Craft/DIY Ideas, Uncategorized

Creation Jar Terrarium

Today I am sharing an idea that I just pulled off this past weekend for our church VBS.

The theme was “Walk Thru the Old Testament,” which begins with Creation!

As usual, I was the craft lady, so I wanted everyone to take home something neat that would last. As my second-oldest has been enthralled with making terrariums, I had a light bulb moment one day that a “Creation Terrarium” would be cool.

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It turned out to be a huge hit! As we had a different format this year and families did VBS together, both adults and kids had the opportunity to make one.

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I incorporated different elements of Creation–animals, rocks, plants, soil…

Some kids placed little frogs in theirs and others put in small animals that I had available.

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To pull this off for a group, I set it up like an assembly line. Here is the order in which I placed things:

  • plastic quart jar
  • gravel
  • potting soil
  • small fern (we used leather wood ferns)
  • moss (some foraged from our area and reindeer moss)
  • small animal
  • small rock
  • lid
  • twine or yarn, already cut
  • tag with markers to write their name on

I also put down brown roll paper on the tables to make for easy clean-up, which worked quite nicely!

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Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t get good pics with my camera while this was going down:( The kids made some really neat ones, and they were all just a little different!

If you’re looking for a cool, non-junky VBS craft, this is a great option. A little more involved than what I usually have, but well worth it!!

Parenting Tales, Uncategorized

Mother’s Day Card Humor

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, and Moms-to-be out there!

I love Mother’s Day. Not because I get showered with lavish gifts and pampered silly by my family. Um, no….that usually doesn’t quite happen around here (though my husband does typically knock out a lavish breakfast for me, so there is that…).

What I love most about it (besides just spending time with my offspring) is the fun handmade cards I get from my kids. Though I don’t keep every blessed thing they have ever made, I do usually hold onto the Mother’s day cards they make, especially the ones that give me a chuckle.

There’s nothing like a Mother’s Day card made by your child that can either elate you– or deflate you. Or just make you crack up laughing. Their perceptions of me are usually very elevated (usually the younger they are), or sometimes a little too real.

Here are examples from my own kids that I’ve held onto…

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First up is something that I have 5 versions of. We were fortunate enough to have all of our kids attend the same preschool, with a lot of the same teachers along the way. I have one of these from each kid. My hand print with their little hand print inside of it. The text reads “Hand in hand, We will be, Together forever, You & me.” So sweet. I would love to hang all of these up, framed and in an obvious location, but I’m sure it would now embarrass the daylights out of most of them.

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Then there’s this. Though many of their praises involve my cooking for them, according to Joey his favorite thing to do with me is “Go to Burger King.”

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I think this was from two years ago. The school bus was kinda cropped out of the picture, but what you’re seeing is a Mommy heart greeting and hugging her little hearts as they get off the bus. How sweet, right? Well…this is the example of reality mixed with sweetness. If you can read the word bubble, one of my little hearts is immediately asking “what’s for supper?” Absolute truth. This is really what they ask almost every single day as they get home. Though sometimes “What’s for snack?” comes before the supper question. You can see where their priorities lie, right?

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Now we come to the fill-in-the-blank ones. These are usually good.

Though with one like this, it kind of forces them to be sweet. According to this child, I am “pretty as a princess.” Hey, I’ll take it….

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According to the same child, I am as awesome as a police car. I’m not sure what that means, but hey, a little boy thinks police cars are way cool, right?

His twin wrote this…

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I’m also awesome as transformers. For some reason I’m rather glad he didn’t try to depict me as a transformer…probably not a pretty picture…

I don’t have a picture of it, but a couple years ago one of them wrote that “My Mom’s favorite thing to do is _______.” He filled in “laundry.” Maybe because he sees me do it all the time! Oh well, I’m glad they think I like it I guess.

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What you can’t see in the above picture is the wording before my not so great picture. It reads, “My Mom is smart. She knows________.” My son filled in “a lot of health.” I have no clue where or how I know a lot of health, but I guess that’s good???

My most favorite card is an example from my oldest, probably when he was in about first grade. I don’t have the example of this anymore (unfortunately!), but I laughed every stinking time I came across it.

His fill in the blank read as follows: “My Mom is an _________________” He filled in “awsm runr.” Translation=awesome runner. I died laughing when I read it. Dear friends, I don’t run. At all. I like to walk, and I can do so at a pretty brisk pace, but I DON’T run. The same kid wrote that my favorite thing to do was exercise. Um, no….he also wrote that I like to cook rice a lot. Well, apparently I do know “a lot of health,” so there you go!

