Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This week and possibly into next week, the boys and I are doing things related to birds.  Wild Birds Unlimited next to the Publix on SR13 has something my kids are enjoying.

The first day you go in and have your kids tell them they are interested in making a bird feeder.  Wild Birds Unlimited will give them a coloring sheet.   The kids go home and color it.

Another day you go back to the store with your completed coloring page.  The store will give your kids 1 to 2 pounds of free bird seed along with a packet of information on birds, how to make bird feeders, etc.
Bag of free bird seed and packet
Inside the packet
It is pretty neat and FREE!  Enjoy doing things in the summer that are free for sure as our daily activities can quickly add up.

The boys and I are also going to go to the library and get some books about birds.  That's probably as far as we'll take it unless the boys are just loving this.  There is a sheet in the packet from Wild Birds Unlimited where the kids are supposed to track all the birds they see in their backyard.  I think they have to list 20 or 25 that they see.  They can bring that paper back to the store and receive a free plastic bird feeder.  I doubt we'll do this part...but it is an option.  (My mom is the bird expert...maybe she'll do it with Brewer in her yard...hint, hint.)

I had no idea the store offered this.  I love finding little "programs" like this for my kids.  What other neat things have you found for your kids this summer??  Please share...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Snack idea

SNACK BASKETS!!!! has brought me a lot of great ideas.  One idea that I recently implemented is working great for the boys --> snack baskets!

There are two snack baskets in our house.  We have one in the refrigerator and one in the pantry.  When the boys ask for a snack, they are able to get pre-portioned snacks by themselves.  The snacks in the pantry range from organic, healthy fruit to peanut butter to 100 calorie snack packs to cookies.  The snacks in the fridge are all what I consider a "healthy" snack.  There are times in the day that I want to control that the boys' snack is a "good" choice.  So when I hear those words, "I WANT A SNACK".  I simply reply, "You may have something out of the basket in the refrigerator."

Fridge snacks -- squeeze applesauce; Horizon yogurt; pre-portioned bags of carrots, apple slices, grapes, blueberries; cheese sticks

When I don't care what type of snack they have, I tell them they can go to either snack basket.
Pantry basket

Additionally, I am limiting the times of day that I am having to prepare the boys a drink.  I have drinks already for them next to the snack basket that is in the fridge.
Snacks and drinks ready to go
This idea was simple to implement and has made my life a lot easier.  When I get home from the grocery store, I take a few extra minutes to pre-portion the snacks.  Then throughout the week, I am not spending as much time preparing snacks for the boys.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Bingo

I found an idea that I consider brilliant and was happy to borrow the idea --> SUMMER BINGO!  Maddox isn't quite old enough for this (without me supervising...and I need nothing else to supervise), so only Brewer is doing summer bingo.

The sounds of "I'm bored" have started in our home now that school has been out for 3+ weeks.  My kids are not used to having large blocks of time without something planned to do...probably a fault of mine.  So when I heard of summer bingo, I thought it would be a great thing to implement in our home.  I created Brewer's bingo cards as I wanted to incorporate friendship between he and Maddox, physical activity, household responsibility, educational activities, and fun things.

Each Sunday Brewer is given a new bingo card.  Throughout the week, a sticker is placed on each square that has been completed.  He has to let us know PRIOR to doing the activity.  When he is finished, he places the sticker on the square.  Once five stickers have made a row either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, Brewer receives a ticket.  Tickets can be redeemed for "prizes".  We have a few rules in place with the bingo game as well.

Our rules look something like this:
1. You must brush your teeth and eat breakfast before playing Bingo.  (Note: Brewer is our child who won't eat breakfast.  This has helped with the breakfast eating as well.)
2. You must tell Mom or Dad what Bingo square you are doing.
3. etc, etc, etc,

Rewards look something like this:
2 tickets = an extra book at bedtime
3 tickets = stay up late to watch an extra TV show
5 tickets = $5.00
etc, etc, etc

Here are two examples of Bingo cards:

Brewer has some direction on the days (or hours) when we are not attending a play date, summer camp, at the movies, at the pool, etc. -- I remind him of his Bingo game.  Here's Brewer reading with his TAG books.

What do you do to keep your kids entertained at home in the summer???  I'd love to hear! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mario Party Tablescape

 Brewer's 6th birthday party was a blast. In the planning stages, he had a difficult time picking what he wanted to do. We went from taking friends to see Cars 2 to a jumpy place to a pool party to Ollie Koala's to the perfect choice for him –> a video game party. I found the Game Truck via a search engine. It is based in Orlando, but would travel to Jacksonville for an additional gas fee. Brewer was excited!

Our kids only get birthday parties every other year (on their even year birthday). As most of you know, I like to do parties up big. Plus, with only having a birthday party every other year, all the more reason to do it up big for each boy. I did ask Brewer to pick a video game to make the main theme, so I had something to work off of. This momma needs a theme for all parties! LOL! Brewer picked Mario. I hit the ground running once the theme was decided upon.

