Friday, February 24, 2017

A Letter to My Child

via: freeimages
Dear Son / Daughter,

What a thoughtful child you are to leave the next bathroom user a WHOLE square of toilet paper. Such kindness should be recognized. How about a prize or a trophy? I mean you could have totally been a punk and left nothing, but deep down inside you showed how much you truly care for the rest of your family by this one good deed.

With such a jam packed schedule and time demanding deadlines I completely understand how you just couldn't find a spare second to hassle with replacing the empty roll with a new roll. What with remembering to flush, wash your hands and turn off the light - I'm just glad you were able to take care of your own business and get on with your day.

Modern technology is just so daunting! I don't know how you survive in this high tech fast paced world. I mean just look at that fancy toilet paper holder - pretty intimidating right? Just go back to focusing on improving your texting skills. Goodness knows how important that skill set is.

When you feel ready for the big stuff (like the toilet paper holder) I will be here to help instruct you on how this little "do-dad" works. It's kind of tricky but I have full confidence in you! You are a quick learner and the best part is you can practice this over and over until you get so good at it you won't even think about it - you will just do it, without even thinking about it. Imagine that! It will be such a proud moment for your momma that I get choked up just thinking about it.

Well best of luck my dear one, and oh, yeah, I hope that one little square doesn't come back to bite you in the butt!

Love
Mom

Thursday, February 23, 2017

10 Awesome Mardi Gras Kids Crafts


This post contains affiliate links at NO extra cost to you,I just like sharing the things that I love and worked for me. Thanks 


Mardi Gras is just around the corner so now is a great time to begin preparing for this fun, festive and crazy celebration! I've done various crafts with the kids over the years for this fun celebration and thought it would be fun to share some ideas with you. 

Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday" reflecting the practice of indulgent eating prior to the Lenten fast which begins the next day on "Ash Wednesday". The actual season of Mardi Gras is celebrated by some just after Three Kings Day (Epiphany) and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday. 

Traditionally the colors of Mardi Gras are green gold and purple. Purple symbolizes justice, gold symbolizes power and green is for faith. Keep this in mind when gathering your supplies!

I've put together 10 ideas for simple crafts you can do with your kids for Mardi Gras. I know my kids will love doing these and I hope yours will as well.

10 Awesome Mardi Gras Crafts for Kids


#1 Mardi Gras Noise Maker:
via: totsfamily.com



#2 Paper Plate Tambourine
via: activitiesforkids.com

#3. Marching Drum
via: activityvillage


#4 Paper Plate Crown
via: meaningful mama

#5 Mardi Gras Shakers
via: mom to 2 posh lil divas

#6 Mardi Gras Headpiece
via: freekidscrafts.com

#7 Shoe Box Float
via: new orleans moms blog

#8 Mardi Gras Mask
via: the iowa farmers wife

#9 Giant Mardi Gras Cookie
via celeb baby laundry

#10 Paper Mardi Gras Beaded Necklace
via Designsponge


As you can see there is a variety of ideas for all ages. I have a 12 year old daughter who would love to make the paper beads but this would bore my 4 year old to death! He will love making the shakers, which we have done for other celebrations. The ideas are endless and you can really make each project unique and your own.

I'd love to see what you come up with or maybe you have some Mardi Gras crafts you do each year with your kids. Share your thoughts and comments below!

It's great getting to know you!
Erin



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Best Pumpkin Muffin Recipe



See that yummy muffin in the picture above...yep that one? Well it lasted about 5 seconds before one of my kids grabbed it, took a big bite and asked, "oh, were you taking a picture of this muffin?". 

"No, no, no I was eating it with my camera, new diet thing I'm trying!" was my snide reply. Said child, feeling badly, returned the muffin to the napkin with the bitten side facing the back and said, "sorry mom it just smelled so good I couldn't wait any longer." 

What can I say to that! Other than YOUR WELCOME! Because these pumpkin muffins are great! They are soft, full of pumpkin flavor and the crumble sends them over the top! These do not last long in my house (as you can see from when just happened). 

