Halloween Over the Years

Halloween will be here soon. When AJ was little I didn’t ever have to worry about a costume for her. She would wear one of her princess dresses or put together a simple costume with one of her leotards. Last year was the first time I bought her a regular costume. She was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Since the costume still fits, I thought she would just wear it again. I guess as you get older that isn’t a fun thing to do. I don’t know what she will be this year. But, it got me thinking about how much she has really changed over the last few years.

Before 2007 I didn’t have a very good camera. I know she was Snow White one year, and I think she was Bell a few years in a row.

Here are a few pictures from her Halloween costumes from 2007 through 2015.

2007 – Princess Bell

Halloween 2007 - BellI believe that this was one of the years that we went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Back in those days we went to Disneyland every Thursday after she finished Gymnastics.

2008 – Minnie Mouse

Halloween 2008 - Minnie

She loved this dress, and wore it all of the time. In fact we purchased the same one twice until they no longer made it in her size.

2009 – Princess Aurora

This was one of her favorite dresses.

2010 – Pocahontas

2010 Halloween

AJ is actually a quarter Indian. She really liked that she could wear a costume that represented that.

2011 – Gymnast or Cheerleader

Cheerleader 2011

I don’t remember if she was a gymnast or cheerleader this year. I know that I was in a cast and couldn’t take her trick or treating so she just went to a few homes of people we knew. This picture wasn’t from Halloween, but from a cheerleading competition earlier in the year.

2012 – Butterfly

halloween-2013

This was a quick and easy costume that only cost about $4. She loved it!

2013 – Cat

Halloween 2013

She planned to save the mask and tail for the next year, but they didn’t end up lasting.

2014 – Chaeta

halloween-2014

This time she picked a chaeta. Again this was only about $6. It was nice when she had leotards lying around.

2015 – Dorothy

Halloween 2015

She didn’t have a leotard that fit anymore, so we had to pick something different. I think she looked adorable in this costume.

My baby has grown up. Now so many of the costumes that are available are too sexy. I am sure we will find her something that works, but I do miss the days when she was younger. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. What will your child be this year for Halloween?

 

 

10 Summer Fun Outdoor Activities

The sweet smell of summer will soon be in the air. Commercials for theme parks and water parks are all around. Summer camps are getting into full swing. But, how can you and your children enjoy the fun summer without breaking the bank?

10 fun summer ideas that won't break the bank

You can look on Pinterest and find thousands of ideas for cheap summer fun, but most of them require a great deal of craftiness. The truth is I am not crafty! I love to do crafts and I try, but I never seem to get them right. While I would love to turn my backyard into a miniature water park, I lack the time, energy, skill, and funds.

Here are 10 outside activities to keep your child occupied throughout the summer, while making memories and not breaking the bank!

1. Create an obstacle course. The choices are limitless!

10 fun summer ideas that won't break the bankGrab a few things you have laying around, use a little creativity, and have a blast. Crawl under chairs, jump over pool noodles, hop from one spot to the next. You can make it into a race or try to beat the clock.

10 fun summer ideas that won't break the bank

2. Blow bubbles. There are a bunch of recipes online to make your own bubble solution, but I like to buy the big thing of bubbles from the store. They only cost about $5 and they last a long time.
3. Water gun fun. If your family doesn’t like the idea of playing with toy guns, there are other water shooters too. We found a few really large water shooters at the 99 cent store and they work great. You can spray each other, yourself, or objects. Make it a game to see how long it takes to push a ball across the yard using only the pressure of the water. You may even be able to sneak in some learning.

4. Jump rope. Jumping rope can keep my little one occupied for hours. Add a summer twist and the fun is multiplied. Jump rope through the sprinklers, or find another way to add water. Just remember to be careful not to slip!

5. Water balloons. Have a water balloon fight, play water balloon tic tac toe, have a water balloon toss. Like the obstacle course you are only limited by your imagination.
6. Sidewalk chalk.  There is just something fun about drawing on the ground with bright beautiful colors. You can make your own chalk or pick some up for a few dollars at the store. You can sneak a little learning in here too by practicing math facts or spelling words.
7. Swimming.  It may not be an option for everyone, but if you have a pool nearby make sure to utilize it.

8. Roast Marshmallows. A simple activity of roasting marshmallows around a fire pit can bring a night full of happiness and fun. Add in telling ghost stories or singing songs and it really can’t be beat.

