Summer is almost upon us! For this stay at home mom that means a drastic change in my work load. Gone will be the days of just my daughter and I having quiet, polite, sparkly girly time together. My two school aged boys will be back to crashing around under our roof all day long…and I’m excited about it! It feels like I hardly ever see them during the school year. So, while it definitely changes the dynamic, I love spending more time with them during the summer!

READ MORE: A Mother’s Summer Bucket List

One thing I don’t love about summer is scheduling summer activities. It’s like an advanced military operation getting it all planned out. First, they have to decide which activities they want to do. Then we have to whittle that list down from 593 to a manageable two or three per child. Here’s what we’ve collectively narrowed it down to this summer:

Piano Lessons
Tennis
Swim Lessons Level 1
Football Camp
Junior Golf League
Summer Dance
Swim Lessons Level 2
Basketball Camp
Flag Football
Swim Lessons Level 3

Seems manageable, right? Until you have to make it work on your calendar. It’s like a high stakes game of Tetris. Ensuring that all the pieces fit together seamlessly, that we don’t stack pieces too high on any one day.  Organizing each activity so that no drop-off or pick-up times overlap.  Then I have to make sure that we have at least a hand full of open days in the summer for being lazy, and making our own adventures (just us). It literally takes a spreadsheet system. (And lets not even discuss the $$$ it all costs us. That’s another blog post for another time.)

READ MORE: 20 Activities To Keep Your Kids Occupied This Summer

I used to be that mom who said I would never over schedule my kids. But that was back when I thought I knew everything. Back when they were wee babes who took naps for several hours each day. When they were content just to make homemade play-doh and dance in the kitchen with me all day long. Having big kids changes everything. I hope I’m doing this right…

This post was originally featured on Marie’s blog, Make Your Own Damn Dinner.

I am often reminded about the many luxuries 21st century moms have that make our lives easier than the lives of our mothers and grandmothers.

Like, for instance, my mother did not have a baby monitor — not even one with JUST sound. A video monitor?! Not even fathomable. Also, and this one floors me, she did not have the luxury of baby wipes! What on earth did she use to wipe our butts? (Never mind our hands, faces, arms, church clothes, spills in the car…) I sort of don’t want to know what she used / how she wiped our butts though, so let’s move on.

Despite the fact that mommies of today have mini-vans with back-up cameras and doors that open automatically, what’s inside those vans proves my next point. Although mommies of today have it a lot easier, things are a hell of a lot more complicated for us as well. Check out our car seats! They weigh 30 lbs, require a 2 hour training course on installation, and our kids need to be in them pretty much until they are in the driver’s seat themselves. Compared to the 1980s… you know the scene: rolling around in the “way back” of the station wagon. Not buckled. Certainly NOT in a car seat unless you were a baby. Or you were in the front seat, where you were allowed to fiddle with the radio. (MAYBE your car had a cassette player. Fancy!)
Lives of mommies of decades past were harder, but they were also simpler. This has never been more apparent to me than in the past week as I finally began the arduous process of deciding on summer camps. Holy crap! People! Seriously with the summer camps?!
Growing up, we went to summer camp. It was free. It was called: Go outside and play. Come back when hungry. Full? Good. Go back outside and play. And repeat.
Now don’t get me wrong, as a mom, I am a fan of the summer camp. The idea of having a place to park my kids for a few hours every day for a week… sounds marvelous. So let’s do this. I start with my town’s Parks and Recreation camp catalogue. I am instantly overwhelmed. There are, of course, baseball camps, soccer camps, arts and crafts camps, and even the dreaded dodgeball camp. However, did you know that there are also camps like these?
Fencing Camp (like, the sport of fencing)
Tree Climbing Camp
Jedi Stunt Training Camp
Frozen Princess Camp
Taylor Swift Music Camp
Video Game Camp
Fiesta! Camp (a.k.a. foreign language camp)
I mean, are you kidding??!! Tree climbing CAMP?!
Also, as I quickly learned, there are camps through my town’s Parks and Rec department. There are also camps available to me through the neighboring 5 towns’ Parks and Rec departments. And finally, and this is the fattest catalogue of them all, our entire county has its OWN Parks and Rec camps. And those are JUST those run through all of the Parks and Rec departments! It seems there are also 2,523 privately run camps within a 30 mile radius of my house.
I spent more time than I will admit agonizing over which camp to put my children in. My 5-year old son is ready for a camp, but my 3-year old daughter — let’s be honest — is only doing one because her brother and friends are. When my son was 3, we never considered camp because he was our oldest, only 3, and still peeing his pants pretty regularly. Well now she is 3… and is also still peeing HER pants pretty regularly.  Nevertheless, summer camp, here we come!
As I nostalgically think of my simple, happy, carefree childhood, I like to think of what summer camps for girls would have looked like in the 80s. Here is my list:
Jem and the MisFits Camp
Rainbow Brite Camp
Punky Brewster Camp
Proper French-rolling of Pants Camp
Hair Crimping Camp
Cabbage Patch Dolls Camp
Hungry Hungry Hippos Camp
I would have kicked ass at French-rolling of Pants Camp.

