Sunday, November 13, 2011

Free Printable Lunchbox Notes

I love to cheer up my kids while they are at school with a little note in their lunch box.  I used to just cut a square of paper and add a sticker and a handwritten note.  But, I decided to change things up and make it easier on me by searching for free printable notes to put in their lunchboxes.  I found some great ones that I plan to use all year long. 
I hope your children get as much joy out of them as my kids have.  Get creative and make some of your own.  If you have any printable lunchbox notes to share, I would love to see them.  Please leave a comment with the link.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Homemade Christmas Garland

With the upcoming holidays and the cold weather, now is a great time to have fun making Christmas crafts with your family.  My kids decided they wanted to have more of a say in how our Christmas tree looks.  So, I thought what better way for them to decorate our tree than with their own creations.  First things first, Christmas garland for the tree and more.  I hit the keyboard and found some fun ideas of garland that I can make with my kids.  Here are my top four:
You can make these crafts your own by tweaking some details.  Replace the button thread with a colorful yarn for your Dot Garland.  Instead of using mints for a garland, maybe try gold wrapped candies to reflect your Christmas tree lights.  The possibilities are endless.  Remember, get creative and have fun! 

Check out my posts below for more Christmas Craft fun:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Free Printable Halloween Notes

Halloween is almost here!  For fun I decided to put a Halloween themed note and a Halloween treat in my kids' lunchboxes today.  I found two great links with free printable Halloween notes great for stashing in a lunchbox.  Print them for your kids and add a little personal note to bring a smile to your child's face.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Storing Crayons

If you lose the box your crayons orginally came in, as most of us do, here are some great ways to store them and keep them from breaking:
  • Use an old, plastic baby wipe box and let the kids decorate it with stickers
  • For smaller collections try a soap container (great for traveling by the way)
  • Small baskets found at a dollar store
When you do have broken crayons, here is a great craft to make for your kids or for their teachers!
What ideas do you have about storing crayons and what do you do with your broken ones? 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Have a Say at Your Child's School

I felt there was room for improvement when it came to my child's school communicating with the parents.  After doing a bit a research, I realized the school's PTA is responsible for keeping the parents informed of the happenings at school.  So, I decided to become an active member of the PTA at my kids' school. 

I contacted the PTA President via email and found out that there was a need for someone to maintain the fairly new school Facebook page and the newsletter.  So, I quickly volunteered to help out with both - especially since these are the main means of communication with parents, which was my biggest concern. 

Now, I'm a PTA board member.  The title felt a bit overwhelming at first but, working on the Facebook page and newsletter are things I can do at my own pace and on my own hours from home.  So, it is perfect for me being a stay-at-home mom with two Elementary School kids and a 2 1/2 year in tow.  The bonus is, I have the opportunity to speak up about decisions being made at my kids' school and I finally get to see things change that had always worried me. 

If you feel there is a need for change at your child's school and you can spare 1 HOUR per month, join your school's PTA and make a difference in your child's education.  There is a membership fee for the year but, it's usually small.  Our school's PTA membership is $5 for the year.  That's it!  So, join the PTA and speak up for your child.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You Can Save ALL of Their Artwork

Having kids in school means having tons of artwork and worksheets brought home from school.  Every Mom wishes they could save it all but, who has that kind of storage space?  And throwing our your little one's childhood memories can be hard on you, especially if the kids catch you!  So make it easier on you and them and save every single drawing, painting and letter DIGITALLY! 

With today's technology you can scan your child's artwork and store it on your computer or burn it onto a disk.  If you don't have a scanner, take a picture of it with your digital camera and download it onto your computer.  You can do more than digitally store their masterpieces:
  • Make a DVD slide show
  • Develop the photos of them, frame it and display on a wall
  • Have your child help you make a scrapbook with small photos of their art
  • Make a hardcover book with them via Walmart.com, shutterfly, etc.
  • Share them online for all your friends and family to see
  • Have it turned into an art canvas on websites like Personal Creations
The possibilities are endless with digital replicas of their cherished treasures.  Get creative and have fun!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Box Tops for Your School

With a new school year starting, it's a great time to help your child's school.  A great way to earn money for your school is to collect Box Tops!  There are a lot of great brands that participate with Box Tops:  Cheerios, Ziploc, etc. 