Fearful there wouldn't be a lot out there that would be “cute” for Mario, I hit blogs for ideas. I got a lot of my ideas from one of my favorite blogs (irony...she has everything on her blog...ha, ha!).

It was great fun working on the tablescape. Here is a breakdown of the table. The balloons were done by A Twist Of Fun. He is located here in Jacksonville and makes amazing balloon animals, characters, etc. I contacted him about making a balloon column. I told him that I wanted to take a standard vertical column and turn it to hang horizontally with no sagging. 
The blue backdrop is a curtain panel that I found on I made the birthday sign using the Cricut and Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) software. It is safety pinned on the curtain panel. 
The tablecloth is 2-1/2 yards of red material. I glued on a grosgrain ribbon to finish the edges. Originally, I hadn't planned to put the lamps on the table. But the table needed more light. These are the lamps that are on the buffet table everyday in our home, so I knew the size would work great. The Mario mushroom napkins came from Birthday Express. The glass blocks and lights were purchased a Hobby Lobby. I cut a question mark out of vinyl from the Cricut.  Then I spray painted the blocks. Once dried, I removed the vinyl question marks; viola, we had the yellow question mark blocks from Mario's Super Brothers game. The boxes on top of each of the glass blocks were paper mache boxes purchased from Hobby Lobby. I covered them in a blue and white striped wrapping paper that I found at PartyCity. 

On the left side of the table, the blue and white striped box was filled with Mario mushrooms. 

On the right side of the table, the blue and white striped box was filled with chocolate Mario mustaches. 
Spray painting PVC pipes seemed like a great idea for the Mario warp pipes. These pipes were filled with 3” Whirly Pops with an added sticker that said, “Brewer 6” on each lollipop. 

On the left side of the table were two candy bowls. One was filled with gold foiled wrapped chocolate coins. These are Mario's coins. The other was filled with red hot candies. These are to represent Mario's fire balls. 

On the right side of the table was a plastic plate with Mario cookies. The original cookies that were ordered were stuck at a FedEx center the weekend of the party (boo-hiss). But when I went to pick up the cake at Cinotti's, I told them what happened to the cookies. Cinotti's was so great and decorated Mario cookies for me right there on the spot. We had red mushrooms, green mushrooms, and stars on the sugar cookies. In the center of the table was the Mario cake from Cinotti's. It was amazing both in appearance and in taste! The cake stand was a hat box made to look like a Mario mushroom. In front of the cake stand was a paper mache 6 from Hobby Lobby that was spray painted yellow.

It all came together great! The tablescape turned out just how I pictured it. It was loads of fun to do!   

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Piranha Plants

Brewer's birthday party was today.  He had a game truck come and a Mario theme.  I saw these Piranha Plants from the classic Mario game on Cute As A Fox creations blog.  I just had to borrow the idea.  Red balls were very difficult to find (when I was looking...LOL!).  Right now, red bouncy balls are everywhere in stores.  But back when I was looking for them, so many of you were looking for me as well.  Thank you for that!  Here is what came out of that red ball search.

These plants were candy bowls at the party.  Smarties and Double Bubble are two of Brewer's favorites, so they were perfect choices for the party.

This project took a lot of helping hands -- Ashley from Cute As A Fox sent me full directions, Allison and Heather ended up finding me the red balls, my dad helped me figure out the plastic bowl support as well as consulting me in the shopping of supplies and attaching the bowl to the stem, Kelly helped with the leaves -- such a group effort and they turned out so cute!  Thanks to all those who helped get them together!

Free Things are Amazing Things

The kindness that people show to me is overwhelming at times.  Surprise kindness might be one of the best!  My floral arranger surprised me and Brewer this week by delivering a special flower arrangement for his birthday party.  Then an Internet friend, Heather Lea, surprised me with Mario circle punches to use at Brewer's video game birthday party.  The two looked like the perfect combination, so I put the punches in the arrangement.  Look at how perfect it turned out for the party!  Every time I passed by the arrangement during the party, I smiled.  It made me think of two friends who did something special for me.  Thank you, Tracy and Heather!  Here's to me paying that kindness forward!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Been on my TO DO list since the new year...

I am finally doing something with my kids starting today (yes, June 1st) that has been on my TO DO LIST since JANUARY -- YIKES!!

I have wanted to memorize scripture with my kids. My mom found a site about a Scripture Memory System that she sent to me.  When I first looked at the site, I must be honest. I just skimmed it and thought, "Too much work." So I began looking for other ways and 5 months in, I'd come up with nothing. So I decided to go back to this model and really take the time to read the page. And you know's not that involved at all. :)

On Tuesday I went and bought our index cards, index card box, and dividers. Then I picked out five verses for us to start with. You know some of the obvious...the Golden Rule, John 3:16, etc. And we've started!

Music is another way that I think is a great way to memorize why not try it with scripture. I have the Seeds of Character CD coming in the mail. Once I listen to it with the kids, I'll let you know my thoughts. Each song is supposed to sing a Bible verse or verses. The verses on the CD are what I plan on using next for the verses in our box.

So check one off the TO DO LIST. Our box is ready and we've started!
Click here for the website with the Scripture Memory System.