December 18, 2011

Roscoe's 3rd Birthday (Yeah, I'm REALLY behind!)

I just realized I never put up pics from Roscoe's birthday parties (yes, TWO of them...).  We had family and adopted aunties and uncles over on a Sunday afternoon for a 
Robot Party 
(a well-timed themed as the Backyardigan's episode with Robot Roscoe is now a HUGE favorite of his!  We probably watch it three times a week, at least!)
 My first attempt at making cake pops.  
Definitely NOT as easy as some tutorials on line make it sound!  
My cake was WAY too moist.  I added too much icing.
But they were well appreciated!
 Cute and free cake toppers from Smitten Blog Designs.

 I used lots of tinfoil, empty cans, and tinfoil plates for decorating.
And the cute circle background... I made that!  Pretty proud about how cute it was!
And so EASY!
I cut out circles of the same size in the colors I wanted for the party theme.  And then... wait for it...
Sew through a circle, and then keep running the machine, and then feed through another circle, and so on until its the length you want!
 The spread.
You can't really see, but I labeled all the food with run Robot-esque names.

And then, Roscoe had a couple buddies over the next day, for what I thought could have potentially been a very tiring party but wasn't :)
Ball Party!

 Marshmallows dipped in orange-colored chocolate and dipped in sprinkles.
Again, so EASY and very popular!
We ate lunch, had cake, opened gifts and then had free play.  Because, really, no three year old boys I know really want to sit down and do a craft or have a structured party.  It was LOVELY.

People kept asking what to get Ross for a gift and I just kept on saying, well, he likes balls.  Anything that can roll in our house becomes a ball, and anything that does not roll becomes a stick with which said "ball" can be whacked!

He had a great time at both parties, and I had a great time planning them!  Check out my Pinterest board!

End of November Already? E-book review of "Truth in the Tinsel"

It was my birthday on Wednesday, and one of the things I love about having a birthday at the end of November is that as soon as its done, I feel as though I have permission to start celebrating the Christmas season!  Now, I'm not a fake tree person, so I always wait a bit before I set up the tree and decorate it (otherwise it would be drier than the Okanagan in August by the time Christmas day actually comes around), but I do like to bust out the Christmas music, the Christmas baking and the Christmas boxes full of Christmas decor.  

This year I'm most excited about celebrating the advent season with my family.  I have very vivid and fond memories of exploring the season of advent with my family.  My mom, especially, always tried to help us stay focused on the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, rather than on the presents and festivities and programs.  One of the best resources my mom used to guide our times in exploring the true story of Christmas was a book from Focus on the Family (I'll include the title of this later, if I can figure it out!).

Buy Truth in the Tinsel here!
This year I'm really excited to use a resource that's brand new, an e-book by a bloggy friend from Atlanta, Amanda White called "Truth in the Tinsel".  First of all, can I say how much I love the title and design of the book?!!  I've never, ever read an e-book before, let alone reviewed one on my blog, and I can't be more thrilled than to share this book with you!  

In Amanda's own words, "This is an adventure for families to learn the story together. It’s an experience with the greatest story every written and the greatest gift ever given—God’s own Son, Jesus the Christ!"  This e-book guides families with preschool through early elementary aged children through the use of a "traditional" advent calendar.   
BUT... instead of getting a chocolate everyday (as if my kids need more candy!), they receive a clue,  
which leads them to the Bible, 
which leads them to creating a craft that highlights a truth about Christmas, 
which leads them to discovering the miracle of 
Jesus being born as a baby,  
which leads them to hearing about 
just how much  
God loves them! 
In the e-book Amanda lays everything out in a simple and accessible way from supply lists (based on supplies that most families already have laying around their homes), to abbreviated plans for busy families, to templates, discussion guides, extra activities and step by step instructions on how to create each ornament.  And I have to say, in looking through each day and what ornaments Amanda has suggested doing, I am super excited about some of them, as they are projects that were on my to-craft list for my kids and I!

Best of all, "Truth in the Tinsel" is only $4.99! 
Less than you'd spend on a grande white peppermint mocha, or a box of Christmas oranges!
Plus, if you purchase it on November 25, its only $2.99.

The little Baby is no longer in the manger but alive and sitting on a throne—waiting to have a relationship with you and your children. Help your children get to know Him this Christmas!  Amanda White, Truth in the Tinsel

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December ADVENTure

So, I've been trying to work through Truth in the Tinsel with my kids this month, and I have come to the conclusion, that I am not able to do a craft everyday with both my children.  I really wanted to do each craft with both kids, but with Aria being in school for most of the day, by the time she's home, it is definitely NOT optimal crafting time for Roscoe.  So that's been a challenge.  But what we have done, we've loved.  And I'm okay with not doing each day, even though I'd love to.  