Visit the Box Tops website for lots of great ways to help your school earn money to help fund for your school's needs.  You can also earn eBox Tops buy shopping online at great stores like GAP, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Land's End.  So, while doing your back-to-school shopping, think about Box Tops!  Gather them to send to school with your child. 

You can view Box Top Success Stories online for motivation.  Also, "Like" Box Tops on FACEBOOK for events and information to help your school collect Box Tops. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mario Kart Wii Birthday Party

I threw my son a Mario Kart Wii Birthday Party.  And as usually with the themes my kids pick, there weren't many options at our local stores.  So, I made almost everything for the party myself.  Click on the links below to find out how you can make them too:

Invitations & Gift Bags
 Decorations
Food
Games & Activities
I also bought Mario Kart Wii Wall Stickers, since I didn't have time to make them myself.  =)  We had a great time and best of all, my son was over the moon! 

Mario Star Sandwiches

For fun themed snacks, my husband helped me make Mario Star Sandwiches.  We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cut the centers of them with a star-shaped cookie cutter.  Then we buttered the back of two raisins and pressed them on the front of the sandwiches for the eyes of the Mario Star.  They turned out really cute and the kids loved them!  We were lucky not to have anyone with a peanut allergy but you could do this with any type sandwich.

I also had Mario Brothers fruit snacks to add to our theme.  We had my son's other favorite foods too: chips & dip and a meat and cheese platter.  It was super simple but still tied into the party theme.  Perfect!

Mario Kart Wii Wall Stickers

Every birthday party I throw for my kids, I try to find wall stickers/clings to match the theme.  Then I decorate the dining room (aka party central) with the wall stickers.  When the party is over, I move them to the birthday boy's/girl's room for them to enjoy for the rest of the year.  For my son's Mario Kart Wii birthday party, I found great Mario Kart Wii Removable Wall Decorations on BirthdayExpress.com for $14.99.  They were the perfect touch for our party decorations!

Mario Boo Ghost Balloons


While doing research for decorating ideas for my son's Mario Kart Wii birthday party, I came across a blog called Corner House.  She had a post about a Mario party she threw for her son.  And one of the decorations she used were Boo Ghost Balloons.  She used white balloons, white paper cones and a sharpie.  Well, I didn't use the paper cones, I stuck with the white balloons and sharpie.  I used scotch tape and white thread to hang them from the ceiling. 

My son got a kick out of seeing them flying throughout the house when he woke up the morning of his party.  All the guests loved them!  They asked if they could each take one home.   

Mario Mushroom Cupcakes

My son had a last minute change of heart for his cupcakes.  He decided to have Mario Mushroom cupcakes instead of using the Mario Kart Wii Cupcake Toppers.  His favorite Mario Mushrooms are the Mega Mushroom (yellow with red dots) and the Mini Mushrooms (blue with white dots). 

So, I used a normal muffin tin for the Mega Mushrooms, yellow icing and red M&M's.  For the Mini Mushrooms, I used a mini muffin tin, white icing and blue M&M's.  (I know I have the colors reversed with the Mini Mushrooms but, it was easier and my son didn't mind.) 

I used white muffin cups for all the muffins.  And I drew the eyes on the outside of the muffin cups with a non-toxic magic marker.  Then, I lined a cookie sheet with foil and arranged the Mega Mushroom cupcakes in the middle and made a border with the Mini Mushroom cupcakes.  I topped it off with a number candle.  My son and all his friends loved it! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Mario Kart Wii Standups

While searching for Mario Kart Wii party supplies, I stumbled upon a cardboard Mario Kart Wii Standup at birthdayexpress.com.  It is 6 feet high and cost $40 with a $10 additional shipping fee for an over sized item.  So, needless to say, I didn't get it!  But, it did give me an idea.  I decided to make my own Mario Kart Wii standups but smaller. 

So, I had the birthday boy pick his three favorite characters from Mario Kart and I searched the Internet for an image of each of them.  Once I found large enough images, I copy and pasted them onto a word document.  I minimized the margins and blew up the image as big as I could to fit on one page without going outside of the printing margins.  Then I printed them on white card stock.  I trimmed the pictures down but, I made sure to keep a flat edge on the bottom for better stability.  Then I used the excess card stock that I cut off and glued it to the back of each image to make the pictures stand up (like a support on a table top picture frame).  It was super simple and they came out great!  I sat the standups next to the Mario Star Giftbags, as part of the pary decorations. 

