Posted by: ad65shorty | April 22, 2014

Earth Day: Plant a Rainbow

Happy Earth Day! Plant some flowers this week!

Planting a Rainbow

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

This is such a cute book about the process of planting a garden. From each seed will sprout a plant with a different color, or a rainbow. What a great way to teach/reinforce colors! The pictures and storyline are very simple, which makes it great for young children.

Wouldn’t it be fun to plant your own rainbow? Take your children to your local gardening store and have them help you pick out plants for each color of the rainbow. Then go home, plant them, and watch them grow all summer long!!

For more Earth Day ideas, go here.

Posted by: ad65shorty | April 18, 2014

Favorite Easter Ideas

Some of my family’s favorite Easter traditions:

Marshmallow Bunny in a Dirt Cup

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Resurrection Eggs for Young Children

And Jerusalem-style dinner (at the bottom of the above post)

Egg Your Neighbors

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Dramatic Play: Be the Easter Bunny

Painting with shaving cream

 Resurrection Rolls (put a marshmallow inside, bake it, and when you open it up, it’s hollow inside–just the like Jesus’ tomb!)

What are some of your favorite Easter activities?

 

Posted by: ad65shorty | April 18, 2014

Easter Craft for Toddlers: Tear Art

Here’s a simple Easter craft for toddlers or preschoolers.

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Cut a piece of construction paper into a small egg shape. Give your child colored scrap paper and teach them how to tear it into small pieces. Then, glue the torn pieces onto the egg-shape. Hang proudly in your home! This is a great activity to strengthen fine motor muscles.

For another variation, use stickers.

Posted by: ad65shorty | April 3, 2014

General Conference Ideas for Children

A couple of ideas for General Conference this coming weekend:

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My kids a couple of years ago, ready to begin!

**Challenge your children to build a temple out of legos, blocks, or playdough:

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**Visit lds.org for fun activities, printable, and on-line games. My kids love the excuse to be on the computer during General Conference!

**I love this game created by the gals at Mercy River (love their music!): The Apostles as children (page 6 in the packet). I’m making mine into a file folder matching game for each of my children. (Sidenote: Many years ago, I made the first pages into a quiet book for Sacrament Meeting. I just adjust as new apostles are called. My kids love flipping through it during Church.)

**Some of my favorite ideas here, like snacks, coloring pages, etc:

**Our family’s tradition for AFTER General Conference: goal-setting for everyone, including the littlest of my children:

 What are your favorite Conference traditions?

Posted by: ad65shorty | March 17, 2014

Simple St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

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I always try to do something special for the small holidays throughout the year. I want my kids to remember these small, simple gestures. Even if it’s just an easy dinner for an obscure holiday, like St. Patrick’s Day. Our tradition is a green dinner. I usually make a green salad served in a spinach wrap with green foods on the side, such as kiwi, and green peppers cut like shamrocks. I usually have fun green straws on-hand to serve with a green drink, like Sprite or green Kool-aid. For dessert, we’ll make leprechaun pie or green jigglers. Simple, but fun!

Do you serve any special food for St. Patrick’s Day?

Posted by: ad65shorty | February 9, 2014

Heart-Shaped Mini Pop-Up Pancakes for Valentine’s Day!

My kids love mini pop-up pancakes for breakfast (sometimes these are known as mini German pancakes). For Valentine’s Day, I’ll make them more special by baking them in my heart-shaped muffin tin instead. (Yes, Honey. A heart-shaped muffin tin is a necessity.)  I serve them with red fruit and red fruit syrup. Bananas cut in heart-shapes are also adorable! The best thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can use any fruit, jam, or topping you want. For Valentine’s Day, think red and pink! I usually put a bunch of toppings on the table and let my family top their own.

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Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

6 eggs

1/4 cup melted butter

dash salt

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Grease your heart-shaped muffin tin WELL. (You can also use a regular muffin tin, but this is for Valentine’s Day after all!)

3. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. (You can whisk it, but I find it’s harder to get it as smooth this way)

4. Pour into muffin tin. I fill mine between 1/3  and 1/2 full.

5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and puffy on top. Remove immediately. Sometimes, I find I don’t grease my muffin tin well enough so the pancakes stick; if that happens, use a knife to pry them out.

