Category Archives: kids

Our wacky, April Fool’s dinner

For April Fool’s Day, I decided to do a wacky dinner.  I thought about disguising the menu with creative names and letting everyone order in courses, but I wasn’t feeling very inspired with creativity.  So, I went a different route and collected a variety of utensils, plate-substitutes and cup-substitutes.  I assaigned numbers for each type of item and let everyone choose a number out of a hat to determine what they got to use.  We had some pretty funny combinations.

For plates, we had a sundae dish, large mixing bowl lid, medium mixing bowl, cake pan, aluminum foil, small glass prep bowl, pie plate, pizza pan.

For the utensils, each person got one of the following: tongs, potato masher, measuring spoon, small cookie scoop, measuring cup, spatula, large mixing spoon, small rubber scraper/spatula.

As for the drinks, we used the waffle batter measure, measuring spoon, small glass jar, dressing carafe, measuring cup, small graduated measuring cup, Pyrex measuring cup, shot glass.

I tried a new recipe and made Ratatouille since we had a lot of Italian veggies and herbs from our last Bountiful Basket.  It was good, but not a family favorite.  Part of the issue may have been the difficulty in eating.  At least the deviled eggs went over well.

All in all, this was a fun dinner activity and one that the kids have asked to repeat.  That’s always a good sign.  Have you ever done a wacky dinner?  How did it turn out?

Tuesday 10 – 10 Things I Handwrite

I’m a procrastinator, so very rarely are my posts written ahead of time.  Today’s Tuesday 10 with Lena is no exception.  However, The Author is home from school since she’s not feeling well.  Bugaboo is begging for someone to play the Wii with him.  He even has my mii selected.  How can I say no to that 3-year-old cuteness?  That means you get a guest post from The Author!

Hello everybody! Today’s Tuesday 10 is “10 things I handwrite.” This one is really easy for me. And I know that you all want to have pictures of Bugaboo playing the Wii.

1. Homework
This seems obvious. Sure, I’m at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) magnet, but almost everything is still done by hand. Being at a STEM school means that we have fabulous classes and half our tech doesn’t work. (And engineering group projects take up all the space in your email.) Homework is unwanted and can take forever. Why, yes, I am thinking of geometry!

2. Notes
My school doesn’t assign computers to each student. I don’t regularly use a computer in most of my classes. Any notes we take are done by hand. Four classes a day (we’re on block scheduling) means an hour and a half per class. Depending on how much we get done, we may or may not spend the whole class period cracking jokes and taking notes.
And everybody wonders why all the pencils vanish… I’m confident that they’re with everybody’s socks and pens.

3. Quiz Bowl Scores
I’m on the Quiz Bowl team. At practices, we have a handy-dandy system that makes scorekeeping very easy. At meets… not so much. If the reader doesn’t have a helper with them, they need the team’s “alternate” to time and/or keep score. Timing is a lot harder because you have to pay attention to the stopwatch, so I delegate that to one of the other team’s members or the helper.

4. Novels
I know that this makes me sound crazy. Yes, I write novels by hand. My friends that also write books do the same. Why?
We’re in school for eight hours a day, with limited computer access. Even if we had regular access, there are filters. They’d probably find a lot of the stuff in our novels “not school-appropriate.” Say, a book about ninjas. With weapons. And magic. And semi-questionable morals. Oh, and it’s set in a dystopia… Easier to handwrite. (Notebooks are easier to carry around, too.)

5. Journals
Mom does this, too. There’s something magical with the concept of handwritten mementos from another time. A person’s handwriting is so special, so unique, and totally different from anybody else’s. Mom writes her journal entries in cursive. I’m so used to print that it’s second-nature to start writing in it.

6. Swim team attendance
I manage the swim team. Actually, I managed the boys’ basketball team (2 years ago), both swim teams (last school year), the volleyball team (this year), and started on the boys’ swim season last week. Managing requires taking attendance, running various errands, picking up equipment, handing out towels at the end of practice, etc.
It’s easier to take attendance with paper and pencil than vanish into the coach’s office for a few minutes to do it online. I don’t have to get the key, go to their office, enter the office, take attendance, close up the office, and come back.

7. Tests
It’s weird when tests are on the computer. We took practice tests to narrow our Academic Pentathlon team down to nine students last week. They were on the computer. It was very different from what we’re used to!
In the past, we’ve even done state writing tests by hand. I’m not sure if we’re doing that this year. The tests start today, and here I am, guest posting at home.