You can do this with virtually any party them.  You just have to find the pictures online.  And after the party, you can trim off the flat bottom, glue the standup to another colorful piece of card stock and frame it!  It's a great way to decorate a room!  I plan to do this for our toy room.  Be creative and have fun!

Mario Kart Wii Homemade Gift Bags

I like to make homemade gift bags whenever I get the chance and it was super simple with a Mario Kart Wii party theme.  I just used white paper lunch bags and traced a star in the center with a star template using a black marker.  I printed a clipart image of a Mario star (to the right) and cut it out to make my template.  You can also use a star-shaped cookie cutter.  Then I colored in the star with a yellow marker and drew on eyes with a black marker.

Then I packed each back with a small activity book (8 for $1, Walmart), a toy car (3 for $1, Dollar Tree), a small pack of crayons (8 for $1, Dollar Tree), Mario Kart Wii tattoos I ordered online (8 for $4, BirthdayExpress.com) and a Mario Bros fruit snack (10 for $3, Walmart).  You could also print out coloring sheets from my Mario Kart Wii Coloring Pages post, roll them up and put them in the gift bags.

I folded over the top of each bag, lined them up and put my Homemade Mario Kart Wii Standups next to them.  I used them as part of the birthday party decorations.  They were a big hit!  Here is the end result:

You can use this idea with any theme really.  Get creative and have fun!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Filling Your Child's Lunchbox

I'm trying to convince my boys to take lunch to school this year.  We picked up an inexpensive lunchbox at Walmart, a "cool" Camelbak kids bottle from Target (which hasn't leaked once!) and I have found some great homemade school lunch ideas online.  Hopefully they will think it's fun to take their lunch and have something healthy to eat.
Lunch Ideas
Don't forget a nice note to help keep your little ones going for the rest of the day. Or try the printable Lunchbox Jokes on Kraft Foods Lunchbox Ideas link. If they can't read yet, draw pictures they will understand. 




Thursday, August 4, 2011

Healthy School Snacks

My niece is starting Preschool this fall and my sister called me asking for a list of ideas for school snacks.  She would like to pack her healthy snacks.  So, I put together a list of healthy snacks, with help from a list sent home from my son's Elementary school a couple of years ago.  This is what I've come up with:

Snack Ideas
  • Apple Slices
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Oranges/Orange Slices
  • Fruit Cups
  • Dried Fruit, ex: Raisins, Apricots, Craisins, etc.
  • Carrots
  • Celery Sticks
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • Cheese Cubes
  • Goldfish CrackersCereal
  • Graham Crackers/Teddy Grahams
  • Saltines
  • Animal Crackers
  • Wheat Crackers
  • Granola Bars
  • Pretzels
  • Jello Cups
  • Trail Mix
  • Nuts
Save money by buying in bulk and sending snacks to school in reusable containers.  For example:  instead of buying fruit cups, buy the large can and divide into your own containers.  You could also make your own trail mix with raisins, goldfish and pretzels or anything else you choose.

Going Back-to-School with Ease

My kids start school in just a few weeks.  School preparations are in full-swing.  From buying school supplies to figuring out what to pack for lunches and snacks, it can all be overwhelming at times.  So, I searched from some tips on how to make the transition from summer to school easier on everyone.

Tips
On these sites, you can find helpful tips on how to communicate with your child's teacher, the brands to buy for school supplies, lunch ideas and more.  I hope you and your kids have a terrific school year!

Mario Kart Wii Coloring Pages

Another activity to do at a Mario Kart Wii party, is coloring!  Here are a few links with free, printable Mario Kart Wii coloring pages:

Coloring Pages

Mario Kart Wii Party Games

Every birthday party needs games.  We will be making Yoshi Eggs for the Yoshi Egg Race that is suggested on this site.  I chose this game because it's something the kids can help me with in advance and it should be a lot of fun!

Yoshi Egg Race
  1. Hard boil eggs and let cool.
  2. Using food coloring, add green dots to the eggs with a cotton swab.  Allow to dry.  (You could also use a green permanent marker.)
  3. Give each child a spoon and an egg to carry in the spoon.
  4. Have all the kids line up and give them a finish line to race to.
  5. The children must carry the Yoshi Eggs on the their spoon to the finish line.  If they drop their egg they must go back to the starting line and begin again.
  6. The winner gets a reward.  I plan to use gold chocolate coins or Hershey kisses.
Another game I plan for us to play is Mario Kart Wii Bingo.  I couldn't find anything online for this so, I made my own bingo cards. 

