If you have two days in San Antonio…part 1

We arrived in San Antonio right at dinner time. We stayed at the Marriott Riverwalk (with a river walk view room) and I would highly recommend it. Although there are lots of other quality hotels in the area, you get a great view of the riverwalk, there’s a Starbuck’s in the hotel, and it is walkable to lots of the main San Antonio attractions (like The Alamo). We checked in and then headed to Casa Rio for dinner…

I got the green chile chicken enchiladas (which I forgot to take a picture of), and they were excellent. The boys got nachos and tacos. The margaritas were also excellent!

One of my favorite things about our hotel besides the view:

Was the fold out couch. We usually have a room with two doubles or queens, but it saves us many an argument for the boys to be in separate beds…

 

The next morning we enjoyed our coffee on the balcony:

Then headed to the Alamo!

I have to say we lucked out with our weather. Texas is hot (boardering on insufferable) in July, and we managed to get overcast days with slightly cooler than average temperatures. The boys loved the Alamo, and we did pretty much everything you could do, from watching the movie on Alamo history to listening to a speech on Alamo artillery.

These two were the best listeners of the whole bunch:

And you’ve got to find the House cat:

We thought it was just a stray cat, but they have stuffed animals that match it in the gift shop, so apparently it is a house cat. After we left the Alamo we went to the river walk mall to escape an incoming rain shower, had lunch at the food court, then headed back to the hotel’s activity room:

We kept it pretty low key, which was great for the kids. Some sightseeing mixed with downtime is essential for avoiding meltdowns! We headed to County Line on the Riverwalk for dinner:

Their brisket and black eyed peas and bread were delish:

Afterward we headed out on the riverboat tour of the Riverwalk, which was fun:

A enjoyed it, despite contrary tween facial expressions. The boat tour is a great way to see and hear about the history of the city. And to see buildings like this:

It looks like there is no side! A cool optical illusion, with an interesting back story (I won’t spoil it). After the boat tour we headed off to bed with a cavern and zoo in our sights!

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This and that

This is the haul of shirts I bought for the boys at Old Navy and The Gap for $14.15 (total):

No, this is not a paid advertisement. Yes, this is why I have a Gap card. And actually I got a free gift with purchase, so if you deduct that, the total is actually $2.

This is my favorite lunch at Connor’s…

Crab cakes with sweet potato fries.

This is the beach set B asked me to pick up from Costco…

Hopefully now we have enough sand castle building items!

These are the books J is loving right now, and are on his summer reading list…

I hope that he’s always this excited about summer reading!

This is the way the boys are chilling in the shade outback right now:

These are the baby birds hanging out by our baby maple tree:

And that was the happiest way to tell me I’m done grading in my Canvas app…

 

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Summer learning routine

I felt like a champion when I realized I scheduled my online discussions on my summer work days (also known as “things only teachers get excited about”):

And with my summer work schedule I’m also planning for the boys’ “avoid the summer slump” routine…outside of going to the pool:

Playing all the board games, puzzles, and domino mazes:

And summer road trips:

We’ll be doing…

Summer reading through the library

Kahn Academy courses in math and Pixar in a Box:

Xtramath for A (a program he can access through his school) & addition/subtraction flash cards for J

 

Mario Teaches Typing (super old, we found it and downloaded on our desktop for the kids)

Super Solvers (also super old, same deal as Mario Teaches Typing):

My plan is to have them switch off spending about a half-hour to hour a day on one of these four choices (reading will be everyday). They can pick one on one day, then pick a different one on another. By the end of the week we’ll have gotten to all five in some shape or form. I’m also planning to pick up a few new Smithsonian & Eyewitness books (either through Amazon or the library) like these:

 

J’s school also does an awesome summer learning packet:

And I’ve got a cursive writing learning packet for A:

We’re also going to take some craft days, pull out all the art supplies and just create and craft with abandon:

No artist, no story, just paint, create, and imagine. That’s the best of summer! Downtime, being bored, and learning on free flowing time. Oh and I’llalso be answering lots of this:

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J’s nature journal

J’s new thing on hikes is recording nature. He brings a little notebook and pen with him and writes down the names of things he sees and then draws a small sketch to go with it. The artist in me loves this! He also has plans to fill in the pictures with watercolors.

