Six years ago I built a PVC playhouse. It was super cute, easy to take apart and I spent a lot of time creating it so, when we moved from our first home to our second and there wasn't a place to put it, I kept it in the attic. I'm not throwing away all that work! So, it sat in the attic for four years until our recent move across the country. When we found it hidden in the far corner of the attic my reaction was the same. We are not throwing that away! So it made the trip with us. Our new home has a HUGE basement which has a dedicated play area for the kids and is a perfect place to bring the playhouse back to life. I was able to rebuild it by referring to my old blog post without any issues and the kids were pumped. But, the cover had seen better days so I spent a few days making a new, more aesthetically pleasing one. I bought a king sized white sheet and scrounged around my fabric scraps where I found a black and white polka dot material for curtains I used black felt for the flower boxes and instead of making felt flowers like before I thought an added element of being able to switch the flowers for the seasons would be fun so I bought cheap fake flowers and trimmed the stems so they would fit. To finish it off I used another king sized sheet but in black for the roof and painted white shingles on it. I also put some Christmas lights in the top of the house.
I was not about to sew anything this time and just hot glued the cover to the frame this time. I figure I can always pull it off pretty easily when it's time to retire the playhouse again. But, rest assured, I plan on keeping it until I have grandkids who will find it just as magical as my kids do right now and I will be MiMi of the year!
It's been one year since the world was turned upside down. During that year everyone has suffered in one form or another and most people have experienced serious life-changes. As you read in my previous post, we had a major life change and moved across the country during this pandemic which was definitely an interesting and stressful experience.
So, we decided to recognize the anniversary of the start of the pandemic by doing some activities.
We did a few crafts, created a family time capsule, played some games and took our frustrations on a DIY covid piñata. It was a nice way to reflect on this insane year and to have a little bit of fun while still respecting the importance of the day and how it has affected people. We stayed in our pajamas all day and ended our activities by going to the movies covid style and bought the new Disney movie "Raya and the Last Dragon" to watch at home with popcorn and candy.
I also created a collage of photos from our year in quarantine to memorialize it and plan on hanging it somewhere in the house. Even though it was scary and difficult, we had many wonderful times all together.
We made soap jellies kind of like the lush jellies you can buy. They were super easy and the kids thought the result was amazing. We even put little trinkets inside to find. You can find the recipe I used here.
We wrote letters to our future selves and colored "stay at home" coloring pages to put in our time capsule. We also included a trinket that reminded us of this time to look back on later. The plan is not to open the box until at least 10 years from now and I shoved it in the far reaches of our basement storage room. So no one is tempted to peek sooner.
We talked about germs and did several germ activities including making germ cookies, germ removal playdough, designing our own germ and a "find the germs" water activity using velcro balls, soap and a sponge. We also did the glitter + milk + soap experiment.
We played a few minute to win it style games revolving around toilet paper including a toilet paper toss and balancing tp races. Then they attacked the piñata I made. To make it I found a baseball piñata and just hot glued red paper cups around the edges. It looked pretty good!
I look forward to a more normal way of life and am hopeful that we will eventually get there. I've been fully vaccinated and most of my relatives are starting to get the vaccine as well. We'll still have to be cautious because the kids aren't old enough but it is reassuring to know that the adults in my life are safer.
Hey! So...the title of this post pretty much says it all right? Can you imagine? I know if you had asked me at the beginning of 2020 what the new year had in store for me my answer most definitely would not have included a worldwide pandemic, quarantine, face masks or uprooting our entire family to move multiple states away during the Christmas holidays. But, here we are.
After spending months trapped in our home, avoiding people and crowded places I had Marie Kondo'd my house and finished all of my home renovoation projects. My home was finally in a place of contentedness and I revelled in the fact that I didn't have any projects to be tackled. We spent our quarantine in a somewhat weirdly magical state filled with family time, gardening, trips to a secluded creek and a little too much television and food.
