A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Tag: family fun (Page 1 of 3)

Pen Pal Fun With Grandkids

I walked out to retrieve our mail today expecting the usual advertisements and bills.  However, as I opened the mailbox, my eyes went straight to a different piece of mail.  There was a long white envelope addressed to Mimi & Pappy.  Well,  that sure did bring a quick smile to my face!  As I began to open the letter, I had an epiphany.  It is time to start having some pen pal fun with the grandkids!

In July, I wrote this post about Grandparenting from a Distance and in that article I discussed snail mail with the grandkids.  In fact, I even admitted then that I am not very good at it but want to get better.  Well, NOW is the time to start having some fun with the snail mail and pen pals!

Letters From The Grandkids ~

This particular mail was from Max.  He drew us pictures and wanted to send them to us.  Now, keep in mind that we are very lucky grandparents that get to see the kids several times a week.  However, this should not keep anyone from sending fun letters, cards, games, jokes, etc. to the grandkids.  As we all know, everyone likes to receive a special piece of mail.  It gives you the same feeling you get when opening gifts at Christmas.  Someone took the time to personally acknowledge you.

I actually keep a folder in my office of artwork and letters they have written for us.  Each one gets labeled with their name and date on the back of the pages so they can see how their writing and picture drawing improves over time.  I also pull them out once in a while just to enjoy the love they share in each page they create for us.

Pen Pal:  A person with whom one keeps up an exchange of letters, USUALLY someone that is so far away that a personal meeting is unlikely.

Benefits of Pen Pal Fun With Grandkids ~

  • Create a close connection
  • Allows opportunity to praise the children’s artwork and writing = boosts self confidence
  • Long-lasting memories
  • Teaches correspondence skills – stamps, addressing envelopes, proper writing etiquette over time
  • Patience – in this world of everything at our fingertips, it is good for them to learn the anticipation of “waiting for something good to come.”
  • Fosters creativity
  • Improves penmanship

Fun Snail Mail Ideas ~

  • Pre-stamp and address some fun post cards and give them as a gift to your grandchildren.  This way they can correspond with you any time they want.
  • If they are old enough to practice envelope format, then give them a blank notebook/stationery and envelopes.

Include some small item with your letter to them:

  • An old picture of you
  • A picture of the two of you together
  • Several charms – one at a time so they can make a bracelet or keychain once all are sent
  • A fun drawing
  • A coloring page
  • A seek and find page – I have always loved the Highlight brand but you can also find a lot of free ones to download on Pinterest! – I especially love this Highlights Back to School Version!

  • Bookmark
  • Ask a question and tell them to reply with their answer in a letter back to you
  •  Origami
  •  Stickers
  • Send a small puzzle a few pieces at a time
  • Cut the letter in large pieces so they have to put together like a puzzle
  • Write the letter in coded ink and send special pen for them to uncover the message.  I LOVE this Invisible Ink Spy Pen set…kids will too!

  • Bible verse – you can write them yourself in your letter or use something like this fun book to send in your letter – Fun Bible Memory Book for Kids

  • Send a Hug!  – I love this idea by Becca of Who-arted.com
  • Start a Write Me Back! – Jennie Moraitis describes this fun idea in her littlegirldesigns.com blog
  • Write a letter on a deflated balloon for them to blow up and read
  • Make an origami fortune teller – We love to create our own but if you struggle in this department, here is an easy fortune teller (or cootie catcher as we used to call them) book with templates – Origami Fortune Teller Booklet with pre-printed and blank templates!

  • Create a family quiz – it would be fun do do this annually and save to look back at their answers later!

These are just a few fun ideas.  Once you get started I am sure more fun ideas will come your way.  These ideas are simple ones that can be included in a small envelope.  It is also fun, of course, to send a small gift once in awhile.  However, the bigger importance here is trying to foster a fun relationship with your grandchildren with money not being the focal point.

Keep in mind, too, that it doesn’t matter if you live far away or in the same town.  It still can be such a fun activity between grandparents and grandchildren.  As I am sitting here writing this, I am getting so excited about all the fun ideas that are forming in my head.  I am truly looking forward to having some pen pal fun with my grandkids!  (And don’t you think for a second that I won’t be involving Pappy in this fun adventure as well! 😉)

Happy letter writing to you ~

Mimi

 

 

Blackberry Festival Family Date Night

Are you trying to squeeze the last bit of family fun into the remaining days of summer?  Why not plan a family date night?  Our family headed out to Wild Blackberry Farms for the inaugural Blackberry Festival.   While it can be difficult (but oh so worth it!) to find a night that works in everyone’s schedule, this was so worth the planning of our Blackberry Festival family date night!

I’ve had many people ask me how we knew about this particular festival.  I agree that it is hard to know about every fun event around you, but it led me to look into festival informational sites.  Each state has many local resources, but I also found a couple of sites that you can search all 50 states….

Blackberry Festival Family Date Night Activities ~

U-Pick Blackberries ~

This particular festival was a smaller fare, but not short on fun family activities.  We started out with the U-pick blackberries.  I wasn’t sure how much the younger ones would enjoy this part, but they loved it!  We had a quick lesson on which berries were ready to pick and everyone headed out with their buckets.  They had so much fun searching the rows for the ripest berries!  Also important here is that it kept them entertained for quite a long time!

What was even better was they could pick down low on their own while also enjoying a little help up from the family members.

Face Painting ~

This is the part of the festival that the littles were looking forward to the most.  In fact, it was so much fun that kids AND adults got in on the fun.  Aunt Karleigh and Pappy had their faces painted to match the kids, which made them so happy!