They are super easy to make and I'm sure you have most of these ingredients on hand in your kitchen already. So what are you waiting for - get baking!

Click HERE to get the recipe.



Sunday, February 19, 2017

10 Best Party Games for Kids


With four kids we seem to always have a birthday celebration coming around the corner. I always say I get to eat a piece of cake in every season since I had one child in each of the four seasons! Great planning, huh? Hey as long as it has chocolate we are all good!

We keep our birthday parties exclusive to family until the kids are about 6 or 7 years old. It is about that time when they really want to have friends over for birthday parties (oh and no one needs a nap, diaper change or to be spoon fed!). For us that age seems to work well for the family birthday parties to become friends birthday parties. 

As my kids interests change the party themes do too. We are on a budget so super extravagant is not typically our style. There are so many ways to be creative without having to spend extra money. It just takes some thought and creativity. Getting the kids involved with the planning and preparing is a must - plus they really enjoy it. The party is for them after all. 

Now don't think the only time we have parties is for birthdays! I love opening up our home to friends, neighbor kids and cousins to come over and enjoy a good party for various holiday celebrations. Recently we hosted two separate Christmas themed parties for two different groups of kids, one group was our neighborhood kids (about 24 kids) and the second was for our home school bible study class (21 kids). Creativity is key as well as some good pre-planning to have the games ready to go for a party. 

Here is a list of games we have tried and loved at some of the kid parties we have thrown or attended:

madlystylishevents.blogspot.com
1. Donut on a Rope - attach a 6-10 foot rope or thick twine to a tree (or have two adults hold each end of the rope). String donuts onto the rope/twine and spread them out at even intervals. Line up the kids under the donuts on a rope and have them hold their hands behind their backs. Have an adult shout "go" and the first child to eat their donut off of the rope wins! This game is so much fun to play and watch.

via: Organize Your Stuff Now

2. Bucket Bonanza - In the warmer seasons this game can be played outside using large sand pails or buckets and some tennis or wiffle balls. Attach a small square of paper with a point value written on the front of the buckets (e.g., 5, 10, 20 points) and then arrange the buckets in any formation you want. Typically the higher point value buckets are set further away from where the person tossing the ball is standing. During the winter we play "Jingle Bell Bonanza". I hot glue some plastic party cups to a sturdy sheet of cardboard (think bottom of a large box) and write point values on the front of the cups like I did with the buckets. Then I slide the cardboard box with attached cups a short distance away from the person who is playing. In this version instead of tennis balls I give the kids large jingle bells to toss. It is kind of festive and just puts a new spin on the game. This is also a great counting / math game for kids - bonus!

via: Ever Never Again

3. Indoor Balloon Tennis - This is a fun game to get the kids moving and active. All you need are some of the large size Popsicle sticks, paper plates, tape and balloons. Tape the top edge of one Popsicle stick to the backside of a paper plate so your new paper plate paddle has a new handle. If the kids want to decorate their paddle to make it fancy let the creativity flow. Blow up some balloons and let the kids whack them back and forth. The can count to see how many times they can keep the balloon from hitting the ground.

via Happy Hooligans

4. Colorful Ice Sculpture Creations - Fill up various sizes of containers with water and add a few drops of different colored food coloring into each. Place the containers in the freezer and let the water freeze. This game takes a little pre-planning since you can't play until the water is frozen but if you freeze them the night before you will be all set to play the next day. Pop out all the colorful shape ice cubes and then challenge the kids to create their very own stacked sculptures. If it is wintertime you can put the completed sculptures outside to enjoy looking at while the temps are cold. If you play this in the summer it is a refreshing way to stay cool and have fun.

via: A Bunch Of Byrds

5. Balloon Stomp - This is a super simple game requiring next to no planning or supplies you don't already have on hand. You need two inflated balloons per child with a 18 inch piece of yarn tied to one end of the balloon. The other side of the yarn is loosely tied around the child's ankle. I recommend that the kids hold the two balloons that are tied around their ankles until everyone is ready thus reducing the chance that they pop their own balloons before the game even starts. Once everyone is ready shout "go" and the object is for the kids to try and stomp on the balloons tied to the other kids' ankles. The person left with one or two balloons not popped wins.