I don’t copy quotes off of the internet or any of that. People say some really weird things. Those random, everyday things are what I write down in the margins of my notebooks.
Here’s a really good example of a quote with a story: “It’s a snake!”
I’m just going to say that PE last year, walking outside, and seeing a snake gets totally out of hand when one of the girls picks it up and everybody else goes crazy. I’m the fast walker sitting on the steps waiting for everybody else to get up the hill, laughing at the whole thing.
I want to put it in a book someday.

Wow. This is harder than I thought it would be.

9. RPG character sheets
I’m the person in my family who has been wanting to run a family RPG (role-playing game) for over a year now. It hasn’t come to anything yet, so I use the book to create RPG versions of my characters. It helps to make them more lifelike and less Mary Sue-ish.

10. Things I want to remember
This goes hand-in-hand with number 8. If I want to remember what somebody said, I write it down. If I want to remember what word I missed at the spelling bee, I find out the correct spelling and write it. If it’s an away meet tomorrow and I need to remember what time to leave class, I take a note.
Fun fact: My school’s National Junior Honor Society has been instructed not to tell the others in the school how much we use our agendas. It’s the example-setters that don’t use their agendas at all… Yeah, we’re normal teenagers.

I can’t leave you with only two pictures of Bugaboo…. Here!

A final note on teenagers’ stance about cursive and handwriting not being taught in schools anymore: When we learned this in my geometry class a few months ago, we were appalled. We had a nice argument with the teacher about whether or not we’ll actually use it. (We insisted that we will, in fact, need to know how to write things by hand.) Most of us use print more than cursive, but there are people I know that are so used to cursive that they’ve forgotten how to print. I think that handwriting is probably here to stay.

Elf Adventures 2012

One again, we’ve been able to have elves visit from the North Pole.  (You may notice that these are not your typical Elf on the Shelf dolls.  Those creep me out, so we improvised with a Kelly doll {Kayla} and then added two plush dolls from Hobby Lobby {Kyle and Ashley}.  The basic idea is still the same.)  Here’s some of our adventures so far this month:

The elves arrived along with a beautiful subway art print from Colette at My Computer is my Canvas.  They shared the nativity story with the Little People and Veggietales characters.

 Another night, they acted out a nativity.  Who knew paper towels were so versatile?

Apparently they rode on Rudolph’s back from the North Pole.  They really liked those paper towel head scarves.

So far, they’d been pretty well-behaved.  Knowing our mischievous little elves, we knew that good behavior couldn’t last too long.  Sure enough, we woke up to find them like this one morning:

Holding a dry-erase marker and looking at the kids’ photos on the opposite wall.

We had a Boise State fan (she’s very pro-Husker), a kitty and a polka-dotted clown.

Plus, a pirate, shark attack and an evil villain.  I wonder what adventures we have in store for the next few days.

Do you have an elf at your house?  What have they been up to lately?

Tuesday 10 – My Christmas Wishlist


This week’s prompt for Tuesday 10 with Lena B, Actually is your Christmas wishlist.  I am horrible at coming up with gift suggestions for myself, so I might have to fill in with a few of the kids’ wishes.

Kitchen-Aid mixer
I’ve been told Bosch machines are better than Kitchen-Aids, so I’ll just wish for both!
This tiny cookie scoop.  See, I told you I run out of ideas fast.
Pampered Chef can opener
Guess it’s time to resort to the kids now:
For The Artist, River Song’s TARDIS journal
For The Author, a laptop
For Mr. Adventure, Nerf Double Sword
For Little Miss Sunshine, a Husker Pillow Pet
For Princess, a purple Sock Monkey (to join last year’s pink Sock Monkey)
Finally, for Bugaboo, anything Angry Birds
Hopefully Santa reads my blog. 😉

Dancing in the Dark

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any family fitness ideas.  Maybe it’s because my own fitness/healthy eating efforts haven’t been bringing the results I want.  Whatever the reason, I thought this would be a good idea as the weather gets cooler and it’s too cold to do things outside.  All you need for this activity is some fun dancing music and some glow bracelets or necklaces.

Put on some music, assemble the bracelets/necklaces, turn the lights off and have fun dancing!

What kinds of cool motion effects can you create?

I’d love to know how this works for you if you try it!