Food Trucks, Family Games, Petting Zoo, Photo Opps ~

Whether you are on a diet or not, you HAVE to eat the festival food!  Am I right?   So many yummy choices from lemon shakeups to bbq sandwiches of all kinds!  Of course, if you look closely at this picture you will see that some blackberries were definitely enjoyed along the way as well!

Other Family Date Night Ideas ~

While I definitely recommend festivals for a fun family date night, don’t let that keep you from planning other fun activities.  Plan a family date night once a month.  This a routine that will defnitely help to forge strong family bonds.  **On these special nights, be sure to put those phones out of place and concentrate on the family unit!

Family Date Night Ideas ~
  • Park Hopping – take a bit of time to map out local parks and go to several of them in one day.  It’s so much fun to see what equipment each park has to offer and discover which is each child’s favorite.
  • Splash Party – Put those bathing suits on…you too parents…and have some good old water fun.  Have plenty of squirt guns, water balloons, maybe a slip and slide and a small kids pool (for both swimming and refilling those water guns) on hand.
  • Bowling – Have you done this in a while?  For some reason we had ventured away from bowling and recently got back to it….the kids LOVE to bowl!
  • Scavenger Hunt – You can plan a scavenger hunt in your own house or yard or better yet, break off into teams and run around the neighborhood looking for items.
  • Glow in the Dark Fun – Purchase some glow sticks and glow jewelry (they almost always have them at the Dollar Store) and turn out all the lights for some fun family glow in the dark fun!  Add in some dancing or hide and seek!
  • Backyard Movies – There is a large assortment of video projectors available.  I do suggest going ahead and purchasing one with a screen as well.  I tried the cheaper route at first and tried to use a white sheet…the image wasn’t sharp enough with that.  Check out this video projector with screen for outdoor family fun!

  • Family Cooking – Plan, Cook and Eat the meal together.  Be sure to let the little ones help with the cooking…they will love it.  For extra fun, add some fun candles and pick some flowers from the yard for a beautifully set table.
  • Dance Party – You guys, this is a win-win here!  Not only will there be lots of giggles, but it’s a good workout too!
  • Family Puzzle – My all-time favorite puzzles are the ones that have different size pieces so everyone can take part in the puzzle.  Check out this fun family puzzle with small, medium, and large sized pieces! 

  •  Family Room Sleepover – Gather ALL of the blankets and pillows and make a big living room fort…but you also ALL have to sleep in it!  Have fun!

These are just a few fun ideas to create family fun.  The most important part of all of it is that everyone engages, you add in some good munchies and put down those phones.  Have some laugh until your belly aches fun with those kids!

Back To Those Yummy Blackberries ~

The fun continues as we decide what yummy recipes we are going to make with our buckets of blackberries.  Of course, we head straight to Pinterest!  Wow!  Seriously, do a quick search on blackberry recipes!  How do you decide on what you want to make?  I think I may have to figure out how to succesfully plant our own blackberry patch because I want to make SO MANY of these recipes!

This time around we are going with the Old Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler.  I prefer the cobblers where you cook the berries like this recipe from Saving Room for Dessert…Old Fasioned Blackberry Cobbler by Saving Room for Dessert.  I will be sure to let you know how it turns out!

Cheeres to each of you enjoying the rest of your summer and some good family fun!

From Our Family to Yours ~

~Mimi

 

 

Shark Week 2021

It’s almost here guys!  Shark Week 2021 begins July 11 and we are pumped!!!  Are you ready for an exciting week filled with new reasearch on the  amazing world of sharks?  For the 33rd year, Discovery Channel will be airing programs hosted by many celebrities to help us better understand the behavior of sharks and respect the “fin-tastic” world they live in!

It was a bit of a struggle for me to find a schedule of all the programs to be aired in a nice little chart format.  I’ve finally decided that I have looked so hard for it on the Discovery channel that at this point I am staring right at it and not seeing it.  I’m sure you understand what I am saying, right?  Further search led me to the TV Insider website where I found a layout by days of the week that I felt is easy to follow.  Click here to see the TV Insider nicely laid out Shark Week schedule…

Of course, how do we completely enjoy this special week without some fun food and crafts to go along with it???  We started a few crafts early so we could share with everyone.  Read through some of the old posts as well as this new one to bring some jaw-some fun to Shark Week 2021!

Shark Week 2021 Crafts ~

Starting with the old posts first, “dive in” to some of these below to start gathering ideas for fun food and crafts:

Now, let’s move forward to the first of this year’s crafts.  The paper plate shark puppet made a real “splash” with the kiddos.  One of the things I learned while doing these is you need to think ahead when painting anything so that you leave time for them to dry (especially because kids tend to paint very thick).  Keep this in mind when working on the one!

