I am sooooooo ready for Spring Break and it is finally here! I have literally just finished making a MC for Spring. (Seriously, it's 4:40 on the Friday of the first day of break and I am still at work! Why?!) So, I'm not going to write any more about it. It is fabulous and full of science, math, reading, sensory, food ideas, video links and crafts for your littles. And it's FREE as always. So, enjoy and have a great time! I'll post our fun once we've had it! To download, just click the image below.
We held Arthur's 5th birthday party this weekend so I finally got to put all of my hard work on decor and planning into action. You can check out the party plan I created in this post. I was really happy with how everything turned out and it seemed like everyone had a great time!
For the food I did pretty easy and quick stuff like chips and pre-packaged sweets but, I made puny labels to make everything seem way more impressive which you can print out at the original planning post. We made hotdogs and wrapped them in aluminum foil for quick grabbing and I made the cake using good ole' Duncan Hines box mix and icing but, it was super yummy with double fudge cake and marshmallow icing. To fancy it up a bit I made green slime to pour over the cake. It was easy to make using lime jell-o and tonic water (it would have glowed under a black light). For the backdrop I cut out building shapes from black paper and glued them to a white paper. Then I free-handed a ghost and red "no" symbol and glued it all down. It was quick, easy and cheap but made a nice statement. For the table I put down a black plastic tablecloth and then cut slime shapes out of a green plastic table cloth and draped it across the front.
I also set up a photo booth area with fun props I made and you can print out on my original planning post. I free handed a giant marshmallow man and city scene on white butcher paper and colored it. Then I cut it out and pasted it onto black paper to make it pop.
I was most proud of the goody boxes. I purchased popcorn boxes and cut and taped them to create a shape like the ghost trap. Then, I MADE a ghost trap printable (I was going to use a free printable I found but I realized it was for a much smaller box and it didn't work.) Once the printable was made, I printed, cut and taped 25 to the already cut and taped ghost trap popcorn boxes. It took quite a bit of time but aren't they fabulous?! To complete the magic, I put green tissue paper inside each one and topped them off with the treats which are equally fab. For the treats inside, I purchased silly string and created a portable proton stream label which can be found in the original planning post. I purchased mini, glow-in-the-dark slimes on amazon and taped ectoplasm labels to them. Additionally, kids got a green twisty sucker and a velcro wallet. Why a wallet you ask? Well, I made custom ghostbuster ID badges for all of the kids! I even laminated them. They are legit! You can find the editable ID badge document and the printable ghost trap box below by clicking on the images.
I also made Arthur a custom Ghostbuster shirt that turned out pretty cute. I created a cut file for my Silhouette machine. I used stencil material for cutting and then used acrylic paint to fill in the stencil on a shirt.
I feel like the party was a great success and everyone had fun! I hope you found some inspiration for your next party!
I generally conduct a mini photo session in my living room for Valentine's Day each year. In the past I've shared those tips which include using a table cloth or wrapping paper as a back drop. This year I got inspired by a fun backdrop at Oh Joy! and had to re-create it!
It was ridiculously easy to set up and even though I don't have the fancy lighting used in the original I think they turned out adorable! To create the fans I simple followed basic directions and created an accordion fold on large pieces of butcher paper. Then I stapled them in the middle, cut the edges to be round and stapled the middle edges together. You can use this tutorial to help you out. It is for mini fans but is closest to what I did except I didn't use glue and instead used staples.
Once I created a bunch of different sized fans, I simply taped them to the floor and walls to create the backdrop area. It couldn't have been quicker or easier! I definitely spent more time taking and editing the photos. The Images below are before editing.
After running the images through a bunch of filters and apps I ended up with the images below.
I also made valentine message images for fun.
Happy Valentine's Day!
It's almost Valentine's Day and I've pulled together a valentine themed Mommy Camp for you guys! There are a ton of fun, cheap and easy to set up activities that are sure to keep your little ones entertained and maybe give you the opportunity to do a few chores or even read a book! So, grab the free printable by clicking the image below and enjoy!
As usual, we didn't get to everything in the MC but, that's the beauty of Mommy Camp! You don't have to do it all! You can see all of the fun we had by checking out our pictures below!
