas
  • paint rocks
  • have an indoor bean bag toss
  • build a homemade water park (plastic sheeting, PVC kiddie car wash, 2-liter bottle suspended from a hose)
  • make solar oven s'mores
  • bake pretzels

Plus, we will also be going on a family vacation to Southern California later this summer. The kids all earned tickets to Magic Mountain, and we will be doing some other fun stuff while in the area.

Yay for summer!!!! 


  1. I really love the ideas...Albeit it's winter over where I am, but there are some great indoor activities too to try out. It's just finding the time to do them!!!!! Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day! The work load is huge as a mother. I have problems time managing and prioritising- I've got 3 kids under 3. I have no idea how you do what you do, you are very inspirational.

    1. 3 kids under 3 is much harder than I have it, so hats off to you! My philosophy is that the youngest three are always the most work. Rather than looking at it as adding new babies, we think of it this way: we always have the youngest 3, but as the years go on, we keep having more and more helpers that are out of that stage, and are becoming real assets.

  2. I am loving all of your ideas! Sounds like an eventful summer at the Anderson house! It gives me inspiration! Lol.

  3. Sounds like a fun filled summer! We love Pinterest for all kinds of ideas. I have lost count how many things we have enjoyed because of it.

    We're doing a little school all summer long to make the transition back to full time this fall a little easier, mostly we're doing Life of Fred math, and some creative writing.

  4. My kids used to have ice cream for dinner once (or maybe twice!) a summer. They grew up just fine and fun memories were made. :) It was a big deal and they really looked forward to it!

  5. I am sure the enemies in the gate will be terrified when they see your armed children, tehee ;-)

  6. What lovely, heart-warming, adorable update you just posted. It seriously gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling. You guys deserve all the fun in the world. PS: have you tried lavender and edible citronella ice cream/iced tea/lemonade/punch? By golly, it's the best thing ever. I prefer light and sourish ice creams over thick and creamy ones during summertime, but each to their own. Mint? Most definitely! I cannot recommend lavender enough. For grills/cookouts try out the ginormous amounts of marinades available. Cooking out is fun! Don't forget to serve some good ol' tzatziki, or fresh onion and tomato salad (with balsamic vinegar), all served cold! Good luck with the summer bucket list, too. If you have the urge to whip up something very easy, inexpensive and traditional, "lecso" is your friend ; ) Add about a dozen egg, some smoked meat and it's the most satisfying summer meal ever.

  7. So true that learning never stops, you don't even have to reach them intentionally! Observation and play teaches so much too. We were making pizza dough the other day, and Adam who's nearly 6 asked if we should cover the dough we weren't using with cling wrap so it wouldn't dry out. I asked how he knew to do that, and he said "It's just like my playdough Mummy!"

    What a fun summer you have planned! It's coming into winter here, and my children will only have two weeks off school, but I will definitely try some of the indoor craft ideas, particularly for Lucy, there seems to be nothing that darling girl cannot draw or make!

    Baby Stephen is growing so quickly now too, I almost didn't recognise him. Having a teenager makes you realise how much time has passed doesn't it? Alana will be 14 in October, but I am sure that she was only learning to walk just a few days ago! Even the babies seem to have changed overnight, it cannot have been 7 months since they were born!

    How lucky you are to have a pool. We opted not to install one when we built our house, the upkeep would have been too expensive and time consuming, although I know my children would love for Gil and me to change our minds! Still, our neighbours have a pool, and the children are welcome over at any time to use it, but they'd much prefer one in the backyard!

    I love that you do family jigsaw puzzles, they seem to be a fading art. I admit I forgot about them for some time, until I realised that at 7, Alana had never owned a puzzle! We now have several, and a special tray to complete them on so that the dining table can be used for meals.

    Hope you have a marvellous summer, and enjoy all it brings! Blessings from one big family to another - Annabelle

    1. One of my favorite memories of my grandpa (on my Mom's side) is doing jigsaw puzzles with him whenever we would visit them. We would each pick a puzzle with an equal amount of pieces, and race each other to see who could finish first. He was a wonderful man. I have made a point to purchase the same brand of puzzles (Ravensburger, a German company), just so I can have the kids play with some of the same puzzles as he and I did.

  8. You are Like ten mothers all in one wow!!! I could never manage all that you do, I'm amazed and I think your great.

    1. Thank you! I have my moments, let me assure you! The older kids are also wonderful helpers. Without them, I could not do what I do.

  9. What fun and what a beautiful family you have :) While you are in southern Ca, will your husband be doing any preaching? Teresa

    1. No, for some reason, he does not get invited to preach much at other churches ;)

  10. Hey, as long as you keep making up such awesome lists, I'll just use yours!! :)


    1. For your play ice cream, did you just buy the prepared frosting from the store?

    2. I used ready frosting from the store, just the cheapest kind I found. My choices were based primarily on their colors.

