15 Minutes Outside: Weeks 11-12

15 Minutes Outside: Weeks 11-12

I realize this isn’t a picture of my kids, but this Eastern Garter Snake definitely interested my children. Fortunately, this guy who we found in our pool when we got it open isn’t venomous like the Copperhead that bit our son, Sam. Opening the pool to discover new creatures is always a favorite outdoor activity.

Playing softball with Elaina has been a lot more fun than I thought it would be. This week I told her to put her full weight into her swing and she nearly took me out and with a tennis ball no less! She caught a pop fly during a game and was beaming. The whole family has really enjoyed playing ball together the last couple of weeks.

I’ve made a delightful discovery the past couple of weeks. The kids are thrilled if I am outside just WATCHING them play. That doesn’t mean I can come outside with a book or do anything but ooh and aah over their abilities, but it is nice that not all my time outside has to be actively playing.

I’ve enjoyed taking very quick dips into the pool (the water has been quite chilly!) while the kids play what amounts to King of the Mountain with the float.

Fortunately, we had a not-so-hot day when we could enjoy lunch outside. And yes, that counts!

I really enjoy playing with the Ogodisk with the kids. It’s a much easier to catch (and safer) frisbee and you can also use two of them with the included squishy ball.

I honestly have put in hours of time with the kids outside in the past two weeks. We had two field days! One of those field days I spent talking with friends, but the all-day one had me actively participating with a group of kids. I got so many great ideas for fun things to do outside. One of the most clever was four-way tug-of-war. Using a large rope that’s tied in a loop, four teams line up on one side of the rope that has been shaped into a square. Behind each team is a pin (we used a bowling pin). The first team to pull the rope toward their pin so someone can pick it up wins. The rope is then reshaped into a triangle for three remaining teams and then into a thin oval shape for two teams. Very fun!

A second clever (but very messy) activity was musical buckets. This is just like musical chairs only using 5-gallon buckets filled with water. Some kids enjoyed getting stuck. Other typical, but fun activities included relays, obstacle course races, and capture the flag.

We finished out the two weeks with a family bike ride. It was really hot, so we didn’t last long, but we had a great time seeing turtles and deer as we rode. I asked my husband to teach me how to load the bikes onto the carrier. For all of us to ride, we have to take two vehicles. But it’s worth the effort!

Hope I’ve Given You Some New Ideas for Getting Outside with the Kids!


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15 Minutes Outside: Week 5

15 Minutes Outside: Week 5


I’ve been flying through life this week and don’t plan to land until May! I can honestly say that I forgot to spend 15 minutes outside a couple of times this week. Since I refuse to be a perfectionist with this, I will continue on.

This large flying disk I bought at Walgreens has been a hit with the kids. We tried to create a game with it that involved lots of players (you have to pick a spot and can only move one leg to try to catch it).

Jump ropeup

I used to be a jump rope fanatic as a kid. It’s still a great form of exercise, even if my mother’s bladder doesn’t think so. I bought myself a new jump rope at TJ Maxx and went at it with my daughter. She got a new jump rope for Easter, which is great because mine is too big for her.

Indy 500


We’ve been sticking around home a lot for our 15 minutes, so it was nice to travel this week. We enjoyed seeing cars practice at the Indy 500 track and the Creation Museum so much. I highly recommend it if you haven’t been!



Easter was a wonderful day to be outside.


I finally got to enjoy my favorite outdoor activity with the kids: hiking! My husband’s brother and sister-in-law invited us to hike and it was the perfect way to end a beautiful holiday. Hope you had a blessed Easter and got outside, too! You should be seeing the kids’ Easter goodies in use next week.

 Have you been outside with the kids this week?

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15 Minutes Outside: Week 2

15 Minutes Outside: Week 2

It’s been an easy fun week this week as we’ve been experiencing summer in early spring. The kids introduced me to the hilarious games of Crocodile and Toilet Bowl on the trampoline. In Crocodile, you have to close your eyes and grap at people. If you grab someone and identify them, that person is it. I did very poorly at this game, but it did make me laugh. Toilet Bowl means avoiding being pulled into and touching the center markings of the trampoline.


