Easy Scavenger Hunt For Kids With A Twist!

On day three of spring break we had a dentist appointment, I had some stuff do to at home, and I had to teach some swim lessons later in the afternoon, so we didn’t have time for a full-on adventure.

But it was super nice out, so I decided to do a scavenger hunt at home with a short adventure following the scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt killed a couple birds with one stone. I could get a little work done and the kids would be outside running around and hopefully letting off a little steam.

Once the hunt was over, we would go on a mini adventure, but I didn’t tell the kids what the adventure would be.

We are struggling a little bit with bickering and tattling, so in an effort to facilitate some cooperation and teamwork, I told the kids they’d have to work together to help everyone find all the items on their lists.

Here’s what I used for the items — I “hid” 6 of the following things outside all over the yard. We have a pretty big yard, so there was plenty of space to put all this stuff.

I didn’t go too crazy with the difficulty of the hidden items because I didn’t want to spend five hours searching for that last red Lego.

I typed a quick list out:

 

I gave each kid a list, a plastic bag, and a pen.

We realized after I gave them the lists that I left red solo cup, blue Lego and a swim cap off of it, but we just wrote those in.

I told the kids they had to find a way to work together, and bring all the items back inside onto the dining room table when they were done.

When there were six of each item back inside on the dining room table, they’d find out what the next part of the adventure was.

The kids who were ten and younger were pretty excited and enthusiastic. The kids over ten were not exactly psyched.

I didn’t require anyone’s participation, but I explained that only kids who participated in the scavenger hunt would be able to come on the adventure.

Everyone participated in the scavenger hunt, and there were definitely some bumps along the way. It wasn’t total smooth sailing, but it did give the kids an opportunity to work on finding ways to cooperate.

This is a great activity for kids who are younger (like under 10 years old), but I really liked this as a cooperation practicing activity for all the kids together.

What was the mini adventure once the kids found everything? I kept it a surprise until we got close enough that Number 4 figured out where we were going, at which point she started screaming and bouncing in the front seat of the car.

We took a trip to Ferris Acres Creamery and we all got ice cream. This is a pretty big treat for us because we very rarely go there.

I’d like to say that getting ice cream and sitting outside on a beautiful and unseasonably warm day in April was the highlight of our mini adventure.

But it wasn’t.

It was watching a high school kid polish off a massive bucket of ice cream, hearing all his friends cheer, and then thirty seconds later, watching him puke his guts out.

We saw my parents yesterday, and they asked the kids what their mini adventure was. Number 7 told them.

“Mom called a kid stupid because he ate too much ice cream and then he puked all over the place.”

(In my defense, I said I thought it was stupid to spend that much money on ice cream only to puke it back up half an hour later).

So our memory of this adventure won’t be, Remember that time on spring break when we had a scavenger hunt and then Mom took us to Ferris Acres for ice cream?

Instead it will be Remember that time on spring break when we had a scavenger hunt and then Mom took us to Ferris Acres and that guy puked his guts out and mom said he was stupid?

But I guess that’s what makes an adventure and adventure.

You never know exactly what to expect.

Onto the next (and hopefully puke-free) adventure!

 

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If You Are Looking For A Fun (And 100% FREE) Spring Break Activity For Your Kids, Read This!

We did something awesome today!

If you follow NYAM on Facebook, you may have seen my post a couple days ago asking readers to share some of their stay-at-home-for-spring-break-plans.

I thought it would be fun to compile a list of activities and ideas for those of us who aren’t off to Disney or somewhere tropical. (I know I’m especially in need of them since we are heading into the second week of a short break from swim team and my kids are already off the walls).

Then yesterday, I saw a post on Facebook. A friend of mine turned 50, and her daughter wrote her a message. It said something along the lines of, “…Happy Birthday, Mom! Thanks for taking me on lots of crazy adventures!…”

And I thought to myself, what a great thing for a kid to say. And what a great memory to have.

Then I thought about the fact that my kids are already bordering on TOOC (Totally Out Of Control) and it’s only the first day of spring break. With eight days left to go and no swim practice next week to help tire the kids out, I’m not sure we can handle too many at-home, creative activities.

So last night after reading my friend’s birthday message from her daughter, I decided this spring break is going to be the spring break of crazy adventures.

