Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reason #5167 Why I Love Having Kids...

Reason #5167 why I love having kids is that they say the most amazing things. Unselfconscious things with keen observation and self-awareness. Like this simple two-minute conversation I had with Luke yesterday while he was drawing a picture:

Luke: Mom, I just noticed something interesting!

Me: What's that, Luke?

Luke: I noticed that when I'm listening to fast music it makes me want to color quickly. And when the music is slow I want to color slower instead. Isn't that interesting, Mom?

Yes, Luke. That's very interesting. Just a beautiful simple introspective moment of a six-year old, dreaming, creating and discovering the power of music to stir the soul.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10 Ways to Have a Fantastic Halloween Party!

Last weekend we had a party at our house to celebrate not one, but TWO birthdays! My little Megan turned 2 at the end of September and my son Adam will be 4 in a couple of weeks, so we thought we'd put them together to have one big October bash! Adam requested a Halloween-themed party so we ran with it! I just thought I'd share some of the ways (10, to be exact!) we celebrated:

1. Graveyard Cake

Adam saw a picture of a graveyard cake in a recipe book we have and it was love at first sight! These are super easy and fun to make--just bake and frost a sheet cake, crumble some Oreos on top, pop some decorated Milano cookies on for tombstones and--Viola! We added some candy corn and pumpkins for extra color. If you want a grassy look you can dye shredded coconut green in lieu of Oreos. Or, if you want to get extra fancy combine the two to make grassy patches with a dirt path!

2. Caramel Apple Cupcakes

I wanted Megan to have her own special party cake, too, so I made these adorable caramel apple cupcakes! I got the idea from Family Fun. I used boxed spice cake mix, added diced apples to the mix and frosted them with cream cheese frosting (dyed brown). Just pop a mini stick on top, embellish with nuts & sprinkles and you're done! I'm all about the cute cakes that are EASY to make! I learned my lesson the hard way when I spent SEVEN HOURS constructing a castle cake for my son Luke a couple of years ago. Gah! Never. Again. Moving on...

3.Monster Eyeball Race (A Party Game!)

I saw this cute googly-eyed playdough floating around on Pinterest and thought, "Hmmm, why not turn this into a game?" So, I decided to make it a race to see who could remove all 10 eyes from their playdoh first. It was a hit! The kids kept track of how many eyes they'd removed by using little number strips I made. I also created fun little labels to make the playdoh look extra spooky.

4. Monster Mash (Halloween Version of Musical Chairs!)

I found this idea in an old Halloween magazine I had at home. To play just print out some fun monster faces and place them in a circle on the floor, making sure there is one less face than the number of players. Next you blast the song "Monster Mash" (or other spooky music!) and have the kids do some kooky dancing. When the music pauses, the kids must race to sit on a monster face. Whoever didn't make it to a face is out. Keep reducing the number of monster faces until you have a winner! The kids loved this game and it's super simple to set up. Even more fun with goofy monster masks on!

5. Eyeball "Fishing"

For this game, I ordered some gooey sticky eyeballs from Oriental Trading. I then placed little papers all over the floor (mine had spiders printed on them, but you can use whatever you like!). The kids had to "fish" for the spiders using their eyeballs! For extra fun I placed a couple of pumpkin stickers on the back of some of the papers to determine the winners. I think this game was the favorite! My boys were playing on their own for days after the party was over!

6. Bat Brew (Orange Halloween Punch!)

Nothing says Halloween quite like this festive orange punch--complete with floating bats and dry ice! I found the recipe on Google (I don't remember the specific site! Sorry!). To make it simply combine:

--1 2L Orange Soda
--1 2L fresh orange juice
--1 large can pineapple juice
--1 tub orange sherbet

Just pop some plastic bats and a hunk of dry ice in to complete your "Bat Brew!"

7. Spooky Decorations!

To decorate simply and quickly I used some scrapbook paper, a few printables (thanks to Pinterest!) and a little creativity! I covered our existing photos hanging on the walls with some scrapbook paper, printables and silhouettes I had cut out. I didn't even put them under the glass! I just used scotch tape to stick them to the outside of the frames. SO EASY!



I used scrapbook paper and bats cut from card stock to decorate our cabinets.

...more printable fun! (and black webbing to boot! Woo-hoo!)

The ceiling decorations were also a cinch to make. I just decorated plain balloons with spooky images using a Sharpie. I hung them upside-down in rows and draped some scrunched-up streamers between them.

8. Spooky Foods!
Our menu included some SPOOK-tacular foods to eat! It's even more fun to display the food with labels and Creepy Names! A few of our dishes were:

*Baked Riga-BONEY (get it??)

*Zombie Toes
(pigs-in-a-blanket wrapped to look like toes!)

*Monster Eye Dip
(e.g. Taco Dip with sliced green olive "eyeballs" on top of gooey cheese!)