6. For Valentine’s Day, top with red fruit, red jam, and powdered sugar or whipping cream to make it extra special.

Makes about 24 mini pancakes. This is a really easy recipe to half or double, if needed.

My 6-year-old arranged this one! Isn't it cute?!

My 6-year-old arranged this one! Isn’t it cute?!

This post is part of the 14 Days of Love series over at Crafty Night Owls. Go check out the other creative ideas to enrich your Valentine’s Day fun!

Posted by: ad65shorty | January 21, 2014

Indoor Snowball Fight

Sometimes it’s just too cold or you don’t have any snow for a snowball fight. What would winter be without snowball fights?!

Well, we’ve found a solution! We’ve collected all of our clean, white socks, rolled them into balls, and had indoor snowball fights!!

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Complete with forts and pillow shields!

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It’s a lot of fun! I recommend trying it for a family night activity. Wouldn’t pelting Dad with snowball socks be a blast?!

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Posted by: ad65shorty | January 17, 2014

Stories for Snuggling: The Land of Stories

My 9-year-old and I have found a new series, and we can’t get enough!! One of his requests for Christmas was a long book, as in over 400 pages. Of course, I wanted one he could handle as far as comprehension goes and content being age-appropriate. Santa delivered for us! This book is about 450 pages and written for 8- to 12-year-olds. We had never heard of this series before (it’s actually fairly new). Before my child reads a new book, I like to read it to make sure the content is okay. Because this was brought by Santa, I hadn’t read it before so we decided to read it together. Well, let’s just say that was great in theory. But when I had to attend to other duties, my son continued on. We ended up spending the next couple of days “fighting” over the book because neither one of us could put it down!

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (I guess he’s an actor on Glee)

Summary:

Twins Conner and Alex (a boy and a girl) loved hearing stories from their father throughout their lives. But he has recently passed away, and they are missing him and his stories. When their paternal grandmother gives them a much-loved book of their father’s, they are thrilled! Little do they know that the book is a portal into the fairytale world they have heard about their whole lives! They fall into the book one afternoon and meet all these characters they have grown to love, such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Goldilocks. They also meet those they don’t love, such as the Big Bad Wolf pack and the Evil Queen from Snow White. The only way home is by finding items to a wishing spell. But someone else is also on the hunt for these items. Will they find the items in time to return home, or will they be forever stuck in a storybook?

Some notes:

The story is based on the old time fairytales (think Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm), which I thought was so great to introduce my son to.

There’s a map of the fairytale world at the beginning. As we read, we would refer to it often.

There is one swear word in it (ugh! this is a children’s book!). And there was one gory part that I remember thinking I wouldn’t read to my 1st grader, but my 3rd grader didn’t even bat an eye at.

Another thing I liked is that Colfer took the liberty of giving a back-story to many of the characters, like why the Evil Queen became evil. He also gives the characters unique personalities, like Red Riding Hood is very self-absorbed and Goldilocks is an outlaw because of her break-in. Hilarious!

More:

We ordered the 2nd one last week, and have been eagerly waiting for it to arrive in the mail. It’s so new it only comes in hardback. (Post-edit: It came today! We can’t wait to get started!!)

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

I read somewhere that the 3rd one comes out this fall, and I believe there’s a 4th one in the works, as well!

Oh, and here’s Chris Colfer’s website, if you want more info or to learn more about the books and the characters. (Visit it. Connor and Alex “fall” as you scroll. Fun!)

Happy reading!

Posted by: ad65shorty | January 13, 2014

Local Fun: Ice Castle in Midway

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I first heard about the ice castle in Midway when it came across as a Groupon in my email in November. I knew we had to check this place out! We headed out this past Saturday, and let’s just say, it did not disappoint.

The entrance

The entrance

For those who haven’t heard about it, here’s the gist: A family moved here from California a couple of years ago and the dad decided he wanted to embrace the winters here in Utah so he built this big ice castle for his kids. It’s now a local tourist attraction. (PS There is also one in Colorado and New Hampshire this year.) The whole castle is built of ice that is cultured by hand daily (In fact, if you keep an eye out, you can spot ice climbers working).

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One of the ice climbers working

There are pathways all the way through the castle for you to explore, including some cool “slot canyons.” There are a couple of fountains to view. There are little crevices for the kids to look into and some are low and big enough that the kids can crawl in them, just a bit. And we even found Olaf from Frozen (who I read was built by the owner’s son). My kids went crazy!! I swear that everywhere we turned there was something new and exciting to discover!

