Friday, March 31, 2017

Secret Garden Crafts - 10 Nature Inspired Craft Projects ebook

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure information here.

* UPDATE - Get a free copy now through April 18, 2017 on Amazon (Click HERE)

I'm excited to tell you about the most recent ebook that I published on Amazon for Kindle. Included in this e-book are ten nature inspired craft projects that use simple supplies easily found around your house.  Step by step instructions and a picture of the final project are included to help you create something special.

All of the crafts in this book were inspired by nature, classical literature and the characters found within these classical books.  As you read books like The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables or maybe Alice in Wonderland and do the crafts in this e-book the stories are sure to become more memorable and truly come alive!

As a home school mom I am always looking for hands on activities to go along with the books we are reading. My kids LOVE craft projects as much as I do and that is what inspired me to write this book. All of the projects have been completed by my children so they are tried and true.

Get your copy of this great craft book on Amazon today!

I would love to hear how you use classic literature combined with art to help your children learn! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts


10 Awesome April Fool's Day Pranks To Do To Your Kids!

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure here.

I love playing April Fool's Day pranks on my kids! I've been coming up with fun pranks to test out on them for years and I can't wait to do it again. They are too busy with their everyday lives to remember this fun day is just around the corner so I like to "lie in-wait and then pounce" once the morning of April 1 rolls around. 

I feel giddy waiting for the calendar to flip to the new month!! hehehehe! 

Last year I got up early, made them breakfast and sat waiting at the table for their sleepy little heads to emerge from their rooms. The warm smell of fresh cooked oatmeal wafting through the house (with extra brown sugar) was enough to rouse them and send them to the kitchen table. 

Warm oatmeal on a cold, wet, Spring morning is such a delight....well that is until the first scoop of mom's special oatmeal revealed the first prank of the day! As that first spoonful was scooped up the milk mysteriously turned GREEN! What!! APRIL FOOLS!! They had no idea this was coming - and I love it! 

How did I do it you ask? Well, first I made real oatmeal (no pranks here) and mixed it with regular milk so it wasn't hard and lumpy. Before spooning it into their bowls I mixed a few drops of green food coloring into a glass of milk and then poured the colored milk into the bottom of their bowl. Next I scooped some oatmeal over the colored milk making sure the colored milk was totally covered. Simple and so much fun!

Their expressions are so priceless! But now after the first prank they are on guard - and I have to up my game. Next up - saran wrapped toilet paper! The poor child who has to use the bathroom first will be the victim of this silly prank.

Oh, my word! This is just so much fun!

Every year I put a little list together with some ideas and pick the ones I think will make the best pranks. To get you inspired I thought I'd put my list here on the blog. I'm not quite sure which ones I am going to do but rest assured there will be pranks all day long!

10 Awesome April Fool's Day Pranks To Do To Your Kids

1 - A Yummy Pan of Brown"E"s

from: Mrs Goffs Kinders

All of my kids have a huge sweet tooth and goodies don't last long around here! This would be fun to do as a prank but I think I'd have to up the game by either baking a small batch of real brownies or making a microwave mug cake brownie. The smell of chocolate baking would really make this prank seem even more real - that is until they open the lid and pull out a paper E! Genius!

2 - Fake Money Find

From: ifunny

This one will cost you a little $ but so worth it! All you need to do is trim a corner off of a dollar bill so that the amount of the bill is still showing. Tape the scrap of the money to a piece of paper and write a message for the person to read when they find their money. Hide the cut corner of money so that it is just sticking out from under something (book, computer, phone...). Sit back and watch your kiddo pull out the money thinking they just struck it rich only to find out they just got April Fooled!

3- Bubble Wrap Under Rugs

From: makeit-loveit
If you have hardwood floors or even laminate somewhere in your house I bet you have a rug! A few pieces of strategically placed bubble wrap under the rug is sure to make for a great April Fool's prank. I love this one - and we have hardwood floors - watch out gang, mom is going to get you :) 

4 - Nail Polish Spill Prank

From: laniebuck.blogspot
I have two pre-teen girls who love to paint their nails with nail polish. We've had a few spills happen and they know the trouble that this brings! So wouldn't it be fun to prank them with this one?? I can hear them saying "I didn't do it" already! 

