Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Boredom Busters + The Last Lazy Days of Summer = Kids Off The Couch

In the spirit of seizing the lazy days that remain, our family compiled a collaborative wish list and hit the town for a whirlwind bender of indoor ice-skating (one of the more labor intensive activities) and spicy Indian dining (obviously, as per mom's request), for an unforgettable breakup with summer. Here are a few tips requiring a little less parental sacrifice for your Labor Day weekend.

1. When Life Gives You Lemons: The Lemonade War, a book by Jacqueline Davies, is a tale of the sugary competition between two siblings over who sells the most lemonade; it mixes a romping story with basic business concepts and inspired our kids to unfreeze some lemonade mix and set up camp by the curb! In the book, Jessie and Evan duke it out for top dog, and in real life, our kids who are no strangers to sibling rivalry, went toe to toe for who could raise more money for a back-to-school splurge.

2. Twinkle, Twinkle "I Can See a Star!" This week, the moon will be growing (in astrology-speak the moon is in its waxing gibbous phase) and Jupiter will be the second brightest object in the sky. Check in to see what your local observatory has planned, or spend a night on your back gazing up at the stars and tracing the glow of the big dipper. Or click here for a weekly star report.

3. Game On: Hearts, gin rummy, poker, spoons and the latest craze, golf, are games that our card sharks master in large or small groups of friends. Send your dealers to Card Games, a website full of instructions that will keep them from squabbling over the rules. We shook up new interest in old board games by creating a challenge course, setting up games in rooms throughout the house, mapped the order to play them, and then started the clock. The kids played checkers for 15 minutes, Yahtzee for longer, and a revved up Monopoly for 30 minutes.

4. Get Caught Reading: Are your kids out of shape for their upcoming English classes? To spur them back to the page, try plot-driven books -- mysteries have worked best for us this summer. Our girls like their stories in a pop froth--they adore anything by Meg Cabot and went crazy for Avalon High. Click here for a list of mysteries that were particularly intriguing for our boys, who hadn't done any reading for pleasure since Harry Potter's last tale hit the shelves.

5. Outdoor Movie Night Everyone's celebrating the long warm nights -- google your city plus outdoor cinema to see what film's your local outdoor venue is screening in the waning days of summer.

6. Just Park It: Taking a page from The Double Daring Books for Girls, our kids set up a water balloon relay race. The goal? Which team can pop the most balloons with their butts the fastest! This next tip is one we bet you've never tried before--it's called ice blocking! Pack a blanket, pick up some uncut blocks of ice at the wholesale ice store, and zoom down the park slopes using your blanket wrapped ice slab as warm-weather sled -- ice on the grass, blanket to protect your bodies! What could be cooler? We plop down a picnic lunch (mix it up with hummus, veggies, and grape leaves) after a few hours of running a muck, then end our day with an All-American treat from the ice cream truck.

See you after Labor Day!