Domestic Church Ink Slingers Maurisa Parenting

Summer Boredom Busters

I have a love/hate relationship with summer break. I love having freedom from planning and writing weekly lesson plans and from the hours of sitting at our dining room table helping our children complete their daily work. I hate the loss of a daily schedule and the inevitable moaning of our kids about how bored they are.  Even though we homeschool and could adhere to a “homeschool around the year” schedule, it has always been our children’s desire that we keep to the same school and break schedule as the neighborhood children. While the kids are initially happy to have the free time given to their peers, I am able to commiserate with other moms over the challenges of keeping kids gainfully occupied during their vacation from school.  We also strive to keep summer as tech free as possible, as I imagine most of you do as well.  What then can we do when boredom sets in?  I’ve spent several weeks pondering and perusing Pinterest and have come up with a decent sized list of summer boredom busters that won’t break the bank.


Indoor Activities for Rainy Days and the Dog Days of Summer

-Try some summer art projects. Mudpies and Fireflies and Momooze have some really creative ideas for all ages.

-Try some summer science projects. Our 11 year old loves 50 Science Things to Make and Do which is filled with easy and inexpensive experiments, most of which use common household objects.

-Write letters to faraway relatives, friends, or new pen pals.

-Play pretend doctor’s office, veterinarian, restaurant, etc. using these great print outs from My Joy Filled Life.

-Have a family cooking showdown modeled after the Iron Chef, Chopped, or Master Chef.

-Turn on some up-beat music and have a dance party.

-Have an indoor scavenger hunt.  Life of a Homeschool Mom has several ready made lists.  I like this one based on letters of the alphabet

-Play sardines in a can, which is basically hide and seek in reverse.  In this version one person hides while everyone else counts.  After the count everyone splits up and searches for the hidden player. If a searching player finds her, the searcher hides right along until everyone but the last player is hiding, squeezed into the same location, just like sardines in a can.

-Play charades. Bonbon Break has a list of charade ideas great for kids.

Lego Challenge is a game I have my boys play frequently while I’m trying to make dinner.  I can easily assign a task, set the timer, and judge their creations without missing a beat during dinner prep. We’ve played so often we no longer need the cards. It’s fairly easy to come up with your own building challenges.

-This site has some super cute ideas for crafting with pipe cleaners.

-Homemade play doh is always a hit.  This is our favorite recipe. We might try out this Kool-Aid version for something new.

-If you’re feeling ambitious and don’t mind a mess give paper mache crafting a go. I love this cute paper mache piggy bank (I made one very much like it at vacation bible school when I was a little girl).

Outdoor fun

-Set up a lemonade or Kool-Aid stand.

-Start a rock collection. I saw all sorts of ways this could be done.  One family had a collection of rocks that were all heart shaped.  I like Inspiration Laboratories ideas for budding rock collectors.

-Paint rocks. I’ve seen so many cute rock painting ideas on Pinterest. I love the idea of painting rocks and leaving them for others to discover and enjoy. Living Well Mom has some cute pet rock painting ideas.

– Plant a garden (flower, herb, vegetable, container). Children love to be able to dig in the dirt and plant growing things.  Planting a family Mary Garden is one idea I hope to incorporate some day.  Here is a list of flowers and their religious meanings.  A friend of mine once said, “I don’t decorate house or yard without honoring the angels or saints.” I love that decorating philosophy.

-Start a bug collection. One of my kids’ favorite websites for identifying mystery bugs–What’s That Bug? Don’t tell the kids you have a cheat site and they’ll think you’re the smartest mom in town.

-Make a fairy garden out of flowers, acorns, tree stumps, painted rocks, etc. If you’re kids are really into it they can create sweet little fairy peg dolls .

-Take a stroll around your neighborhood or nearby park and learn to identify some of the flowers, plants, and trees. We use the LeafSnap app to identify trees and PictureThis to identify flowers and plants.

-Go bird watching and learn to identify the birds you see. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an awesome website and an app for bird identification.

-You can create all kinds of different kinds of wind chimes using ideas from this site.

