Thursday, August 28, 2014

it's time for fall y'all

i've lived in the south for six and a half years. that's right. this former nomad has lived in one location for that many years. with the exception of my childhood home, i have never lived this long anywhere. ever. 

i have to admit, the move to the south has taken some adjustment. i'm a born and raised california girl. i grew up in the amazing wine country of northern california and then moved to the picturesque san diego county. after a brief stint in the middle of the desert, i moved to the caribbean coast of south america and lived for five plus years in colombia and venezuela. is it any wonder that hitting the carolinas caused a bit of whiplash? the fall and winter weather alone are enough to throw me into a whirl. sweaters and boots? i literally didn't own any. seriously. my idea of winter wear was throwing on a hoodie paired with some flip flops.

after six years in the south, i'm finally learning to embrace my new southern home. i now recognize seasons and appreciate all of them, from our one day of snow each winter to the ridiculous humidity of the summer. i've come to appreciate mac & cheese, fried pickles and shrimp and grits. i say "yes, ma'am" more often than i ever dreamed i would. i wave to my neighbors whenever they drive by and provide casseroles for anyone who is sick. i have a deep love for southern bar-b-que and i sleep in a giant nascar t-shirt most nights. i'm officially becoming a southern girl.

until last week, there was one southern trademark i could not claim. i did not own a pair of cowgirl boots. last week, i crossed the final hurdle and am now the proud owner of an absolutely beautiful pair of cowboy boots. 

still, there was a huge dilemma in front of me. i have given birth five times. there are no daisy dukes in my future. i needed to find some outfits that i could wear that suit of five...almost 40...former california girl. i may never pair my boots with flannel or short shorts, but i'm pretty sure there are outfits that will suit me just fine. they just might be what i was missing to marry all the places i've lived into outfits that are comfortably me. 

here are the outfits i found for myself:

what are you waiting for? cowboy boots scared me for a long time. i couldn't imagine how i would wear them. now that i have them, i can't imagine how i lived so long without them, especially when paired with fall fashion. come and join me on the country side. maybe these crazy southerners have been right all along.

the boots shown are from they are the addie butterfly boot by 8 second angel. they retail for $179.95 with free shipping.

disclosure: this is a sponsored post with acornInfluence. country outfitter graciously sent me a pair of the most fabulous 8 second angel boots. the opinions are all my own.

tags: #countryoutfitter #fallyall #fallfashion @countryoutfittr 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

countdown to 40

40. wow. the idea of it takes my breath away a little bit. i actually vividly remember my dad's 40th birthday party when I was a kid. he was showered in gifts of geritol, walking canes, stool softeners and other old people stuff. black balloons filled the room where the party was and "over the hill" banners were everywhere......and now I am finding myself inching closer to 40 as every day goes by. the funny thing is....i don't feel old. 

at all. 

do i need a reality check? 

am i losing my mind? 

or, is the reality that, 40 really is the new 30? i don't know if that catch phrase is true for me. i don't really want to be 30 again, even though 30 seemed pretty  darn great. the reality for me is that 40, although scary on one hand, is also quite exciting on the other hand. 

i feel like, having gone through the weeds with my recent divorce, i am starting a whole new chapter of my life. one where i actually love the person i am for the for the first time in my adult life. i have earned the little lines that are starting to form in the creases where i smile from all the laughter and joy, and earned the lines in the corners of my eyes from every struggle. i have earned the snow white hairs that are starting to magically appear on my head....they come with the years. with all the joy......and all the struggle......and all the resolve....i am in a weird way a bit fond of them...(even though i will not give a second thought to making an appointment with a colorist, if they continue to be fruitful and multiply).   

genelle and i, as well as being the best of friends and running this blog together, also happen to be the same age and share birthdays in the same month. because our birthdays are in december, the start of a new year of life also means the upcoming start of a new calendar year. this means that new birthday wishes for ourselves often happen to go hand in hand with everyone else's new years resolutions. this past december, upon celebrating our joint 39th years of life, genelle and I also talked a lot about the "countdown to 40" and what that means to each of us. we made lists of wishes for ourselves in this 40th year of life....things that we could improve on or can take on, not just things to give up. here are the cliff notes of my "countdown to 40" list:

•i will start taking care of my skin. i haven't done anything other than wash it, when i remember to for my entire life. not smart. this changes now. i will go on the hunt for my favorite skin care products. 

