Great Teen Quarantine Activity

tie dye teen activity

There seem to be a lot of suggestions for keeping young kids occupied during quarantine.  I haven’t seen too many ideas for our tweens and teens. They get bored too. So bored. When the activity of tie-dye was proposed they all jumped at the idea. I quickly realized I was the only one who hadn’t tie-dyed before.  In case you find yourself with novice status, here are some tips to help you fool your gang and appear like an expert.



tie dye

First things first, we wanted our t-shirts to have a distressed look.  So, we cut some slits in the neck of the shirt and then used some leftover sandpaper to scuff up the holes. The girls opted to crop the t-shirt by cutting off the hem. It leaves a fun and desired raw edge.  We also cut the hem off the sleeves so that when it’s washed they roll up a bit. 



tie dye
tie dye

Now that we have the t-shirts perfectly imperfect and distressed; it’s time to prep for tie dye.

  1. Wet the t-shirt with water and ring out any excess.
tie dye

2. Lay the shirt flat on the counter, choose where you’d like the swirl of the tie dye to begin, pinch that area and twist clockwise until your t-shirt forms a circle.

tie dye
tie dye

3. It’s time to add rubber bands similar to dividing a pie.

4. It’s at this point I recommend taking your craft project outside. The dye will stain what it touches!

5. Each “piece of pie” gets a color of your choosing.

tie dye
tie dye

6.  Once each piece of your “pie” is colored allow the shirts to sit, still bound for up to 6 hours. If you’re impatient like us, you can only wait for an hour. It still came out plenty colorful, but 6 is recommended.

7. Rinse the shirt in cool water. And ring it out.

8. Wash in the washer and dry in the dryer.

9. It’s ready to wear!

If you want to take your creation to the next level, whip out some embroidery thread and hand sew an additional design!

 

tie dye
tie dye
tie dye
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    DIY Headboard with Found Scraps

    diy headboard

    While being Corona-Quarantined at home my husband, Drew, and I found ourselves cleaning out the garage. That led to finding some leftover wood; that led to starting a DIY that I’d wanted to do for some time, but could never find a free Saturday. It was the proverbial “If you give a mouse a cookie”.  Finding ourselves with the equivalent of a month of Saturdays, we got to work.

    love create celebrate

    My hope was to create a headboard using the inspiration from Lindi at Love Create Celebrate. She created a feature wall  found here that I instantly fell in love with! I’d still love to have a wall like this.  For now, I’m pairing it down to a manageable project with our scraps on hand: a headboard.

    cut down planks

    We had some tongue and groove wood planks a friend had given us from one of her leftover projects.  We milled them down with a table saw to make them 1.5 inch width strips of wood. We determined the width based off of what we had on hand; we could get 3 pieces from one plank.  In addition we took into consideration the inspiration picture and the size of wood pieces they used.

    headboard layout

    Once we had all of our scraps milled to the size we needed, we laid out a few mock layouts until we found one we both liked. This took a little imagination and tweaking.  It helped to snap a photo of each layout to compare side by side.

    skill saw cuts

    When we landed on a design we liked we got to work using a Jigsaw and our nail gun to solidify placement.  We found it easiest to lay each piece where we wanted it {using a level and 90 degree ruler, AKA Carpenter Square} and penciling the cut.  Then we used a Jigsaw to make the angled cuts.

    nail gun

    After each piece was nailed into place we used plastic wood to fill in the holes. Once that was dry we lightly sanded the surface.  It was then ready to be painted. We had leftover paint, Benjamin Moore Decorator White, but first we sprayed a coat of Kilz white paint to keep any of the wood tones from leaking through.  It was followed by 2 coats of Decorator White. Between coats we gave it a light sanding. The painting brought out a few areas that needed it.



    painted white

    The headboard was dry and ready to be hung.  We placed the largest screws closer to the bottom into studs.  That way they wouldn’t be visible, but also would make the headboard very sturdy. We used a finish nail for the top anchoring.  Filled in the holes and did some touch up painting. Voila, IT”S COMPLETE! A cool, modern headboard made for zero dollars.

    Modern Headboard
    Modern Headboard
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      Corona Virus vs. Your Goals

      corona vs goals

      How’s a girl to keep up with her healthy habits when she’s been advised to stay at home in an effort to help dissipate the Corona Virus? If you’re like me, you’ve established some awesome healthy habits. They took time to establish and make second nature. Often times those habits are solidified based on the regular routine you keep.  

      My daily habits look something like this: up at 6am, begin morning routine, eat a healthy breakfast, take vitamins, drop kids off at school, head to the gym, sip water all the way, and then work.  HOWEVER, with Corona knocking on the doors of American homes, now the kids are off school for weeks on end.  We are being asked to stay home and access to a gym is limited. Your routine is in upheaval.   