-Make mud pies. 3 summers ago, my then 13 year old and her best friend spent nearly two weeks making a mud pie village in one of my garden beds. They still talk about how much fun they had playing in the mud.

-Set up a DIY slip and slide using inexpensive, yet durable plastic sheeting as suggested at this site.

-Make homemade bubble solution. This site has a recipe for super strong bubbles.

Make homemade kites and fly them.

-Play water balloon baseball.

Activities for Larger Groups

Getting some homeschooling families, neighborhood or church family friends to join in on these next few activities is not absolutely necessary, but could make the activities more successful.

-Form a summer book club. For several years one of our neighbors held a book club one or two times a month during the summer.  As a group they’d choose 3-4 books to read over the summer, completing a book before each meeting. At the club meetings they’d discuss their reading and engage in fun enrichment activities related to each book.

-Form a cultures club. Each family could choose a culture they’d like to learn about and present to the club as a whole.  This could go in all sorts of wonderful directions and feature food, dress, language, customs, history, etc.

-Choose, rehearse, and put on a summer play. One summer we joined several other families and performed The Tempest using Shakespeare Made Easy. Our kids gained a little exposure to Shakespeare while having a lot of fun.

-Hold a backyard Olympics

Family Outings

-Go to the zoo, aquarium, nature center, etc.

-Go hiking

-Find a local U-Pick fruit farm

-Go to farmer’s market

-Attend a minor/major league baseball game

-Go to a planetarium

Magical Night Time Fun

-Drive out away from night time city lights and look at the stars. Learn to identify constellations, individual stars, and planets or see if you witness a shooting star.  Orion Telescopes and Binoculars updates it’s star chart every month.

-Observe fire flies (or lightning bugs depending on regional vocabulary preference). Inspiration Laboratories has a great article on attracting fire flies. If you live in an area that has a lot of fire flies you can get certified as a backyard habitat.  Check out the Firefly Watch website for more information.

-Play night games.  On summer nights we can hear the neighborhood kids joyfully playing capture the flag, flashlight tag, ghost in the graveyard, and hide and seek in the dark.

-Attend a free concert.

-Attend a free outdoor movie night.

-Play flashlight hide and seek. Turn out all the lights and give everyone a flashlight. One person is “it” and counts, just as in traditional hide and seek. Everyone else finds a place to hide, turning off their flash light once in place.  The seeker uses his flash light to try and find everyone’s hiding place. Last person found is “it” for the next round.

-Learn to make shadow puppets and put on a shadow puppet show.

Summer Service Projects

Most of these ideas are most appropriate for older kids and teens, but little ones can pitch in here and there too.

-Offer to weed an elderly neighbor’s garden beds or mow their lawn.

-Pick up trash in your local park.

-Volunteer to clean your parish or parish grounds.

-Offer to be a mother’s helper for a new mom.

-Send care packages and cards to service members stationed overseas. Here is a good website explaining how to send care packages through Support Our Troops.

-Bake cookies and leave them anonymously on a neighbor’s doorstep.

-Make a meal for a new mom, elderly neighbor, or someone needing some special care.

-Volunteer in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

-Offer to wash someone’s vehicle.

-Visit a nursing home and volunteer to read to or play games with residents.

What would you add to this list? Share in the comments, friends!

Need more inspiration? Visit our Seasons.Summer board on Pinterest!

Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri

There is a Season …

I have occasionally seen people in some of my Catholic circles express concern over their inability to become involved or volunteer on any level within their parish. It’s great that many want to do something in their parish in some way, but often family obligations, time, or a lack of activities within a parish make getting involved difficult.

More often than not, the concerns I hear come from young families. Many are moms with young children. And there I think is the answer!

VolunteersNeeded(RaisedHands)_0If you are one of those people who would like to be more involved in your parish but feel that you don’t have the time to do so, take a step back and think about the season of life you are in. Were you more involved in a previous time? What has changed since then? Can you see a time when you might be able to be more involved once again? Look at your friends and other parish members. What do you have in common with them? Where do you differ in terms of children, occupation, or family situations? Try to put into perspective where you are and what you are capable of adding to your family life.

