So, as I promised, here is the tentative schedule I created for the summer. As of yet, I don't have many pictures of our activities, but I will be toting the camera along and posting snapshots of our activities as we go.
I created a calendar in an Excel spreadsheet (because that's just the sort of geek I am) and it worked pretty well for me. I was able to list events and make notes on locations and estimated costs. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to copy and paste it legibly here (because that's not the sort of geek I am.) I'm sure someone out there has a better way of doing it that is prettier, so feel free to steal it if you want to and make it yours. If you live in the area and want more information about the locations I have listed, I will do my best to include links so you can research on your own.
When creating this schedule, my first goal was to keep my girls busy but still allow them downtime each day. My second goal (since I am jobless) was to keep the cost of things as low as possible. The budget for each of the weeks is around $50 for everything we have planned. This took a LOT of research and even more imagination, but I am pretty proud of what I was able to create as far as plans go. Most of the destinations are free and the rest are discounted or inexpensive. If I need to cancel something for the sake of cash on hand, it won't make a huge impact on the entire summer. We will pack lunches where ever we go to eliminate the need to spend money eating out. (My cooler is going to get a workout!) My girls will be given their own small allowance to spend on souvenirs if they wish, but I have a feeling they will want to save it up for the weekly trip to the mall.
The themes I chose are as much a matter of what I know my girls will enjoy as what I would like them to learn. Since my girls are all complete nerds, they actually enjoy spending time at the library and museums so I scheduled plenty of both. Even though it is summer, I can't pass up the opportunity to let them learn about new things. They are usually good sports about my giving them "assignments" so I will give them something to focus on when they are in the library and that will hopefully give them something more to think about when we are out seeing things. They also love the water so I gave them a day each week to go to the pool. Each Friday I have planned a different shopping location so we can window shop, but also get some energy out where it is cool.
I tried to keep the need for grand preparation to a minimum. I can keep the items for swimming (sunblock, flip flops, sunglasses, etc.) in one bag so all I need to do is grab fresh towels and go. The library trips will be scheduled around the same time in the afternoon so the girls will know what to expect and when to have their library books ready to go. Other than packing a lunch for a longer day trip, I can pretty much jump and go to any of these places whenever it is most convenient for that day. I never know what my energy or pain level will be from one day to the next. The way I have things planned, they should be just as much fun whether I am able to run and jump or just crawl along. Each of the outings are within 45 minutes of home or less to keep the journey from being more tiring than the destination. Also, about half of the museums are located in Fair Park and there are trains that run into the area very regularly. That will give me the option of riding or driving.
In any case, here is a rough idea of what I have going on:
Wk1: Prep for the Lollar Summer Party - This was last week. Mostly, it was housework with a trip to an animal shelter to donate our newspapers. Saturday was totally awesome and if you didn't make it to the party, you sure wish you had because it rocked.
Wk2: Our Country - This week, in preparation for 4th of July, I wanted to give the girls a chance to learn about our country and how our freedom has been earned. We had to cancel the swimming on Tuesday because of the rain, but we will have plenty more chances to go later.
Wednesday we will go to the local Veterans Memorial park http://www.ci.irving.tx.us/parks-and-recreation/facilities/Irving-Veterans-Memorial-Park.html and then we will spend some time at the Central Library. The girls will have the task of researching facts about our Independence Day. What is the significance of July 4th? What year did it happen? Why did we want our independence? Who did we want independence from?
Thursday I am planning on taking them to DFW http://affiliates.uso.org/dfw/ to welcome in the troops coming home from overseas. If you live in the Dallas area and have never done this, make some time to go. It is an amazing experience and something that will make you feel good all the way down to your toes.
Friday is our shopping day so we will go to one of the many local Farmers Markets and maybe get some indoor exercise at a nearby mall.
Saturday there are all sorts of activities planned in our city so we will be very busy! 9:00 will be the parade in downtown, 6:30 will be sprinkler time on the town square, and there will be concert and coordinated fireworks display starting at 8:30.
Sunday is always a free day for us. I like to keep the schedule clear so that I have at least one full day to rest up and the kids have a day to unwind.
Wk3: Exploring Art - All of my girls are artists in different ways so I wanted to give them a chance to just have fun and see interesting things.
Monday we will go back to the library to find information about visual and performing art.
Tuesday (I am really excited about this) we will go to the Dallas Museum of Art. www.dm-art.org/ It is free on the first Tuesday of each month. My girls have already been once, but they enjoyed it a lot and they are really excited to go back. My hope is that we can see some of the artwork that we learned about the day before.
Wednesday will be swimming day every week (if the weather cooperates.) This can easily take up the whole day, so I don't want to schedule anything else. The city sells swimming passes at pro-rated costs. After June1 they sell a family pass for $25 that is good at most of the pools until they close in September.
Thursday is slotted for the local art gallery http://www.ci.irving.tx.us/parks-and-recreation/facilities/jaycee-park.html so that the girls can see artwork from current artists that are from our area. The gallery is free (yay!) and there is a beautiful arboretum there as well to wander through. I am going to turn the cameras over to the girls and see what they can do!
Friday I will take them to our local art store, Googly Eyes, http://googlyeyescrafts.com/ and give them each a budget to purchase some art supplies.
