Beat Summer Boredom: Bird Watching

BirdwatchingBirdwatching is something you would typically think of as an adult activity, but not so. In fact, it was my toddler son who first piqued my interest in birds. One of his first phrases was “Lookittabirds, lookittabirds!” He was especially fascinated in the fall and winter when large flocks keep together and take off when spooked.

As the years have gone on and he’s matured, so has the hobby. We’ve found out that birders usually keep a life list and add to it when they spot a new species, so that was a must. He spends time on The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website listening to calls, and checks out books from the library about the world’s most bizarre birds (and believe me, they’re weirder than you think). When we travel to other places, he looks around for birds we don’t see at home. On a trip to Colorado earlier this year, we had the pleasure of seeing several bird strangers. He was able to use the birding app on his ipod to call them in close, and as they perched nearby and danced around, they held a kind of little “conversation” with him.

One tool he really enjoys is the monocular he got for his birthday this year. It’s handy to and light to tote around. A bird book from the library is equally helpful (although a good birding app will serve the same purpose). Still, you don’t have to have any fancy schmancy things to enjoy birdwatching. Just a few minutes, and some patience will do. See if your kids will get hooked, too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find out if I have the proper spelling of schmancy 🙂

Stellars Jay at Rocky Mountain National Park


Beat Summer Boredom: Alka-seltzer + Water Guns= FUN!

Alka-seltzer + Water Gun= FUN @

Ready for some water fun?

The concept is simple: use a needle to put a small hole into a fizzy tablet and make a necklace out of it with string.* Every one gets a necklace. Then have a water gun fight and see whose tablets last the longest. This can be played as an “every man for himself” type game, or you could use shirts/ bandanas/ bracelets to make teams.

It’s a good idea to have a few big buckets of water for refill points.


Once a person’s tablet is dissolved, he/she is out. If you’re playing with teams, the first team team to eliminate all of their opponents wins. If everyone is playing independently, the last person to have any portion of their tablet intact is the winner. For a very large group, you may want to have 4 or 5 winners.

Have fun 🙂

*You could also have the kids just tie the string around the tab.

Beat Summer Boredom: Ultimate Water Rocket!

I don’t mind telling you that my husband is the coolest dad on the block. What makes him so cool? Is it a red sports car with all the bells and whistles? Nah. The suave way he dresses? Not a chance. What is it then? It all comes down to one highly sophisticated toy.

Behold: the Water Rocket!

Water Rocket @ threecorneredhug.wordpress.comOk, so it doesn’t look like much, but this is totally the kind of thing that MacGyver would have used to keep cool in the summer (remember him?). Kids gather from all over the neighborhood to watch my husband shoot it off, and to hopefully get sprayed. The water rocket is even more popular than fireworks come Independence Day. A boy who visits his Grandparents across the street annually remembered it from last year. He begged us to bring over on the 4th. His grandpa, who teaches physics at the university here, is equally amazed– “It’s so scientific!”

If you’d like the plans to make your own, click here to go to the This Old House website. You can get plans and there’s also a video to show you how it’s done. You might tweak it a little. I’m told that it would be better to attach part of the string to each side of the trigger mechanism instead of one side as planned.

Now you too can be the the coolest. Only if you don’t live on my block 🙂


Beat Summer Boredom (and the heat!): Ice Skating

Ice Skates

Ice skating has long been one of our favorite summer activities. Yep, you read me right. Typically a person would only think about ice skating as a winter thing– but let’s face it, it’s hot outside and you don’t want to be out there. Where we live, it’s just a real special kind of life-sucking humid sort of heat, too.

Now, imagine how wonderful it feels when you enter that ice rink and suddenly your lungs are free to breathe in all of that fresh crisp air. It’s like a brick has been lifted right off of your chest! Have I convinced you yet?

We’re very fortunate here in that ice skating is very reasonably priced–only $2 each if you bring along a group. Our rink requires only 10 skaters for this, and it’s not hard to convince people to go! A quick email through our homeschool group’s chain made for about 30+ skaters yesterday, and we had a blast! Some rinks even have free days. So why are you still reading this? Call your local rink and see if you can make a deal!