Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Home Depot Kid's Workshop

Have you heard about this?
On the first Saturday of each moth, Home Depot puts on a workshop for kids ages 5-12.
My boys went with their dad for the first time on Saturday and had so much fun.
They got to use a screwdriver and hammer to build a little table that can also be used as a football stand.
Check out more details here.

*photo from the home depot website*

This is definitely something we'll do again!
Did I mention that it's completely FREE?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Artwork Display

Here's an idea if you don't know what to do with all of your child's school artwork.
The refrigerator fills up really fast!
We have a small loft area in our house.
That has become the designated artwork area.
I hung a few knobs on the wall,
then added string.
My kids painted wooden clothespins
and added their artwork to finish the project.

When they bring something knew home, they decide which piece will be taken down from the wall to make room for the new piece.
For a more sophisticated look, I've seen this done with curtain rods.
I prefer this way because my boys got to help with the project. It's not in a highly visable location in our house anyway.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Famous!

OK, not really. But a photo of mine made it onto the cover of a book!
I really love photography. It's not something that I spend a ton of time on.
Between kids, pregnancies and life in general, I haven't devoted a lot of time to that hobby.
But a year or so ago, I started uploading photos to a stock photography website.
Every now and then, I make a little $. I rarely get to see when and how my photos are used.
But, it's fun for me and something that I can do on my own time table without pressure from real clients.
Well, last week, someone bought my photo for a book cover and emailed me to let me know how and where it was used.
It's a book about traveling with kids. I've never read it, so I can't recommend it one way or another, but I'm sure I'll order a few for myself, just because of the cover.

Here's the link if you're interested in checking it out:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chocolate Balloon Cups

image courtesy of bakerella.com

I saw THIS RECIPE quite a while ago on BAKERELLA.
We finally tried it yesterday.
It was fun and in the end turned out well.
But, before you go trying the recipe, let me first say,
Follow The Directions!!!
I know, you're probably smarter than me and when you read a recipe, you do what it tells you.
I just thought it looked so easy and fun, that I jumped right in and didn't read carefully.
3 things Not to Skip:
- wash the balloons
-spray lightly with cooking spray
- let the chocolate cool
If you Do Skip, just for the entertainment value...
the balloons will POP and you'll have liquid chocolate sprays all over your kitchen,
and your child who is trying to help.

p.s. we didn't actually make the pudding recipe. we just filled our cups with ice cream.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I used to be lifeguard...

but it's different when it's your own child...

Sunday evening C & E were setting up a board game while I finished dishes.
I heard E coughing in the other room.
It quickly turned to gaging.
I left the dishes to find E barely breathing.
And, then it turned into only one tiny gasp of air every few seconds.
My husband ran into the room and grabbed the phone to call 911 while I attempted to do the
Heimlich Maneuver for a Child. I thought I was doing it just right, but it didn't seem to be working very well.
I just couldn't seem to get a good thrust.
That's when I realized that my gigantic belly was in the way! Duh! I had completely forgotten that I was pregnant.
I switched with my husband who said 911 was not answering???
I tried calling and got a recorded message???
My husband's attempt at the Heimlich finally dislodged the small chess piece that was causing the choking, along with some blood.
Don't ask me where it came from. I can't even remember how to play chess.
E seemed to recover quickly, with just a sore throat for about a day.
I think the chess piece must have cut his throat a little.

So, this got me thinking about 2 things:
1) What would I have done if 911 never did pick up?
2) What would I have done if E ended up passing out because of the lack of air?

I searched around and thought I would share the answers with you. These are things that every parent should try to be prepared for.

1) I decided to ALWAYS have the Fire Dept. and the Sheriff's Office phone #s on the refrigerator and in my cell phone.

2) Know the Heimlich & CPR. Like I said, I used to be a lifeguard and have been a swim instructor for years. But, if you don't keep current, you forget. And, I found out that the recommended guidelines have changed a bit over the years.

Sometimes I wonder how kids survive to adulthood!

One more thing I found out:
 the #1 choking hazard for children (after food) is

Monday, August 23, 2010

Being 2 means...

 having lots of

                             UPs                                  &                      DOWNs

Friday, August 20, 2010

After school snack

Per my neighbors suggestion,
I decided to have a special something for my kids when they got home from their 1st day of school.
What would it be? A little trinket? Homemade cookies & milk?
In the end, I got lazy and tired and never made it to the store.
So, I had to create something out of what was in our kitchen.
They ended up with Oreo shakes & whipped cream on top!

It was a hit. Especially since my 2nd grader, "Hates school!"
Not something I realized could happen before becoming a parent...
I though kids started hating school in Jr. High!?!?