One of the crevices they could sit in.

One of the crevices they could sit in. My kids called it a cave.

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Olaf! Isn’t he amazing?!

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Um, yeah. We walked right under that!

It’s amazing during the day! But, you need to know that the castle was built around colored lights so you can view it at night, as well. At night, they light up, which gives it a complete different ambiance. So cool! Many of the lights are on a cycle, where they’ll change to a different color. I would recommend making a day of this. Go early and view it during the daylight. You can appreciate the details of the castle and see everything well. Then, go eat dinner in Heber (because there is nothing in Midway in our budget that’s decent food) and go back to view it at night. Get your hand stamped before you leave, and then you can walk past the admission line.

Blue!

Blue!

Green!!

Green!!

And purple!

And purple!

Hints:

1. Dress warm. I mean, you are in an ice castle. :) I had my kids put on snow clothes, and I’m so glad they did because they got WET! There are places where you can sit for pictures and the ice was dripping in spots, as well. It kept them warm, too, so they were able to enjoy the experience, instead of complaining the whole time. I then put the heater in my car on high and dried their clothes within minutes for the evening. Be sure to wear gloves and warm socks!

If you look at my daughter's coat, you can see how wet she is.

If you look at my daughter’s coat, you can see how wet she is.

2. Wear shoes with traction. We all wore our snow boots. As the day wore on, the paths got really slick. The snow plow came out during the evening and broke the ice up quite a bit, but it made it really hard for walking while it was fresh. Some people wore their fashion boots, and anyone I walked by was complaining in those boots. I think sneakers would get too wet.

3. Go early. The line was short and went fast during the early part of the day. When we came back to view it at night, the line was around the block! We were so glad we were able to walk right in.

4. Expect to walk a lot. There is not a lot of parking so you may have to park quite a way and walk. We lucked out both times and were able to park close, but many people were walking a couple of blocks. The castle itself is not huge, but you walk the whole time, and if your kids are like mine, they will want to go through a couple of times. There is no place to sit and rest. Also, there is no room for strollers inside the castle so bring a carrier for your little one or expect to carry him. There are tight spots so plan accordingly.

5. Be patient and kind; it is busy. You will get stuck as people stop to take pictures or to enjoy a cool feature. People were great while we were there!

6. Take your camera. That’s a given. You will take pictures. Lots of them.

7. For more fun, go through singing the songs from Frozen!! “In Summer” and “Let It Go” are musts! Yes, we were those crazy people you may have heard on Saturday singing at the tops of our lungs!!

What an incredible experience!! I haven’t seen anything like it before in my life. If it continues to stick around, this will be added to our must-see list of the winter.

Go here for more info, such as directions, hours, and admission prices (It is a bit pricey, but when you think of all the work that goes into it and how long you’ll be there, it’s totally worth it. And next year, watch for a Groupon.)  There are some amazing pictures on-line. Google it. My daughter saw a picture of a bride and said, “Oh, Mom! There’s a princess!”

Leaving the castle.

Another tunnel as we were leaving the castle

Posted by: ad65shorty | January 1, 2014

Best of 2013

This little corner of the blogging world hasn’t been as busy as in years past. I have been overwhelmed with life and health issues, but it’s still something I love and enjoy when I get a minute. I hope you’ll continue to visit and see what we’re up to in 2014. Thanx for your support!

To close out the year, I thought I’d share my Top 11 posts of 2013 (11 because numbers 10 and 11 are a mere 2 views a part). They are as follows:

#11–Turkey Trouble Extension Activity (activity to correspond with the book)

#10–Cupcake Ice Cream Cones

#9–Birthday Ideas: Tinkerbell Fairy Party

#8–Sharks and Lifeguards Parachute Game

(No picture for this one!)

#7–Itsy Bitsy Spider (craft to correspond with the fingerplay)

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#6–Gummy Bear Sorting and Graphing

#5–Heart Attack (for Dad)

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#4–Birthday Ideas: Pancake/Pajama Party

#3–Resurrection Eggs (simplified for younger children and corresponding dinner idea)

#2–Simple Homemade Native American Costume (this one has dropped from the #1 spot that it’s held for the past 2 years)

#1–Birthday Ideas: Iron Man Party

Here’s to another great year!!

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