9. Flash Light Tag. A few flashlights and a back yard makes for a great game of tag. Once you get tired of playing tag, use the flashlights to make shadow puppets.
10. Play with ice and water. Freeze water in different containers and let your kid’s imagination run wild. Set up a table with measuring cups and water and let them explore. Let them get wet and messy and have a blast.

Whatever you do this summer, shut of the TV and computers, get outside for a few minutes and have fun with your kids. You don’t have to have a lot of money to make a memorable summer for your kids! What are you planning to do this summer?

 

A Dozen Ways to Reuse Plastic Eggs

A Dozen Ways to Reuse Plastic Eggs

I don’t know about you, but after Easter, my house is full of plastic Easter Eggs. Years ago we would save them and reuse the plastic eggs for a few years. The last five or six years, though, they don’t seem to be made of the same quality. I hate to just throw away the plastic eggs, so I have come up with a few different uses for those plastic eggs over the years. Here are a dozen different ways to reuse plastic eggs after Easter. There are even a few educational ideas thrown in.

  •  Use them as math counters. Take the eggs apart and have your kids use them to count, sort them by colors, or even sort them by size. For older kids you can put the eggs in a bag and turn it into a lesson on probability.
  • Make fun creatures. Give your child an egg, some googly eyes, pipe cleaner, and some markers and let them create something. You will need to use a good craft glue, because the school glue doesn’t seem to stick very well.

Make a cute creature with leftover plastic eggs

  • Trace circles. Use the eggs to trace circles. You can even turn it into a math lesson about finding the area of a circle. Or, trace a lot of circles and color them different colors, making a cool art project.
  • Use them as stamps. Dip the eggs in paint and stamp them onto paper. You can also use a stamp pad or even marker.
  • Use them as a coin holder. Give the egg to your child to hold all of their loose change. The small size makes it a great fit for most purses.
  • Make noise makers. Seal any holes in the eggs and then fill partially with rice or beans. Then glue the egg shut. These noise makers can be a lot of fun and the kids can even help make them!
  • Make a Barbie purse. You will only need part of the egg for this project. Some of our eggs have holes in them. For the ones with holes take a piece of yarn and string it through. Then tape the yarn to the sides of the egg so that the yarn stays in place. Tie the ends and then decorate the egg with stickers. It can be a great basket or purse.

Make a purse with plastic eggs

  • Hold earrings. The plastic eggs are the perfect size to hold earrings. Once the egg is shut it can easily be put into a drawer.
  • Practice math facts. Using a permanent marker, write different math facts on one side pf the eggs. On the other side write the answers. Then have your little one match the facts to the correct answer. To make it a little bit more difficult, have the answers on different colored eggs.

Use plastic eggs as a teaching device.

  • Learn about the Presidents. After you take the eggs apart, write the first names and number of the president on the tops of the eggs. On the bottoms of the eggs write the President’s last name. Then have your child match them up. You can start with a few and work up to all of them. What a fun way to learn the order of the President’s! You can use the same idea and practice the states and capitals. Write the names of two different capitals on the top part of the eggs. On the bottom of the eggs write the names of two states. Have your child practice matching the correct state and capitals. Since there are two states and capitals on each egg, you can work on from two to fifty at a time.
  • Have a scavenger hunt. Write clues on paper and stick them inside of the eggs. You can combine an egg hunt and a scavenger hunt for a great family activity. 
  • Use them as pool toys. We like to fill them with water and then dive for them. They also make great bath toys.

If you can’t think of a way to reuse your plastic eggs, give them to your kids and tell them to be creative. You never know what they will come up with. Hope you and your kids can have a good time reusing your plastic eggs.

10 Best Things About Spring

10 Reasons why you should enjoy spring.

Spring is in the air; well it will be soon, anyway. Who knows what this crazy weather will bring? Where I live in California, it is usually nice out and it may get hotter or cooler depending on the month. Our winter is very mild and cool; spring is rainy, windy, and nice; summer is hot; fall may be cool, but still nice. With the drought we are going through right now we could really use some rain.

One thing that really bugs me about Spring is that we can’t really plan ahead what we should wear for the week. In a single week, my 11 year old may wear pants with a light jacket one day, shorts with short sleeves the next day, and a tank top, shorts, and flip flops the next day. Sometimes I wish that we lived in an area that had distinctive seasons, but then I see how others have tons of snow while we are running around in shorts. I guess everywhere has its advantages and disadvantages.

