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Monday, July 27, 2015

Pioneer Day Fun

Friday was Pioneer Day, the day the first Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley back in 1847.  

We celebrated with a fun pioneer activity put on by our church primary.  


There were pioneer stories and butter making...

sack races...

a sunflower seed spitting competition...

and tin can stilts.

The kids had so much fun but I think the tin can stilts were the favorite.  My 10 year old didn't want to get off them.


We also held a Pioneer Day Family Home Evening on Sunday.
We used the song, thought, lesson and treasure hunt ideas found HERE.

I also included this "I Am A Pioneer" video which lead to a discussion of modern day pioneers, and how we can be a pioneer.



As for the treat, we made covered wagon cakes.  They sort of look like a covered wagon, right?  The kids didn't care.  It was chocolate, cookies and marshmallows so they loved it.








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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Miniature Horses

Since we aren't going on a big vacation this summer, I've been keeping the kids busy with some day trips.  If you live near Lancaster or are planning to drive through it, I highly recommend taking the time to visit the Lil' Country Store and Miniature Horse Farm.  Here is the store's website, however, more information is given at THIS site.



It's a small out of the way Amish store with homemade gifts and food for sale as well as hand crafted furniture.  The main reason we stopped by was to visit the miniature horses they had there.  They were so cute and my kids loved to pet and feed them.   Pony and cart rides were also available.

Here's a video that tells more about the store and horses:



I suggest combining this visit with another activity since this won't take much time.  There are plenty of other things to do while you're in Lancaster such as the Strasburg Railroad, the American Music Theatre or the Outlet Malls.  After our visit the kids and I went to Dutch Wonderland which was only about 5 minutes away.


Have you found some fun out of the way spots to visit this summer.  I'd love to hear about them.


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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Travel Toothbrush Holder

This summer hasn't gone according to plan, but that's OK, we're going with plan B.

You see, the Spencinator was supposed to go to a 5 week therapeutic day camp.  After the first day, the camp counselors called me to come get him.  He didn't want to participate with the group much less be in the group.  Not surprising, the kid has autism so of course he hates being in a group.  I would have thought this camp would have been able to deal with it, after all they were a therapeutic camp with lots of other kids on the spectrum.  Anyway, after trying to incentivise him to go, we realized it wasn't going to work out.  So instead of having him occupied during the day for five whole weeks, he's now home to torture his sisters.  Just kidding, not really.  That means I've got to be on the ball and keep the kids busy so there's no time for fighting.  Not an easy task.  

I'm lucky my mom is now retired and has more time to help out.  Every other week she is having one of the kids stay at her house for "Grandma Camp".   They love it and I love it.  Not only do they get some one on one time to be spoiled by their grandparents, but they also get some time to be an only child for a while.  And the rest of us at home get a break from some of the sibling rivalry.  It's a win win for everyone.  

With all this traveling, I've had to pack overnight bags for the kids.  I've been using something I made a while ago to store their toothbrush and toothpaste.


It started out as a regular old wash cloth.  I folded the bottom 1/3rd of the wash cloth up and sewed some vertical lines to make little pockets.  



Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, chapstick and even a comb or brush can fit inside and roll up neatly to pack into their suitcase.  It keeps everything organized and in one easy to find place.







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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

4th of July 2015 recap

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July.  I'm finally getting around to posting about what all we did.  We were pretty busy and I loved every minute of it.

I got the kids all dressed up in red, white and blue for their annual 4th of July picture.  The baby has been mobile for a couple of months now and it's harder than ever to get a good shot of him, this is the best I could get.


And here's the previous years pictures.  I love looking back and seeing how much the kids have grown.


Sky Zone was having a buy one get one free sale so we started off the day with some jumping.  The girls jumped almost non stop the entire hour.  The Spencinator loved being able to jump off the 'walls' of the trampoline.  Even my hubby joined in on the fun.  They also had dodge ball games and a foam pit to jump in.  As the day went on, it got more crowded so it's a good thing we went early.


Saturday night we went to a local patriotic concert.  This little band was great and the conductor was a bit of a comedian.  Afterwards they had an illumination ceremony where they lit candles and we followed the trail to the end where we could roast marshmallows and make s'mores.  


Sunday night we went to another concert.  The US Army Concert Band played and sang lots of patriotic songs.


The last song included cannons.  A man's personal collection of civil war cannons went off and started the fireworks celebration.  I've never been so close to the fireworks, they were wonderful - so big and bright.  It was a great way to celebrate.  



With all that noise, you'd think this little guy would have been in awe or fussy, but no.  He actually fell asleep.  I guess when you're a baby and you're tired, you just gotta sleep no matter where you are or what's going on.  






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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Prevent Apples From Turning Brown

Here's a quick and easy trick to prevent your cut up apples from turning brown.  This would come in handy when packing your child's school lunch.  I know school is out, but you could also do this for summer camp or road trips.


Lemon juice.  That's it folks.  It's so simple and it really works.  
I just put some cut up apple slices into a zip lock baggie and sprinkled in a very small amount of lemon juice.  Too much juice and your kids can taste the sourness.  I've heard that club soda also works, but we didn't have that on hand.


