lemonade stand

Week 1 of Camp Mom or Why I Can’t Keep a Routine

Books For Beginning Readers at Camp Mom

My two girls are in Ohio visiting their cousins so it’s just me and my 7-year-old-going-into-2nd grade son who opted to stay home instead of attending day camp this week. I thought I’d try out the Camp Mom schedule I posted on, but I find that we don’t ever have a full day of unscheduled time and also that I can’t keep to a set routine. Still, it was helpful to switch in and out of the different modules. Here’s my Camp Mom diary. How is your Camp Mom going if you are doing this too?

Camp Mom Monday

We ended up with a play date extravaganza. 8 am to 10 am at my house to help out my mom friend Julie with her dental appointment. Then we switched from 10 am to 1 pm at her house so that I could volunteer for the Teacher Appreciation Lunch at the middle school.

Then a play date with twins from 1 pm o 4 pm. An hour of screen time for my son while I met with my new intern for my ILoveNewton.com blog (yay! Vlogging on the way!), then a half hour from 5pm to 5:30to meet the dog sitter who will board my dog.

Dinner, bath, chapter book and picture books, and bed. He read part of Magic Tree House Dragon of the Red Dawn to me and I read Dinotrux to him. He loved the cutout cards in the back of Dinotrux. Dinosaurs and trucks are a good combination! Summer reading should be fun, so I do most of the heavy lifting.


Camp Mom Tuesday

Daily Word Problems, 2nd Grade

We woke up and did Daily Math Problems. Miscalculation. 3 weeks of problems, 15 total, does not take an hour. More like 15 minutes. Some screen time. Then we ran errands: dog park for a mile hike so our dog can run off-leash, bank to get cash, Staples to get large labels for my Summer Reading List giveaway.

We scored some great sticks at the dog park to make into a bow and arrow set plus a karate inspired Bo Staff. Used a knife and rubber bands to make the bow. It worked surprisingly well and my son shot “arrows” outside for a half hour.

wooden bow and arrows from sticks

After lunch, we played a two square and a game we invented called soccer tennis. The object is the defend the tiny net using just a tennis racquet. My son had his guitar lesson for my son (1 hour), then we rushed to PinkBerry for promised treat I bribed him with to go to the dog park. He attended a birthday party at a video arcade place that took up the rest of the evening which included pizza for dinner. I shopped at the nearby mall for my husband’s upcoming birthday since I failed to set up a car pool. Then a little TV for my son while my husband and I ate dinner.

My son watched another hour of TV before we forced him upstairs for his bedtime routine. I coaxed him into reading some new picture books and found we both found them to be extremely entertaining even on the second go round. We did a few more weeks of math to land at week 15  and then bed for both of us. Camp Mom is exhausting!

Camp Mom Wednesday

lemonade stand

No go on the morning math. That’s ok. I like to front load it during the summer because we tail off as the summer winds down. My son watched TV for half a hour before donning his cleats for a 1/2 hour soccer lesson. I ran to the post office during his lesson to mail off the Magic Tree House winners from my Summer Reading List giveaway. His coach gave us all kinds of ideas for the sweltering 100 degree day. My son latched onto Lemonade Stand and got the neighbor boys involved in a Huckleberry Finn-like move.  Four hours of Lemonade Stand yielded about $20. Ran out of lemons though. I had to run out for my annual physical but my husband stepped in.

lemonade stand

After lunch, I thought I’d try that baking soda and colored vinegar experiment I found on Pinterest.

baking soda and colored vinegar

Bonus points for using the old freezer baking soda boxes upon realizing I didn’t have enough. Two boxes of baking soda was plenty. My mistake is not to have medicine dropper. I used a baster which worked fine but blasted so much vinegar (to dramatic effect) that we were done pretty quickly. My son loved it but it only took about fifteen minutes to complete. I made red, yellow and blue dyed vinegar so that he could also mix colors just to throw a little art theory into the mix. He didn’t seem to notice that part of it though.

