Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WFMW - Summer Activities - Indoors

It's the longest day of the year. We should probably celebrate it by doing something outside. However, some days are just too hot or too rainy and so it's nice to have indoor alternatives. Who knows, maybe this list of activities will be handy in the wintertime as well!

#1 - The County Library
While we tried to visit the library on a weekly basis throughout the year, in the summertime it was almost an imperative. It's important to keep reading skills going, and new material certainly helps with that. In addition, often libraries will have summer reading incentives and other programs. (The Palm Beach County "classes and events" for children can be found here.)

#2 - Museums
Most of these will charge admission, so they're not necessarily frugal. However, if it's something you're really interested in, you could get a family membership, maybe even as a birthday or Christmas present. Or you could become friends with someone and go as their guest. Or you could look for Groupon deals or "Free Friday" promotions.
#3 - Indoor Exercise
  • Ice Skating
  • Roller Skating
  • Indoor Playgrounds
Aquarium in Draper Utah
#4 - Crafting
  • Paint your own Pottery
  • Kids' Workshops (Home Depot)
  • Camp Creativity (Michael's)
  • Cooking or Sewing Classes - These can even be done at home!
Making something new is fun at any age!
#4 - Movie Theaters 
#5 - Malls and Shopping
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Dollar Store - A great place to find reading reward incentives!
  • Mall Treasure Hunt
  • Window Shopping - You don't necessarily have to buy anything!
  • "Get Ready for School" Shopping
What would you add?

One of my favorite bloggers just posted a great list of things to do at home - including masking tape roadways, binocular scavenger hunt and paint chip stories.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Rainy Morning at the Park

When scheduling some Relief Society summer get-togethers at the park, we specifically picked a time in the morning to avoid the regular afternoon thunder showers. Well, Mother Nature had the last laugh, choosing to send rain 24 hours a day for a week or two. A couple of us went to the park anyway, and I enjoyed exploring for a bit. As you can imagine, I had it pretty much to myself. The only other people I saw were those catching the bus at the adjacent bus stop and some maintenance men. It spite of the gray clouds, it really was a beautiful day, although I am looking forward to going back on a sunny day.

Veteran's Park - Royal Palm Beach

Monday, June 19, 2017

Thoughts on Productivity

This was actually quite an interesting article, and since I'd like to remember the principles and be able to find it again, I'm posting it here.

A Forbes reporter recently interviewed over 200 ultra-productive people (including seven billionaires, 13 Olympians, 20 straight-A students and over 200 successful entrepreneurs), asking a simple, open-ended question, “What is your number one secret to productivity?” After analyzing all of their responses, he coded their answers into 15 unique ideas.

Secret #1: They focus on minutes, not hours.

Average performers default to hours and half-hour blocks on their calendar. Highly successful people know there are 1,440 minutes in every day and there is nothing more valuable than time.

Secret #2: They focus only on one thing.

Ultra productive people know their Most Important Task (MIT) and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions.

Secret #3: They don’t use to-do lists.

Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar, using 15-minute blocks of time.

Secret #4: They beat procrastination with time travel.

What can you do now to make sure your future self does the right thing? Anticipate how you will self-sabotage in the future, and come up with a solution to defeat your future self.

Secret #5: They make it home for dinner.

Highly successful people know what they value in life. There is no right answer, but for many, values include: family time, exercise, giving back. They consciously allocate their 1,440 minutes a day to each area they value (i.e., they put it on their calendar) and then they stick to the schedule.

Secret #6: They use a notebook.

Ultra-productive people free their mind by writing everything down.

Secret #7: They process email only a few times a day.

Ultra-productive people don’t “check” email throughout the day. Instead, like everything else, they schedule time to process their email quickly and efficiently.

Secret #8: They avoid meetings at all costs.

Meetings are notorious time killers. They start late, have the wrong people in them, meander in their topics and run long. You should get out of meetings whenever you can, hold fewer of them yourself, and if you do run a meeting, keep it short.

Secret #9: They say “no” to almost everything.

Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in every day. Don’t give them away easily.

Secret #10: They follow the 80/20 rule.