 I've seen this idea floating around on Pinterest and had to try it out for myself after cutting up some apples for dinner one night and having lots of left overs.  Guess the kids weren't in an apple eating mood.  Or maybe they actually filled up on the main dish and didn't have room for this tasty snack.  

The picture below shows what the apples looked like 2 days later!  That's right, these apple slices were in the fridge for 2 days and were still good enough to eat.  I don't know how long they'd last as we ate them all after 2 days, but it would surely work if you pack lunches a day in advance.


Oh, and if you are looking for a most delicious dip for these apples, you have to try my easy fruit dip found HERE.  It's only 4 ingredients and I always get compliments when I make it.




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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Staycation Ideas for Kids

Last week has been a whirlwind of fun activities.  Now that school is out, I feel like I'm working overtime as a stay at home mom.  Since we don't have any plans to go on vacation this year, I've planned a "staycation" with a bunch of day trips and fun activities to keep the kids busy.  Last week my son was staying at my parent's house (thanks mom and dad!), so the girls (and the baby) and I did a bunch of things that he wouldn't enjoy.  I've talked about how my son has Asperger's and he generally dislikes crowds and having to wait in line.  So while he's being spoiled by the grandparents, the rest of the kids and I made the most of the week.

Monday we went to the Turkey Hill Experience, or the turkey sperience as my 4 year old calls it.  We met my mom there so she could join in the fun (and help me with the kids).  Afterwards, she took my son home with her and the rest of us met my husband for lunch before heading home.

Even the little guy got in on the fun!


If you've never been to the Turkey Hill Experience, I recommend going.  There are a lot of fun activities for the kids to do.  My 10 year old daughter really loved it and tried everything.  She made created her own original flavor of virtual ice cream and even recorded a commercial about it.   There is all you can eat ice cream samples which my 12 year old son loved.  In fact, he ate so much that when it was time for us to go to the Taste Lab, where you get to flavor your own pint of ice cream, he was too full to eat any.


We didn't have any grand plans for Tuesday, but I still wanted to get out with the kids so we went on a nature hike.   There is a rail trail near our house and we frequently hike and bike on it.  The kids love to explore and this nature trail was a great way for them to expend some energy.


We hiked the trail and climbed our way to the top of the tower.  What a view!



We also went to the Oregon Dairy Farm.  They were having their Family Farm days so there were lots of free activities to do and plenty of food to sample.  We saw how they milk cows using machines and this cow was checking us out.




The Budweiser Clydsdales came to Hershey so we stopped over to see them since my girls are such horse lovers.  What a sight to see.  So big and so beautiful.  


And since we were in Hershey we had to stop by Chocolate World.  The little guy was totally memorized by the ride.


After the ride, you end up in the gift shop and eatery.  There was this huge statue of King Tut made out of Twizzlers.  It was probably 8 feet tall!



A small traveling circus came to town so we went to see that too.  We went in the afternoon and it wasn't very crowded.  We even got front row seats.



We love the book Pinkalicious.  My 10 year old daughter loves pink, pink and more pink.  Last year her younger sister started loving pink after a few years of claiming blue as her favorite color.   Pinkalicious the Musical was playing at a local children's theatre so we went to see that too. 


What a fun (and exhausting) week we had.  This week my 10 year old daughter is at my parent's house so I still only have 3 out of the 4 kids at home.  However, this week I have nothing scheduled.  I need a lazy week after all the running around we did last week.

If you are looking for some staycation ideas, here are a few more for you, some are free and others are not:

The movies - some movie theaters have free or reduced summer matinees.  They are usually movies that are now on DVD, but hey, they are free, and the theater is air conditioned.  

Go to the pool, local beach/lake or just play in the sprinkler

The library - most libraries have some sort of summer reading program which includes free activities such as science experiments, crafts, story tellers....

Invite friends over to play, whether it's dolls, bike riding, games, crafts... it'll keep the kids busy.

Geocaching

Visit Museums

Visit Butterfly Gardens, Flower Gardens, Arboretums, Parks

Paintball, Lazer tag, Obstacle Course, Zip Line, or other outdoor adventuring

Boating, Canoeing, Kayaking

Amusement parks

The Zoo

The Aquarium

Sporting Event

Bowling

Golfing

Camp in your backyard


Here are some fun activities and crafts we've done in previous years that I've blogged about:




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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Glass Etching

In my last post, I mentioned what I planned to do for my husband's Father's Day gift.  You can read all about it HERE.  Well, I'm happy to report, I actually finished it before Father's Day!!!  


My husband is hard to buy for.  He has just about everything.  The things he wants are very specific so I'd have to ask him for the model numbers and other details so it wouldn't be a surprise.  But, he does like certain candies.  So I got his favorites and made his his own candy jar.  It's kind of hard to see, but it says "Kevin's Stache" with a picture of a mustache.  