Mario Kart Wii Bingo
  1. Click here to download and print twelve Mario Kart Wii Bingo Cards.  (Print on card stock to make more durable.)
  2. Print out a Mario Kart Wii Bingo Call Sheet and cut out each picture.
  3. Play Bingo
    1. Give each party guest a bingo card and markers.  We're using Hershey kisses.
    2. Put the cut-out pictures into a bag and shake them up.
    3. Pull one picture out at a time and show it to the children.
    4. If the children have the picture on their card, they cover it with a bingo marker/Hershey kiss.
    5. When a child gets 4 in a row (vertical, horizontal or diagonal) they call out "MARIO"!
    6. The winners get a prize.  I like to use $1 coloring books, crayons, small party favor, etc.
To make your own personalized vof Bingo, visit DLTK Custom Bingo Cards.  They also have premade bingo cards with characters like Pokemon and Veggie Tales.  They also have bingo cards for holidays, baby showers and more.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mario Kart Wii Cupcake Toppers

My son has asked for a Mario Kart Wii birthday party this year.  As always, I like to try to make as much of my own party supplies as possible.  I have already made the invitations and now I'm working on cupcake toppers.

With my Cupcake Topper Template and the Mario Kart Wii Clip Art that I found, it's very easy to make our own cupcake toppers.  I followed the instructions from my Cupcake Topper Template post and now I have my very own Mario Kart Wii Cupcake Toppers.  Download a copy for yourself by clicking here.


Cupcake Topper Template

One of the easiest ways to incorperate your theme with cupcakes is to use cupcake toppers.  I have made cupcake toppers in the past for a Phineas and Ferb birthday party.  However, I didn't have a good template to cut out circles and now I do. 


Directions using Microsoft Word
  1. Download a copy of the Cupcake Topper Template
  2. Use Google to search for images that relate to your party theme. 
  3. Then copy and paste your chosen images onto the template.
  4. Right click on your images and select the Text Wrapping, then the In Front of Text option.
  5. Reduce the size of the images to fit inside the cirlces on the template.
  6. Print toppers and cut them out.
  7. Use a gluestick to attach toothpick and colorful backing paper with a bit larger diameter.
I used this template to make cupcake toppers for my son's upcoming Mario Kart Wii birthday party - Mario Kart Wii Cupcake Toppers

Mario Kart Wii Clip Art

While trying to come up with ideas for my son's Mario Kart Wii birthday party, I've come across a bunch of great character images.  I plan to use these to make cupcake toppers, goody bags and maybe even some t-shirts. 

You can copy and/or save these images to your computer.  Then you will be able to use them for your own creative craft ideas.  I would love to know about them, so please share and leave a comment.  Thanks and have fun!






Friday, July 29, 2011

Corn Dog Muffins

While making Jiffy's corn muffins, my oldest son gave me an idea.  He said, "I wish you were making corn dogs instead."  I then realized, with the left over hot dogs in the fridge, I could make corn dogs.  Well, I could make corn dog muffins. 

Ingredients
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Mix Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, milk and egg in a bowl.
  3. Cut each hot dog down the middle, length-wise.  Then slice into small pieces.
  4. Add hot dog pieces into muffin mix.
  5. Fill 8 lined or greased muffin tins about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until muffins are light brown.  Let cool and serve.
I served these delicious Corn Dog Muffins with a small bowl of soup.  It's a new family favorite meal!  The kids are already asking when I will make them again.

This is a great recipe for make ahead meals for kids parties, lunch boxes and to freeze for another day.

Mario Kart Wii Party Invitations


My little guy is turning 6 in August and I'm rushing to get things ready for his birthday.  He has decided to have a Mario Kart Wii birthday.  I can't find party supplies in our local area but they do have them online.  I'm always hesitant to buy party supplies online and much prefer to make as many party supplies as I can.  

First things first, the invitations!  I went on the hunt for instructions on making my own invitations.  Most places suggest  finding free templates online but, I couldn't find one I liked.  So, I decided to create something of my own.

All I did was type up the following on Microsoft Word:

Race on over and help us celebrate
Michael’s 6th Birthday!

