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Topic Title: The Best Frugal Summers
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Created On: 05/17/2010 01:47 AM
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 05/17/2010 01:47 AM
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MyTMMO User
More Than Enough

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A friend doing the TMMO emailed me seeking advice about what summer activities and keeping her kids busy. She was concerned about the cost of swim team and she was concerned about her kids doing nothing over the summer.

I happen to be on vacation with my family right now and asked the girls what they remember as their best summers. There seems to be a recurring theme in their responses. It is the simple (and frugal) things that stick in their memory as the best of times. For example:

- Summer picnics in the park followed by an evening swim in the city pool
- Family bike rides
- Day trips to local lakes and renting paddle boats
- Attempting to create our own ice cream treats at home with homemade hot fudge sauce, homemade Blizzards, etc.
- They still love sitting out on the driveway in lawn chairs with the neighbors. When they were little, all the kids played freeze tag, caught fireflies and lit sparklers. We kept a nice supply of sparklers and glow-in-the-dark trinkets.
- Going out to the observatory and pulling out our own telescope
- Lying on blankets on the ground or in the hammock and looking up at the stars
- Reading, reading and more reading. I paid them to read books I wanted them to read plus they had stacks of their own books they wanted to read.

It is funny how they remember the simple things as the best things. Consider this before you fill up your kids' summer with expensive and time consuming activities. Down time can be a very good thing.

KV
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 05/17/2010 11:23 AM
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MyTMMO User
I am Dave

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Thanks KV!
I think I am going to make a list of your activities, ask the kids to add their ideas, and plan a frugal summer too! We may try to get away for a long weekend, I just need to see how we can do that on the cheap side. We are not campers, but we could borrow some equipment and give it a go...
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 05/17/2010 12:09 PM
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Ahnald Schwarzedollar

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We went to Myrtle Beach in January... the wrong time of the year to make such a trip, but were trying to coordinate time away that fit everyone's schedule. On the way home I asked what everyone's favorite thing for the week was. DS18's girlfriend said playing Rook together. (Rook is a card game.) So forget about the cost and hours to get there... kids love just spending time together.
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 05/17/2010 12:51 PM
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MyTMMO User
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I read this thread right before bed last night and started thinking about what my brother and I did during the summers growing up. We never had fancy vacations or expensive camps or anything. My mom worked full-time, so her summer money was mostly spent just trying to keep us appropriately supervised over the summer!

Any trips we did take were to Ohio to see family. We spent the summer after my 3rd grade with my grandparents and a few weeks the following summer with my aunt and uncle. My aunt and uncle did take us and their 2 boys to a cabin in southern Ohio for a few days that summer, and what I remember about that was swimming in the pool and playing cards with my uncle and cousins. There was probably some amount of sight-seeing in there, I don't remember it though. That's a lot of what I remember about the summer with my grandparents too - playing cards with my grandfather, my grandmother teaching me to crochet, playing games with my brother, etc. I turned 9 in Ohio and my grandmother gave me a birthday party with my cousins, her neighbor kids, her friends' grandkids, etc.

A lot of the other summers were spent at various day camps or with a babysitter. Some summers involved summer school. When we were old enough to stay home alone during the summer, it mostly involved watching TV or going to the free drop-in program at the park. When I got to high school, I did go to church camp for a week in the summer for 4 years, but that was the extent of fancy summer plans.

The best summer was the summer I turned 17, because my friend who I hadn't seen in 4 years came and stayed with us for a few weeks and I enjoyed spending time with him. My mom took us to the water park one day, but other than that it was just hanging out and spending time together after not seeing each other in 4 years. We're still good friends and you can usually find him making some sarcastic comment on my Facebook status, lol.

I guess all that to say I agree with you KV, and the others. Fancy or expensive plans don't necessarily become the things kids like the best or remember. It's the simple things that kids remember. And a lot of kids would prefer to stay home and play than all the camps and classes and over-scheduling that their parents think they need.
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 05/17/2010 12:56 PM
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Yesterday hubby and I took our kids hiking. We drove an hour away to do a specific hike - 2 miles to waterfall and natural hot soaking pools. (FYI the soaking pools made it possible for me to hike back down)

The kids had a blast. The big kids (19,17,13) had so much fun showing little sister (7) all sort of stuff. As I listened I had tears because everything they said I had taught them on our summer free fun adventures. Over the 2 mile hike they told her about other hikes, summer river swims, fishing, explained rocks, flowers, animals etc.

The hike was a bit tough on me - hadn't done this taxing of one since back surgery, but going up one particular tough spot DD7 takes my hand and says Mommy I'm so glad you take us to fun places.

Going home the music was turned up and the kids were singing at the top of their lungs (something I taught them to do years ago) - I quickly flipped the volume down and they kept singing. Hubby doesn't do many of these things with us due to work, and later he said happiness is riding in the van with 4 kids, no fighting and they are happily singing together for over an hour.