Items Needed ~

  • Paper Plate
  • Hole Punch
  • Paint (colors of your choice)
  • Paint Brushes
  • Yarn
  • Marker
  • Googly Eyes
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Wax Paper or Newspaper
  • Hot Glue
  • Popsicle Stick or Tongue DepressorHot

Instructions for Paper Plate Shark ~

  1. Cut the middle ring of the paper plate out.  Save this piece as you will be using it to make parts of the shark.
  2. Draw lines as shown in this figure below.  All sections will be used to complete the craft.  As always, don’t worry about perfection here.  They will turn out adorable, I promise!                                                       
  3. Cut along all lines.  The bottom curved section be used for the mouth (which you will cut teeth into).  The other 3 sections will be used for pectoral and dorsal fins.   This is why I stress perfection is not key.  Let the kids do the cutting!                               
  4. Spread out a long sheet of wax paper (or newspaper) for this next step.  We used another paper plate and squirted colors of choice on the plates for kids to work from.  Lay each of the sections of the paper plate across the wax paper and let the kids start painting.  Encourage them to get creative!                                                                                                                                                         
  5. Let all painted pieces dry.  We moved on to another craft (shown below) while we “patiently” waited for our works of art to dry.                                                                                                                                                                                               
  6. Once dry, punch holes along the inside rim of the paper plate.   Make at least 8 to 10 holes.
  7. Cut long strands of yarn of choice.  You don’t want these to be too long or it will be hard for the kids to work with.  We cut them about 12 to 18″.
  8. String yarn up through one hole in the plate.  Pull completely through until you have a small section (about 1/2″) left on the underside of the plate.  Tape that section down to the bottom of the plate to hold yarn in place.   
  9. It is very helpful if you tie a knot in the end of the yarn that the kids are holding and pulling through the holes.  This helps their little fingers to get it through the holes better and also helps with the yarn fraying.     
  10. Have them continue to pull the yarn up and down through the holes (working from inside the plate) until they have a small section of yarn left.  Tape that section to the bottom of the plate too.  You can then stop there or if they want to “sew” some more, cut them another piece of yarn and let them continue to fill the inside of the plate with yarn. 
  11. Hot glue the fins to the underside of the plate and the googly eyes and shark teeth to the yarn sections of the plate.
  12. Hot glue a tongue depressor to the bottom of the plate.  It is helpful to write their names on the tongue depressor for future arguments of which one belongs to whom.  This also makes it into a very fun shark puppet!

Fun Variations ~

You can also let the kids paint the entire paper plate before you do any cutting.  This allows for them to not get paint scattered more when painting the smaller pieces.  They can also use stampers and such to make fun designs on their sharks.  In the first picture of this blog, the stick part of the paint brush was used to make fun polka dots!

Let the children mix two colors of yarn to “sew” with to make a more colorful shark.  We stuck with blue and gray but you can, of course, get as colorful as you would like.

If you don’t have googly eyes, cut circles out of another paper plate or some paper and let the kids create their own shark eyes.

We used colored tongue depressors, but you can also use plain and paint them yourselves.

Stay tuned for the second sharky post this week for directions on another exciting Shark Week 2021 craft!  I hope you enjoy learning about these fantastic creatures as much as we do!

I will leave you with these fun jokes to share ~

Q:  What did the shark say after he was accused of eating a human?

A:  Not gill-ty!

🤣🤣🤣

Q:  What do you get when you cross a shark with a snowman?

A:  Frostbite!

😂😂😂

Have a Fin-tastic week guys!

Much Love~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking Fun with Grandkids

I got the best phone call the other day!  Picking up my cell phone, I expected to hear my daughter on the other line.  To my surprise, it was my sassy six year old granddaughter, Addi.  Excitedly, she says, “Mimi, I’m making dinner tonight.  Would you like to join us?”  Are you kidding me?  Of course I do!  I’m not missing out on a night of cooking fun with the grandkids!

What was on the menu you ask?  We were served mini pot pies/shepherd’s pies and a strawberry rhubarb tart.  Wow!  It was delicious!

       

Let’s back up to Addi’s birthday earlier this year.  We always like to find one special “big” gift to get for the kids.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be big in size, but it needs to be extra special!  A lot of time is spent thinking and shopping for that perfect gift.  Addi has recently become fascinated with the kid’s cooking shows so ideas started formulating around that.

The Birthday Gift Idea ~

I have enjoyed watching various bakeoff shows with the grandkids.  Have you ever watched them?  Let me tell you, that they are nothing short of amazing.  I truly would have never realized that kids can cook as “professionally” as they do…even better than a lot of us adults!  Through this the birthday idea came to life!  Addi needed all of her own kitchen tools.

We have already done some cooking with Addi over the past couple of years, so I knew her passion for time in the kitchen wasn’t going anywhere.  After watching the different episodes of Chopped Junior and MasterChef Junior, we realized Addi was ready to step up her game a bit.

Now, first of all my thoughts went  to purchasing  Addi her very own kitchen prep and storage rolling cart.  I will admit that I spent time shopping for the best one.  I then realized I should probably chat with my daughter about this.  Afterall, this would take up a lot of space in the kitchen, and I had to admit to myself that it is her kitchen and not mine.  So I scaled my gift idea down a bit so that Lauren could keep her kitchen in tact.

Cooking Basket Gift Items ~

These are a win/win…Addi was able to cut food by herself and we felt safe with her doing so!

 One thing Lauren and I noticed, having the tongue out while cooking is a MUST for any great chef! 🤣

Cooking Fun with Grandkids ~

As you can see, we tried a variety of different kitchen gadgets.  This will definitely be a gift that we can add on to in the years to come.  Fostering a love of cooking in kids has so many benefits…to the kids as well as the adults.  The important thing to remember is it’s going to get messy…and that’s ok!  If kids become afraid to mess up they will lose the passion to learn.

In an earlier post, I wrote about a great recipe book software.  You create your own cookbook…family, church, neighborhood.. or whatever you choose.  The first book I created was Pappy on the Penarve…Check out my fun cookbook here!  My intention was to make an “Addi” cookbook next…epic fail!  However, I am still going to make it and include new recipes for her to try plus old ones that she has made with the family.  What fun memories!