5 - Fill Tip of Shoes With Toilet Paper

From: meet penny
Harmless yet hilarious! The weather here in Michigan is still cold enough so my kids are still wearing boots or tennis shoes - not flip flops or sandals. This one would be so fun to play on my boys who seem to be growing bigger by the day!

6 - Ice Maker Jelly Bean Surprise

From: whats cooking with kids
I'm always telling my kids to drink more water - which they do as long as it is ice water. I might have to pre-load the ice machine with a few pieces of candy or maybe Lego's or pom pom balls to prank them with this year. 

7 - Sweet Jello Drink

From: storypiece
A few clear glass or plastic cups filled with jello and a straw inserted before it hardens is all you need to pull off this prank. I just happened to buy some blue jello at the store yesterday so this one might be added to my list of pranks to pull this year!

8 - Add Googly Eyes to The Fruit

From: oh happy day
Googly eyes are just funny especially when stuck to non-living things like all the fruit in your fruit bowl! I think I would set them in the center of our table or kitchen island and see what kind of reaction I get from my family. Silly prank with big laugh potential.

9 - Oreo Toothpaste Prank

From: pranksters
I think this prank will even get my husband who just loves Oreo cookies. Open the Oreo cookie, scrape off the white cream, replace it with white toothpaste and put the two cookie pieces back together. Probably a good idea to keep a few "un-tampered" cookies handy for those who fall for this silly prank - they are going to need some chocolate to chase away the minty toothpaste.

10 - Draw a Moustache on Them While They Sleep

Folks, we have a WINNER! This is just too funny to pass up. I recommend washable markers so your poor little one doesn't have to spend the whole day looking silly or scrubbing Sharpie off of their face. Just make sure you are close by when they get a chance to see their faces for the first time. 

These pranks are not meant to be hurtful to anyone so please make sure you choose which ones will be handled well by the unsuspecting victim. Kids love to play with their parents and they love when their parents are silly - that is why April Fools Day has been such a success around our house over the years. 

Maybe you have some great pranks you have tried on your kids or family - I'd love to hear what you did and how they reacted. Please leave a comment sharing your experience!

Happy April Fool's Day

Monday, March 27, 2017

10 Amazing Easter Dessert Ideas

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure here.

A few years ago my husband and I decided to try something different for one holiday - to celebrate with friends instead of a family party. Since Easter was the next holiday that was coming up on the calendar it only made sense to try this idea out on Easter. So we invited a few families over for a late afternoon dinner and dessert - it was a BLAST! Not to say it isn't fun to celebrate with family - cause it is - but it is just different with friends. 

One thing we noticed is that there wasn't this whole "we did your family last year so this year it is my family's turn". All of the families who came to our house for Easter all agreed that taking one holiday to celebrate with friends was really fun.

So now our annual Easter celebration is a friends party! Our kids love it because their friends come over for the whole afternoon, we have a good dinner and then later on we indulge in some YUMMY dessert. I always ask everyone to bring a side dish and a dessert to share. I love seeing what everyone comes up with for dessert - my favorite part! I also make a dessert to share (I don't think you can have too many desserts, right?!)

Since I was doing some "research" (a.k.a - drooling over yummy pictures of desserts) I thought I'd share what I found with you to help inspire your sweet tooth.

10 Amazing Easter Dessert Ideas

1 - M&M Blondie Brownies

via Inside Bru Crew Life
Who doesn't love a blondie? If you just add pastel colored m&m's it would really give this treat a spring/Easter look. I've frozen these before then thawed them out when I needed them - they were just fine. 

2 - Confetti Sprinkles Sugar Cookie Bars 

via Two Sisters Crafting

Bars are a wonderful dessert since you can slice them any size you need! These confetti sprinkle sugar cookie bars combine are topped with frosting which can be tinted to any color you want to make your Easter dessert look amazing (and taste great too!).

3 - Pineapple Cake

via The Gingham Apron

Here is a light and fluffy dessert to remind you of spring. The sweetness of the pineapple and the light yellow color of the cake just scream SPRING DESSERT! I think I could eat a whole pan of this cake by myself - yikes!

