And that means that teachers everywhere are jumping for joy, shedding their cardigans for swimsuits, their chalk for a cold drink, and handing the baton off to Mom & Dad. Which means... oh. Wait. You mean, I've got my kid 24/7 for the next couple months? What on earth am I to do with them for all that time?
I'm sending Caleb to day camp at his school for a couple of weeks, but camps can get expensive, so he's not going all summer long. I also thought it would be nice to spend some quality time with him and Chloe together (day 2, already reconsidering this decision lol). But I knew if I wanted to do that, I was going to have to come up with some activities to keep him busy and out of trouble, and so that he didn't sit in front of the TV all summer long.
So I put my teaching skills to use (or rather, my Pinterest pinning skills), and created a Summer Schedule and some weekly themes to help keep this little guy entertained.
For the schedule, I built plenty of downtime into it, in case stuff comes up or we want to have a play date or something. I gave each day of the week a theme, so that it's easier to prepare for crafts on Mondays, going somewhere on Tuesdays, etc. Also, none of it is hard and fast, and we can adjust as we go - kind of like I used to do with my lesson plans when I was teaching. The big gaps in the schedule are to fill with crafts, field trips, the library, pool time, or anything else we decide. (Make sure you scroll to the end of the post to download the PDF files - these jpegs aren't so great!)
While I wanted to be creative, I don't feel like I need to reinvent the wheel. I decided I would come up with a few themes for the weeks I have him home with me (unfortunately there aren't enough themes for the whole summer). I started searching for activities on Pinterest, and boy did I find them! There are some pretty creative activities out there, and my Pinterest board is now full of them! Since Pinterest now lets you subdivide boards, I made one Summer Activities board, and then created sub-boards (is that what they're called?) for the different weeks, based on themes. Just because I pinned all these things doesn't mean I'm going to get to every single one of them. On the calendar with the weeks, I linked the theme for that week to the board. Some of the activities are more involved, others require very little prep.
I know this won't function perfectly every single day, and it's not a set-in-stone schedule, but it is something that will help us to do some activities this summer and not drive one another crazy. And as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or suggestions.
Click the files below to download them.
Follow the Summer Activities Board
Yesterday, I posted in my Instagram stories about an activity I did with Caleb after school one day. He had received this big cardboard rocket ship for Christmas, and it was meant to be painted. I had been putting it off because I knew that I needed to make this an outdoor activity and that it would certainly require some cleanup. And while I know my kid is excessively messy and loves to smear stuff all over himself, I'm still a little shocked at the reactions that people sent me when it came to my stories. "OMG. I'm dying for you." "Ugh, what a mess." "I don't know how you deal with that." "Ummm, that's my worst nightmare."
On Tuesday, I picked him up from school and he was in some kind of mood. I let him be for a little bit and after a few minutes of silence, I asked him if he wanted to paint his rocket ship this afternoon. He yelled, "NO!" loudly and shook his head. I let him be again, and after about two minutes, he said, really softly, "Mommy, I want paint my rocket. You paint with me?" Of course, I had suggested it, so I wasn't about to say no.
The rest of the way home, he was way more low key and mentioned painting a few more times. By the time we reached home, he was ready to go. He wanted to paint right this minute. I knew this was something I needed to do a little bit of prep for, so I kept giving him tasks he had to complete before we could go out and paint. I had him change out of his uniform and into play clothes, I gave him a snack and some water, and made him use the potty. He was clearly annoyed with me. But I knew once we were outside painting, I wasn't letting him back in until he was completely done.
While he did all of that, I prepped the paint, and pulled out his smock and some of his paintbrushes. (One small tip - keep all of this stuff together in a basket or bin so when you need it, it's all in the same place and you don't have to hunt stuff down; also, use disposable plates and cups to hold the paint so cleanup is just throwing those things out). We took everything outside and went to town on that rocket ship.
For the first few minutes, he worked really quietly. I watched, I took a few photos, and I relished in the fact that I had managed to bait and switch him into a good mood. He was completely concentrated on what he was doing. Then he turned to me and asked me, "Mommy, can you paint with me?" How could I say no to that? So of course, I joined him. We painted in silence together, no distractions, no arguments, me not bossing him around. And he looked over at me, often, to make sure I was still "on task." I painted with him for over twenty minutes, and guys, let me tell you, I will cherish those twenty minutes of doing something with my son for a very long time.