Make time to have some cooking fun with the grandkids….you will be glad you did!

Enjoy!

Mimi

 

 

 

 

Summer Bookworm Programs for Kids

Reading should NOT be a “chore” for kids!  Instead, books should open up a world of adventure.  When reading, your child may sail the ocean and dig treasures with those pesky pirates.  Perhaps they will dress in fancy dresses and dine on french pastries with Fancy Nancy.  Maybe they prefer to dress in scuba gear and do some deep sea diving to discover all of the unusual fish and corals.  How else can children do so many things in one day, one week, one summer?  It’s looking like we need to look into summer bookworm programs for kids!

Summer reading programs not only entice children to keep reading, but they offer different awards for their achievements.  While we may not want to admit it, everyone has discovered that bribery is a great motivator for kids.  Ok, maybe it’s not bribery, but it is a great way of rewarding them for setting goals and reaching them.  I’ve compiled a list of programs…and what’s even better is that they are free!

 Wait a minute….did you say FREE????

Types of Summer Bookworm Programs for Kids ~

Pizza Hut’s Book-It Program ~

It’s super easy to sign up for this fun program.  Set reading goals and once reached head on over to Pizza Hut for some FREE pizza!  Click here for easy access to register for the Pizza Hut Summer Reading Program…..  You will have 3 options to register:

  1. Homeschool parent for kids ages 4 to 12
  2. Enroll classs from PreK to 6th grade for public, private or charter school
  3. Parent of student(s) grades PreK to 6th

Once you are registered, there is a plethora of free resources such as activities, printables and reading trackers.  Seriously, this program is amazing and this Mimi thinks you would be crazy to not take advantage of all the stuff they have to offer.  We are all signed up in our family and just waiting for June 1 to roll around so we can get started!

Public Library Program ~

There are so many wonderful things about this program that has been around for…ever!  Let’s put it this way, I’m a Mimi and I enrolled my kids in this program every year when they were young.  You do the math!  😳

The INDYPL program is open to any resdient of Marion County and once again it is FREE!  (If you live outside of Indiana, be sure to look up fun programs at your local library!)  It runs from June 7, 2021 to July 31, 2021 and they provide 3 easy ways to register and track reading time of kids AND adults.  Yes, I said adults!  They offer special offerings for us big kids too!  How awesome is that?  Here are the options for registering:

  1. Create an account on Beanstack through the Apple App or Google Play Store
  2. Use the Beanstack website to register.  The link to Beanstack is right here….what are you waiting for?
  3. Sign up at your local IndyPL branch

Once you are registered for this summer bookworm program for kids (& adults), start reading and tracking the time of books read.  Older kids and adults who read to younger kids get credit for those minutes to.  The library even provides a colorful tracker that you can pick up at the library or download for free and print yourself.  They are offering a fun Discovery Bag…go check them out to learn more!

Barnes & Noble Program ~

Kids in grades 1 through 6 enroll in this program to earn free books!  A total of eight books need to be read to complete this awesome program.  The books can be borrowed or purchased.  Once they have finished reading each book, they are asked to write about their favorite part in the Reading Journal that Barnes & Noble provides.  Bring the completed journal into Barnes & Noble between July 1 and August 31, 2021 to choose a free book from the list provided.  Here is a convenient link to Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program!

Scholastic Summer Reading Program ~

Get started with this super exciting program by registering with Home Base.  Here is an easy link to the Home Base page for Scholastic!  I will say that it took me a few minutes to move around the Scholastic website to completely understand their program…but it is going to be so worth it.  I highly suggest you watch the short informative videos.  Once your child has registered with a fun avatar name he/she will be ready to go.

This program has really been updated to coincide with how our children learn today.  They can add to their own personal avatar by reading more books…I truly believe the kids will LOVE this program.  An added incentive is all of the fun games and reading they can do on site and watch their characters come to life.  I seriously think this is going to be an excellent reading source this summer!

Other Summer Programs ~

While researching all of these fun options, I have come across several others that I am still waiting to see if they are going to do a summer program this year.  They may or may not be available in your area, but if you are familiar with them, check them out.  I was surprised to see a bank offers a program for the kids.  This particular bank doesn’t exist in my area, but it helped me to realize I should check out others around me to see if they too have something available.  A list is provided for you so that you can look into them as well:

  • Books-A-Million
  • Tails & Tales
  • TD Bank
  • Lifeway
  • Half Price Books
  • Chuck E Cheese
  • H-E-Buddy
  • Amazon

I am sure there are many more than what I have shared, so now that you know there are so many options available, I hope you will check out some of the programs I have written about or look into what is available in your community.

What I have also discovered from my research is that summer bookworm programs for kids have gone above and beyond from when my kids were young.  Not only are they offering incentives for reading, but they now also offer so many other amazing resources.  They have done a lot of the legwork to make reading fun for your kids….so take advantage of all the FREE resources they are offering!

Happy reading!

Mimi

 

 

 

The Importance of Family Traditions

Family traditions are the glue that holds families together through the years.  As you are reading this, you may recall long-established customs or you may just be thinking about a new tradition you started with your immediate family.  Regardless of the number of years you have celebrated each one, the importance of family traditions is tantamount to strong family bonding.

Small Quiz ~ ✏

Do me a favor.  Take a few minutes to set everything aside…your phone, computer, tv, game, etc.  Sit quietly for a moment and think about what family traditions you celebrate.  Think first of the holidays.  Are there traditions you do with your children that possibly your parents did with you as a child?  Have you started new ones since you have become a parent?  Let’s go a step further….write those down.