I got the original idea from Pinterest but instead of using vinyl to put on the words, I wanted to etch the glass.  I thought the vinyl may come off when washing it and that the etched glass would last longer.  I used this Silhouette glass etching kit below.  This was the first time I have ever etched glass.  It didn't even occur to me to use a practice piece of glass.  Luckily it turned out OK.  


Here's the jar without the candy.  You can see the words a little better. 


I followed the directions but there are a few tiny mistakes, nothing too noticeable.
You can see on the mustache, there are some uneven spots.  


And since the word "Stache" was partly on the curved part of the glass, some of the etching cream seeped under the vinyl making the letter "S" and "e" a little fuzzy around the bottom edges.


Like I said, it's barely noticeable, and I'm just pleased it actually worked and I finished his present in time for Father's Day.




Has anyone else tried glass etching.  It really was easy.  Next time I will be more careful on my vinyl placement especially when putting it on a curved surface.  




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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Candy Stache Father's Day Gift

Father's day is quickly approaching and I've been so busy doing fun stuff with the kids I haven't gotten around to making a Father's Day gift for my husband.  Luckily with the help of Pinterest, I know what I want to do.



Isn't this just the cutest thing.  Artsy-Fartsy Mama made several of these for the men in her life.  Check out her website HERE to see how she did it.  

Instead of vinyl, I'm going to use a glass etching kit because I think the vinyl may come off after washing it.  And it's going to say "Kevin's Stache".  I plan to fill it with some of my husband's favorite candy.   Wouldn't it look so cute on his desk at work.


I know I'm not the only one who waits till the last minute.  So if you're in need of some Father's Day food, gift, card, quotes or craft ideas, be sure to check out THIS POST as well as my Father's Day Pinterest board HERE:




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Friday, June 12, 2015

Welcome to Summer 2015

On the last day of school, I like to do something special.  I call it a "Welcome To Summer" Party.
In previous years, I've had a banner for the kids to run through, streamers and balloons to burst through, and an ice cream party.  You can click HERE, HERE, and HERE to read about each of those.  The last day of school is a half day so there's plenty of time for fun.  The parties usually involve a fun arrival home, some snacks, a small gift and an activity.

This year the kids are once again in two different schools so that meant two different 'parties' especially since my son's last day was the day before my daughter's last day of school.  So for my son's last day of school, I covered the door with streamers and he ran through that.  


I found an easy way to cover the door with streamers and that was to use painters tape.  I put a long strip of it at the top of the doorway and folded over part of it and attached the streamers to the sticky part that wasn't stuck to the door.  This made set up and clean up fast.  


My two little helpers got in on the fun.  My 4 year old was blowing a party blower as my son walked up the driveway and into the house.


As for the activity, my husband took a half day off work and they did some fun things together that afternoon.  The original plan was to go zip lining but the place was so crowded they sold out of tickets before they arrived.  So onto plan B.  They did some shopping and eating and went to the shooting range.  My son requested a double layer chocolate cake so he got that when he came home that evening.  

My daughter's "Welcome To Summer" Party included a banner and balloons.  I made sure she could see the decorated driveway from the bus stop.


It's hard to tell in the picture but the banner is actually a large sheet and I just used a permanent marker to write the words "Welcome To Summer 2015".  The sign on the little bench says "No bookbags allowed.  Leave your things here."


I love how my younger daughter greets my older daughter at the bus stop.  She runs up to her and hugs her every day.


After walking through the driveway, the girls (we also invited one of the neighbor girls) headed to the back patio for snacks and games.  I had a "rainbow" theme to this party.  I like to do themes when I can.  There were balloons in rainbow colors on the driveway and for snacks we had different colored fruit to make a rainbow.


The girls wanted to do the painting activity first.  I had 'paint shirts' for them to wear but also made sure the paint was washable.  Good thing too, since my 4 year old had it all over her legs by the time they were through.  They got to paint the banner which is why I just outlined the letters instead of filling them in myself.  They also decorated the rest of the sheet with flowers, stars and such.


Next up were the games.  They played Don't Eat Pete!  We used marshmallows and this Don't Eat Pete board I got years ago from a primary activity.  In case you've never played, it's really fun and easy.  You put one piece of candy on each square.  One child picks a number and designates that number as "Pete".  Another child starts eating the candy one at a time and as soon as they pick up the candy on "Pete", the other child yells "Don't Eat Pete!"  Sometimes it's the first candy they choose and sometimes it's the last.  The kids had fun with this.  We played three times to give each girl a chance to play and eat some marshmallows.  


The kids also had a squirt gun / super soaker water battle.  After my official festivities were complete, they continued to play inside the house for hours.  Another school year done.  Phew!  

Now to entertain 4 kids all summer long while keeping my sanity.  How do I do it?  Lots and lots of activities.  We get out of the house and do something at least once a week, and more often it's 2-3 times a week.  I also make my kids do chores and some schoolwork.  They are motivated to do this because they can't play video games till it's done.  

I've written about our summer schedule and fun activities in previous posts and will keep you posted with what we do this summer too.  You can click HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE to see what we've done in previous summers with schedules, schoolwork and chores.

And here are some fun activities and crafts we've done:




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