      Don’t let all your healthy habits get lost amidst the change of routine! You can keep healthy habits in place with a few helpful tips.  

      1. Continue to get up at the same time: Keeping your body set to its traditional body clock will, not only make it easier once you’re back to your usual schedule, but will also trick your mind into having a positive mindset.
      2. Figure out the specific habits you want to maintain, but will be difficult with your new temporary schedule: For me, I know I want to continue drinking 64 oz of water, exercising, having my morning routine and eating healthy.  I’ve gotten use to drinking a lot of water during morning school drop off. With that not in play right now, I’ve alternately filled up two water bottles with the mount of water I need to consume in a day.  The visual reminder will help me to accomplish it.  
      3. Think through what habits may be more challenging with your temporary schedule change and get creative on how you can still make them happen. The important thing to keep in mind is that you KEEP the time slot for that habit, but perhaps you scale back how MUCH time you invest in it. You may typically spend an hour at the gym, but now 30 mins is going to have to be enough because you’re a temporary homeschool mom.
      4. Social distancing doesn’t rule out connectedness: This is a great time to daily check in via phone or text with a friend once you’ve completed the habits or goals you want to complete each day. If you both set goals and check in, even better!!
      5. Finally, give yourself some grace.  Don’t quit. Also, don’t berate yourself if you miss a day.  You’re learning something new. New is hard. New is messy. Take it easy.  You can do it.

      If you create a new habit over the next few weeks please be sure to leave a comment.  I’d love to hear about it!

       

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        Teen Talk & Topics

        Talking to Teens

        To finish out 2019, I set a goal to create a short, 4 week curriculum to teach a handful of teenagers. More specifically they were, my 8th grade daughter, Ava’s friends. Ava is the youngest of our 4 kids. As I watched my older children, I noticed it was around the middle school age in which a shift took place amidst their friends. MIddle schoolers are faced with the typical temptations that have plagued teens for centuries: sex, smoking {of course it’s vaping now}, drugs; a baisc moral decline.They needed a plan to combat the typical temptations, especaily before benginning high school, where the enticement for moral decline would ramp up to a higher degree. Basically, I wanted to equip these girls with the life-tools they’d need to combat with confidence the temptations that will bombard their life.  They would need to be ready with a plan for how to fight against it. 

        As parents I think we often avoid  bringing up tough topics for a myriad of reasons. We have personal shame around how we handled the temptations when we were in high school. We figure the school has it covered. We think it’s a hopeless cause. Or, perhaps the attempts created such an  embarrassing reaction from your teen, it shut the conversation down.

        I don’t have the space to go over all 4 weeks of content here. However, I’d love to give you a synopsis of weekly content we covered when it comes to self-esteem, standards and relationships. Hopefully it will be a springboard to stir your own thoughts that will lead to conversations you’ll have with your teenager.  Be willing to have the awkward conversations, regardless of how your kids react. They are still listening even if it looks like eye rolling and flushed cheeks.

        This content comes from a faith-based perspective. I reference prayer, Bible reading and a personal relationship with Jesus as a key component for positive self-esteem. Recognizing there is a higher power {God} who created you and has a plan for your life is the launching pad we started from.

        Week 1 was all about establishing a morning routine that would set the girls up for success throughout the day and ultimately for their life.  I talk more about that here. 

        The morning routine is a time where they set their intentions for the day.  Give thanks to their creator, God, for his blessings and read truth found in the Bible.  Creating a morning routine that emphasises the aforementioned content is key to personal confidence.  Personal confidence will help with the following content covered!

        Week 2 we talked about standards, especially pertaining to dating.  I emphasised that the higher their standards were the fewer choices they would have to make.  We also talked about predetermining your standards and how essential that is for keeping your standards high.  Then, when you get to the party and discover there is alcohol, you aren’t deciding on the spot how you will handle it. It’s been predetermined long before you were ever put in the situation. The same goes for dating.  Deciding ahead of time what your standards will be is essential. I gave examples with fun tag lines like “hands on hands, lips on lips”.

         

        Week 3 we talked about how to be a good friend.  I had them practice using their words to encourage, rather than the typical middle school girl thing to do, gossip. We went around the room and took time to verbalize the qualities we saw in each other. It was a powerful week!

        Finally, week 4 we talked about what to do if you get off track.  It’s essential that our teens know how to recover from a mistake. The importance of getting back up, forgiving yourself and rerouting back to the standards originally set. We ended by writing a letter to their future self, full of encouragement. I have them stamped and ready to send out for the first day of Freshman year!