•i will be gentle with myself and treat me with the same kindness and respect that i show to others. 

•i will start being more conscious of what i put into my body and make a more concerted effort to feed myself with things that are good for me. 

•water. i will drink more. lots more. 

•sun. i love the sun and a sun-kissed glow makes me simply feel better about myself....but it can come at a high price that i am not willing to risk. i have already lost so much to melanoma. i will get my spray-tan on and start hunting for the best self tanner.

•i will make fitness a lifestyle choice and start incorporating it into my life wholly.

•i will say "yes". i can talk myself out of almost anything with my self-doubt. when someone includes me in something i will try my hardest to say "yes". adventures await. 

although both of our lists are different, they both recognize that this is an important, point in our lives and it calls for change. we are looking forward to sharing with you our adventures in #countdownto40 which will culminate with us meeting in houston, texas in december to celebrate our birthdays together. looking forward to sharing the journey with you all!

how about you? did you do something special for your 40th? is that year more significant than others? 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

monthly must haves: heather's august picks

both genelle and myself love trying out new products. we have decided to start this monthly compilation of a few of our favorite must have items. this month i am taking the lead with my current obsessions i have already been telling all of my friends about and am excited to share with you.

i am a health and fitness gadget junkie and i *love* fitness trackers. if there is a fitness tracker made, i probably own it. the problem with most fitness trackers is that they look great when at the gym or running around town in your yoga pants, but are so unfashionable when you are not. one of the things i love most about my misfit shine is that the small, circular device can be worn a multitude of ways; this includes being able to pop it out and inserted it into a leather watch band (as seen above). the shine is functional and fashionable and can be worn in the water. i also love that it uses a watch battery so you don't have to remember to keep charging it every couple of days as you do with most fitness trackers. my favorite feature though is the free app that the shine syncs with on my phone----it includes a sleep tracker and it has been a major eye-opener to my sleep patterns. the misfit shine is awesome. if you end up getting one, let us know and we can link up to compete and encourage each other in our fitness goals.

i am a sucker for the splendid brand. i own way more of their clothing than i should admit....but my current obsession is the asymmetrical dress. i am not a person that wears dresses all the time and i now own this dress in every color. that is how wonderful it is. it is comfortable, fashionable and the fabric is such that i can wear it around town with flip flips and then add some jewelry and heels and it transitions seamlessly to night. it's perfection. 

i love jewelry and when you own a lot of it, like i do, it is hard to find a great box to store it in that is not only fashionable but also functional. glamboxes are truly swoon-worthy and now all of my jewelry is perfectly organized, stored and displayed in a beautiful, custom acrylic masterpiece. they make make-up boxes also that are on my wish list for sure!

i am not even sure how to begin describing this, because it is so unique and revolutionary that its really one of those things you have to see with your own eyes. loreal makeup genius is a *free* app that allows you to virtually try on make-up onto your own reflection in real-time. i've tried to explain it to countless people and it's impossible to do it justice---you just need to trust me and download it now and see with your own eyes. you can try on specific products as well as test out amazing looks that have already been put together by beauty experts. not only is this app completely changing the way that i shop for make-up, and a valuable tool for is also a blast to use with my nieces and the neighborhood kids (okay, okay....i admit that i have now also have some hilarious photos and videos of my boys in make-up too.....can we say future wedding slide show?!). 

your iron is going to beg you not to try this product, because it will be out of a job when this comes home from the store with you. truth. i now even bring it with me when i travel, because it is quickly becoming something that i can't live without. downy wrinkle releaser is a simple spray that, when spritzed over fabric, magically releases all of the wrinkles. no joke. it even works on curtains, throw pillows, sheets...anything. as a busy, single mama this is a 100% must have.

now that i have found these, i am certain to be a devoted customer for years to come. packit is a freezable lunch bag that not only keeps my boys lunches cool for hours, but it is big enough to fit a good-sized lunch and a drink and it stays securely closed, even with the way my littles swing their bags around on the way to school. it's a must-have for school, summer camps and even as an adult for the office. 