But they have to be crazy adventures that don’t really cost much because I just blew a shit ton of money sending Number 4 to Zones, and the crazy adventure bank balance is in the single digits.

One of the first suggestions someone made when I wrote that post on Facebook looking for stayacation ideas was geocaching.

I had never heard of it before. Am I the only one??? How did I not know about this?

I Googled geocaching right away, and it looked like a lot of fun. Plus it’s totally free, so giving it a try was a no-brainer.

If you are clueless like me, geocaching is basically a real-life treasure hunt. Geocaches are hidden containers that can range in size from something about the size of a film canister to a larger Rubbermaid container. They are waterproof and contain a log book, and some contain “treasures.” (I think treasures are usually more for fun and they aren’t really anything of much value).

There are millions of caches of various sizes hidden all over the world!

Last night I downloaded the app. As soon as you open a (free) membership, you can see where caches near you (and anywhere) are hidden. All you need is a phone with GPS.

Caches have descriptions, and many have hints, so some are fairly easy to find, and some are super difficult.

As luck would have it, there was a cache two miles from our house that was originally hidden by a seven-year-old (with the help of her parents), and it was intended for young geocachers.

So it was perfect for us virgins.

Last night I told the kids were were going on a surprise adventure, but I wouldn’t tell them what we were doing or where we were going. This morning, I pulled them all into the kitchen and explained what the plan was.

They were mostly excited. One may have been a little less than enthused, but he eventually came around.

We loaded in the car and I assigned Number 3 the role of navigator. He sat in the front seat with the phone helping to guide me. We ended up at the nature center in our town.

Here is the kicker. We have lived in this town for eight years, and in those eight years, I have never been to the nature center. I didn’t even know there was one!

So not only did we go on an adventure, but we visited a (really cool) resource in our town that I  had never even seen before!

We got to the nature center, got out of the car, and started walking. The app’s description of the cache gave us a clue which direction to walk in.

As you walk, the app has a built in compass, and it tells you how many feet you are from the cache, and it points you in the correct direction.

Once you get within thirty feet or so, you just have to start looking all around.

Number 4 was the first one to spot the cache hidden in a hole in a stone wall.

Everyone was pretty psyched. Except Number 7 who wanted to hold the cache.

Inside the box were a bunch of little “treasures” — mostly pencils, some little trinkets, etc.

Number 3 and 4 weren’t impressed by the contents of the cache, but we had discussed before we got there that there may not be anything at all inside and that the excitement was in locating the cache itself.

The little kids were pretty psyched, though. Number 7 had brought along some things from home to trade for items in the cache just in case. She and Number 5 and 6 traded some Shopkins, a small toy ladybug, and a Matchbox car for some stickers, balloons and a pencil.

But here is the cool thing. Inside the cache is a log book. And when find the cache, you are supposed to fill out the log book and place it back in the box.

The girl who had hidden the box had written a message in the log book last year:

She came back to update the log book and maintain her cache. And read that last line — she is 18 now! The box has been there for twelve years!

That’s so cool!

So I left a message in the log. Number 4 wanted to write one, and so did Number 6.

 

Number 6’s message: Hi, I’m (Number 6) and I liked the geocaching a lot. Bye bye Guys. Have a nice day!

How cute is that?

We finished up our log entries, and then we explored the nature center a little more.

We found a pretty cool tree and swing. We spent some time there.

We did a little more exploring.

There were a couple bumps in the road along the way.

But overall, we had a great time, it was definitely a little adventure, and the kids were bummed when I told them we had to leave.

Number 4 said to me later this afternoon, Mom, today was a great day. If every day of spring break is like this, it’s gonna be an awesome vacation!

Ha! And it was totally free and two miles from our house!

Will I be able to make the next eight days as fun as today was?

I don’t know.

But I’m up for the challenge!

Where in the world will Not Your Average Family go tomorrow?

Stay tuned to find out!

 

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A Simple, Affordable and Super Cute Way To Celebrate Your Kid’s Birthday

It’s no secret how I feel about over-the-top birthday parties.

I hate them.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think everyone deserves some kind of celebration on their birthday.

Of course they do!

But if you are like me, if you are on a budget, if you have more than one kid, if you have a crazy schedule, if you don’t want to go overboard with presents, and if you are trying to teach your kids that lots of stuff isn’t what truly brings you happiness, then you don’t want to go crazy every year.