Now, let’s think about seasonal traditions.  Activities that may not tie in exactly with a particular holiday.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…write those down too.  What about nightly family rituals, such as reading a book.  There may also be weekly or monthly family traditions, such as family game night, daddy dates, or family service days.  Let’s not forget birthdays!   Are you starting to recall more traditions than you even imagined?  We cling to traditions, sometimes when we don’t even realize it.

These events have been shown to strengthen family bonds and reinforce family values.  It warms my heart when my grandchildren will ask a question pertaining to a specific holiday.  For instance, we love to put on our pajamas, make popcorn and hot cocoa and pile in the car to drive around and look at Christmas lights.  We also always get Chinese takeout on the night we decorate our Christmas tree.  The grandchildren, now at ages 3 & 6, ask each year if we are going to do it again.  They remember and look forward to those special moments.

Holidays ~

There are numerous holidays:  Federal, State, Religious, Observance, and Sports.  There is a list below that includes some of the more known holidays here in the states, but it is certainly not all encompassing.   The important thing to remember about family traditions is quality over quantity.  It is so much fun to create reasons to celebrate, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your family.  There is nothing more depressing than a child that is let down because a parent doesn’t follow through.  So keep old traditions and maybe start a few new ones too!

  • New Year’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve

Nightly or Weekly ~

Here are some ideas of activities the family can do nightly or once a week:

  • Reading a book together
  • Family game night
  • Pizza night, taco night, Italian night (you get the drift)
  • Evening walk or Sunday walk
  • Sunday special breakfast
  • Movie night
  • Family meals together…a tough one but oh so worth it!
  • Making a story up together…one person start and give a few sentences then another person takes over, etc.
  • Highs & Lows – every morning or evening have everyone tell the best and worst part of their day

Take the read aloud family challenge – such a cool idea! ➡➡Check out this fun Family Read Aloud 100 Book Challenge with journal!

Monthly ~

Here are some ideas of activities the family can do together monthly.  Choose one day of each month and plan your activity.  Whether you do the same activity monthly or change it, start with the day and get it on the calendar!  This gives everyone something to look forward to and also helps with planning.  Stick to it!!!  This is what makes it a tradition!

  • Hiking at different parks each month
  • Zoo/Museum/Sporting Event/Play or Muscial – plan something like this for each month
  • Family service project – Work together on a monthly plan of where you can help out in the community
  • Movie Night – this is also listed in weekly, but maybe you need to spread it out more
  • Cook together as a family
  • Game Night – this is also listed in weekly, but maybe you need to spread it out more
  • Mommy & Daddy date night – let each child have special time with the parents

Random ~

  • Journal – keep a family journal somewhere for everyone to write in when they have something they need to talk about
  • Back to school day – make it special every year
  • Hooky day – everyone gets a day off for crazy fun family time

Check out this fun Family Journal with prompts that make it easy for the whole family to use ➡➡Check out the Creative Family Journal with writing prompts here!!!

This is a very small list of ideas.  Once again, choose what is most important to your family and follow through.  There is no need to have so many traditions that you are overwhelmed.  They are meant to be special times bonding the family together.

They can be simple.  Lauren loves going to the her grandparent’s place at the lake.  The kids know they are going to get on the golf cart and zoom all over.  It is something they look foward to every time.  They then head to the lake shore and take pictures.  How fun it has been to see the kid’s growth over these last few years with the same background.  Similar to using a yardstick to measure children’s annual growth on a wall.

In October, my mother puts out a large light up pumpkin.  It seems like that pumpkin has been around FOREVER!  However, the kids love to have their picture taken with Grandma every year.  Likewise, when our children were small we would take the same picture of all of the grandchildren at Easter around the same tree at their Grandma’s!  It’s a small thing, but it’s tradition!

               

Another fun tradition is to make food to match the color of the current holiday.  You can be as simple or creative as you like.  Believe me, the kids will have a LOT of fun with this.  I will be honest though, sometimes they turn out as a flop…these things happen.  Probably the worst one my kids remember is green oatmeal for St. Patrick’s Day…it looked just like vomit.  We laughed so hard!

     

Birthdays ~

Birthdays are a pretty big deal in our family.  The birthday person wakes up to a decorated bedroom door  (Check out the Birthday door idea by clicking here!), gets to choose what type of cake and dinner and also gets to choose the activity.  Deciding on the activity is the best part for me…yes, we still do it as adults!  I absolutely love to find different things to do as a family each year.  Bowling, paddle boats on the canal or hiking to lunch on the Monon have been some of my favorites.  As long as we are together, I am happy.  Now, for those of you who know Brad, it is a different story.   Nothing makes him happier than all being on the deck and him grilling!  That’s nice and relaxing too!

Schedules are hectic….times are crazy!  However, this is one thing you can make a point to do with your family.  Sometimes we simply forget about the importance of family traditions….but our kids don’t!  I hope you will share some of your family traditions below!

Hugs – Mimi

 

Sampling Book Clubs for Kids – Round 2

The jury is still out on which book club subscription is The Best for kids.  In fact, what I am quickly learning is that there are many different positives to what each company has to offer.  My hope is that by detailing each one as my grandkids and I personally try them out, that you can then choose which one is the perfect one for YOUR family.  Basically, what is perfect for one family may not be perfect for the other.  However, I am positive there IS a perfect one for each and every one of you.   With all of that being said, please read on about our thoughts on sampling book clubs for kids – round 2!

