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Countdown to Kalahari!

I find it laughable, really, to be writing this post when the event we are ‘counting down’ towards is an event we have actually already been home from, for the better part of two weeks.


Yes folks, the ever inimitable ‘Queen of Procrastination’ strikes again. To be completely honest, I wasn’t even going to write this post this late in the game but my ever encouraging mama told me it was a must because it was such a killer idea. (For the record, killer idea is my phrase- not hers).

Before we go any further, I have to give you a brief background breakdown here or none of this will make sense. (Heck, it might not even with the explanation- so…good luck with that). Anyway, most of you who know me know that I homeschool all four of my lovely, wonderful carpet lizards-I mean yard apes! Shoot! Stupid computer! I mean KIDS! My four wonderful, lovely KIDS! And because I’m trapped inside each day (oh God help me!) with four rambunctious young ‘uns (somebody PLEASE!) who eat paint and sniff glue (and who KNOWS what they do in the bathroom?!?), I am always on the lookout for unique and exciting trips/vacations that we can take to go somewhere or see something new but still have it in the realm of educational (you know, so it ‘counts’).

We were lucky enough to have a friend (who also homeschools) recommend an annual convention- the Unschoolers’ Waterpark Gathering- and we decided ‘what the hey- let’s do it’. And so, we did it! (My next post will be on the actual convention itself, so more deets will follow) Now, the coolest thing about this convention (other than spending a week with thousands of people who do exactly what you do every day) is that it’s held at the  Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center, which just so happens to have the worlds largest indoor waterpark! YEAH! How could a kid (and a parent!) NOT get excited?! My kids were so psyched when Tim and I told them about it, that they immediately wanted to start counting down. Drew made a hand-drawn countdown calender, but Tara soon decimated that with her ‘pitchers’ so I knew I needed to come up with something inventive and ‘Sissy-proof’. That’s when this baby was born…

So, without further ado- I present to you the most awesomest of awesome event countdown calenders ever created (at least to my way of thinking)! drumroll please……


Pretty cool, huh? I wanted to have something that was interactive for the kids, but easy to re-create (as we’ll most likely be doing this trip again in the future). Each day, a kid (we rotated turns-had to keep it fair) took down a balloon and popped it- signifying another day gone and one more day closer to our trip.

I also needed to make sure that it was easy and relatively inexpensive to pull together- since it is a ‘consumable’ product. Here are the steps I took:

  1. I downloaded a free African font (here)
  2. Printed the title and numbers up on my computer
  3. Laminated them with my trusty desktop laminator (as my kids are rough on EVERYTHING)
  4. Lowe’s was a quick stop for some black jute rope
  5. The clothespins were found on my craft shelf
  6. And the balloons were just easy-a black marker was the last thing I needed to create a jungle inspired countdown calender that had my kids excited every time they walked into the living room! (On a side note, Oriental Trading sells premade versions of these balloons here, but I’m just too dang cheap thrifty)

Pretty neat, huh? I’ve already thought of a million and one ways to use this idea- use natural jute or sisal, beachy colored balloons with sand dollars, and suddenly you have a Beach Trip countdown! If you’re a mountain person, used darker balloons (browns, rusts, and greens) with tree branch silhouettes drawn on them and hang them from sticks found in your yard. You could even use red and green and make a Christmas advent calender (oooh! I love that one! I may have to steal it from myself) The ideas are endless- let your imagination run wild!!

So tell me dear readers, what do you think- could you do it? Is it worth a try? And if so, how would you use it and make it your own?

As a final aside, for all you readers up in arms thinking I harbor some crazy Silence of the Lamb feelings about my kids- you couldn’t be more wrong. I like to pick and joke, but truth be told, I actually enjoy the time I spend with them each day and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Although I’m still concerned about the amount of time each spends in the bathroom (I DON’T want to know!) overall, I happen to think my kids rule. ‘Nuff said. 

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