Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Doings

I know, I know, it has been forever since I posted on this little blog of mine, but that does not mean that my boys and I have not been busy.  It is quite the opposite actually.  This summer has been a lot busier and gone a lot faster than I had anticipated.  I planned to share a lot of the things we did on my summer fun list, but, most times I chose to be present for the activities, rather than trying to get the perfect shot, so I didn't do so well with posting this summer.  I did snap a few pictures of some of the activities we completed this summer and I thought I would share them here, along with my take on them.

We tried these fizzy explosion bags.  I don't think the size of zipper bag was specified on the instructions, so I put everything in a gallon sized bag.  We got to watch the bag inflate, but there was never enough pressure created to make the bag pop as promised, and the boys were pretty disappointed.  I then tried the same thing in a sandwich bag, which popped almost the second I got it on the ground, which was also disappointing, since there was no anticipation.  So, I think you probably need a quart sized bag for this activity, or adjust your amounts of baking soda and vinegar according to the size bag you are using.

We made firecracker sugar cookies for the Fourth of July.  I didn't make the blue sugar as instructed in the tutorial, but used the blue pop rocks in stead.  They were cute, but a little too pastel to look very patriotic.  The pop rocks did pop in your mouth when you ate the cookies, but with a lot less force than when the pop rocks are eaten alone.  The pop rocks need to be put on the cookies right before serving, because they do start to dissolve.  If you have any leftover, the pop rocks will be completely dissolved by the next day.  Overall, we had fun with these and would make them again.

Sharpie plate/cup art.  The boys had a ball decorating up their cups with Sharpies.  I then baked them as instructed at 300 for 30 minutes.  The boys used them that day and then I decided I would wash them by hand, rather than in the dishwasher - just in case the art wasn't as permanent as promised.  As soon as I started washing them, the artwork started coming off.  I quickly placed them back in the oven at 375 for about 45 more minutes and that seems to have set the artwork better.  I have washed them in the dishwasher since then and noticed that the artwork is fading a little.  However, for $1 apiece and some sharpie ink, I think it was a totally worthwhile activity and the boys loved, loved, loved it!!

We had a picnic one day and I let the boys have chips in the little individual packages - which is a real rarity around here.  We saved the empty bags and then made chip bag shrinkies out of them the next day.  I was worried about the toxic fumes that were sure to be coming from my oven, so we did this activity first thing in the morning when I could have the doors and windows open.  Surprisingly, I didn't notice any noxious smells, and the bags shrunk up just as promised.  The boys thought this was pretty cool, but weren't overly excited about keeping their shrinkies after they were done.  I think this was an activity worth doing once and discussing the science behind it, but I am not sure we would repeat it.

So, there you have it.  A few fun summer activities and my advice if you try them yourself.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Couple of our Favorite Travel Tips

Wow!  It has been awhile since I posted.  It has been crazy and fun since the boys have been out of school, which leaves little time for posting.  Sooooo, today I decided to share a couple quick travel tips that are so handy when travelling with kids.  These are not my ideas, but they are ones that I have tried and liked.

First, I found this great idea for packing clothes in Ziploc bags a couple of years ago.  Basically you put one outfit in each bag and it helps keep things in order and also protects clean clothes from dirty clothes, if you have to throw them all back in the suitcase and change locations. 

I have also used this method for my boys while they have stayed with cousins or grandparents.  I labeled the bags with the day they were to wear them.  That way, I knew that the boys would end up wearing the proper clothes to school and the play clothes on Saturday.

I have loved this method.  When we unpack after we return home, we keep the Ziploc bags inside the luggage to be used on the next trip.

Second, I found this idea for travel snack boxes on Pinterest last summer.  I was a little skeptical at first.  I was sure my kids would totally overindulge, eat all their snacks right away, and be sick.  Luckily, they did great and made those snacks last for the entire trip (both going and coming, over 8 hours each way)

I cut little vinyl labels for each of their snack boxes.  The boys love them and it helps them actually look forward to that long car trip each summer.

Friday, June 7, 2013

National Donut Day

Today is National Donut Day.  My boys felt that we were obligated to celebrate.

It is also National Chocolate Ice Cream Day today.  I might feel obligated to celebrate that after dinner.  Hmmmm.  Do you think the sugar high will last long enough to get me through a doubly long workout tomorrow? 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chore Cards - free printable

I have seen chore cards like this around the internet for awhile, and finally decided to try this system out myself.  I made up a simple printable chore card for my boys and explained how the new system would work.  My boys love it!!

Since I took way too much time designing this little printable, I decided I might as well share it.  This is not perfect and cannot be personalized, but we put each boy's name on the back of their card and it has been working great around here.

