The Yanks Are Coming

My mom, my brother, and his three kids are coming (from Chicago) to visit us in June.

We haven’t had this many overnight guests since, well, never.

But here’s my question: What do I do with kids? They range in ages from 4 to 12. My brother is just a tiny bit older. 🙂

I have to hand it to him, he’s only down here for the kids. His middle child has been begging him to let her visit the crazy aunt and uncle with the farm. Obviously, she’s daddy’s girl because I know my brother wouldn’t be caught dead out of doors.

He’s a gymnastics instructor of all things, so he’s athletic, as long as it’s indoors.

I’m hoping kids haven’t changed much and they’ll make their own fun. I just have to warn them about the rambunctious pig and the even more dysfunctional dogs. Iko actually likes kids, but he doesn’t realize he’s 111 pounds of dog.

The last time I had kids in this house my friend’s two girls chased Iko around the house, and then he returned the favor and chased them. It was the first time I ever saw him sleep so soundly at night. Those girls tired him out.

I need to keep my mom busy too. She’ll be staying for an extended visit.

It’s a shame it’ll be so hot in June. She loves gardening. We might be harvesting some vegetables, but I’m done planting until fall.

What do you think? Any suggestions for kids from 4 to 84 that can be done indoors during the heat of the day? I might be able to entertain the older kids, but I don’t know about the four year old. I’m told he’s a hellion. Fortunately, he listens to dad. He definitely won’t want to answer to the Aunt. I’m the mean one. Ha!

What do little kids like to do nowadays? Do you think the novelty of a farm will be enough for a few days?


Update after the storm: During the storm we had the lights flicker. The day AFTER the storm, we lost power completely. We’re back up, but now I’m hustling to make sure phones, laptops, and Ipads are charged in case we lose power again.

Hey, whaddya know? It’s May. How did that come up so quickly? Any plans for the month of May?





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  1. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    Legos/Duplos are good, assuming Iko won’t eat the pieces. Crafts like paper, clay, or even coloring books. If you’re daring, you could let them turn your living room into a fort. Maybe a couple of movies. Dare I push books? Then again, they may have their own tablets. Make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand, and good luck!

    • Sandra: Snacks! I totally forgot about snacks. I’ll have to stock up on kid foods like string cheese and juice boxes.

      re: books
      My brother says his eldest wants to be a writer! She has questions for me. That should be interesting. LOL.

  2. So glad to see that the storms didn’t get you. Ugh about the power loss, though. I feel your pain.

    Not sure what to do with kids. Coloring books and crayons? Board games? Running through the sprinklers? Bug collecting? I can’t believe kids have changed that much since I was little, or that they can’t adapt for a few days. Your mom might just want to sit around talking – that’s what usually happens when we’re with my mom or Hubs’ mom. I think with them, it’s less about being entertained than just getting quality time with the ones they love.

    • BE: Yeah, you’ve been on Flicker and Flash mode too, huh? 🙂

      re: mom
      I’m trying to come up with questions that I never think of while my mom is here. I’d like to know more about the old days when she was growing up. Oral history is lost nowadays and I’d like to be able to pass on those stories before my time is up–for her and for myself.

  3. My niece and nephew are in that age range and they enjoy arts and crafts and reading books, both physical books and on a tablet. Games are always good. Puzzles maybe?

    The novelty of the farm might be enough, especially if you can give them chores to do but make them seem fun and different. Is there anything the kids can “discover” or “explore”? I sent my niece and nephew grab bags from a local shell show – the bags had all kinds of bits and pieces in it that they enjoyed sorting through and being surprised by.

    Glad you made it through the storm okay overall!

  4. I’m glad you made it through the storm okay. Scary stuff.

    Childproofing the house in advance is probably a good idea. Don’t leave out breakable or sharp objects, bowls of dog food, expensive gadgets, any cleaners or detergents within reach, etc. Never leave the four year old unattended with the pups; no matter how nice they are they will still defend themselves if poked in the eye or grabbed in the wrong place.

    Make a fort for the four year old (drape a small table with a sheet, or get some cardboard boxes and duct tape them together.) Stock it with pillows, plastic containers to put things in and some picture books. Aside from the fun the kid will have playing in it you’ll always know where the four year old is. 🙂

    All kids love sidewalk chalk. Since I have a long driveway I keep a bucket of it for little visitors. If they don’t know what to do have them draw a hopscotch grid and then play the game. You can clean it off with a hose. At bath time provide plastic measuring cups and bowls for water play (and stay to supervise so your bathroom doesn’t get flooded.)

    Keeping the little one busy is a good idea, too. I always give mine simple chores to do, like fold towels, decorate cookies, water the plants with me, set the table with utensils at meal time, etc. Coloring books and crayons are a nice alternative to TV, but have the little one use them where you can watch, or your walls might end up decorated.