Do you have any 1st Day of School rituals?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I have mixed feelings about summer break being over.
Sometimes it's nice to have extra time with your kids.
I mean, they won't be kids forever, right?
At the same time, it's nice when school starts again and a schedule is established.
Plus, grocery shopping with 3 kids, while 8 months pregnant... not fun!

The 2 year old definitely does not like being left behind!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mini Water Cycle

One last science project before summer break is over!

C & I made a mini water cycle.

First, get 2 bowls, one bigger than the other. Preferably the smaller one will be heavier than the larger one.
Place the small bowl inside the larger bowl.
Put water into the larger bowl, being careful not to get any water into the smaller bowl.
Cover both bowls with plastic wrap.
Put a rock or some sort of weight onto the center of the plastic.

Set outside or near a window.
Pretty soon (depending on the weather) you'll get some evaporated water in the smaller bowl.

And, that's your mini water cycle!

*This experiment could also come in handy if you're ever stranded on a deserted island,
with no fresh water source...
and you happen to have 2 bowls and some plastic wrap*

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birthday Cake

So, my now 8 year old, requested a cheesecake for his birthday.
Doesn't sound too hard, I thought.
Then, he adds, "decorated like Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle."
Great. No idea where to start.
First of all, you usually don't frost a cheesecake.
Secondly, I'm not an artist! (at all)

Here's what I came up with.
He was pretty happy with it, and that's all I cared about!

I mixed up the cheesecake batter and then mixed in some green food coloring.
After it cooled, I added the mask and smile.
Pretty easy. Not super professional looking, but it worked!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Need a Boost?

This is a powerful video message for all the mothers out there.
And, it's also only a couple of minutes long...
which is also good for mothers!

Heavenly Peanut Butter Fudge

Or maybe it should be called, "Hellish."
It's probably a ton of calories...
I missed our annual family camping reunion last week.
Again, due to the hugeness of my belly.
I got to thinking about all of the awesome food I would be missing.
So, I gave grandma a call and got her Peanut Butter Fudge recipe, a staple item at the reunion.
You may want to share this with a neighbor, if you find yourself devouring the entire pan!

1 cup 1/2 & 1/2 (i used whole milk cause i was too lazy to go to the store - not quite as rich, but still great)                         
2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 T. Light Karo Syrup
5 HEAPING T. of Peanut Butter (don't hold back!)
3 T. Butter
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Walnuts (I used peanuts)

Put the 1/2 & 1/2, sugar, salt & Karo Syrup  into a pot and heat until simmering. Let simmer and stir frequently for around 15-25 minutes.
After 15 minutes have passed, test to see if it is ready for the next step.
To test, fill a cup or shallow bowl with cold water. Add an ice cube or two to make it nice and cold.
Get a small spoonful of the simmering mixture and submerge it in the water. Then, use your finger to try and mold it into a little soft ball. If it doesn't work, try simmering for a few more minutes. Keep trying until you get that nice soft ball.
Remove from the heat, and add the remaining ingredients.
Mix it and whip it with a wooden spoon for a while.
Pour into an 8x8 greased pan.
Let cool before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Labeled Cups

I finally got sick of washing tons of cups every day!
I found some cheap ($.60) cups the other day and labeled them with each boy's name.
Now, they use the same cup all day long.
No germ swapping and less dish washing!
Why did I wait all summer to do this?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blow It Up!

Here's a little science experiment that C and I did last summer.
Found directions for ya at Funology.com.
It's a great website for all kinds of funstuff.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Don't Forget About the Game Closet!

Today was not going well. 
In the morning they went to a little community soccer camp for a few hours.
I did my best to make suggestions of fun things to do throughout the day.
But, in the afternoon, they watched movies, played video games, read books, and FOUGHT with each other!!!
I was trying to make dinner and each one of them earned a time out for various reasons. Just one of those days.
So, while I was waiting for dinner to cook, I decided to teach my oldest to play a card game, Crazy 8s. He really liked it. And, it helped to separate all of the boys for a while.
Then, I played a board game with the 5 year old.
Sometimes I just forget about all of the games we have in our hall closet.

Here are some of our favorites:
  • Zingo (it's like Bingo, but w/ pictures - no reading necessary)
  • Jr. Scrabble
  • Guess Who?
  • Memory
  • Chutes & Ladders
  • Slap Jack (played w/ face cards)  Directions
  • Crazy 8s (played w/ face cards) Directions

*What are some of your kid's favorite games?
What ages are they best for?*

Sunday, July 25, 2010

CD Spinners

Saw this idea in a Family Fun magazine in a waiting room the other day.
I love easy, fast crafts. I typically don't have the patience for anything else.