Click here to download a sheet of chore cards.

If you like the idea of chore cards but would like something that can be personalized or is simply just better looking than this, you can find all sorts of these in several different etsy shops.  One is bound to suit your fancy.

Linking up with:

seven thirty three

Friday, May 24, 2013

No Bake Cookies

Today was my boys' last day of school.  To celebrate we have been eating these.

Lots and lots of these.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Summer Fun List

Today my boys started their last week of school before Summer break, and I realized that I had better get my summer fun list together pronto. We won't be doing these in any particular order, but I hope to get to all of them.  Here is what I have so far . . .

1.  Indoor Picnic
2. Outdoor Picnic
3. Make Dinosaur fossils
4. Have a boy friendly tea party
5. Leaf Rubbings

6.  Go fishing!.  Arizona has a free fishing day in June and we always take advantage of it.

7.  Sharpie Plate Art
8.  Run through the sprinklers
9.  Slip and Slide
10.Water Balloon Target Practice
11.  European Breakfast
12.  Bubble Painting
13.  Ice Cream Sandwiches on a stick

14.  Simon Says Art - maybe with sidewalk chalk outside.

15.  Silk Screen T-shirts

16.  Make and play with play dough

17.  Make, play with, and eat peanut butter play dough.

18.  Giant Bubbles
19.  Homemade Ice Cream
20.  Diet Coke and Mentos explosion
21.  Make necklaces for movie night
22.  Make milk carton watering cans
23.  Create pieces of art, then set them up for display and have an art show - complete with refreshments.
24.  Celebrate some unusual holidays.
25.  Elephant Toothpaste science experiment.
26.  Make Firecracker Sugar Cookies.
27.  Make Chip Bag Shrinkies.
28.  Exploding Bags with baking soda and vinegar.
29.  Have a backwards day.  Start the day with dessert, end with breakfast.  Wear clothes backwards.  Reverse your routine where possible (i.e. stories in the morning, chores in the evening.)
30.  Ivory Soap Explosion

I will add to this list as I think of, or find more things to do.  I will also try to blog about what we are doing and share the fun!  Here is hoping for a fabulous and fun Summer!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mother's Day Flowers

This is what my little guys (and my awesome husband) did for me for Mother's Day.

It's actually starting to feel like Spring around here.  Thanks guys, I love them!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Round and Round

My youngest two boys love, love, love running and pushing their big Mega Blocks dump trucks in a circle around the coffee table and sofa in my living room.  (In truth - all of my boys have loved this activity when they were little.)  I usually have a "track" in the carpet where you can see they have pushed these trucks over and over.

 It can get pretty loud with all of the laughing and the wheels running against the floor when they hit the hardwood, but amazingly, the loudness of this particular activity never bothers me.  In fact it always makes me smile and provides some of the happiest moments of my day, along with some fun memories of their big brothers doing the same thing. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dots and Toothpicks Construction

I was saving this fun little activity using Dots and toothpicks to construct all sorts of interesting things until summer - - but Friday, my boys were out of school for an unused snow day and I got desperate.  I ran to Dollar Tree for a few packages of Dots and some toothpicks and put the boys to work.

This kept them busy for more than an hour.  They constructed, deconstructed, and constructed again.  When I asked them if they wanted to do this activity again during summer break, I got a big, wholehearted Y-E-S!!

I think my son summed up this activity best when he called it "yummy fun!"

**I have also seen this activity done using mini marshmallows in place of the Dots.  It would probably work just as well and it would be even cheaper.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Teacher Gifts

Yesterday, I realized that today was the last day of preschool.  I had to come up with a couple of teacher gifts and fast.  Luckily I had picked up a few things from Pick Your Plum a couple of months ago and I was able to make up some cute little post-it note gifts with minimal effort.  The little post-it notebooks just needed to be dressed up with a little washi tape and then I tied on those cute matching pens and a tag with some jute twine.  While I was at it, I made the teacher gifts for my older boys teachers as well.  It is so nice to have them done and I think they are pretty cute!! 
**As an added plus - my husband, the principal and former teacher - approves of these useful little teacher gifts.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Stepstool for the Bathroom

I just have to heap some praise on my oldest boy for a minute.  He made this little stepstool to be used in our boys' bathroom.  He actually made it months ago, but I insisted on painting it, and I finally got around to it.

It is just what we needed for the little ones in there.  Perfect bud.  Thanks!!  I just love this little bathroom stepstool.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Easter Egg Caterpillar

Have you seen these cute little caterpillars made from plastic easter eggs?  Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I had never seen this idea before until my son brought this home today from preschool.  I think it is such a cute idea and a super simple craft for preschoolers.