        My hope in writing this is that it will spur you on to have the awkward conversations with your teen.  I can’t emphasize enough how much it doesn’t matter if they react adversely to it. Don’t give up. It is weird to have those types of conversations with your teenager. Until one day it isn’t because you’ve had so many, it’s normal!

        I believe in you!  Ask your kid on a coffee date and bring up one of the 4 topics.  Don’t let it be the last time!



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        How to Pack for a Sailing Adventure

        sailing

        My husband, Drew, and I have the extreme privilege of leading marriage retreats aboard a 54 foot catamaran in the Caribbean for a week. One of the questions I’m often asked is, “How should I pack for such an adventure?” I figured I’d put all the answers here in an easy accessible location.

        sailing couple

        First, you must know that sailing feels a lot like glamping, aka glamorous-camping.  The clothing attire reflects that. Cute and comfortable is my go-to. Cute, because sailing feels like an activity for cute attire.  Comfortable, because you’re floating on a moving object in the ocean.

        A bathing suit will be your uniform for the week. We spend plenty of time in the water and enjoying the sun  We ask that a tankini or one piece style bathing suits be worn. They lend themselves best to getting in and out of the dinghy {small transporting boat} and moving aboard close quarters on the boat. PACK 2-3  {I pack 4}

        Bathing Suit Cover Ups aren’t necessary, but nice to have when you’ve had enough sun or are transitioning from sea to land. {One is plenty, I usually pack 2}

        We are known to hike while on land.  Be sure to include a comfortable pair of sneakers  or Tevas/Chacos, whatever you prefer.

        5 short sleeve  t-shirts will be plenty for the week.  I also include 2 long sleeve “water shirts” that dry quickly when I’ve had enough sun, but I don’t want to be hot.

        4-5 pair of shorts get me through the week. I usually pack light weight, cotton, elastic waist, running-type shorts.  Remember comfort is the name of the game. I could easily get away with 3 pair since I’m really in my suit most often and shorts may be taken off, but the t-shirt stays on.

        how to dress dress

        2 cotton a-line dresses are what I pack for the 2 evenings we  head off the boat for dinner. I always wear a pair of biking shorts underneath my dress.  Let me tell you about the one time I forgot and, as I attempted to climb aboard the dinghy, the wind caught my dress and gave the whole crew quite the view!

        When it comes to shoes, less is more.  I include a pair of flip flops, something that’s easy to get in and out of without using hands to assist.  Shoes aren’t typically worn on the boat. It helps to keep the boat clean and allows you to walk more easily while underway. I also include a water shoe of sorts for times when my feet will get wet but I need my shoes to stay on. Finally I pack a pair of sneakers.

        One pair of pajamas, if you need them at all.  It is a marriage retreat, after all, and you have your own private state room and bathroom.

        Just in case there is a cool evening, I wear a pair of leggings with a layering piece on top through the airport  The coat I wear is a lightweight rain coat, so I have it in case of rain o note boat. The raincoat is not necessary AT ALL.  I just really like mine, it a sailing brand and I feel cool when I wear it. Did I just admit that?

        When it comes to toiletries and make-up, I also pack light!  There will be days it feels silly to have make-up on, it will only be coming off as soon as you get in the water.  Just pack your essentials. Of course, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner should come along, all the things to keep you fresh while sharing close quarters.

        sailing

        A few things I find helpful in the “toiletry” department you may not naturally think of: baby wipes, Poo-pourri, band-aids, SUNSCREEN, I can’t emphasis that one enough.

        A hat ,headband {band style} and sunglasses help to shade from the elements. However, keep in mind on a moving boat things fly off easily. Plan accordingly with hat style. And glasses cords.

        I bundle all those items into a soft sided carry on size piece of luggage.  There is very limited storage on the boat. Having a suitcase that is able to  collapse or be made smaller is best.

        sail backpack
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          Establish a 10 Minute Morning Routine

          bible morning routine

          Word has it you’d like to begin your day with a daily habit of gratitude, prayer, & Bible reading.  Me too.  The problem is this take discipline.  Creating a discipline isn’t always easy.  I’ve mapped out simple steps to make it a habit you can stick to.  I’ve tested it.  I’ve taught it.  It works!

          How to Establish a Morning Routine Habit:

          Commit to 30 days and don’t quit on yourself: If you miss a day, begin again.  As in, begin back at day 1. That will help keep you from skipping, I promise! If you think you may need some more assistance, contact a friend and ask her to check in on your progress.  Better yet, start an accountability group. If you’re not sure what that is, see the link at the bottom of this post.  It will map it out for you.