That’s why I wanted to share this super cute and simple birthday “party” idea with you.

A friend posted pictures of what she did for her son’s birthday last week, and I LOVED IT. So I wanted to share it with you.

Like my friend, I like to let the kids choose what they want to eat for dinner on their birthday if we are just doing a celebration with the family.

And that’s what my friend did, but she took it one step further.

She asked her son what he wanted to eat for dinner, and then she turned her dining room into a “restaurant.”

She didn’t do anything crazy.

But the way she set the table and printed out dinner menus was so cute.

And I know my kids, especially the younger ones would love this, and I’m totally doing it for our next birthday (I might even attempt it for breakfast for the summer birthdays).

Anyway, here is a picture of the menu:

How cute is that?

*Can be made into a Frito Pie upon request.

That’s awesome!

And who doesn’t love a bacon kabob???

Those are awesome, too. And hilarious.

Here is the “diner” setup:

Very simple and super cute.

And I think a GREAT idea if you have a weekday/school night birthday and want to do something special but need to stick to your routine.

We will for sure be “going to the diner” for at least one of our next birthdays!

 

What I Did To Solve Our Toothbrush And Toothpaste Problem (And It Was Pretty Bad)

Numbers 3 through 7 all share a bathroom.

Five kids sharing a bathroom can be kind of disastrous.

Nothing like giving your “baby” an ultrasound with a glue stick and a whole entire tube of toothpaste.

One of the things that constantly drives me insane is the toothpaste.

There is fucking toothpaste everywhere.

EVERYWHERE.

In addition to finding toothpaste in some seriously impressive places, I am constantly being asked to put toothpaste on a toothbrush because unless the tube has been opened less than a week ago, my kids seem to be incapable of squeezing the fucking thing from the bottom.

Is that so hard?

What is up with the twisting and wringing of the tube of toothpaste?

Please tell me my kids aren’t the only ones who do this:

So the flinging of the toothpaste and my children’s inability to get the toothpaste out of the tube when it was less than half full was seriously pissing me off.

And then a couple weeks ago I looked inside the thing all the kids were putting their toothbrushes in and I was horrified.

It was disgusting.

Like, DISGUSTING.

Then everyone was getting sick over and over and over again (it wasn’t from the toothbrush holder — I don’t think), and I wanted something where the toothbrushes weren’t all leaning against each other.

The combination of the Jackson Pollack toothpaste art in my bathroom and the constant need for help dispensing the toothpaste and the petri dish my kids’ toothbrushes were all resting in and the fact that my kids were sick for the entire second half of winter finally slapped some sense into me.

I decided it was time for a new solution to this problem.

I did a little research on Amazon, and I ordered a toothbrush holder and toothpaste dispenser for their bathroom. I had never had one before, so I picked the one that had decent reviews and also the one that was available with Amazon Prime.

It’s the Native Spring Toothpaste Dispenser and Toothbrush Holder.

I wasn’t sure how it was going to work.

When the box came it was super light, and I was sure the kids were going to destroy  whatever was inside in a matter of minutes.

But they haven’t.

It’s been a couple of weeks now and all I can say is I wish I had done this years ago!

Don’t get me wrong. There is still the occasional toothpaste smear on the counter.

But it’s nowhere near what it was before. And the kids haven’t needed any assistance with getting toothpaste out of the tube.

And nothing is broken.

I love this thing!

The way the bathroom and sink are set up in the bathroom, I had to attach everything directly to the mirror. (And yes, there are still  Christmas lights up in their bathroom).

That sh*t is on there securely! It’s not going anywhere.

The kids do sometimes get toothpaste inside the little dispenser thing, but the front cover comes off very easily, and you can take the inside part out to rinse it in the sink.

I wasn’t asked or paid to promote this thing (although the links provided are affiliate links).

I’m just letting you know that this very small investment has definitely made my life easier! It’s saved me time, it’s cut down on messes, it’s reduced the amount of times my kids bug me incessantly for sh*t that drives me crazy, it’s way less nasty than having all the toothbrushes in a cup, and it was super easy to install.

Why I waited so long to do something differently, I have no f*cking idea.

If you are like me and are having toothbrush/toothpaste issues, I highly recommend this setup!

 

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