Monday, March 28, 2016

25 Spring Break Ideas

*Originally published 3/27/12

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*photo from hiking in spring 2013

1. Purchase a roll of art paper and get creative with your kids.  Watercolors, finger paints, markers, outline each other's bodies and add the details, be creative!

2. Make Smores!  Get the fire pit going in the backyard or pop them in the microwave.  And don't forget to add those colored Peeps for a fun twist.

3. Memorize a piece of Scripture together.  Pick on that pertains to where you're family is at and challenge each other to memorize by the end of the week.

4. Make an Easter Garland.  Pick bunnies, eggs, or peeps and make a seasonal garland together.

5. Have a sleepover!  Pitch a tent in the living room, pop popcorn, and turn out the lights.

6. Make ice cream.  Pull out that homemade ice cream recipe or try a new one.  What a great way to spend time in the kitchen with your kids.

7. Do a community service project.  Select a project to donate your time to and work alongside your kids.  Show them the value of working hard and serving others.

8. One on one dates.  Take your kids out and spend some one on one time together.  Let them pick the activity (within reason) and just listen.  Who knows what you'll learn?

9. Read a book together.  Pick a book to read as a family and read a bit each day.  Great cuddle time.

10. Learn something new together.  Go to a museum, open up the internet, take a class together.  What are your kids interested in?  Learn about it together.

11. Tackle a project together.  Do you have a fun creative project you'd like to work on together?  Use the extra time to tackle that project.

12. Get ready for guests.  Create a new spring wreath, bake a special dessert, freshen up the guest room. Work together and remember the joy of spring.

13. Make a new batch of Play-doh.  Try some Pumpkin Pie Play-doh or Kool-aid.  And play with the spring colors.

14. Create cards.  Break out the scrapbook paper and markers and make a stack of cards to send to loved ones.

15. Plan a neighborhood bike ride.  Get the neighborhood kids together, add some streamers to the bikes, and have a bike ride.  What a great idea for community pride!

16. Plan a playdate at the park.  Pack up a picnic, gather some moms, and let the kids play as long as they want.

17. Cook a meal together.  Allow the kids to help you plan and cook the meal.

18. Go local.  Make a list of local places you've always wanted to visit and plan to see 3-4 of those throughout the day.

19. Plan a family game night.  Put together some fun prizes like no chores for one day, pick your favorite dessert, or day out with mom.

20. Have a pizza party.  Lay out all the toppings and let them build their own pizzas.  Top the night off with a family movie.

21. Create a Spring Break scrapbook.  Spend the day taking photos of each other and put them in a special book to remember your time together.

22. Start a journal together.  Create a journal where you can write letters back and forth to each other.  Save it for times of encouragement and love.

23. Make a batch of Peanut Butter Easter Eggs.

24. Create a family movie.  Let the kids come up with a script, create the costumes, and act it out before the camera.  Have a movie premiere with fresh popped popcorn.

25. Plan a nothing day.  Let the kids jump on the trampoline, play with the dog or watch cartoons.  Stay in your jammies and catch up on some relaxing.

Friday, March 25, 2016

2016 March Bookmarks

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*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for March was Girl Soldier by Faith J. H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo.

These are the books I read this month:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo-- This book gave me a much needed kick in the behind as far as my need to declutter our home.  And while it's far from perfect, it certainly has gotten me started on a productive process.  Kondo goes into thanking her items "for their service" which I just couldn't bring myself to believe in.  However, I do agree with much that she had to say about holding things out of obligation and sentiment.  It really gave me a new perspective on enjoying the items that fill my home and letting go of those that just don't "bring me joy."  Trendy and thought provoking, this book is more about how we look at our posessions than how we declutter then, but very much needed if clutter is to be eliminated.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey-- Only 6 (but long) chapters, Homer Price is an interesting look into mid-American history.  Funny, witty, and wholesome, a fun read to add to American history or just any time.

Our suggested reading for March was Girl Soldier by Faith J. H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo- This book was heart breaking to say the least.  After reading, I'm ashamed to say I knew (and still know) very little about the conflict/civil war raging in Northern Uganda.  And certainly didn't know about the psychological warfare being waged on "our" children there.  A mix between memoir and historical nonfiction, Girl Soldier overwhelmed me by these lost children, an entire generation, being destroyed in their own country.  Thankfully, the book redeems itself with lots of resources for action and points of entry.  This is an absolute must read for every advocate, Christian, or anyone valuing the sanctity of life.  I can't even put into words what this book did to me.  Read it!

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on Girl Soldier by Faith J. H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo.

And come back April 29th as we discuss The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski.