Known as the Pareto Principle, in most cases 80% of outcomes come from only 20% of activities. Ultra-productive people know which activities drive the greatest results, and focus on those and ignore the rest.

Secret #11: They delegate almost everything.

Ultra-productive people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead they ask, “How can this task get done?” They take the “I” out of it as much as possible. Ultra-productive people don’t have control issues and they are not micro-managers. In many cases good enough is, well, good enough.

Secret #12: They theme days of the week.

Highly successful people often theme days of the week to focus on major areas. Batch your work to maximize your efficiency and effectiveness.

Secret #13: They touch things only once.

Highly successful people try to “touch it once.” If it takes less than five or ten minutes—whatever it is—they’ll deal with it right then and there. It reduces stress since it won’t be in the back of their mind, and is more efficient since they won’t have to re-read or evaluate the item again in the future.

Secret #14: They practice a consistent morning routine.

Most people I interviewed nurtured their body in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast and light exercise. They nurtured their mind with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, and journaling.

Secret #15: Energy is everything.

You can’t make more minutes in the day, but you can increase your energy which will increase your attention, focus, decision making, and overall productivity. Highly successful people don’t skip meals, sleep or breaks in the pursuit of more, more, more. Instead, they view food as fuel, sleep as recovery, and pulse and pause with “work sprints.”

I'll have to test these out myself, though, because here's another article where the very first suggestion is the exact opposite of the one above. I wonder which tip really does work best! Some of the other are similar, though, so I imagine we can find something useful in each list.

Tips from successful people to guide you to a more fulfilled life:
1. They Make Lists
2. They Maximize Down Time
3. They Reflect on Mistakes & Grow
4. They Limit Technological Distractions (schedule email times)
5. They Forget About Perfection
6. They Collect Their Thoughts Immediately (keep a notebook)
7. They Do Nice Things, But Don’t Tell Everyone
8. They Remind Themselves of Death (imagine future self)
9. They Define Success Themselves
10. They Outwork Everyone
11. They Don’t Envy Others
12. They Heed Danger in Lounging
13. They Believe That Fate Is Fake
14. They Are The Man in the Glass
15. They Embrace Criticism
16. They Always Finish Strong

Next time you’re in the situation of becoming your own worst critic, remember that “The road to personal excellence has no end.” Trust in yourself, keep your head down, and keep moving forward no matter what.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day! Aren't these pictures terrific? I'm so proud of the fathers my sons have become. I just love their enthusiasm and excitement. It's been fun watching these cute boys grow into awesome men! (No pictures of Steven and his baby yet - have to wait until November - but we know he'll be a great dad as well.)

We usually have the camera out for vacations and hiking, so that's when most of the father/son pictures are taken! I love this one of the boys following in their dad's footsteps.

He has a daughter as well!

I came across this picture of Brad with his brothers-in-law. Isn't it wonderful that the next generation realizes the importance of fathers spending time with children?

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

WMFW - Summer Activities - Beaches

Our Favorite Beaches - 2 years later

A couple of years ago as part of a Relief Society activity lesson on things to do in the summer, I wrote about some of our favorite beaches. You can find that post here. We have gone to the beach a few times since then, so I figured it was time to update our findings. I don't know if we have a new favorite beach yet, but we do have a lot that we'd be happy to visit again. Maybe you'll like one of them as well, so here you go!

Riviera Beach Municipal Beach - behind the Ocean Mall on Singer Island - 6/10/15
They gave it 4 suns, we gave it 4 suns also. You can read about our visit here. There's not a lot of parking, so it spills over into the shopping center parking lot, which then means you have a hike to get to the water. However, parking is free and there are covered picnic tables and grills and a playground and a sand volleyball lot and grass before the dune which separates all that from the beach.

Midtown Beach - east end of Worth Avenue, stretching from Royal Palm to Hammond Streets - 4/30/16
They gave it 1 sun, we gave it 3. The beach itself is quite nice, and even great and beautiful. However, it doesn't get a "5" because parking is $5/hour and there are no restrooms.

