Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

Family Night Activity: Earth Hour

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Earth Hour 2009 is upon us and I wanted to encourage you all to enjoy a family night celebrating Earth Hour. Earth Hour is March 28th from 8:30 PM-9:30 PM this Saturday.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote.

Our family celebrated Earth Hour last year and my son still talks about it. It was definitely one of our favorite family nights ever and a great way to share about caring for the earth.

I had been looking forward to Earth Hour all week and sharing this experience with my family. We talked to Ethan about why we were celebrating Earth Hour and how much fun we were going to have. Since Earth Hour was between 8-9 PM last year, it was a special treat for the kids to stay up late and spend the hour with us.

The kids took a bath by candlelight, which they thought was a super fun treat! We filled the tub with lots of bubbles and threw in a couple of whisks and spoons from the kitchen. They whisked up bubbles to their hearts delight and sang fun songs by candlelight.

Ethan thought he looked pretty cool in front of the candles so he took some time out of his busy schedule to pose!

After our baths, we enjoyed a yummy snack while Ryan & I made shadow puppets on the wall for the kids. They thought these were hilarious and super cool!

Ethan had so much fun, he asked if we could celebrate Earth Hour every day! This gave me an opportunity to share with him easy ways he could celebrate AND save the earth. We talked about doing our recycling, turning the lights off when we aren’t in a room, and not being wasteful. Since this family night was such a hit, I hope we can do it with the kids again. Not only did the kids have a blast, but it was super frugal, while being extremely memorable for all of us!

Play It Again, Momma: Rainy Day Survival Kit

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Spring is almost here in Indiana and with it comes those rainy days! I will be working on restocking our little suitcase for those days ahead and I hope this offers a fun idea for keeping your children entertained when the bad weather strikes!

I have been wanting to work on this project for some time, and since it was miserable weather all weekend, it seemed like the perfect time to tackle this project. I went to Goodwill and found a plain leather suitcase for $5. I gave it a good scrubbing, when I got it home, and proceeded to decorate it with some knick knacks from my craft supplies. I tied a big bow on the handle and made it look super cool for the kids. If you have older, children, you could invite them to help you! I applied the buttons and ribbon with my trusty hot glue gun.

Hmm… I wonder what could be inside? Let’s take a peek, shall we?

It might not look like much to you and me, but to my kids…well, this is a good couple of hours of enjoyment. Inside here I have coloring books, crayons, a deck of cards, pipe cleaners (yes, I told you it wouldn’t look like much to us), a 100 piece puzzle, little spinning princess tops, yo-yos, dinosaurs, a little jewelry set with a crown, board games, quiet instruments, and books. Some of the items were “new” and purchased from the thrift store, some were items that I had been rotating and storing because no one was playing with them, and some of them were purchased from the dollar store. I would say even with the cost of the suitcase, there is probably about $15 of stuff invested here, but it is OH SO WORTH IT!

You could pick activities based upon how involved you really want to be with this. If you are looking for a little sanity break, I would suggest putting things in there that they could enjoy playing with by themselves or with their siblings. If you are looking for a good time to bond with your kids, put things in there that you can do with them like board games or stuff for art projects. If you are super smart, you will have a case of each- momma needs a break suitcase and momma wants to be your awesome friend suitcase.

This is such a hit in our house! Ethan keeps asking if it is wet on the ground because he wants to play with this special stuff. Pretty sad when your kids are begging for rainy days, but it makes me feel like this was a great idea and a great way to keep them occupied! Being a Midwest girl, I am sure I will have plenty of days to really use this. If I lived in Seattle, I might have to have a few hundred of these so they wouldn’t get tired of the same old stuff.

Might I just add that this would be a great birthday gift for a child and would be a wonderful addition to a grandparent’s house too! I am thinking this would be something fun that I could put together for my nephews or would be a great way to store a little girl’s dress-up clothes. The possibilities really are endless.

