Tips & Inspiration for Creating a Summer Fun List

Tips & Inspiration for Creating a Summer Fun List

It is already the middle of June, but it isn’t too late to write a Summer Fun List. I’ve made a summer fun list for 3 years and I find that it helps me to stay intentional throughout the summer. It keeps me focused on enjoying and celebrating summer.

5 tips for writing your own summer fun list:

1) When creating your list, think big and colorful! Put the chart in a place where the whole family can see it.

2) I like to brainstorm a long list on a separate sheet of paper before writing it all down on my official summer fun list. That way I can space things out nicely.

3) Don’t ask for you kids for input on the list unless they are able to share realistic ideas. You don’t want a list full of things things you can’t afford to do.

4) If you are having trouble filling up your list, write down repeat activities multiple times. One summer we registered for a recurring storytime at the library and I wrote it down each time so we would have more things to cross off.

5) Leave some room at the bottom of your list for extra ideas you come up with throughout the summer or if grandparents surprise you with fun activities.

6) Save your lists from year to year to help you easily remember what to put on your list each year.

Brainstorming Prompts:

The Big Things - Vacation, camp, bible school, etc.  Don’t forget about the extra special things that you plan to do on vacation.  Those can all be listed separately.

Special Occasions and Events - Are there any summer birthdays in your house? Do you do something special to celebrate July 4th?

Free Community Events - Parades, free concerts, story time at the library, etc.

Crafts - Search Pinterest for some extra special crafts to do with your kids.  Check out my Kool for Kiddos board for some inspiration.

The Little Things - I always include the small thing that we do on a regular basis.  Having bubbles, sandbox, and sidewalk chalk on the list helps us celebrate even the simplest parts of summer.

Active Things - swimming, bike rides, sports, etc.

Food - This just might be my favorite part! I always write down all the different ice cream shops we can visit, s’mores, and picnics.

The New Things - It is smart to have a realistic list so you aren’t met with disappointment at the end of the season, but it is still fun to try new things.  Try to think of a few things you or your little ones have never done before that you can add to the list.

Tips & Inspiration for Creating a Summer Fun List

List Inspiration:

My First Summer Fun List From 2011

How to Make a Sprinkler Out of a Pop Bottle

Summer Reading Programs

“Dress Like a Cow Day” at Chick-fil-A

Water Play Toys That Don’t Cost a Thing

Visit a Farm

Paint Just for the Sake of Painting

Finger Paint

The Best Sidewalk Chalk

Melted Crayon Art

Make a T-Shirt Necklace

Have you ever created a Summer Fun List? What is the most unique thing you write on your list?

Posted in Parenthood, Tips | Leave a comment

Babies Don’t Keep: A Benediction to Weaning Moms

Babies Don't Keep: A Benediction to Weaning Moms - If you are sad about weaning from breastfeeding, this is for you!

When talking about weaning from breastfeeding there is a fine balance between being supportive and encouraging someone to wean their child too soon.  Yet, no one nurses forever.  There always has to be an end and sometimes that can be hard.

Some moms may mourn the loss of their beautiful, intimate, nursing relationship that they had with their children.  This post is for those moms.  Those moms who are sad.  Those moms who cry at the thought of weaning.  Those moms who are just like me.

My Weaning from Breastfeeding Story

I weaned both of my children around the age of two.  Despite my struggles with extended breastfeeding and even my feelings of embarrassment, weaning my children rocked me to the core.  The wind was nearly knocked out of me the first night that I laid them down in their beds without nursing.  My children aren’t babies anymore and it grieves me.

Noah officially weaned last month.  Mother’s Day was one of the very last times that he nursed.  Now I am “free” as some might say.  I have been pregnant, breastfeeding, or both since January 2009.  It is 5.5 years later and I have my body back for the very first time.  Some probably see that as a reason to celebrate, but I just feel sad.

Will I ever have another baby?  Will I ever breastfeed again?  Is this baby stage of life truly over?  I honestly don’t know.  I don’t want to breastfeed forever, but I can hardly fathom that I’ll never do it again.

Babies Don't Keep A Benediction to Weaning Moms - If you are sad about weaning from breastfeeding, this post is for you!

A Benediction to Weaning Moms

So many milestones are things that we celebrate.  First steps, first words, and sleeping through the night are all reasons to rejoice.  They are signs our babies are growing up, but we gloss over the sadness.

Yet weaning?  Weaning from breastfeeding is a punch in the gut.

Babies don’t keep.

The squishy thighs and chubby cheeks are disappearing.  The swaddled blankets, pacifiers, newborn smell, and precious babbles are behind us.  And we mourn.

