Summer Program 2011

Two peas. Shortly followed by one trying to squish the other . . .

Now that we are back from our vacation, we are starting out the Ryder Family Summer Program.  “What is Summer Program?” you ask.  Well, basically it is the means by which five individuals, with nothing particular to do and little money to spend, co-habitate from June to August without killing each other.  Having J home for summer is awesome, but it does create a different dynamic. We realize that both of us and the kids benefit from a structure and plan that keeps us from getting too stir-crazy.

This is our third year of running Ryder Family Summer Program. Each year it changes because our kids keep growing. Year 1 we had 4, 2, and uber pregnant Momma. Year 2 (last year), we had 5, 3, and Baby, who was kind of a non-entity.  (Read about last summer by reading about the 13 Weeks of Summer.)

This year, Baby is an entity. She is almost two and she is into everything. She sang “Jeesus Lubs MEEEE. H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P. Up abub duh wuhld so HIIIIGHHH!  YES. Jeeeeesus Loves MEEEEE!” as loudly as she could in Walgreens the other day and climbed over the seat and RHOTS-ed herself all up in there. It was Crazytown.

Thus, this year’s planning has to accommodate the fact that we cannot just schlep her around, expecting her to nap in the stroller.  The other two monkeys in this house are two peas in a pod–when they aren’t wailing about the injustices done one to another.  Since we are most keen on avoiding death, we’ll focus on them and just try to keep baby from Toddler-Evangelizing to all the shoppers in the area.

Here’s our plan so far.  Feel free to try it out and I DEFINITELY welcome any suggestions to help us fill it up.














Crabwiches they made at the beach. Fun and tasty!














J teaches lessons on Monday, so it will be a home day. I will do laundry and hopefully, each week we (me and the kids) will attempt some sort of easy craft or culinary arts.  We sort of focused on beach detox and laundry today, but starting next week I am definitely planning, (PLANNING- as in not waiting until next Monday AM) to have chosen and obtained almost free supplies for our activity.

As an example, here’s a photo of some crabwiches that we made at the beach following directions from Disney Family Fun Magazine.

Important things to note about my kids when you send me your great ideas and links to crafty blogs:

Addie has the patience to build the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks and playdough.

Dylan has the patience to stab himself and others repeatedly with toothpicks while mushing all playdough colors together.

Baby Anika would like to eat playdough and grab toothpicks from Addie’s beloved and perfect Tower.

I need 7 CRAFTS or COOKING PROJECTS. HELP!!! This is my greatest area of weakness as I’m not crafty and don’t really aspire to be. Please comment your ideas (or volunteer to host Craft day).


J will take the big kids to the $1 Summer Feature at our local theaters. It used to be free, but then every summer daycare known to man overran the place and you had to camp out the night before to get a space, so honestly, I not very miffed it is now a $1. I will stay home and clean the house while Baby simultaneously messes it up.  If I am lucky, I can occasionally farm her out to a grandparent while I go focus on little ol’ me. (HA! I will grocery shop alone.) Presumably, J will spend his hard earned lesson money taking them to McDonalds or going on a picnic. Whereas Craft Day is for Addie, Movie Day is for Dylan.

We have already selected our 7 movies from the schedule, so we’re good on the plan for that. Actually the movies they selected are sometimes on Wednesday, but we talked to the program directors at Ryder Family Summer Program, and they agreed to occasionally flip-flop the schedule. 🙂














At Dylans Wet and Wild Birthday with our pool–Awesome!














On Wednesdays (or frankly any day) we are accepting invitations to your neighborhood pool. 🙂 HAH!  Actually, we have quite a lot of fun in our blow up pool and sprinklers, so this will be the day the kids can count on us indulging them by filling it up.  We may also visit some of the splash parks in our area.  We are toying with the idea of J joining a pool this summer so the bigger kids can have swim lessons, but we will just have to see how the $$ goes. Last year, we found that the gas to and from the Y kind of counteracted the benefit of having a place to swim, especially since juggling three kids–or even two at the pool is no fun when they can’t swim and hate floaties.














Last summer at Dan Nicholas














Even though we take two official trips to the beach and the mountains each summer, we still like to take some smaller “field trips” to break up life at home.  On the way home from the beach, we took the ferry over to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.  While there we decided to bite the bullet and pay only $100 for a two year family membership to the NC Aquarium (and Zoo association), so we now get free entrance to MANY zoos and aquariums–plus discounts for guests that come with us.  Anyone?  Since we already went to the aquarium, we really only need to go to one zoo this year and one next to pay for it, so we’ll definitely get our money’s worth. But this membership will definitely help field trip day because we will feel a lot freer to visit the zoo for a half day and go back another time to see the rest.  With small kids, zoos are awesome, but only for about 3 hours. After that they just become stinky, sunburn factories.

We need seven field trips. Here are a few that I’ve thought of.  I’d love some more suggestions! We picked Thursday because it is usually slightly less busy at some of these places than Friday.

1. Dan Nicholas Park

2. North Carolina Zoo

3. South Carolina Zoo

4. Cane Creek Park (might also double as a water day location!!)

5-7. ???? We’ll drive two hours to get somewhere on field trip day, but of course, we love closer field trips too. In fact, we need a walking field trip for our “No Driving Week.”