We started with painting and the heart stamp from tp rolls activity. They thought that was very entertaining. We quickly moved on to the symmetry heart art. Arthur decided he wanted to just paint his whole heart and ended up with a very pretty heart.
Then we moved on to the heart hand tree art and instead of cutting a bunch of paper hearts and glueing them (which I thought would take a bit and that they would lose interest quickly) we decided to make finger print flowers on our trees which they of course loved.
After painting, we made some Valentine themed headbands with stickers and paper and then headed to the kitchen for some love potion science. I ended up kind of mixing two activities together because I realized that I forgot to buy baby oil and couldn't do one of the science activities I planned. So, good ole' baking soda, vinegar and food coloring to the rescue. This activity never fails to keep them busy for at least 30 minutes and I use it often. It's great for their dexterity skills because they use a medicine dropper or syringe to suck up the vinegar and squirt it on the baking soda. I find that hiding little doo dads and a few drops of food coloring under the baking soda so they get a bubbly surprise.
After they were done with their bubbly science, we pulled out some pink and red paper cups and stacked them so we could knock them down. Again, this activity is a favorite and keeps them entertained forever. I actually took a shower and did my hair and makeup while they were happily playing with paper cups for 45 minutes. If you haven't done this with your kids you should. You can extra fun by throwing in a nerf gun or ball for the destruction element.
I hope you and your children find joy with this MC like we did! Have a happy Valentine's Day and thanks for visiting!
I am sure you know how difficult travelling with kids can be. However, I truly feel that it is worth all of the stress and hard work and science backs me up on this. According to this article, taking your kids on vacation can enhance their executive functions and overall intelligence, help support their exploratory urge and can essentially refuel your family's affection for one another!
So, now that we've discussed how it can benefit your kids, let's talk about ways to make it not be a total shit show for you! Because, let's face it, going anywhere with kids can be a nightmare.
When I begin to plan a trip the biggest thing I can recommend is RESEARCH! Go to the internet and ask it some questions. Here are a few of the ones I always check on.
-What restaurants are kid friendly, offer kid discounts or even have a play area?
-What activities should you do? How much do they cost? What are the operating hours? Are there discount days?
-What is the driving distance from your hotel to the various activities you plan on doing?
After doing some preliminary research I begin to form my plan. First, I plan the trip there. We have not taken a trip requiring a flight with ours yet (mostly due to the extreme cost that involves) so, I have to do a good amount of planning for the drive.
Kids can't sit in the car for too long without a stop for play or pee or whatever. I usually use this site to find the halfway point between my start and end locations. Once I've found it, I will try to pick a good spot for us to stop somewhere around that spot, preferably a place that gives kids the opportunity to play.
For example, we recently went on a quick weekend trip to Huntsville, AL to visit the Space and Rocket Center. We live in Jonesboro, AR so halfway was a pretty small town. I started looking at a larger area not too far off and found a great indoor play center with a Red Robin close by! Winning! So, we ate and then played for a few hours. The play place was super cute AND offered free coffee for parents. They even had a giant ball pit that ALL of us enjoyed.
They were all really worn out and slept for the majority of the remaining 3 hour drive. The key is not to be in a rush. Take your time getting to your destination. It makes the drive there PART of the vacation! Also, this is important for the return trip too. You can repeat the same activities you did the first time or mix it up but, unless you are driving through the night, you should probably plan to have a fun stop in the middle.
Once I've planned the driving, I pick the hotel. I am very picky about hotels and generally want a suite that has a separate bedroom but, I'm also cheap AF. I am a Hilton Honors member which gets me some perks and discounts so, I generally stay at one of the Hilton affiliated hotels. I really like Homewood Suites. They have a free breakfast that is yummy, the hotels are usually very updated if not new and their suites include a full kitchen. Also, they usually have a pool. You should choose what your priorities are and go from there. I like to look at reviews and customer images on Tripadvisor when deciding between hotels.
After picking the hotel I get into all the details and actually create an itinerary for each day. Now, just because I have a plan does not mean that I stick to it hell or highwater. I leave it as an option but change based on how the day goes. I will often put some alternative activities or options on my list for the day just in case things don't go as planned.