Then it was back to school and we struggled with the idea of sending our children into an elementary school that would not require masks for the students. While I had no choice but to return to the classroom at the high school level. We chose to keep them home with a babysitter attending zoom classes. It wasn't ideal but, we were surviving. Then the babysitter situation didn't work out and they had to go back to school. Thankfully, none of us got sick and although life was strange, it was slowly feeling a little less bizarre. Then, our entire life was upended.
Things at my husband's job changed and we found ourselves in need of a fix. The good news? The world was our oyster! Well...the parts of it that would allow Americans to enter. In October of 2020, the majority of developed nations would not allow Americans to enter and the job market for the US wasn't in the best shape. Luckily, my husband is a software developer and I am a Spanish teacher so, we did have options. We settled on Colorado Springs because of the weather, tech jobs and we had friends and family living there. Then the real work began. We listed our finally finished house and began the job searches. It was a miracle that we were both able to find new jobs, sell our home for asking, find a suitable rental and move across the country all in less than two months and right before Christmas during a pandemic.
We chose Colorado Springs but I had never actually been there before. We needed to find a place to live temporarily and I needed to sign my contract so we made a trip over Thanksgiving break to get a feel for the city and do some business. We had a really nice time hiking and visiting with our friends who had moved to the springs a few years ago. I also managed to find us a suitable apartment for temporary living until we bought a house. We went back to Arkansas to finish packing feeling pretty good about the move. That feeling didn't last long though.
We chose a storage trailer system for our move and after a phone consultation they said we would need one large trailer for our entire house. They were wrong. We packed the trailer as full as possible as though we were playing real life Tetris and still had tons of stuff left. We ended up renting a small trailer the day of our move and had to be selective about the items that we took. We made 4 huge donations to our local donation center full of all sorts of furniture and other items that we couldn't take. Moving day was a shit show even though we had been packing for weeks. Our neighbors came over to say bye and saw our disastrous state. They offered their help and worked late into the night to get us out of the house. We had planned on leaving around 2pm but instead we stayed at a hotel and took shifts with the kids to wrap it all up.
After two days of driving, countless energy drinks and road food. We made it to the apartment and celebrated with Chinese food. We began house hunting the next day with a realtor we had already been in contact with and had lined up houses for us. After a week of looking we found two houses we liked but got spooked about the housing market and thought we wouldn't get our favorite house due to two other offers. So, we made a mistake and bought a brand new house that we thought was great until buyers remorse set in that night. I literally had a melt down because I realized it was totally wrong and didn't have a bathtub in the master! I take baths multiple times per week and was seriously hyperventilating about this monumentally bad decision we had just made.
Luckily, our realter was able to get our earnest money back and we suffered no penalties! We then made an offer on our dream home and hoped for the best. Out of three offers, they accepted ours! We were elated and relieved!
Even though it's been a whirlwind of a time, we genuinely think it will all be for the better for many reasons. including improved health for my allergy ridden four year old. Did you know that Colorado is one of the top places to live for allergy sufferers in the U.S? His eczema has cleared up almost entirely and he no longer has to take daily allergy medications. We are also excited about how stinkin' pretty it is here and all of the future family hikes we will be going on. We are also looking forward to the educational opportunities provided here and are already really happy with our new school.
So, I'm now an elementary Spanish teacher and tech coach which is a huge change but is definitely an exciting one. They literally created this job for me and it is as close to my dream job as I could hope for. I get to teach Spanish to little people who are still excited to learn and haven't developed a jaded mindset towards learning like many teenagers. They're also really fun. I use a puppet to teach content with who lives in a magic box and is named CocoLoco. The kids love it. The other half of my week I am a dedicated teacher tech coach and I get to help with technology issues as well as inspiration for projects and other cool stuff. It's an exciting change and I couldn't be happier. My new co-workers are also super nice and have welcomed me and my kids with open arms. Did I mention it's a Spanish immersion school? It is so refreshing not to be the only language teacher and for my kids to have the opportunity to learn and use the language regularly.
Not to sound to mushy and overly positive but, after this insanely upsetting year it just goes to show that out of darkness can come light. My life has completely changed. It was an extremely unsettling and worry-filled time but, now that we have had the opportunity to get comfortable with our new life, I am glad for the changes.