          Start Small: Begin with 10 mins, first thing in the morning. 5 days a week, Monday thru Friday. Get really good at 10 minutes. This is the most important part. I can’t encourage this enough. GET REALLY GOOD AT 10 MINUTES. Yes, I was saying that loudly for emphasis. Even screaming, perhaps. Then add Saturday and Sunday and then add more minutes. Don’t add on too soon. I repeat, GET EXTREMELY GOOD AT 10 MINUTES!

          Here’s the cool thing: Jesus is irresistible.  If you continue to spend time with Him each morning you will discover, 10 minutes isn’t enough time. However, don’t be discouraged if it takes awhile to get to the “enjoy” part. You are learning a new habit.  Learning something new is always uncomfortable. Recognize it.  Accept it and then, KEEP GOING!

          Same Time: Get your body use to doing this each morning at the same time! We are creatures of habit.  Your body will become accustomed to waking up 10 minutes earlier. There will come a day when you won’t need an alarm. Literally roll out of bed and onto the floor if that’s what it takes to wake you up.  The “get up” is the hardest part. Good thing you can do hard things, friend.

          Same Place: Find a place you will do your morning routine and do it there every time.

          How to Break Down your 10 minute Morning Routine Devotions:

          3 deep breaths in a comfortable position, but not so comfortable that you fall back to sleep. For beginners I recommend a location other than your bed. No seriously, don’t attempt this in bed.

          LEAVE YOUR PHONE ON THE CHARGER. It doesn’t get to come with you. You are giving your first fruits of your day to Jesus!

          GIVE THANKS: Pull out your journal. Write out 5 things you are thankful for. Present them as an offering of thanks to God for providing them.

          PRAY: At the beginning of your 30 days {or once it’s a habit, at the beginning of each month}, write out the names or topics you are praying for in your journal. Include specific things you will pray about.  This will help keep you in focused prayer and you’ll be able to easily track when God answers a prayer!

          READ THE BIBLE: The options are endless here.  It can be a verse, a chapter, a devotional like Jesus Calling. Remember, we are establishing a habit so don’t make it too involved at this point. There will be plenty of room for “advanced moves” once you get really good at the 10 minute habit.

          THAT’S IT.  Take on your morning!!

          I’d love to hear how you are doing creating this new habit or habit stacking on an already  solid morning routine habit. You can contact me here: SimplySaraAnthony@gmail.com

          For more inspiration follow along with my social media:

          Instagram: @Simply.Sara.Anthony

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          Start an Accountability Group

          accountability group

          I have a small group of friends I meet with weekly over a group conference call to set goals and check in on our progress. We each have our own individual goals,  but together we report on how those goals are progressing. 

          The thing I appreciate most about our accountability group is that we are achieving, maintaining and prioritizing the things in our lives that are most important to us: our family, spouse, spiritual development, personal health and more. What it boils down to is that we are being intentional about cultivating our top priorities.

          It’s commonplace to give priority to the things that are most pressing or urgent in our lives and too often it comes at the expense of the people and things that should be most important. I love that I have a system in place to help me prioritize and maintain that which is my top priority. I want that for you too. 

          Just before Christmas my accountability group and I were interviewed for a podcast with Jen VanHekken. Be sure to listen to it here.  It went live today, just in time for the New Year! What a perfect season to grab a few friends and start a group. 

          On the podcast we talked all about goal setting and how we encourage each other to accomplish those goals. What I really hope is that you feel inspired to start your own accountability group. To help you out, I’ve written a step by step guide with all the details on how to do it. The link is at the bottom of this post. In fact it’s at the bottom of all my posts! That’s how important I think this content is for you. 

           
           
           
           
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            Selecting Your Word for the Year

            Simply Sara Anthony

            Do you have a word for 2020? It’s been a trendy thing to do for several years now. Choose a word that you will live by for the year. I’ve been drawn to the concept. I’ve even chosen a word several years only to forget it by January’s end. 

            For 2019 I set out to change that. I wanted to not only choose a word with intention but also not to forget it! More than all of that, I wanted to live it out! I carefully selected the word: LEARN. 

            I chose “learn” because I’d recently begun a new vocation, I’m considered middle age, therefore somewhat set in my ways, and I had a bit of a fixed mindset around education. I set out to change my state of mind! I wanted to learn new things and be willing to change regardless of mid-life statistics saying I’m  “set in my ways”. 

            One thing I have established is a pretty solid morning routine. I get up at the same time each day, pray, read, meditate and journal. Because of that it was easy to tack on more little thing on to the morning’s end. I’d also write “my word” down each day. Nothing time consuming or fancy. I’d just scribble LEARN at the end of each journal entry. 

