Tuesday, November 28, 2017

DIY Christmas Boxes

Christmas boxes are something I started doing last year.  It's like the official kickoff to the Christmas season. I saw a couple of ideas in my newsfeed a few years ago to be opened on Christmas Eve.  However, I decided to switch it up just a bit. 

Our kiddos get their Christmas box the day after Thanksgiving instead of Christmas Eve.  We actually didn't give them out the day after Thanksgiving this year because they all went to a football game and came home way later.  I was already asleep.  So the kids got their boxes the day after.

Each box has a few little Christmas goodies to kick off the holiday season.  For one, they each get new Christmas pajamas.  These cute ones are by Leveret and the kids look like the cutest little elves in them. Then I just add a few other holiday things.  

Here is a close up of the Christmas box for one of the twins.  They each got a new cup.  Then we added a candy filled candy cane, an ornament to paint for the tree and some bubbles.  The bubbles have been their all time favorite thing.  They love bubbles all day every day.  The bubbles, cup and ornament are all from the Dollar Tree, but you can pretty much put whatever you want in them.

The big kid box is almost the same.  I didn't add cups in because I knew the box wouldn't close.  I did add in some lip balm though because it's getting a little cooler outside.  I scored a mom win too.  Watching my 15 year old come out in striped Christmas pajamas made my day.  Then I thought, man I'm turning into one of those old folks who buys the corny things for the over grown kids and demand they wear it!  I was so happy though!

All five boxes

The kids opening their boxes.

And here's last year's boxes.  This was our first year so of course, I got carried away.  I filled them with pajamas, candy cane, a Santa hat, a blinking Rudolph nose, a Christmas cake and a movie.  Most of the movies we already had and I just put them inside the boxes.  They just got to choose which day we got to watch them. 

I'm always extra excited about the holidays so I'm a bit extra myself at times!  I love making the Christmas boxes.  I don't know how long we're going to keep it up.  However, for now it's a becoming a bit of a tradition. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Money Monday: Stay In Your Lane

So have you ever been waiting at a stop sign to cross into a double lane road into a turning lane?Then, someone kindly stops and decides to let you out.  However, they are inviting you to come on across with no acknowledgement of what's in the next lane.  You might be able to go over, but you can't safely reach your destination without further assessment on what's coming.  The kind driver is letting you out, but he doesn't know what you have to face once you're out there nor does he have to deal with the consequences.  Well, this can surely lead to disaster.

Sometimes it's easy for us to accept invitations into another lane even when we know it's not safe on the other side.  There were many times Andre and I've been encouraged to do things that were "out of our lane" by people who didn't know what we had to face.  "Go ahead and get it."  "Y'all could go ahead and buy that car."  "I would go on and do it."  These phrases were often told to us by people who were on a whole other financial level than we were and were not going to face any consequences for these decisions.  We could not simply do what they were doing without getting in a financial mess bigger than the one we were already in.  There were times we found ourselves trying to decide if we should cross into a lane that we knew wasn't safe for us.  However, we recognized that we couldn't do what everybody did and when they did it.  The timing wasn't right.  The road wasn't safe.  Our car was trying to be guided by too many helping hands that were pumping premium while we were struggling to get a quarter tank of 87. LOL!  If Jesus ain't got his hands on the wheel and leading you safely in that direction, you better stay in your lane until he clears a path for you!

Friday, November 24, 2017

25 Things I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone had a great day spending time with family and Friends. When I look at my life, there is so much to be thankful for, so much we've been blessed with.  I believe the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, the overflow and shortage all work together to teach us gratefulness.  I might not know it all the time, but I'm thankful for it.  Here's 25 Things I'm Thankful For 