Bookroo ~

This is the subscription we are currently subscribed to.  I chose the Picture Book Club for ages 3 to 6 as this choice perfectly fit the ages of my grandchildren.  We recently received our first shipment and were very excited to explore what books we had been sent.

WINNIE~

Bookroo includes a leaflet with the featured book for each month.  Winnie ~ The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-The-Pooh was this month’s selection.  I had NO clue there was a real bear who inspired this furry little guy that has been a part of almost every child’s life at some point.   Sally M. Walker is the author of this delightful story set during the time of WWII.

Addi and Max eagerly climbed up to listen to this tale of a bear named Winnie whose journey began through adoption by a vet on his way to WWII.  It is a wonderful story that I believe will become a favorite over time.  I shortened some of the paragraphs while reading to them as some were a bit long for their comprehension.  Even though we skimmed some pages, the kids were engrossed with the adventures of this cute little bear.

**SPOILER ALERTS** ~

A couple of fun facts about Winnie the Pooh that you may or may not have already known:

  • Winnie the Pooh is a GIRL
  • Christopher Robin really did exist
  • Winnie the Pooh was an American black bear
  • Christopher Robin’s father, A. A. Milne, was the original author of Winnie the Pooh

OLD MACDONALD HAD A TRUCK ~

What a fun twist to an old favorite!!!  Old MacDonald is on his farm….with an excavator, a front loader, a bulldozer….and more!  Lots of fun construction equipment in this story!

With a puuush push here, and a puuush push there, here a push, there a push, everywhere a puuuush push!  The kids love singing along to the new lyrics this story introduces.

Bookroo recommendation ~

We LOVED the selection of books so much that we are going to keep this subscription for another month before sampling another book club subscription.  The quality of books are fantastic and the selection was well rounded.  I think a key component to a great book for kids (next to the story itself) is the illustrations.  Both of these books were filled with fun pictures that made the book more enticing to read.

I am very happy to add these to Mimi’s book basket and later to the bookshelf.  Yes, I keep a basket of current books in a basket in the living room for easy access.  It is amazing how quickly the kids run to that basket to select which book they want to read.  When it gets full or a new holiday comes along, the older books go to the bookshelf and the basket gets filled with a new fun selection.

Sampling Book Clubs for Kids ~

The first subscription book club we had was Owl Posts for Kids.  It was also a great book club that the kids looked forward to.  Read about Owl Post Books and other kid’s book subscription boxes we are going to sample here!!!  We received books from them for about 6 months.  There are several posts that I shared on the various books and crafts we received.  You can check out the fun we had with them below!

Check out the books and crafts received by Owl Post Books here!

We are looking forward to trying to help your family choose the perfect book club for you.  Reading is such an integral part of learning and family time.  Book club subscriptions make that family time much easier.  Please share your experiences in the comments at the bottom of this post or your thoughts on Sampling Book Clubs for Kids ~ Part 2!

 

Zany Bookmark DIY Fun

You need to try these little gems!  Kids not only like to get Valentines, but they love to give them as well!  They will be filled with such pride as they help with everything from the design to the fun tassel finish.  Everyone will love being a part of this zany bookmark DIY fun!

Items Needed:

  • Photographs
  • Scissors
  • String, Yarn, Ribbon, Embroidery Floss
  • Thermal Laminating Pouches
    • (you can use contact paper, but this post is about laminating.  I have not used the contact paper, but have read articles about it)
  • Empty Toilet Paper Roll
  • Optional – Laminating Machine
  • Optional – Print Shop Program

Cut Out Photo Bookmark ~

The most fun to making this one is the photo session itself.  Have the children pose in funny ways with their hands up in the air.  Tell them to pretend they are hanging on to a tree limb or rope.  They can put both hands up or just one.  Encourage them to hold their legs in various ways as if they are suspended in the air.  It is also fun to have them make silly expressions.  This makes the final product so much more fun!

Traditional Style Bookmark ~

You can have just as much fun creating the more traditional style of bookmark.  I love to use The Printshop program to create fun backgrounds and wording.  We had fun with the Valentine sayings and created this one saying “Bee Mine” with a little yellow bee fluttering across the top of the heart.

Once your photo session is over or you have selected from photos you have already taken, you will need to print them.  You can also have them printed at your nearest photo store if you prefer.  I like to print them myself so I can play with the sizing of the photograph. *If you are doing the detailed cutout type, you will want to be sure they are printed large enough to cut a hole in for the tassel.   I love to use my print shop program for that.

Print out all photos you are wanting to use first, then laminate them.  By doing this you can fit as many pictures as possible into the laminating pouch to alleviate excess waste.  I love having a laminating machine.  It comes in handy for so many different projects and they are very inexpensive.  Get your own laminating machine here for only $21.99.

Of course, you will need laminating sheets as well.  I love the pouches.  I found mine at the local craft store, but they do have them online as well.  Get a pack of 100 thermal laminating pouches for only $14.10!!!  I have discovered that buying the larger packs is way more cost efficient.  Plus, it is always good to have them on hand whenever you need them.

         

Once they are laminated, the cutting process can begin.  The children can help with this step as well, however, if they are younger you may want to do the more detailed cutting.  If you have chosen to make the more traditional square ones, you can have the children cut those out with more ease.

Of course, you can spread the love and add your favorite furry friend to the bookmarks as well!