This post was originally featured on Karen’s blog, 21st Centry SAHM. Photo via

Today when I was broadening my horizons about the world around me, otherwise known as browsing Facebook, I noticed one of my online friends posted a Summertime Bucket list.

Have you ever seen one of these? They’re a list of ideas to spark a summer full of enjoyment and learning.

They can be as ambitious as a trip abroad, as fun as a day at the zoo, or as simple as a campout in the backyard. Maybe there’s a series of books you would like to read as a family. You could try every flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins or Ben & Jerry’s. The goals’ budget and scope are less important than getting your family to set goals for the summer and accomplish each one.

I love this idea, and each summer I vow that this will be the year that our family makes a list. I even have fantasies about laminating it and putting it on the fridge. Maybe even getting some big gold stars to put next to each activity we complete.

But I also have been thinking of a different kind of bucket list. The sort of list that only a mom could really appreciate. This is mine:

A Mother’s Summer Bucket List:

Organize and color coordinate every family member’s closet, with children not only willingly helping but serenading you with traditional folk songs.

Get the family to weed flower beds without having to raise your voice, bribe them with puppies, or threaten to cut off all use of YouTube and Instagram

Hear the kids say, “Mom,relax and read a book. We’ll put sunblock on each other. (Extra star if this happens and no sibling injuries occur.)

Have 24 hours go by without saying, “For the love of all that is good and holy please don’t (fill in the blank) again.

Never having to say, “No I don’t think it’s a good idea that you built a swimming pool in the front yard.”

Go a whole week without having to hear one of your darlings say, “I’m bored,” “I don’t want to,” or “But he likes it.”

Spend a rainy day at the movies. See the whole movie without anyone throwing up or needing 10 bathroom breaks. Extra star if we leave the theater with more popcorn in our stomachs than on the floor.

Buy and/or make everybody’s Christmas gift. When Christmas comes around, remember where you put the gifts.

Make a whole dinner from the vegetables and herbs you grew in your garden. Extra star if anyone other than you eats it.

When packing everyone’s suitcase for vacation, remember to pack underwear.

When you take the five-hour car trip to your vacation destination, ban all use of iPhones, iPads, Kindles, and other electronic devices so your children can actually spend quality time together bonding, just like you did as a kid.

After 30 minutes of said “bonding,” pull the car over and get everyone’s electronic devices from the trunk and beg them to play a game, any game. Take two Extra Strength Excedrin, and remember there was a reason your parents always looked so tired after those “great” car trips of your youth.

Each time you want to wish the summer away, remind yourself that it goes by all too fast, and one day you will miss every gray-hair-inducing minute of your kids’ childhood.

This post was originally featured on Kathy’s blog, My Dishwasher’s Possessed.

The best part about summer is that your kids’ bedtimes happen while it’s still light out, letting you kick back on the porch with a drink in your hand while you watch the sunset.

That is, until someone decides to get up to ask you for a glass of water and your moment is over. Oh well… if the cocktail is good enough, it’s all worth it! Here are our 5 favorite summer cocktails to keep you going!