via: Stumingames.com

6. Drip, Drip, Drip, SPLASH !- Think classic duck, duck, goose + water = super fun game to play on a hot day outside. Grab a bucket of water and a sponge. All the kids sit in a circle and one child, who is "it", dips the sponge into the water but doesn't ring it out. The child who is "it" walks around the circle dripping water on each person's head while saying "DRIP". When they are ready to pick the next person to be "it" the child with the sponge squeezes the wet sponge over the head of the sitting child and yells "SPLASH". The one who got "SPLASHED" jumps up and runs around the circle chasing the other child who just emptied the wet sponge onto their head.

via: Parents.com

7. Use Your Noodle - This game is a great one for almost any age group. First blow up a bunch of balloons (the more the better!).Then cut pool noodles in half and give one half to each player. Divide the kids into two teams.  Set two empty plastic laundry baskets on each side of the yard (or living room if playing inside).  Let the kids know which basket is their teams' side. Release the balloons in the middle and have the kids try to whack the balloons into their team's basket. The team with the most balloons after 10 minutes wins that round.

via: Clipartbest.com

8. Scoop It Up - Grab a bag of mini marshmallows a few plastic bowls and some plastic spoons and you are ready to play. Each kid should have their own spoon and and twp plastic bowl - one empty and the other full of mini marshmallows. Have the kids put the spoons in their mouths and then yell "go". The kids, with the spoons in their mouths scoop as many marshmallows from the bowl and try to dump them into the empty bowl. When one minute has passed have the kids stop and count to see who scooped the most mini marshmallows into their bowl.

via: Lastingthumbprints.com

9. Gone Fishing - You will need a disposable pie pan tin for each child. Set the pie tins around the perimeter of a table. Place 4 - 5 gummy fish candies in the bottom of the pie pan then fill up the pie pans with cool whip making sure the fish are well hidden. After shouting "go" the kids search for the hidden fish with their faces/mouths without using their hands. After a 1 minute time limit have them stop and see who "caught" the most fish. YUMMY!

via:journeywiththejohnsons.blogspot.com

10. Hose Head - Silly game with a silly name! Every child is given a pair of panty hose with a pair of socks stuffed into the toe of one leg. Place the panty hose over their heads so the leg swings freely. Once everyone is hose headed the game begins! Kids run around trying to grab the hose off of the other player's heads. Last one remaining with the hose on wins! Simple, crazy and lots of fun!

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for your next children's party or celebration. I know my kids love to play new games and will enjoy the ones on this list over and over again. My favorite part is that most of these games require little to no preplanning, are inexpensive and can be done outside or inside!

If you have any special party games that aren't on this list that you would like to share please leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you!

Erin

Friday, February 17, 2017

10 Awesome Daddy Daughter Dates


*Mommy Suburbia is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


The first man your daughter will fall in love with is her daddy. This will be one of the most important relationships she will ever have. A positive daddy daughter relationship will have a huge influence in your young daughter's life. 

Start setting aside time just for you and your little girl when she is young. Let it become a routine - something you do on a regular basis. 

My husband has been doing this with our two daughters for years. They both look forward to and love their daddy dates. Sometimes these dates are fancy like attending a daddy daugher dance or going out for dinner and sometimes he just takes them to a park to shoot hoops. To be honest, they don't really care what he does with them as long as he gives them his undivided time (no electronics/phone) and listens to them. 

Here is a list of 10 Awesome Daddy Daughter Dates you could do with your daughter (or moms could suggest their husbands do with their daughters)



1. Go Bowling - who doesn't love bowling? It doesn't require any expert skill level to just have fun. If your daughter is still little (under 5) most bowling alleys have bumpers in the lanes and some even offer bowling ball ramps so she doesn't have to heave a 8lb ball down the lane. 

