Category Archives: Other Stuff

Vacation to D.C.

Our family recently took a trip to Washington, D.C. Since we are currently spending a year living in North Carolina, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the capital of our country while we are just a short drive away.

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Planning a trip to D.C. is a little overwhelming. There is just so much to see! The good news is that there are a ton of awesome free sites (hello Smithsonian!). The bad news is the traffic–parking is difficult, but we were super grateful for our GPS (seriously, how did anyone get anywhere before GPS??!!).

Before our trip we did a lot of research. I went to the library and browsed the Juvenile non-fiction section. I found a whole bunch of books on Washington, D.C., in the 975…section. I checked out 4-5, and spent a few weeks looking at the pictures with my youngest children. I tried to give them a preview of what we would see, so that the monuments would have a little more meaning. But honestly, I think the highlights of the trip for my three  year old and five year old was riding the elevator and seeing ducks in the pond.

I gave my eight-year-old daughter this book to read: A Kid’s Guide to Washington, D.C.

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The book was engaging, and she enjoyed it. The background information she read helped to make the sites that we saw more meaningful.

Ice Cream Cone Trees (and a FHE lesson to go with it)

I’ve got about 10 different posts I would love to share with you this holiday season. Unfortunately, they are all still just written in my head. Time with my family and other projects are at a higher priority than blogging right now, so you’ll probably have to rely on my Pinterest boards to see the fun ideas we have been trying this year.  But here is quick idea I had to share: Ice Cream Cone Trees

Supplies Needed

Sugar ice cream cones

Frosting (tinted green)

Assorted candy: we used red and green M&Ms, mini marshmallows, and crushed candy canes. For the star on top we used a Reese’s Pieces.

The directions are simple: Spread the frosting on the cone, decorate with candy, and voila–instant Christmas tree! This activity was a hit with the entire family, from the 20 month old to the 31 year old.This little cutie did a lot more eating then decorating!This would make a great addition to a gingerbread house. I’ve been a little intimidated by the effort involved to make a gingerbread house and have yet to attempt that activity, but the trees were a great alternative for our family. You can visit this blog for fabulous patterns and tutorials if you are in the mood to make a gingerbread house.

Prior to doing this activity we had a Family Home Evening Lesson on the symbols of Christmas, provided by A Year of FHE. All around a great family activity!

Thanksgiving: Turkeys and other thoughts

Allow me to introduce….Tom the Turkey (nicknamed by the Ant Bug).

Isn’t he cute? I found the no sew tutorial for this adorable bird at Gwenny Penny. Her directions are very clear, and she provides a template for body parts (that red snood can be kinda tricky, you know). The body of her bird is made out of burlap, but I used felt for mine since I have a plethora of felt leftover from last years Christmas projects.

So…hurray for a Thanksgiving decoration! I am  a little lacking in the “Thanksgiving decor” department right now, but I’m sure my girls will have me well supplied in turkey art before the end of the month.

I’ve got a few other Thanksgiving projects on the brain right now. I definitely want to make time for a few handprint turkeys (like this one or this one or this one). I do have to give  a shout out to the Ant Bug who made her first handprint turkey of the season on  November 2nd.

I get to host a Thanksgiving themed preschool next week, so I’ll probably nab some activities from this preschool packet at 1plus1plus1equals1.

Last year we had great fun playing Don’t Eat Tom, a variation of Don’t Eat Pete provided by Prepared Not Scared.The girls were pretty excited to see the game board again this year, and we’ve already played a round.

I haven’t planned the rest of the menu yet, but at least I know what dessert will be on Thanksgiving: Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake, courtesy of Our Best Bites, of course! A cheesecake and pumpkin combo that is making my mouth water…maybe I should make a test version this weekend…

Are you on Pinterest yet? I’ve been finding lots of fun things there. You can take a look at anything that has intrigued me (Thanksgiving themed or otherwise!) by clicking here or on the link on the right and taking a look at my boards.

What plans do you have for Thanksgiving?

 

A simple Tangled birthday party

This week the Sweet Bee turned four years old. She is a sweet funny girl, and I love the funny things that she says.Tangled is her favorite movie, so that was the theme of her party. Parties are very small and simple affairs at our house, more along the lines of a “play date with a theme”. There are so many ideas available online, so the party was pretty easy to plan. The best resources I found came from 3 sites:

Plucky Momo

Supermom Moments

Disneyfamily.com

Invitations

Our invitations were simple: Flynn Ryder Wanted Posters. I forgot to take a picture, but I copied the template here on Plucky Momo.

Decorations

I was hoping for some inexpensive lanterns to hang from the ceiling, but I struck out at the dollar store. My next plan was to hang balloons from the ceiling with glow sticks inside (inspired by this post I saw on pinterest), but when it came down to it, the result just looked like a glow stick inside a balloon. Not as cool as I had hoped. We ended up just hanging the balloons and the glow sticks separately from the ceiling, and it looked okay. Kids are always happy with balloons anyway!