Over the course of a year we experience a change in seasons. At times, it feels like we are going to be stuck in winter forever, but eventually it gives way to spring. Just like the seasons in a year, our lives are a series of seasons. During some seasons we are able to give more of ourselves than in others.

A friend of mine told me once that when her children started school at our church’s elementary school she would often volunteer to help in the lunch room for those moms who were unable to do so because of work or other obligations. She told me she felt that since she was in a position to volunteer more that she had to, she could help out those moms who were not able to volunteer as much. Now all her kids are in school and she has returned to work part time and is back to volunteering at the minimum required for each family.

Another friend is single and finds that she has lots of time to help at her parish in the evenings and on weekends. She has started a Young Adult group at her parish and volunteers with the youth ministry. She’s also able to attend daily Mass once a week and help out with other events when they come up.

Several years ago I was part of our music ministry team at my parish, I was on a formation committee for a new women’s group, I was involved in our young adult group (met my husband there), and I was rehearsing with a separate choir preparing for a trip to Italy. As part of the music ministry I sometimes was asked to play for special masses and our young adult group often helped the parish out through volunteering at various events. There were weeks when I was at church almost every evening for something. During this time I was a single person, living in a city that was six hours from my family.

Another friend attends a parish where there is no group for moms to connect through. She feels like she could use a group like this for support, but she knows if she mentions it she would be asked to start one. At this season of her life she doesn’t feel like she is in a position to head something like this up. Not only does she have two young children, but she and her husband volunteer together for another ministry at their parish. So adding something else to her volunteer time isn’t in the cards for her at this time.

In more recent years, I have had to cut back on the involvement I am able to do at my parish. I stepped back from music ministry about six years ago and our Young Adult group eventually fizzled out. I did take an hour once a week in our Perpetual Adoration Chapel (which was such a blessing!) and I served on our Faith Formation Committee for a few years. But now as a mother of three young children and working out of the home full-time, I have had to more carefully discern what level of involvement makes the most sense for me at this time.

These are just a few examples from people I know personally. There could be many, many more. Maybe you have older children and you can volunteer at your parish more as a family, getting everyone involved. Maybe you are an empty-nester and/or retired and could help out in ways that younger families are unable to.

We’re all in different seasons of life and all able to volunteer on different levels as a result. Some can do more than others. Some families may only be able to keep the intentions of the parish in prayer while others may find ways to volunteer at a much more involved level. Either way, each family needs to discern the level that works for them and not compare themselves to anyone else.

Most importantly, I think it helps to step back and remember that if you are in one of those seasons where you can not devote the time you think you should to your parish, seasons change and one day you may be in a better position to do more. And when you are, you’ll be able to pick up more volunteer time to help out those families who are in one of those seasons where they can only do the bare minimum.

What season of life are you in? How does that translate for you in how you can volunteer and be involved in your parish?

7 Quick Takes Emily Getting to Know the Ink Slingers Ink Slingers Kerri

7 Quick Takes Friday, no. 6

Welcome once again to 7 Quick Takes at Catholic Sistas. If you’re a new visitor, WELCOME! We hope you enjoy what you see here and come back to check out our other amazing posts. We have a large list of contributors and today we are highlighting ink slinger Emily. Read on to find out some fun facts about Emily, including her favorite prayer, why she loves doing laundry, and what kind of wine she enjoys. Thanks for visiting, Catholic Sistas!

What is your favorite religious icon, statue, or other image?

I have a beautiful statue in my bedroom of the Blessed Virgin which belonged to my Grandmother.  I remember seeing it in her house when I was a child, so it’s very meaningful to me.  I also have a small statue of the Sacred Heart that I won in a school raffle when I was a child.  I always thought it was such a quirk that I won such a beautiful little statue and it’s always sat on my dresser, right next to Mary.

What is your favorite prayer?