All they did was thread two pipe cleaners through the holes at the end of the easter eggs.  They stacked most of them together like cups, rather than putting them together to form the eggs, then the last half egg, they flipped around and made the caterpillars face.

They twisted the back end of the pipe cleaner together for a sort of tail and then twisted the front ones together to form antennae. They then glued on some googly eyes and added a marker smile.  So cute and super easy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shrinky Dink Soccer Ball Backpack Pulls


After school today, my two oldest boys and I made some shrinky dink soccer ball backpack pulls.  They both play soccer (my oldest, eats, drinks, sleeps, and breathes it), and I thought this would be a fun way to dress up their backpacks a little. 

I took the super easy way out and found an image of a soccer ball, printed it onto shrinky dink plastic on my computer, and then my boys cut them out and punched the hole for the hardware.

We put them on a waxed paper lined baking sheet and let them bake for about 3 minutes.  Oh how fun it is to watch those little things finally start to shrink up.    When they came out of the oven, I flattened them completely with a book and then let them cool. 

We then added the hardware and put them on the backpack zipper of their choice. 

The boys can't wait to go to school tomorrow to show off their new soccer ball backpack pull bling.

Linking up with:
A Crafty Soiree
Seven Thirty Three
The Crafty Blogstalker
Somewhat Simple

Monday, April 15, 2013

Picking Dandelions

I noticed the other day that our front lawn had dandelions popping up all over.  I told my boys that if they would pick them, I would pay them a penny per dandelion.  Two of them got busy and brought me a couple of pails full of them.  When I told them how much they had made, they grabbed their pails and went out for a second go-round.  This time, their big brother joined them.

Yes, the lawnmower could have done the same job much more easily, but my boys actually enjoyed searching out all those dandelions.  It kept them busy for a long time and now they have a few bucks to spend.  I think it was a win-win.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Button Spinner Toy

We have made these fun little button spinners many times at our house and the boys enjoy them.  They can be a little frustrating for little ones that have a hard time getting the rhythm down to get the buttons to spin, so I would recommend making these with your bigger kids. 

When my husband was a teacher, he used to make them with his fifth grade class and even some of the students in there had a hard time getting their buttons to spin at first, but eventually they all got it and had a lot of fun with them.

This is a good basic video on how to make and spin the button spinners.

Linking up with

Seven Thirty Three
Thirty Handmade Days

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Clothespin Caterpillars

My little boys and I made these cute clothespin caterpillars yesterday while the big boys were at school.  It was an easy, fun and inexpensive craft project for preschoolers. 

I found the idea at Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.  Be sure to check out her post on them.  Her caterpillars are soooo cute!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pressed Pennies and Penny Passports

I have found a great, clutter-free, and inexpensive souvenir option for my boys and these things actually last!!  If your kids are like mine, they are always begging for a souvenir whenever you go somewhere.  Then, when you give in and buy it for them, they lose interest very quickly and you are stuck with this expensive trinket that is cluttering up your house until you finally get rid of it and kick yourself for paying too much for something that was hardly used or enjoyed.

A couple of years ago we started pressing pennies for the boys at the gift shops that had machines whenever we took a trip.  I then found some little penny passports on ebay and bought one for each of them.  Now whenever we run onto a machine, the boys love to pick their design, insert their penny  and money (usually two quarters) and watch their penny get pressed.  Then we put them in the passport booklet for safe and easy storage and my boys can look at them whenever they like.

You can find a list of machine locations at here. So, whenever you are planning a trip, you can look up machine locations and be ready with shiny pennies and enough quarters to press the amount you need.

My boys love their little penny passports and all the memories inside.  My 5 year old even decided to take his passport for his only show and tell day at preschool and all the kids thought it was pretty cool. 

This has been a great clutter-free souvenir solution for our family.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pinewood Derby

Last night was my eight-year-old's first Pinewood Derby.  He had a great time.

The decorations were incredible.  Way to go leaders!!

A look at some of the cars.

My son decided that he wanted to try to win show this year, rather than worrying so much about speed, so we didn't think his car would be very fast.  It definitely wasn't in the mix for speed, but this is one of the races he did win.

He had a great time racing, regardless of whether he was the first car or the last car across the finish line.  I love that about this boy.  He relishes every experience that life allows him and doesn't need to be "the best" in order to feel good about himself. 

Overall, he took second in show and was thrilled.  The boy who took first in show, didn't win a single race, but his car looked awesome and you could tell he had put a lot of time into it, so I think my son was genuinely happy for him. 
It was a good night!
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