are you tired? stressed? dark circles under your eyes? (sounds like me and just about every mommy i know). you need these. eyes are collagen gel pads that are packed with moisture, tons of vitamins and other good things that give you a mini-spa moment in the comfort of your own home. i tried them first after a workout (as you can see above) and, after 20 minutes i not only felt more relaxed and refreshed, but the area under my eyes was noticeably improved. i'm hooked. my current favorite is coconut, but they also carry green tea and ice water, which are fantastic, too.

disclaimer: although we received some products for free, many are purchased on our own dime and *all* are products that we love and the opinions are all our own.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

summer hiatus

summer is officially over. heather's two boys are back in school and my three oldest have started this week. come labor day weekend, the two littles will be in school too and for the first time in eleven years (yes, you read that, e - l - e - v - e - n years) i will have three hours, two days a week to myself. i won't know what to do with myself.

i'm not going to lie, i'm happy to get back into the normalcy of routine. everyone in my family seems to function a little bit better with places to go and things to do. still, i'm a little nostalgic about the start of one more year in school. i have a middle schooler. i still don't know how that happened. with two in elementary and two in preschool, i know my days with this little crew of people are slipping away one year at a time. they are growing up and with each school year that starts, i'm more and more aware of how few years i really have with them under my roof. the days are long and the years are so, so very short.

with that realization playing in my mind, heather and i have been working on prioritizing our lives. we are trying to keep the important things in their rightful place as important things. we are giving ourselves permission to take time with our kids and enjoy them. if that means that we don't do as many blog posts over the summer then so be it. we're working on embracing our priorities and our choices...guilt free. does that mean that our summer blog posts have been few and far between? absolutely. does it also mean that we got to create amazing memories with our kids and actually be present in their lives this summer like we haven't in the past. it does indeed.

the best part of this process (let's just call the process "growing wiser with age") is that we are learning to brush off self criticism in the process. when my now middle schooler leaves the house in seven years, am i going to look back and say, "i really wish i had written two posts a week that summer instead of one?" probably not. so we are wiping the slate clean for ourselves and erasing the self guilt of not doing "everything" that we could be doing in during the day, many times at the expense of our kids or (and here's the hardest one to value) at the expense of ourselves. we are learning not just to prioritize our families but also ourselves. that is truly revolutionary for us.

so, here we are. we are officially back to routine. our blog posts will increase. our lives will get back into a rhythm. there will be less than 200 "mommy" yells a day. and that is both wonderful and sad at the same time. we have missed writing. we've missed our own blogging routine. we are glad to be back....but we are also so very glad we took time this summer to do some guilt free prioritizing. it was necessary and for us, it was the best decision we could have made.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

mmmmm: smoky glazed maple salmon supper

  • i am not going to lie. when i first saw this fabulous recipe by rachael ray, i was a little nervous. i was worried i wouldn't be able to make it as beautifully as the recipe showed. still, i was feeling adventurous and gave it a try. i'm so glad i did. this is delicious and it looks fantastic to serve for guests or just to serve for dinner. i am always looking for healthy and tasty dinners for the family. this one is perfect.

  • the other great thing about this recipe? it has the same ingredients as *rachael ray nutrish for cats*. my aging cat loves this food made with all natural ingredients. his coat is beautiful and he is such a happy little animal. the food would be fantastic for your cat as well. if you would like to make the switch to nutrish, here is a coupon for you to get started on the switch over for your cats: nutrish coupon.

we are so sure you will love it that we are even offering a prize to one winner. simply comment on our blog or our facebook post and you can win a bag of nutish dry food as well as some samples of the wet cat food. you'll have this amazing salmon dinner for two, you and your cat. 

you'll also be helping animals everywhere. since it launched, proceeds from rachael ray nutrish have raised more than $6 million for rachael's rescue, which helps animals in need. it's a win, win, win. for more information on nutrish, please click here.