I know it sounds super OCD of me to have it all planned but, with kids, it really does make it SOOO much better. When we went on our first family trip with an itinerary my husband scoffed and thought I was crazy but, because it was so informative (time to get from hotel to restaurant, addresses, business hours and cost) it made it easier for us to make decisions about our day and unplanned events didn't throw us for a loop.
For example, when we went to St. Louis for a week last summer, the first night we were there my son began to complain of a pain in his leg. Upon inspection, we found that it was hot, hard and red. Not good. So, we dosed him with some tylenol. (You should ALWAYS bring tylenol/motrin you'd be surprised how often you need it.) Then, the first thing the next morning we took him to an urgent care clinic nearby. Because I had planned so well and we knew what our plan was supposed to be along with hours and distance, it didn't mess with our day at all. He got treated and we went about our day.
Now, how do I keep up with all of this info? If you are picturing a jumbled up mess of papers and post-its to keep up with all of this info you'd be wrong. I created a doc to edit and use with each trip. It is graphically pleasing, well-organized and FREE for you to download! Just click one of the images below to download the free file!
I hope that my tips are helpful and give you the tools you need to plan an awesome family trip! Let me know how it goes and if you have any tips for me! I'm always eager to learn something new!
Thanks for visiting!
I'm planning another bday party! This time I'm taking a bit of a break by having it at a local gymnastics place. I won't be able to use the outside since it's February and I don't think I can handle a bunch of 4-5 year olds running around my house even if I plan the heck out of the thing. So, as you can see above, I've still done quite a bit of planning as is my way. I also created a bunch of printables including id badges, food signs, goody bag labels and photo props. You can check out my Pinterest inspirations here and download the printables by clicking the party planning image above!
My plan involves no activities for kids which is a first for me! I figure they will be much more interested in the giant foam pit, trampoline and other gymnastics stuff than crafts and games. I do have plans for fun goody bags, food and custom shirts for the family.
I used my favorite digital everything maker site, Canva, to make the invite. The coolest thing is that now they print your creations AND the prices are great! So, for about $30 I ordered 50 invites with envelopes and they look perfect!
I'm excited about this party and can't wait to get it all put together! Be sure to check back to see the party photos!
In my previous post I discussed the vanity project which was how the bedroom re-do began. But, for it all to work out, I needed to ditch my old dresser and replace it with a less wide version. I also wanted to brighten up the space a bit with a white or light piece of furniture since it would be sitting against a navy blue wall. So, I've been keeping my eyes open for a cheap dresser with good bones that I could paint/refinish. I managed to snag a really great looking piece for only $35 on my local Facebook Marketplace. It had some damage and was a terrible brown color but I could see it's potential. I mean, look at those cool handles!
I headed to Pinterest for inspiration on refinishing it and found a great color combo that I thought would fit the bill. I headed to Home Depot and had them mix me a perfect gray and grabbed a can of the base white and headed home!
I removed all of the hardware and then sanded the piece with an electric sander and 80 grit paper. Then I wiped it down with a damp cloth and removed the drawers. I was ready to paint! it took about 4 coats to make it perfect but it was worth it!
Since it was missing one handle and two knobs I had to get creative. I was DEFINITELY using those handles. So, I went to Hobby Lobby and grabbed 6 knobs that I felt were reminiscent of the original ones. Then, I spray painted the original handles using the same gold spray paint I used for my previous vanity mirror project so that all of the knobs matched.
After everything was dry, I re-attached the knobs and handles in a slightly different order than the original and put it all back together. I am so very pleased with how wonderfully this project turned out. My husband was even surprised. When he first saw the dresser he was pretty against the whole idea but, he knows not to mess with my crazy lol. We both LOVE how it turned out and I feel like I have my own little Instagram worthy designed space.
I love it when my vision actually works out! After hanging some paintings I made a few years ago above the dresser and putting a few pretty items to sit on top, I feel like it is perfect. Thanks for joining me on the journey! I hope it inspires you!