Saturday, Aug. 13th
3:00 – 5:00 PM

RSVP: (555) 555-5555
Then I added FREE Mario Kart Wii images I found with Google.  To view the ones I found, visit my post Mario Kart Wii Clip Art.

I was able to print two invites on each sheet of paper.  After cutting them out I used a glue stick to attach a black piece of card stock to the back and viola!  I have easily made invitations for my son's Mario Kart Wii birthday party!

You can do this for any party theme.  Let the birthday boy or girl help pick out the pictures.   Get creative and have fun! 

Natural Allergy Relief

My allergist recently prescribed me a $100 per month allergy medication.  That's not something we can afford with three kids and me staying at home. 

So, I wanted to look into natural allergy remedies.  In every online article and blog that I read about this topic they all had similar findings. 

Natural Remedies:
  • Nasal Rinse - a simple saline nasal spray and/or the use of a Neti Pot is great for flushing out allergens from your nose.
  • Butterbur is a weed found in Europe that works like a antihistamine without the drowsy side effects.
  • Stinging Nettle is also a weed but it is found in the United States but also works like an antihistamine.
  • Quercetin is another natural antihistamine that is found in foods like onion and apple skins and even in wine.
  • Bromelain is good for nasal inflammation.
  • Honey when locally produced can help you become acclimated to your regions allergens.  It is also great for soothing a dry throat and cough that can come with allergies.
Most if not all of these natural supplements can be found at your local natural goods stores.  However, before starting any new allergy remedy, it is best to talk to your doctor first.

For more information on these natural remedies and more visit:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Moms' Night Out Ideas

After the first time a couple of my friends and I got together for a girls night out, we were hooked.  Somehow chatting with each other over food helped us feel recharged as moms and as women.  So, we promised to get together as often as we could. 

However, coming up with ideas for a girls night out for moms can be different than planning one for single girls.  So far, we have only met up at restaurants.  But, I wanted to find more options.  My top favorite moms' nights out/in ideas are: bowling, wine bar and game night. 

For more ideas visit these sites:
Whatever you decide to do for your Moms' Night Out, be sure to take your planner with you and schedule another one before too much time passes.
 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Disney World: I'm So Glad We Took...

My family and I had an amazing time at Disney World this past spring.  Although, the weather could have been nicer, the trip was way better than we expected.  Here are a few things I am so glad we took:

Our Van 
  • We love road trips and we are blessed with children who travel well in a car.
  • We weren't staying at a resort on the monorail system and did not want to bother with taking the bus to get the parks. 
  • When you stay at a Disney Resort, parking is FREE at all the parks and at the resort.
  • We were able to bring our big stroller, snacks and all the extras we wouldn't have wanted to pay a check-in fee for on a plane.
Ponchos
  • Although the time of year that we went was not known for rain, we brought ponchos.  We sure are glad we did, because it rained most of the time we were there.  But, having the ponchos allowed us to still have all the fun we wanted!  We picked some up at our local Walmart.
Our Own Party Supplies
  • While at DW, we celebrated our daughter's 2nd birthday.  We considered having a dinner with the Princesses at Cinderella's castle but, realized she was too young to really appreciate and understand that.  So, I picked up a bunch of Disney Princess party supplies and decorations at our local Walmart.  The first night at our resort, my husband and I decorated our room.  We picked up a Disney Princess cake at a grocery strore in Orlando (another great reason to have the van).
Lightweight Jackets
  • We went to DW at the end of March, when the average temperatures were upper 50's F at night and low 80's F during the day.  So, we made sure to bring everyone a hoodie for the early morning trips to the DW parks.  I'm so glad we did!
Bubbles
  • While waiting in line, for food or for others in your group, bubbles are a great way to entertain young ones and pass the time.  I grabbed a bunch of small bottles at our local Dollar Tree.
A RayShade
  • Bringing your own stroller is great but, the canopy may not be enough to keep the Florida sun off your child.  So, I invested in a RayShade and it was one of the most important things I brought.  It helped keep my daughter cool and helped when she needed to nap in the stroller during our long days at the park.  They are about $15.
Water Shoes and Extra Sneakers
  • The kids had their water shoes for the trek down to our resort pool.  We also brought extra sneakers in case one pair got wet or caused blisters.  And after all the rain we had while walking through the parks, our sneakers were soaked!  Good thing we had an extra pair! 
Lots of Pictures
  • What better way to make your memories last a lifetime!