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cute Spring Banner

*Originally posted on 4/19/10

By now I'm sure you've seen all these cute little spring banners popping up. I've seen nearly every shape and style out there, as well as every tool used to make them. And this one cost me nearly nothing.

Cricut (or any paper shape cutter, even larger punches)
Scrapbook paper in varying colors and prints
1. I started by cutting out two different style flowers in 5 in. One style flower I cut in print and one in color. If you use a punch, you can cut circles or flowers in varying sizes as well. One banner I saw cut the inner circle in 4 in while the matting circle was 5 in. At this size you can get about 4 out of a 12 x 12 piece of paper.

2. Next I cut out my letters for the word in a coordinating color. I thought of using a second print, but it was just too busy.
3. I adhered my layers together, trying to twist the flowers so the petals came out opposite. Then I added a center circle and my letters. You could also use rub-on letters as well.
4. Embellishment was the fun part. I added punched shapes and stickers, but you could also use gems, glitter, Jolee's, yo-yos, buttons, etc.

5. Finally I hole punched my flowers, two holes in each. This allows them to "lay" better on the ribbon, especially if you're going to hang it on the wall. And I threaded the ribbon through. After spacing the flowers evenly on the ribbon, I knotted each end to keep them centered, even after I put it in storage. I personally like the way the extra ribbon hangs on the end, but you could trim it off.

All in all, this project cost me $0. I had everything in my stash. The paper and ribbon were items I'd had laying around for awhile and the adhesive is one that I use regularly.

If you don't have a cricut, check out your local scrapbook store. May will offer free use of their equipment for buying your materials in their store. It's always worth checking.
So there you have it: a little something to brighten up our home. Quick and affordable... my mind is already churning with other ideas.

How are you getting ready for spring

Monday, March 21, 2016

Around the World Birthday Party {Budget Friendly}

Recently my beautiful little niece turned 5 years old.
And in true Kiera fashion, she celebrated with an adventure around the world.

This party so fit her personality. 
She's super smart and loves learning about the world.

So I wanted to share this fun and creative party with you,
hoping that it will inspire you for your future traveler.

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Kiera greeted us at the door as the custom's agent
and stamped passports for every guest.
I just love this booth her mom made.

Our first stop was France where the kids colored
and became artists under Effiel Tower decorations

This was a great way to engage the kids while waiting
for other guests to arrive.

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Then it was off to China,
which my brother in law visited in college.

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The kids took turns racing to see who could transfer
cotton balls with chopsticks.
We saw some creative strategies.  :-)

Then on to India where the kids danced with scarves 
and moved to the beat.

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Finally off to smash a globe piƱata
and receive goody bags filled with a variety of treats
from around the world (Pier One treats).

The menu was global to, including:

Pizza from Italy
Fruits labeled from around the world
Thai Iced Tea
and dumplings from Russia.

My kids had a great time, 
even the 10 year old!

We can't wait to travel the world again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Collage this Journal {Review}

You guys know I've been all about journals  and scrapbooking, memory keeping and crafting.  In fact recently I've found myself posting smash book ideas to my crafting pinterest board.  So when this Collage this Journal arrived for review, I just about jumped out of my skin.  I was so excited.

Created by Elenor Shakespeare, Collage this Journal is 112 pages of journal and collaging challenges sure to inspire your creativity.  This book is beautifully bound with nice covers and thick pages perfect for a variety of mediums.  Acrylics, ink, watercolor, markers... this book is made to be altered without bleeding or deteriorating.  Each page/layout includes a prompt as well as layered illustrations in muted tones to compliment any style.  Some of the prompts include:
  • Fill the scales with things that hold particular weight or significance in your life
  • Who would get an invitation to your ultimate dinner party?
  • Who or what makes your heart sing?
  • Create falling leaf shapes of things you want to leave behind
  • What hand have you been dealt?
If you like to journal, create, or are just looking into smash books and altering, this would be a great book to add to your shelf.  It's fun, whimsical, and very nice quality.  This journal becomes available on March 15th and is an excellent value for the price.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review.  All opinions are my own.

Easter Resurrection Eggs

*Originally posted on 3/11/13
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I've been thinking a lot about how to make Easter meaningful to my children this year.  They're getting older and I want to make sure the deeper Easter meaning doesn't get lost in the rush for chocolate.  But  making things meaningful times and forethought.  So here I am planning.

We've been making lots of cross and flower crafts.  And I'm planning the menu to include Resurrection Rolls as part of our Easter breakfast.  While we're at it, it's time to pull out the Easter eggs and make our Resurrection Eggs.  Resurrection Eggs are a twelve day countdown to Easter using symbols and verses that recap the significance of the holiday.  It's a great activity for hands-on learning as the kids can touch, taste, and smell each symbol hiding in the Easter eggs.