Making Tassels ~

This is where that used toilet paper roll comes in.  Cut the toilet paper roll in half for easier tassel making.  Start wrapping your yarn or embroidery thread around the roll.  Continue wrapping until you get to the desired size.  I wrap mine about 15 to 20 times.  This is another fun activity for the kids to get involved in.

Gently ease the wrapped yarn off of the roll.  Tie a small piece of the same colored yarn (or get artsy and use a different color) around the wrapped yarn about 1/4″ down from the top and tie tightly.  This creates the top of the tassel.  Then cut horizontally across the looped bottom portion to create the dangling tassel part.

As you can see, the yarn creates a poofier (is that even a word???) tassel, while embroidery floss makes a more sleek tassel.  I suggest experimenting with both to see which style you prefer more.

The sky is the limit with this zany bookmark DIY fun…from the photos, to the sayings, to the tassels.  If you don’t have a program to create fun artwork, use old greeting cards or images from magazines.  You can also use various sizes of sticker letters.  Paper House Productions has tons of fun stickers….you really need to check them out!  Check out the HUGE variety of stickers from Paper House Productions here!!!   Here are some fun sayings you can use:

  • You are my fav❤rite person!
  • No bones about it, you are top dog!
  • You are beary special!
  • Bee mine!
  • You’re toadally awesome!
  • Hugs!
  • You’re a purrrfect friend!
  • You shine!
  • Sending you hogs & kisses!
  • I’m so hoppy you are my friend!
  • You have my heart Valentine!
  • Valentine you are out of this world!
  • You’re #1 in my book!
  • I’ve got my eye on you Valentine!
  • You are so cool Valentine!

Go gather your materials and get started on the fun….Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!

Hugs~

Shelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sampling Book Clubs for Kids

If you have been following me, you have read my posts about Owl Post Books.  This has been my first experience in participating in a book club for my grandchildren.  We have thoroughly enjoyed it!  The mystery of discovering what new books and crafts are inside are fun for kids and adults alike.  So a thought hit me…let’s give other subscription boxes a try to see which one we like best.  The idea of sampling book clubs for kids was born and we are ready to embark upon this journey!

As I sample each club, I will update this post to give an honest review…from a Mimi point of view as well as from an Addi & Max point of view.  I hope as we try each one you can all decide which one you may want to try.  As always, if you have tried one or more out, PLEASE let me know in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Book Clubs for Kids ~

Owl Post Books ~

Let’s start with the box ~ even the box is a fun part of this subscription.  Each month is a different theme and the images are very detailed allowing for a fun coloring experience.  Look at this month’s cute animal theme…and it is on front and back of the box.  Of course, this box can also be used as a fun storage device as well!

There are two options to choose from when starting in this fun club.

  • Reader’s Imagination Mini ~ This one features one specially selected book and craft each month for $14.99
  • Reader’s Imagination Box ~ This one features 3 specially selected books and one craft each month for $32.99

It also breaks down into different age groups.

  • Ages 0-3
  • Ages 4-7
  • Ages 8-11

Click here to check out their website➡➡ Owl Post Books.  Depending on when  you go to their website, you may see an option for Young Adult (YA), however, this option is being discontinued.

Overall, our experience with Owl Post Books has been a very good one.  In fact, Addi just recently realized that we did this month’s craft without her and was NOT happy with Mimi.  The book choices have been loved by both kids and they have lots of fun coloring the box.  We highly recommend this monthly book club.

I have shared some earlier reviews of Owl Post Books here:  Read more about the fun we have had with Owl Post Books by clicking here!

They offer 10% off for teachers and you can cancel at any time.  Please check their FAQ page for details.

Bookroo ~

I am placing my first order for Bookroo today.  I have been researching this company quite a bit and it gets great reviews.  I am very anxious to see the type of books we receive.  The reviews all say that the choice of books is phenomenal!   Following is what I have read in my research about this fun book club subscription.

They offer options of prepay or month to month.  Both options are at a discounted rate of up to 50% off of retail value, however, the prepay offers an even deeper discount.  There are 3 options of age groups to choose from.

  • Board Book Club ~ Ages 0-3 ~ You receive 3 board books each month.  The books typically have 8 – 14 pages.
  • Picture Book Club ~ Ages 3-6 ~ You receive 2 hard cover books each month.  The books typically have 32-40 pages.
  • Chapter Book Club ~ Ages 7-10 ~ You receive 2 chapter books each month.  The books typically have 120-280 pages.

They offer a flexible delivery schedule which I personally love.  I like to have the books delivered here so the kids have something to look forward to.  Since they are not here all the time, I can choose a time for delivery that I know they are typically here.  Part of the fun is checking in the mailbox to see if there is something in there for you, right?  They also have a cancel at anytime policy, but as always you should check their FAQ page on their website.

Join me in trying this one out with the 15% coupon below…

Give the gift of reading all year round! Get 15% off today at bookroo.com

Lillypost ~

This one is also on my list as it, too, gets great reviews.  Bonus...you also are helping others with each box you receive!  Their website states:  Pick your box, choose a plan, delight your little one and give back!  How cool is that???  For each box shipped, a book donation to a child in need is given!  You and your child are helping others while still enjoying great books!

Kids Reveal Box ~

Another one that looks great and allows you to help others!  Their website states:  Choose your box, choose your plan, excite the kids and give back.  This club also includes an interactive box that the books are shipped in.  We definitely have added this one to the “must try” list.