Sadly, I don't have any pics of our spooky foods. I was just so busy with all of the activities going on that I completely forgot to snap some shots of the table. So, you'll just have to use your imagination for these. Apologies. :)

9. Glass Jar Goodness!
One of my favorite ways to decorate for holidays is filling glass jars with all kinds of goodies and embellishments. For this party I made a jar of "Rotten Witches Teeth" from scrapbook paper, a cupcake liner and a printable label (courtesy of Pinterest! Can you tell yet that I'm a Pinterest fan?!).

My sister gave me this gorgeous glass jar from Pier One Imports filled with a yummy Ginger Peach candle and these adorable glass bats and ghosts! LOVE IT! (Thanks, Sis!)
aaaaaaaand, last but not least...

10. Spider Web Party Favors! (i.e. Cotton Candy)

No party is complete without fun little goodies to take home! I picked up some bags of Cotton Candy and covered them with a spider web label I made. I then glued a little orange spiders on the webs to complete to look. Cotton Candy is so much fun because it's something kids don't get to have very often. (And who doesn't love the fun texture?!)

That wraps up my list of Halloween party ideas! I hope this helped get your creative juices flowing if you're planning a Halloween party this year. (And if you're not on Pinterest yet, go get on there immediately! If you need an invite email me and I'll send you one! It's AMAZING! )

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Monday, October 24, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (part 17)

As the Autumn trees blaze fiery red and orange here in Connecticut, I am filled with awe at the beauty the Lord gives each day. And so I continue to count these blessings--the beauty and grace of the Lord all around me--making my way to One Thousand...

387. party preparations--making the house festive and fun in anticipation of celebrating two birthdays!

388. connecting with an old friend-catching up on life together

389. being reminded of the many blessings in my life-heart swelling with gratitude

390. son's spontaneous art projects-joy of watching creativity blossom

391. making "rain art" together with the kids--turning rainy day into joy!

392. 6-year old son earning his first Cub Scout beads--witnessing his face beaming with ear-to-ear grin

393. the feeling of renewal and energy that comes from exercising

394. birthday celebration: day of fun, good food, family and happy happy kids

395. finding a grasshopper on our car after church-fun of examining it together

396. tiny red heart leaf on walk

397-401. fall walk with family on gorgeous sunny day: waterfalls, animal barn, orange sugar maple ablaze from afternoon sun, gathering leaves to identify and etch

402. finding a wonderful homeschool co-op that's a great fit for the kids

403. evening prayer and cuddle with my 3-year old

404. pumpkin french toast with real maple syrup

405. yellow mums in sunlight

406. still getting ripe garden tomatoes in October!

407. 3-year old's drawing of baby Jesus

408. daughter's sweet tired toddler babbles just before bed

409. bouquet of beautiful roses from husband

410. maple leaf falling slowly, gently fluttering to the ground--a simple moment of pure beauty

...more to come

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kid-Craft: Pumpkin Sun-Catchers

Now that Autumn is upon us the kids and I have been getting our craft on--pumpkin style! Just thought I'd share this "oldie but goodie" craft idea with you just in case you want to try it out. It's a lot of fun! Without further ado, I present to you...(drumroll):

Pumpkin Crayon Sun-Catchers!


--an iron
--wax paper
--orange and green crayons
--pencil sharpener or cheese grater


1. Peel the paper off a few orange and green crayons, keeping them in separate containers (I know, I know they're not in separate containers yet in my picture!). We used a few different shades of each, just for variety. To make your shavings you can either grate them with a cheese grater or sharpen them with a pencil sharpener. I opted for the latter which worked great! (But I will warn you that your hands will be really sore from alllllll of that sharpening lol! Child labor is beautiful thing in order to spare your hands the pain! :p)

2. Place the orange and green shavings on a sheet of wax paper. I drew a rough pumpkin sketch with crayons to help the kids know where to place their shavings. You don't need to go too heavily on the shavings because they spread a lot when they melt. So, don't worry about small bare spots here and there. You'll want to leave a few inches of extra paper on all sides to allow for spreading and avoid a leaky mess! Our pumpkins "grew" quite a bit once we heated 'em up!

3. Once your pumpkin design is complete, place a second sheet of wax paper on top “sandwiching” the shavings.

4. Using an iron on low heat gently press the wax paper keeping the iron moving constantly. The melting happens very quickly so you'll probably only need about 10 seconds of ironing. Note: Don't over-do the ironing or else the wax paper will melt!

5. As your crayon shavings melt your festive pumpkin will appear before your eyes!

6. Let your pumpkin cool for a few minutes and then cut into desired shape. I went over the outline with a black crayon to help the kids know where to cut. Viola!

7. Just hang your pumpkin in a sunny spot and enjoy the cheerful glow of autumn!

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