This year didn’t boast as many cards (yet), but one kid came home with something about how great a driver he thinks I am (no offense, Dad) and that Mom “almost always cooks supper for us.”

Well, I shared some fun little examples of what my children think of me.

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I may not really be the Best Mom Ever (who is?), but I’m just proud to be their Mom.

Craft/DIY Ideas

A Simple Teacher Appreciation Gift

Teacher Appreciation week is coming up soon at our school. There are oodles of really cute little teacher gift ideas out there, so here’s one that I just put together for our school’s staff.

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I started out with a plan just to do a few for my own kids’ teachers, but as you may know I can get a teensy bit carried away when I make things. I’m making 5, why not just go ahead and do 45, right? (Yes, I realize not everyone thinks that way and may think I’m insane. It’s okay if you do;))

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As you can see, I used Extra brand gum in several flavors and just made my own little printable tag glued onto colored cardstock. I then used double-sided tape to adhere the gum pack onto the cardstock.

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Here’s another take on the same basic idea using mint gum. You could also use this with any minty type of product. Clearly I was in a bright sunny mood when I made these as I may have overly used the eye-popping yellow cardstock. Oh well, it looks Springy!

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Well, there you have it. Nothing fancy or over the top. Just a simple, inexpensive, and quick idea to show your kid’s teachers that their work doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Thanks to all teachers, you are awesome!

Craft/DIY Ideas, Parenting Tales

Fun and Fresh Ideas for Lego Fans

I have several kids who are currently obsessed with Legos.  While pricey, they do provide hours of entertainment. One of my greatest yard sale finds over the past years was a large box just chock full of Lego bricks for $10. Not the kits (which I sorta hate), but basic colored bricks. Since then my little guys have been in love with Legos. My interactions with other Moms have confirmed the fact that they are just several of millions who are also obsessed with these things. Therefore today I am sharing some cool ideas I have found that involve Legos.

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This super cool science experiment from Lemon Lime Adventures used Lego figures in ice. Kids have to figure out the best way to excavate those guys out of there!

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I thought this was a really clever way to haul Legos so kids can build while in the car. Check out this post from KV Barn that explains how to make your own Lego travel box. I see two of these in our future for summer travelling!

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The next idea comes from One Perfect Day–a Lego marble run! What a great way to build multiple skills and have fun while you’re at it.

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Another more quiet-type of game using Legos is this homemade tic-tac-toe board¬†from the Kids Activities blog. Use two different colored piles of bricks instead of X’s and O’s.

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For a cool twist on the classic “How Many ________ Are in the Jar?” game, here’s one using a jar full of Legos. The winner gets to keep what’s in the jar! Check out the Abide With Me blog for this plus tons of other great Lego Party ideas.

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At Frugal Fun 4 Boys, this Mom has a bunch of Lego-based activities. This particular one helps teach kids fractions. There are SO many ways to use Legos for teaching math (plus other subjects too).

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Oh my word. Even though I’m not a chess gal (because I basically stink at strategy games), this chess set made up entirely of Legos and Lego figures is really awesome! Definitely a challenge for the older Lego fan. Go to 100 Directions for the specs on how to make this chess set.

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These little beds especially crafted for minifigs are way too cute. I could totally see my little boys loving these for their “guys,” whom they name and sometimes even take to bed with them.

Well, I could put so many links on here as there is tons of information out there on Lego-based games, activities, storage, etc—but I’ll stop there. If you have one or more Lego maniacs in your house as I do, hopefully these were an inspiration to you or your kids!

I’ll catch ya next time. Here’s hoping you don’t step on too many Legos before then!

—Rachel

Parenting Tales

Snow and Ice Days

My post today is mostly pictorial. It is a basic summary of what we have done for the last few weeks.

If you live in the Northeast (and I’m sure in many other areas of the country), your days may look somewhat the same, especially if you have school-aged children.

Here in Pennsylvania we have been assaulted with what seems like one storm after another. The result is a mixed bag of snow days (plus MLK day and an Inservice day thrown in) and 2 hour delays that have completely messed with our normal schedule. At this point it seems as if my kids have been out of school more days than they’ve been in school. I can only imagine what it’s like for their poor teachers on the days that they actually have a full day. Oh, and we have another winter storm on the horizon, hooray! By the way, there’s a cute article here that totally reflects my feelings on the recent weather and lack of school. It is called “The Winter that Nearly Killed All the Moms.”