After twenty minutes, I sat back down, because, well, pregnancy. I let him keep doing his thing. I watched and I talked to him and asked him questions. And then all of a sudden, he was smearing paint all over his smock. Then in his hair, and all over his face. But I didn't tell him to stop.
You see, kids don't have this same sense of order that we do. They also explore in lots of different ways. Caleb likes to feel things. He has, on numerous occasions, smeared himself with paint, yogurt, hummus, and a few other food items. I know that my kid is prone to doing this. So I'm proactive about it. Instead of flipping out because ohmygodhesmakingamess, I make sure I sit him in his high chair, or we take the paint outside. He doesn't feel like he's being stifled, and I'm not really freaking out because it's a controlled mess. Also, having been a special education teacher for many years, and working with a number of kids on the Autism spectrum who suffered from sensory issues, it always warms my heart a little to see that my son has no sensory issues.
But really, at the end of it all, we killed well over an hour of time, we spent quality time together (I consciously only took a few photos with my phone), and he had a chance to do some sensory activities, which is never a bad thing. I'd certainly consider that a win in my book.
And afterwards? There was nothing a little bath time couldn't fix. ;)
So let your kids make the messes. As a matter of fact, make the mess with them. I promise, it's not a moment you will soon forget. And at the very least, you'll get some fun pictures and amazing memories out of it.
If you have been following me on social media, you know I'm not posting as frequently because we are on vacation at the beach. This year, we decided to do a staycation on a beach close to home. We arrived a week ago, and we'll be here for another little bit. Unfortunately for us, the weather has been terrible! We've had a few flashes of sunlight and clearer skies, but for the most part, it has been soggy and rainy.
We have decided to make the most of it anyway and we have been doing a lot of reading, playing together, and spending time with one another. It has forced us to slow down and enjoy one another, which is something I will never be upset over.
But since our time in the sun has been limited, I try to have my beach bag ready to go at all times so we can just run out when the sun comes out. Truthfully speaking, my beach bag is always packed and ready to go in our linen closet, especially in the summer months, when last minute beach days are always a possibility.
Keep in mind a couple of things:
1. We are staying on the beach. If I was spending a day at the beach and was further away from home, I would probably pack a lot more.
2. Caleb requires a lot less now than he did last summer or the summer prior. Now he's happy to play in the sand most of the day and run around chasing the birds or run from the waves.
I'm using a Longchamp bag that my mom gave me for Christmas as my beach bag. This one is colorful, and it doesn't let the moisture in. Plus, I can zip it up to keep the sand out when I'm not using it. It cleans up easily enough, just wiping it off with a damp cloth.
Inside my bag I keep a few essentials (not everything is shown in the photo above):
A couple of other things we take to the beach, but that are not in my beach bag:
And for Caleb, since sunscreen application and re-application is important, but sometimes difficult, I dress him in a swimsuit and swim diaper, but I always put a rash guard with SPF on him to protect him from the sun's rays and preventing a sunburn.
And there you have it, our beach essentials! I hope this is helpful, and I hope you have some amazing summer beach days! I'm off to enjoy some sunshine. :)
Earlier this week, my friend Kathy from Freshly Squeezed Fashionista and I went exploring in Little Havana, a classic Miami neighborhood that pays homage to all things Cuban. We took some outfit shots for her, and then I handed my camera to her and had her snap a few shots for me as well.
We started off at Ball and Chain, where we hung out for a little bit, I snapped a few shots of her, and we had this incredible drink called the Pastelito Daiquiri. It had rum, guava puree, and a few other ingredients that I'm not sure of, but it had a pastelito de guayaba floating in the top of the drink. It was like my favorite childhood breakfast was turned into the drink of my dreams! Haha Ball and Chain has live music all the time, and the night scene is pretty awesome. If you're looking for a cool spot to hit up in Miami, this is definitely a great one!