4 - Easter Peep Fruit Kabobs

via Amees Savory Dish
Maybe you are trying to keep the sugar under control this Easter - why not make fruit kabobs with a twist - or a peep bunny! Make sure the fruit is dry after you rinse it so that the peep doesn't get mushy. Wouldn't they look cute on your table this Easter - might even get the kids to eat a little healthy dessert too!

5 - NO BAKE Strawberry & Cream Pie

via The Recipe Critic
Need a quick but amazing dessert - here is your winner! One tip though - after adding the cold water/ice cubes to the jello let it sit for a bit to set up before adding the cool whip otherwise it will not set up. Also, if you prefer a different fruit, say raspberries you can substitute them for the strawberries. 

6 - Carrot Cake Trifle

via A Step In The Journey
This recipe combines so much yummyness (is that even a word?) into one bowl! Oh, and it is a super simple recipe easy to whip up before a party or make ahead and put in the fridge - that is a winner in my book.

7 - Super Easy Lime Bars

via: Rock Recipes

This recipe has two of my favorite things - easy and lime! Spring flavors with a light custard texture make this a wonderful Easter dessert. I hope you are as inspired to bake something like this as I am. If you love this recipe you can buy cookbooks by Rock Recipes here available on Amazon.

8 - NO BAKE Mint Chocolate Lasagna

via: inspiring cooks

I confess, I am a choc-aholic! Mint Oreo crumb crust + cook whip + cream cheese + chocolate pudding = satisfying chocolate dessert. This one can also be made ahead so you don't have to do all your cooking/baking all in one day. I guarantee this dessert wouldn't last long around my house. If you don't like mint you can always use regular Oreo cookies, leave out the mint extract and green food coloring.

9 - Easter Egg Fruit Pizza

via: Persnickety Plates
If you don't have a favorite sugar cookie recipe you can always use a sugar cookie mix - no shame there! Just roll the dough out and trim it into the shape of an egg (oval shape), bake it and then decorate it with a cream cheese frosting or regular frosting of your choice. Or you could use these cute egg shaped cookie cutters to make individual cookies and then let the kids have fun decorating them with the fruit of their choice.

10 - Angel Lush with Pineapple

via: Dole Sunshine

I have made this recipe many times and it is always a BIG hit! It is simple and so pretty - you can decorate it with any fruit that is in season but my favorite are blueberries and strawberries. It just looks like Spring on a platter doesn't it? 

I hope you are as inspired by these recipes as I am! The tough part is choosing one (or two) to make for our friend's Easter dinner party. I'd love to hear what desserts you love, especially ones for Easter or Spring. Leave a comment below with your thoughts and ideas.


Friday, March 24, 2017

5 Spring Easter Bunny Kids Craft Ideas

template by

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page here.

Does your family have Spring fever? We do - bad! The weather just can't seem to make up its mind - warm(ish) one day and freezing the next, sunny and bright then gray and cloudy, snow then rain - this cycle is maddening, yet hopeful! Hope in knowing that real spring weather is on its way.

I actually saw a robin in the tree outside of our office window the other day. Now there is a true sign spring is almost here, right?! The next day it snowed (blah!) and I had to go brush off the snow that covered the bird feed in our bird feeder. I just felt bad for the robin. 

Well even if the weather outside isn't quite Spring(ish) at least we can bring some spring of our own inside. How you ask? Crafting of course! 

My kids love crafting and I enjoy watching their imaginations grow. Sometimes just doing a few spring themed crafts gives them a little break from that awful case of Spring fever they have. We also like crafts that use everyday household supplies, are quick/simple and give the kids room to use their imagination to really make it their own. 

I put together a list of 5 bunny themed crafts that have inspired us and I hope will inspire you and your family as well. Happy Spring Crafting!

Also, don't forget to check out my post on 10 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas you can do with your kids too!

5 Spring Bunny Kids Craft Ideas

1 - Foam Cup Bunnies 

crafts by amanda

2 - Plastic Spoon Bunny

by Krokotak

3 - Pipecleaner Bunny Whiskers

via a kailo chic life

4 - Plastic Easter Egg Bunny

via Tips Aholic

5 - Handprint Bunny

via Crafty Morning

I hope these cute, simple and SPRING filled bunny crafts have got your imagination and crafty side going! I know we are going to enjoy bringing spring inside through our spring crafting.