Ever since we moved into our current home two years ago, I have missed my vanity area. Our bathroom is large with double sink areas but it just isn't the same putting on makeup and doing me hair standing at the sink. So, for Christmas I got to set up a new vanity area! I was also given the go-ahead by my adorable husband to revamp our bedroom. We've focused on the rest of the house but our room has been left out. I always like to get a picture in my head of my end goal so I immediately hit Pinterest. I found the photo below and used it as my inspiration. I even researched the exact desk but after finding it was over $1,000 I realized I was going to have to do more research.
The think I loved most about the desk was that it had drawers and gold accents along with clean lines. We have a navy blue accent wall in the bedroom and I decided that I would like to pull that color into the space. So, after browsing the web, I found this amazing desk at Wal-Mart.com for only $160 and added it to my cart. I also found a very fun acrylic chair there for only $54 and purchased it as well.
Now all that was left was the mirror. That was quite an order! I mean, look at that thing in the inspiration photo! It's freaking huge and, I'm sure, cost a fortune. I decided to hit up our local thrift shop because, ya know, gold spray paint can make most things look pretty fabulous and I'm cheap. So, walking around I began to get a bit sad as there were no potential mirrors anywhere in sight. But then, in between some ugly and ancient old pieces of furniture, I found something promising. It was definitely not as large but I could see the potential and, for only $5 I figured it was definitely worth a try. If nothing else, I could just use it until I found something better. I decided it needed a bit more decoration to make it a little more ornate like the inspiration so I grabbed some wooden accent pieces at Hobby Lobby for a couple bucks and used wood glue to adhere them. Then, I taped off the mirror and broke out the spray paint!
To finish up the vanity area I added a few items that I received as Christmas gifts like an acrylic make-up organizer and tri-fold make-up mirror. My sweet husband hung the mirror (which was no small feat as it probably weighs 50lbs!) And voila! A wonderfully perfect and very me vanity space where I can feel extra fancy.
I'm pretty pleased with how everything turned out and for less than $250 bucks I couldn't be happier!
We tried something a bit different this year and celebrated New Year's Eve at our house with our kids and a few friends. We did some fun, kid activities in the early evening and then celebrated "midnight" using a Netflix kid countdown. Once the kids were all in bed, we enjoyed adult time and celebrated the true midnight countdown while the children were all snoozing. So, I created a day of activities for kids and thought I'd share it with you! It includes food and snack ideas, games, crafts, science and art projects. I hope you enjoy! You can read about our fun and see all of the pics below!
We kicked off the evening with making glitter slime, conducting fizzy, sparkly science experiments with baking soda, vinegar and glitter and making exploding soda with diet coke and mentos!
Alan didn't get in on the slime making but he did enjoy a balloon while his brother and sister mixed!
Once it was made, Alan had no interest in playing with the slime so he had fun with some dot markers instead.
After we played with slime we broke out the fizzy science (always a favorite). I used clean milk storage container lids that I have been holding onto for ages to house the fizz mixture. I first poured glitter into the lids and then covered it with baking powder so you didn't know that it would be sparkly until you added the vinegar. Then, I gave the kids a pipette and bowl of vinegar and let them watch the reaction.
After fizzy science we headed outside for our soda "fireworks". Kids dropped a mento into a bottle of diet coke to see the fizzy explosion. It was a huge hit!
Everyone was ready to eat after all of the fun so we headed back inside to make pizzas! Originally, we were going to make them say "2019" but, by this point we (the parents) were maxed out on kids and such so we just let them make mini pizzas and made ourselves a big, adult pizza and a few fancy cocktails to recover. We used gold sprinkles to rim our martinis and the recipe was one of our favorites that we discovered on Halloween this year that you can find here (We didn't make them black this time but we did add the luster dust to make them extra fancy.) While the pizzas cooked and after we had a recover martini or two, we set up the balloon drop. Details can be found in the MC document but, basically, tape a few plastic table cloths together and hang it like a basket from the ceiling. Then fill it with balloons and pull it down when you're ready.
