One of the challenging things about having the kids home for summer is making sure they still stay engaged with the world around them. As opposed to sleeping all day and playing video games.
I always plan art days on our summer calendar because my kids and I love to draw and color. But this time I bought canvases and acrylic paint. I never imagined it would turn out to be their most favorite activity. They loved it so much we did it three days in a row!
The kids are super talented and creative. They decided to do art walls in their rooms. Here are the masterpieces they painted:
I purchased a combo pack of canvases that included brushes and five small tubes of acrylic paint from Michael's but ended up going to Walmart for more canvases and paint after we decided to paint for two more days.
My eight year old daughter actually Googled some ideas on her own and followed step by step instructions from artists on YouTube. I was so impressed at how her canvases turned out without any help! My son loves drawing pop art characters and images; he did a great job of painting his images on canvas!
My advice is to make sure you have enough brushes, paint and canvases for everyone. Find a big work space like a big dining table and cover it with a tarp or old bed sheet in case there are spills. We used empty water bottles to clean brushes when we changed paint colors. Also make sure everyone has fun and encourage your kids to be creative!
I purchased the book, In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney, it is a “coffee table” style book that includes inspiration and advice from over 100 female makers, artists and entrepreneurs. The book is amazing and offers priceless advice from some badass girl bosses.
I love how each woman was asked a series of questions to give the reader insight about them, their craft and their path to success. The questions also make you think about your own journey and what legacy you want to leave. I decided to pretend I was one of the women in the book (maybe one day!) and provide answers to some of the questions that were asked:
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I loved school and I wanted to be in charge, so I thought it would be the perfect fit. But the reality of teaching “Internet Kids” who were smarter and sassier than I was at eight years old made me rethink things!
What does success mean to you? Success to me is peace of mind, good health, financial freedom and the love of family and friends.
How do you find motivation? My mortality gives me motivation. We are only here on Earth for a limited time, so I try to do the things I want to do while I still can.
What is your favorite quote? Currently it’s “Every day is a new opportunity to change your life and be who you want to be.” - Demi Lovato
Biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey? That nothing lasts forever. Whether good or bad; things (and sometimes people) are only temporary so we shouldn’t allow stuff to affect us in such a profound or negative way. Live, learn and move on!
Name a woman you look up to? Michelle Obama is a goddess. Period. The way she handled herself during her time as First Lady was stellar and she set an example on how to just be authentically yourself regardless to what other people say or think.
How do you overcome personal adversity? I’m human so my first inclination when I’m faced with personal adversity is to shut down or feel sorry for myself. But I can’t allow myself the luxury of wallowing too long. I have two young children and a husband who rely on me and not to mention I know wallowing in misery has never solved any of my problems. So I beat myself up a little, then apologize and promise to be better and try harder and work smarter next time. Every day is a new opportunity!
I'm not a big TV watcher. Only because I can't really keep up with the dates and times various shows come on. I am totally out of the loop with current television programming but when I do have some down time I prefer to binge watch shows on Netflix. I want to get in and get out without months of commitment to a particular show.
If you are like me and looking for some fun and gripping shows to watch this summer here are five that I recommend:
1. Black Mirror- A dark, satirical series that explores how far technology could go in the near future. It also examines our dependency on technology especially the impact of social media. Very well written British series that reminds me of the Twilight Zone. Currently three seasons available on Netflix. I'm anxiously awaiting a Season 4!
2. Leverage- A series that follows a five-person team: a thief, a grifter, a hacker, and a retrieval specialist aka hitter, led by former insurance investigator Nathan Ford, who use their skills to get justice for ordinary citizens who have been wronged by big corporations. The show has some comedic and dramatic moments and I love all of the characters. The chemistry between the team is what makes the show. This was previously a series on TNT and all five seasons are available in Netflix
3. Breakout Kings- An original A&E series about a task force put together by the United States Marshals. The twist is that the team is comprised of current prisoners serving time for various crimes. They use their criminal genius and insider knowledge to help the Marshals find convicts who've escaped from prison. The tradeoff is that the task force of cons get to do their time in a minimum security prison and get time off their sentences for every escapee they help capture. I love the concept of this show as well as the writing and acting but unfortunately it was cancelled after only two seasons. However the final episode doesn't leave too much hanging, I like to think of it as a "what if" scenario that let's the viewer imagine how it all ended. You can breeze through both seasons on Netflix in a weekend.
4. White Collar- I think I'm seeing a pattern to the shows I like watching (LOL!). This previous USA network series is about FBI agent, Peter Burke who works in the white collar crime division (usually non-violent financial related crimes) specifically with the theft of art, jewels and things of that nature. His biggest arrest was career white collar criminal and genius, Neal Caffrey. He uses Neal to help him catch another high profile thief and it leads to a work release job for Neal helping Agent Burke find and recover stolen art. Again great chemistry between the two lead actors and Neal has a friend named Mozzie (Standford Blatch from the Sex and the City series) who steals every scene he's in as a paranoid anti-government grifter and thief. I have one season left of this show and I'm going to hate for it to end. All 6 seasons are currently available on Netflix.