We had been promising our boys ice cream all morning, so we decided to stop into Azucar. We both got the Abuela Maria, which is vanilla ice cream, with chunks of guava, cream cheese, and Maria crackers. This is a snack my grandmother used to make for me after school, so it's always a little bit of nostalgia when I have this. The boys loved their ice cream!
The bright streets and lively colors of the Little Havana area made for the perfect backdrop for these photos. My friends over at Truth & Glory sent me this adorable Blessed Mama tee, and I think it's perfect for any mama in your life. And from now until Saturday, use the code TOPKNOT to get 15% off of your purchase from their shop! They are a local Miami shop, so if you want to shop local - contact them for sure!
I paired the tee with these super comfy shorts from Gap, and these colorful pom pom sandals from Target.
We wrapped up our afternoon by having a delicious medianoche sandwich at El Exquisito. Overall, it was a hot but really fun day in Little Havana, and I can't wait to go back!
When I first started this blog, this was one of the things I most wanted to do with my readers... share places I love and have enjoyed with Caleb. I can't believe now is when I'm finally getting around to it! I haven't been to every single place on this list with Caleb, but I did get a lot of suggestions from other toddler mamas in one of my mommy groups. So if we are recommending it, you can bet that they are places we have taken our kids!
If you're from Miami, most of these places probably won't come as a surprise to you, but you might not have been to all of them. If you're not from Miami, but have been considering making a trip down here with your kids, know that South Beach isn't the only part of Miami that you can visit with kids (nor should it be the only place you visit!).This list isn't totally comprehensive, and I didn't include areas like Little Havana or Wynwood, which have their own attractions, some appropriate for kids and others not necessarily. I focused on places that really are entertaining and captivating for kids.
Without further ado, here's MY-ami!
1. The Beach
You can't mention Miami and not think of the beach. So that's why it's first on the list. Kids love the beach and can be entertained there for hours at a time. There is always the miles of beach on Miami Beach, although during peak tourist season parts of the beach can be particularly packed. South Pointe Park is a great option - there is a splash pad area that is great and some lush green areas as well. The biggest downfall here is that parking can get pricey and the walk to the beach from parking is a long one. If you've ever been to the beach with kids you know how much stuff a day at the beach requires, so this might not be the absolute best option.
One of our favorites because it is far away from all the hustle and bustle of Miami Beach is Matheson Hammock Park. Tucked away in the back of the park is a man made lagoon which is fed by the bay. It's lined with palm trees, has lifeguards, and parking is easy and close to the sand (and cheap!).
South Point Park
1 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL
Admission: Free (Parking fee varies, however)
Matheson Hammock Park
9610 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL
Admission: Parking Fee About $5.00
If your kid loves trains - take them to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum! They have old trains that are no longer in use. Caleb loves climbing into the cars and running through them. At Christmastime they do a really cute Polar Express activity (we haven't done it yet but will probably do it this Christmas). They also have special activities throughout the year and Thomas comes to visit, too!
Gold Coast Railroad Museum
12450 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177
Admission: Adults $8.00, Kids (ages 2-12) $6.00
3. The Zoo
Once your kids are old enough to recognize animals, Zoo Miami is the place to go. The zoo is huge and has some beautiful areas. Get ready for some walking! They have family bikes you can rent as well and tour the zoo that way. There are two splash pads and tons of cool animal exhibits. One of our favorite things to do when we go there is to feed the giraffes. It's $3 and you get lettuce leaves to feed to them.
The zoo and Gold Coast Railroad Museum are actually located on the same property. The zoo is massive but the railroad museum isn't, so you might be able to squeeze both in on the same day, but I wouldn't recommend it.
12400 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177
Admission: Adult $21.95, Children (ages 3-12) $17.95
4. Miami Children's Museum
We haven't been to the Miami Children's Museum in a while, but this is an awesome place to go anytime, but even more so when the weather is crummy because it's indoors! They have tons of exhibits, where they focus on dress up, on careers and occupations, and loads of sensory activities. They have seasonal exhibits which are always filled with activities as well.