 I do see this becoming something that we do every year though.  So we've set aside a specific little tree to fill with our advent ornaments, and I've been putting together a "calendar" of the supplies needed, so that when we do manage to sit down to do a craft, its already there, waiting to be used!

I used the graphics that were provided in the Truth and the Tinsel e-book, and just drew them on the front of some large manila envelopes, one for each day.  Then I whole punched the envelopes, and connected them with a circle clip (not sure what their "official" name is!).
  Then in each envelope I stuffed in the supplies needed for that particular ornament; enough for two kids.  Well, actually, I've been including enough for four, so that next year when I pull it out, it'll be already prepped!  Aren't I clever?  Or rather, I know that we might actually do more of them next year, if I don't have to think about prepping them!
This has been a great way for us to spend time throughout our week reflecting on the truth of Christmas.  Its been especially great for my three-year old as we've been talking a lot about baby Jesus, and helping him grow in relationship and familiarity with Jesus.

And to add to the craziness that is my Christmas season as a mother, pastor's wife, and children's ministry director (among other things) I've decided to throw a Birthday Party for Jesus on Friday at our house as a fun way to get some friends together for a play date and a Christmas party.  My kids are super excited and I've been having lots of fun building a Pinterest board full of ideas!  I know a lot of people throw a similar-themed party this time of year to draw the focus back to Jesus for their kids, and its become a beloved tradition.  So I'm looking forward to that.

Merry Christmas!

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October 13, 2011

September Catch-up: A month in Review

I can't believe its been a month since I last posted!  We've had a full month of launching youth and children's ministries at our church, and a month of adjusting to having Aria in all day, every day kindergarten!

We had a really HOT September... probably on account of summer not really starting until August... so we thought up some fun water activities with help from Pinterest, and some other creative moms!
One of our new favorite outdoor toys are these sponge balls!  They are super easy to make and tonnes of fun to play with.  I bought a pack of all-purpose sponges from the dollar store and used some zip-ties that I already had at home.
 Its as simple as cutting the sponges into three, alternating colors with another sponge (6 pieces total) and then using the zip-tie to cinch them as tightly as you can together.
 You can use different textures of sponges too to create even cooler looking sponge balls.  We like to use them in lieu of water balloons (way less mess to clean up! And they're re-usable) for water fights or water balloon tosses, or just for playing in the pool!
 We also found a great new friend in our backyard when we were moving some rocks...

 We were moving rocks so that we could set up our fabulous new swing set!  The kids have loved having their own "park" in their backyard.  August was SO crazy hot, I found I was often driving to the park, because it was too far to walk in the heat.  But, next summer, we'll be able to keep cool and have fun swinging in our own backyard in the 30 degree weather!
 Another fun activity we did to beat the heat was to freeze some toys and water in a bucket, and then hammer away to free the toys.
 I gave the kids a couple different kinds of hammers and tools to use so that they could experiment and figure out what kind worked the best.
 Aria preferred Daddy's hammer, while Roscoe liked his plastic hammer from his workshop playset.
 I tried to insist on the kids wearing their sunglasses to protect their eyes...
 But I guess Roscoe thought it made it difficult to see what he was doing.
 My suggestion if you want to try this yourself is to use toys that if broken won't cause upset children!  Some of the tails came off in the ice, and a few lost their feet or paws.  But, it kept the kids happy and entertained for a good 20-30 minutes!

September 6, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten!

Today was Aria's very first day of school!
Its a bit strange to think that every day she'll be spending most of her time NOT with me, when for the past five and a half years she has been with me almost constantly.
What will she do all day when she's at school?
Maybe a little more concerning, is what will I do?
We are so blessed to have some fabulous friends with daughters also entering Kindergarten this year, and all these friends are going to be in class with her!  How exciting!
Here's a couple photos we took to commemorate this special day... 
 SO sad that this one is out of focus!  I may have to re-stage it and try again!

A little meltdown because the sun was burning her eyes.  What a face!
Here's some back to school photo ideas I found through Pinterest.  I would have loved to have done the chalkboard idea, but sadly, do not have a little chalkboard.  The paper idea worked well for us, and maybe I'll get Aria to decorate it and then include it in her Kindergarten scrapbook.

1.  Inchmark had a super easy to do photo idea.  This was the idea I used to do Aria's photos, combined with the one below...

