Category Archives: Summer

Think about your parents for a minute. Are there some phrases or things they said to you or your siblings repeatedly? When I think about my mom and dad, here are a few of the things that stand out to me:

“Dang, Tina!” – A cross between “Dang, Gina” from the sitcom Martin and Tina the llama from Napoleon Dynamite.

“You’re killing me, James” – my mom mistakenly quoting Sandlot

“I love a challenge” – my mom anytime my siblings or I said we weren’t doing something she told us to do.

Well, now thanks to my mom, Kora loves a challenge too.  It all started a couple of weeks ago when we went to visit the grandparents.  Kora and two of her cousins were playing in the yard with my mom.  She started giving them challenges that they needed to complete:

  • Run and touch three trees and come back
  • Run and touch something red and come back
  • Sit in two different chairs and come back

I was completely surprised by how much the kids enjoyed these challenges – they were begging for more.  It’s always the simplest things that the kids seem to love most. (My mom always joked that as kids we would always compliment her more on her dinners of macaroni and cheese with BBQ hot dogs than on meals where she would slave away in the kitchen.)

The next day, while playing inside, Kora and her cousins asked for some more challenges. I will admit that some of the challenges were legitimate and some of the challenges were used to help clean up the toy area a little – ‘I challenge you to find three blue toys and put them on the shelf’.  I did challenge the five year old to find a toy shaped like a triangle.  He searched for a little while and then he found a toy fence that he shaped into a triangle – clever little guy!

Since our visit, Kora has continued to ask me for challenges.  Anywhere we go, she wants a challenge. We went to a splash pad with some friends one day, and I think she got one of her friends hooked on challenges. They had so much fun filling a bucket and dumping it on their heads and getting splashed by three different sprayers.

We’ve done challenges at the park and challenges at the mall.  Here’s Kora trying to make a tower of checkers:


Completing challenges is one of those activities that I absolutely love.  It can be done anywhere, you just adapt the challenge to your environment.  It can also be played with any number of people and any age range can be challenged.  The challenges can also be used as a learning tool.  The challenges can ask kids to find a certain number of items (counting) or to find certain shapes, colors, letters, etc.  Outdoor challenges are a great way for kids to get exercise as well as improve coordination and balance.

I challenge you to use Challenges with your kid this week. But fair warning: they might get addicted!  I’d love to hear how you used challenges with your family.





“Rain rain go away! Come again some other day!”

The last day of our beach vacation just got cut short due to the rain. There was so much rain in fact that I got a flash flood warning alert on my phone. 

Anytime I’ve ever received one of these alerts I’ve usually shrugged it off because I’m somewhere indoors with no plans of getting on the road. Today was different however. 
Within ten minutes of getting the alert, my five year old nephew looks out the window and says to my mom, “Nannie, your car is half way up with water!”  

What!?! We look out the window and found that water was covering the road and rising. The water level had almost reached the bottom of the car doors!
My dad ran outside to move the car and quickly became drenched – the water was higher than the tops of his boots! Of course since this was our last day, all of his other (dry) clothes were already packed and loaded into the car. 
Other than the rain, our beach getaway was a real success. The kids had a blast digging in the sand and hopping over waves. 

We enjoyed watching the animatronic animals and we devoured a yummy Volcano Cake at The Rainforest Cafe. 

We even got to celebrate the graduation of one of the big cousins!  

On the afternoon of the annual sand castle competition, people were being turned away from the beach so we didn’t get to see the sand castles. We planned to go the next day to see them, but then it rained. There’s no way the sand castles survived all that rain. I guess we’ll just have to do this whole beach weekend vacation again next year!

In my Birthday Resolutions post a couple of weeks ago I wrote about wanting to go camping more often.  After this weekend, I can proudly say that I have my first camping trip under my belt!

My husband, his sister, and his dad planned a camping trip for all of our families for this past weekend.  We all met at the campground for a weekend of family fun.  And let me tell you, we had fun! My girls had a blast run around the campsite playing with their cousins and grandparents.