Shooter Marble (the others are too small)
Water Bottle Top
Spinner Template (optional)

go HERE to download a template for the CD SPINNERS craft. The template will be on the front page under "Featured Ideas."
You can make these without the template. It just makes them more colorful and fun to watch.
You could also just decorate your Spinner anyway you want.

DirectionsColor the template and adhere it to one side of the CD.
Glue the marble on the center of the CD.
Glue the water bottle lid to the center of the other side of the CD.
Let dry.
Use the water bottle lid as a handle and SPIN!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Homemade Butter

Do you celebrate Pioneer Day? the 24th of July?
Growing up, my family would always celebrate with cousins, bbq and a rodeo.
This year, due to my very large belly, I think we'll stay home.
But, to give my kids a little taste of pioneer life, we made our own butter.
I used to make this while teaching school as part of a social studies lesson.
Here's how, if you'd like to give it a try:

all you need is some
Whipping Cream & Salt

Put some whipping cream in a canning jar, or whatever jar you'd like,
(I put about 1/2 pint of whipping cream into a pint jar, so it would have plenty of room)
Shake, Shake, Shake until the cream turns mostly solid and separates
(took us less than 10 minutes of shaking)

looks a little something like this

Pour off the excess milk
Add a bit of salt to taste
And, you've got BUTTER!

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'd Like to Try...

Check out THIS SITE for road trip ideas in your area.
You can choose trips that use 1/4, 1/2, or a full tank of gas!
What a great idea!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No Bake Cookies

If you want cookies, but don't want to turn on your oven because it's a million degrees outside...
(ok it's really only 113 degrees!!!)
try these stove top cookies.
I'm sure most of you have had these before and there are many variations,
but here is our recipe just in case you've never tried them.

No Bake Cookies
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
Combine these ingredients in a medium sized pot on the stove top.
Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. (if you under or over boil, the cookies will be runny or break too easily)

Take pot off heat and add:
3 cups Oats
1 tsp. vanilla
3 T. Peanut Butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Combine and drop onto cooking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray while still warm.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Like to Try...

Came across a cool site called  Little Passports recently.
I wish I would have seen it at the beginning of the summer.
It's so great for kids to learn about life outside their own country.
Pay for a subscription and you get a traveling kit mailed to you.
Each month, your child will be mailed info. and activities about a certain country, along with online activities.
I think I could just pay for one subscription and by 2 oldest could share...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Houses

The holidays are just so crazy!
It's often hard to sqeeze in each and every fun tradition that you and your kids want to do.
So, I thought it would be fun to make gingerbread SUMMER HOUSES.
One more fun thing to do in the summer and one less thing to do at Christmastime!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cardboard box fort

Had an odd shaped box laying around.
So, we turned it into a little playhouse.
They weren't too interested in decorating the outside to look like a real house, like I suggested.
But, it was very important to have a sunroof / lookout widow!
The inside did get decorated with a tv and video games though.
Only the essentials!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Decor. for the 4th

Here's what the boys made to decorate our house for the 4th of July.

They traced their hands (3 of each color) and glued them together into the wreath shape.
So simple, but it kept them busy for a while. I figure it's good for developing fine motor skills.

And, yes, my husband installed 2 peep holes in the front door.
One for me & one for the boys.

Happy Birthday America!

This is nothing spectacular or new.
I think you see this type of cake on every magazine around the 4th of July.
But, it was new for my boys.
And, we got to talk about our country and what the design of the flag means.
I LOVE angel food cake. Strawberry Shortcake is one of my favorite desserts.
So, we used a box of angel food cake mix and I cheated and used Cool Whip for the "white". It's almost against my religion to use fake whipped cream, but I let down a bit on my snobbish whipped cream standards due to time restraints. Nothing like real whipped cream if you ask me!

Here's what our cake would have looked like, but...

the 2 year old woke up from his nap while it was cooling and took a few handfuls out of various spots.
So, I cut out a few flag shaped pieces for the boys to decorate their own personal flags.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sun Prints

Here's an easy science project for ya.
I know it doesn't look like much, but my boys were pretty impressed.

Get some construction paper
Lay it on the ground in the sun
Place various objects on top
Let sit in the sun for a while (ours were out approx. 6 hours)
Take objects off and see how powerful the sun can be!

                           BEFORE                                                                                 AFTER                            

This was such a simple little project.
My 7 year old (the "future scientist") loved explaining this experiment to his dad that night
and he's ready to do it again tomorrow with different objects.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Reading List

Thought I'd pass this list along. It was complied by a friend of mine who is currently a reading tutor.
These are her recommendations. Some I've read, so I have not.
My kids love to read and be read to.
We try to hit the library about once a week. (There is one about 5 min. from our house.)
So, it's always good to have new ideas.