But mamas, let us rejoice in the awe of our bodies!  You created life, brought that precious life into this world, and then helped their little body grow – all with your own body.  You are amazing.  You are magical.  You are a mom.

You nursed when they were hungry.  You nursed when they were tired.  You nursed when they were sick.  You nursed when they were bored.  You nursed when they simply needed you.

In the middle of the night, in the middle of the day…

In your bed, in your car, in your living room, at the park…

When it wasn’t convenient, when you didn’t have the time, when you wanted to say no…

You nursed.

No one else has shared these intimate moments with your child.  No one else gets the “milk drunk” smiles or wipes away the drips on their chin.  No one else is Mommy.

But you are.

And you are amazing.

You’ve sacrificed your body, your time, and your comfort to breastfeed your child.  That is such a gift.  It doesn’t matter if you did it for 6 weeks, 6 months, or 2 years.  You have given your child an amazing start at life.

And now it is time to let go. It is time to move on. It is time to replace nursing with a simple cuddle, a song, a stuffed animal, or a rub on the back.  Just the thought puts a pit in my stomach.  It doesn’t feel right, yet now is the time.  Of course nothing can ever replace mom, but it is time to say goodbye to nursing.

So go ahead and cry, mama.  It can be hard to say goodbye.

But after you wipe your eyes, hold your head up high.  Because you are amazing.  You are magical.

You are Mommy.

You are amazing. You are magical. You are Mommy! - A benediction to weaning moms

Read these for practical tips on weaning from breastfeeding:

You should also head over to Emily’s post at Live Renewed where she is sharing some thoughts on being done with babies and breastfeeding.  It is so relatable.  I cried reading it.

Are you mourning the end of your breastfeeding relationship? Was it emotionally difficult for you to wean?

Posted in Breastfeeding & Excess Lipase, Parenthood | 17 Comments

10 Things I Learned When My iPhone Died (and why having an iPhone makes me a better mom)

10 Things I Learned When My iPhone Died (and why having an iPhone makes me a better mom)

This post contains affiliate links.

From the kitchen I caught my son in the act.  I lept from the stool I was on and rushed into the living room, but it was too late.  My iPhone was already dunked in a glass of water by my two year old.


I did all the things you are suppose to do (dry it off, turn it off, let it sit in rice), but it didn’t work.  My iPhone died.

10 Things I Learned When My iPhone Died

1. First World Problems Can Make Me Cry - You’ve heard the term “first world problem” before, right?  It is something people say when they (or someone else) is complaining about something somewhat superficial that would only be a problem for someone living in a first world country.

Cable is out and you can’t watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta?  First world problem.  You can’t decide what paint color you want for your brand new mercedes?  First world problem.  Your son drops your iPhone in a glass of water and now you can’t check Facebook as often as you would like?  Definitely a first world problem.

But I cried!  I cried big time.  I was mad at myself for crying, but as the days went by without a functioning cell phone I began to realize my feelings were valid.  If you find yourself in this position, just let it out baby!  Cry a big, ugly cry.  It is okay.

2. Always Having a Camera With Me is Awesome - I am the family photographer in my house. I try to document everyday life along with the kids’ milestones.  I instantly missed having a camera with me at all times.

3. My iPhone Makes Cooking Easier - I love Pinterest.  (Follow me!)  I use it to organize all of my online recipes and I often pull up recipes on my iPhone while I’m making supper.

4. Going to Bed in the Dark Isn’t Fun - I’m usually the last one to bed every night.  I use the light from my cell phone to guide me up the stairs, check on sleeping children, and crawl into bed without disturbing anyone.

5. My iPhone is Good for My Mental Health - I am an extrovert.  My Myers Brigg’s personality type is ESFP.  Being around other people is energizing for me and I crave social interaction.  The death of my phone actually made me feel lonely.  I missed listening to my favorite podcasts, checking Instagram, and chatting with my friends on Voxer.

10 Things I Learned When My iPhone Died (and why having an iPhone makes me a better mom)

6. I’m Obsessed with Checking My Notifications - As soon as my iPhone died, I realized how often I glance at my phone to see if I have any notifications waiting for me.  I don’t read each email as soon as it comes in.  I don’t respond to all facebook comments right away.  I don’t always take action on my notifications, but I like to know if they are there.  Checking on the computer took a lot more time.  I had to bring up each website and I would often get distracted with what I found.

7. Smart Phones Make Blogging Easier - This blog brings in a small income that is very helpful for my family.  We have big plans to pay off our debt (Sallie Mae, I’m looking at you!) with money that I earn from blogging.  I’m a better blogger with my iPhone.