Related Links:

Spring Break ’08 Cost Breakdown

A Drizzly Saturday

Fruity Play Dough

Summertime Planning

Is anyone else looking forward to the spring weather? Do you have any big Spring Break plans this year? Please share!

Halloween Fun

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

This was a fun year for us as parents because both of our kids finally “got” all the trick-or-treating fun. We kept our costumes fun & frugal this year. Emily was a bumblebee, which was a costume hand-me-down from her big brother. Ethan also kept changing his mind until the very last minute so I waited until Target marked the Halloween costumes down to 30% off and got his super cool ninja costume at a little lower price than I would have gotten it normally.

We tried to keep Emily out of the candy, but she managed to get into and suck on a purple sucker while we went door to door. The evening ended with a sucker stuck to her hair & bumblebee costume so that will require a good washing this week.

We loved going around and seeing all of our great neighbors and showing off how big our children were. We have plans to put the costumes on again this week to go see all of the grandparents since we weren’t able to squeeze that in with me heading out of town in the morning. Any excuse to wear the costume again and get more of our money’s worth out of it seems like a smart plan to me!

I hope you enjoyed the festivities, whatever they may have been, with your families!

Our Autumn Book Basket

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

I hit the library this past week and picked up some books for the kids with some really great autumn themes in them. Our library conveniently pulls all of the holiday books for us when the holidays come around so it makes it easy to put a seasonal basket together.

Ethan made a sign for our basket that said, “Happy Fall.” I wrote this out on a piece of paper for him and he practiced writing it for the basket. He drew a cute little jack-o-lantern on it because it was something that represented fall to him.

In our fall basket you will find the following books for the season:

Happy Haunting, Amelia Bedelia

Luther’s Halloween

Beauty & the Beaks

Minnie and Moo & the Thanksgiving Tree

Richard Scarry’s The First Thanksgiving of Low Leaf Worm

The Thanksgiving Door

Thanksgiving is Here

I look forward to switching out the books with the holiday season and getting a chance to read all of these great stories with the kids. I picked some beginning readers so we can work on Ethan’s reading skills, but I also picked books that I could read to them. Our favorite so far has definitely been, “Thanksgiving is Here” because it reminds us so much of our own crazy Thanksgiving dinners with family!

What are some of your favorite autumn reads? Do you have any books to recommend for our seasonal basket?

Piggy Pancakes

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I made piggy pancakes for the kids and they were a huge hit! I wasn’t sure if they would be able to figure out what they were so I let them guess. They decided these were cow pancakes instead so who knows what animal your own kids might pick?

I made a batch of this pancake batter. It is my absolute favorite because it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients and can be made out of everything in your pantry. The pancakes remind me of the McDonald’s pancakes and I absolutely could devour a few stacks of those in one sitting.

To save a little bit more money, I make a batch of powdered milk to mix into the pancakes. It isn’t a huge savings, but it saves me from making multiple trips for milk throughout the week.

You will want to make one large pancake and two silver dollar sized pancakes. When you see the bubbles bubbling up on top, give them a flip and cook until they are cooked through.

I used kitchen scissors and cut one of the small pancakes in half and slipped it under the large pancake, to make the ears. Plop a small pancake on top for the snout and use blueberries or chocolate chips for the eyes.

For preschoolers, you could tie in any good barnyard book or my personal favorite…”If You Give a Pig a Pancake.”

And My Heart Breaks…

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

I woke up this morning to red eyes and a tear-stained pillow because I had been anticipating the big event in our house. I still can hardly believe that he went to school today.