Kids’ll keep you on your toes

A couple weeks ago when I was gone to my Woodbadge scout training, Princess decided to try her hand at cutting hair.  She “thought it would look cuter” if she cut the sides.  I wasn’t going for the resulting mullet look.

I whipped out the scissors and did my best to cut everything even(ish).  There are still issues around her face, but at least it isn’t a throwback to the 80’s.

I was shopping and found the cutest pair of pajamas for Bugaboo.  I told him I wanted to take a picture, so this was his response:

His top says, “Mom’s 24 hr. Wrecking Service” and does that ever describe him!  He also explored a new career path while I was gone — mural drawing.  He found a couple markers and decorated the wall near the top of our stairs.  

I don’t plan on hiring either one of them in their chosen career path without some more training and experience, but they sure do make life fun.

I guess I’ll keep them around for a while. 🙂

Peep Show

Don’t worry, this post is G-rated.  I’m talking about these:

It’s a well-known fact around my house that I can’t stand eating anything marshmallow-y.  Now, I love Rice Krispy Treats and all that marshmallow goodness, but I can’t handle plain marshmallows, whether sugar-coated or not.  So, I was less than thrilled on Saturday when Hubby insisted on buying some Peeps.  Yes, the kids love them, but I thought we’d agreed to limit how much candy we brought into the house and we’d already done our backyard Egg Hunt.  We really didn’t need any more hyper-inducing confections. 

So, that evening, he started handing out Peeps on toothpicks (like little stick puppets) and told the kids they had to give me a Peep Show before they were allowed to eat them.  I was treated to a variety of Peep antics — dancing Peeps, fighting Peeps, jokes and stories.  I have to admit, I laughed and enjoyed my “show.”

I guess maybe Peeps are okay, after all.

Crafting lesson: CD Suncatchers

This isn’t an original idea.  In fact, I got the idea from my Cub Scout resources.  But, they are fun and easy to make, so I thought I would do a tutorial.  I think we’ve found this year’s Valentines. 🙂
CD Suncatchers
You will need:
2 CDs per suncatcher
Something for a hanger (yarn, string, rope, ribbon, ric rac, etc.)
hot glue
decorations (foam shapes, stickers, etc.)
Find a stack of CDs.  We had a bunch of old ones, but you could use new ones as well.  Cut your hanger to desired length (4-5″).  I just eyeballed and cut a pile.

On the label side of one CD, put a glob of hot glue.  Place both ends of hanger in glue, forming a loop.

Add a strip of glue around the CD.  You don’t want this too close to the middle or the edge.

Place the second CD on top of the first and press together to adhere.

We used foam stickers to decorate.  

Add a few stickers and voila, you have a suncatcher!  You could decorate both sides if you plan to hang where it will be free-hanging.  Just one side works if it will be against a window or wall.

We plan to use these for Valentines.  Add a little tag with something along the lines of “You’re a star!” or use heart stickers and a traditional Valentine greeting.  The possibilities are endless.

Linking up:  Share & Wow Wednesday   Link It Up Thursdays   Shine On Fridays  Saturday Craft Party

Imaginary friends

I was thinking one morning about all the imaginary friends we’ve been introduced to through the years. Some have stuck around for a day or two and others have almost become part of our family.

 Our first real foray into the world of imaginary friends came when The Author was in preschool. She introduced us to Maybedee.  Maybedee did everything a year or so ahead of The Author. She was in kindergarten and got to do lots of fun things at the Urban Sea School. These adventures were usually shared with us in a great amount of detail. For a while, we were treated to daily renditions of how Maybedee spent her time and the vacations and adventures she had. But, like all imaginary friends, she eventually disappeared. Who knows, maybe she’ll pop up in a children’s book series some day.

About this same time, The Artist got a little bobble-head dalmation as a prize for a reading contest in first grade.  While this wasn’t technically an imaginary friend, she left specific instructions for the dog’s care and feeding while she was at school.  I’ve preserved her original spelling and punctuation.
dish is in geroge door.
Brafest at 1: AM
     Dogie walvles
Lunch at 10: pm
     Dogie sandwich’s
Dinner at 12 11: pm
     Dogie lisanya
Desert at 13: at night
     Dogie Ice cream
The next imaginary friend to stay a while was Porky. Porky was a porcupine and a friend to Mr. Adventure. Porky popped up every now and then, but the most memorable adventure with Porky was his funeral. One day we were driving and saw a heap of porcupine roadkill along the side of the road. Mr. Adventure informed us that this was Porky and we needed to hold a funeral. He wrote out exactly what food should be served:
Breakfast: Banana deluxe miracle pancakes with whipped cream and hot cocoa
Lunch: Bambinos, fruit salad, and Sprite Up (7-Up plus Sprite)
Dinner: Diner Dash tacos, root beer, nuclear dino eggs, and beef jerky
Desserts: Trash cake (gummy worms MUST be included, must be baked in a 4×4 or 6×6 pan) dessert pizza, and candy land surprize!
Little Miss Sunshine also added to the imaginary porcupine family with Porcalina, and while she popped up from time to time, she didn’t stick around much after Porky’s funeral.