After dinner we had a bit of fun with the photo wall and conducted year in review interviews with all of the kids. This was a super fun activity that we intend to repeat every year. I created the photo wall with tape, a plastic, gold tablecloth and a gold fringe backdrop. I saved the props from last year (tossing anything that said 2018) which I purchased at Aldi.
After the photo fun and interviews we enjoyed some festive cupcakes courtesy of Betty Crocker and a fancy icing tip. I'm all about easy but fabulous.
Then we realized that is was almost 9:30 and it was time to wrap up the kid portion of the evening. So, we found a Netflix countdown video, gave all of the kids light up cups (purchased at Aldi) with sparkly juice and handed out party crackers. We also participated in a Spanish tradition (since I'm a Spanish teacher and I think it's super fun.) where you try to fit as many green grapes in your mouth as the clock chimes to gain good fortune in the new year. So, all of the kids got a bowl of grapes too. I only got a video of the ball drop and am having an issue getting uploaded so, just know, they loved. It was great and worth the time to make. I also have very fun videos of them with party crackers. They were messy but very fun.
After we put the kids to bed (They got to have a sleepover so that made the evening even more awesome for them.) We took a few photos and then played card games until midnight. When we participated in eating grapes and, of course, enjoyed some champagne.
I hope you had a great New Year!
I usually create a Christmas themed MC but, this year we don't get out of school until the 21st and will be immediately kicking off family Christmas events/parties. So, we won't have any free time until after the holidays. When we do get that free time we will have a lot of it because school doesn't start back until the 7th! This is why I've created a winter themed MC to fill the hours when my kids have grown bored with their new things or we want to have some fun with sensory, science and art! I'm sharing my plan with you guys for FREE!
It includes many varying activities suitible for todderls to 2nd graders (depending on the activity). I also included step by step directions for each of them so you don't have to click on a bunch of links and can have an easy to read print out. I hope you have a great holiday season and that you enjoy my freebie! See ya soon!
Download by clicking the image below!
I'm sure we all have stores that are funny when looking back but at the time were anything but. I recently experienced one of these and thought others might find my experience extremely entertaining. I know I would.
Last weekend, my husband was trying to finish putting up Christmas lights that never got completed the previous weekend because, you know, kids. So, anyway, while I'm hanging wreaths on the windows and keeping an eye on the kids playing in the driveway, he was out there muttering to himself in a grumpy manner about how I didn't get all the lights he needed and how he couldn't do it the way he wanted with what he had blah, blah, blah. So I'm like, "Well, sweetie...why don't you just go to Wal-Mart right now and get whatever it is that you need. I'll watch the kids. Enjoy yourself." and he's like, "Ok. I think I will!"
So, off he goes to Wal-Mart. It was getting dark so I brought the kids in and began to clean up from a weekend of not cleaning up and after about thirty minutes went to look for my phone to see if he had called since I always leave it on silent and wouldn't have heard it. Instantly, I remember that while outside I set my phone on the back of his car when I was hanging up the wreaths and I NEVER PICKED IT BACK UP!!! I'm now in a panic at the realization that I probably do not have a functional phone any longer and begin to feel sad for its likely shattered state on the side of the road somewhere. I run to double check that it's not in the garage. No luck. So, I grabbed my daughter's iPod and call my husband.
I don't know if the same is true for you but, at our nearest Wal-Mart if you are inside the store the phone service is almost non-existent. So after a frustrating exchange of broken and static-filled sentences followed by numerous texts he is able to understand what I'm telling him. While he left Wal-Mart to look, I left the house to run up the street and check the area near the stop sign thinking maybe it slipped off there. I tell my almost nine year old to lock the door behind me and that I am just running up the street to check. Her one job is to ensure that her little brothers do not leave the house in pursuit of me. As I'm leaving my front door, I tell my neighbors, who are in their front yard putting up lights, the situation as well.
I run up the stop sign (which I can see from my front door btw) and am frantically searching in the dark but to no avail. Then I think, "What if it fell off at the next stop sign?!". It is a bit further down the road and I would hate to not check only to find out later that it had been laying in the middle of the road waiting for me. So, I begin to literally sprint to the next stop sign. All the while trying to reassure myself that the kids are fine but secretly worrying that they are not and that I am the worst mother ever for leaving them in their safe warm house for 4 minutes.