Activities

As the guests arrived (dressed in their favorite princess attire), the girls spent some time coloring in their homemade Tangled coloring book. I just googled Tangled images online, then compiled and formatted the images to make a book. Hole punch in the corner, tied with yellow ribbon to keep it together.While the kids were coloring I took one child at a time to put together a Pascal party blower (complete directions found here). I helped them stick the foam together and I used hot glue to secure a googly eye, and then the children drew their own faces.The obvious party game we had to play was “pin the frying pan on Flynn Ryder”.  Wanted poster are easy to find online, and then you can get the frying pan templates here.Food

Snacks were simple: grapes and pretzels, served in a frying pan.The cake needed to be a tower of course. I saw a bunch of complicated ideas online that involved things like pecan rolls, cupcakes, ice cream cones, wooden dowels and frosting. I opted for something much simpler: donuts!

The base is a green floral craft foam. I just wrapped it up in pretty wrapping paper. I made the tower support with wooden skewers (the kind you use for shishkabobs on the grill); I stuck one skewer in, then taped another skewer on at the top to reach the desired length. Slide on the donuts. I topped it with a purple cone and added some ribbons. Definitely the easiest “cake” I have ever made.Favors

What does Rapunzel do in all those long hours in the tower? She paints! So party favors were simple: paints and a brush (and the coloring book and a balloon and glow stick).

This party was easy to put together, and lots of fun for my little girl. The Ant Bug has already decided that she wants the same Tangled party for her birthday in a few months.

An inspiring family on Extreme Makeover Home Edition

This week I was contacted by a representative from Extreme Makeover Home Edition and I was invited to preview an upcoming episode of the tv show. I have to admit, I haven’t ever watched a complete episode of the show before, but this episode was worth watching. This week’s show (airing Sunday, October 2nd) is a moving episode featuring a family from Utah. The Gomez family is a single mom with two cute children, and one of the children suffers from a rare blood disorder. It was amazing to watch the donations and volunteers come together to build a beautiful home for the Gomez family. My children were oohing and aahing over some of the fun features included in the play area  of the house (hint: a fun whirly swirly!).

The best thing about this episode is the awareness that the show is bringing to the rare disorder that Jonah (the son) is diagnosed with. With the help of Major League Soccer, they spread the word to thousands and gave many people the opportunity to volunteer to be a donor. After watching the show you’ll want to be a donor too!

So after watching General Conference this weekend, you might want to check out Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

Blogiversary

“I take great delight in my role as a nurturer, which allows me to express my deepest identity as a woman. I never fail to be struck by the way that women, young women, and even little girls seem to have an instinctive interest and ability in nurturing. It is not only a mother’s primary responsibility but also part of our “individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). To nurture is to teach, to foster development, to promote growth, to feed, and to nourish. Who would not shout for joy at being given such a blessed role?” (Tanner, source).

This month of July marks three years since I started this blog. I’ve been reflecting a little on this “blogiversary”, and thinking about what things have changed and what has stayed the same in those three years.

July 4, 2008

In July 2008, the Ant Bug was three and a half, and the Sweet Bee was 9 months. Now the Ant Bug is six and a half, the Sweet Bee is approaching 4 years old, and we have since added Little Boy Z to our family (16 months old).

May 2011

We are still living in the same two bedroom town home in Florida. But we’ve made some improvements!

Then, I drove a 4-door car. Now I have joined the ranks of the mini-van driving moms.

Then, I was serving as the first counselor in our ward Primary presidency. We have changed wards, but I still spend my time in the Primary (secretary, and now second counselor).

Then, the favorite movie of my children was The Lion King. Now it’s Tangled, no question.

Then, my only time spent at the piano was playing and singing Primary songs with my children. Now I sit beside 10+ piano students every week as a teacher, and I’ve recently started a blog for my piano students.

Then, and now, I am thrilled to be married to the love of my life. We make a great team!

Then, I was a twenty-something mom who worried a lot about my role and responsibility as a mother. Now I am thirty-something mom who still worries about my role and responsibility as a mother. But I have faith that being a mother is a divine role, and as such, I am not left alone to navigate the ups and downs of parenting.

“We thank all of you, including our own mothers, and tell you there is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God, in bringing to pass the mortality and earthly life of His daughters and sons, so that immortality and eternal life can come in those celestial realms on high.

“You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.

“Mothers, we acknowledge and esteem your faith in every footstep. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever” (Holland, source).

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

One mother’s story

My husband showed me this video on mormon.org a few days ago, and I keep thinking about it. I really appreciated the insights shared by this mother, and her story of the orphans in Bulgaria is touching (and heartbreaking at the same time–those sweet babies!!!!).

Wise words: “I do what I can, and I let the rest fall by the wayside…I’m not doing everything perfect, and that’s okay. I understand that really, God is proud of me for what I did today.”

