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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ivory Soap Experiment

We had a house full over the holidays.  With all those kids, we had to keep them busy.  My favorite way to entertain kids is by doing experiments.  (Must be the scientist in me)

I've seen the Ivory Soap Experiment on Pinterest and thought it would be simple enough to try.

All you need is:
a bar of Ivory Soap
a microwave
a bowl or plate to put the soap in

I put the soap in a bowl and then microwaved for 2 minutes.

For added effect, I made the kids wear safety glasses.

And because I like to experiment with my experiments, we also added vinegar to the soap to see what would happen.  It did bubble up a little.  The kids had fun watching the soap expand as well as playing with it, and I was just glad to have 7 kids happily entertained.

Has anyone else tried this experiment?  I know not everything on Pinterest works out, but this one was a success.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Minecraft Birthday Party

The week before Christmas, my oldest son turned 12.  He's into all things Minecraft so it came as no surprise that he wanted a Minecraft birthday party.  

This party was pretty easy to do since I didn't have to plan any games.  They'd just be playing Minecraft when they weren't eating or opening presents.     

My son wanted a Minecraft cake.  Not a cake that looked like a creeper or other Minecraft object, but a cake that looks like the cake in the game.  I did my best and he loved it.  I  baked a spice cake in two square cake pans and used cream cheese icing for the middle and top.  To create the red squares on top, I used wax paper with square cut outs as a stencil.  I had to let the icing harden so the wax paper wouldn't stick to it.  Then I used some red food spray (the same kind I used for the Babe's ladybug birthday party) to spray on the squares.

We also had dirt with grass on top.  Basically this was a rice krispie treat with green icing on top.  I used both chocolate and regular rice krispies (generic brand works fine too) to make the rice krispie treats.

Pretzel sticks made great torches and red and black Twizzlers were arranged to create TNT.

Being so close to Christmas when we had this party, I had a hard time finding green party supplies.  I used a green tablecloth, black napkins and clear cups (I really wanted green, but as you can see it still worked out, I made little creeper faces on them and labeled them with the kids' names)

For the drinks we had water and lemonade dyed to match the colors of various potions in Minecraft. My son was insistent that I get the coloring right so he had the potion on the screen as I added the food coloring.  I also did a creeper pizza, but that didn't turn out so well.  I had my husband buy the pizza and forgot to tell him to get plain cheese so he got meat lovers instead.  I did try to make a creeper face with the ham pieces but it would have looked better if it was a plain cheese pizza and the creeper face was made out of pepperoni cut into squares.  Oh well, no one minded.

As for the party favors, I found green treat bags and butter mints in green wrappers.  I used a black Sharpie to create a creeper face on them.  I added some other non Minecraft things into the treat bags too.

Some of the gifts were Minecraft themed as well.  He got this "Periodic Table of Minecraft" shirt, and the Minecraft canvases that I made for his new Minecraft themed room.  (Tutorial of the canvases and a room reveal coming soon).

And of course the kids had fun playing Minecraft. 

He also got this hand crafted Minecraft stocking from my sister in law, not for his birthday but for Christmas.  I thought that was so clever.

All in all, it was a fun party and very low key for me which was great.

Has anyone else done a Minecraft party?
What other Minecraft themed presents have you given or received?

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas recap 2014

We had a whirlwind of a Christmas.  My sister in law and her family of 6 drove 28 hours straight to spend about 2 weeks with us.  With the number of people in our house doubling,we had to get creative with hanging our stockings. 

I only had 6 stocking hangers, so to add another 6 stockings to our mantel, I used a tension rod instead.  I hung up the tension rod with 3 of the stocking hangers and then slipped each stocking onto the rod.  

It worked out well and it was nice to have everyone's stockings hanging up.  Santa certainly had his work cut out at our house.  

And speaking of Santa, doesn't the baby look so cute in his little Santa suit?  We had so many people and gifts at our house that we forgot to give our kids their 'big' gift.  About an hour after we were done opening presents, my mom called to ask how the kids liked their TRIKKE.  Whoops, it was still in the garage, we totally forgot to give it to them.  After they opened it, they were all excited to try it out, and of course my husband had to be the first to test drive it.  It was funny to watch all the kids chase Kevin down the street.  Everyone got a turn to ride it, including me.  Luckily the weather was nice and it was a good day to play outside.

We kept busy every day. One day we went to Washington DC to go to some museums, and walk the Mall.  On the way home we stopped by the LDS Temple to see the Festival of Lights and their nativity display.  The nativities were all so different.  It's interesting to see how different countries depict the birth of our Savior.

Another fun things we did was to rent out the local sports place like you would for a birthday party.  It was actually cheaper to do that than to pay for everyone to bounce and jump.

And now that the holidays are over and company is gone, it's time to get my house back in order, but first I must take care of the sickies.  It seems like we've all got some sort of cold, flu or stomach virus.  

I saw this video the other day about how even though Christmas is over, we should remember Christmas really did happen.  The birth of our Savior is real.