I am sprinting in the dark to the next stop sign. I am not dressed for this. It is cold. It is also uphill. My dog shows up and keeps running into the road at oncoming cars. I make it to the stop sign and search. Nothing. I've now lost hope. It sucks. That phone was paid off and perfectly functional. I was not planning on getting a new one for awhile. I'm now sprinting back to the house while mentally running through all of the ways my children could have gotten into trouble while I was taking a frantic, late night sprint through the neighborhood. I've now made it back to my house. I'm a bit sweaty and just a tad out of breath. The neighbors are still putting up lights. They don't say anything and I think to myself, "Cool, everything worked out. The kids are fine." Then, I opened my front door and found the next door neighbor's daughter sitting on my couch surrounded by my three kids.
Apparently, mere moments after the start of my mad sprint to the next stop sign, the kids all exited the house in search of me. As they neared the end of the driveway (we live on a cul-de-sac with very little traffic btw.) my neighbor intervened and had her daughter escort them back into the house to care for them while I finished up my late night, impromptu exercise.
I WAS MORTIFIED. The moment the neighbor left I let into my daughter. "You had ONE job!" Of course she had her reasons for ignoring my directions and traipsing into the street with her brothers. But, it was over. It had happened. I'm a terrible mother. "We are not telling Dad about this." I informed them in a very quietly scary voice. They all slowly nodded in understanding recognizing that was the only appropriate response at this moment in time. Moments later, Daddy arrived home and instantly asked about the kids walking into the street solo. The neighbors were still out front when he arrived and totally sold me out.
He was surprisingly jovial about it and did not condemn my parenting skills. Additionally, he had found my phone and it was completely unscathed. He had the good sense to use Find My Friends to see what my phone was up to and saw it pinging on the side of the road. He left Wal-Mart and headed in that direction. So as he's off ACTUALLY rescuing my phone, I was sprinting uphill in the dark completely unaware that my late night cardio was futile. Well, as he is driving towards it, it begins to MOVE! He called it and a lady answered. She had found it in the street and almost run over it. (I have no idea how that even happens. It was dark guys. How do you see a phone laying in the middle of the road and actually stop to get it?! Cray.) She was nearby and he popped over to reclaim it for me. And it has absolutely NO damage. It's a freaking Christmas miracle.
So, at the time, this was definitely not fun and was quite stressful. But, looking back I can appreciate how ridiculous it all was and the fact that it has a happy ending makes it easy to reflect upon it with humor. I'm thankful for good neighbors and kind strangers who helped make the ending a good one and I will definitely think twice about placing my phone on the back of my husbands car or expecting my daughter to follow my directions in the future.
This year we went as characters from the movie The Greatest Showman. I was the bearded lady, Derek was the ringmaster, Lillian was the acrobat, Arthur was the strong man and Alan was the small man dressed as Napoleon. I feel like our costumes turned out great and you can read on to see how I pulled it all together!
The ringmaster costume was easy. Derek already has a top hat and cane as well as black pants and boots and a white shirt so, I just ordered him a jacket from Amazon. It looked great and was cheap. Done.
My costume was also relatively easy. I thought I would luck out and find a cheap prom dress at Goodwill but that did not work out and I ended up buying a cheap dress on Amazon along with a taffeta underskirt. I already had some flowers for my hair. For the beard, I researched how to apply a fake beard which is surprisingly easy. You can see the video I used here. All I needed was fake hair and spirit gum. Done.
The strong man costume was also pretty quick and easy. I did take a few liberties and went with a more traditional strong man costume, omitting the tattoos because it seemed like a lot of work and I was not feeling it. I purchased his muscle suit, red shorts, and inflatable bar bell on Amazon, drew a mustache on his face with some waterproof eyeliner, slicked his hair back and done. Yes...I know his shoes are on the wrong feet. We are working on that. He just likes them that way. lol.