2. Go Out For Dessert - this can be a more economical way to eat out somewhere without an actual meal. Many times my husband and daughters will have dinner at home with me and their brothers and then afterward go out for dessert with daddy. Some places like Applebee's have dessert shooters that are a small portion full flavor "mini" dessert, which usually costs less too compared to a full size dessert. 



3. Take A Bike Ride - we are fortunate to have a few great bike trails close by that all of my children love. A relaxing bike ride on one of these quite trails provides a great opportunity for conversation and impromptu races! One of these days the girls are going to be faster than my husband!



4. Geocaching - if you have never tried this before you are really missing out! This activity, which can provide some serious adventures is also a great way to spend time together hunting down a hidden cache box. If you really get into this you could even start hiding your own cache box and register it online for others to find. 


photo by: AJARI
5. Ice Skating or Roller Skating - my husband was deathly afraid to try ice skating with our oldest daughter but with her continual prodding he finally caved and took her ice skating. They had a blast! Since both were pretty wobbly they spent a lot of time holding hands to keep their balance and laughing at each other when they did hit the ice. Great memories were made and continue to happen each time they ice skate together.


source:pixabay.com
6. Walk on the Beach - living in Michigan is such a blessing! We live pretty close to THE lake (Lake Michigan) and with the nice sandy beaches, boardwalks and piers there are plenty of places to explore. My girls love building sand castles with their dad too. Even in the winter the beach can provide a great place to spend time on a daddy daughter date looking and climbing over  the enormous frozen blocks of ice. 

7. Attend a Play or Ballet - My husband loves to take the girls on these kinds of dates where they all get dressed up. It just really makes the girls feel extra special. He doesn't get to do this very often because it can be quite expensive but once in awhile a splurge date like this is OK. Not only are they spending time with their dad but they are exposed to something artistic and cultural that they don't get to do or see every day.


source: Freepik.com
8. Frisbee Golf - Once again this activity requires very little outside of a Frisbee (unless you are really into it and upgrade to the "fancy" Frisbees) and some tennis shoes. There are courses all over, many you can find by simply looking online. It is a great way to get outside, get some exercise and spend some quality time with your little girl. 

9. Paint Pottery - This date idea is sure to bring out the creative side in both your daughter and her daddy. Typically you purchase a piece of "naked" pottery, pick out colored glazes to paint on the pottery then leave the piece at the studio for a few days so they can fire it in a kiln. The peaceful, quite atmosphere at these places provide plenty of opportunity to bond on a daddy daughter date. 
10. Visit a Petting Zoo - my daughters love animals and visits to local farms that allow you to pet the animals is a big treat. When the girls were little, being with their daddy gave them the security and confidence to approach the larger animals (goats, cows, horses) knowing that daddy was right there keeping them safe. Now that they are older then just love spending time petting and feeding the animals with their dad. Relaxed conversation just seems to flow when you are around animals!

I hope these ideas inspire or encourage you to start adding your daddy daughter date to your calendar. Making memories with your daughters is not only good for her but you too! 

I'd love to hear about the daddy daughter dates you have already done, or maybe you have a great idea to add to the 10 awesome ideas above - please just leave them in the comments for all to see. 

Thanks for visiting, come again.
Erin

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Does a Minivan Make Me A Soccer Mom?




We finally bit the bullet...and bought a minivan. How with four kids did I avoid the minivan for so long? We just made due with the Honda Pilot SUV we had.

It had its quirks that's for sure (it was a 14 year old car). The auto locks stopped working about two years ago. At first this annoyed the heck out of me as I furiously tapped the unlock button on the keys forgetting it was broken or maybe subconciously hoping it just fixed itself! Since it wasn't fixing itself and I wasn't about to spend a few hundred dollars to get it fixed the kids and I just implemented a new "system". I'd manually unlock the driver's side door, lift my three year old into the car, who had the new job of climbing over all the seats, and unlocking all the remaining doors. I have to admit the kid got really good at this job. He even knew that if his siblings were not treating him well that day he would purposely unlock their door very SLOWLY while they stood in the snow or rain or wind waiting for a way to escape the elements and jump into the car (little stinker!).