  • smoky maple-glazed salmon and brown rice supper

  • 1 cup brown or white rice
  • 1 bundle watercress or upland cress (2 cups), stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 4 medium to large carrots or multi-colored farmer's market carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon all-natural liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup dark amber maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 salmon fillets, skin removed (8 ounces each)
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seafood seasoning
  • 2 cups frozen sweet peas
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped

Prepare the brown or white rice, according to the package directions. When the rice is done, fluff with a fork and combine with the watercress leaves.
When the rice has been cooking for 5 minutes, pre-heat the broiler and heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon EVOO, a turn of the pan. Add the carrots to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Sauté to tender-crisp, 6-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring the liquid smoke, maple syrup and vinegar to a boil and reduce over high heat, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Season the salmon with salt, pepper and Old Bay seafood seasoning. Heat the remaining tablespoon EVOO, a turn of the pan, in a large, ovensafe, nonstick skillet and cook the salmon top-side down, 3-4 minutes. Flip and pour the maple syrup glaze over the top of the fish and place under the broiler for 3 minutes to caramelize the glaze.
Add the peas to the carrots and heat through while the fish is under the broiler. Add the butter and chives to the veggies. When the butter has melted, turn off the heat.
Serve the salmon with the peas and carrots and rice with watercress alongside.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

10 rules for surviving divorce with young children

1. like nemo...... just keep swimming. some days it might feel as if you are swimming through honey. whatever you do, just keep moving. you will get through this. what is coming next might be crappy or maybe (hopefully) amazing but whatever you do..... just. keep. swimming. dog-paddle, if you must. just don't stop. if you stop, you might drown.

2. figure out who you can talk to...and who you can't. most people in your life will come from a place of love when offering advice. however, even the best intentioned may only help to increase your anger when expressing their own emotions of hurt and anger towards your ex. i don't know about you, but anger was not an emotion i needed more of. depend and rely more on the friends that will listen and offer support and love....and not express as passionately the anger and hurt you may be trying (oh, so hard) to keep at bay.

3. there will be causalities of war. you will lose some mutual friends and family. it will hurt. this, sadly, is inevitable. relationships change, people take sides loudly or in a quiet way by silently slipping away. but at some point, it happens. if you are a person who cares deeply about people (like i do) it is a painful heartache to see relationships change and even disappear. 

4. get a paid best friend (aka a therapist). a paid best friend is someone you can talk to about everything you are feeling and can listen with an unbiased ear and offer advice and support. it will be the best money you ever spent. it doesn't mean that you are weak or something is wrong with you. you are strong and brave....and (bonus): having someone to vent to will keep you from being one of those people that write crazy facebook status updates sharing more than they should.

5. put on your big girl panties and do whatever is best for the kids. it will sometimes go against everything in your nature, just do it. it is not their fault this is all happening. they will be affected by your divorce no matter what. so, try to keep them out of it as much as you can.  take the high road. protect the kids at whatever cost. put a smile on your face, make them feel safe and protected and loved. do not put them in the middle. protect their image of their father or mother. it doesn't matter what happened and how much you hate your ex---he/she is their parent. don't be the one to shatter the illusion they have of their parent's perceived perfection. life moves too fast. the years are flying by and they are growing so quickly. they will, sadly, know the reality at some point in their life. let it not be from you.

6. learn to love yourself again. depending on your situation, divorce can leave you feeling like you don't even know the person you have become. somehow, throughout my marriage i lost myself. it wasn't sudden. it was in small, tiny ways that chopped away at who i was. once the marriage ended, i realized all of those tiny chips equaled some pretty major erosion to who i thought i was. take the time to find out who you are as an individual, not as the couple. it's taken time, but i really, really like the strong, authentic, loving woman i have become. i love her. find the silver lining...

7. be kind. force yourself to find kindness even where you think there is none. at all kids performances, weddings, realize quickly that your ex really is a part of your life forever. you know the for better or for worse part of your vows? the ones that you thought you needed for the marriage? turns out they come in pretty handy for the divorce part too. when all else fails? follow the golden rule and treat people how you want to be treated....even if you are not treated the same in return.

8. embrace schizophrenia - this may sound weird....but, listen up. it helps to think of your spouse as two separate people--- one is the person you married and made a life commitment to..... and the other person is the father/mother of your children. compartmentalizing like this makes it easier to have conversations. find a way to separate 1.  the two of you and the marriage that didn't work out and all of that baggage from 2. the two of you as the co-parents to your children. protect that.

