Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Gamer Birthday Party

The week before Christmas we celebrated my son's 14th birthday by having a video game themed party.  This was another easy birthday party for me to plan and execute which is just what I needed during the busy holiday season.  Click HERE to see the other parties I've planned in the past. 

I got a few ideas off Pinterest HERE, HERE and HERE.  I came up with these invitations and goodie bag toppers.

While away on a business trip, my husband picked up these cute R2D2 cupcake holders.  You can find them on HERE.

I thought it would be easy enough to make some R2D2 cupcakes - I should have know better.
I filled up the silicone molds but the cakes overflowed in the oven.

It only went downhill from there as I tried to compensate for the lack of a domed top by adding a bunch of icing.  And then I did a very poor imitation of R2D2 with the blue icing.  Yeah, add this one to my birthday cake fails.  Luckily my kids never seem to mind, although it would be nice to get it right one of these days.

As for the activities, well, I just let the boys play video games and they loved it.

And here's the birthday boy.  The big milestone this year is that he has officially reached 6 ft.

Anyone else host a video game party.  Did you find it as easy to plan as I did.  Planning the activities is always the most stressful part for me and this one was super easy.  We might have to do this again next year.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Simplify Christmas through Service

There is always a lot going on around Christmas time.  From school concerts, class parties, family holiday gatherings and my son's birthday, we don't have much spare time in the month of December.  Then there is Christmas with all the shopping and wrapping and decorating.  Don't get me wrong, I love it all, but this year I've taken a simpler approach.  Maybe it's having 4 kids including a very busy, into everything, toddler or maybe I'm just getting old.  Either way, we aren't doing as much.  There are so many fun activities to do and we just can't do them all.  There is always next year, we don't have to do every holiday tradition or activity this year.  

I've already mentioned how I didn't decorate as much, only setting up the tree and decorating the mantel.  Some other things we aren't doing this year are the Elf on the Shelf.  Actually we didn't do that one last year either since the kids weren't too excited about it the year before.  I think she may come back next year so my toddler can have fun finding her each day, but it may be her last appearance.  Good thing we have a cute little niece to pass her along to.  If you're continuing the tradition of Elf on the Shelf and are in need of ideas, you can see what we've done in years past HERE and HERE.  Or if you're looking for ways to end the tradition check out these ideas HERE.

This year we have not done an advent calendar like we have in years past.  Some years we made our own, other years we bought them.  You can check out our advent calendar ideas and alternatives HERE, and HERE.  Just because we aren't doing an advent calendar doesn't mean we aren't doing something special each day to remember Christ this Christmas season.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has put together a way to help share the light of Christ by following His example.  It's called LIGHT the WORLD and it's about service.  There are 25 ways to serve in the 25 days leading to Christmas.  Each day shares a message about how Jesus served.  There is a short video, a scripture and several ideas of ways to serve according to that theme.  You can find out more at   We've been watching the videos each night with our kids and talking about ways to serve.  It's really put the focus on our Savior and helping others.  And it's so easy, I don't even have to come up with service projects, there are lots of great ideas, from sharing a message on social media to getting involved in the community.  There is something for everyone of every ability to do.  The idea is to be more like our Savior and do service.  It's not to be overwhelming and feel like to have to do one of these things everyday.  Just be mindful of others and look for ways to serve and act on that when you can.  Below is the calendar with each days type of service and ideas for ways to serve.  Below that is a link to all the videos.  

Lift others burdens
Honor parents
Help others see
Worship the Father
Heal the sick
Read the scriptures
Feed the hungry
Pray for others
Visit the lonely
Help others walk
Minister to children
Teach others
Show humility
Clothe the naked
Worship through song
Show compassion
Care for your mother
Honor the Sabbath
Calm the storm
See potential in others
Forgive others
Show gratitude
Be a peacemaker
Care for loved ones
Follow Him

Serving others has made me reflect on why we celebrate Christmas and to realize that spending time with my family is more important than putting up decorations, buying presents and attending Santa events.  I've enjoyed teaching my children the true meaning of Christmas and giving Christ-like service to others.  This is one tradition that I hope we are able to do each year.  Has anyone else been Lighting the World with acts of service this Christmas season?  Would love to hear about your experiences.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

5 Must Read Christmas Books for Kids

Last weekend we put up our tree and decorated the house.  That includes getting out my Christmas books and displaying them in the living room.  I got this Happy Holidays basket a few years ago during an after-Christmas sale.  I use the basket year round by turning it around so the holiday words are facing the wall, or sometimes I remove the liner all together.  I put this basket  in the living room and this is where I placed all our holiday books so they are separate from our other books and the kids can easily see them and read them whenever they want.

Also, this year I went light on the decorations because this little guy wanted to get into everything.

Even had to hang the stocking up extra high so he wouldn't pull them down.  Just look at him on the chair scheming a way to get them.

One thing he is learning to do is to sit still for story time.  It's so cute, he'll bring me a book and snuggle up right next to me on the couch.  He's also finally letting me turn the pages and read the entire story (as long as it's not too long).

So here's my list of must read Christmas books for kids.  Affiliate links provided so you can easily buy these for your own Christmas collection.

This is a fun and silly book great for younger kids.  Just goes to show you how a Dad would do anything for his kids.

We have this in board book form so it's great for babies and toddlers.  It's a cute story about how a gift from the heart means more than all the goodies and festivities at Christmastime.

