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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.


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



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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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Long and Short of It

My 10 year old daughter has been growing her hair out for about 2.5 years.  She decided to get it cut short but only after her ballet recital since she would be wearing it in a bun then.  The recital was on Saturday, so Monday after school we set out to get her hair cut.  I did not call ahead to make an appointment, some places don't take appointments for hair cuts.  The first place we went to had a 2 hour wait time.  So we tried every hair salon on our way home.  Five hair salons in total and all 5 were too busy to take us right away.  Persistence did not pay off in this case.  As we had somewhere to be by 6pm, we decided to try again on Tuesday when we had more time.

After deciding to get her long hair cut, she also decided she wanted to donate her hair.  A quick Internet search listed several places that take hair donations.  I researched each one, told my daughter about them and let her decide which to donate to.

I think the most well know hair donation organization is Locks of Love.  Other organizations that I researched were Pantene and Wigs For Kids.  They each had different requirements for hair length and a difference focus on who they helped.  Some salons are affiliated with an organization and will cut the hair for free, although that was not the case for any salons in our area.

Locks of Love mostly helps children who suffer from alopecia areata, and not all their hair pieces are free.  To donate hair, it must be at least 10 inches in length.

Pantene creates free hair pieces for women affected by hair loss from cancer.  To donate hair, it must be at least 8 inches in length.

Wigs For Kids provides hair pieces for children who have lost their hair for a variety of medical conditions.  To donate hair, it must be 12 inches in length.

My daughter chose to donate to Wigs For Kids.  We reviewed the donation instructions on their website and then headed to the salon.  We told the hair stylist that she would be donating her hair and the stylist knew to braid it, cut it and bag it.  It was such a dramatic difference and we all love the new look.  

Here my daughter is with her long hair before the cut:


That's 12 inches of hair:


And here's more before and afters:

I told my daughter that I love her new hair cut so much, maybe I'll get the same style.  I'm partial to short hair anyway and think this haircut shows off her beautiful facial features.  Now she looks more grown up then ever (sniff, sniff).

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Even Superman Needs a Dad

I love this picture.  It's perfect for a little boy's room.  It's called "Even Superman Needs a Dad" by Liz Lemon Swindle*

The story on the back of the picture reads:

This is the picture above the baby's crib.  I had to take down the previous picture because it was too big once I added the dresser.

You see, we did some rearranging of the kids rooms, namely spitting up the girls.  You can read all about it in my last post.  In that post, I mentioned that I took the tall skinny dresser out of the girls shared room and put it into the sitting room of our master bedroom where we have the nursery set up for our baby.  It looks so much nicer than the plastic shelves that were in there.

The only problem was that the dresser hit the large picture on the wall.  I took that picture down and replaced it with one that is too small for the space but will just have to do.  

I think that's enough rearranging for now.  So far having the girls separated has worked out great.  Bedtime has gone smoother and our youngest daughter has been sleeping in, not waking up till the older two have already left for school.  I am hoping this allows everyone to sleep in during the summer.  Realistically, the older 3 kids will be the ones sleeping in because this little guy is used to getting up super early.

*this post contains an affiliate link. 

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Girls Rooms

As I mentioned in my previous post about how to DIY a duvet cover and keep it in place, I have rearranged the girls' bedrooms.  We had them bunked up while my mother in law was living with us.  Since my mother in law moved out last month we've had an empty bedroom.  Eventually we plan to put the baby in there, but since he's still not sleeping through the night (he's up about every 2 hours and I don't feel like walking down the hall to check on him and nurse him) he's staying in our room.  We have plenty of room in our master bedroom for his crib and things so it's not a big deal.  

Now back to the girls' bedroom.  They had been sharing a room which was working out great for our younger daughter, but our older daughter has been wanting more privacy.  She's 10 and doesn't like having a 4 year old watch her get dressed each morning.  Plus they'd get into arguments about silly stuff and lots of attitude would ensue.  The teenage years are starting early in our house.

After my husband witnessed the morning drama one day, he said it's not working out having those two share a room.  While he was at work, I went to work.  First I called my mom to talk through my plans.  It always helps me talk things out with someone else who can envision it with me.  After she agreed with me, I got to work giving each girl their own room.  

These pictures show what the girls room looked like before.  Two girls sharing a room means lots and lots of stuff.  The floor was always covered with our younger daughter's blankets and stuffed animals.

The closet wasn't that bad though.  I guess because most of their clothes are in their dressers.

I started by removing the mattress from the bottom bunk and placing it into the empty room (younger daughter's new room).  

Next up I moved over all her stuffed animals and toys.  I also put the rug in the new room.  What a difference it's made.

Here's some before and after shots:

Since there was already a dresser in the 'new' room, I used that dresser for my daughter's clothes and put the tall skinny dresser that was in her 'old' room, into our master bedroom for the baby.  That will be a post for another day though.

Here is what the 'new' room looked like.  It just had a dresser in there, the bean bag from the girls' room, a chair and music stand.  The curtains and bunny rabbit wall stickers were in there since this was our youngest daughter's nursery before my mother in law moved in.  Since this is temporary, I'm not going to paint or change the decor (yet).

And here it is after moving our youngest daughter in.  

Since this is just temporary I didn't even bother to take apart the bunk beds so our 4 year old just has her mattress on the floor which she has been loving.

Next up, I'll share pictures of the updated baby space in our master bedroom so stay tuned.

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