The acrobat costume took a bit more work. I ordered a leotard, cape and pink wig on Amazon but the cape and leotard needed to be embellished. I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased some gold trim and purple ruffle material and hand sewed them onto the leg holes of the leotard and the neckline. I also glued on gems onto the mesh portion of the neckline. I added the gold to the edge of the cape as well but got lazy there and just hot glued it. I gave her a little bit of pretty makeup and pulled the hair back after attaching it to her head and done.
The Napoleon costume took the most effort. I had to make it entirely from scratch but, it also turned out to be the most awesome one in my opinion. I used a Martha Stewart tutorial as my guide but did make some changes to the steps. I purchased a navy blue long sleeved shirt and cut it down the middle creating a curved edge on both sides. Then, I glued bias tape to the cut edge on both sides. After that, I cut out red felt with angled edges, double layered it and then hot glued it to the neck of the cut shirt. Then, I hot glued little gold buttons on both sides of the cut shirt. To finish off the jacket, I took navy blue felt and created epaulets to which I added some gold fringe and then hot glued those to the shoulders of the shirt. Finally, I followed the Martha Stewart tutorial exactly for the hat using black felt, hot glue and gold trim. I put him in blue pants with blue rain boots and a white button up shirt to finish it off. I did not modify the white shirt because I felt like it was unnecessary and would ruin the shirt for future use.
I was super happy with how all of our costumes turned out this year! I hope you had a great Halloween too!
As you might already know, I am a high school teacher. This week we had parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday and then had Wednesday off so, while sitting in my classroom between parent meetings I worked on a little plan for entertaining my kids and keeping my sanity during our day off together. As always, we didn't finish everything but, we did have a lot of fun that was pretty low effort on my part and extremely inexpensive too! You can print out my plan at the end of this post!
We started the morning with some indoor fun because it was a bit chilly outside. So, I set up an invitation to play with play dough by giving them some spider rings, plastic eyeballs, gems, silk flowers and orange play dough and asked them to make me a monster. You can give them any doo dads you think they might like. I hit up the halloween aisle at Wal-Mart to have a few spooky things like the rings and eyeballs.
After the play dough fun, we headed outside for a little bit of messier play. I set up a container with colored water and googly eyes and placed a few large spoons next to it for them to create an eyeball stew. I also had a pumpkin painting station, pumpkin washing station and a pumpkin hammering station. For the washing station I just filled a container with soapy water and for the hammering station I provided a few small hammers and golf tees. They all enjoyed various areas more than others and they were all entertained for almost two hours!
We also made some boo hand print art and were going to make a monster wreath but, Arthur wasn't interested and wanted to play with play dough more and Lillian didn't want to make a monster wreath. Instead, she made a "pretty" wreath using ribbon and glue. They were happy so I was happy. If we end up with some free time before Halloween I will try to do the activities we didn't have time for and I'll post about it if I do. There are several fun science ones that I couldn't do because I didn't have any vinegar! So be sure to check out the document for those!
We ended the day with a trip to chikfila and I have to say, it was a pretty great day!
Download my very basic but serviceable plan below and enjoy!
This weekend we celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday with a very fun, panda-themed party! I wrote about my plan in a previous post which you can find here.
When my daughter stated that she wanted a panda themed party I thought, "No problem!" but when I started trying to plan activities for a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds to do, I struggled. So, I built off of the teddy bear picnic idea and added in a tea party element for the craft focus. I think everyone had a great time despite the fact that it was a bit hotter outside than I would have liked.
For the food, I went pretty easy and basically cheated by ordering chinese food from our favorite place. We had chicken and veggie fried rice, chicken and veggie lo mein, eggrolls, crab rangoon and, of course, fortune cookies. I also made a fruit salad and a pineapple, sprite, hawaiian punch. To make it a bit more fun looking I dolled it up a bit by transferring the food to small, cute chinese food containers that I purchased on Amazon. I also stuck a pair of plastic chopsticks and chopstick helper for anyone who was not skilled in the art of chopsticks (also purchased on Amazon) inside each container. As a bonus, the kids got to take home their chopsticks and chopstick helper.