Have any spring crafts you just love and want to share? Please leave a comment or link to share.

Looking for some new ways to decorate Easter eggs? Here is a list of 10 ideas for you to try out!

Monday, March 20, 2017

5 Easy Spring Cleaning Tips To Keep Your House in Top Shape

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer link for more information.

Happy 1st Day of Spring! (meteorologically speaking) For me, the start of spring always gives me a little extra energy knowing that warmer days and more sunshine is just around the corner! With the extra sunshine I also start noticing things - dust, dirt, cobwebs and fingerprints YIKES! 

I'm pretty good at keeping on top of the house cleaning but when the horizontal blinks look "velvety" from the accumulation of dust I know spring is here and that is one of my first spring cleaning jobs I love to tackle head on. 

Our house has 24 horizontal blinds! I'm grateful for all the windows and natural light but geesh 24 blinds is a lot to clean! 

I've put together the following list to help make your spring cleaning a little easier.

5 Easy Spring Cleaning Tips

1 - Norwex Dusting Mitt

This little baby ROCKS and I have the blinds to prove it. I used to dread dusting blinds. I've tried almost every gadget available and none of them work as well as this microfiber dusting mitt - nothing! If you don't have one, get one. It makes dusting blinds so easy and fast. I dust a few rooms at a time, toss it into the laundry and it is ready to go once again. No more dangerous chemicals or a gazillion paper towels - just a simple mitt that you put on your hand to wipe away the dust.

2 - Magic Eraser Your Floorboards

It doesn't get any easier than this people - a bucket of soapy warm water, a splash of vinegar mixed in and your magic eraser is all you need to get the floorboards in your house clean and dust free. These poor things take a beating all winter long and need a good scrub. Let the magic eraser work its magic as the grime and streaks wipe right off. (Be careful not to scrub a painted surface too hard or the magic will be too strong and cause the paint to rub off)

3 - Use Dryer Sheets to Remove Buildup on Glass

We have this wonderful glass enclosure for our shower - I have a love/hate relationship with the darn thing. It looks amazing when it is free of the soap build up but not so good when clouded with that nasty scum. I found a simple and easy trick to keep the buildup at bay - a used fabric softener sheet plus a few drops of water will do the trick every time. Just wipe the soap scum away and toss the fabric softener sheet away. 

4 - Use A Broom As A Long Distance Duster

Those beautiful high ceilings and chandelier lights look so pretty until those early spring rays of sunshine put a spotlight on the dangling cobwebs and dust in places that are hard to reach. All you need to do is grab your broom, a hand towel (preferably a rag) and a big rubber band. Put the hand towel over the top of the broom head and secure it by stretching the rubber band around the broom head and towel. This should give you just enough distance to easily and quickly swipe away those pesky cobwebs. 

5 - Clean Your Window and Slider Tracks with Vinegar

As I mentioned before we have 24 windows with horizontal blinds which means I have 24 windows (plus some doors and a slider) that are mounted on a track of some sort. After I clean the layer of velvety dust from the blinds and wash the windows it is time to clean the track. Using vinegar and Q-tips is the easiest way to get this job done. For detail instructions and pictures visit Ask Anna She gives great tips not only on cleaning the tracks but also how to get a streak free window. 

(please do not try to clean windows like this at home!!)

I wish you the best as you tackle your spring cleaning to-do list! If you have more tips to share I'd love to hear from you - please leave a comment with your tips and ideas.

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 17, 2017

3 Ways to Teach Your Children How To Forgive

At an early age kids are aware that when they do something wrong - like hit, bite or throw toys there is a consequence, maybe a timeout or a firm talking to and then we tell them to apologize to the child (or adult) they hurt. But are we missing something pretty important here as parents. What about the recipient child who was the victim of another child biting, hitting or yanking the toy out of their hands how do we teach them to respond to the apology?

As I've watched my kids apologize for their actions over the years I've noticed two or three different reactions they get from the person they are apologizing to:

1 - The victim smiles, looks awkward and doesn't know what to say
2 - The person they hurt is mad and doesn't want anything to do with them or their apology
3 - After being apologized to the person says "that's OK".

Sound familiar?

I'm sure your child has been victim to another child who gets mad and yanks a toy from their hands, or maybe someone breaks something of theirs -this is bound to happen to your kids just like it has happened to mine. Sibling rivalry sure can add fuel to this fire!

