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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stay-cation Ideas

April is almost over, which means the time for wearing my comfy fleece pullover is probably almost over.  When I look at the calendar, summer seems to be right around the corner once again this year.  It seems that each year my husband and I vow to sit down and get a few things onto the calendar so we don't "miss" the summer.  What I mean is that we want to purpose to schedule some fun in the coming months so that when fall arrives and school days are here again, we can look back at our summer and think, "wow, we had so much fun as a family!"

Admittedly, we have not lived up to even our own expectations for a few years which is humbling and sad in a way.  However, the reasons vary as to why we didn't go many places or see all the people we wanted to see.  Ok, I digress...This year, we have once again sat down as a family and discussed things we would like to do this summer.  Pretty much all of the activities are close to home or right here at home.

You've heard the relatively new buzz word, "stay-cation", right?  The concept is of a stay-cation (I put the hyphen in there, don't know if anyone else does) is that instead of planning a long and possibly expensive vacation away from home, you plan short jaunts or day trips from home.  Or, there are many fun things you can do right in your own backyard that are a bit different, but activities that will surely make memories.

I thought I'd share some ideas for stay-cations that you can enjoy at home or close to home.  I'd love to hear your ideas for some fun summer activities that are fun, interesting and inexpensive.  We've discovered that you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a great time together as a family and that's great news for our budget!

Oh, and don't forget the camera every time you do something fun!  

Go to the local beach - fun times without a lot of fuss.  If you're blessed to live by the ocean, then head to the closest spot to you.  Local lakes are fun too and summer is a great time to discover the lakes in your area that maybe you haven't yet visited.  Toss in the water toys, inflatables, camp chairs, a cooler with food, sunscreen, towels, and perhaps a good book to read.  You're set! 

Visit your local zoo - granted, this does cost a little money, but surely not as much as an amusement park or water park.  Ask about yearly memberships, which can sometimes be much less expensive than visiting even twice through the year.  There's so much to see and enjoy at the zoo!  If you're a home educating family like us, you can use it as a learning experience (isn't everything a learning experience?) and even have the children create a photo album of their favorite animals in the days following your trip.  Plan to take along a cooler with lunch, snacks, and water or else you'll blow the budget on this day.  Perhaps plan to treat everyone to ice cream or something once you leave the zoo.  Ice cream is always fun!

Camp out in the backyard - it's ok to pitch a tent in your own backyard!  The children feel as though they are "camping" and yet you have all the comforts of home at your disposal if needed without spending a dime to do so.  Get a fire going and make s'mores or grill burgers and hot dogs for dinner, just like you would if you were camping.  Lie on your backs and count the stars.  Capture lightning bugs.  Tell stories and jokes.  Go to bed late and sleep in!  Sounds great doesn't it?  Um...where did you go?  Are you heading to the attic to get your tent?  Great!

Visit your local parks - we were amazed at the number of parks in our area.  We know of several that we frequent, but have discovered several more that are just begging for a visit!  Make a list of the parks you want to visit and then plan day trips.  It would be interesting to see how many of them you could visit in one summer.

Visit friends and family - it sounds simple enough, but sometimes we don't get to see our loved ones as often as we like during the hustle and bustle we call life.  Make plans to go, visit, laugh, and enjoy being together.  Hopefully you can stay with family while visiting, but if not, it's worth a few nights' stay at a hotel to see loved ones, right?

Plan a craft day - try your hand at paper mache, quilt piecing, pillow making, pottery, finger painting, or any other crafty project you've been wanting to try, but just couldn't get to during the school year.  Make a day of it complete with smocks, art supplies, and lots of drop cloths.  

Hit the bicycle trails - bicycling is free and it's a fun way to get some exercise while spending time together.  Find out what trails are in your area, pack up the bicycles, helmets, snacks, map, and water and go!

Go on a picnic - grab the food and drinks, a few blankets or camp chairs, frisbees, balls, and even kites and head to your local park.  Plan to spend the afternoon just relaxing and having fun!

Photography fun - take the cameras and go find interesting things to photograph.  Ideas might include nature, city buildings, pets, people, inanimate objects of all kinds, etc.  Just get creative and enjoy seeing the world through a camera lens.  The view can bring new perspective to ordinary things.

Movie night - not so original, I know.  But when a rainy day hits, curl up with the children, pop some popcorn or toss in a pizza and watch a few of your favorite movies.  This is vacation time after all!

Cookout and Game Day - invite family and friends over for a cookout and game day.  Ask each family to bring a dish to share, grill out, and organize a few games for the afternoon.  Keep it simple so you can enjoy yourself.  Top off the afternoon with a fire and roasting marshmallows.  Yum!

Dive into some great books - most libraries have reading programs for children over the summer.  Take time to get involved in these terrific programs.  Or, if your library doesn't offer one, make up a reading program at home.  Include prizes for reading a certain amount of time or for reading a certain number of books.  Give each child a goal for which to strive and enjoy seeing them get into books.  Don't forget to pick up a few books yourself.  There's nothing like getting lost in a good book!

Keep your eyes and ears open for summer activities in your area too.  Oftentimes, you can find free concerts, fairs, festivals, productions, and more during the summer months.  

Fall will arrive before we know plan to enjoy those lovely months before the snow flies.

Go apple picking and make delicious apple crisp, apple butter, apple pie, apple fritters, and applesauce.  Are you getting hungry?

Visit a fruit farm - enjoy the bountiful harvest of the year.  Pick pumpkins, buy a few hardy mums, and go on a hayride.  Good times!

I am sure there are many more stay-cation ideas that I've missed.

Would you be so kind as to share your ideas with us?

All my best to you today,