Hope you all had a great Christmas and are enjoying the New Year!

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Elf on the Shelf 2014

Last update for 2014.  I forgot what days I did what so I'm just posting pictures and descriptions.

She hung out with our pet butterfly.
Was literally an elf on the shelf in the kitchen cabinets.
Sharing a ride in the stroller with the baby dolls.

Above the kitchen window.
Attached to the toy bar on the baby's pack 'n play.

Sitting pretty in the play kitchen.
Watching tv and eating fruit snacks.
She said 'bye' during her final visit.

Will she be coming back next year?  I don't know.  The Babes who is 4 didn't like the fact that the elf was hanging around her toys.  The kids didn't seem to get the enjoyment out of it like they did last year, so I just might take a break.  If they ask why, I'll say she needs to visit another family this year.  That way there's always the possibility she could return to us.

More pictures of our elf in 2014
Day 10 we found her reading a favorite Christmas book.
Day 11 she was waiting to get her hair done.
She must have been hungry on day 12 because she was hiding in the cabinet next to the breakfast foods.

Day 13 she got all wrapped up with Christmas presents.
Day 14 hunger strikes again and she was caught about to eat a muffin over in the play kitchen.
Day 15 she hid out in a house made of blocks.

Last week we found her in the following spots:

Day 5 we found her helping out at the animal hospital.
Day 6 she was drinking out of my 4 yr old's Dora cup.
Day 7 she was feeling a little be country and was hanging out in a cowboy boot.

She's certainly not afraid of heights as we found her getting ready to slide down the banister on day 8.

Day 9 she was admiring the latest picture of kid #4.  I agree, he is a cutie.

Here is what she was up to two weeks ago when she first made her arrival.

Dec 1st
The first morning she was found hanging on for dear life on the kitchen lights.
She had a note for the kids which read, "I'm back.  I see there is a new member of your family.  I've hidden an ornament just for him on your Christmas tree.  Love, Lily"

The kids checked the Christmas tree and sure enough there was a new ornament with the baby's name on it.

Days 2, 3 and 4 found our elf hanging out in a stocking, riding a horse and delivering another ornament (this time for our 4 yr old).  

It's a good thing I'm up in the middle of the night nursing the baby, or else our elf might not have come this year much less change locations each night.  I'll try to do a weekly update on where our elf appears.  If you want to see what she was up to last year (the first time we did the Elf on the Shelf), you can check out THIS POST.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

He is the Gift

I love Christmas.  People are nicer, decorations make everything look magical, and the music lifts my spirits.  The real reason for the season is the gift of God's son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I love these videos the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has put out to share the meaning of Christmas.  I hope you take the time to watch them, share them with your kids and feel of His love.

This first video is called "He is the Gift"

The first gift was not wrapped, had no bow, wasn't purchased online or in a store
The first gift of Christmas was a simple gift, a sacred gift
It wasn't gold or frankincense, or myrrh
It was a gift of love, and life, and peace, and hope
Given by a father to all his children -
"for God so loved the world" (John 3:16)
and so love you, and you, and you,
and every single one of us.
He gave his son
He is the Christ
He is Christmas
He is the gift
This Christmas season

Discover the Gift, Embrace the Gift, Share the Gift

The next video is music from the Piano Guys, Peter Hollens, David Archuleta and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  They join together to sing "Angles We Have Heard On High".  Thousands others also join to create the largest living Nativity scene.  It's a truly beautiful video that brings the Spirit of Christmas to life.

Amist all the gift opening this Christmas, let us not forget the reason we celebrate.  I love the message in this video.

I'll be taking the next two weeks off to celebrate Christmas with family.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Window Marker Christmas Tree

Yesterday I showed you how we decorated our Christmas tree.
Well here's a fun idea for the kids and it can be redecorated as often as you want.
I saw THIS on Pinterest and thought it looked like fun so we made our own:

Using the Crayola Window Markers (amazon affiliate link), 

I drew a Christmas tree on the outside of our patio doors. 

Then, I let my 4 year old use the markers to draw ornaments and decorate the tree from the inside.  She even added a few presents under the tree.

Now we can wash off the inside of the door to create new ornaments each day while the tree stays up on the outside.  The easiest way I've found to clean off the Window Markers is to use a Clorox wipe.  It was much more efficient in removing the marker than Windex.

Oh, and if you have to leave the room for a few minutes to take care of your baby, you might come back to find this: 

That is just one way we are having fun getting ready for Christmas.  

We are also doing the Elf on the Shelf.  You can click HERE to see our Elf's adventures.  

And we are doing an Advent Calendar.   
With a new baby, I needed something easy.  Last year I used a 24 count muffin tin and had activities planned for each day.  You can read all about that HERE.  Like I said, this year I needed to take the easy way out and what's easier than buying an advent calendar.  
I got this one made by Playmobil (amazon affiliate link).  It has doors numbered 1 - 24 to open each day and a piece of the playset is behind each door.  I bet these will go on sale after Christmas so that would be a good time to stock up for next year.