There isn’t a season that I don’t like, so today I wanted to share my top ten reasons for enjoying spring.

  1. The flowers. I love to see the beautiful new flowers starting to bloom all around. They smell wonderful and really put me into a good mood. I can’t seem to keep flowers alive, but I love to look at what others have grown.
  2. Easter. Easter is a favorite around here. From coloring eggs, to egg hunts, there is fun all around. We focus on God, but still take part in a lot of fun activities.
  3. Fresh air. Spring time is usually when the house can be open. We don’t need the air conditioner or heater going so the windows can be open and fresh air can fill the house.
  4. Day light. I hate changing the clocks in the fall. I don’t like that we lose an hour of sleep when the clocks change in the spring, but I do love the fact that it is lighter later into the day. AJ can ride her bike longer, and I can run errands longer without being in the dark.
  5. Rain. (Well, I hope there will be rain.)They say April showers bring May flowers. I am not sure how true that saying is, but I love the rain. I love to listen to it, and smell the freshness after the rain. We are currently in a drought so we can use any rain that comes our way.
  6. Birthdays. May is a busy month for us. It is AJ’s birthday, my grandma’s birthday, my birthday, and Mother’s day. Even if we don’t do much it is a fun time of year.
  7. Spring Break. We don’t do anything special for spring break, but it usually means that AJ’s friends are able to come over and spend some time with her. Between school, sports, and life we don’t get to see her friends as often as we would like. When the public school is out that means more time for friends.
  8. Fruit prices go down. Spring and summer bring affordable fruit prices. I am the mean mom who won’t pay for grapes and strawberries unless they are on sale. Spring time is when we start to see 99 cents a pound sales and we enjoy a greater variety of fruit.
  9. The birds. Listening to the birds out your window, and seeing them fly by just make the day a little bit better.
  10. Summer is just around the corner. Summer here means swimming and spring time means that we are that much closer to jumping into the pool. We could live in the pool and often spend hours swimming. If we have a warm spring we might even get to swim before the season officially changes.

What is your favorite season?

 

Candy Cane Valentines

Our family always has left over candy canes at the end of Christmas. We use them to decorate, but not very many of us enjoy their taste. Usually we end up throwing them out, but this year I decided to try something new. I held on to them and decided I would find a use for them. As I stared at them sitting there, I noticed that they made a heart when they were put together. I grabbed a few supplies out of the craft drawer and came up with these adorable candy cane valentines that AJ can hand out to the kids at church on Valentine’s Day.

Simple to make Valentines made with left over candy canes

You only need a few supplies:

2 candy canes

1 craft stick (red if possible)

1 pipe cleaner

scissors

hot glue gun and glue

sharpie marker

Start off by arranging the candy canes into a heart shape. Once you decide how you like it, put a dot of glue where the canes come together at the top and a dot of glue at the bottom. Set your candy cane heart aside while you make the arrow. Start by writing a Valentine’s Day message on the craft stick. Then cut pieces of the pipe cleaner and shape them to form the front and back of the arrow. Attach the shaped pipe cleaner to the craft stick with the hot glue. The last step is to glue the arrow to the candy cane heart.

Easy to make Valentines made with left over candy canes

The glue didn’t seem to hurt the candy cane, so the recipients will be in for a sweet treat.

The project was quick and simple! I am not a very crafty person, but even I was able to pull these off. AJ is thrilled to have an interesting Valentine to hand out, but the best part is that it didn’t cost us anything. We had everything already in our craft drawer.

What are your kids handing out this year?

 

Resolutions vs. Goals – What is the Difference?

It is January – a new year and a new beginning. This time of year, everyone is making New Years Resolutions. They want to eat healthier, lose weight, save more, spend less, and generally live a better life. The sad fact is that often these resolutions are short lived fads. Try going to the gym in January and it is packed, but by March that same gym will have plenty of empty machines. Why is that? I feel it is because we make our resolutions too big, too general, and often unrealistic. The idea of getting up at 5am and exercising every day of the week starts off with good intentions but eventually life gets into the way and you are only able to go two days a week. Eventually, you stop going all together.

Setting and achieving goals is an important skill to learn. How can we teach these skills to our children if every year they see us making resolutions and not following through with them?

 Make a goal instead of a resolution!

 What’s the difference?