Going forward I think we will be happier and we will be able to live our best lives. I am also aware at how lucky we have actually been. Even though we had to make changes, those changes happened quickly and financially we did not suffer unlike many during these difficult times and I will be forever grateful for our good fortune.
PWith covid still a very real thing we did not have a big party for Arthur's 7th birthday. However, just because we can't have people over doesn't mean we can't have a party! With three kids we basically have a party anyway. So, I planned a day full of activities revolving around pirates, his chosen theme. We had a great day doing all the things and, the best part for my son was that he never had to change out of his pajamas. He's a real home body and if allowed, he would choose to almost never leave the house.
I made a party planning sheet and Pinterest board to make sure I didn't forget anything, hit Hobby Lobby hard for supplies and headed home to get it all prepped!
He woke up to find a pirate themed basement with a cardboard ship, pirate costumes, treasure, a shark infested "ocean", pin the teeth on the shark and a piñata.
After a riddle filled treasure hunt we did a lot of crafts including making a shoulder parrot, coloring pirate accessories for our stuffed animals so they could join in on the fun, decorating swords and making maps.
Mixed into all of the fun we had jell-o ocean cups with orange ships, his fav breakfast (apple fritters), gold oreos and birthday cake in his chosen flavor, strawberries and cream. I even made the cake twice because the first time the altitude killed it and I had to start over. But, I made chocolate covered cake balls out of the failed attempt that turned out delicious.
We all had a great day of togetherness and celebration and I don't think he missed having a huge group of people over in the least.
You can find links to all of my inspiration ideas on my pinterest board here.
Thanks for visiting!
With Valentine's Day on a Sunday this year and our weather forecasting incredibly frigid temperatures as low as -14 degrees I planned for some fun, indoor activities to keep my kids from going nuts. Enjoy this variety of easy, low prep and minimal supplies needed activities!
Click the image to get the document.
Our new year's eve plans vary each year. Sometimes we go out with friends, other years we stay in. This year going out was clearly off the table so I planned some fun kid activities for the day.
We started the day off by making dream catchers. I used embroidery hoops for the base and a mix of yarn, ribbon, feathers and sequins to decorate.
Then we made some champagne cupcakes, chocolate truffles and midnight kisses. We also made a happiness jar so we can keep track of all of the good things that happen during the upcoming year.
We ended our evening by getting glammed up, taking some photos, watching fireworks from Pike's Peak, having a dance party and playing minute to win it games. You can check out my pinterest board with all of the inspiration I used for the activities here.
In my previous post I shared all of the activities I planned for this very different Halloween. As I stated in that post, I planned way more activities than I imagined would be possible to complete so, I'm sharing with you in this post about how the day went and the activities we did together from that list.
We started with monster pancakes that I managed to make healthy using spinach for their green color. The kids devoured them and I was able to begin my day feeling like I'd already won by tricking my tiny gremlins into eating a vegetable.
The plan after breakfast was a scavenger hunt to find their boo baskets but when I went to my stack of printed things the scavenger hunt was MIA. So, they just got to open them instead. Afterwards we headed to the park to eat our drive-thru Chikfila lunch and then enjoyed a walk.
After the park, I set up a witches potion station with glitter, soapy, colored water, metal pot, plastic eyeballs and spiders for the kids to get creative. Then they did the pumpkin punch board for fun prizes.
After the punch board we all carved pumpkins for the first time as a family. We've always painted them and I have avoided carving but I think it went really well and we will definitely do it every year from now on!
Once we set the pumpkins outside they made monster pizzas. While their pizzas cooked, they made their own soda concoctions at a mad scientist soda bar. I provided a ton of different flavors and they mixed up some delicious drinks to eat with their monster pizzas. I made them some candy corn fruit parfaits with pineapple, oranges and whipped cream to eat with their pizzas.
After dinner, we all put on our costumes and headed to our neighbor to show them off and say hi and then went back inside. Arthur wanted to go as "Business Cat", Alan was The Hulk, Derek was The Tiger King, I was Carole Baskin and Lilly was a leopard. Then, instead of the usual door to door trick or treating, they searched the yard for bags filled with candy and glow bracelets. Each one was given a specific color to find to make it fair and fight free.