2.  Chickabug has some free printables to do these great photos. I like the idea of consistency and adding in the teacher's name from year to year, so I opted to make my own signs.
3.  Zoot had a great way of recording all your child's favorites for the year right on the photo.  A great insight into who your child is in that year of school.  I just remember filling out my "School Days" portfolio (the blue book with pockets for each year of school) with things like who my friends were, what I achieved that year and what I wanted to be when I grew up...
4.  Sugar Bee Crafts has a tutorial on making a chalkboard sign tutorial.  I didn't know there was chalkboard spray paint.  I may need to go and check that out!
5.  Ashlee Raubach Photography did a photo shoot for her son's preschool class!  SO CUTE!  We did something like this for a family photo shoot last week, and we're super excited to see the pictures!  This would be fun to do at a birthday party or with your child's closest friends.

August 27, 2011

Milk Carton Blocks Tutorial

When I was a kid, I can remember my mom buying milk in glass bottles, in bags, and then in cartons.  It wasn't until I was older that she switched to buying jugs of milk, probably because my brothers and I LOVED drinking milk.  I still love it.  Now that I have my own family, we also enjoy drinking milk, and usually go through two 4L jugs in a week and a half (is that average??).  On occasion though, we do buy milk products (like cream, buttermilk, whipping cream, eggnog...) in cartons.  But what to do with those lovely cartons when you've emptied them?  They're not really recyclable, unfortunately.  
We make BLOCKS.  
My mom did this when I was a kid, and we used them for absolutely EVERYTHING!  They could be food for our kitchen, we could use them to build towers or houses, do bowling with them, make birdhouses...
Here's a quick how-to on making your own milk carton blocks.
 After you've finished using your carton, rinse it thoroughly and stash it somewhere until you have enough to make a couple blocks.  Each block requires TWO cartons.
Then open up the tops...
 Cut off the tops... you won't need them.
 Then take two cartons that are the same size.  Squish one slightly to insert it into the other, and PUSH until they form a block!
 Voila!  Your own milk carton blocks!  They are super durable for both indoor and outdoor play (although my dog has chewed them apart on occasion!)

For more great ideas on what to do with leftover milk cartons check out Frugal Family Fun Blog

August 25, 2011

Blessing Bags

I stumbled upon the Kids with a Vision blog somehow... probably through a link off of Pinterest, as that seems to be where I like to spend time lately... But it is chalk-full of FABULOUS ideas to help change you and your children's perspectives of the people around them. I was so blessed and challenged as I read what this group of moms and a grandma are doing to change the hearts and minds of little ones to see others through the eyes of Jesus and to step outside of themselves and SERVE others in practical and loving ways. YES! Children can serve others! I can't wait to do some of these things with my kids... in fact, I may run to the dollar store today so that we can build some of our own blessing bags!
Photo: KWAV

Check out the link below...

KWAVs: Blessing Bags How To: Have you ever come across a homeless individual and felt totally uncomfortable? You see them and you know they are in need, but you are no...

August 12, 2011

When the Husband's Away, the Mom gets CREATIVE

My husband was away with work last week, so it was me ALONE with my children for three and a half days!  Yikes!  Not only that but it was HOT and we were all a tad bit grumpy... to say the least.
So, I put my thinking cap on to come up with some outdoor activities (inspired by one of my most FAVORITE blogs, Frugal Family Fun Blog) that involved WATER (because my kids decided they were tired of their pool - in 30 degree weather - whatever!) and SHADE to help fill our days and chase the grumpies away!
So, I mixed up a bunch of water in different containers with different food colouring in each container.  Dug out some old infant medicine droppers that I had kept, and away the kids went!  They MIXED and BLENDED and EXPERIMENTED with colours to their hearts content.  And the CLEAN-UP (once the colours had all been mixed to make a lovely murky black-brown colour?) involved dumping the water over the side of the deck onto the grass below!

 After the novelty had worn off from mixing colours, onto the next activity!  While the kids were busy, I quickly looked up instructions for folding paper boats, made some sails with toothpicks and construction paper and down to the pool we went for some SAILING races!

 YES!  It even enticed them into the water!
 Next was supper.  Aria wanted spaghetti, and I remembered something that I saw on Pinterest.  
Source: Spaghetti via Carmen on Pinterest
I thought it looked disgusting, but I knew the kids would LOVE it, and they would be able to help make it.  All that's required for this child-pleasing recipe is dry spaghetti and hotdogs.
 Simply poke the noodles through the chopped up, uncooked hotdogs (be careful, the noodles do break quite easily).

 BEFORE: kind of looks like porcupines...

 AFTER: looks more like a limp spider or jellyfish!
Needless to say, I made my own spaghetti (sans hotdogs) but the kids really enjoyed making their own supper, and thought it was great fun to eat!