8. Smart Phones are Expensive - I wasn’t due for a phone upgrade for at least 5 months.  I thought about waiting that long to replace my dead iPhone for about 0.002 seconds.  The answer was, “No way!”  iPhones normally cost around $600-$700, but service providers (AT&T, Verizon, etc) subsidize some of that cost so they can offer them at a greater discount to their customers.

I made some calls and quickly realized that my cheapest option for a new phone was to replace it at the Apple Store.  It cost $200 and the phone was brand new.  Thank goodness for tax return money.

9. Lifeproof iPhone Cases are Worth The Cost - Lifeproof cases are waterproof cases that can go upto 6 feet underwater.  They also protect your phone from snow, dirt, and drops.  Lifeproof cases cost around $80, but that is less than 50% of what I paid to replace my dead iPhone.  I purchased my Lifeproof case on Amazon while it was on sale for $48. You can read more of my thoughts on Lifeproof cases below.

10. A Properly Backed-Up Phone is Heavenly - My iPhone had been fully backed up just one or two days before it was dunked in the water.  I didn’t lose anything important.  My phone’s storage and my iCloud account are always on the verge of being full.  Paying for some extra iCloud storage a few months ago so I could backup my phone was well worth the cost.  If you are getting error messages that your phone can’t be backed up, do something about it!

In conclusion, I’ve realized that my iPhone makes me a better mom.  I’m less distracted than when I’m using my laptop.  I take more family photos.  I try new recipes.  I bring in more income for my family.  Above all, I’m a happier extrovert with my iPhone.

Of course, it was also a bit of a shock to see how much I am constantly looking for or thinking about my notifications.  You may have read the guilt inducing “dear mom on your iPhone” type of blog posts.  Those writers have a valid point.  We all need to work hard to keep our technology use under control.  However, it iPhones aren’t all bad.  My iPhone has been a huge blessing to me and my family.  It really has helped me be a better mom.

The Nitty Gritty of Lifeproof Cases

The Nitty-Gritty About Lifeproof Cases

I asked someone at the Apple Store what I can do to prevent my phone from dying a terrible, wet death again and he had two suggestions for me: 1) always keep it in my pocket & never let my kids touch it 2) buy a lifeproof case.  I went with the case.

I didn’t realize how nervous I had been about my iPhone until I put the Lifeproof case on it.  A weight was instantly lifted from my shoulders.  I don’t worry about using it while I’m cooking or when it is raining.  I’m no longer paranoid about it falling out of my back pocket and landing in the toilet!  The peace of mind is amazing.

Things I don’t love about the Lifeproof case:

  • It is harder to hear audio (music, videos, vox messages).  I keep the volume turned up louder than I did  before and sometimes I open the door for the charger to let more sound out.  I can hear perfectly fine when I hold the phone up to my ear.
  • The touch screen isn’t quite as sensitive.  It works well the majority of the time, but there are times when I have to press things 2 or 3 times before the screen responds.  This is especially noticeable when I’m taking pictures.
  • I use my ear buds a lot to listen to podcasts.  There is a plug that needs to be unscrewed and then screwed back in when I switch to using my earphones.  It can be a bit tedious.

Overall, I am pleased with my Lifeproof case.  I recommend it to anyone who is clumsy, has children, hangs out around water often, or doesn’t have the cash to spend at least $200 on a replacement iPhone.

You can find Lifeproof cases at a variety of retail stores or on Amazon:

Has your iPhone died an awful death?  How did you react?

Disclosure: I was without a cell phone for 4 days.  I bought my Lifeproof case on sale on Amazon.  Lifeproof has not sponsored this post in anyway.  This post does contain affiliate links, which help support Simply Rebekah.  Thank you!

Posted in Life, Tips | 12 Comments

14 Ways to Save Money by Mooching Off Your In-Laws

14 Ways to Save Money by Mooching Off Your In-Laws: You can save hundreds of dollars (maybe even thousands) every year with these tips!

“Who’s cell phone is plugged in over here?  What’s going on, Rebekah?  Are you charging your phone here so you don’t have to use your electricity at home?”

I was having supper at my in-law’s house and I needed to charge my phone while I was there.  I was heading out for the evening straight from their house and I wanted to be sure my cell phone wouldn’t die on me.

My in-laws love to tease me and didn’t miss the opportunity to make fun of me for mooching off of them so I could save money on my own electric bill.  Their joke got me thinking though.  There are tons of ways to save money by mooching off your in-laws!

14 Ways to Save Money by Mooching Off Your In-Laws

1. Always charge your phone, laptop, other devices while at their house.

2. Make sure to use the bathroom before you go home to save on water and toilet paper expenses.  Bonus points are earned if you go #2 (since that usually takes more toilet paper).