Last night we went to his back-to-school night and met his teacher. Ethan spent the evening working on a card to bring her and we got apples at the supermarket so he could give her one. When he walked in with his apple and card, he was so excited to hand it to her. “Will she put it on the corner of her desk, mommy?” I think he saw this on a show or in a book somewhere because the apple placement was almost more important than the apple itself. When she thanked him for the apple and centered it on her desk, he pointed to the corner of her desk. “Could you put the apple here instead?” She grinned, but obliged. I tried to make quiet small talk with the teacher and signed my name on the volunteer sheet. It took everything in me to not say things like, “My son is so amazing- you have no idea how amazing he is! He is so incredibly gifted and smart! Will you love having him around as much as I have?” I didn’t want to be that mom though so we said our goodbyes and held hands as we walked out the door.

It’s funny, when my daughter looks at a picture of our family she points at each person and says their name. “That’s my mommy. That’s my daddy. That’s my Ethan.” The inflection and the possessiveness of that phrase let’s you know just how special he is. He is hers and only hers. He is her big brother, her hero, and her best friend.

As I watch him climb the bus, that possessiveness rings in my heart. That’s my boy. That’s my colicky baby. That’s my stoic toddler. That’s my bubbly preschooler. That’s my gentle & kind son. That’s my Ethan. My. My. My.


At the Car Wash: Part II

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

This summer, the kids really loved getting to wash their own cars, but my neglected car was in need of a car wash too. Isn’t that why we have kids though? Might as well put these able-bodied children to work, that’s what I say!

Emily worked on the car with an old baby washcloth and Ethan used daddy’s official car scrubber.

I loved their looks of total concentration. They took their task very seriously and Emily kept wanting to show us how yucky the water was. I am the same way though when I scrub our floors. I just have to have other people witness the gross factor- you just can’t experience that alone.

I don’t know if I should mention this every single time, but I do feed this kid. These shorts are 3T and falling off of him still. I see pictures like these and feel like I should make a disclaimer- this kid eats me under the table. Oh, to have that metabolism!

Where in the world is their supervisor though? Oh, I think I found him sitting on the step watching the kids work. I don’t think we should ever claim to be parenting experts!

He had to break out the big guns though and show the kids how to clean the roof of the car. They thought this part was hilarious.

What’s a car wash though without a little water play afterwards? Ethan thought this part was definitely the best. Best of all, I have a clean car AND two exhausted workers to prove that this was a family event worth repeating!

Mom’s Date Night: Back To School Shopping

Monday, July 28th, 2008

My little supermodel wanted to show off his cool new t-shirt. We wore this out last week to go pick up Ethan’s school supplies and got stopped by tons of people in the store who wanted to pump Ethan up about how great kindergarten was going to be.

I took him for a special date night and we went to go get everything from his list of school supplies, a new backpack, and picked up some of his uniforms. I wish we could have taken advantage of end-of-year clearance on the uniforms, but we weren’t sure if he was going to get in this school or not. The real dilemma was finding enough clothes in his size and that would fit his narrow frame. We had virtually no luck at Wal-Mart and very little luck at Target. It is difficult to find a boy’s size 4 in the appropriate color scheme so I will have to do some additional hunting online for his fall/winter clothes.

$150 in supplies later and we headed over to Wendy’s for a special dinner complete with a Vanilla Frosty.

We couldn’t end our date there though because we had to head to a very special place to get something very special. Yes, Ethan is now a card-carrying adult because he got his very own library card. It was quite exciting to sign his own name, in his very careful script, and then pick out books and check them out in self-check ALL BY HIMSELF! He kept telling the librarian, “Excuse me, ma’am. Excuse me. I am down here.” The librarian laughed and told him that she could see him perfectly, but he kept saying, “Um, ma’am. I’m down here! I need a library card”

The joy in his eyes as we headed out with that little piece of plastic… May that feeling of joy only be replicated with free cards and not a credit card! Isn’t that every parent’s prayer?

What are you doing to get ready for school and when do your kids start? Where have you found the best deals on school supplies?