Saturday morning was spent down at the beach – the adults lounging in the shade and the kids splashing in the water and digging in the sand. (Well, except me and the baby.  We stayed back at the camper so she could take her morning nap.  With all the peace and quite, I ended up taking a little siesta too!)   By the time I finally made it down to the beach, it was almost time for everyone to head back for a little rest from the sun.  I hate that I missed most of the fun in the sun, but my nap may have been worth it!


One of my favorite parts about camping came Saturday night – Burgers by Thomas! I may be a little bit biased, but I happen to think that my husband makes the best hamburgers.  (Don’t tell him I said this, because I don’t want to give him any ideas, one of these days I think he’ll decide to open up a burger joint!)  My husband usually does all the cooking when we go camping which I think is just fantastic.  I always enjoy food more when it is prepared by someone else!

Sunday morning we explored the Nature Center which had some interesting hands on exhibits for the kids.  Kora loved the fish and hermit crab tanks.  There was a bird spotting scope that we used to look at pelicans and boats off in the distance.  While some of the other adults were pouring themselves a cup of courtesy coffee in the sitting area, Kora and I ran across the parking lot to catch a Pokemon we hadn’t caught yet!

This was our first time to visit this particular campground, and I doubt it will be our last.  I was very happy with the facilities and its proximity to the beach.  They even have several events scheduled throughout the summer, so we made sure to grab their calendar of events for any future plans.  We had a so much fun camping this weekend, I’m ready to plan our next trip! Comment below and let me know how you like to have fun while camping.




The girls and I were at the store browsing the craft aisle when I found some cool animal stencils. I immediately thought that these stencils would be perfect for Sponge Painting. I got really excited when I remembered that Kora had a plain white t-shirt in her closet that we could could paint. I showed Kora the animal stencils and asked if she wanted to paint a monkey shirt when we got home. Nope. She wanted a giraffe shirt. We bought the stencils and some yellow and orange fabric paint and went home to paint a giraffe shirt. 
At home as I was getting our supplies ready I asked Kora if she was ready to paint her giraffe shirt. Nope. She wanted a monkey shirt. ¡Ay caramba!
I made sure to tape the stencil in place so it wouldn’t shift as Kora painted. (I ended up convincing her to paint the giraffe!)

With the stencil in place, all Kora needed now was the paint and a small square piece of sponge. I showed her how to dip her sponge in the paint and then dab it onto the giraffe. 

She liked to dip the sponge in the yellow paint and then into the orange before pressing it onto the shirt. The mixing of the colors made the giraffe look really cool. 

I love how Kora’s shirt turned out so much I may have to go buy her (and Lila) some more white shirts to paint! We will also use the stencils to paint on paper. Kora would love if we got some butcher paper and painted a big zoo scene. I see a lot of Sponge Painting in our future!

It’s summertime and we’re on vacation in Florida. We’re going to go to the beach! 

 Our boat is docked in a nearby marina so we just have a few minute walk to get to the beach. Taking two little ones to the beach requires a lot of stuff – pop-up cabana for shade, sand toys, towels, snacks, sunscreen, diapers, puddle jumper, and baby powder. (We use baby powder to help get the sand off our bodies. It works wonders!) We had so much beach gear loaded into our wagon that only Kora could fit inside – I had to carry Lila!

The surf at Pensacola Beach was a little stronger than Kora has experienced so she got a little scared after a wave knocked her down. Once her dad carried her past the breaking waves and into deeper water she was much happier. Using her Puddle Jumper (I can’t tell you enough how much I love this flotation device), she was able to float around riding the waves. She and her dad splashed around having a great time!

She came to shore after playing in the water a while with the intentions of getting me in the water – I was in the shade nursing Lila. But she got distracted by a sea gull. She started chasing it under the lifeguard stand and across the beach. 