We wrapped up the day with too much candy, popcorn and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" on the couch as a family. Arthur ate too much candy and regretted his life choices for a bit but didn't throw up. So...winning. Even though it was very different it was a lot of fun and honestly, a little less stressful than a regular year.
Thanks for visiting and celebrating with us! I hope you had a safe and fun Halloween!
Halloween this year will be different just like everything else in this dumpster fire of a year. But, just because we can't do all of the normal things doesn't mean we can't make the most of our time and have fun. Halloween is finally on a Saturday so that gives me the whole day to fill with fun and exciting things for my kids. So, I've compiled a huge idea board full of food, activities, learning opportunities and things to do as a family. I linked all of the things to the posts about them online so you can do it too! We may not get to everything but we definitely won't run out of exciting things!
What's the plan?
Morning: Wake up and make sneaky monster pancakes packed with spinach and covered with candy eyeballs! With all of the candy they will be eating throughout the day I want to make sure they get some healthy foods as well and they won't even know they're getting some leafy goodness with these green pancakes. After breakfast we will start our activities in no certain order.
Afternoon: Lunch will be a make your own monster pizza and healthy candy corn parfait made with just fruit and whipped cream. Then we'll continue with more activities.
Evening: Mummy dogs for dinner with popcorn and candy while we watch a movie after trick or treating in the house and going on a halloween egg hunt for candy in the yard.
What are the activities?
I've planned a ton of things but these are the ones I'm most excited about. You can find all of the activities and links by opening the document linked above.
-Pumpkin Punch Out - solo cups, tissue paper and small trinkets will make a pumpkin punch board for them to find treasures.
-Halloween Scavenger Hunt - cute clues from The Dating Divas and a boo basket prize at the end will make for a ton of fun
-Mad Scientist Drink Station - throw a variety of soda and juice in various plastic containers and let kids make their own tasty drinks, it'll be way more fun than when we used to make suicides at the drink dispensers
-Make a Potion - provide a bunch of plastic halloween trinkets, a bowl or plastic cauldron and colored water, soap and glitter so kids can make pretend potions
-Elephant Toothpaste Pumpkin - the classic elephant toothpaste science activity but inside of a carved pumpkin
-Candy Corn Science - another classic science experiment using candy corn
-Bob for Apples - a traditional activity that you don't see much anymore but will be sure to entertain
-Playdough Monsters- playdough, trinkets and imagination will keep the kids entertained for a good while
-Pin the Eyeball on the Zombie - my son specifically requested a pin the something game so this is for him
-In House Trick or Treating - they still get to trick or treat but this time they'll do it at eachother's bedroom doors.
-Glow in the Dark Halloween Egg Hunt - glow sticks and sharpie monster eggs hidden in the yard for a twist on the normal outdoor shenanigans
I think it will be a memorable and fun Halloween even though we are missing out on our annual door to door and party with friends. I'll post all of our photos and share our experience next week. Until then, enjoy the ideas and be safe!
This year, MC had a completely unprecedented event. Coronavirus caused us to have a drastically changed experience than that of previous years. Unable to go anywhere or visit with friends really affected our outlook and interest in doing anything. We had already spent three months together and, quite frankly, were a little sick of one another. I chose to make MC focus on reading this year using the Magic Treehouse book series and we did manage to do several weeks of activities but, they have become rather apathetic and uninterested as the days blend together and turn into months.
So, to wrap up this sad little summary, we have had fun times and done cool things. We all are ready to go back to normal life and unfortunately, won't be doing that any time soon. So, enjoy reading about the fun we have had and feel free to download your own copy of my fabulous MC Reading plans in the original post.