  11. O.K. I want to come to your house for the summer. Tiffany F

    1. You may, if you will help clean the messes! :)

  12. I am a mother of four boys. I noticed your picture at the pool of your little ones. They are super cute. Do your boys always swim with no swim shirts? Besides the UV protection I feel like it would be unfair to speak about modesty to a daughter but not to a son. What are your thoughts?

    God Bless and congrats on the new addition!

    1. I do not think the bible says guys should take off their shirts. I don't let my boys but I don't know if it's that big of deal. Cause if it's not in the bible then we can probly make our own choice.

    2. Yes, like the first person who responded, I do not think it is a sin for boys or men to not be covered on top, or else the Bible would tell us otherwise.

      Like you said, shirts are great for UV protection. When I buy the boys new trunks each summer, I always buy them shirts and flip flops to go with (because the ground here is too hot to walk on in the summer, lol). But they are not always diligent about not misplacing them, and unless we are out of the house, I do not insist on them wearing a shirt. We only ever go swimming first thing in the morning, or after 4 pm, so as to avoid the sun at its worst. They go all summer without using sun block, and never get a sunburn from swimming.

  13. Not too far from Magic Mountain is Fort Tejon State Historic Park. Its a civil war era fort where they have historical re-enactments. Highly recommend!

  14. Not matter how you've chosen to give birth to your children, it's easy to see that they are some of the most healthy, happy and beautiful children I've ever seen. EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.OF.THEM. You're doing a great job and you just have the ignore the crazies out here.

  15. Posts like this make me wish my kids were still little.

    Marshmallow guns are so much fun, we made those one year and the kids had a blast. The other things we used to do in the summer was water balloons (I even found biodegradable ones), sidewalk chalk/paint, bubbles (we had lots of fun trying different items to see what made the best bubbles. Our winner the old green plastic crates that strawberries used to come in - they made hundreds of bubbles).

    Enjoy your summer with your kiddos!

    - Traci

    1. Thank you!

      Speaking of water balloons, have you seen this one? Amazing!!!

  16. Such fun ideas! You are an awesome mom!

  17. I noticed your boys didn't have a swim shirt on. I don't make my boys swim with a shirt on, and I don;t really think it's that big of a deal. I noticed a couple comments on that subject. We are a very modest family, dresses only etc....Am I missing something, should I be concerned about this. I would just sincerely like to know everyones thoughts on this.

    1. No, I do not think that no shirts on boys or men is a sin, since the Bible never says that it is. I do typically have them wear swim shirts and trunks when they are out swimming in public, but not at home. Nor do I think it is wrong if they are seen without a shirt.

  18. The Arizona Texas MamaJuly 28, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    I am also a homeschooling/homebirthing mom, in PHX, with young children expecting #7. I need all the fun indoor projects I can find since as you know it's not possible to outside safely during the summer afternoons w/o water fun. (we don't have a pool but a neighborhood splash pad with a fishing pond & ducks) Plan on doing the toy snack car this week & marshmallow gun for my older boys' birthday in the fall. Will subscribe today. :) God bless!

    1. Hello, nice to "meet" you :) What part of the valley do you live in?

      One of our favorite places in the summer is the Arizona Science Center. It has fun activities for kids of all ages, they have great air conditioning, and the exhibits are always changing.

  19. What an amazing family. You are both an inspiration to all. Those beautiful children. If only all children were brought up like yours are, what an amazing world it would be. Just one question? Is the little blond boy who sits in the front row of nearly all your sermons I have seen one of yours. I love him,he is so great to watch. Love your preaching especially on Revelations. God bless you all, Dawn & Brian Stead

  20. Hello! I'm a new reader of your blog, and just can't stop flipping through the posts! I'm sure you get that often! ;) Anyway, I have 4 children and my husband and I come from split families that are somewhat "dysfunctional" (we won't go into all that ha) people think that since I stay home and homeschool it's an open house to come see us whenever! I have tried to explain we have a schedule and routine, but they don't seem to care. I get drop ins and or crying grandmas because They can't see their grandkids whenever they please. Have you ever had a similar struggle? How do you control the visitors and the daily demands of others? I want to be gracious and let them in, but it's getting out of hand! It seems to be whatever works for them!! The kids get wild (they are 7, 6, 5 and 1) and the disruption ruins the whole day almost. If you could
    Lead me to a link if you have addressed this that would be awesome! Or, maybe this can inspire a blog post?!? ;) Okay, I'm going back to flipping through your blog and taking notes! You are remarkable! Thanks for sharing so much for us all to be encouraged daily!


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