Saturday DH has been invited to Baylor to participate in a boyscout pow wow so we will all be going with him. My girls will never pass up the chance to dress up and dance around the drum.
Wk4: Our World - I want to turn the focus from local to international.
Monday we will visit the Asian Art museum http://www.crowcollection.com/ (free again!)
Tuesday will be another trip to the library. I will ask each of them to look for books on a specific artist from another country.
Wednesday will be swimming.
Thursday I would like to visit the African American museum http://www.aamdallas.org/ (FREE is my favorite word.)
Friday I have set aside the whole day to walk through IKEA. Yes, that might be a stretch as an educational trip, but it IS a Scandinavian company. Besides, nothing says "Fun!" like Friday shopping trips.
Wk 5: Look Up - I am going to let them research things in the air and things that fly.
Monday I have scheduled a trip to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. http://www.cavanaughflightmuseum.com/ There are all sorts of cool old planes to see.
Tuesday I will set them loose in the library looking for information on birds, clouds, and weather.
Wednesday will be swimming again, but because EG's birthday is this week I want to go to one of the Aquatic centers in town. They are like little water parks, but the whole pool is wading depth (except for the lap pool area) and it only costs a few dollars to get in.
Thursday EG has asked to go to the Planetarium. http://www.natureandscience.org/planetarium/programs.asp After that we will probably have dinner out (EG's choice) and then meet family back at the house for cake. (We like to keep birthdays low key.)
Friday I will take the girls to one of the other local malls to run off some energy (and maybe spend some birthday money.
Saturday is DH's and my 11th Anniversary. I don't quite know what we have planned, but I am hoping whatever it is will be quiet and maybe even romantic.
Wk 6: Animals - There are a ton of things to do around that let us look at and play with animals.
Monday we will go to the petting zoo http://www.ci.irving.tx.us/parks-and-recreation/facilities/fritz-park-petting-farm.html that is open in a park in town during the summer months. Plus it's free (are you seeing a pattern here?)
Tuesday I want to see what they can find in the library about their favorite animals. Then we are going to visit an animal shelter to donate more newspaper and some of our old baby blankets and towels.
Wednesday will not be swimming this week. There are two zoo's in our area and one of them is half price on Wednesdays so I will take advantage of that. http://www.fortworthzoo.org/
Thursday will be our swim day this week.
Friday I have chosen to go to one of the malls that has a lot of animal stores in it.
Wk7: Camping out - who doesn't love camping out in the summertime? (okay, really don't but my kids do, so I will let them have the fun for now.)
Monday we can visit the Boyscout of America National museum http://www.bsamuseum.org/ for free. (Scouts are all about camping, right?)
Tuesday I want to go to the larger Arboretum http://www.dallasarboretum.org/ downtown and then go to the library to look for books about the plants they just saw. (I am hoping for some photo ops as well.)
Wednesday - back to the pool to cool off.
Thursday we will take a hike through the woods. http://www.ci.irving.tx.us/parks-and-recreation/facilities/lively-park.html The larger park on the south side of town has some really natural trails that run for a few miles (if we want to go that far!)
Friday will be spent camping out in the back yard. We have a nice tent and an area set aside for a camp fire so we can cook out, have s'mores and pretend we are in the middle of the woods. If they make it outside all night I will be shocked.
Wk8: Girl Power - I wanted to give my girls the chance to learn about powerful women in history and help them appreciate that they are women in a country where they have the freedom to be whatever they want.
Monday we get to go to the Women's Museum downtown http://www.thewomensmuseum.org/ .
Tuesday I will let them wander through the library to find out about strong and smart women and their accomplishments.
Wednesday will be swimming again.
Thursday I have planned to take them through the Mary Kay museum. http://www.marykaymuseum.com/ The company headquarters is close by and there is a museum dedicated to Mary Kay Ash and the cosmetics company she founded. (If you don't know anything about Mary Kay herself, I highly recommend reading her autobiography. It is inspirational and touching.)
Friday I will take the girls to one of the malls in town that is as fancy and girly as you can get.
Wk9: Summer Olympics - As we reach the end of the summer, I want to just have fun and play!
Monday I will ask them to look for books at the library about American Summer Olympians and the sports that they are known for.
Tuesday I want to take them Ice skating. (I know it is a Winter Olympic sport, but it will at least be cool inside!)
Wednesday we will go to one of the Aquatic Centers again. This is LH's birthday so I want to let them all have fun. Maybe they will all be able to show off their swimming skills in the lap pool. Who knows?
Thursday I want to plan a mini-Olympics for them at a local park. Maybe I'll invite some of their friends over to play with us. If things don't go as planned, I might have them prepare one indoors for each other.
Friday I will take them to the most fun mall in the whole area. It is an outdoor mall so there will be lots of walking, but there is also a fountain area made just to play in. We are going to bring the swim suits and let them cool down after shopping.
That will bring us to the last week of summer so we will spend it getting school things ready, getting back on a regular sleep and wake schedule, and generally reminiscing over all the cool things we got to do.
If (by some amazing stroke of luck) I get a job that requires me to work full time during the week, I have back up plans to let them still do some things during the week and then I can use the weekend to take them to different locations to get them out of the house.
Either way, I hope that I can give them a summer worth remembering.
Debbie "The Planner" Lollar