My son wanted more science experiments, so I thought I’d try Gloop but didn’t have enough corn starch. Luckily more boys came over and I sent them down into the basement to play which is nice and cool as it’s about 100 degrees outside right now. He played inside, outside and across the street for a few more hours until dinner.

I still need to sneak in some math today plus get him to practice his guitar. I’ll try after dinner.

Note to self. Stock up on: lemons, baking soda, white vinegar, food coloring, baby oil, flour, corn starch. If I can find the baby oil, I’ll try Moon Sand with 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil for OUTSIDE play tomorrow. I guess you can add in food coloring too.

Notes from my husband: girls definitely run a more hygienic lemonade stand compared to boys. The boys did not keep track of used cups and tried to stir with their fingers. We have nice neighbors who did not accept change and even donated money to the till.

Bedtime picture books my son selected:


Camp Mom Thursday

I have a coffee date so that my new Mom Friend who is on a Fulbright from Korea can meet my Korean-American friend Helen whose father runs a university in Korea that my friend knows by reputation. My new Mom Friend teaches English Literature and is probably the only human on the planet is willing to talk about Asian American children’s lit all day. Too bad she departs for Korea next month!

The coffee was great and my friend Helen regaled us with tales of middle school behavior from alcohol poisoning to casual “hook ups” and how to prep your kids from succumbing to these pitfalls.

Next stop library. My son wants to get a particular Magic Tree House book that we don’t own plus a few other books, so trip to the library is in order. When we got there, he decided that he’s done with Magic Tree House and asked for the graphic novel section instead. We also realized he never got his own library card. We left with these books checked out under his new card.

Browsing the Beginning or Early Chapter Books yielded this:

He read the Hardy Boys Zombies book while eating lunch. He couldn’t put it down, he said it was so good. Then he started on the Knights of the Lunch Table which he had to return before finishing at his school library. We also ran to the grocery store to buy flour, baking soda, corn starch and baby oil for more Pinterest science experiments.

It’s sweltering outside. Time for some downtime. I thought about having him do the Gloop experiment but was too lazy when contemplating the clean up.

Ugh … that downtime morphed into 2+ hours of screen time but I worked furiously online until our mommy/son dinner date with two other mom friends and their kids. I think I had a few too many glasses of sangria though. We got back late but my son decided to play guitar and then read a little with me. We are now almost done with our Magic Tree House book Dragon of the Red Dawn.


Camp Mom Friday

My son is definitely a night owl. He went to bed at 11:15 pm and got up at 10:15 am. I was up at 8 am with a slight hangover but worked on the computer, dazed and confused. When he woke up, we read two chapters of his Max Finder library book. I solved the first mystery which is rare for me and he solved the second one. Usually we get stumped half the time. We did a week of the school math problems but only the ones he could do in his head, skipping (ALWAYS!) the one that makes you make calendar for July.

My husband is free today and offered to take my son to Chuck E Cheese’s for lunch and video games. I tagged along. We usually take the kids once a year during the summer when there are less viruses. For $40, we got a pretty unappetizing lunch and 560 tickets which translates into a goody bag of small plastic toys.

I need to meet my mom friend Ann to give her Twitter lessons for Darby Road. My son is making Moon Sand using 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil. This entertains him for about an hour. Then it’s TV time before we have to leave for a pool party.

Camp Mom for one week is … exhausting. Screen time for him equals screen time for me. Next week I could put him in a soccer/swimming day camp but he has opted to stay home for another week while his sisters are at soccer camp. Should I make him go? I’m torn.

p.s. Here’s a related post on Setting Up Camp Mom.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Alison

    Good point about there not being full days of unscheduled time…Last week was our first full week of camp mom and it was a bit of a cheat because my son went to baseball camp from 9-4 each day and it was just me and my 11 y.o. daughter. My challenge was finding active, non-screen activities for her. (She would spend hours laying around reading/playing with her Kindle or reading books.) I hosted her book club one morning and she and I went to the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem to catch the new photography exhibits another day. Other pockets of time were filled with get-togethers with friends, walking around to gawk at the Adam Sandler movie being filmed in our town and getting frozen yogurt at the new Orange Leaf store. I’m sending them to the library tomorrow and just finished making a list of book suggestions for them. I included a lot of titles from your blog, some Olympic inspired books from this site: http://community.weareteachers.com/t5/WeAreTeachers-Blog/WeAreTeachers-Book-Club-5-Reads-That-Go-for-the-Gold/ba-p/13203 and some other age-appropriate suggestions from the StorySnoops web site. My real Camp Mom challenge will start after the July 4 week. Hopefully I’ll be ready for it!!