Phipps Ocean Park - 2201 S. Ocean Blvd. in Palm Beach - 8/6/16
They gave it 2 suns, we gave it 3. We figured it was a nice, average beach. There is free parking (for 2 hours if you go before 1 PM) and there are also restrooms.

Richard G. Kreusler Park - the far east end of Lake Worth Road (on the left side) - 3/18/17
They gave it 2 suns, we gave it 3. This is also a nice, average beach. One huge plus is that it's the closest to our house, so it's the best one for a quick trip. Parking is $2/hour. Currently the restrooms are being remodeled, but that doesn't interfere with getting to the sand and water.

We still haven't "officially" visited Lake Worth Beach, but it's next on the list. However, Michelle and I had another "unofficial" visit when she was home for Christmas a couple of years ago.

Whether you go for the sunrise, the sunset, or sometime in between, I hope each of you get the chance to visit your favorite beach this summer. Have a great time!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

WFMW - Summer Activities - Parks

Our Favorite Parks - 2 years later

A couple of years ago as part of a Relief Society activity lesson on things to do in the summer, I wrote about some of our favorite parks. You can find that post here. We have gone to the park a few times since then, so I figured it was time to update our findings. I don't know if we have a new favorite park yet, but we do have a lot that we'd be happy to visit again. Maybe you'll like one of them as well, so here you go!

There are a lot of things to do at state parks - maybe that's why they receive that designation. One of the closest ones to us is Jonathan Dickinson State Park. We enjoy taking the different hiking trails, watching the movies in the visitor's center, and grilling delicious lunches. One of these days we'll even rent canoes and explore the Loxahatchee River some more. Here are posts describing our recent visits:

Although not as large as state parks, county parks also have enough to do to merit multiple visits. Dyer Park is a good example. We've gone there to take a summer hikea fall hike, and have a barbecue picnic. Now we're trying to schedule visits to Glades Pioneer Park. We've done a couple of hikes (see here) and want to go back to check out their pool. Unfortunately, that isn't necessarily easily accomplished. The pool is only open from Tuesday through Friday during the summer. That conflicts just a bit with Wayne's employment. However, if that's not a concern for you, go enjoy it and let us know how much fun you have!

Our city's parks are mainly small neighborhood ones with playgrounds, but that's just perfect for a Saturday picnic in between other chores and activities. Recently we've visited a couple.

Here's a list of fun things to do while at a park, or even in your backyard.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas of things to do this summer! Let me know if you have favorite parks of your own, here or somewhere else.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

WFMW - Summer Movie Promotions

One thing that worked for us in years past (and, who knows, maybe this year as well), is to take advantage of the summer promotion at the movie theater. Admittedly, we didn't learn about this until our kids were mostly grown, but even Michelle and I enjoyed getting out of the house and seeing a movie together. It's just not something we ever did on a regular basis, so it was a nice treat. She also took children she was babysitting one summer. If you go expecting to be over-run with little kids and summer camp groups, it's more enjoyable!

Paragon Theaters is located in the Wellington Green Mall.

Regal Theaters is in Royal Palm Beach on S.R. 7.

I noticed a great tip from one mother who is trying to save money. Buy one large tub of popcorn (she said they often come with free refills) to share as a family. Portioning the popcorn into brown paper lunch sacks once you're seated prevents spills from happening by passing the bucket down the row. It also prevents one person from hogging the treat!

To see if this promotion is available near you, check this site. Unfortunately, they're not doing it in Utah.

Regal Royal Park Stadium 16

3702 W. Newberry Road Gainesville, FL 
Starts Tue. Jun 6 (so same schedule as above)

Regal Stadium 22 @ Austell

2480 East-West Connector Road Austell, GA 
Starts Tue. Jun 6 (so same schedule as above)

Regal Oaks Stadium 24

180 Mill Road Oaks, PA 
Starts Tue. Jun 27 and goes through Aug 23

In addition, many cities offer free outdoor movies on a regular basis. I know ours does. Just do a Google search. For example, here's a listing of free summer movies near Philadelphia this summer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend - 2017

Unlike last year - which finally has its own blog post - we didn't do any hiking on Memorial Day this year. However, we still had a nice weekend. It was more reminiscent of Memorial Day Weekend 2014 with church assignments and home improvement projects. Might as well add the link to 2012 which had all three activities, and more!