    For snacks I keep those little boxes of cereal on hand (Cheerios are always a hit with the youngest) and when they’re done I have the kids play grocery store with the empty boxes. Popcorn, sliced apples and mandarin oranges are also healthy snacks.

  5. Lynn: Child proofing was at the top of my mind. The older children are fine, but the four year old is an accident waiting to happen. My mom says he went through a wrecking crew stage at three, but he seems to have grown out of it.

    Knowing how he likes to get into trouble, nobody lets him out of their sight.

    re: Cheerios
    Good choice. What they don’t eat, I’m sure the pig will. 🙂

    re: dogs
    I don’t leave dogs alone with kids at all. It’s more for the dogs’ protection than the kids. Kids can get rough.

  6. Angela Brown

    Oh you are going to have quite the house full!

    I see others have made some excellent suggestions, like stocking up on snacks and juices. The game Jenga is a fun game that everyone can play and some of the Headbandz games can be fun and interactive. A journal for the niece interested in writing could be fun. Also, do you happen to have some of those cute cookie cutter sets with different shapes? Baking cookies and muffins or making small sandwiches where they can cut out some of their favorite shapes may be entertaining.

    My twelve year old also likes anime so she enjoys finding fun new shows on Netflix.

    • Angela: I’ve been meaning to pick up Jenga at some point. I don’t know that they’re game playing kids. Their dad runs a gym studio so I’m guessing they’re fairly active.

      It sounds strange, but I’ve never met the kids. The last time I was in Chicago was for my dad’s funeral. David’s wife was expecting back then. I’ve only known the kids from afar.

  7. These are all great ideas! I’ll use some for my own grandkids. Also… bubbles. Get a set with wands of different shapes and sizes. The really big ones are always a hit. If you have old clothes, hats, etc., the kids could put on a play.

    Personally, I’ve found during visits that the hardest thing is getting the kids away from the TV. Seems like that’s all they do these days. Since it’s your house, hopefully you’ll have veto power over that. I think the animals will distract get their attention, at least for the first couple of days. Or until it’s too hot outside. I hope all of you have a blast!

    • Marlene: I know! Everyone has come up with some stellar ideas. I always get nervous around kids since I’ve never had any. Greg on the other hand, is great with kids. They think he’s a hoot.

      re: bubbles
      I’m embarrassed to admit that I love blowing bubbles with those wands. They take me back to my childhood.

      My brother and his kids will only be with us a few days. My mom will be here for a couple weeks more.

  8. I’m guessing they’ll bring their own electronics with them to keep them busy. My soon-to-be granddaughter (who is 11) does when she visits (with her mom & my son), and they’re usually only here a couple of hours! But she does like to play cards–like UNO.

    Still, I would think your farm would be so awesome to them (or some of them), that they’ll WANT to help out. So yeah, give them some chores. Save YOU some work. 🙂

  9. How fun with family coming to visit! Can the kids help with any of your farm chores? I would put them to “work” if they could and pay them a bit of a stipend at the end of their trip. Any activities nearby they might be interested in? Museums, shopping malls to burn off energy, etc? If your mom is anywhere like my mom when she came to visit, she liked to help out with things around the house, folding laundry, cleaning up the kitchen after a meal, etc. She also liked to play Bingo so we would do a mother/daughter Bingo night one night with hubby watching the kids (I digress). Have fun with it. I’m sure your brother will come with activities that will help fill their days.


  10. A working homestead will be immensely attractive. When Thomas and Frances were that age we regularly visited friends who had a farm. They were fascinated by the chickens and followed them around much to the consternation of the chickens. Baby goat too? You’re on to a winner. Get them do some work. 🙂 On another note you might google ‘victorian parlour’ games. We had a children’s party centred around that. I vaguely remember blindfolding them and having them rummage through an overcoat pocket and guess what each item was. One was a dead man’s finger – a limp carrot accordingly shaped. Not too sure if that was my idea 🙂
    Good luck and enjoy!!!

    • Mike: When I was a kid we used to buy eggs 30 dozen at a time from a farm in Indiana. It was my favorite family activity back then. It was an adventure to chase geese and awe at giant pigs and cows.

      Looking back, that farmer and his wife were pretty obliging considering my parents unloaded with a half dozen hooligans.

      re: limp carrot
      Holy moly, that would be creepy. I don’t want to scare them away permanently. LOL!

  11. You’ve already received a lot of good ideas so I’ll just add one – water. If it’s hot, think of ways to let them get wet. Pick up or create a make-shift kiddie pool. Turn on a sprinkler. Let the older ones bathe the pig. If you end up with mud, great – most four year olds love the stuff. Just gotta hose them off before they go inside.

  12. Linda: I’m not a water person, but if my brother is willing to stay out with them, I’ll hand them the hose–or take them to the water park.

    Which reminds me, I need to call him and tell him to make sure to pack ‘dirty clothes’ for the kids. I get dirty without trying. I know those kids will be even worse. 🙂

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