    • Hi Alison,
      Thankfully there are not full days of unscheduled time because it was exhausting to fill it all without much screen time, I found. I like your ideas … gawking is fun and how exciting to have a movie being made in your neighborhood! Did you get to see Adam Sandler too?

      Getting frozen yogurt is also a highlight of our summer now that a new PinkBerry opened up nearby. I can use it as motivation for getting my kids to do a few things I want them to do by promising it as a treat to earn.

      I need to utilize the library more plus combine libraries at other towns with errands in those towns.

      Good luck with your Camp Mom weeks ahead. Please share!

  2. Artchoo

    Wow. I wouldn’t want to go to soccer/swimming camp, either when you have Camp Pragmatic Mom as an alternative. Exhausting for you, but good times for your son! I’m inspired now to go overboard on the Pinterest science experiments this week, so we will be heading to the store tomorrow to buy all of the above ingredients. Maybe some groceries, too, but they’re so boring.
    Artchoo recently posted…Are there S’mores at Art Camp?My Profile

  3. vanita

    Girl how did you keep up without cloning yourself? Even with the teens helping me i could never keep up with this schedule. Moon Sand sounds super cool. trying to remember where I heard it from before. we should definitely be making our own sand around here, no way i’m going to the beach or anywhere else in 96 degree weather!
    vanita recently posted…The Busy LifeMy Profile

    • Hi Vanita,
      You should see week 2. Screen time, screen time, more screen time, frozen yogurt, screen time, 15 minutes of book reading, screen time. I can’t keep that up; it was exhausting!

  4. Stopping by from Bloggy Moms! Have a great week! 🙂
    Mandee recently posted…WINNERS!!!My Profile

  5. Tracy @ momaical.com

    Yup. I am looking for something for my kids to do about 10 minutes after they wake up in the morning or the fighting begins! The moon sand is great! Easy to clean up but needs quite a bit of baby oil! Found you through the Bloggy Moms blog hop and will be following!!!

    • Hi Tracy,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. I will come by your blog as well. This Bloggy Mom blog hop is fun! We did the Moon Sand and it did work just like the commercial stuff and had a pleasant baby oil odor as well. I like it a lot.

  6. Hi Pragmatic MOm,
    I love your diary of the week. It’s such an informative and honest way to present parents with ideas. You and I are on the same wavelength, because I Just wrote a post about surviving the week with your kids at home. My idea is to carve out time for yourself in the day by promoting independent play. I too use the summer to for teaching opportunities, but I would go insane if I didn’t give myself a break. I think it’s great that your son wants to stay home with you for the week. He obviously loves spending time with you.
    Educationdiva (Ruth Spivak) recently posted…Decisions, decisions: Kill Julius Caesar or become a poor farmer? Your kids get to decide!My Profile

    • Hi Ruth (Education Diva),
      I will be over to read your post on Camp Mom too. It’s fun but exhausting, isn’t it? I have to say that doing play dates with other kids and switching is the best way to get some time to work and it’s pretty easy to monitor. The trick is just to set up because lots of kids are out of town for the summer. Hope your Camp Mom is going well!

  7. Ann

    Wow – I am tired just reading!

    Camp Mom (with lots of help) last week here too! Let’s see what did we do… Kids spent one day at the beach with my sister and second cousins. One day we went to see an outside production of Knuffle Bunny – loved it! My mom took them to the bookstore and for pizza one afternoon & then I took them to the library for summer reading kick-off with Ooch the yo-yo guy! New glasses for my daughter and the dreaded supermarket with kids. And one do nothing play day.