5. Jessica Jones- If you are a superhero fan then you need to add this Netflix original to your list! I must warn you that the show is much darker and follows a different path than the original comic book version of Jewel/Jessica Jones. In this series, Jessica is a functioning alcoholic using her powers working as a private investigator. Through some flashbacks we learn how she not only got her powers but why she self medicates with alcohol. The villain Kilgrave (Purple Man) chases and is chased by Jessica throughout the season until a showdown at the end. If you're fan of David Tennant (from Dr. Who) you will love him as Kilgrave, he's magnetic! We're also introduced to Luke Cage in the Jessica Jones series they do hook up a few times but their relationship isn't as deep or developed as it is in the comics. I'm wondering if that will change with the new Defenders show debuting on Netflix bringing Cage , Jones, Daredevil and Iron Fist together in one show. There is is only one season of Jessica Jones (13 episodes) but again her story will pick up with the Defenders. Definitely worth the watch.
BONUS: Chewing Gum- This Netflix original is my guilty pleasure. It's quirky, awkward and hilarious. It is a British comedy (READ: you've got to have a warped sense of humor, lol!) that follows Tracey Gordon a worker at a local convenience store. She's a 24 year old sheltered, religious virgin who desperately wants to have sex and learn more about the world. Her escapades on the show will either have you laughing out loud or cringing. Maybe both. But I personally think Michaela Coel is brilliant in this series. There are only two seasons available but Season 3 is on the way! Again, watch at your own risk especially if you're easily offended and it takes a lot to get your sense of humor going.
What are some of your favorite bingeworthy shows on Netflix?
We started traveling with our children when they were very young. Our son took his first plane ride at 18 months to Jamaica and our daughter was around 2 when we traveled to the Mall of America in Minnesota. And although they might not remember those earlier trips vividly we hope they will always remember spending quality time together as a family experiencing new things.
We've traveled quite a bit as a family my top three summer destinations were:
Panama City Beach- This laid back beach town in Florida is so quaint and I loved that everything was accessible. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort and it was right on the beach plus it had a little water park area on site for the kids! And right next door (walking distance) was a mini golf course. Also within a mile or two there were several restaurants and fun places to visit like Ripley's Believe It or Not! Every night at the pool they pulled out a big inflatable screen and showed family friendly movies. The beaches in Florida are beautiful and even though we were in the U.S. it felt like a tropical vacation.
Road Trip from Texas to California- A road trip was on our family bucket list but I have to admit I was always hesitant. My patience is pretty short and I just doubted my ability to make a trip that far BY CAR. Not to mention sometimes I get a little motion sickness. But that trip has by far been my favorite! We were actually supposed to fly from Houston to Arizona and then drive to California but bad weather had our flight looking iffy, so we decided to bite the bullet and hit the road from Houston at 3am. When I woke up my husband had practically gotten us to El Paso before I took over the drive. We rented a roomy van with a TV and DVD player. We also had snacks galore and the kids had their favorite blankets and pillows. It was my first time seeing the glory and expanse of the Texas landscape (I'd only driven to Austin, Dallas and San Antonio). We drove through New Mexico and then stopped in Arizona to sleep. The next morning we had a big breakfast and headed to the Grand Canyon which, even as you're looking at it, it doesn't seem real. We then drove to the Hoover Dam and HOT isn't even an adequate word to describe the heat! But the structure itself is amazing, it just felt like we were in an oven! Afterwards we went to Las Vegas and drove down the strip; the kids were totally fascinated by the lights and action. We actually stayed one night in a hotel off the strip but the next morning we did walk the strip, so that the kids could see inside some of the incredible hotels. (Sidenote: Las Vegas is way more fun without kids! ;-) After leaving Vegas we headed to Palm Springs. Very picturesque but also very HOT!! We stayed at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort for a few days before our final destination of San Diego. We went to the San Diego Zoo and spent the last few days of the trip at Carlsbad beach before driving back home. It was incredible to bond that way with my family, my husband was patient and kind (he always is) and my kids were on their best behavior (they aren't always angels ;-). I'd suggest a road trip at least once before your kids get too old.
Bahamas- We were in the Bahamas for one week. We stayed at the Atlantis on Paradise Island for three days of our stay and then moved to the more affordable Comfort Suites across the street. The great thing about our Comfort Suites stay was that it was more than half the price of the Atlantis and we still got to enjoy the amenities at the Atlantis property thanks to a partnership they have with Comfort Suites. The Atlantis is a magical place for kids and it just so happened the summer we went it was Cartoon Network summer, so everything was Cartoon Network themed and my kids were really into the shows on Cartoon Network at the time. There were obstacle courses, character parades and movies on the green every night. My kids still talk about this trip, so hopefully it's one they will always remember!
What is your favorite family travel destination?
For many entrepreneurs and freelancers the summer is just another three months. It's business as usual and it's even more challenging to try and get new clients and keep things afloat when the rest of the world has unplugged.
Here are five things entrepreneurs should do while things are slow over the summer:
Writer. Reader. Designer. Creative Spirit.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”