Anyway, the weekend started with a trip to the temple on Friday night.

After the routine walk around the neighborhood Saturday morning, with its typical pattern of doing the 3 mile inner loop together followed by Wayne doing the 5 mile outer loop on his own, we helped load a trailer and clean an apartment for some friends, and then went shopping for cabinet handles. We didn't find exactly what we wanted in the local stores, but were able to narrow down what we liked, and then later that day we ordered them online. Yeah for the internet! The "chores" at home - really "hobbies" - kept us busy the rest of the day. Can you figure out what the next home improvement project is?

Water Chestnut Meatballs
Sunday was a normal day with church meetings and family phone calls. We actually were able to talk with both sets of parents and all of our children. That happens regularly, but not every week. We also had the "I want to marry your daughter" phone call from Michelle's boyfriend, which was definitely a new experience. Even though we've already had five weddings, we're learning that the whole process really is different for a daughter!

At the request of our stake president to celebrate Memorial Day by honoring our ancestors, Monday morning we were back at the temple. It was a beautiful idea and we enjoyed running into a lot of friends who were there as well.

After returning home we were able to repeat our neighborhood walk (note that it's more enjoyable in the morning), make progress on the closet renovation and barbecue hamburgers in the backyard. It was a pleasant day, and while not quite as exciting as Michelle's, that's okay. We hope each of you has great memories of your own Memorial Day activities.

And that reminds us of another eventful Memorial Day weekend, with another hike and a wedding ring story. On any future Memorial Day hikes, please remember to check your pockets for holes!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Jonathan Dickinson State Park - May Visit

Time for another hike! Last year I dropped Wayne off to do the orange "Ocean to Lake" hiking trail in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. That made it easy to know where to drop him off this time for the pink "Ocean to Lake" multi-use trail.

While he enjoyed his 15 mile hike, I drove to the picnic area and enjoyed waiting for him. It was the perfect time to read a book that had been on my list to read.

But before reading, I made my usual walk down to the river, and noticed something new - a mini bat house! Maybe some day we'll be there in the evening to see the bats leave.

I also noticed a couple of other new things, although these have probably been there for a while. First was a plaque commemorating the Battle of the Loxahatchee River during the Seminole Indian War. The second was the ampitheater for the campground. Finding that brought back fond memories of our summer vacation camping trips to the national parks. It's been a while since we've been able to do that, and we miss it.

We both enjoyed another beautiful day in Florida!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WFMW - Summer Plans

Although we're empty-nesters now, it's obvious from social media that we're at the end of another school year. (I guess I didn't need social media to tell me that since I taught my last seminary lesson a week ago.) Anyway, it's time to share some of the things that worked for us when we did have kids at home, and did have to deal with the possibility of a constant refrain of "I'm bored!" I also noticed that some of the links I referenced in previous posts no longer exist, so it's time to find some new ones. The summers where we did some pre-planning are the summers that I remember most fondly, and I just realized that even though the kids are grown, if I want pleasant memories of the summer of 2017, I still need to plan ahead and set some goals. Preparation is a key to success!

So, first, here are some posts from years past:

Summer Hours of Worth

Summer Bucket List

Reading Lists

Basically, the idea is to make some sort of list of things you want to accomplish. That's the hard part! Once you have a list, you just go to work checking things off. You can be productive and have some fun as well. And if you're a bit creative about how you present the list to your kids, it helps make the likelihood of finishing greater. Even better, let them help you create the list. I've also learned that having a single focus for each day of the week helps with deciding which activity to do on which day.

Activities written on dots on the door.

Time to work on my list now. Over the next few weeks, I'll share some of the activities we've done in the past, and I look forward to seeing what you choose to do! Enjoy your Summer Hours of Wonder!

Finally, if you're looking for ideas on what to add to your lists, Pinterest is a great resource. Here's my board for kid-friendly activities.