3. Stop by over meal times whenever possible.  Family doesn’t let family go hungry, so they are likely to offer to feed you.  You’ll save on your grocery budget and get out of cooking!

4. Never say no to taking home leftovers.  In fact, bring your own containers so you can passive aggressively ask for leftovers.

5. Put way more food on your plate (or your kids’ plates) than you can actually eat.  Then you have an excuse to take the food with you so you don’t “waste it.”

6. If you are given a menu choice (like perhaps for your birthday or another special occasion), always pick something expensive that you are too cheap to ever make at home.

7. Sneak extra tissues into your pockets when no one is looking.  When you get home, carefully fold them and place them next to your own tissue box.  You can also do this with toilet paper.

14 Ways to Save Money by Mooching Off Your In-Laws: You can save hundreds of dollars every year with these tips!

8. If you ever swap vehicles with your in-laws (perhaps so you don’t have to move carseats) make sure that your own car’s gas tank is almost empty so they have to fill the tank for you.  Plus be sure to do a ton of errands while you have their car so you can use up their gas.

9. Visit your in-laws on the coldest and hottest days of the year so you can save money on heating and cooling in your house while you are away.

10. Pretend your kids asked for a snack.  Say, “What’s that Timmy?  You are hungry?  Let’s ask Grandma for a snack.”  Then eat half of it yourself or sneak it into the diaper bag for later.

11. Pretend that your washer and dryer are busted so you have to use theirs.  Forget to bring laundry detergent with you so you have to use their detergent.  You get bonus points for guilting them into letting you drop it off so they will do it for you.

12. Anytime they get a new movie from Netflix, go on and on about how much you’ve been wanting to see that movie so they end up letting you borrow it.  You’ll get the perks of having Netflix without actually paying for it!

13. Never buy any special appliances, kitchen gadgets, or tools.  Instead save your money and borrow them from your in-laws as you need them.

14. Don’t pay for a babysitter.  Grandparents were invented so parents could have free babysitters!

If you follow all of these tips, you will save hundreds (possibly thousands!) of dollars each year!  Of course you’ll also be at risk for damaging your relationship with your in-laws, but you will have to weigh the pros and cons of that.

Note: This post is obviously meant to be a joke.  My in-laws truly did tease me about charging my cellphone, but that is the only truth to this post.  Don’t be a cheap jerk.  Unless your in-laws really will do your laundry for you. *wink*

Did I miss any ways that you can save money by mooching off of our in-laws?  Which of these ideas have you already tried?


Posted in Frugal | 22 Comments

Cheap & Easy Construction Paper Birthday Party Decorations

Cheap & Easy Construction Paper Birthday Party Decortations

This post contains affiliate links.

I love decorating my house for birthday parties, but I hate spending money.  It has become almost a game for me to come up with cute, creative, and cheap birthday party decorations.

Last month Noah turned 2.  Again and again he said he wanted a truck themed birthday.  I followed my #1 cheap birthday party rule, which is to decorate with what I already own.  I used Noah’s Melissa & Doug truck as my main inspiration for the party.

Red, blue, and yellow streamers and balloons made the house feel festive, but I needed something more to bring out the truck theme of the party.  I decided to create my own trucks out of construction paper and hung them around the house.

Cheap & Easy Construction Paper Birthday Party Decorations

This DIY tutorial is so simple that it is ridiculous.

Step 1: Pick a shape you can make out of construction paper that fits the theme of your party.

Step 2: Make your shape and use that one as a guide so you can make multiple copies that all look the same.  Or make them look different!  It really doesn’t matter.

Step 3: Tape the shapes around the room.  You can also use a needle and thread to hang the shapes, which is my favorite way to use them.

Simple Construction Paper Decorations

For Noah’s party I hung 3 trucks from the light in the dining room.  I also made garland for the doorway by stringing 3 trucks together on one long piece of thread.  I added two small pieces of tape to act as “stoppers” so the outside trucks wouldn’t slide down the thread.  You could also add knots in the thread instead of the tape.

DIY Construction Paper Garland

With a little creativity, you can enhance any birthday party decorations with some cheap construction paper.  For Grace’s butterfly birthday party I used paper cut outs of butterflies on the dining room wall.  I found these at Dollar Tree, but I could have easily made my own out of construction paper by cutting them out by hand or using a die-cut machine.

simple construction paper butterfly birthday decorations

To make the butterflies look like they were flying, a folded each one in half to make the wings stand out.  Then I used a little tape along the fold to stick them to the wall.

For more cheap birthday ideas check out:

What is the theme of your next birthday party?  What can you make out of construction paper to spruce up the decor?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting Simply Rebekah!

Posted in Frugal | 2 Comments