Picture Books
When Sophie Gets Angry
LaRue For Mayor
Skippyjon Jones
Click Clack Moo
Dooby Dooby Moo
Science Verse
Math Curse (has problems for the kids to solve)
Walter the Farting Dog
Squids Will Be Squids
Hooray For Diffendoorfer Day
Chicka Chicka 1 2 3
Chicka Chicka A B C
Big Plans
The Touch of the Master's Hands
The Missing Piece Meets the Big O
Pricilla and the Pink Planet
How Do Dinosaurs...
The Giving Tree
Duck For President
Grace for President (great for teaching about elections)
The Day I Became a Pirate
Pirates Don't Change Diapers
What Pete Ate
I Can Be Anything

Summer Bridge series or Brain Quest Series
Primary journals (available at Walmart) to write an entry every day

Early Readers (30 minutes a day recommended)
Step Into Reading books level 1 (not Fancy Nancy though)
Hop on Pop
Fox in Socks
Cat in the Hat
Go Dogs Go
Easy Readers for Dr. Seuss series

Grades 2 - 3 (30 minutes a day recommended)
Junie B Jones series
Frog & Toad
The Magic Treehouse series
Step into reading level 2 and 3
Amelia Bedelia
Super Fly Guy

Grades 3 - 5 (30 minutes a day recommended)
Star Girl
James and the Giant Peach
Lemonade Wars
Lawn Boy
Time Warp Trio books
Grades 5 -7 (30 minutes a day recommended)
Wrinkle in Time Series
Tuck Everlasting
The Bronze Bow
The Little Prince
Star Girl series

My 7 year old has gone through the Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones series. Now he's onto Beast Quest, but he doesn't have many more of those left. We'll need a new series soon.

Are there any books or series that you recommend?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Don't forget the quiver!

My boys were very excited about making the bow and arrows.
But, they immediately just had to have a quiver to carry their arrows on their backs.

We just cut the sides of a cereal box to flatten it,
turned it inside out,
closed it back up again with duct tape,
put the sticky sides of some more duct tape together to make a shoulder strap
and, taped the strap onto the box

That's it!

Check out the last post to see a picture.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Watch Out Robin Hood!

I've had the idea for this project for a while. I was saving it for the "I'm bored" days of summer.

Here's the link where I originally got the idea.

Materials: (all found @ Home Depot)
  • 1/2" PVC pipe (it was about 40" long which was enough for 3 bows)
  • wooden dowels for arrows (we cut them in half)
  • colored electrical tape
  • twine that has nylon in it
  • something to cut with (we used a small saw)
all materials were only about $9 - that was enough for 3 bows)

Cut your PVC pipe for the bow.

Decorate the bow with the electrical tape.

Cut a notch in both ends of the PVC pipe
Cut some nylon twine about the length of the bow
Tie knots in the end of the twine and secure it into the notches on the pipes
Cut your arrows to desired length

Then, make a groove in one end of each arrow
Pull back hard and let 'er fly!

My 7 year old got the hang of it after a while.
The 5 year old struggles, but still likes it.
The 2 year old just likes to carry it around and pretend.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How Cool is This Guy?

Came across this blog a few days ago.
He has some really unique cutout things.
I love how everything is so simple yet creative.
We'll be making these to take when the boys need to sit still for a while and have something to do.
(car rides, restaurants, etc...) Did I just say restaurants? Hmmm... Can't remember the last time...

Are your boys into helicopters? This one looks and fun too.

One more. There are other fun things on his site. These were just some of my favorites.

This is a great tool for those learning their letters. You could really use it as a learning tool for almost anything your child needs to work on. And, it's practically free. It's made of rocks! This guy is clever!

We'll be working on something really fun this weekend.
If all goes well, I'll post an awesome boy project on Monday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Disguise Kit

Found this cute printable on another blog.
The boys had fun being silly with these.

Print the disguise kit here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Father's Day Idea

Father's Day is just around the corner (June 20th).
My husband always loves when I come up with a gift that costs, "$ free.fifty-free", or at least close to free.
I came across the idea a while back and decided it would be fun for the boys to do with their
dad and Grandpas on Father's Day.
This link has the idea for Mother's Day. I just adapted it a bit.

How easy is this:
Grab a bag of m&ms. Then attach this poem and the questions below.
You're one special FATHER and I'm one special son
Let's play a game with M&M's & have some fun!
Pick a candy, any color will do.
And we'll learn together about you & me!

Red- What is one of your favorite things to do with me?

Orange- Where would you want to go anywhere in the world with me and why?

Yellow- What do you see us doing together in 10 years?

Green- Name 3 reasons why you love me.

Blue- Ask me any question you like!

Brown- Hum a tune and see if I can guess it!