Miami Children's Museum
980 MacArthur Causeway, Miami, FL 33132
Admission: General Admission $20, Florida Residents (Must present I.D.) $15
5. Fairchild Tropical Gardens
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a beautiful botanical garden filled with lush vegetation and greenery. I actually haven't been here with Caleb but I was there last week for a photo shoot and all I could think while I was there was that it would be the perfect place for Caleb to run around. There are wide open spaces and plenty of interesting things for them to look at. It also has so many incredible photo opportunities!
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
10901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables, FL 33156
Admission: Non-member adults $25, Children: 5 & under FREE, 6-17 $12
6. Pinecrest Gardens
Another place with lush greenery, Pinecrest Gardens has a lot more areas geared towards kids. They have a playground, a petting zoo, and a splash pad. Its much smaller than Fairchild and comes with a smaller price tag. We have only been for a birthday party and haven't really experienced all that the Gardens have to offer, but it is certainly somewhere we will be going back to!
11000 Red Rd, Pinecrest, FL 33156
Admission: General Admission $5
7. Knaus Berry Farm
Knaus Berry Farm is open seasonally from November - mid-April. When they are open, they make these incredible cinnamon buns and outrageous milkshakes. Lines can get pretty long, but when you taste one of those buns you will know that your wait was worth it. Take a bunch to go. You can also go strawberry picking here. I actually remember going here when I was younger - it has been around since the 50s and remains family owned and operated. If you can make it out here before they close for the season, definitely do!
Knaus Berry Farm
15980 SW 248th Street, Homestead, FL 33031
8. Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
We haven't been to the Perez Art Museum Miami with Caleb. I'm not sure that the museum itself would entertain him for too long. But the draw of PAMM is that they have lots of family friendly events. The park outside is also so inviting for kids, and has amazing views of the bay, along with this incredible breeze. If you can swing it, enjoy lunch at their cafe, the food is delicious and it's such a relaxing environment.
1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132
Admission: Adults $16, Children (under 6) FREE, (7-18) $12
9. Robert is Here Fruit Stand
Similar to Knaus Berry Farm, Robert is Here is only closed in September and October. They specialize in rare and exotic fruits, but also have milkshakes and produce. They also have a petting zoo and a splash pad, as well as picnic tables. They have grown so much that they now have live music on certain days of the week as well!
Robert is Here Fruit Stand
19200 SW 344th St, Homestead, FL 33034
Admission: Free, Prices vary
10. History Miami
Truthfully, the last time I came to History Miami I was probably in elementary school! But it is a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum, and it has all kinds of exhibits that are meant to preserve the history of none other than, MIAMI! It's actually somewhere I would probably take Caleb when he is a little bit older, but it's still a cool option and an awesome way to learn about Miami's history! I'm actually really intrigued by some of their upcoming exhibits and may try and convince the hubs to do a date night there. ;)
101 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 33130
Admission: Adults $10, Children (6-12) $5, (6 & Under FREE)
A few bonus spots:
For those of you who live closer to or north of the Dade/Broward County line, I had some amazing suggestions as well. I'll just list them below along with links to their home pages.
And there you have it! A list of all things Miami for kids. Pin it, save it, let me know what you get to! I can't wait to hear all about your Miami adventures! Go ahead, make it YOUR-AMI!
P.S. I have to give a special thanks to my mommy group, who supplied me with a lot of the ideas you read about in this post! You girls rock!
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I completed my half marathon on Sunday. I wrote a post not too long ago about my workout essentials, and how I felt I was unprepared for my half marathon.
And I wasn't prepared, not as much as I should have been. The furthest I had ever run before then was 5.5 miles. Nothing even close to 13.1. As a matter of fact, I almost didn't show up that morning. I was in the process of psyching myself out, I was crying, I didn't want to do it alone. And my husband looked at me and said, "You've got to be kidding, you can't be scared of this. You've birthed a human! You can do this."