The Hail Mary rolls easiest out of my mouth.  I definitely turn to that prayer during moments of fear or panic, and it just brings me so much peace.  I also enjoy the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I often pray using Rosary Apps on my smart phone… on my drive home from work.

How many kids do you have?

We have 4 kids… two older boys in elementary school and two younger girls (preschooler and toddler)… at least so far.  They are the light of our lives and it’s an amazing joy to be so blessed with them.  I love learning their little personalities as they grow – their interests, likes, dislikes, quirks, and amazing senses of humor!

What volunteer activities are you involved in?

I’m very involved at our parish school, childcare center, and on our parish counsel.  I enjoy being around the kids at the school and planning fundraisers and events.  This past year I volunteered at Vacation Bible School – which was fun, but absolutely exhausting!

What is your favorite secret indulgence?  Do you have to have a hiding spot in your house for it?

I have a problem with chocolate… those little Dove Promises to be exact.  It’s those little messages inside the wrapper that draw me in – I have to keep eating them until I find one I haven’t read before!

Which, at this point, is becoming more and more difficult.

Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel filled, almonds… and seriously, have you tried the sea-salt-caramel-dark-chocolate????  OMG!

They’re hidden in the pantry – which happens to also be our laundry room, so clearly…

What is your favorite household chore?

… LAUNDRY!  Yeah… totally laundry. 😉

What is your favorite alcoholic drink and when was the last time you enjoyed it?

I’m a fan of red wine – mostly Malbec or Pinot Noir.  We often have a glass in the evenings while relaxing on the couch in front of the TV.
I learned a lot about wine in college when I took an extracurricular wine tasting class.  I’m pretty sure it was my favorite class in college.

What do you like to do in your “down time”?

Well, between raising 4 kids, attempting to maintain a household, and working full time as an electrical engineer… I certainly don’t get much down time.  But we are blessed to have built-in-babysitters (Grandparents!) who live nearby, so I do enjoy spending Friday nights with my husband – whether it be going out to dinner or simply sitting on the couch enjoying a movie rental.  We also have lots of other friends (mostly other parents at the parish school) that we like to socialize with.  We often have a whole bunch of families over to our neighborhood spring to go swimming on a Saturday night.  We have great fun laughing, joking, and enjoying a beer with our friends.

For more Quick Takes, check out Jen Fulwiler’s blog Conversion Diary.

7 Quick Takes BirgitJ Getting to Know the Ink Slingers Ink Slingers Kerri

7 Quick Takes Friday, no. 4

Today’s Quick Takes post features Catholic Sistas writer Birgit. We hope you enjoy getting to know Birgit better with these seven fun takes on her life.


Where were you born and do you still live there (or nearby)?  If not, how many places have you lived and which were the most interesting?
I was born in Trier, Germany to German parents. Our large city was on the Mosel River and had once been the seat of the Roman Empire. We lived directly across the street from our beautiful Catholic church where my mother’s uncle played the pipe organ. As a child I traveled extensively around Europe with my parents – even camping at the foot of the Alps. We moved to the US when I was 9 and eventually Mom and I became citizens. When I was a child, we lived in Kentucky, Florida, and Texas. My husband and I have also lived in Minnesota. We thoroughly enjoyed what seemed like a different culture: ice fishing, snow mobiles in parking lots, and a never ending white landscape. Germany remains my favorite place to live because of the beauty and ancient Catholic history it holds. I look fondly at my heritage and the traditions my mother taught us.


What is your favorite animal and why?

Birgit’s daughter with horse, Moonshine, and their beagle, Copper

By far, my favorite animal is the horse! Being a young child who grew up in a large city in Germany, I really have no idea how that happened! After we came to the U.S. and subsequently moved to a tiny town in Kentucky, I managed to convince my parents to allow me to buy a pony with money I had earned delivering newspapers for the summer. Later, my husband and I wound up living on a farm with up to 11 horses at a time. Many of our weekends were spent hosting trail rides for friends and their horses. Our vacation destinations included specially designed horse camps complete with marked trails and square dancing at night. I even lucked out and had a college professor who shared my passion and allowed skip days for riding (with her) and held dressage classes on her own farm.