On our easy hike around Hayes we found flowers, a stream, moss, trees, leaves, and grass:

And a barn owl! See if you can spot her through the trees:

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Current favorite views

Our library book stack:

Every year my sister makes these pickles:

 

A is obsessed with these, and he doesn’t even like pickles. He’s eating them faster than I am!

Fine motor skills:

Summer goal accomplished:

Which is after we eat we rinse our items and put them in the dishwasher. And put trash items in the trash.

The flowers on my work campus are in full bloom and gorgeous:

 

And this line of wear on B’s hat that J wore:

Melts my heart!

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Bricks, big and small

We built houses with big bricks this week:

And created games with small bricks (Legos):

That we played together:

And now that we’ve reached the official mid-summer, it’s too hot to go out midday, I picked up this set on a Target run:

For the boys to work on together:

Collaborative group work at its finest.

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Story time & book finds

For the first four years of both the boys’ lives, story time at the library was a constant. A branch of our library has an awesome story time and we never missed a week. So I was not surprised at all when the boys and I ventured into the library last week and it was packed out for story time with our favorite librarian who still remembers both boys (and their names). At first, J said he didn’t want to join in on story time and just wanted to pick out books. However, as we were picking books, he got a little chair and scooted closer to the circle and sat there smiling. Then when they were done and started the craft he immediately said “I want to do the craft, too!” So craft he did:

J loved it! And we got a stack of new books to read including:

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Driveway painting activity

As the boys are getting older they are playing more on their own, creating their own games and adventures. We don’t do summer activities quite as much as we used to, but when we do I look for ones that the boys are able to do a majority of the steps, as they get bored quickly if it takes awhile to set-up. They also tend to like ones that involve either painting or cooking. A chalk paint activity fits into the create and paint category.

The boys started out by scooping the cornstarch and water into muffin cups and then adding food coloring to each:

Then they mixed up the colors (green was a favorite, ha!):

Then they started painting:

J created this sweet cross:

And when they got bored I dumped everything out and they painted with that:

And then they were done and off to ride bikes after we cleaned up! An activity that was more time doing than setting up was perfect for a summer morning!

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Prepping for summer

I know it’s not even May yet, but with the end of the school year barreling toward us, I’m already sketching out a plan for the boys to avoid the “summer slump”. Otherwise known as the “I’m bored!” portion of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with them being bored, in fact there’s great learning and creativity that can result from boredom. However, I also have a plan of some ideas to help stretch those summer days. 

The first thing I already have in my mind is our library’s summer reading program. The boys love reading anyway, this just gives them a fun way to record their reading and will include a weekly library trip. Even if they are beyond story time (insert my crying face here), they still love searching for books. I have the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, Audubon, on the Wings of the World, The Chronicles of Narnia series, and The Wolf Wilder for A. And for J we are working through BOB books, Narwhal and Jellyfish, and the Ordinary People Change the World series. 


Second up is journaling. We are taking several trips this summer, and the boys have a few day camps and swim lessons lined up, and A mentioned wanting to take something to write in for our trips. I thought, what a cool idea for both boys. An unlined journal allows them space to draw pictures, write stories, or include any stickers or momentos. Especially for A, who right now wants to be a writer, chronicling different events helps him think of story ideas for later on.

Rainy/way too hot afternoon activity. We watched Planet Earth II this Spring and immediately upon finishing it, A said, “so there was a Planet Earth I? We need to watch that!” This show captures the boys’ attention almost more than Pokémon and Octonauts. Almost.

Play on your own items. In general, if the boys get to the point they are too loud, fighting too much, or in general bugging each other, I employ the Mom standard “go play on your own”. For A this typically means reading a book. For J, it’s pulling out all of his craft supplies to create, color, and make cards. A new set of easel paper, stamps like these, and more glue sticks are definitely on my list to buy before summer begins.

Snack math time. I don’t even know how A remembers all these things, but he mentioned needing division and multiplication flash cards to work on his skills (his words). Every summer since A started kindergarten, we would do math snack time in the mornings, where the boys would have a snack and I’d go through math flash cards with A. This year J will join in with word family tiles.

Board games. Both collaborative board games like our current favorite, Dinosaur Escape and competitive, like Clue, Jr.:

I like having both collaborative and competitive on hand, because it’s nice to play sometimes without the five year old meltdown when J loses. And now that I’ve got a summer list for the boys started, I’m going to go finish my nightly, end of the semester grading! 

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