My youngest child is somewhat stubborn and since he is the youngest he spends a lot of time trying to keep up with his older siblings which can be frustrating for him. Sometimes in his frustrations, he does something naughty to his brother or sisters and I send him to our "time out step" to cool off and think about what he did. After a few minutes I spend time talking to him asking him if he knows why he is in timeout, how his behaviour affected the other person and finally if he feels sorry for what he did. If he feels sorry, we ask that he go apologize right away for what he did.

We work so hard teaching our kids to learn right from wrong, apologize and feel sorry for their actions but what about the flip side of this? How about the kid who is the victim - what should we teach them to do when someone is apologizing to them?

From early on my husband and I have taught the child who is being apologized to, to say "I forgive you". They may still be a little mad or upset but we still ask that they verbally say "I forgive you" to the one apologizing.

Learning to apologize doesn't come easy - in fact it is hard! You want to stay mad (it feels good when you are in pain)- you were hurt and don't you deserve to hold a grudge towards the person that hurt you?

We teach our kids that by staying mad and not forgiving you are in fact hurting yourself more. The burden or heaviness you feel inside when you refuse to forgive someone stays with you not the person apologizing! It doesn't "hurt them back" one bit. It just hurts you. 

The Bible has so many verses about forgiveness - we even have Ephesians 4:32 painted on an old fence I decorated and hung on our wall that says:

 So how do you teach your kids to forgive? We've used a few techniques in our house that have worked and I hope they will work for you.

1 - Model What Forgiveness Looks Like - if my husband or I are the "victims" to whatever naughty behaviour our child(ren) inflicted on us we make sure that right after their apology we get down eye to eye with them and thank them for the apology and then say "I forgive you for __________". 

2 - Require The Child To Say "I Forgive You" - if they have heard you as the parent say this to them or another person and have watched you model this then it should come as no surprise that they themselves should do the same thing and say "I forgive you" when being apologized to. 

For younger kids we make sure to reinforce the fact that doing something wrong/naughty is still wrong - forgiveness is not saying to the other person that what they did is "OK" - it isn't! Forgiveness is releasing yourself from the bitterness that can grow inside of you when you hold a grudge and choose not to forgive. 

It isn't a feeling it is a choice. 

We tell our kids that they can still feel mad or sad but they must choose to forgive. Those feelings are still real, especially if your child is upset - and it is OK to be upset but being able to separate our feelings from our own choice to forgive is powerful. 

3. Forgive - Even if Someone Refuses to Apologize - As adults we have all experienced times when someone does or says something hurtful and refuses to apologize for their actions/words, right? Forgiveness isn't conditional - you don't forgive only if someone apologizes to you. You choose to forgive even if the person who wronged you refuses to apologize. 

This is probably the most difficult thing to teach your children especially if they are young. Let me tell you a story that happened recently to show you an example of this (hang in there it is kind of long)!

 A few weeks ago my two boys (ages 7 & 4) were outside playing in a small playground next to a church where we attend a weekly bible study. This isn't our "home" church but the church is gracious enough to open up its facility to our group and allow the kids to play in their playground. My boys along with two other older boys (11 yrs & 13 yrs) were throwing snowballs at the slide to make it more slippery. I and the other kids' moms were just inside watching the boys play (and chatting of course!) when all of a sudden an elderly man who is the custodian for the building brushes past us, bursts through the doors we are standing by and begins yelling at the four boys. 

He is shouting, he is angry and our kids are terrified! 

He is accusing our kids of throwing snowballs at the windows and brick walls of the church. The boys, who are scared, sincerely apologize to this angry stranger, not quite sure what they did wrong. They explain that they were throwing the snow at the slide and if one accidentally hit the building it was not intentional. They all apologize, again.

By now I along with the other two moms are outside trying to understand what is going on and if our kids did in fact do something wrong. The custodian, in his anger begins to storm back into the building. I stop the man and ask if he could tell the boys that he forgives them since they did apologize. He replies sarcastically that he doesn't believe the apology is genuine and he doesn't want to forgive them. The boys hear all of this. The man heads back into the church.