Blue Hawaiian With Coconut Rum Soaked Pineapple

Ingredients
1 fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces
16 ounces of coconut rum
Bottle of Blue Curacao
Larger can of DOLE pineapple juice
Coconut Rum, that is now infused with pineapple
Ice
Pitcher

Directions

After cutting up your fresh pineapple, place the pieces into a large bowl and pour 16 ounces of coconut rum over top. Seal bowl with either a lid or foil and refrigerate as long as possible; preferably overnight. Keep this in mind—the longer it soaks, the more rum-soaked the pineapple becomes :) The next day, just before your gathering, strain pineapple over a container and reserve the rum. You will need it!

Now this recipe will be done to taste, as you may not have the same amount of coconut rum left that I had. So, in a chilled pitcher, add ice, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and blue curacao. It will be very similar to a Blue Hawaiian, but again, made to taste. If you’d prefer a frozen drink, simply add all ingredients to a blender and pulse until slushy.

Next, impress your guests by presenting them with the coconut rum soaked pineapple as an appetizer or dessert, and the cocktail you have made from infusing coconut rum with pineapple. I guarantee they will be singing songs of praise to you. And if they don’t? You probably need to consider getting new friends ;)

Pineapple Mimosa

Liven up brunch with a refreshing mix on a classic.

Ingredients
1/4 cup DOLE Pineapple Juice, chilled
1/4 cup pink sanding sugar
1 bottle (750-ml) sparkling apple cider or champagne
1/4 cup orange juice

Directions
Step 1: Dip rims of champagne flutes or other glasses in water. Dip again into sanding sugar.
Step 2: Divide sparkling cider (or champagne), pineapple juice and orange juice between 4 glasses.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - Pineapple Mojito
(via)

Pineapple Mojito

Ingredients

4 oz pineapple rum*
4 oz DOLE pineapple juice
8 lime wedges
20+ pineapple mint or regular mint leaves
2 oz mojito mix
club soda

Directions
Lightly muddle lime wedges and pineapple mint leaves in 2 hurricane glasses (because they’re fancy) and fill with ice. In a cocktail shaker, shake rum, pineapple juice and mojito mix with ice and strain into glasses. Top with a couple of splashes of club soda, add a straw and gently stir. Garnish with a lime wedge, pineapple chunk, or mint leaf.

White Sangria

This lightly sweet, fruity punch makes white wine pretty for the party.

Ingredients
8 cups DOLE Pineapple Juice, chilled
2 cups fruity white wine, chilled
1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur
1/4 cup sugar
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
2 cups DOLE frozen sliced strawberries, partially thawed
ice cubes (as needed)

Directions
Combine all ingredients except ice in punch bowl or pitcher. Serve over ice.

Piña Colada
Experience paradise with this perfect poolside companion.

Ingredients
1/2 cup DOLE Pineapple Juice
1/4 cup cream of coconut
2 cups of crushed ice
3 oz rum

Directions
Step 1: Combine pineapple juice, rum, coconut and ice in blender. Cover; blend until smooth.
Step 2: Garnish with pineapple leaf and pineapple slice, if desired.

* Brought to you by Dole.
For more delicious ways to incorporate pineapple juice into your recipes as well as summer party tips and more, visit Dole.com/Sunshine.

Last summer consisted of the sprinkler and little pools every afternoon with lots of summertime activities in between. With all of the kids another year older, I’m able to plan some (hopefully) super fun activities that they can all enjoy. Here’s some ideas of what we’ll be doing throughout the summer:

1.) Kool Aid painting: We will be trying this several different ways because it just smells soooo wonderful and the kids love painting with it!

2.) Bubbles: Any kind of bubbles are simply amazing to a kid. I really like the Crayola bubbles, although those seem to be extra sticky. Other parents have complained of those bubbles staining decks, patios, fingers, and clothes, but we have not had that issue.

3.) Sprinkler: We have several different sprinklers (one being the giant Little Tikes ball sprinkler). I switch them every day to give the kids something different to run through. On super hot days, I turn them on while they run around the backyard to keep them from getting too hot.

4.) Little pools: We have several different sizes and shapes so there’s plenty of room for all. One of their favorite things last summer was having the sprinkler on while they played in the pools.

5.) Slip n’ slide: I’ll be purchasing a triple slip n’ slide so the kids can have races.

6.) Field Day: Remember field days from your grade school days?? Something along those lines will happen in our backyard. I’m envisioning a day of races and toss games.

