Monday, July 16, 2012

Passport to Summer

In 2010 the kids and I had a Summer full of adventures, which I chronicled on this blog. It was one of the more fun Summers I can remember. Partly intentional, as we planned weekly play dates with friends, while others were purely spur of the moment ideas. I hoped to continue those adventures the following year with no such luck. Some friends moved, others went back to work, and every time I tried to get a group together it never panned out. So, I was faced with a decision. Let the kids be bored at home all Summer, or bite the bullet and do the things we wanted all on our own. We ended up doing less stuff, just me and the kids. It wasn't ideal, but we made do. At the end of the year, I bravely took the kids to the Zoo on my own for the very first time. I hate DC, especially when driving, and have never been in the city by myself. It wasn't as bad as I feared, but it was kind of lonely. Trips like this are better when shared. The kids never seemed to know the difference, but as Summer came to an end I swore I would do better.

Unfortunately, it seems that this year we are facing the same situation of doing all our "Adventures" just the three of us. I won't lie, I'm stressing about the whole thing. The kids are older, more demanding, and easily bored. I have a smaller budget, less patience, and an extreme lack of inspiration. I think the hardest part is finding the motivation when it's just me and the kids. They behave better when they have friends to play with and my stress level goes way down in the presence of a fellow Mom. If you are a parent you are nodding your head and saying to yourself, "True Dat."

The motivation factor has a lot to do with fear. I'm not afraid of my kids, I'm afraid of how things turn out when it's just the three of us. Them running rampant because they are bored, me yelling because they won't listen, and all of us miserable. It's just not fun. In these moments I lack control and therefore confidence in myself as an effective parent. As a result, I struggle with the motivation to do things with them. So as I mentioned before, when you add in friends I find I am better able to hold myself accountable for the plans we make. When I run solo I need to dig deep and get creative. Make my own motivation. This Summer I was determined to keep us busy in order to avoid the usual routine and resulting outcome. I only needed a spark of inspiration to get me going.

We get the Sunday Post for the coupons but I have found that I enjoy reading through it while sipping my morning cup of coffee. One Sunday I found myself perusing the Arts section and discovered their Summer Preview with a full list of kids events. I felt like I hit the jackpot and circled certain events I thought the kids would possibly enjoy. I added those to the already ongoing list of things we do every year; trip to the Zoo, Free Summer Movies at local theaters, visit to the fountains, and of course the neighborhood pool. This gave me a little more confidence heading into the Summer months. From here, I decided to finally put together a project I've been wanting to do for awhile.

I came across the idea of the Summer Passport while reading blogs about scrapbooking. I thought it was brilliant. Each child has a passport for the Summer and just like a real passport, you need, and want, to go places in order to fill it with as many different stamps as you can. Just as you would get a stamp for going to different countries, the kids get stamps for the different events that we plan, places we visit, and adventures we have. Seriously fun right? So as with all my creative endeavors, I took the general idea and made it my own.

First, I created the cover of the passport. I stuck with the color blue of traditional passports but made it a more Summer hue. I searched for ways other people and places designed their passports. I was amazed at the popularity. Libraries, Schools, Botanical Gardens, Summer Camps, Museums, the list goes on. They were all using this passport concept. I settled on a simple design which Mason pointed out looks a bit like Captain America's shield (which he loved). I was going to make the passport look authentic, similar to the real thing, but after Fred's reaction to the Driver's Licenses I made the kids (they were too close to the real deal and he was worried I might be infringing on federal laws) I decided against it. I had my design printed out on 5x7 photo paper at Costco and folded it in half. This makes my passport 5x3.5 inches.
Next I made their ID pages. I made a little area for their picture and listed their name, age, hometown, and a brief summary of their current likes. This was more for memory keeping purposes so I could compare to future years. I then created a little blurb describing the purpose of the passport. I got this idea from reading through my own.
For the inner pages I repeated the design on the front and then changed the opacity to like 35%, created four blocks for the stamps, added page numbers, and the words Summer Adventures.
I included pages with pockets so the kids could keep souvenirs of their adventures such as, ticket stubs, postcards, brochures, maps, photos, drawings, crafts, notes, etc. I figured out where I wanted each page and then printed those 5x7 according to the set up and glued them back to back. For example, I have 8 stamp pages so I printed the ID page and stamp page eight on the same paper and folded in half. Likewise, I printed pages two and seven together, three and six together, and four and five together. Once they were all glued together and folded, I opened it to the middle and stapled them in place.

They came out better than I thought and the kids absolutely love them. I figured I could use this as a way to hold myself accountable for fun this Summer. If I want the kids to have full passports by the end of the August then I have to stick to the plan and face my fears of venturing out with them on my own. Besides, I know Mason at least will constantly ask about his stamps, wanting to get more in his passport.
Here is a shot of our current stamps. This only includes the month of June. I haven't gotten around to stamping July yet. I just searched my stamp supply for images that closely represented each adventure. I included the date and a description of what we did. The kids get so excited to find a new stamp in their passport. Now I just need the weather to hold out so we can continue the fun. Crossing my fingers we get a full passport by August 27th.
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  1. I love this idea Rachel! I may have to steal it ;-). I know exactly how you feel about venturing out without is SO much easier when they have friends to keep them occupied and happy. Hope y'all are well, we miss you guys!

  2. So Cute! I'd love to make one for my daughter's teacher - she and her husband are both teachers so I thought this would be a fun gift their family would enjoy together doing things all summer! Thought I'd toss in a few gift cards to some of the places they could go too! Question, where did you get the images for the cover and the inside background? It looks SO cute! Would you be willing to share with me?

  3. Do you sell or can this be downloaded?

  4. hi there! I was wondering if you have this file available for download! it's SO cute and I would LOVE to use the design! (I don't have any design program on my computer so there's no way I could recreate something this awesome!!)