Now this wasn't the only mechanical problem we had but overall this car gave us more bang for our buck over the years - well built and made to last, but it was time to move on to something that fit our growing clan better. So we started test driving all kinds of SUV's and reluctantly the various minivans on the market.

I really love the Honda platform and felt very comfortable with the interior gages and layout. It just felt "Like a Honda", exactly what I had been driving the last ten years.

We have a great Honda dealership here in town that has never been pushy or sneaky (know what I mean?) so we felt comfortable negotiating with them. And yes we bought our first minivan (gulp!). I love the new van but honestly I had to go through a little "transition period".

I kissed the "SUV driving, hip momma" image good-bye and am slowly embracing the new me....the minivan driving me. None of my kids play soccer so I guess I'm not technically a soccer mom, but who exactly am I when I'm behind the wheel? (deep thoughts)

All I ask is that you please be patient with me, especially if you are driving behind me while I practice doing 10mph BELOW the posted speed limit in the LEFT lane - I'm just working on my new minivan driving identity!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day - Take it or Leave it?

I'm kind of a "luke warm" Valentine enthusiast. I love doing special projects with my kids for the holiday but when it comes to the full blown - dinner, cards, gifts, and on and on, well I'm just not that into it.

Unless there is chocolate involved! My dad has spoiled my two younger sisters and I since we were little girls. Every year, even when we lived far away, a heart shaped box of Russell Stovers chocolates showed up at our door or was hand delivered. Yum!

Before the flavor of each piece was posted on the lid of the heart shaped box or a little paper insert diagram of the flavors it was eat at your own risk. Heaven forbid you bit into one of the flavors that were AWFUL! As a kid we used to poke our fingers through the bottom of each piece to find out what kind of candy we were going to eat. Then began the fun game of "trade your yucky chocolate for someone else's". My middle sister loved the coconut and my baby sister liked the caramels. Me, I loved the nougat, caramel and the chewy pink one. 

So friends, Happy Valentine's Day, I guess. Enjoy some chocolate!



Robot Mouse Coding STEM Game

Find the Game Here

*Mommy Suburbia is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


My boys are learning coding... but they don't know it! They are having so much fun "teaching" the little toy mouse how to reach the cheese that they don't even know that they are actually learning basic coding.
Our library has STEM stations with projects located throughout the kids area that my two boys love to use. This game called Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set is an easy to learn, fun and educational toy that I would recommend for kids ages 5+. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

10 DIY Valentine Cards For Kids


Hello, friends! I've been searching through Pinterest looking for some creative Valentine ideas for my kids to make this year. Even though they are home schooled and we don't need to crank out 30+ Valentine's Day cards for classmates we still love to make them and give them to family and friends. 

Over the years this activity has become one of my favorite! These kids are so creative and I just love seeing how they run with the ideas I give them. Here is a picture of my girls fun Valentine's Day cards they made in years past:


These cards were super simple - color or paint on a cupcake liner, glue it to card stock, and add stems and leaves. Great project for little ones.


Here are 10 great and easy ideas that I found to help inspire our Valentine's Day card making kids (and moms)! 

10 DIY Valentine Cards For Kids



The Pretty Bee
Hello Wonderful
Hello Wonderful
Little Lovables
Zakka Life
Dagmar's Home
Mosswood Connections
Lisa Storms
The Idea Room
Melissa Bargains

I'd love to see what your kids make this year for Valentine's Day! Share your comments and pictures below. 

Did I Just Do That?


*Mommy Suburbia is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


Since I'm new around here, and you are just getting to know me I thought I'd share one of my more vulnerable moments. Here is how it all began. 

Once upon a time there was this adorable little 3 year old who decided sleep just wasn't his thing (yep, he actually did say that) and was up many times during the night, add in the 7 year old coughing all night with a nasty cold and there you have it, the perfect recipe for a long day and a tired mom! 

So how tired was I? 

Well we made it out of the house on time for a scheduled doctor appointment (Yeah! win for mom) but when we got home that was when I noticed the tell tale signs of an exhausted momma - my shirt was on inside out! And you guessed it - I wore it that way to the doctor's office, to the pharmacy and pretty much all day long. 