New Entries For Reading & Watching:

Fruit Roll-Ups Giveaway Results
Playskool Products
Crayola Doodlebags
Veri Meri T-Shirts
WSBT: Getting Kids to Do Chores
Frugal Hacks: Another Summer Gone By

Dad’s Day Out & Mom’s Day In

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

We have been trying to accomplish all of the great things off of our summertime list this summer and we had a major event to accomplish… a trip to Chicago’s Field Museum. Last week, they offered a free admission day so we made plans to make our trip that day.

When I say we though, I mean my husband & Ethan. The guys wanted to do this trip alone without any girls ruining all their fun so they headed their together for a full day of fun in the prehistoric world. They took the South Shore train to their destination and enjoyed a guy’s day together.

When Ethan walked in and saw Sue the amazing T-Rex he said, “I have been waiting my whole life for this moment.” Ryan sent me updates via text message about all the fun they were having and he took tons of pictures of all of Ethan’s favorite moments from the museum.

Meanwhile, Emily & I had a wonderful girl’s day. We played outside, I sat at her mini-picnic bench and shared a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with her, we snuggled, we laughed, and we went to my mom’s birthday dinner celebration. We sent dad messages about what we were up to and…well, we couldn’t stop smiling. Every once in awhile, Emily would look at me and say, “Where did Ethan go?” and I would remind her that he & daddy had a special day together.

When my husband got home we both remarked that we need to do that more often. We both felt a bond with each child deepen during that day and it was great to be able to devote our undivided attention to each of them.

Do you do dates with your children? How do you manage to make quality time for each child individually? I would love to get some ideas for things we could do with the kids in the future!

The Summertime List & Summertime Games

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

We are enjoying a summer full of fun activities, thanks to our summertime list!

Here is what we have accomplished so far:

Made homemade slushies
Ran through the sprinklers
Went to the zoo (Ft Wayne and/or Potowatomi Zoo)
Went to playgroup(s)
Went to VBS
Made homemade play dough
Made Magic Milkshakes
Went to Grandma’s house to play
Watched the Car’s movie and ate Jimmy John’s
Went to Krispy Kreme and watched them make donuts
Had a picnic in the backyard

We still have some more things to do, but we have really been enjoying checking things off of our list. It has been a real family event with everyone pitching in to make sure that we do all of these special things.

With the completion of our patio, we have been enjoying lots of time in our own backyard. I did make a little investment in some family games for us to play outside.

We bought this Franklin 5 Game Set at Target for $14.99, which was about the price you would pay for a nice new board game. This set came in a carrying case and it has a net that you can put up and play games like badminton (our favorite), volleyball, frisbee, horseshoes, and lawn tennis (plastic rackets with a foamy ball to bounce over the net).

This has been such a fun investment because my husband and I can play this on our own or we can toss the Frisbee with the kids. The net is height adjustable and so you can lower it for the wee people in the family. We have also included the kids in the games by parking little lawn chairs for them and making them the judges (which they LOVE).

It isn’t the best quality set I have owned, but I am sure we can get $14.99 of games out of it. It has been a great way to spend our evenings and it keeps us active this summer.

The other game we bought was the Eddie Bauer Bean Bag Toss set, available at Target for $49.99 (it is on sale this week, but not available on their website). Yes, this was A LOT to pay for a game, but it is just beautiful and we plan to use it for many years. We both couldn’t believe how well it was made and it comes with a case so you can take it with you places. We plan to take this to the grandparent’s houses (that don’t have a lot of kid toys) or for get togethers with friends who don’t have children yet. The kids love playing with it and dropping the bean bags into the nets. We can get pretty competitive with it, but it is a complete blast and will be fun to get out when we are entertaining in the summer.

If you wanted to be more thrifty with a bean bag toss, you could make your own too. Polliwog’s Cakewalk has a wonderful tutorial for making some monster bean bags that you could craft up with the kids. I think these would be fun to do with the pails in a row (a la Bozo the Clown Show for my friends who grew up on that kind of entertainment) and do a bean bag toss with them like that too!

Do you have any games that you play with your family in the warmer weather? How do you keep the kids entertained?