7.) Space Day: I’ll be collecting big cardboard boxes and let the kids decorate their “space shuttles” in the yard and an afternoon of playing space.

8.) Making smoothies: We love fresh fruit to help rehydrate during the hot summer days. I plan on having the kids help me make batches of smoothies that can be enjoyed throughout the hot summer days while they run around the yard.

9.) Stomp rockets: The kids are getting one for Easter and also a dueling stomp rocket.

10.) Pop bottle rockets: Ideally, I’d like the older kids to help the younger kids make their own and then we’ll test them out.

11.) Fly swatter painting: We did this last year with butterfly and flower shaped fly swatters. They turned out really neat once we figured out the key to making them come out was LOTS of paint.

12.) Squirt gun painting: Our first go at it didn’t go too smoothly so we’ll be trying it again with super soakers.

13.) Ball pit: See last week’s post to see what the kids came up with for the ball pit.

14.) Bug catching: Target Dollar Section has some simple bug catching nets and I found bug collectors at Wal-Mart, all purchased for under $10.

15.) Growing flowers.

16.) Planting veggies.

17.) Kickball.

18.) Hide n’ seek: Nothing better than a bigger hiding area like the backyard–and lots of good hiding places too.

19.) Backyard picnic.

20.) Making mud pies.

21.) Mud painting

22.) Weather books: Spring/summer is a great time to read the kids books on the weather. I found this really helps when there’s thunder and lightening or when we have to go to the basement (which has happened before).

23.) Sparklers for the 4th of July.

24.) Grow animals: Last year we did grow snakes in the little swimming pool. Not only did the snake grow to be HUGE, but the kids enjoyed it even more when they pretended to swim with the snake.

25.) Outside storytime.

26.) Building blocks outside: I have several sets of large cardboard building boxes that I’ll let them take in the backyard for an extra large playing area.

27.) Shaving cream slide.

28.) Painting bird houses.

29.) Bounce house.

30.) Bounce house with the ball pit balls.

31.) Side walk chalk games: think hopscotch and tic tac toe.

32.) Mower Races: using the Little Tikes mowers.

33.) Water table: so many options with this one.

34.) Water table car wash: The kids loved “washing” hot wheels in the water table. See here.

35.) Outside toy wash.

36.) Coloring a white sheet with fabric markers. This will become our official outside picnic blanket (that is if it turns out okay).

37.) Spray bottle painting.

38.) Lemonade stand: I plan on having the kids make a lemonade stand out of cardboard boxes and then “sell” each other lemonade.

39.) Play with the parachute.

40.) Make root beer floats and have a movie day. Perfect for rainy days or too hot for outside days.

41.) Beach themed sensory bin.

42.) Feed the birds: The kids love to throw pieces of bread in our front yard and watch the birds nibble on it throughout the day.

43.) Painting rocks: I have seen a few ideas on Pinterst, such as people warm rocks up in the microwave and then have the kids color on them (the crayons melt as they color), but I think I’ll just have the kids paint a rock from our rock bed.

44.) Scavenger hunt: I’ll make an easy enough “find this” list that hopefully all of the kids will be able to do. Otherwise, the older kids can help out the younger kids.

45.) Ice fossils: Freeze small figurines in water in ice tube trays. Once frozen and taken out of the ice cube trays, give the kids tools (we used the toys tools last year and it worked great) to chip away at the ice as it melts to free the frozen toy.

46.) Bubble wrap painting.

47.) Experiment day. I bought a few science kits that we’ll give a try. We got our oldest a Kitchen Science kit for Christmas and we’re happy with it. A big bonus: most of the kits are friendly enough for all ages.

48.) Bird watching: The kids are making their own binoculars (made from toilet paper rolls taped together). I also have this book on order from Amazon so they can identify the birds they see.

49.) Bubble painting: We’ve used Crayola bubbles and regular bubbles (with food coloring added) and both work great. We’ve tried painting with paint brushes and blowing them and letting them pop on paper. Both ways have turned out pretty neat.

50.) Going for walks around the neighborhood: The biggest benefit to this time of year is that there’s always construction going on somewhere in our neighborhood. Nothing delights toddlers more than seeing the construction in action.

51.) Nature collage: On one of our walks or in the yard, collecting leaves, sticks, grass, rocks, etc. and make a collage using contact paper (easy sticking for all ages of kids). Have kids compare our summer nature collage to our fall collage.