1.  Family

2.  Everything God has removed from my life that wasn't for my good.

3.  Creativity

4.  A Voice to motivate, uplift, and share

5.  A home.
6.  Health that hasn't failed me

7.  My flaws no matter how big I think they are.  They make me me.

8.  Food

9.  Second Chances

10. Mistakes that provide opportunities to learn
11.  My pastor who not only teaches but truly lives the word of God

12.  A washer and dryer.  It takes it to tear up in a family of 7 to be really thankful. Lol

13.  A husband that takes every aspect of the job seriously.

14.  To be able to stay at home with my tiny humans 

15.  Music -all the feels

16. Friends

17.  Books

18.  Pictures that capture all the phases and all the moments that I don't want to forget.

19.  Clothes - I'm a messy crafty mama so I don't wear real clothes much, but I've been on point lately. Lol

20.  Coupons that help me provide savings for my family and bless others

21.  Amazon prime and UPS because twins and store meltdowns 

22.  A teacher spirit/teaching supplies to be able to encourage, reinforce and challenge learning for my crew.

23.  The struggle - wouldn't be where we are without

24.  Patience - ^^^^

25.  Life - to make the absolute best of the best way we know how and the best way for us

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Not So Spooky Halloween Food and Lunchbox Ideas!

Fall is my absolute favorite season.  The clothes, the decorations, the the crafts and activities, the crisp air and crunchy leaves...I love every single thing about the idea of Fall.  Every single thing except for the fact that it's still 200 degrees in south Georgia (when I started this post)  Fall has finally somewhat arrived. We're where it's cold in the morning, 90 degrees in the day, and back down to 40 degrees at night.  That's the south for ya. I took the babies for a run the other day, prior to our Fall weather greeting, and I was sweating before we started.   So it was taking me a while to get into the Fall mood and I hadn't even begin to make some of the lovely freaky Fall food for the littles.  Say that three times fast. 

So to encourage my Fall mood and to give you guys some fun ideas, I've pulled together some of the fun foods we've been making and some made in years past for Halloween! 

Today, my littlest monsters were all happily giggling and making lots of messes helping in the kitchen.  Never mind my little Halloween sign back there.  I opened it up and it was missing an A.  I keep saying that I'm going to let Caleb color me one, but I haven't.  I think it fits in with the chaos around here anyway.  We are making little ghost and jackolantern cakes here.

Ghost Sandwiches!
Cookie cutters are your best friends for making quick and fun treats for any occasion.  I pulled out the ghost cookie cutter and some raisins and turned our ordinary sandwiches into fun creations.

Jack-o-lantern Blueberry Muffins!
Holiday food molds are another favorite of mine.  They come in a lot of different forms and designs and I would love to have them all!  However, the way my account set up.....
Therefore, the trick to these is buying them after the holiday when they are on clearance, preferably 75% off or more.  I always go in and check the holiday clearance for things that I want but would rather not pay full price for.

Mummy Dogs!
The kids will love these!  They are just as fun for them to make as they are to eat.  Cut up dough/crescent strips and wrap hot dogs in.  Bake and add candy eyeballs for fun.

Candy Corn Fruit cups!
Now I'm not going to say I like candy corn because I believe it belongs in the trash.  Note that one glass on the table with Recess pieces!  Layer pineapples, mandarin oranges and whip cream in a cup.  Add candy corn for decoration and you're all set.

Pumpkin Pancakes!
Again cookie cutters here made breakfast just a tad bit better.  Raisin eyes, a candy nose, and a sausage mouth pulled this pumpkin breakfast together.

Love how Caleb added whipped cream eyebrows here.

Silly Face Tacos for Taco Tuesday?
Yes!  Use candy eyes, a food marker to draw a mouth, and arrange the cheese for hair!  I love these.  They are almost too cute to eat.  You could always replace the eyes with something else.

Cinnamon Roll Pumpkins!
Make a pack of cinnamon rolls as usual.  Use food coloring to change your icing.  Add raisins for a face and we used a spinach leaf up top.  We can pretend that makes this healthy. 