    I always find some activities run much longer and others you think will take a while are quick. Starting a 3 days a week day camp for both of them on Wed for the rest of July.
    Ann recently posted…Rhyme TimeMy Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      Whoa! Your Camp Mom sounds super busy! And really, really fun! Were you able to get your freelancing done? I love hearing about Camp Mom days. Our kids are so lucky that we can be home with them and everyone is doing such interesting and fun stuff. No wonder our kids are so excited for the summer!

      I’m toying with the idea of Benign Neglect too. There is some validity that you should let your kids get bored, really really bored, as way to stimulate their creativity. I think I will try that on Friday when my oldest, 12-years-old, is home. She plays the least independently out of all my kids and is always “bored.” She always want a friend but I’m not sure if anyone is around.

      Yep, Benign Neglect. It does make you feel like a bad mom though!

  8. Ann

    Forgot to say how cute your son is! Great week mom!!!
    Ann recently posted…Rhyme TimeMy Profile

  9. Thank you for sharing!

    Posted by Margaret Griffin, M.Ed.

    From my LinkedIn Group Moms on the Job
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Make Vocabulary a Game with These Great Games and BooksMy Profile

  10. Hi Margaret,

    My pleasure. Camp Mom is fun but exhausting!
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Make Vocabulary a Game with These Great Games and BooksMy Profile

  11. Wow, you pack a lot in one day.

    We made a list of 5 things to focus on for our son and 4 for our daughter. One in each list is educational. I buy the gap workbooks. Will confess it is whatever is on sale at Costco. So this year they are from scholastic. My son is to do 2 pages and then read for 20 min or more for 5 days a week. for the 4 year old the educational bit is to go over site words and then work in her workbook. I am failing miserably with her!

    We do alot outdoors as the temps are cooler here in Ohio for us 🙂

    Dr Rajka recently posted…Their pee pee is different. And why god made mothers?My Profile

    • Hi Dr. Rajka,
      My first week as Camp Mom counselor was unusually busy because I was trying really hard but the following week of Camp Mom was a total fail with mostly play dates. We do the academics in fits and starts too but I think that is ok. It’s summer after all and somehow it all gets done though I have to remind my kids about their incentive bribe to do that final push which can be as late as January.

  12. Ann

    Work was slow last week b/c we’re waiting on prototypes so that was nice – funny how things work out sometimes! Benign Neglect – great idea!
    Ann recently posted…My Life in FlagsMy Profile

  13. Great share! Thank YOU!

    Posted by Kim Hall

    From my LinkedIn Group Moms on the Job
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…How To: Teach Kids to Read IndependentlyMy Profile

  14. Hi Kim,
    Thanks so much! Are you doing a Camp Mom this summer?
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…How To: Teach Kids to Read IndependentlyMy Profile

  15. Kim

    I love your camp mom diary. I thought I was the only one who got tired by the end of the week.
    I hosted a watergun battle between a bunch of the older neighborhood kids and younger kids. It then turned into a kick ball game at the park. I
    hope we can do a lemonade stand too. My sons just
    want to keep it simple and not do too much this summer.
    The weather has been a bit cool and rainy in oregon so we haven’t been outdoors as much! 🙂

    • Hi Kim,
      I didn’t get tired by the end of the week; I got tired by the end of EACH day!! I love your watergun battle! My kids would LOVE that! What a great idea! I hope you get some good weather so you can do the lemonade stand!

  16. Huh somehow I missed this post! Love the bow and arrow idea – definitely need to try with my kids.
    maryanne recently posted…Amigurumi and Waldorf Inspired Baby Doll Crochet PatternMy Profile

  17. I’m not going to say if you should keep him home or not (tough one) but wow – you did well! I’m impressed, Camp Counsellor! I won’t even try to tell you our holiday “schedule”.
    Bronwyn Joy recently posted…Tea and Coaxing: a Savage Journey into the Heart of my Writing ProcessMy Profile

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