A resolution is “a decision or determination to do something.”

A goal is “the result toward which effort is directed.”

Don’t make an unrealistic resolution that you know you won’t be able to keep; make a goal that you can work for.

Regardless of what your goals are for the new year, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  •  Set goals that make sense for your family. 
  •  Be specific in your goals.
  •  Start off with short term goals. Just because it is a New Years goal, doesn’t mean it has to last the entire year. Try to start off with a weekly or monthly goal. Then see how things are going and adjust your goal if needed.
  •  You are going to have set backs. Just as the new year is a new beginning, each and every day brings new beginnings as well. If today didn’t go as well as you had planned, make every effort tomorrow to be better.

While I would love to make goals to get more sleep, stick to a better homeschooling schedule, or to have more “me time,” those goals are not realistic for my family.  I take care of my grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, so we never know how our day will go.

This year I have set some goals as I work on my word of the year, content.

Did you pick a word of the year or make any goals?

The 10 Best Christmas Movies

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We love watching Christmas movies! From November through the first of January the television is usually on one of three channels; Lifetime, Hallmark, or UP. All three channels play a variety of Christmas movies that keep the spirit of Christmas alive. There are all kinds of heartwarming stories that really get us in a Christmas mood.

10 Best Christmas Movies

When I was little I wanted to watch Christmas movies all year long, and it drove my mom crazy. From the time I was about five years old the rule at our house was always “no Christmas movies until November.” That rule has stuck around except for a few movies like, Home Alone that will appear on television once in a while.

Now each year we take down our box of Christmas movies in November and put the box back up when we take down our decorations at the beginning of the year. It is always a great time going through the VHS movies that I watched as a child along with the newer DVDs and bluerays that have been added. Each of us has a favorite movie in that box.

Here are our 10 favorite Christmas Movies in no particular order.

1. Miracle on 34 Street

My mom prefers the older version while AJ and I both enjoy the newer version, but both are great.

2. It’s a Wonderful Life

I didn’t really like this one as a kid, but as I get older I really appreciate it. It is a great story!

3. White Christmas

We love the songs, the dancing, and the overall fun. We will never have a White Christmas where we live, but we like the movie just the same.

4. The Santa Clause

I remember being amazed by this movie as a child, and The Santa Clause 3 was the first movie AJ ever watched in a movie theater. They are fun and keep you laughing.

5. Mrs. Santa Claus

This is my favorite Christmas movie. It stars Angela Lansburyas Mrs. Santa Claus. The songs are amazing and it has a lot of historical aspects to it as well. It touches on womens rights, factory workers, immigration and so much more. I don’t feel like it is Christmas until I watch this movie.

6. Home Alone

Who doesn’t love Home Alone? While it is obviously outdated (AJ asked why Kevin didn’t just call his mom on her cell phone the first time she watched it!) it is still funny. The best part is watching the crooks get outsmarted by a kid!

7. I’ll Be Home for Christmas

I don’t know if it has something to do with my childhood crush on JTT or what, but we love this movie. It is the story of a bratty kid who needs to get home for Christmas in order to get the car of his dreams. Of course he is met with all kinds of problems which make for a lot of laughs.

8. The Christmas Cottage

This one was added to our box a few years ago. It is the story of Thomas Kinkade, it is touching and really an amazing movie.

9. Eloise at Christmastime

AJ loved the Eloise books when she was learning to read, so the movie was an instant hit at our house. This is the story of a 6 year old girl who is loud, full of love, wants to help, and always seems to get into trouble. She lives at a hotel and has some fun adventures at Christmas.

10. Christmas with the Kranks

I read the book that the movie was based on and loved it, so I figured I would love the movie, and I did. It really makes you think of all the stuff we do at Christmas just to make others happy.

Bonus – If we had to pick a favorite animated movie it would be Yogi’s First Christmas. My mom recorded it off of the TV years ago and we use to watch it all of the time. It finally broke a few years ago I haven’t replaced it with a new copy yet. Hopefully we will soon.

We pretty much like any Christmas movie around here, and we had a little bit of a hard time picking our top 10. Did your favorite Christmas movie make the cut?

My Thoughts on Halloween

This time of year my Facebook news feed is full of two different types of posts, those who feel Halloween is the Devil’s holiday, and those who enjoy posting gruesome and scary pictures. I fall somewhere in the middle.