The thing I am most proud of is this cake. I MADE this! I found an image of a cake on Pinterest that I really liked and for a brief moment, the stars aligned and everything went perfectly in the baking of this cake. It is EXACTLY like I wanted it and looks super similar to the original photo here from bloglovin. I cheated and used a box cake mix and pre-made icing for the layers. But, I did make the ganache using white chocolate chips, mint green food coloring and heavy cream. It was super easy to get the drip effect and I will definitely be using this cake style again in the future. I followed directions here for making the ganache.
The kids not only had the option of playing outside on the trampoline and swing set but, they also had the opportunity to play badminton and participate in several craft activities.
They were given the opportunity to paint a tea cup, color a panda bear coloring sheet and make a tea party hat. No one was very interested in the coloring table but everyone seemed pretty pleased with their craft opportunities.
I made the tea party hats by taking a white paper cup and hot gluing it to a piece of cardstock that I cut into a circle. Then, I hot glued it to a black, plastic headband blank that I purchased on Amazon. Additionally, I hot glued a few fake flowers to some of the hats. For decorating, they had pre-sticky gems, washi tape and markers.
At the tea cup table, kids were provided tempera paint and white, plastic tea cups that I purchased on Amazon. Unfortunately, the tempera began peeling off (I thought it might happen but figured I would take the chance instead of giving kids permanent paint) but, the cup was still usable so, they can paint them again and again or not!
When it was time to chow down, they sat at a custom picnic area that I set up using pallets wrapped in plastic table cloths with a table runner made of black and white striped wrapping paper and balloon centerpieces. They sat on color coordinated pillows. I ended up buying the bigger pillow covers for only $10 total to add the pop of black and white and just stuffed them with plastic grocery bags (of which I always have a million). The other pillows were actual pillows inside of pillow cases I already had.
Aside from the tea cups, party hats and chopsticks, guests also got to take home a custom panda bear and panda bear mask handmade by ME!
I spent a good chunk of labor day weekend making the panda bears. I based my pattern off of this one but modified it quite a bit to get a shape I was happy with. I also did not sew it. I do not like to sew, even though I can, and instead created the pattern from felt and then hot glued it and flipped it inside out just like you would if it was sewn. Then, I stuffed it and sealed the stuffing hole shut. I cut out felt of a different color for the eyes, paw pads, legs, nose and ears to mimic a panda's markings and hot glued them down as well. I finished it off with black fabric paint for the eyeballs and mouth. I think they turned out amazing and my almost 2 year old quickly decided that "Bobo" was his new favorite lovey.
For the masks, I used one of my sons PJ Masks as a base for the panda face and then created my template by hand. I thought I had captured a few photos but upon looking through my camera, I realize I didn't. Oooops. Anyway, I used my template for the white base and then cut out the black eye, nose and ear areas all from felt. Then I hot glued again and attached ribbon to tie them on with. I made them over the course of two afternoons after work and probably only spent about 2 hours total. Not bad. Plus, I find this kind of crafting kind of zen like. After creating the pattern, it's just a repetitive cutting and gluing process and it is kind of like a form of meditation.
Oh! I also made the birthday girls shirt at the absolute last minute at 1am the night before. I created a panda face design in Silhouette and cut out a stencil. Then I used silver and pink glitter fabric paint to fill it in. It took no time at all and I think it looks adorable. She also had a black and silver tutu and panda leggings.
It was a fun party with all sorts of personal touches that I am very proud of accomplishing. I know that we are nearing the time when she will no longer want a big party with activities and I plan on cherishing the last few moments where she is my little girl and wants me to go all out so, until she decides it isn't cool anymore, I'll keep up the hard work for the big payoff that is her smiling face at the end of the day and hope that when she has a little girl of her own she remembers and is able to do the same for her.
Lillian is in love with pandas so her party had to focus on them this year. But, I struggled with planning activities and ended up combining the idea of a picnic and tea party into the panda theme. I made my plan above and have started getting to work!
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any stuffed pandas that were a good price and quality in bulk and decided to make my own. So, I spent a good chunk of the labor day weekend in my own personal sweat shop for stuffed pandas. However, they have turned out to be super adorable and my 1 year old won't put his, newly named Bobo, down. So, hopefully the 2nd graders will love them just as much.
I'll make another post detailing all of the projects and results after the party! Until then!
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.