I started off the morning with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who signed up for the run because Eddie and I said we were going to do it. Disney and anything princess related is a major motivator. While we were standing in the corral, we were talking about our expectations for it, and my sister-in-law mentioned she had a time in which she wanted to finish. She then added, "My goal is to cross the finish line." I looked at them and said, "Honestly, you guys have trained hard for this. I haven't been nearly as good. My goal is six miles. If I make it through six miles, I'll have run farther than I have ever run before, and I'll make it all the way through Magic Kingdom." I ended up running the first mile or so with them, and then I fell behind. It gave me a lot of time to think.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I got emotional during this run. Within the first two miles I thought about my grandmother, who passed away in November, and how she would have been freaking out if she knew I was doing this, which then made me crack up. I thought about Caleb and Eddie, and how utterly blessed I am to have them in my life. I thought about my parents, and my in-laws, who gave up their anniversary weekend to watch us all run this thing (Fun fact: my parents anniversary is the 25th, my in-laws the 26th, and ours the 27th!). Before I knew it, I was crossing the Magic Kingdom parking lot and mile 3.
By the time I crossed mile 5, we were entering Magic Kingdom. Eddie was waiting for me in the spectator area on Main Street (Caleb stayed with my parents the night before so I could sleep). I had already been crying after passing a few super motivating signs, but once I saw Eddie, all bets were off. I was a blubbering mess. And I think I was so emotional because I had doubted myself so hard. Maybe also because I was PMSing, but whatever. He grabbed my face and said, "You're doing amazing. Keep going. You've got this." Then we took a picture together with the castle in the background, and you can clearly see tears in my eyes. It also might be my favorite picture of us with the castle, ever.
So I made myself a new goal - I would get to Mile 10. Miles 6 - 9 I slowed down some, but I was still trucking. Mile 10 was where it started to get HARD. My quads were burning, and I could feel blisters on the bottom of my feet. I didn't have any pain, but my body was definitely feeling every step. But right before I reached Mile 10, I started to get all kinds of texts from my family and friends, who were following along with my bib tracking.
When my parents texted that they were at the finish line with Eddie and Caleb, I knew that I would have to finish this race. Miles 11-13 were so damn long. And so hard. I was slow. I walked a lot. But I kept telling myself, just finish.
When I finally reached the finish line, I smiled, and then I broke down. I lost it. Ugly cried. Trust me, Disney PhotoPass Photographers caught it, and yes, I'm sharing with you.
I kept crying, and when I got my medal, I'm pretty sure I couldn't see straight. When I finally caught up with Eddie and Caleb and my parents, I was a mess.
But I learned so much doing this.
I learned that completing something like this is 25% training for it and 75% mental. If you have people pushing you and cheering for you, you can do it.
I learned that I can crush my goals, and then continue to surpass them.
I learned that I am stronger than I ever believed.
It reaffirmed that my body is incredible.
I learned that half marathoners come in all shapes, sizes, and athletic abilities.
I learned that if you want to do something, just do it. Don't set mental barriers for yourself. Don't tell yourself anything else except, you CAN.
One note: don't do this without training some. I knew I could do 5 miles, and with the motivation and the energy levels around me, I was able to complete it, but I would definitely recommend a lot more training than what I did. But if this is something that you want to do, then train for it, and do it. I promise, you can. Even in the best shape of my life, and when I was the most active, running a mile was something I was never able to do. If you had told me 5 years ago I would be able to complete 13.1 miles, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am. And yes, I'm totally getting that magnet for my car, because why the heck not?!
Crush it, momma.
Last year we went to Disney the weekend of the Princess Marathon. I got all inspired and decided I was going to run a half marathon this year, namely the Princess Half Marathon. So I started training. I was doing great. I got up to 5 miles. Hubby and I went to DC and went on a run down the reflecting pool and up the Lincoln Memorial steps in 35 degree weather. I felt amazing.
A couple weeks later I caught a nasty cold, which turned into bronchitis. That left me with shortness of breath and a residual cough for a little over 2 months. I stopped running, but decided to register for the run anyway, with the intention of resuming training once the weather got a little better. Well, the weather didn't get cooler until about 2 months ago. Whoops. I've been running, but not nearly enough to run an entire half marathon. I figure I will do some running and a whole lot of walking. I'm not going to stress it and I'm certainly not going to injure myself. Regardless of what I accomplish, it will be a big deal for me, coming from someone who couldn't even finish a mile in high school.
But anyway, in the time I have been running, I have grown to really enjoy it. I don't feel like running is a chore, and it's nice to leave it all out on the pavement. I get why people are obsessive about running. It's therapeutic if you do it right.