Tuesday was very easy on me. I got to play tennis with the kids on the new courts, replaced after the tornado last year.

Hula hoopup

I went to the store this week and got the kids all kinds of fun, inexpensive gear to get them playing outside. I expected to get the kids going, but not the other homeschool moms at P.E.! We had a blast. I ordered a heavier hoop for myself because I was having a hard time with this one!


What a treat! We got to eat and do art outside with no bugs!


If anything can get my kids outside, it’s water balloons. What a blessing those automatic balloon tie-ers are!

Water balloons

What a blessing that we got to do co-op outside. With so many boys cooped up indoors, it’s real incentive for me get outdoors! We are studying Australia and had fun playing the game, Kai. It’s kind of like balloon toss where you keep it off the ground by attempting to hit it according to all the letters of the alphabet (no one twice in a row). We got to W! The kids have also been having fun playing with their boomerangs.


I’m sorry to say that we didn’t get out on Saturday. We were indoors for the church’s Easter egg hunt and then had thunderstorms. I could have gone under the drive-through, but sheesh. I’ll take a mulligan. Sunday was a wonderful day to relax in the hammock and let the kids show me what they could do with the trampoline, soccer ball, hula hoop, and boomerang.

It’s been a wonderful week outside!


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Organizing with Kids – Toys and Craft Storage

Organizing with Kids – Toys and Craft Storage

Have I ever mentioned that I homeschool six kids? As a result, I have stuff. A lot of stuff. Not only do we have a lot of toys and games (multiply just six gifts a year times six and you’ll see my problem. Of course, they get more than six gifts each!).

Photo 1
I have spent years coming up with systems for keeping toys, games, and puzzles organized. I have definitely found some approaches that work. For example, storing games vertically works better than horizontally or in bins. What also works is using our old ping pong table to provide storage for suitcases and bins underneath. What isn’t working is the putting away part.

Not only do I have six kids full-time, but I have had 11 more joining us for homeschool activities on Fridays. Our super fun co-op activities require lots and lots of art supplies. Using them is fun. Putting them away isn’t.

As you can see, I’ve tried clever strategies for storing paints and underneath the bench are more art supplies.

Yet another problem with our storage area is that it isn’t just for kids. We keep our gifts, gift wrapping supplies, electronic accessories, party supplies, and seasonal decorations here, too.

In our playroom is a second closet we use for costume storage. This is another area where I need A LOT because of our co-op activities. This year we had to dress for the Revolutionary War and for Africa.

I was determined to get control of these areas while participating in my simplify101 class and to be ready for next school year. The good news is I no longer have toddlers or preschoolers. In theory, the kids should be of help. 🙂 I did enlist everyone’s help in decluttering. The approach that works best for me is to lay out a blanket on the playroom floor. Any of the kids may take items that they wish to donate to the blanket. Anything not worthy of donating goes directly to trash bags. This system works beautifully because everyone can see what is ostensibly being donated. Otherwise the older child gleefully puts all the younger’s favorite toys out for donation. Likewise any educational items would go bye-bye without my watchful eye. My husband played a crucial role in boxing up all the donated items and drove them to the charity the same day.

I haven’t shown you every part of the storage room (there are other shelves that were organized and hidden bins that were emptied), but these are the results!

The red bucket on the right is my solution for keeping this room organized. Anything that needs to be put away goes in the bucket, NOT on the table. When it’s full, it will be emptied.

My other idea was to put plastic tablecloths I already owned on the ping pong table. The paint is chipping off of it anyway and it creates a don’t-mess-me-up atmosphere that partners well with the red tub.

The biggest job with the craft and seasonal storage areas was to throw things out.

I was able to get rid of enough stuff that I could keep a bin of other costume basics that was being stored with the toys and games. As you can see, I am continuing to store outsized shoes here.

Hope I’ve inspired you to unload toys, crafts, or costumes that you don’t use, need, or love!



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