With that in mind, these are the symbols and verses included in our Resurrection Eggs:

Day One:
Symbol: Leaves
Verse: So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out "Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" (John 12:12-13)

Day Two:
Symbol: Sample of perfume
Verse: For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. (Matt. 26:12)

Day Three
Symbol: Cracker
Verse: As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it.  Then he broke it into pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying "Take it, for this is my body."  (Mark 14:22)

Day Four
Symbol: Small flowers
Verse: Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." (Matt 26:36)

Day Five
Symbol: 3 dimes
Verse: Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. (Matt 27:3)

Day Six
Symbol: Gold pipe cleaner crown
Verse: So Pilate asked Him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"  Jesus replied, "You have said it." (Luke 23:3)

Day Seven
Symbol: 3 nails
Verse: Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. (Mark 15:24)

Day Eight
Symbol: Dice
Verse: They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing. (Psalm 22:18)

Day Nine
Symbol: Sponge soaked in vinegar
Verse: Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture He said, "I am thirsty."  A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.  When Jesus had tasted it, He said, "It is finished.  Then he bowed His head and released His spirit.  (John 19:28-30)

Day Ten
Symbol: Linen cloth
Verse: When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.  He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.  And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud (cloth) and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock.  And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.  (Matthew 27:57-60)

Day Eleven
Symbol: Rock
Verse: (And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men (Matthew 28:2-4)

Day Twelve
Symbol: Empty
Verse: (But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.  come, see the place where He lay." (Matthew 28:5-6)

What family traditions do you have at Easter?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Scrapbooked a couple of pages... made some baseball flip flops... 

What I'm Reading:  I'm just finishing up Girl Soldier this weekend.  Wow!  That's been a rough book to get through, but so good.  Now what to do with this information?

What I'm Doing: This weekend I'm working on the kids' Easter baskets and filming my annual basket ideas video.  As the kids get older, it gets more challenging.  But it also gets more fun.

What I'm Watching:  Baseball practice... homeschool videos... the wind and the rain going crazy... 

What I'm Enjoying:  Hot chocolates and hot popcorn... watching the lake rise... 

What are you up to?

Friday, March 11, 2016

25 Signs That You Grew Up In The Church

You Can Name These Guys.

You Once "Kissed Dating Goodbye."

While loosing any friends or family in a public place, you wonder if the rapture happened.

You've seen an endtimes movie.

You can name This Guy too.

You went to summer camp with a one piece bathing suit and shorts that extended past your fingertips.

You went on a mission trip for Spring Break.

You would "Fellowship" with other families around noon on Sundays.

You know what "Fellowship" means.

You know there's more than one version of the Bible.

You know about These Guys.

You know what "See You at the Pole" means....
And you were there!

You had a WWJD bracelet.

You went to a "lock-in"... before intruder drills were a thing.

You had a Bible cover with handles.

You can sing this theme song.

You ever competed in a Hallelu-, Hallelu-, Hallelujah" / "Praise Ye the Lord" sing off...
And high fived your pew mates afterwards.

You've ever used the words Pew Mates.

You used flannel grams on a Sunday morning.

You can tell the Gospel story with a bracelet.

You owned a Petra Praise CD.

You wore a purity ring.

Instead of trick or treating, you've been trunk or treating.

Wednesday nights meant Royal Rangers and Missionettes.

You know what a Bible drill is.

What about you?
Did you grow up in the church?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Stretching Your Dollars at Easter

*Originally posted on 3/13/08.  Enjoy!

It seems as though spending money on the "holidays" is a never ending process.  I feel like I've been doing nothing but spending money since October.  Between birthday and Halloween, Christmas and the new baby... wow... time and money has flown.  So I thought I'd list a few inexpensive ideas for Easter.  And while not all these ideas are inexpensive, they are relatively practical and won't end up forgotten at the bottom of the toy box.

Sidewalk chalk--The age range for this varies, but could easily extend through early elementary school.  It's a great activity to keep the kids busy while making dinner, too

Bubbles--Kids love them.  And you can find containers of varying sizes, even at the dollar store. But look around.  Sometimes even the dollar store is overpriced for what you end up getting.

Mini cars--Look for the ones in multi-packs.  My son loves them.  I have a couple in my purse, some in the diaper bag, and several in the house.  They're great for entertaining in restaurants, traffic, long shopping trips, etc.

Books-- We love books in this house.  Can't get enough of them.  Each one is a new adventure. You kids will use them over and over again.

Play-doh--What kid can get enough Play-doh?  Again, I can't say enough about the dollar store. They have several packs of Play-doh and tools.