Week One - Dinosaurs Before dark
Week one focused on reading skills and dinosaurs! We read our entire book for the week on Monday in the swing set fort because it’s as close as we have to a magic treehouse like the books. Then we had lots of sensory play with frozen Dino eggs, Dino jello, lava slime and fizzing Dino eggs. They went in a Dino scavenger hunt. The boys painted some Dino canvas art. Arthur practiced sight words with a word hunt game and played a card game. Lilly created her own Dino and Alan did several activities with the letter d. Even though it’s only Wednesday we’re wrapping it up as we’re taking a mini trip to visit family and swim for the next few days. #mommycamp2020 #arthurwontwearshirts #alanwantstobejustlikehim #themagictreehouseseries
Week Two - Castle of mystery
Week two focused on castles and was cut a bit short due to our vacation but was still a ton of fun! We built a huge cardboard castle and decorated it, made cardboard sword and shields, created faux stained glass, made chocolate chip catapults, created a mini castle dollhouse, and focused on some castle themed reading skills!
Week Three - Mummies in the morning
Week three focused on Ancient Egypt! We made pharaohs crowns, watched a scooby doo movie about Egypt, played in sand foam (Which was way too messy and I will not do again!), built cup pyramids, learned about hieroglyphs and did more reading practice!
Week Four - Pirates past noon
For pirate week we had pretend play in a kind of not so great cardboard ship (I threw my back out while constructing it), we went on a treasure hunt, made spy glasses, had fizzy gems science and of course did some reading focused activities in conjunction with the book.
Week five - night of the ninjas
For ninja week we made ninja costumes, set up a pretend sushi shop, had fruit sushi for lunch and did a bunch of art including painting japanese cherry blossom trees, making kimono paper dolls, and painting with chopsticks.
The last four weeks
As stated in my intro. They kind of dropped out on me this year. But, I created lessons for four more weeks that we never got to. Hopefully, we'll still do them at some point and if we do, I will share!
I hope you are making it through these unprecedented times. We can survive this if we support one another.
With all of the crazy things going on this year we decided to lift our spirits and celebrate Christmas in July! We bought our kids a few gifts each and after putting them to bed got to work. We put up a few christmas decorations and wrapped the presents in christmas paper for them to discover in the morning. Then, we spent the next day like we would Christmas complete with baking cookies, watching our favorite movie, "Elf", playing with our toys and ordering Chinese food for dinner. It was a great surprise and definitely a bright spot in an otherwise dark time.
Every year for the past 8 years or so I have created a summer mommy camp. This year has been different. I usually work on it in my classroom at school over the course of several weeks when I have a little free time. I have not been in my classroom due to Covid-19 and have instead been at home with my three kids unable to go anywhere with them. It's been a lot. But, after struggling through the acceptance that this is the way it'll be for the forseeable future, I was able to get over my upset and get to work.
My 6 year old just finished Kindergarten and still struggles to read so I've been working with him to become a reader. My 3 year old doesn't know much of anything so I've been working with him on his alphabet. My 9 year old loves reading and is one of those kids you would view as a natural learner. She loves learning new things and devours any book given to her. She is actually Mommy Camp's biggest fan and was sad when she thought we wouldn't have one this year. When deciding on the theme I chose reading to help encourage my boys and continue with the hard work that we've already put into the cause. So, this summer's theme is "Let's Read!" I've created 8 weeks of lessons using "The Magic Treehouse" book series as the foundation. Each week we will read one of the books starting with the first in the series and continuing in order. If you have never heard of this series you will love it! They are about two kids who travel back in time and have an adventure so, they teach history along with the story. Just like all of my previous MC's I have included sensory, art, math, science and dramatic play activities but for this one have put a lot of focus on the reading portion. Because my three kids have very different levels of understanding, I have broken down the reading activities into three categories: Pre-Reader, Beginning Reader and Experienced Reader. My plan is to do the sensory, art, math and science activities together and then differentiate during the reading by giving them each different activities catered to their level. I will probably do this one-on-one so they can have my full attention and help.
I will try to post updates each week as we move through the plans so you can see what we've done. In the plans, I have given so many resources and activities that it is unlikely that we will do every activity each week. But, we aren't doing anything else so we might actually manage it! It's organized in a pick and choose format so you can select the activities that best fit your children and time allotment.
I hope you enjoy the lessons and that you are doing well during these terrible times.
You can download the PDF by clicking the image below.