Owl Toast!
Now, I discovered these a while back and decided that I had to give them a try.  Variations of fruit make the horns, wings, nose and eyes.  Cereal makes the little feat.hers at the bottom.  I can't wait to make these for the twins.  I can just see their facial expressions.  They probably won't eat it at all and throw it on the floor. lol

Halloween Hot Chocolate Station
Since we have finally been blessed with some cooler temps, hot chocolate is back on the menu.  Our little station usually consists of a few snacks and different little goodies to put in the hot chocolate.

This is this year's station. 

These little ghost and jack-o-lantern cakes are what the littles were cooking in the first pic.  We had little cakes and hot cocoa tonight.  If you saw my Instastory, you might remember my epic fail on these. lol

Spider-Man Waffles
If you have a Spider-Man fan, then they are going to love these!  First, you can find these waffles at Walmart.  They are Eggo brand and berry flavored.  I cut grapes in half to make a spider for the "web."  Cut the tops off strawberries and add icing for the eyes.  It's easier to outline with black icing first, then fill with the white.

Ghost Marshmallows
Use marshmallow bags to stuff marshmallows in.  Then, draw a face on the outside of the bag.  We gave these out as preschool favors one year.

Ghost Cheese
Same concept here just with cheese sticks.

Pumpkin Patch Breakfast
Mini pancakes on a scrambled egg vine technically counts as a pumpkin patch, right?  Use food markers to make faces and pick away!

Witch Hats
We have a mini Halloween party every year and I like to deck the table out.  However, the rest of my party pics are somewhere in a sea of many. lol  So here's witch hats!  These are made from those fudge cookies that are just turned over and a Hershey's kiss.  Use peanut butter as your glue.

Fall and Halloween Lunch Ideas
As you already know, I love packing lunches and I love challenging myself to make themed lunches. I also love the look of excitement on little faces as they open their lunch boxes.  I'm only doing them now for Caleb as the other too have outgrown them.  However, they still think it's kind of cool.  #winning  So Caleb and the twins will be showered with my creative side in the meantime.

One of the easiest ways to make a lunch more festive is by adding a Halloween napkin.  Add a lot of the methods from above to give your lunches a holiday makeover.  Holiday molds, cookie cutters, food markers, candy eyes easily transform lunches.

For more school lunches, click here.

Create silly or spooky faces with sandwiches.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Afterschool Homeschooling - Week 3

Hello everyone!  I'm getting this post done as fast as I can being that the twins have finally taken a nap. lol  This past week, Caleb's class was learning about magnets in science so I decided to build on that.  We have magnets at home so I knew that'd be easy for me to do. 

So here's one of our first activities.  We cut up some pipe cleaners and put them in a plastic container, like the Crystal light kind.  I gave him a small magnet and a bigger one for him to try and pick up pipe cleaners through the container.  Then we switched containers and added them to a glass jar and did the same thing.  He said he was able to pick up more pipe cleaners through the glass than through the plastic.


The twins were determined to get in on this too.  They climbed into a chair to investigate.  Cason saw Caleb hold the magnet on top of the jar and he was trying to copy to see what happens.  If you follow me on Instagram @cuddleskissesnchaos, you probably saw a video of Cason screaming over the magnets.

We also watched two videos on YouTube over magnets and magnetism.  Then, I created a little "fill in the blank" type sheet for Caleb to do.

So... What is magnetic?

I dumped some beads and string out of this Melissa and Doug box and filled it with some random things around the house for him to test.  You can get these big red and blue magnets are from the Dollar Tree.  I think the smaller ones came as a prize from some school fundraiser years ago.  I can't really remember, but they probably sell them somewhere too.

We did this one Friday or Saturday night.  The whole house was kind of in on this one.  I found this experiment on YouTube and decided it would be fun for the kids to do.  We got three different liquids to see how magnets respond through liquids. 
We put three paper clips in each jar.  I had them make predictions on what they thought would happen and/or how the paper clips would move through each liquid.  Then, we tested them.  The paper clips moved quickly through the water and oil, but slowly through the corn syrup.  We talked about why that was.  This became a messy sticky experiment for us.  We have impatient and quick pouring people over here. 