Art supplies--Crayons, watercolors, glitter glue, stickers, google eyes, popsicle sticks, coloring books, pipe cleaners... the possibilities are endless.  You could fill the basket with nothing but art and craft supplies depending on your child's age relatively inexpensively.

Summer stuff--This is the route we take with younger children.  They are growing so quickly; we find we need a new swim suit each year.  Knowing that we'll need to buy them anyway, we put new bathing suits, sunscreen, towels, floaties, etc in the kids' Easter baskets.  Another idea to keep in mind is a waterproof book from Baby Einstein.  My son has a couple and loves them for both the pool and the bath.  

Goodies other than candy:
Homemade cookies
Dried Fruit
Fig Newtons

Other misc ideas:
New sippy cup or bowl--look for clearance seasonal items or character items at the dollar store.
Jacks, bouncy ball, or jumprope--don't forget they can use these relatively inexpensive items as the weather warms up.

I hope this helps.  I can't believe Easter is so early this year.  I need to make a list and get going. Have fun shopping.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Keeping Christ at the Center of Easter

Spring Break #5 photo IMG_5032_zpsdahtpmoi.jpg 

We love Easter.  It's a wonderful time to be with family, emerge from the doldrums of winter, and celebrate the resurrection.  And as our kids are growing, it's a joyful time to share with them why we celebrate Easter.  Below are a few things we done to point the kids back to Christ at Easter, and a few new ideas we'd like to try in the future.  It doesn't take much to open a conversation and watch our kids embrace the miracle of the holiday.

*Make Do-a-Dot Crosses
*Make Crayon Crosses
*Fill Easter Baskets with Bibles, devotionals, and prayer journals
*Read and discuss the Easter story
*Create tissue paper mosaic crosses
*Paint "Where is Jesus?" watercolor art
*Bake Resurrection Rolls
*Follow Resurrection Eggs
*Bake Resurrection Cookies
*Make pretzels and learn about their origin
*Collect items for charity
*Study Passion of the Christ artwork
*Wash your children's feet as an act of service
*Read the Crucifixion story
*Attend a sunrise service
*Listen to Handel's Messiah
*Prepare a special celebratory meal
*Make Bird's Nest cookies
*Study the origin of Easter eggs
*Plant an Easter garden
*Memorize ABC scripture cards
*Re-enact Palm Sunday with construction paper palms
*Write Easter messages in the driveway with chalk
*Color white carnations and discuss how Jesus took on our sins
*Plant a resurrection garden
*Paint a fingerprint cross (coming soon)
*Complete a lent word search
*Dip Chocolate covered pretzel crosses

How do you point your kids to Christ at Easter?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: nothing really... Oops!  I'm working on plans for a heart model, but still in the planning stages.

What I'm Reading: I'm reading Girl Soldier.  It's really hard to read 'cause it's so raw.  Also I'm collecting some homeschooling philosophy books to read next. 

What I'm Doing: Helping boys sell candy bars... celebrating my nephew's birthday... teaching the circulatory system... 

What I'm Watching:  Kids and I are finally finishing last season's Amazing Race.  We have one episode left.  Took us long enough, huh? 

What I'm Enjoying: Good healthy child visits... rain... 

What are you up to?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Easter Bunny Playdoh {Pinterest Inspired}

*Originally posted 4/16/14

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I love adding extra little surprises to my kids easter baskets so when I came across this idea for Easter Bunny Playdoh, I had to try it.  What a cute idea!  It's one of those super easy, economical ideas that makes me shake my head and say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

So I whipped up a batch last night and packaged up three: one for little man, one for my niece, and one for my nephew.  It's your basic homemade playdough idea, but packaged in a cute way.  My only word of caution is to make sure you have gel food coloring or use a packet of kool-aid.  I used gel coloring and it took quite a bit of yellow to get the orange color that I wanted.

Fill treat bags from Wiltons and tie them off with some pretty green ribbon.  And you have a wonderful addition to your child's easter basket.  Or a great spring party favor.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Little One, God Loves You {Review}

This sturdy little board book introduces children to the concept of A Purpose Driven Life.  Written by Rick Warren's daughter, Amy Warren Hilliker has a sweet way of introducing God in a child's daily life.  Each page contains a rhyming couplet about God's interaction in an applicable way, including growth, family life, service, and ministry.  The rhythm provides a sweet flow to the book and the illustrations are soft and childlike.

This book would make a wonderful shower gift or first board book for a little one.  Amazon lists the recommended age of 4-8 years, but it's really quite simplistic and my common sense rating would be birth to 5 years.  A nice introduction to the Christian life.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review.  All opinions are my own.
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