9. think before you speak. we all learned this when we were young and it still applies today. most of the words you wish you could take back will be those said in a moment of extreme emotion when you speak without thinking it through. stop. take a breath. process...think.... and then respond. 

10. really think before you start dating. this may not your time of life. people often ask me why i have chosen not to date, up to this point, even though it has been almost 3 years since my marriage ended. short answer? it is because i choose to put my kids first. i am not saying that you can't date....or that i won't, at some point, if the right person comes along....i am just saying you might want to give yourself time. divorce has a way of chewing you up and leaving you at your lowest. through that pain, you will learn so much about yourself. if you give yourself the time and the space to feel that pain and move through it without looking for someone else to heal it for you, i believe you will be better off for that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

san diego: come join me at the greatest show on earth®!

i am thrilled that the greatest show on earth®. ringling bros. and barnum & bailey® presents legends will be returning to san diego at the valley view casino center (formerly known as the san diego sports arena) from august 7-10th. i was able to attend last year with my oldest little and we had such an amazing time making memories. this year will be the first time my 4 year old gets to experience the circus with us and i can't wait to see the sparkle in his eyes as he watches the wonder and amazement of the circus come alive. this year, tickets are only $10 on opening night and a legendary $20 on other performances, so it is an affordable memory-making experience for the whole family. come join us!

be sure to arrive early for several exciting interactive elements they have before the show starts! opening 90 minutes prior to each performance, *all* ticket holders are invited to tour the animal open house to get up-close with their amazing animals. as if that isn't enough, one hour before show time, families can step onto the arena floor to meet the circus performers and animals at the interactive all access pre-show, *free* admission to all ticket holders. how wonderful is that?! plan on arriving early, because it was very crowded last year.

this year, iconic ringling bros. stars meet fabled mythological creatures at the place where legends live…the greatest show on earth®! experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing circus athletes perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder in a celebration of the LEGENDS that have captured imaginations for centuries. ringmaster johnathan lee iverson guides paulo the legend seeker on his quest to discover real, living circus legends from around the world…along the way encountering the fantastical pegasus, a unicorn and the remarkable woolly the mammoth!


thursday, august 7th – sunday, august 10th

•thursday, august 7th at 7:00 pm

•friday, august 8th at 11:00 am & 7:00 pm

•saturday, august 9th at 11:00 am, 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm

•sunday, august 10th 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm


valley view casino center (formerly san diego sports arena)

3500 sports arena boulevard, san diego, CA 92110


all ticket prices are $20 with the exception of $40 (vip), $110 (ringmaster zone).

special discounted opening night tickets for only $10 each (select seating only; not valid on vip/premium levels)

all seats are reserved; tickets available for purchase online through, charge by phone at 888-9AXS-TIX or visit the valley view casino center box office.

*tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees.

hope to see you there! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

mmmmm: teriyaki chicken with brown rice

i am always looking for amazing new recipes to try. when i was given this amazing rachael ray recipe from the fabulous team behind nutrish cat food, i had to try it out. it did not disappoint and each and every one of my kiddos polished their plates. that's nothing short of miraculous. 

the other great thing about this recipe? it has the same ingredients as *rachael ray nutrish for cats*. my two cats love this food made with all natural ingredients. their coats are beautiful and they are such happy little animals. if you would like to make the switch to nutrish, here is a coupon for you to get started on the switch over for your cats: nutrish coupon.

we are so sure you will love it that we are even offering a prize to one winner. simply comment on our blog or our facebook post and you can win a bag of nutish dry food as well as some samples of the wet cat food. you'll have this amazing chicken dinner for two, you and your cat. you'll also be helping animals everywhere. since it launched, proceeds from rachael ray nutrish have raised more than $6 million for rachael's rescue, which helps animals in need. it's a win, win, win. for more information on nutrish, please click here.

here's the recipe! enjoy!

teriyaki chicken with brown rice

for the rice:

2 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup brown whole grain rice

for the sauce:

1 cup chicken stock

1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce

3 tablespoons mirin (rice wine)

3 tablespoons dry sherry

2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons sugar

2 thin slices of fresh ginger root (i used dry ginger)

1 large clove garlic, crushed (i used minced)

for the chicken:

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (i used chicken strips)

sea salt and course black pepper

2 medium frying peppers, such as cubanelle, or anaheim, seeded and cut into strips (i used bell peppers because i had them from my garden and they needed to be used.)


in a small pot, bring the stock and butter to a low boil. stir in the rice and cover. reduce heat to low simmer and cook for about ten minutes until rice is tender.

place the sauce ingredients in another small pot and bring to a boil. let the sauce reduce by about half, 15 minutes at medium heat, at a low boil. (be careful it is a low boil! if it boils over, it makes a huge sticky mess...not that i would know.)

add about 2 tablespoons cooking oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. season the chicken with light salt and more aggressively with pepper. cook for about 8-9 minutes, turning occasionally. remove. add the peppers and stir for 2-3 minutes, letting them remain tender-crisp. add the scallions and toss for one minute more. remove from the heat.

slice the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch thick pieces (or just use the strips from the start.) 

arrange the rice on plates or in shallow bowls and top with peppers, scallions and chicken. drizzle the sauce evenly over the chicken and rice, then serve.


Monday, July 7, 2014

someday...part 3

someday. someday i'll wake up to a quiet house and this parenting business will all be in the rear view mirror. for now, i just dream of someday. 

someday part 1 and someday part 2

1. someday i'll be able to go the bathroom without returning to find this.

2. someday my laundry room won't look like this.

3. someday i won't find rocks in the washing machine.

4) someday i'll walk into the living room without finding mysterious spots on my sofa.

5) someday my kids will actually bring their shoes in from outside before a three day batch of rain.

6) someday i won't be forced to retrieve sippy cups thrown under adjacent cars.

7) someday my daughter will know that taking a pair of scissors and stabbing a brand new aerobed not once but twice might not be the best idea.

8) someday i will return from putting clean clothes away without finding a toddler playing in toilet water...all over the entryway.

9) someday my kids clothes won't appear with mysterious stains...all over them.

10) someday my son will eat a cookie without this happening on the one day i forgot to bring baby wipes.

someday...a girl can dream can't she? if you have pictures of your "somedays," send them our way. it's good to know we're not alone.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

summer challenge

i have to be honest, a summer with all five kids at home can be overwhelming. the last days of school, i can feel my heart beating faster, my breathing rapidly increase. i wouldn't say that i have a full blown panic attack but i definitely feel the pressure. thoughts of filling a summer with activity for five little people can be daunting.

this year, i decided to get organized. the more organized i became, the better i felt. i created an entire summer checklist for the kids to accomplish each day. surprisingly, the kids were all for this idea. we are now two weeks into our summer here in the south and we are on a roll. i can't say this will work for everyone but for us, this has been a life saver. too much idle time during the summer causes problems; kids fight, they are restless, and quite frankly, i don't want to have to entertain them all day everyday. i'm also from a family of educators. my dad is a retired principal, my mom's a former teacher and speech pathologist, my sister and sister-in-law both teach and i used to teach high school. my kids are surrounded. i don't want them to spend the summer losing all the information they learned over the school year.

all of those factors led to our "summer challenge." each day the kids have a series of tasks to do. at the end of the week, they can earn a star for completing a week of tasks. the stars add up to rewards. it's a simple concept but, surprisingly, the kids love it. i have to be honest, i love it too. they are busy and working for a couple of hours a day and i have time to sit with each of them to help them get their projects or teach them something new. i am actually thrilled with the results. feel free to use this idea and run with it. it may not work for you exactly the way it has worked for us but, please, make this your own and use it to bring some sanity to your own house this summer.

Rules: These were read to the kids on our first day. They all agreed so we kept going!

My kids had already been trained on their weekly chores so that was easy for them to continue. They had several books already purchased for them to enjoy over the summer. We purchased Bridge Books from

i printed out a check list for each week. i made several copies for each child with a place for the dates at the top. each child has their own clip boards so their lists can travel with them.

we brainstormed as a family for great ideas for rewards. this is what our family decided upon.

at the end of each week, if my kids have completed their assignments, they get a star for each area. 

They get to choose the reward for our family. That's it. So far so good. The kids are engaged. The days are full. The rewards are fun. This is my kids' summer challenge...and my summer sanity.