Ice cream addition

To make math facts more fun, I decided to make little ice cream cones.  Who doesn't love ice cream?  These were just drawn and cut out of the construction paper.  I think I should laminate them because they are just too cute (in my opinion).

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you can use some of these activities with your little ones!


After school Homeschooling - Weeks 1 and 2

School started back on August 1.  We have a 10th grader, a 7th grader, 1st grader and twin tot schoolers ( we are starting tot school at home).  Everybody but the teenager was excited.  No surprise there.  I was partly ready.  I was more ready to get back into some type of a routine with the twins.  The summer puts them off because everyone is at home and busy, which means not much down time.

Over the summer we've continued to add little learning activities and "homeschool" lessons every now and then.  It is just my nature.  I can't help it.  However, I am often asked by the first and seventh grader for activities to do.  Of course, I'm happy to do that.  Since school has started back, I've really started back with the mini lessons.  They are mostly for Caleb because middle and high school kids already have enough to do.  However, if I have something that I think will help them, I'll pull it out. 

I like to look at what Caleb is learning for the week and plan activities to reinforce and build on what they are learning at school.  I also go ahead on my own with some things, especially if he seems ready to move on.

We took this pic the week before school.  We were reviewing all of the site words we had when Cameron started to throw them on the floor.  We decided to make the most of it.

They didn't have homework the first week of school.  You know they are busy learning all the rules and routines, but we did a few activities.  Caleb is always looking for something to do anyway.  We are trying to get his books of the Bible down so I pulled out our popsicle stick books to sort.

We've been doing math facts on and off for about half the summer.  We just put three sums at the top here and had him fill in the facts that created the sum.  I put out a box of random counters if he needed some help.  These are just old game pieces and dominoes that I've saved to use as manipulatives.


We had a little STEM activity set up and Cate decided to join in on this one.  Marshmallows are a good motivator.  Caleb did get a little frustrated with this because the toothpicks and the marshmallows kept falling over before he could finish anything.  I helped him out a bit after escaping the twins.  I think we'll use gumdrops next time.  We've using them before and they work well because they are more sturdier.

This week was the first week of homework.  They receive a homework packet that is due on Fridays and usually a phonics sheet. Well, he had finished all but one page of his packet by the time he had gotten off the bus.  He finished the rest when he got home and was bored.  He operated like this last year too.  Amazon prime boxes to the rescue!  I asked him if he wanted to make a rocket and he agreed to that.

He could already spell his spelling words too, but we needed to practice writing and forming letters correctly.  I dug out an old laminated writing sheet to use just because it makes it more interesting.  That red and yellow thingy there is an electronic math fact thingy.  Yes, thingy.  You can rotate the numbers in each row.  You can listen to it recite the math facts and answers or you can listen to it ask one.  You bop the end when it says the correct answer.  I found this little gem at the Goodwill.    Reading practice for the day was "Go Away, Dog."

More writing practice made more fun with shaving cream.  The twins got in on this action too.

Nerf bullets and site words

Our class has a site word folder where they are tested weekly on the site words.  We read through them and he kept reading through each page until he got to ones he didn't know.  So since he knew a good bit of his site words, we opted to start on week 12 vs week 1.  That way he is still learning, but not stagnant.  We also practice using the site words and spelling words in sentences.  If you don't have spelling words yet and want to start, the Dollar Tree has some good little spelling books in there.  We practiced with those over the summer.

Math facts.
These are a few things we did leading up to the new school year.

We had to build a bridge to get the people safely across from the bears.  I love how he decided to just use the slide at the end to slide in the car.  This was also another "I'm bored" day.  Well, here you go little dude.

Nature study with trees and leaves.  We are supposed to be making leaf journals, but haven't made them yet.

The book "Mouse Paint" with mixing colors and trying to spell the color words.

We used old 75% off gingerbread houses to go along with the video story of Hansel and Gretal.  We talked about shady people (strangers).

So this pretty much wraps up the first weeks.  I'll be getting last week's after school homeschooling activities up and also our tot school toddlertivities this week.

Thanks for reading.