Cheap or Free Summer Kids Activities – Fort Worth/Keller, Texas

In my 27 years of parenting, this is my first summer to be a SAHM. We are two days into the summer, yes only two days, and I feel the need for some alone time!! Obviously not for the weak minded, which is where I fear I am falling tonight.

I have been researching some tools and routines to keep my nine year old from disowning me and locking me in a closet… the social media sensation Scary Mommy blog that I read about a month ago, convinced me our ideal summer would be lazing around, kids playing outside, Ya Ya Sisterhood type of summer … 10 Ways to Give Your Kid a 1970’s Kind of Summer by Melissa Fenton.

I think it was a great idea, but my mini and I need more structure and a plan to keep away from the electronic mind suckers – TV, Cartoon Network, Minecraft, and the iPad.

Last night we found and printed off a loose weekly schedule template by Kayse Pratt at Intentional Moms.

Lazy Mondays – Where we clean up for the weekend and create something at home.
Tuesday Trip – Go to the park, zoo, or swimming.
Bookworm Wednesday – Trip to the library, then veg at home and read.
Thursday Kitchen – Make one new dish with mom or dad.
Fun Friday – Go do something fun – we will be drawing a surprise trip out of our mason jar of the ideas below.

The template started a great conversation and we (my 9 year-old and I) talked about a loose schedule, and how changes will occur. We’ve already had to move our Wednesday plan – a trip to the library to Tuesday because my twice yearly hair appointment is on Wednesday this week… thankfully I will be able to quit wearing head bands and scarfs to cover my gray hair, but I digress.

Before I get too excited about my hair appointment, I will keep talking about our new summer routine. We also discussed several options for inexpensive or free field trips each week. I already mentioned the public library, reading always a great, free activity, right! Of our options, we will be writing each different idea on a small piece of paper and putting them all in a jar and drawing one out each week to have a little surprise and variety.

1. Free Roller skating – Our local rink is part of We are signed up and have our free passes.
2. Free Bowling – A little farther drive for us but only about 20 minutes to our participating bowling alley. Cowtown Bowling in River Oaks participates in Passes are printed for us! You can also add on a budget friendly adult pass.
3. Local parks and trails – We are located near several great parks and to add some adventure to this we participate in several “treasure hunting” internet groups. We geocache and rock hunt!
– Geocaching is using the app or a GPS to locate caches or treasures hidden by others. We have found virtual caches, large ammo boxes, small film containers, etc. filled with different items and a log. It is proper etiquette to leave something before you take something and sign the log. We used to carry a bag or army men or special coins to leave in caches and the kids enjoyed collecting the different items. We use and have for about 20 years. We hid our first cache for others to find this week too! We have enjoyed watching the logs as others find it.
– Painted rock hunting – We have recently discovered this fun activity. People in our communities paint rocks and hide them in parks, shopping centers, etc for others to find and enjoy. We have started painting rocks to hide this week as well. Search Facebook for rock painting/hiding groups in your neighborhood/town. I just search Fort Worth Rocks and found several great ones near me!
4. For fourth graders only – Free admission to National State Parks at Every Kid in A Park. Your child will have to do a few, fun online learning exercises, then print out the form to receive a free national park pass.
5. Ever wonder how money is made? Take a tour of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth for FREE! I’ve taken my older kids several times and looking forward to taking our 9 year-old again this year. Tour Info.

The Fort Worth area is a family and cultural mecca for families! These are just a few of the ideas we will utilize this summer.

Share your budget friendly ideas in the comments! I look forward to connecting with you, keep spreading grace and glitter!


When Your Child Doesn’t Receive Awards

It’s that time of year. We have completed the dreaded third grade STAAR testing, we have made it through school projects, end-of-year school parties are on the calendar, those lovely packed lunches are looking skimpy, parents and teachers alike are done… only a couple of days left. Today my youngest received her school yearbook and the end of period award ceremony took place. I knew she would not receive an award and had not received one in her 4 years at this mid-sized, Texas school, so one of my older daughters and I made a point to eat lunch with her to give her a different focus.

I was anxiously awaiting her entrance after school – today had all the appearances of a normal day, backpack unpacking, I asked about her day and then she says – “it was the worst day, another year of no awards!” My heart breaks but as a hold it together, be a better person mom that I am, I reply, “not everyone gets an award honey, you are an amazing, smart young lady, you don’t need a piece of paper to tell you that”. In her tween gaze, I see the that is what you are supposed to say, you are my mother tone as she picks up her iPad to loose herself in a cartoon or Minecraft game.

So as a parent, what do you do? She’s made exceptional grades all year and has had a few blips with friendships and will be the first to come to someone’s aid. She will give you her whole stack of Pokemon cards if it will make you happy. While I know her teachers see her great traits, I cannot make them give her an award for them. My husband and I tell her and all of our kids how amazing and smart they are. How they can do anything their heart’s desire, but we cannot teach her to not care about these damn awards!!

I thank our sweet Jesus (no blasphemy intended), that she doesn’t use social media yet and see all of her friends that received awards. She’s already mentioned multiple names of friends who won something today. I want my baby girl to know it’s okay to do your job well, do the right thing, and just be a good person, I think that is reward enough – I’m damn proud of her.

My mommy senses are going crazy right now though. I am fighting the why isn’t my kid good enough feeling. I know it doesn’t matter to her right now that I think she is flippin amazing. My prayer today is that she comes into her own self-assured nature and can just continue growing in her sweet spirit. We do not all receive awards or recognition for being “average” or just good people and that’s okay.

My youngest is an offbeat kid. She is the youngest of five, her older siblings are a good 11 to 18 years older than she is. She was our bonus baby. She’s a classic only child but she has 4 siblings. She has grown 4 inches and 20 pounds this year. I cross my fingers every morning hoping the outfit I put out will fit her. She’s hit the tall, gawky teen stage at the age of nine years old.

She gets the majority of our attention. My husband works from home and I am a SAHM. Our older kids barely received one-on-one mom or dad time every few months, as we both worked crazy schedules. They remind us frequently how “lucky” she is all the time. She is a very lucky little girl but she is lonely and craves siblings, where our older kids couldn’t wait to get away from each other. The old saying, be careful what you wish for is a double edge sword in my house.

She gets to travel more than her siblings did.. it’s cheaper to take one kid vs. five kids. This past January we got to go to New York City and spend a long weekend. We walked the city, saw Lady Liberty, Times Square, and our first Broadway show – Wicked! We were so excited and she was wrapped up in the story line. At the end of the show, she looked at me and said “Im Elphaba”. I was a little taken aback. She said “I’m the weird kid”. My heart broke.. I told her she was a beautiful child from the highest God and was a unique, beautiful human being.

I pray that my average, self-proclaimed weird kid finds her place is this crazy world. Her older sister has currently taken her and a friend off to the movies, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. Sooo we are onto a slow, summer and then fourth grade – May all of our extraordinary yet “average” kids have a perfect summer.

Until next time continue to spread grace and glitter.

UPDATE: About two days after this blog was written, I proceeded to unpack my daughter’s backpack to put it away for the summer. As I pulled out the pieces of trash, Pokemon cards, and discarded spirals, I found a large manilla envelope. Inside this very official envelope were certificates for A Honor Roll for the whole year and Good Citizenship for the whole year! I called my little one and asked her if these weren’t awards? As I proceeded to make a big deal of these very substantial accomplishments, she said but I didn’t get an award in the assembly!!! I have work to do this summer obviously!