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.
I always try to throw together a few themed activities depending on the time of year. This year I brought back a popular activity from last year, Pumpkin Destruction! I just gave the kids some pumpkins, water, small hammers, golf tees and paint and let 'em at it. They loved breaking the pumpkins open and exploring the insides or, if they are less into destruction, simply painting them and washing them over and over again. It kept them entertained for at least an hour. There was quite a mess afterwards but, that wasn't a big deal since they did it outside.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! Every year I make a good majority of our costumes because I like the craft factor and knowing that no one will have the same costume as me. Sometimes we go with a family theme like last year when we went as characters from "The Greatest Showman" and sometimes we mix it up with some of us going together and others not. This year, Arthur wanted to go as Pikachu so we put the boys in matching costumes as Pikachu, Pichu and Ash. I didn't really love the Pikachu costumes you could buy and decided to make my own. So, I purchased yellow pants and sweat shirts for the base. Then I got stiff yellow, black and brown felt and cut out ear and tail shapes. I used elastic waistband material to attach the tails to and glued the ears to black plastic headband blanks. Then I drew on a little black nose and red cheeks and voila! I thought they were super adorable. Plus, the clothing items can be worn again and again.
Ash was even easier. I ordered a blue hoodie and an Ash hat from Amazon along with a pair of green gloves. I cut off the fingertips of the gloves and we had an Ash. Easy.
As for my and Lillian, she wanted to go as a witch, but not a cute one. So, we went as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good! I happened to have a Glinda costume that I found at Goodwill several years ago so the majority of my costume was ready to go! I simply made a crown using pink glitter craft foam and gems. I also made a wand by purchasing a pre-made wand and painting it pink and adding gems. I also bought a red wig to complete the look.
For Lillian, I purchased all of her costume and didn't actually make anything. But, I did paint her green. I purchased all of her items from Amazon.
We also went to a pre-Halloween event but didn't want to ruin our costumes so we threw together a few more. Did I mention I love Halloween? I happen to be pretty ok at facepainting and Alan wanted to wear his Spiderman costume. So, I gave him a quick facepainted mask. Arthur wanted to be creepy and decided being covered in spiders fit the bill. So, I drew little spiders all over him. Lillian already had a vampire costume and chose to wear that with a bit of lipstick. I found a fun pic of Lisa Frank style leopard face paint and did my best to recreate it. And Derek went as the Brawny Man.
Hope you had a fun Halloween!
My son Alan and daughter, Lillian, have birthdays one month apart from each other. This causes me great strife when trying to plan a party. Last year I threw one for Lilly turning 8 and my husband and I took the day off to take Alan, turning 2, to the zoo with just us. But, I feel like it's a bit unfair for him not to get a party too. So, this year, I am combining them into one! I chose a donut theme because they both love them and it is somewhat gender neutral. I've decided to have it at a local fitness center pool but will still have several fun touches like a donut hole bar, pool games and diy donut slime for party favors. I can't wait to show you the cuteness after the party this weekend but, until then, check out my party plan and adorable invites I created with canva.com below!
Back to school is a crazy, busy time! I did manage to pull it together (by staying up until 1am) and craft custom t-shirts for my crew's first day back as well as gifts for my teacher peeps! Check it out!
I used my silhouette machine to make stencils for the tshirts. I used the same stencil for all of the shirts but took out the middle and added the different grades. I love making stencils because I can reuse them unlike vinyl which is definitely a time saver. Once the stencil is made you just need the tshirt, (I get mine from Wal-Mart and Target), and acrylic paint in your choice of color.
I used the same stencil technique for my teacher bags. One stencil made ALL of the bags! I grabbed the totes at Wal-Mart for 3 for $6. Many of my friends were trying to improve their health and weight so I honored their efforts and made low carb chocolate zucchinni muffins. They were AMAZING and no one could believe they were diet friendly! I paired that with a low calorie frap and voila! Adorable gifts to let my friends know I care!
I lucked out and got a huge furniture upgrade for my room this year which called for a total re-do on decor. So, I made a bitmoji door greeting, used my silhouette to create a custom door sign and "hola" greeting, added curtains and many more things to make my room it's best version of itself. I love my new class and am definitely ready to kick-off the greatest school year ever!