            When you write a simple word on paper everyday it’s hard to forget it. And I did not. When I’d come upon a new challenge I’d remind myself “I’m open to learning”. When something would come up at my new job I  didn’t know how to do I quickly recalled how, “ I’m a person who is willing to learn new things”.  As I close out the year I began studying the book of Daniel with the aid of a Bible Study. There’s a portion in the study where the author references that some of the material will be difficult and she encouraged us to write down, “ I am willing to LEARN.” What a fun way to close out 2019, literally prompted to write down and apply the word I’d written everyday of that year. 

            Perhaps writing your word daily feels like overkill. I would encourage you to, at the very least, write it down once and place it in a location you will see it everyday. You will be less likely to forget it.  You will be more likely to live it out. That’a the overarching goal, to grow and evolve into the best version of ourself!

            For this upcoming year, I’ve settled on RESOLVE as my 2020 word.  I don’t have much internal drive built into my personal make up.  However, I have determined, resolved, if you will,  to work hard and put effort into my dreams and ambitions regardless of how I feel or the obstacles I come up against.  I guess you could say I learned a few tings in 2019 I’d like to continue to apply in 2020.

            How about you?  What is your word for 2020?

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              Simplify & Slow Down Christmas

              Simplify Christmas

              Christmas. The season of peace, love, joy.  It’s a time to create memories and build traditions.  It’s filled with gingerbread house competitions, sugar cookie decorating, circling favorite toys in the local ads, cousin pajama parties, candle-lit services, slow strolls through lighted neighborhoods, and past bedtime replays of The Christmas Story. “You’ll shoot your eye out!!”  Oh, and let’s not forget the gifts. There’s so much gift giving and generosity. I love the Christmas season!

              The problem is those same holiday events can also cause stress, anxiety and physical illness.  Growing up my mother often fell prey to the pressure of the season. One year she shopped at such length, the weight of her purse caused her shoulder to tense up. She couldn’t move for days after that. Multiple years I can recall her over exerting herself to the point of illness. It would put her in bed for close to a week. It was all in the name of creating Christmas memories for her children.

              I appreciate my mother’s intentions, but not at the expense of her health.  When my kids came along we opted to simplify Christmas. Each of our kids receive one gift and a stocking filled with practical items like socks, underwear, a toothbrush and a book. Planning ahead and setting goals to complete things I love to do, like sending Christmas cards, bake cookies, delivering a thoughtful item to our neighbors, and volunteering for a nonprofit are completed within a segregated and manageable timeframe.  That helps relieve the pressure of everything piling up as the 25th nears. You don’t want to cram it all in while frantically shopping the extended hours because you’re “making memories with/for your kids”.

              Yes, I have amazing childhood Christmas memories, but I also vividly remember the stress and sickness the season delivered to my parents. Let me encourage you with this, it’s okay to slow down. To simplify. To be intentional with just a few items on your calendar.  I’m granting you permission. Here’s the problem: if you don’t adjust your pace, your body will do it for you. You will become ill. Sickness never comes at a convenient time. 

              Plan ahead.  Incorporate moments of rest and relaxation.  Be sure to take a walk outside, not just through the mall. Take a bubble bath or a Saturday nap. If you’re reading this and thinking, “I have absolutely no time for naps and walks”, then it’s time to begin turning down some of your holiday activities.  If it doesn’t all get done, give yourself some grace! A happy parent is much more enjoyable than an ill, anxiety riddled one, even if you didn’t frost cookies this year.



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                Creatively Hang Christmas Stockings

                Christmas stocking

                Our family of 6 moved into a small 900 square foot home about 3 years ago. We don’t have a mantel.  We don’t have a fireplace. What we do have are stockings that need to be hung during the Christmas season!  I needed to come up with a creative way to display our 4 kids’ stockings. Whatever I came up with needed to take up very little space and not need to be stored when Christmas was over.  Our storage is quite limited too.

                While enjoying our front yard one day, an idea came to me. I could hang the stockings from a spare evergreen branch.  I trimmed a branch from a tree on our property. Nailed it to one of our walls. Hung the stockings from it. In just a few minutes I had created a festive and functional way to display the holiday stockings.  No mantle or fireplace needed!

                Christmas stocking
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                  Welcome

                  I’m Sara Anthony. I love keeping things simple, working along side my husband, Drew, & raising our 4 kids. I've dedicated this space to sharing what I've learned about raising teenagers, simplifying our home and staying motivated through accountability.

                  SimplySaraAnthony@gmail.com

                  Located in Southern Georgia