This has become a classic in our home as well as the movie.  I can't wait to watch the movie this year with our train loving two year old.  One year we did our own version called the "Mini Van Express" where the kids got tickets and we drove around looking at all the Christmas lights.  You can find out all about that adventure HERE.

Another fun book for little kids, even non readers can enjoy this and perhaps look at it on their own, giving you some time to bake or wrap presents.

A collection of stories to read to your kids that illustrate kindness and becoming more like our Savior this Christmas season. 

What are some of your favorite Christmas books to read to your kids?  

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Reversible Holiday Headbands

It's been a while since my last post and we've had a whirlwind of a Thanksgiving holiday.  A few weeks before Thanksgiving we decided that since the kids had the whole week off school (which rarely happens) that we'd drive to Wyoming to visit my in-laws.  About 70 hours round trip with 4 kids - are we crazy or what?  It actually wasn't that bad.  The 2 year old was our biggest concern and he did great the majority of the time.  We made the trip 4 years ago with one less kid and I vowed to never do it again.  This time the kids were so great, that we are actually planning to go back.  You can click HERE, HERE and HERE to read about our last road trip out west.

Anyway, on to the DIY project.  
Last month my older daughter wanted to do something crafty and asked to check Pinterest.  We found THIS post about how to make these cute reversible fabric headbands.  We decided to make a fall/Christmas one and to make one for each of the girl cousins we'd be seeing on our road trip.  So 3 hours later we had whipped up 8 of these cuties:

We also bought lots of other fabric at the fabric store to make a bunch more in colors to match my daughter's outfits.  I'm just glad we got the fall/Christmas headbands done in time, not sure when we'll get to the rest.  We might have been a little over ambitious in wanting to make so many.  

Fall/Thanksgiving themed headbands:

I love that they are Reversible!

Christmas headbands:

My youngest daughter loves gold, so we made a gold one for her too.  Didn't make this reversible or as thick and it turned out just as cute.

Here are some of the cousins modeling their new headbands just in time for Thanksgiving:

Now that Thanksgiving is done, we can officially switch things over to Christmas.

PIN THIS to make your own!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

DIY Wooden Pumpkins

I try to keep most of my fall decor holiday neutral so it can be used for Halloween and Thanksgiving.  I made these cute wooden pumpkins and they've been sitting on my mantle for almost a month.  I finally got around to finishing them off so now I can show them to you.

I started off making 3 pumpkins each painted a different fall color.  The yellow pumpkin didn't look good next to the other two pumpkins so I left it out.  I found the 'joyful thankful blessed' sign (it's actually a magnet) at Hobby Lobby and the colors and size worked great with my set of two pumpkins so I added that to the mix for a Thanksgiving look.

After the pumpkin blocks were painted, I drilled holes in the top and added a branch.  Then I cut up some fabric and tied it around the branch for a leafy effect.  The process of making these is similar to how I made the wooden firecrackers for 4th of July.  You can read all about that HERE.

The pumpkins look great together, but you could also use them on their own.  And the solid orange pumpkin could have a jack o lantern face painted on the other side for Halloween.  Maybe I'll do that next year since I didn't think of it soon enough for this year's Halloween.

Here's what else is on the mantel.  It's a work in progress and every year I hope to add a little more thanks to shopping those after holiday sales.

Here's a close up of the acorns my older daughter painted and glued to a branch.  I mentioned them in my last post HERE.

And here's the front porch.  I removed the two carved pumpkins and put up my "Thankful, Grateful, Blessed" sign that I made a couple of years ago.  I'm amazed it's help up so well and still looks new.  To find out how I made that you can check out THIS POST.  Ignore the dirt in the picture.  That's what happens when you try to plant with a toddler helping you.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pumpkin painting for Halloween 2016

Two days before Halloween we finally painted our little guy's pumpkin.  Actually he did all the work.   I just set it up and let him have at it.  Of course my youngest daughter wanted to oversee the whole thing.

I was very prepared for any mess that might ensue.  Luckily this was a fairly mess free project.  Who would have thought, painting with a toddler would be mess free?  I laid out an old rug on the patio and then used a large box as a table.  I put the paint on a paper plate, which I held and let the little guy dip into the paint and then paint onto the pumpkin.  

He was very serious about his painting.

We used glow in the dark paint, and in the photo below, you can see that it really does glow in the dark.  It looks better in person though.

It was a fairly warm day for the end of October which meant some bugs came out to entertain the kids.  We must have had hundreds of ladybugs on the back of our house.  The kids also found a colorful caterpillar.

After the pumpkin painting was done, I gave the kids a cup of water and let them 'paint' the box.  As you can tell, we've had fun with this box earlier in the week by coloring all over it and in it.

You can see the pumpkins on display for Halloween night below.  My oldest daughter is a Monarch butterfly, my youngest daughter is a Minion, and my little guy is a little old man.  My 13 year old son was too old to trick or treat so he didn't even get dressed up.  I hate it when they get too old for this fun stuff.  Maybe next year I'll have a Halloween party for the two older kids so they can have fun and get lots of candy too.

My little old man did very well trick or treating.  It was so cute to watch him walk with his cane, and he knew to hold out his candy bag at each house.  

And here's my daughter in her Halloween skirt.  She wore this to school on Halloween day.  We've gotten a lot of mileage out of this skirt.  She's been wearing it since she was 2!  It's time to pass it on to her adorable cousin.

And here's my adorable niece!  Seriously, could she be any cuter?

Hope you all had a fun and candy filled Halloween.

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