So....I kind of dropped off the blog for the entire summer. I've been enjoying life. Three kids keeps me quite busy and I just didn't feel like stressing out about making posts. Mommy Camp kind of happened and kind of fell through the cracks. As my kids are getting older, they have varying interests and we are pulled in many directions. The addition of swim lessons to our already busy summer schedule kept our summer days pretty full with all sorts of classic summer fun. That being said, we did get to some of the plans I made for Mommy Camp this summer and although we didn't finish, I'm not upset. I'm happy that I can provide a classic kind of summer for my kids. A summer full of too much sun, television, late bedtimes, friends and food. They got a little learning thrown in there and we visited our favorite place, the local library, at least once per week. I'm not going to detail all of our MC adventures below but I will give you a taste of the fun we had.
We kicked off MC with great fanfare and began learning about our place in the world. We looked at a map and identified where we are in relation to Spanish-speaking countries. And played with some map manipulatives. We also discussed basic Spanish greetings by watching some cute videos and completing some activities. Additionally, we prepared for our "trips" by decorating wooden boxes for our suitcases and receiving our "passports".
After preparing for our "trip" we got to take an adventure to Mexico. They presented their "passports" and "tickets" and boarded the "plane". They took turns flying us there. Upon arrival they played with a dramatic play taco station and practiced a little Spanish food and restaurant vocabulary.
The rest of the Mexico week focused on greetings and introductions. We played with some name recognition using a baking soda and vinegar discovery activity and name completion blocks for the toddler. The bigger kids focused on practicing specific phrases like, "Me llamo...", "Hola.", "Mucho gusto." and "Buenas Noches.", after watching a video and reading some books. Arthur, my 5 year old, was especially interested in the phrases for good night and good morning and continues to this day to use them most days.
After that I went on a business trip for professional development for a full week and the summer MC plans kind of deteriorated from there. We did manage to complete a bit of the content about Costa Rica focusing on animals but summer kind of ran away from me after that. For Costa Rica animals we had some sensory fun with animals and globe shaving cream. We also focused on our names and played with baking soda and vinegar name discovery for the toddler.
The big finale to summer was an actual trip to Mexico via cruise. We all enjoyed the relaxation, tacos and sunshine. They held an iguana, swam in the ocean, made new friends who spoke no English at a lazy little beach far from the tourist spots, had fun in a clear kayak and ate fresh mango. I
Again, apologies for my inability to follow through this summer. The lessons are fab and will definitely treat you well should you choose to use them. Maybe I can continue on with them next summer!
We had an eventful 4th full of pool time, sunshine, delicious food and, of course, fireworks! We also managed a few craftivities so check out our fun below!
We started out with making some festive t-shirts. These were super easy and looked adorbs!
After the t-shirt craft we braved the heat to decorate our driveway with some patriotic stars. I mixed corn starch, water and food coloring in plastic squirt bottles to create washable sidewalk chalk paint and cut star shapes (kind of) out of leftover cardboard for stencils. I also supplied the kids with some paint brushes to help spread the paint around. They looked pretty fun and washed away with the first rain.
After spending the morning swimming with friends, we hosted our neighbors and had some delicious food! I found a fabulous recipe for barbecue grilled chicken that we used. We also made a watermelon and arugula salad and Mexican street corn. Yum! I also had the great idea to make a layered drink in red, white and blue for both adults and a kid version. They were both an epic fail. But, my patriotic berry trifle did not disappoint!
We finished out the evening with a few less clothes (it was ridiculously hot), fireworks and friends. It was a great 4th!
I was running a bit behind this year on creating the summer MC but, I've finally finished! I am going to attempt to teach my kids Spanish this summer. Plus, I'm borrowing an idea from a previous MC and where we pretended to travel to various countries. This summer we will be "flying" to various Spanish-speaking countries to learn about their culture while we learn the language. The around the world MC was one of my favorites so, I'm hoping this one will also be a success.
Even though I am a Spanish teacher I have not taught my children Spanish and, to be honest, I feel like a bit of a loser for it. So, I'm going to try to remedy that this summer. The problem I've been dealing with is that my husband is not fluent so we don't use Spanish at home.
I think this is my best planned MC yet and I think we are going to have a ton of fun while learning. Plus, we're going on a cruise to Mexico at the end of the summer so my kids will get a real opportunity to use what they've learned.
I hope you find my lessons fun and educational. Be sure to check back each week while I share our weekly adventures and don't be afraid to share yours too! You can download the entire MC for FREE by just clicking the image below! It includes all of my lessons, a bunch of dramatic play printables I created and links to all of the other printables and activities! Plus, I am including my printable passport and passport stamps below for you to download as well! Enjoy!
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!
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.