Favorites of the kids
1. Playing in the river or lake
2. Climbing the waterfall (another one we go to)
3. Tag at the park (think war doge ball and this would about sum up how cut throat tag is)
4. Taking a nap on the grass
5. Moon parties - watching the moon come up.
6. Canning
7. Driving to a meadow and watching the deer and elk eat at dusk.
8. Fishing - even catch and release
9. Renting skidoos at the lake
10. Drive in Theatre
11. Hiking because we always ate and played in the water.

I'm with KV - its not the expensive things they remember.
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 05/17/2010 03:10 PM
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MyTMMO User
Living like no one else

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Some of my happiest memories are from summer when I was 7-10 years of age. My folks didn't have a lot of money, but we had a gorgeous setting in the woods and on a lake. I swam all summer, paddled canoe, fished for sunfish, played "fort" in the woods with a "fort" I built, played house in my real tree house that my dad built me, played school with my sister, picked raspberries, had ice cream or freeze pops on a hot summers day, played in the sprinkler, had water balloon fights with the neighborhood kids (summer cabin dwellers), explored the woods, took long walks, identified plants, trees, rocks, and read books from the local library at a rate of about 1 per day. That was the life!
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 05/17/2010 04:09 PM
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MyTMMO User
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We don't sign the kids up for anything during the summer. The most organized thing they do is go to VBS. I've never cared for the idea of too much organization for the kids during the summer - I think it misses a chance to develop creativity in the kids.

We DO take a vacation with them - varies every year as to what that is - but after that, they play with neighbor kids, or we go hiking, to the river, to visit relatives, we work in the yard, play board games, watch the Tour de France together (yeah, weird huh), bike ride, go floating, go to the library (which used to be my favorite as a child!)... but I want them to be free to explore and to learn to entertain themselves.

An "I'm bored" gets them something to do. So that doesn't get said often.

Edited: 05/17/2010 at 04:47 PM by MyTMMO User
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 05/17/2010 04:39 PM
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I am Dave

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My kids said:

Swimming in the lake, swimming at the ocean, making popsicles, playing with the slip n slide, sitting around a campfire, catching frogs and toads, fishing, family game night, family movie night, homemade "extreme" croquet, shooting hoops in the driveway, bike riding around the neighborhood, climbing trees, building a fort, camp outs, hiking, going to parades, seeing fireworks, reading outside, climbing on the swingset, and sleeping.
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 05/17/2010 07:44 PM
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MyTMMO User
Leavin' out the "C"

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Lots of good summer memories that didn't cost a thing -- here are the ones that come to mind most...
Riding our bikes
Swimming in the pond
learning how to double jump rope
playing Jacks
lots of reading - Little House books, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden were favorites but I also read my Mom's books that she read when she was a teenager (Penny Parish & Candy Kane series)
picking blackberries
playing kick-the-can in the dark

Thanks so much for posting this KV. Had a hard day today and it did my heart good to remember simpler times.
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 05/17/2010 09:04 PM
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My daughters are looking forward to hanging with friends, youngest wants to do a lemonade stand with playmates, chalking on the driveway, riding bikes, making plays and performing them for the neighborhood, teenager likes to practice dances with friends, handstands on the grass, and night games.

I'm bored get you something to do and its normally labor intensive. So not said much.
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 05/17/2010 10:01 PM
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MyTMMO User
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This is such a great post! DH and are I trying to think of fun things to do this summer since we've got tons of down time (teachers), while staying on track with BS2. Some things on my adult summer list include:

*going to the library for an entire morning
*taking our puppy to the local park to play fetch and walk (she can play for hours!)
*making homemade ice cream
*going for bike rides- I used to do this all the time growing up, so excited we've got time now
*renting a movie from the Redbox and making different kinds of homemade popcorn
*drive to Aligator Point (FL) for a late night swim!
*running to SBux for the Sunday NY times and some pastries for an entire day in bed eating, reading, and lounging in PJ's (we also are church musicians, so we rarely get a Sunday off... sometimes you need an entire weekend!)
*and as always, I love trying new recipes over the summer when I more time to cook
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 05/18/2010 12:36 PM
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LOL - wizardrose, did you read my post or do we just happen to resort to the same kiddie torture?
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 05/18/2010 06:41 PM
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This is such a great post! DH and are I trying to think of fun things to do this summer since we've got tons of down time (teachers), while staying on track with BS2. Some things on my adult summer list include:



*going to the library for an entire morning

*taking our puppy to the local park to play fetch and walk (she can play for hours!)

*making homemade ice cream

*going for bike rides- I used to do this all the time growing up, so excited we've got time now

*renting a movie from the Redbox and making different kinds of homemade popcorn

*drive to Aligator Point (FL) for a late night swim!