But I have discovered some great stuff out there that really works for me when it comes to running. Aside from a good pair of sneakers (which you should definitely go get your feet checked for before investing in them), these are the things I must have when I run!
And there you have it! My running essentials!
If you have any tips you'd like to share about running a half marathon when you haven't properly trained then feel free to share them in the comments below. lol Otherwise, pray for me next Sunday! haha
Some days, going outdoors isn't really an option. Whether there are sickies in your house, the weather is crummy, or you just don't feel like putting on pants (hey girl, I feel you!), sometimes you need to keep those kiddos entertained indoors. And while I am the first to admit that I use my TV pretty often, I also like to have Caleb do engaging activities that hold his interest for a little longer than 5 minutes.
Sensory play is anything that engages your child's senses. Sensory play is important in helping your child explore the world. It also helps them to naturally use scientific processes, problem solve, and develop skills such as fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. PBS Parents has a really informative article on why sensory play is so important.
Most of these activities require little prep, and I actually keep everything stored in a box and just pull it out a couple times a week. Once you have all the tools it's actually fairly easy to incorporate these activities into playtime a couple times a week.
If you check on Pinterest, there are hundreds of activities you could do with your little one. I'm only focusing on five that are tried and true in our house..
Sensory Rice Box
I bought an underbed storage box, filled it with rice, and bought a couple of tools so he could play. The same tools are actually used for multiple activities. There are: measuring spoons, fine motor skills tool set, plastic tongs, and little construction trucks. He's snuck a few other toys in there over the months but those are generally the tools he uses in there. I know many people do this using beans, but when we started doing it, Caleb was still pretty small and putting everything in his mouth. Even if uncooked rice would give him a tummy ache, it wasn't a choking hazard, whereas a dry bean could be.
Level of ease: Very easy once you have the tools, but cleanup can be a nightmare if you don't prep for it. Pro tip: use a fitted sheet with the ends propped up on the sides to keep the rice contained and make for easy cleanup!
We did this just yesterday, with zero prep or advance thought. I realized I was out of paper towels and decided to do something with the roll since I had a cranky toddler. I cut the roll in half, and covered one end of each with paper. I had him fill them about halfway. We used garbanzos and couscous because that's what we had on hand, but you can use rice, pasta, any kind of dry bean, cheerios, etc. With the garbanzos, I also practiced counting with him. Once they were filled, we covered the other end and had a dance party! A friend also reminded me that this can be down its water bottles, which probably makes it quite a bit easier!
Level of ease: Easy. But not very independent. If you're looking for something to keep them busy without you having to work, this isn't the activity for you. lol
Pom poms keep Caleb entertained for over an hour. There are so many things you can do with them: counting, color sorting, size sorting. He likes to transfer them from one place to another. A lot of times I will pour them all into a big mixing bowl and give him the muffin tin and his fine motor tool set and let him do as he pleases. This day I just put some on the floor and some in the muffin tin and let him use the tools to move them around as he pleased.
Level of ease: SUPER. Literally just dump everything and let them go.
Strainer & Pipe Cleaners
This is another super easy activity. The strainer is in my kitchen, so I just thread a few pipe cleaners through the holes and have him do the same. Sometimes he does it, sometimes the game is pulling them all out, but it keeps him busy for a little bit.
Level of ease: Eh. Doesn't keep him busy for a super long time, and threading those pipe cleaners can be a pain in the ass.
No Mess Painting
I fill Ziploc baggies with some paint, tape it down to chart paper, and put the chart paper on the window. Taping the baggies down keeps them in place, and I love the effect of the light coming through the paint, which is why I attach it to the window.
Level of ease: Semi-easy. Requires a little bit of prep with the taping and such, but I typically leave this up for days.
There you have it! Five sensory ideas that will keep your kids busy for a good amount of time! Incorporate them as you feel your child needs it - one a day, a couple a week, once a week. Below is a photo of how I store the tools, pom poms, and rice. I usually have the pipe cleaners in there too, not sure where they are at the moment. haha
What other fun activities do you do with your kids around the house? I'd love to hear about them! Drop them in the comments below!
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.