With all the swimming and running she was doing it was time for a rest break. Kora sat down in the shade with her sand toys and started digging. She had so much fun playing in the sand. 

Using her tractor and her shovels, Kora made a sandcastle. I wanted to show her how to make a castle using a bucket of packed sand but she wasn’t having it. Little Miss Independent wanted to do it herself. She moved sand around for a while and then stood up and proudly shouted “Ta Da!”

Kora took a short break from playing in the sand to give Lila some sandy snuggles. These two girls love each other so much! Lila lights up so much when her big sister comes around to play with her. 

Once Kora had had enough baby kisses she went straight back to playing on the sand. But this little girl is sneaky – she took Lila’s toy keys with her! She started burying them so she could dig up treasure! She thought it was funny to bury them and then ask me where they were.

Before going back in the water we had to reapply sunscreen. Naturally Kora insisted on doing it herself!

After playing all morning and into the afternoon, it was time to go back to the boat for a nap. Kora was having so much fun that she didn’t want to leave. Shocking, I know. Even at such a young age, Kora knows that there’s nothing better than a fun filled day at the beach!

Any activity that involves water is sure to be a big hit with Kora. It doesn’t matter if it’s jumping in puddles or even splashing in her cousins’ dog’s water bowl, if Kora gets to play in water, she’s a happy little girl. 

For our Water Pour I gathered a big tub of water, some bowls, a colander, measuring cups, different sizes ladles and a pan and spoon from a toy kitchen set.

We took all our supplies outside to play on the porch. When we got outside I noticed a large spider with an egg sac. Of course we had to have a mini science lesson. Kora loved that the egg sac looked like a ball!

 After learning about spiders, Kora was ready to play. She grabbed the colander and a ladle and started scooping water. She never noticed that the water was draining from the colander onto the porch. 

I finally pointed out the holes of the colander and showed her how the water drains. She had to give it a try herself. 

She poured water from one ladle to another, from a ladle to a measuring cup and from a measuring cup to a bowl. She even used cups to pour water into the flowerbeds for the plants. As she scooped and poured, I squeezed in little learning moments: Which ladle is bigger? Did the spoon sink or float? What’s inside the spider’s eggs?

Kora was having a lot of fun but she must have wanted to have more fun because as is the Kora Way, she stepped it up a notch. She asked to get in the bucket! I stripped her down and let her crawl inside the bucket. 

Obviously she didn’t have much room to play, but that didn’t stop her. She had a blast! She was spinning around, splashing, and blowing bubbles. Everyone deserves to have as much fun as she was having! 

Water Pour is a fun activity that Kora can do over and over without getting bored. I just have to simply change up the tools used and it’s like a new game. We will definitely be doing this again soon!

With the mercury rising, a trip to the splash pad was just what the doctor ordered! Park dates and playgrounds are great fun, but sometimes it’s just too​ hot.

Our splash pad is nothing fancy – a couple of overhead buckets that fill and spill and a series of fountains that form a circle around the buckets. What I love about it is that the water doesn’t immediately drain away. The ground is ever so slightly curved so it holds just enough water to splash around in. 

The fill and spill buckets are a little too much for Kora’s liking – she just avoided the very center of the circle. In fact, I think she probably ran twenty laps around the circumference of the splash pad!

I thought she’d play with the fountains more than she did. She was content splashing with the water that was collected on the ground. Recently Kora has started jumping up and plopping down on her bottom. So of course she was doing that in the water!

At one point she laid down to play with a toy, and I thought for a minute she was going to take a nap!  

After a hour of solid splashing, Kora started to become more interested in the cement walls of the nearby raised flowerbeds. I took this as a sign she was ready up go home. I took off her bathing suit to start changing her into dry clothes, and she took off in just her swim diaper. She was ready for round two! Again, she ran the circumference of the splash pad!

By the time we left the splash pad my little chicken was exhausted – all that splishing and splashing wore her out! We will definitely be returning many times throughout the summer!