FRIDAY–FFLEX DAY (Family, Friends, Laziness, Extras)

As you may have guessed, the program directors at Ryder Family Summer Program know that each week inevitably ends up getting shuffled around, so FFLEX DAY enables us to plan for getting together with people or just laying around the house if we had a busy field trip day.  J and I are going to TRY to alternate having a “Day Off” a few times this summer, which would mean that we each get to run away and do what we want (J-golf; K-write), while the at-home parent gets to hang out in Crazytown.

So there’s the Summer Program.  Let me know if you have ideas for the schedule or if you want to be included on one of our adventures.  Don’t forget there are only 65 days left of summer vacation! Let’s roll!

11 thoughts on “Summer Program 2011

  1. I think coming up with a “schedule” like this would be helpful for our family, even though my husband works through the summer. Nathaniel was in preschool last year and got used to the routine of knowing that’s what he did 2 mornings a week, and he understands days of the week so I think it would work well for him. Unfortunately I think I’d be the one to have a hard time sticking with it–I tend to like changing things up more and being flexible. That being said, I’ve been feeling that I need to get into a schedule/routine with cleaning and laundry, so maybe it would be good for me too. I heard another idea of making a “bucket list” for the summer. Things you want to do, places to go, friends to play with, etc. I think we’re going to try to make some lists like that, then try to work at scheduling when to do some of them. If things actually make it onto the calendar then Nathaniel will remind me enough that we might stick with the plan.

  2. Schiele Museum in Gastonia, Western NC Nature Center (they also have the best membership program around covers zoos, aquariums and ASTC), Happy Cow Creamery near Spartanburg, Discovery Place, (schiele and DP are both ASTC), Imaginon, uptown train ride.

    Happy Cow is one I would like to plan some time soon. They have the best milk, chocolate milk and cheese products and the tours are great!

  3. Charlotte Nature Museum, Old Salem. Train Museum in Spencer, Carolina Raptor Center… Surely there is something to see/do in Waxhaw for the walking trip if not just a nature walk. But maybe something historical as well. That’s all I can think of at the moment…


    Historical walking tour brochure for waxhaw. Maybe even one of those things would be worth seeing/learning about. But with small kids who’d be just as happy (happier?) running through sprinklers I don’t know… 🙂

  5. Ok, loved, loved, loved this post. You are such a great writer.

    1) Let’s pick some specific dates that we can do some of these things together.

    2) What is RHOTS-ed?

    3) I found something sort of fun that Lilia and Maddie like to do, though it only occupies about 30 minutes… But maybe could last longer with some tweaks. Give them ice cubes. This can work inside if you give them strict instructions not to drop the ice on the ground. (obviously some is going on the ground, but for the most part, they keep it on the table or tray) They both really enjoy having a large bowl or tupperware half full of ice cubes, and another bowl or tupperware to transfer into. They also like a lid for one of the containers, and a small washcloth. With these items, they can play for what seems like a long time. I think if I continued to give them “fresh” ice, it could last a while. Your porch would be the perfect place.

    4)I would love to do Dan Nicholas and also Cane Creek. I bet I could get a sitter for Finley which would make things way, way easier.

    1. @ Laura
      1.) Yes. You pick as I am more flexible with J home.
      2.) Raised Hell Over the Summer. Didn’t anyone write that in your yearbook when you were a kid?
      3.) Love ice trick! I am going to compile all the great ideas I’ve received and do another post on them.

  6. Yet another reply from me…I wish we lived near you and could join in some of your fun. Similar to Laura’s ice cube idea, I sent Nathaniel (5) out on our back patio with a dishpan filled with water, some random toys so he could see if they sank or floated, an empty ketchup bottle, and some other random things like measuring cups/spoons and a funnel. I was hoping to get 10 or 15 minutes of quiet inside, but he lasted about an hour! I’m thinking the next time I’ll give him some ice cubes to dump in too… Also, ice cube art is fun too… Give them construction paper and ice cubes on a hot day and they can paint, let it dry, and paint again. If you have an old thick paintbrush you can give them water and let them paint a fence or draw pictures on a sidewalk or other paved area. As far as cooking goes, have you ever tried soft pretzels? Kind of like playing with play-doh, but then you get to eat the results. Not so good if you don’t want to run the oven on a hot day.

  7. I have been busy working on our schedule too. already we have had too many days of not knowing what we are going to do…so we go INSANE! so your blog finally pushed me over the edge to finalize all our ideas. I stole some of your ideas. My kids are thrilled. thanks! I found a calendar on line with lots of great ideas at another blog. can i advertise another blog on here?
    i also found love languages quizzes on line which we are taking this week for fun. again…can i post a link?
    Keep blogging your ideas. They are inspiring me. you guys are a fun family.

  8. two links: (has a great calendar and tons of ideas of things to do with kids) (a brand new site i just heard about and we just got set up with. goes great with your summer program. maybe for kids age 5+ though…a great way to help kids learn to work, save and spend. i think your lo-mo will like this! =)

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