What inspires you when you write?
Just living life inspires my writing. Being an art major, it’s natural for me to see the world in photographs. Since I’ve begun blogging on a regular basis, this condition is also present in respect to writing. As strange as it may sound, sometimes my life is narrated in my head. I experience something or hear a homily or prayer and, all of a sudden, I’m writing a script in my mind. A downside is that my mind is so busy that I often forget a really great idea because my mind is just bursting with “material.” Most of my writing involves something for which I have a strong passion. I just sit down, after inspiration hits, and begin to write. Often I don’t realize what I have put down on paper until after I read it through. For this reason, I credit the Holy Spirit for giving me the words – especially when I’m writing about the pro-life movement, which is very near and dear to my heart.


What volunteer activities are you involved in?

Dedication of the Hope Memorial At Brescia University, with granddaughter looking on.

I have been involved with the pro-life movement since Roe vs. Wade was decided while I was in high school. I chose the pro-life side in a current events debate, and my heart simply caught fire for the cause. This passion has taken me many places, from the halls of the capitol to marches and rallies. I have served as an executive director, vice-president, newsletter editor, and board member of several pro-life organizations. Presently, I serve as a member of our diocesan Gospel of Life committee. As a passionate pro-life advocate, I can also be found “freelancing” by initiating rallies. Once I read about a fundraiser for a pro-abortion candidate planned at a local Catholic parish hall. Within four hours, there were more than 60 people assembled, holding pro-life signs, to protest the use of church property. A happy surprise? We were joined by the pastor of the parish in question!


Where do you write and why?

The view from the window. What inspiration!

When I’m not composing something in my head or dictating a thought into my iPhone, I find myself sitting at the computer in our great room. Our house and acreage revolve around the beauty of the great outdoors, so there are windows everywhere. When sitting at my computer, I can see flower gardens, our garden pond, and the kittens playing on the porch. Occasionally other wildlife makes its presence known: deer, turkey, and foxes are regular visitors as well. God’s creation, exhibited by nature, is always there to remind me of the beauty of His world. My desk has a bulletin board of holy cards and prayers, a bottle of holy water, and a name plate from a long forgotten ‘public’ job.


What is your biggest pet peeve/drives you crazy/annoys you to no end?
It makes me really crazy to be misunderstood. Being German, I tend to be stubborn and to hold fast to the truths our Church teaches. Since my faith is in the very fiber of my being, I can’t imagine not using that faith to color all of my actions and aims in life. This tends to encourage me to share tidbits of the faith with others. My mother, God rest her soul, was the epitome of sharing. She would share religious tracts, articles and prayers like other women share recipes or gossip. Evidently I inherited this trait. As a result, when someone who I deeply love is committing ‘spiritual suicide’, I am not one to stand idly by. My instinct tells me that I must warn them of the eternal repercussions of their actions. So that is what I do…but I try not to dwell on it or nag. I explain the Truth to them and then continue to love them while not participating with or encouraging sinful behavior. My conviction has caused me to miss a wedding or two. Make no mistake, I am well aware of my own human failings …but, I will also not be a party to someone else’s sin.


What do you find most attractive about your husband?

Birgit’s family in front of the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis

My husband’s most attractive characteristic is his strength of faith. Given that he is a convert, his Catholicity is a source of constant joy and strength for me! He was raised in a Baptist household and taught all of the misconceptions of which our Church is accused. In high school, when we first began dating, we had many very interesting conversations on my front porch swing. As our relationship grew, we agreed to attend each other’s services. He would go to Mass with me on Sunday mornings and evenings we would attend his church. It didn’t take him long to begin to understand and love our wonderful faith. Several months before our wedding, he started individual instructions with our pastor. We were all set to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist together during our nuptial Mass. God and my husband, however, had other Ideas. He postponed his conversion because he ‘still had some questions’. Several months later, he took the final step. At that moment I knew that he had become a Catholic for the good of his soul and not to please me!

Click on over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes posts.