It had been a while since we’ve had any imaginary friends stop by.  However, for the past few months Princess has been talking about her friends from Leaf Town.  She will throw these friends into her conversations and toss in snippets like, “Oh, I did that with my other sister at Leaf Town.”  One day she told me that Leaf gave her a silver guitar for her birthday and she will get to bring it to our house and then she can rock out.  It will be interesting to see how long her Leaf Town friends stick around.
Have you had imaginary friends visit your house?  What kind of adventures have they had?

Who needs a bed?

We’re lucky that we have big walk-in closets in each of the bedrooms.  Sometimes this space lends itself to a bit of creativity.  Each of the kids shares a room with one of their siblings, so sometimes they want their own space.  How to accomplish this?  Move into the closet, of course!

Who needs a bed when there’s that nice closet available?

Halloween costumes — Doctor Who, Perry & Doofenshmirtz, Harry Potter

We tend to get some creative Halloween costume ideas around our house.  This year The Artist decided to be Doctor Who.  Surprisingly, this was much easier to pull off than I had expected.
Take a white dress shirt and black pants, add a thrifted tweed jacket, bow tie, crocheted fez and of course, a sonic screwdriver.  (We didn’t get around to the faux-suspenders out of wide, grosgrain ribbon.) 
We tried some sock-bun curls.  (There are tutorials all over Pinterest.)  I think it’s a learned art, but they didn’t turn out too bad.

Oh, can’t forget the “Trust Me, I’m the Doctor” earrings!

Shirt: JCPenney, Pants: ??, Jacket: Goodwill, 
Bowtie: Etsy, Fez: made by me, Earrings: Etsy, Sonic Screwdriver: ThinkGeek
Mr. Adventure and Buddy teamed up with a Doofenshmirtz/Perry the Platypus combination. 

 The Doofenshmirtz ensemble is based off of a Phineas & Ferb episode where Perry gets hold of a remote control and controls Doof’s every move.  A hilarious rap song ensues — “There’s a platypus controlling me . . .”  Mostly this costume was thrown together with bits and pieces.  We found the records at Goodwill.

The cute Perry outfit was made by my SIL.  It’s a simple fleece hooded jumpsuit with a foam tail sewn on the back.  We added a foam visor and drew the nostrils with black Sharpie.

Our Harry Potter robe is now in its fifth or sixth year of use!  Little Miss Sunshine wore it this year. 

I made the robe out of two black pillowcases:  a king-size for the robe itself, and a standard size for the sleeves.  (Hand-sewn when my sewing machine was on the fritz.)
Unpick the seams of the standard pillowcase and cut on the fold for two equal panels.  Resew the side seam on each to form the sleeve. (The finished edge is the bottom of the sleeves.)  Unpick part of the bottom seam on the king pillowcase for a neck opening.  Unpick the side seams near the bottom for a sleeve-sized hole.  Sew the raw edges of the sleeve and robe together being careful not to sew the opening closed.  And there you have a Hogwarts-style robe.  Add a house badge and a wand.


Finally, here is our sixth child.  He goes by many names (Buster Brown, Bucko, or the ominous Your Son when we’re frustrated), but the most common are Buddy/Bud and Bugaboo.

He is starting to exert his independence more and more.  This is a common sight when he is outside.  He runs more than he walks.  It’s cute to see him throw spontaneous jumps in, too.

He thinks he’s big enough to do whatever anyone else does.  It’s a good thing most everything around him is washable.

He is great at problem-solving and figuring out cause and effect.  I’m just not sure the rest of us enjoy his experimentation. He loves anything with switches or buttons.  For hours.  If you have a two-year-old, you know what I’m talking about.

Still, his hugs and kisses are priceless.  His cute little voice can melt your heart.