The girls (ages 10 and 4) have both enjoyed opening up a door each day and getting a new toy to add to the scene.  They are both really into horses so this scene was perfect for them.

What fun things are you doing to lead up to Christmas?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Tree Decorating

We usually put up our tree on December 1st.  I like to get through one holiday before decorating for the next.  However, this year we put it up before Thanksgiving.  Why so early?  Because the Wyoming grandparents came to visit and we celebrated Christmas early.  

I even got a little smarter with how we put the tree together.  Maybe you've done this all along, but I never thought to put the tree skirt on first - before I put up the rest of the tree.  I usually get our tree put together and then have to crawl under the lower branches to fix the tree skirt so it looks nice.  Not this year.  I put the tree skirt on first then added the rest of the tree.  Next year, I'm going to be even smarter and add the angel on the top before adding the top piece of the tree.  Why has it taken me so long to learn these simple tricks?  Or why hasn't anyone told me about it before?

Another thing we did differently this year was in the way we decorate.  As the kids have gotten older, or maybe it's because I've gotten older, either way I've given up control over how to decorate the tree.  Plus this year we have a newborn and I don't have as much time to fuss over how the ornaments are placed.  We decorate our tree in red and gold.  I don't do a new theme or color each year.  I like the red and gold and don't feel like storing multiple color schemes anyway.  In addition to the red and gold we have lots of handmade and other special ornaments.  Each child has ornaments that are theirs including ones they have made at school.  I have been storing each child's ornaments in separate bags.  So when it came time to decorate, I gave each child their bag and asked them to hang up their ornaments.  They hung all their ornaments in one section or cluster.  Usually we have them spread all throughout the tree.  I liked this new arrangement.  Each person has their own section of the tree.  I even put my husband's ornaments in a cluster.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? 
Do you put the tree skirt on first?

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lemon Coconut Macaroons

Here is an easy to make and delicious recipe that would be perfect for holiday gatherings.  I have to thank my sister for making these delicious macaroons and for sharing the recipe.

2 eggs whites,
1/8 tsp salt,
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk,
1/2 tsp lemon extract,
1/2 tsp vanilla extract,
1 (14 oz bag) shredded sweetened coconut, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper, NOT wax paper, they're not the same.
In medium bowl, whisk egg whites and salt until frothy (approx. 2 minutes).
Stir in condensed milk, lemon extract, and vanilla extract.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut until well combined.

Shape mixture into 1.5 inch mounds and place about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.  I used a rounded teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the mixture into mounds and place on the baking sheet.
Bake until lightly browned (approx. 20-23 mins).
Let cool completely.
Makes about 6 dozen. 

These are a great dessert to take to parties because they make a lot and are easy to serve.  Just pop them in your mouth and enjoy!

And if you're in need of Elf on the Shelf ideas, you can check out our elf's adventures HERE.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Origin of the 12 Days of Christmas

It's December already, and that means Christmas is just around the corner.  So let's start off the season with the truth behind a popular Christmas song.  Last year a friend posted this on Facebook and I thought it was interesting.  I love finding out the meanings behind things and how traditions gotstarted.

The Real Story Behind the 12 Days of Christmas

Catholics in England were prohibited by law from practicing their faith, both in private and in public from 1558 to 1829. Being a Catholic was treated as a crime. There was no restored gospel at the time, however there were good Christians who knew without doubt the true church was not one that was mainly created merely for the convenience of King Henry the Eighth who wanted to sin and have a church justify his actions. 

So in secret they continued to teach their children their Christian religion. 

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England during this time frame. 

It was written to help children learn about their religion. The entire song is written in symbolism and hidden meanings because it was illegal to have anything in writing that would indicate adherence to the Catholic faith. To be caught could mean imprisonment, hanging, or being drawn and quartered.

Christmas referred to a twelve day period that starts with Christmas day. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" referred to a twelve day period that began Christmas day. While the world may have celebrated Christmas for about twelve hours, these Christians celebrated it for twelve days as a reminder that the gifts of God are with us for twelve months of the year. It also represented the idea that we should be thankful for the gifts of God and follow His teachings for all twelve months of the year and not just one day a year. 

The song begins, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." The "true love" represents God, as our greatest love should be for Him. The word worship means that which we love the most. The "me" who receives these presents is the Christian man or woman.

1. The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a structure made from the wood of a tree. In ancient times a partridge was often used as mythological symbol of a divine, sacred king.

2. The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God. Doves symbol- ize peace and the Gospel contained in these scriptures, when practiced, brings peace.

3. The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I Corinthians 13). The French hens can also represent God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

4. The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

5. The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses."

6. The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.

7. The "seven swans a swimming" were "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit." (I Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11) "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to other divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." (I Corinthians 12:8-11)

8. The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.

9. The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22)

10. The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.

11. The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.

12. The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed. 

Now when you hear or sing The 12 Days of Christmas, you'll know the meaning behind it.

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