At this point my two boys are crying and so I forget about the custodian and go to comfort my little guys. My heart is broken for them - the very thing we have been teaching them, to forgive, is not being modeled well - from and adult - at a CHURCH! (more teachable moments from this, right?!!)

Fortunately one of the other moms who is inside calms the custodian down, sends for her son (the oldest of the four) and explains to the custodian how sincere her son truly is and that all we are asking is for him to verbally say he forgives them. A less angry custodian shakes the 13 year old boys' hand and tells him that he does indeed forgive him. 

The problem here is that the other three boys who were involved do not hear these words at all. It is quite sad. 

Time for the teachable moment to start - this has given me the opportunity to teach my kids that even when someone refuses to apologize to you or does something wrong to you but doesn't apologize you still have a choice to forgive them. I ask my boys to choose to forgive the custodian - and they do. They may not understand all that just happened but they will remember that they chose to forgive this man even if they never speak with him or see him again. 

Learning to say "I forgive you" takes practice - for both parents and their kids but it is well worth it. I hope this advice is helpful to you as a parent and I hope your kids benefit from learning this advice as well. I'd love to hear how you teach your children about forgiveness - please leave me a comment below. 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

5 Easy St. Patrick's Day Recipes

My grandfather's family (on my dad's side) came to the United States in the mid 1800's during the Irish potato famine. They settled in Carson City, a small town in northern Michigan where they started a farm, built a house and became part of the community.

Years ago when I was a kid that side of my family had a reunion in the small town where our Irish ancestors first lived. The original farm house and land had been sold to an Amish family who continued to farm the land. The kind Amish family allowed us to wander the land, peek into the barns and just soak in the history. 

My favorite part was visiting the local cemetery where grandpa and his siblings pointed out headstones and names of past relatives. 

I'm not sure what percentage Irish I am (cause I'm really a "mutt") but with a last name like O'Brien it was a heritage that was truly embraced once a year on March 17! My mother (who isn't Irish at all) threw everything into celebrating that special day each year. As kids, we'd wake up to a fresh pile of green pancakes, green orange juice and anything else she could dye green and serve for breakfast! Dr. Seuss would have been proud of her green eggs and ham!

She also made these minty green sugar cookies that were shaped into shamrocks. Every year she would package plates of them for each of my sisters and I to bring to school to give to our teachers. This was fun and all in our early elementary years but by high school is was just plain embarrassing! She is still making these cookies today (and my kids love them too). 

Anyway, with St. Patrick's Day around the corner I thought I'd gather a few recipes that are simple yet have a traditional Irish flair to them and share this with you. 

#1. Irish Soda Bread

Since this bread doesn't have yeast as leavening these simple ingredients come together quickly to make a delicious bread that you can serve as a loaf or put in muffin tins to bake for individual serving sizes. The beauty of this bread is the "X" cut into the top of the raw dough prior to baking. It gives the bread such a unique look and it goes well with a hearty Irish stew. For a great recipe visit this site

#2 Irish Colcannon

Colcannon is traditionally made from mashed potatoes and kale (or cabbage), with milk or cream, butter, salt and pepper. You can also add other ingredients such as scallions, leeks, onions and chives. Colcannon is often eaten with boiled ham or Irish bacon. Click this link for a great recipe!

#3 Shepherd's Pie

This could be considered one of the BEST Irish comfort foods yet! Vegetables mixed in a seasoned gravy topped with mashed potatoes then baked until golden brown - Yum. Pure Yum. Originally called cottage pie, this simple recipe can be whipped up quickly and will definitely be a crowd or family pleaser dish. Check out this site for a simple yet tasty recipe.

#4 Skillet Roasted Lamb Loin

Simple and elegant is what this recipe is. Rub the loin with herbs + garlic + shallots, roll it and tie it up then sear it in a skillet. After you have a good sear put the loin in the oven to finish baking. The flavor of this tender meat is out of this world! You can get the complete recipe here.

#5 Irish Apple Cake

No meal is complete with out a dessert, am I right? Here is a simple Irish apple cake that can easily be paired with your after dinner coffee with a shot of Bailey's. For the delicious recipe click here.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy here.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And may the luck of the Irish be with you throughout this year! Oh, and don't forget to wear your green on March 17 - or you just might get pinched. 