52.) Decorate t-shirts using Fabric markers.

53.) Daycare memory book: I take TONS of pictures daily. Towards the end of summer, I’ll print pictures out and the kids can make their own summer memory book to take home. I’ll also make a large daycare memory book to keep on the side table so the kids can look at them throughout the years.

54.) Water balloon painting: Not sure how it will work out, but it’s a must try.

55.) Backyard Farmer’s Market: Set up a pretend farmer’s market for the kids. Complete the pretend play fun with a fresh veggies and fruits sensory snack.

56.) Swimming pool fishing: Using something like this, have the kids take turns “fishing.”

57.) Play in the rain: Hopefully we’ll get a simple rain (minus the thunder and lightening) that allows the kids to throw on swimming suits and dance in the rain.

58.) Make your own popsicles: I did this last year using fresh fruit and juice.

59.) Make your own bubbles: I found a few different recipes we’ll give a try throughout the summer.

60.) Patio mural: Let the kids go crazy painting the patio, probably numerous times over the summer. Use Kool Aid paint so it smells delicious.

61.) Ice Painting: Freeze paint in ice cube trays. The kids paint with them as they melt.

62.) Shaving cream body paint: The wonderful thing about summer is that when the kids get dirty, you can just hose them off before they come inside.

63.) Math games for all ages. I purchased this toy from Amazon. I see so many possibilities with this–learning numbers, adding and subtracting games, putting numbers together, etc.

64.) Camping Day: Set up a tent, sleeping bags, etc. in the backyard and let the kids pretend to go camping for a day.

65.) Sea life pool day: All of the sea life figurines will be making an appearance in the little pools and the kids will get to “swim” with the sea life.

66.) Jump ropes and hula hoops: So simple but I can think of a few kids who will have a blast mastering these two this summer…….I can also see the jump rope being used as a weapon.

67.) Build a box fort: Inside or outside, kids love this activity. Also, let them decorate the boxes for an added bonus.

68.) Face painting.

69.) Make candy necklaces.

70.) Silly string:I think the backyard would be a much better place than my living room to experience the greatness of silly string.

71.) Alphabet dig in the sandbox: Use foam letters and bury them in the sand. Have the kids dig them up and then put them in order. For older kids, have them make words with the letters they find.

Now for one things we will NOT be doing this summer: Shaving Cream Painting. Last summer I had the kids paint with “Freezy Paints” (halfway frozen shaving cream). Total blast to paint with, but what the Pinterest post failed to mention is that shaving cream stains cement. For real. Never doing this activity again.

Hopefully this list will come in handy for those days when the word “bored” begins to find it’s way into your children’s summertime vocabulary.

This post was originally featured on Ashlen’s blog, Kidspert. Photo via.

Cleanse, rinse, repeat, pat dry….starting out fresh is the reason why!

Here’s my personal skin care routine:

DAY:

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - Day and Night Skincare Routine

1. Murad Refreshing Cleanser 
I’ve been washing my face with this cleanser for over 25 years. It’s light and slightly sudsy.
2. Chanel Hydra Beauty Serum
A couple of pumps of this luxurious serum feels light, smells great and keeps my skin feeling hydrated
3. Dr Hauschka Revitalizing Day Cream 
A botanical lightweight moisturizer – smells good, feels good.
4. Cle de Peau Anti Rides Eye Baume 
My favorite eye cream. I use it with the concealer to wake up under eyes.
5. La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid spf 60.
This one is so light weight, it’s perfect under make up.

NIGHT:

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - Day and Night Skincare Routine

Face:
1. Murad Refreshing Cleanser, Murad AHA BHA Cleanser
At night I wash twice…first to break down make up and other impurities from being out in the day, second to lightly exfoliate.
2. NeriumAD Anti Aging Night Cream 
The results of this night time treatment are undeniable.
3. Smith’s Rosebud Salve
On my lips and cuticles for overnight protection from dryness.

Body:
4. I think the best treatment cream is Nerium Firm to smooth and tighten.
5. For a custom scented body lotion that sparkles I love Bath Bar Make me a Star Body Lotion. My favorite scent is neroli mixed with lemon. There are countless choices!