*running to SBux for the Sunday NY times and some pastries for an entire day in bed eating, reading, and lounging in PJ's (we also are church musicians, so we rarely get a Sunday off... sometimes you need an entire weekend!)

*and as always, I love trying new recipes over the summer when I more time to cook


Swimming at Alligator Point sounds like it could be quite the adventure, especially if said alligators are present :-) LOL! My parents live in Flordia where gators are as common as deer are here in NC.
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 05/18/2010 06:51 PM
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MyTMMO User
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Going to try some geocaching with the kids when DH is able to go with us. I need help with giving piggy back rides to our middle daughter who's endurance isn't as good as the rest of us (middle daughter has Down Syndrome). Work on learning to ride bikes without training wheels for the 5 and 6 year old. Take small, early morning walks around the neighborhood to help with middle daughter's endurance and muscle tone. I'm going to use the idea of paying the kids to read. That means lots of trips to the library - yay! I'll use reading time to help our angel girl with school stuff. How much should we pay the girls for reading? My 2 readers are going to be in 1st grade and 5th grade next school year.
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 05/18/2010 10:29 PM
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I love this thread.
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 05/19/2010 09:55 PM
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MyTMMO User
I'm not normal

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Thanks for all of the ideas.

We camp and already have booked four trips for this summer at Michigan state parks. Lots of PB&Js and inexpensive meals. And we have a canoe, so we fish quite a bit, too. We also go mountain biking with the older kids (DS 13 and DD 10) at a park just about three or four miles from here.

We do have a pool at our house and the next-door neighbors just put up a basketball court, so I know what the kids will be doing all day while I'm at work (DH is a teacher, so he'll be out there, too). The good thing is I'm not jealous. Not at all. Nope. (ha!)

We, too, read. A LOT during the summer, so lots of trips to the library. When the kids were younger, they'd swap books with our neighbors who are the same age. We also often take walks after dinner just around the neighborhood with our dogs and get to see all of our neighbors that we don't see during the winter (we live in Michigan).

Because bedtimes are so late, we like to do movie nights where we may watch two or three at a time, like Star Wars or some other series that we have in our (dwindling) DVD stash. We make popcorn, of course.

DD10 has learned that she can't complain about being bored because she'll get to do something that's not so fun, like go pick up sticks in the backyard or sort laundry. Works every time!

(Edited to add more ideas)

Edited: 05/21/2010 at 08:02 PM by MyTMMO User
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 05/19/2010 10:22 PM
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I'm bookmarking this thread. I sold the TV b/c I didn't want to move it and then packed up all the movies. DD is whining about not having anything to do now, and I'm trying to encourage her to play and use her imagination more. I think I might have damaged her by letting her watch so many movies.
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 05/19/2010 10:38 PM
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MyTMMO User
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This is such a great thread. My DS5 is asking what camps I'm sending him to this summer - he wants to go to rock climbing camp (fun, but super expensive)....DUH, we need to take him climbing ourselves! We live near a lake! Swimming! Boating! This is fantastic. Keep the ideas coming!
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 05/19/2010 11:43 PM
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More Than Enough

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Hands down......
My Mamaw and Papaw owned a big ol 4 bedroom ranch home on 5 flat acres. After my Papaw mowedhe would pull up a lawn chair and sit and watch cars go by, then Mamaw would get out her chair and us kids would play and have popscicles and run in the grass .

People would drive by, hand thrown up in the air and we would all wave back too.

Then my uncle would put us in the back of the pickup and we'd go for a slow ride down the paved country road we lived on and the sun going down with the warm breeze blowing through our grass filled hair is something I'll always cherish...always always always.

And once, I even saw a black panther in the woods right beside our house. I knew what he was because of the movie Jungle Book...I thought to my little self "There's Bagheera!" He was the prettiest thing with the setting sun shining on him. I can see his coat shining right now. I told my Mom but she did not believe me one bit. I guess he must have already ate, because he saw me before I saw him and he paid me no attention. He could have picked me up in 3 seconds flat that's how close he was!
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 05/20/2010 01:12 AM
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As a child, my parents didn't have a lot of money. Needless to say, we NEVER took any kind of family vacation. Every summer though, they DID take us to a local amusement park which didn't cost them anything as it was where my Dad had his work shop picnic. We could bring as many people as we liked!! Ahh..the memories. I remember riding the tilt-a-whirl, the yo yo and the round-up, then I threw up. I still cant ride rides that go around in a circle, except for the Ferris Wheel. I LOVED the roller coaster, still do.
Whenever we went to this amusement park, it was like a family reunion because we would invite those relatives who DIDN'T work at this shop(local GE plant). A lot of my uncles DID work at GE so there were only a few family members who were really getting in for free. Mom would pack a picnic and we'd eat before we went out to ride the rides. As I got older, I was allowed to wander the park by myself.

We've not taken a big vacation with our son. We do go camping frequently during the summer with our first trip planned for Memorial Day Weekend!
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