Now this wasn't just some easy to hide, seams blend well kind of shirt with no tag - oh no, this was the OBVIOUS my shirt is on inside out kind! 

Thankfully, Kohl's, the maker of said inside-out shirt has some great colorfully serged seams and lovely floppy tags on the ole' shirt I was sporting otherwise people may never have even noticed my blunder. And what fun is that? What amazes me is that no one said anything....not even a compliment to my new trendy attempt at fashion cause maybe I was just trying a new look. Nope, not one comment! 

Maybe you have had a similar incident...you know like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe as you exit the restroom, or perhaps one blue sock and one brown worn to work or maybe something stuck between your front teeth. The list is endless and I'd love to hear your stories so as least I can leave this day with a little dignity knowing I'm not the only exhausted and crazy momma out there!

Thanks for listening and I look forward to getting to know you better!
Erin



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Top 10 Books for Children ages 8 - 13


Maybe you noticed (or maybe not) that I/we are a homeschooling family. One of the many "perks" of this job are the wonderful stories and books I get to read to/with my children.

I have to confess there have been books that I had to take a quick break from because I became "verklempt" and needed to go dry some tears - but isn't that one great reason to share books with your kids? So you can experience the story's emotional ups and downs with your children.

For the last seven years (wow did time fly) we have been using Sonlight for our main curriculum. If you know anything about Sonlight you know that the program has a rich selection of great quality literature. We just love it!

I thought it would be fun to put together a list of our top 10 children's books. So here it is the TOP TEN list (in no particular order!)

  1.  The Secret Garden - by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  2.  Heidi - by Johanna Spyri
  3.  Red Sand, Blue Sky - by Cathy Applegate
  4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (series) - by C.S. Lewis
  5.  Anne of Green Gables - by L.M. Montgomery
  6. Johnny Tremain - by Esther Forbes, Lynd Ward
  7.  Five Little Peppers and How They Grew - by Margaret Sidney
  8.  Red Sails to Capri - by Ann Weil
  9.  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg
  10.  Little House on the Prarie (collection) - by Laura Ingalls Wilder

There are so many more to include here but these are some of our all time favorites.

Maybe your kids don't love books quite as much as mine. Do you have any reluctant readers? There have been times that in order to really get my kids into the story I've had to be pretty creative and let them get their "hands dirty" digging into the story. What did I do you might ask? Well let me give you a few examples that might help you with any reluctant readers in your home.

When we read Heidi I had the kids help me make bread from scratch. After it baked I served them a lunch similar to what Heidi would have eaten up on the mountain - fresh baked bread, chunk of cheese and cold glass of milk. I spread a picnic blanket out on the livingroom floor where we shared our lunch while watching the Heidi movie staring Shirley Temple!

If you have read the Little House on the Prairie series you might recall how Laura and her siblings loved the early spring season when trees were tapped for collecting maple sugar which they turned into maple syrup. Laura and her siblings would drip the fresh maple syrup onto the snow and eat it as a treat. After reading this story, which I tried to time with our sugar season here in Michigan, I took the kids to a local non-profit organization that hosts and annual maple sugar festival. We learned about tapping trees with a spile, how to make maple syrup and sample some of the sweet syrup and maple candy. We brought home a spile and tapped one of our maple trees. The kids collected the sugary liquid and cooked it OUTSIDE in an electric frying pan and make a little syrup of their own. (please do  not try to cook the liquid maple sugar inside - it will coat everything with a sticky sugary mess as the water evaporates)



I read The Secret Garden to the kids during late winter one year. I had them make seed bombs which we then planted in outdoor containers in the spring. They were excited to discover the different flowers that grew and bloomed and could relate to the joy Mary felt while working in the secret garden with Dicken and Colin in this wonderful story.

I would just love to hear what you have done to get your children inspired to read or crafts/projects you've done to make the story come alive! Also, if you have any books you think should be added to the top ten above let me know. It is fun sharing books and recommendations with fellow book worms.