The school has closed for at least two weeks. You have kids to keep from going stir crazy. You need to not lose your mind. Disney+ and Netflix can only keep them entertained for so long. What are you going to do?!
Don't worry! I got you! I've compiled a list of 50 different activities for your kids to do ranging from science, art, outside, quiet time and sensory! There's something for everyone and most of them are low or no prep! Links are included for activities needing more explanation and printables are linked as well! Let's do our best to slow the spread of this virus and help protect our elderly and immunocompromised friends and family.
With this list, your kids will look back on this time as fun and exciting and you won't wish you could forget all about it! Enjoy and stay healthy and safe!
You can download the activity list by clicking the image above or the link below!
My middle child just turned 6 and we celebrated with his current obsession, Pokemon! Check out the activities and party decor below!
The weather cooperated and was warm enough to have activities outside. So, I set up the food table on our back porch. I purchased the backdrop on Amazon and used a cheap plastic table cloth for the table. I made the cake with a gluten free box mix and died vanilla icing yellow. I also made the pikachu cake head and tail with yellow scrapbooking paper and markers. For food, I made labels using Canva and served pokeball fruit, jigglypuff puffs, pikachu peeps, caterpie gummies, and pikachu pizza (not pictured) which was just homemade pizza, nothing fancy. For drinks we had mana and health kool-aids.
I made the boys matching Pokemon trainer shirts. Lillian didn't want that so she just had the blank shirt. I made myself a Pokemom shirt and used my silhouette to do all of them by making a stencil and painting with acrylic paint. My husband could have dressed up in his costume from Halloween but wasn't feeling it so he donned a Psyduck sticker instead. But, I've shared what he could have worn if he was cooler above along with a link to our Halloween costume post here.
I planned TONS of activities to keep the kids entertained since it was at our home and not a jumpy place like most parties nowadays. We had a pokeball toss game, pin the tail on Pikachu, hatch a pokemon, pokemon trainer certificates, create a pokeball, catch all the pokemon stickers balloon pop and a pokemon scavenger hunt! You can download all the things I made for the party by clicking the button below!
We also made fizzing pokemon eggs using baking soda and water paste with food coloring. We made little eggs with a tiny pokemon inside and provided eyedroppers and vinegar for kids to "hatch" their pokemon. It was BY FAR the most popular activity.
For party favors I found huge red and clear plastic ball containers at Walmart and filled them with some colorful tissue paper, a pokemon card, some tiny pokemon figures, a bouncy ball, a pokemon character mask, and some pokemon gummies. To make them look like pokeballs I used black electrical tape and a center circle that I simply printed out and cut. They looked really cool and the kids thought they were awesome!
I hope you enjoyed taking a look at our party! We had fun and it went pretty smoothly. I was even able to be fully dressed and make-up and hair done BEFORE guests arrived which almost never happens. So, I call that a win!
Thanks for visiting!
I don't know about you but, I conduct most of my Christmas shopping online. With three kids it's just too hard to find the time to get it all done any other way. So, while standing in my craft room surrounded by empty boxes I decided to make use of them! I quickly searched Pinterest for some tips and managed to find an easy tutorial for creating a cardboard box house with just scissors and tape. I whipped together three, one for each kid because otherwise a fight was sure to happen, and plopped them in the entry-way of our home with a container of markers. It is now one week later and the cardboard village has had a few modifications but, the kids have been devoting a TON of their time in creating their own little homes. There have been a few times when I've found the little one with scissors trying to conduct a little home improvement like his older siblings which was a bit scary but, I swear, these kids LOVE these things. It was a fab idea and I don't even mind the mess because they are all so quiet while updating and modifying their spaces with pillows, blankets and books. It's been great!
Taking a cute Christmas photo doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg! Grab some matching pj's or outfits and give them some Christmas lights and voila! It may have taken my husband and I shouting things like "poopy face" and about 100 photos to make this magic happen but, I think it was worth it. After a quick run through a photo editor I ended up with some adorable and FREE Christmas pics that capture my crazy trio pretty perfectly.
Rachel is a mother of three, high school Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.