Teaching our children to love the prophets (and getting ready for conference)

“It is when children are young that parents must be innovative in helping them develop good habits regarding conference participation. As our children are given opportunities to observe and learn the role of these special witnesses, they will receive a spiritual confirmation of the sacred calling of their Church leaders, and they will feel a deeper love for and interest in these leaders and their message” (Elder Neil L. Anderson, source).

General Conference is just a few days away, so that means it is time to get the packets ready for the children! Having a packet of coloring pages and activities for the children to work on during General Conference has become an important tradition in our home, and it helps our children to really look forward to the special weekend. It helps them to be reverent and listen more to the speakers, even at a very young age. I am very thankful for so many people who do the work of assembling the packets and freely share their talents with the rest of us!

Be sure to visit the Sugardoodle.net General Conference page for links to the most current packets available. I really like the design of this season’s packets by Angela and Melanie, and it is helpful to have them age appropriate for nursery, junior primary, senior, etc. I am printing some pages from a few different packets to get the right match for the abilities and interests of my two girls. It is exciting to have a fluently reading 6 year old, since that ability opens up a lot more activities for her to work on.

We love a good toilet paper roll craft at our house, so my girls should enjoy the First Presidency Toilet Paper Roll puppets in the nursery packet.

Our Family Home Evening lesson this week was centered on getting to know the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles. We did a little match-up game and shared a few facts about each apostle, using these apostle cards. Unfortunately, the lesson didn’t go over as well as I had hoped, probably due to a lack of planning on my part (plus I should have remembered that talking about 15 men in one sitting is way beyond the attention span of my 3 year old). They did think the apostle song was funny.

But I really like the idea shared at the Crane Corner. Jeanine used three different Family Home Evening nights to learn about the apostles, and then did a memorable activity that tied in with the interests of one of the apostles discussed. For example, making banana bread because President Eyring likes to bake, or painting because Elder Scott enjoys painting.

So here is my new idea: In the coming months we will spend one FHE night a month (or more!) focused on one of the apostles. We will use this resource to learn about their life and background, we will review their most recent conference address, and then we will do an activity that connects with that apostles life or his conference address. I am excited about this plan, and I think it will help us to bring the messages of conference home a little bit more, while helping us all to learn more about our leaders.

“Our challenge as parents is to prepare our homes so that our children might be “armed with righteousness.” In the future, a discernable distinction of the true followers of Christ will be the heed and attention they give to the living prophets and Apostles. As our children listen to these men, they will find their way.”

“Some might say it is not the leaders who are important, but the message they bring. Yet, if our children do not know the names of the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, they most likely will not know their messages either.”

Neil L. Anderson, “Teaching our Children to Love the Prophets”, Ensign, April 1996, 44.

What do you think? Are you ready for General Conference this weekend?

A variety of felt hair clips

One Sunday morning last November, we were getting ready for church and the girls were excited that it was finally cool enough that they could wear their winter dresses. But alas, I realized that we had no hair accessories that went with their BLACK dresses. So I decided to pull out some black felt and see if I could make them some cute hair clips. This is what I came up with:

A few circles cut from felt, hot glued on top of each other, a decorative button hot glued in the middle, and then the whole thing hot glued to a metal double-pronged clip. Really easy, and they look pretty cute. (I have to confess that I usually do not have time on a Sunday morning to whip up something cute, but the cards were in my favor this day).

The hair clips were so easy to make that I knew immediately that I would need to make more. And then I realized that these hair clips would be the perfect, inexpensive gift to give my piano students for Christmas (8 girls ranging in age from 5-11 years; the one lone boy I teach got treats, because what else do you give a 12 year boy??)

So I made a lot more clips.

And then I quickly realized that these hair clips would be a great gift for the Sweet Bee and the Ant Bug to give to their friends as a Christmas gift. So they spent a December afternoon coordinating colors and choosing sparkly centerpieces, while I manned the scissors and hot glue guns.

The felt I used are just regular square sheets from Michaels. I used a coupon and chose a lot of colors. For the centerpieces I just found a small box of embellishments that looked cute and girly (also from Michaels). The clips were leftover from this flower making project. I purchased a box of 100 clips from Sally Beauty Supply for just a few dollars.

As life settled down in January after the holidays, I realized that we had given away all the new clips and my girls didn’t have any to wear. So I made these cute heart clips in preparation for Valentine’s Day.

Pink and red layered felt hearts, with some red ribbon for  embellishment.

When I saw the felt flower tutorial at Creations by Kara, I knew this craft was right up my alley.  The basic idea is to cut two flower shapes out of felt, stack them on top of each other, cut a circle to create a rosebud, then hot glue it all together. She also recommended covering the clips with a bit of ribbon. You can see her full tutorial here

These flower clips turned out darling. They only took slightly more effort then my previous circle clips, but they are really cute. Adding the bit of ribbon makes them look more finished.The possibilities when it comes to felt hair clips are endless. You can cut any shape, add a center embellishment (using felt or buttons or whatever), glue a little ribbon on the clip, and you are all set. Your girls will love having special hair clips made just for them, for any occasion!