Everyone has a different opinion, but these are my thoughts on Halloween

I won’t be posting scary images or decorating the house in death glorifying décor, but AJ will dress up, have fun with some friends and eat a little too much candy.

We treat Halloween as a time to dress up as a fun character (AJ has been different princesses, a gymnast, a cheerleader, a cat, and this year she will be Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ.) and get some candy. In previous years we have trick or treated in areas we know and we have attended quite a few church events. When she was younger we went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

We have never made it a time to glorify death or evil, for our family it is a very downplayed holiday where we focus on pumpkins and the changing season.

This year I can’t do much of anything, because I just had surgery. There won’t be any fun Halloween crafts or pumpkin carving. And we will miss another trip to the pumpkin patch. I am sure we will watch a few Halloween related movies and AJ will do some pumpkin themed worksheets, but that will be about it. On Halloween AJ will spend the evening at her church helping out with their Harvest Fest while I rest.

I am completely aware that Halloween is derived from a pagan holiday, but really most of our holidays are. Some people celebrate the holiday with spiritual rituals and other odd things. We don’t. I feel that it is like most holidays, it is what you make it. There are a lot of educational things you can learn about this time of year; the human body, cats, spiders, bats. Make the holiday what you want it to be.

So happy Halloween everyone.

Do you let your kids dress up for Halloween? *We don’t have to agree but please keep comments kind, or they will be deleated.*

Trying New Foods – Eggplant

One of our New Year’s resolutions was to try a new fruit and vegetable every month. For the month of January (yeah I am a little behind) we decided to try eggplant. Why did we decide to pick eggplant? It was on sale for .79 each, and being on a very limited budget we went with the cheapest thing we could find.

Eggplant - Trying New Foods

We bought the eggplant and then tried to figure out what to do with it. We watched a few videos on YouTube to try and figure out how to cook it and then we headed over to Pinterest to try and find a good recipe. I wanted something other than Eggplant Parmesan.

After looking at a few different recipes, we decided to try The Best Eggplant Patties . It sounded good and simple. So we pealed and sliced the eggplant and then cooked it how the recipe said. It was actually really easy. When they were all finished cooking, we tried them.  I loved it! AJ and my mom both thought they were ok, but they waited too long to eat them and they started to get soggy.

Eggplant patties

Although the recipe turned out great, the idea behind trying new fruit and vegetables was to find healthy items to add to our diet. This recipe called for quite a bit of cheese and involved frying them. They were far from healthy.

So we picked up another eggplant and decided to try roasted eggplant. We just drizzled it with olive oil, added a little seasoning,  and stuck it in the oven. I didn’t care for it, but AJ loved it.

The big question……. Will we eat eggplant again? Yes! Even though I didn’t care for it roasted, I plan to experiment with it some more.

In January we tried eggplant and grapefruit. Grapefruit has already been purchased a few more times for AJ, I can’t wait to see what other fruits and vegetables we come across. In February we tried Jicama and cactus pears. I will be sharing what we thought about those soon.

What is your favorite eggplant recipe?

Fruit of the Month – January

One of our goals for the new year was to try a new fruit and vegetable every month. How are we picking which new thing to try? It is simple, I am going by price. We are on a limited budget so we are going to try new produce based on the deals I find.

This month’s fruit was grapefruit. They are readily available and actually fairly inexpensive, but neither of us had tried one before. My mom hates grapefruit and now a few of her medications don’t allow her to eat it, so we were on our own for this one.

Growing up our fruit mainly consisted of; apples, bananas, oranges, and berries. AJ loves almost every fruit and vegetable she has tried so I think this goal will be a fun way to branch out and try new things.

I picked up two grapefruits (they were only .20 each) and then a fruit cup in natural juice.

First we tried the fruit cup.

AJ liked it and I couldn’t stand it. Even though it was all natural it had a fake flavor to me.

Then it was time for the fresh grapefruit. Since I didn’t like the pre cut grapefruit, we decided to share one grapefruit. AJ loved it. I thought it was ok, but way too sour.

I decided to try it with a little sugar. It was edible, but the point of trying new fruits and vegetables is to eat healthier. I don’t really see the point of eating a fruit that I need to add sugar to.

Overall, AJ really liked the grapefruit and asked me to buy it again. We agreed that the fresh fruit was a lot better than the packaged, and it is cheaper too. Our first new fruit went well and I can’t wait to see which new fruit will be on sale next month.