Anyhow, I’ve snapped some pictures here and there that kind of sum up what we do on those multiple days off. However, WordPress is giving me major issues whenever I try to upload a photo that I’ve taken (and I took some pretty good ones too!). Sooo…I’ll improvise and throw in some photo downloads that I’ve snagged off of Google images and such, plus a couple that I’ve already put on my blog somewhere that I was able to use. Sorry, I know it’s kinda lame but hey, work with me here. Hopefully the problem is resolved soon!

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Time outside in the snow! Lots of sledding, snowman making, and all the other outdoor fun that goes along with snow days. Hopefully nobody gets hurt–though we did have an incident involving a knocked-out tooth. Thankfully it was a baby tooth that was soon going to fall out.

(Do you know how hard it is to find a white baby tooth in the white snow? Virtually impossible.)

Photo: My "keeping it real" photo--what snow days with kids really looks like. There's another pile just like it at the front door!

Just to keep it real, this is a small sampling of what awaits me when the crew comes in from being out in the snow.

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I already make bread at least once a week, but love making it and doing other baking on these frigid days. There’s nothing like coming in the house after being outside and inhaling that freshly-baked smell. Good stuff.

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One of the few days when my nieces were here as well, we tried out this recipe using freshly fallen snow. They were so excited about our Snow Cream. I have to admit, it was pretty yummy and reminded me of Rita’s Vanilla Water Ice, which is one of my top faves.

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As a family we have dived into the Chronicles of Narnia book series. My kids sit there entranced as I read a chapter or two out loud to them at a time. Though I haven’t shown any of the movies to them, we plan to watch them at some point.

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Games, games, and more games. Candyland, checkers, Uno, Battleship, Chess….I could go on and on but you get the idea.

Lots of little craft times. Perler beads have been one of the semi-newer favorites. Oh, and we busted out some Play-Doh as well.

I will be thrilled when Spring arrives.

Happy Snow Days to all,

Rachel

Craft/DIY Ideas

A Minty Valentine

This is a super quick little Valentine idea for today.

I think it would be appropriate for littler or bigger kids and isn’t too mushy-gushy.

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I simply took a package of Mentos mints and attached a little tag that I had printed out with a piece of rickrack.

The tag reads, “We were ‘mint’ to be friends.”

I can see this same idea going with a box of Junior Mints, Mint Hershey Kisses, or any other candy that is mint based.

Happy February everyone!

-Rachel

Craft/DIY Ideas, Parenting Tales

A Sweet Snow Day Activity

Early this morning at around 5 am, I got “the call.” No, it wasn’t Publisher’s Clearinghouse telling me I won a million dollars, or anything life-changing.

Two hours later I got “the second call.” Again, not life-changing, but definitely news that changed my whole plans for the day.

Yep–school was called on a two hour delay, then the powers that be declared it a Snow Day.

My kids were ecstatic. Immediately they had grand plans for our day. It’ll be Pajama Day! We can watch movies! We can go sledding and build snowmen! Play games! And the list goes on and on…..

Since I know many others of you are in the same boat right now, here’s a cool activity we did over the Thanksgiving holiday, but I thought would be even more appropriate on a Snow Day. You know, when the kids tire of all their grand plans and you’re looking for something to keep them busy.

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Got some mini-marshmallows hanging around? Got some toothpicks? Well, then that’s all you need to do this activity.

I told my kids we were going to have a challenge–Who can build the coolest creative structure using ONLY marshmallows and toothpicks?

Each was given a paper plate and approximately the same number of mini-marshmallows (I threw a couple of large ones in as well) and toothpicks.

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They immediately set to work.

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My oldest boy isn’t quite as into building as the other boys, but he was game.

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Notice that my girl roped Daddy into helping her almost right away.

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Busted! Someone thought they’d have a little sample while they’re at it.

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The results were varying and there really were no winners. However, my crew really enjoyed doing this and have asked when we’ll do it again. If and when I do this again, maybe I would assign a certain type of structure to make. For you homeschooling moms, maybe you could learn about snowflakes and have the kids make a geometric snowflake? The teacher in me thinks that would be a great lesson and hands-on activity.

I served hot chocolate when they were wrapping things up–a perfect treat to go with!

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Here’s a cute little way to make hot chocolate, from my blog archives.

Also, if you ever want to make your own marshmallows, here’s a link from one of my very first posts as a blogger.

Happy Snow Days to all!