I'd love to hear how you and your family celebrate St. Patrick's Day - leave me a comment telling me how you make this day special.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

10 Fun Ideas To Enjoy March Madness As A Family

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy here.

Check out the end of this post for some great basketball gear for the athlete/fan in your life!

Our family has always been big college basketball fans. We love watching our favorite team (The Michigan State Spartans) as a family. The kids will even mark the games on our calendar to make sure we don't miss a televised game. - Gotta train them up right!

Now brackets in our house mean open season for some trash talking. We put big stakes on these brackets and no one wants to lose. 

Over the last few years the winner with the best bracket has gotten - a huge Hershey candy bar, $10 bill, an article of clothing (my daughter won and picked a dress that she refers to as her basketball tournament dress) and an ice cream dessert date with a parent. 

As you can see we are serious here - we don't mess around. 

Since a majority of the first round games in the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament take place during the day and our kids are home (because we home school) I allow the TV to be left on after lunch so we can catch updates on the scores. It's a blast hearing one of my kids shout out the score of a game they are closely watching because they selected a certain team to win on their bracket! 

The NCAA Men's Basketball tournament provides lots of fun learning opportunities and here are 10 ideas you could do with your kids to enjoy it as a family

10 Fun Ideas to Enjoy March Madness as a Family

#1 Fill Out A Bracket - 

Your kids could do their own or you could do one as a family. Kids can practice their handwriting skills as they write the names of the schools they select on the brackets. My son is a reluctant writer - except when it comes to filling out his bracket. He puts a lot of focus and effort into writing the school names correctly and NEATLY. If you are looking for a bracket online here is a great place to get one to print off. 

#2 Play Basketball Bingo

Maybe it is the first time your kids have been exposed to the game of basketball and you want to start teaching them the terminology of the game. The best way to do this is to get them engaged with a simple hands on game like bingo. There is a great website you can use to generate bingo cards for free using terms/words you want as the squares or use the pre-made ones on the website. Click here to go to the website. 

#3 Put Up An Indoor Hoop

If we are going to watch basketball we ought to play a little here and there too to really get into the game. During the tournament we have several spots throughout our house where we put up hoops. My husband hung this hoop from the top of our stairway and regularly plays a pick-up game with the kids. You don't have to buy anything though - you could just put a piece of cardboard on the back of a trash can and use the trash can as the hoop. Kids will love tossing their trash through the "hoop"!

#4 Pick A Team To Learn About

You could incorporate a lot of learning through this fun activity. Encourage your kids to randomly pick a team, find where it is on a map and then look up the school online and read about it. For older students this could be a simple way to get them excited about college. Have them find out fun and interesting facts about a school - like why they have a certain type of mascot, history of the school, what the school is best known for, location, types of majors and pictures of campus.

#5 Skip Counting Practice

Since most of the scoring during a game is from 2 point shots you could really have fun teaching your kids how to skip count by 2's. After they master that skill have them skip count by 3's (3 pointers). I recommend cutting out circles from brown construction paper and putting the skip count numbers on them (2, 4, 6...). Then tape the circles in a pattern on your floor so the kids can jump from circle to circle saying the numbers.

#6 Adding & Subtracting Math Using Game Scores

Sometimes my kids ask when they will ever use the math they learn in school in real life - keeping score of a game is a good answer! Coming up with the difference between two teams scores, counting down time left on the clock and calculating shooting percentages all require the use of math. Based on your child's level of math you can discuss these math concepts during the games. For my oldest kids (grades 5th & 7th) we will be focused on calculating shooting percentages of various players and teams (shots made / attempted shots = shooting %). My younger children will be working on finding the difference (subtraction) between the teams scores. We will talk about inequalities as well - who has more points, who has fewer points.

#7 Sweet 16 - Sweets!

The tournament is know for the catchy titles of the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four. How about letting your child choose a special "sweet" to eat while watching the sweet sixteen games. You could make basketball shaped popcorn balls or rice krispie treats.

#8 Learn the Positions of Players On The Court

With so many games there are plenty of opportunities to teach the game to the kids including the various positions and what the difference is between offense and defense. This website has detailed instructions, picture of the court and the game rules for you to read and use as you explain it to your kids. See if they can point out what they learn while watching a live game!