Amazon Prime Book Box ~

Of course, we have to add Amazon Prime because I just love everything prime!  They have so many different options that it would be impossible to list them all.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Do you remember Highlights books?? Now you can have them delivered monthly…check it out here!

My First Reading Club – for ages 0-2 ~ Check out their adorable monthly selections here!

I Can Read – Kids Book Club Subscription for Ages 0 – 12 can be checked out here!

I have only touched the tip of the iceberg with my list of options.  As we continue to hear about more subscription boxes for kids, I will be sure to update this post.  I think the grandkids and I are going to have a lot of fun sampling book clubs for kids!

*Note ~ Through my blogging experience, I continue to partner up with different companies that have products/services I love to share with others.  As stated on my site, there are times I earn a commission and times I do not.  Please know any earnings I do make never affect the prices of my readers.   In fact, I am always trying to look for the best value to share with you and just love to find new fun goodies.  If you do see items you like, I hope you will click through and check them out!

 

 

Valentine’s Day Family Fun

Valentine’s Day ~ The celebration of romance and love!  My dad always said it was another Hallmark holiday…😂!  As a child, it is such a fun day to share Valentine’s cards and specialty candies with your friends.  But it can be so much more than that.  Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I have always loved this holiday and I still do.  For us it evolved into a special time to have some Valentine’s Day family fun!

If your children are of school age, you are probably already working ahead with them to create their decorated box or bag to collect their precious valentines in.  IF, due to Covid this year, you don’t get to do this at school, take the time to still make one for home.  Ask family members to send valentines to fill their goody box!  While in the planning process, why not make a special breakfast to start their day out right?

Valentine’s Day Breakfast ~

Mornings are hectic, I know!  But with just a little planning, it doesn’t take much to make breakfast special for this day!   Over the years, we have added food coloring to different food dishes to match the theme of the holiday…some have been great…and some not so much! For example, I urge you to NOT make green oatmeal on St. Patrick’s Day…I promise…it does not go over well!

Last year, Lauren got pretty creative with her breakfast ideas for the kids.  Suffice it to say that they LOVED it!  It consisted of red, heart shaped pancakes with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

They also had some festive strawberry milk.  She made a batch of strawberry milk ahead of time and poured it into heart-shaped ice cube trays.  When it was time for breakfast, they popped those ice cubes into a plain glass of milk….and voila!

There was a little planning ahead time.  Not too time consuming but oh so fun!  Next, let’s get to work on how we are going to present their Valentine goodies!  Need those fun ice cube trays….Get this 24-cube silicone heart mold by Wilton!  The trays can be used for ice cubes, gelatin, baking and candy molds!

Some other fun food ideas are:

Valentine Fruit Wands by afewshortcuts.com ~ This is an oh so easy yet festive snack recipe the kids will definitely love!

Valentine Grazing Board by ediblecrafts.craftgossip.com ~ Shove the diet aside for one day because you are going to love this Valentine’s Day grazing board!  yum!

Valentine Candy Poster ~

For many years, I would make a valentine candy poster for the kids.  It is such a fun way to give them their Valentine goodies.  It warms my heart that Lauren has continued this tradition.  They are so much fun to make and even more fun to receive.

I think it is easiest if you buy your candy first before making your Valentine poem.  Of course, you will want to try to work in their favorites.  This way you know what candy names you are working with to create the clever wording needed to make your poem work.

Types of Candy with Sample Sayings ~

Please don’t

You are  Extra Sugarfree Bubble Gum Slim Pack - 10 / Boxspecial

I love you to Image result for Reeses pieces

I wouldn’t trade you for Image result for 100 Grand bar

You are the best kid in the See the source image

Sending you hugs & Hershey's Kisses - 1 piece

This Valentine’s Day is going to be a Image result for Whoppersof a day!

To my   Sweetarts - 1.8 Oz Roll

You are A--zing!

You’re no!

You Skor - 1.4 Oz Baran A!

These are just a few examples of how you can create your own personalized Valentine’s poem.  There are so many clever sayings you can create with the names of the candy in it.  In fact, it is not only fun to make one for the kids but have fun and make one for your honey too!

Valentine’s Day Family Fun Continues ~

Now you weren’t planning on just handing these works of art to the kiddos, were you????  Of course not!  They need to work to get their special treats!  After all, you put a lot of time into making that Valentine poster for them.  So how do you suggest we do that?  Glad you asked!  Have you ever played the Yarn Scavenger Hunt game?

Items Needed for the Yarn Scavenger Hunt ~

1 color of yarn for each person playing

A room that has items to crawl under and over

Not too bad, right?  You will start off by choosing one color for each child and tying one end of each ball of yarn to something in the room.  This will be the starting point.  You can start everyone off at the same point or in different areas.  Weave the yarn over couches, under chairs, around tables.  Safety is key, but you want them crawling over and under as much as possible….even over each other at times when their yarns cross each other.

They will collect the yarn as they go in an effort to get to the end and ultimately to their Valentine candy!  For such a simple game, you will enjoy watching the children laugh hysterically as they race to get to the end.

Of course, once they get to the end of their yarn, they will be gifted with their candy poem poster.

You can also have fun decorating cookies in fun Valentine’s Day shapes.  Although the cookie and icing recipe I shared in an earlier post was for Christmas, you can still refer back to it for the recipes.  Click here to find the cookie recipe and icing for your Valentine’s Day cookies!  Making cookies is always a fun festive idea!

Whatever you choose to do to make this day special….be sure to have a full day of Valentine’s Day Family Fun!!!!

Love ~ Shelly

 

 

 

 

 

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