#9 Play Basketball Games

Besides the actual game of basketball there are a lot of other fun basketball games you can play with your kids. Around the World, 2 on 2, P.I.G (or H.O.R.S.E),  and Knock Out are just a few but you can find more including the instructions here.

# 10 Throw a Championship Game Party

Even if your team didn't make it to the championship game you can still throw a party to enjoy the final game of the men's college basketball season. Have your kids help plan the party including the food, decorations and invitations. They could even show off their newly acquired basketball knowledge with your guests or play the games they learned about basketball!

The tournament is a great way to bust out of the cabin fever season and enjoy the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament! I'd love to hear how your family enjoys it - please leave a comment with your ideas.

Looking for some great basketball gear? Here is a collection I put together for you or your favorite athlete.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Awesome Seed Bomb Craft & Tutorial

I wouldn't necessarily say I have a green thumb - I would describe it as mildly light green. Gardening is something I dream about doing well, but I've just come to embrace the fact that this isn't my gift. 

Not to say that I have given up - OH NO! I know there is room for improvement and I am determined to improve my gardening skills. There is something satisfying about growing your own veggies, picking them and eating them fresh off the vine. It just tastes better! 

Maybe starting with veggies is a bit more than I can handle at this point, but flowers, I can do flowers! Especially wild flowers - hardy and simple right? (I hope). 

Of course I want to get my kids involved so I came up with this simple fun project to do together - making Seed Bombs

This page may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, click here

Maybe you and your kids have a little spring fever, but like us live in a place where winter is still lingering around? Now is a good time to have some fun with your kids and make seed bombs! Here is how we did it:

Seed Bombs

DIY - Make Your Own Seed Bombs


·       3-4 packages of various flower seeds
·        Recycled paper scraps such as newspaper, construction paper and  tissue paper - amount will vary depending on how many seed bombs you want to make so adjust accordingly (start with 4-6 sheets of scrap paper)
·         Bucket
·         Water
·         Blender
·         Strainer
·         Molds to press paper pulp into (empty cupcake tins work well)
·         Food coloring (optional)
·         Sponge


Tear the recycled paper scraps into small pieces until you have about 2 cups of paper pieces. You can make them colorful by using colored scraps of paper or a drop or two of food coloring. Put all of the scraps into your blender then add ¼ cup of water to the paper and 1-2 drops of food coloring. Pulse the paper and water together until the paper becomes a thick wet pulp not a soupy mixture. If it is too soupy add more paper pieces – if it is too dry add more water. 

Pour the wet paper pulp into the strainer over a bowl to catch the extra water. Let it drain for a few minutes gently pressing out water with your hands. 

Next pour 1 packet of seeds into the pulp mixture and mix. With your hands scoop out the paper pulp and squeeze the extra water out. 

Add a scoop or two of the paper/seed pulp into the mold. Press the sponge onto the seed bombs in the mold to absorb extra water. Press out as much water as you can with the sponge so that the seeds are not encouraged to begin germination.  Set the mold out to dry. 

Once the seed bomb is dry pop them out of the mold and store them in a dry dark place. If the seed bomb is kept dry the seeds will not germinate. 

They are now ready to be planted outside in spring weather or you can place them inside in a pot filled with potting soil and water regularly. 

Molds for Seed Bombs - More Great Ideas

You can use just about anything for a mold, we happened to use these silicone molds I had picked up for Valentine's Day. Once the seed bombs were dry they easily popped out of the molds. 

If you don't have a mold you could spread the seed/paper pulp mixture onto a edged baking sheet and roll it into a thin layer. Again you need to squeeze out at much water as possible. This will create seed bomb paper! 

My kids mixed the packets of seeds together so we had NO idea what kinds of flowers would grow from our bombs. They had a blast guessing as the flowers began to grow. One of the seed packets contained flowers that grew super tall (can't remember the kind) and were fun to see grow.
Easy DIY Seed Bombs

Seed Bomb Gifts

Seed bombs make great gifts too! With Easter and Mother's Day in the spring you could put the seed bombs in a cute little package with instructions on how to grow them. If you opt to make seed bomb paper you could cut it into any shape you want, attach it to the outside of a blank card, add a little ribbon and now you have a homemade card with gift included!

I'd love to see what you and your kids create! Please comment and share below.