Friday, September 26, 2014

Intentional Family Time- 5 ways to spend more time as a family {#streamteam}

In the crazy busy life we live here is the USA it is always more, more, more! Starting at a very young age it seems like it is expected for your kids to be involved in something- music, dance, sports, art... something.  Add school and church and you have a busy schedule.  Not to mention all the stuff  that parents do. 

We were noticing that we were missing out on our kids.  I am a stay-at-home mom but between school and extra activities I was seeing my kids less and less.  So me and the hubs sat down and got intentional about our family time.  It didn't mean we had to get rid of the extra activities that kids were doing (They loved them!) but it did mean making time to spend as a family a priority.  

It wasn't as hard as it seemed and I am here to share some of the things we do that work for our family that gets us to spend quality time together and bond as a family! 

The first thing you need to do is decide you are going to spend time with just your family.  
Then decide what that will look like for your family.   

Here are some ways we spend time as a family: 

Weekly Family Night
we designate 1 night a week for family time.  It starts with Pizza dinner and then one of the kids get to choose the nights activities.  We have played hide-and-seek, had a dance party, made Logo creations,  had campfires, made forts, played board games and many more things.  The kids LOVE it and look forward to it each week.

Eat Meals Together and Talk with Each Other.
With so many different schedules it is easy to just feed the kids and eat as a adults later.  I get and have done it myself, but once we made eating meals together as a family a priority it made a difference.  At the dinner table I always make my kids tell me 3 things about their day, and then they get to pick their favorite thing.  We find out fascinating things about our kids this way.  Like the week my 4-year-old daughter only told me things about a little boy named Ryker at her pre-school.  Isn't 4 years old too young to have a crush?!

Do Service Projects Together
Our Church has several different service project for us to get involved in.  And at first it always seems like it would be too much to bring the kids along, but when we do we always have a great time and the kids come away with so much!  One of our favorite service projects is the "Backpacking Party" we have at our church.  In a nearby school they have a high % of homeless families that attend, so we collect non-parisable food and put it into backpacks to send home with the kids on the weekends so that they have have some food at home too.  We have different tables set up with different kids of foods (fruit snacks, breakfast foods,  soups etc) and we walk around and put in a couple things from each table.  My kids love to collect the food at the tables  and put it in the bag and I get to teach them about giving to the poor.  There are many ways to serve as a family either through your church, school or community.  Feed My Starving Children is also a great place to help out at.

Special Family Outings/Adventures
Going to the Zoo, Children's Museum, and Fair are great Family time!  We try to play a bigger special family event at least once a quarter.  We have a free zoo not to far away that we like to go to, and we have spent the day at the Mall of America, or gone to the special Butterfly Exhibit at the U of M's Arboretum.   A fun day out of the ordinary spent as a family

Family Movie Night
Our Family LOVES movies.  We make a big deal about movie nights.  There is nothing better then the 5 of us cuddled on the couch as we watch a movie!  We have Netflix and we love that we have tons of family friendly titles to choose from.  Our favorite is when we can choose a movie that we loved as kids.  We have watched Sword in the Stone, Flubber, Robin Hood, and Mulin together recently.  Our family movie nights are most successful when we have lots of popcorn! 

How do you spend time as a family? 

*Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix Stream team.  However all opinions are 100% honest! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Felt Pumpkin Funny Faces (15 minute Halloween craft) ~Tutorial~

Here is a great Halloween craft that you can do in 15 minutes!  And it works as both Halloween decor AND a toy!  Great for the kiddos!  My Kids love the Funny Faces magnet toys and I knew that they would love this too! 

Here is what you will need: 
Circle cardboard (We got ours from our Frozen Pizza)
Felt (In a verity of colors but mostly orange, green and black)
Small box
Hot Glue

1. Cut your orange felt circle a little larger then the cardboard circle.  Cut small slits around the circle (about every inch or so)
2. Hot glue the orange felt to the cardboard circle overlapping the slits. 

3. Hot glue the small box to the back of the circle.  This makes it stand up and also provides a place for all the face shapes to go.
4. Cut out a steam shape from the green felt and hot glue it to the top.
5. Cut out simple shapes for the pumpkins eyes, mouth, nose, eyebrows, etc.  Keep the shapes super simple like you would see on a pumpkin face.

Test it out to make sure it works. ; ) 

If you really feel crazy you can add some accessories!  I added a hat, sunglasses, bow, flower and blond hair. 

And when you are done all the felt pieces can go right into the box! 

Joining in the fun with:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Make your Own Barbie Doll Sleeping Bag {tutorial}

My kids are obsessed with putting things to sleep.  Baby-dolls, Teddy Bears, stuffed animals, transformers - you name it and they will put it down for a nap!  I ofter hear "Shhhhh, mom - my transformer is sleeping" So, I decided to make a sleeping bag for my daughter's barbie dolls.  

This is a great beginning sewing project, so you can do this! .  It also would be a great starter project  to work on with a little sewer like your daughter (or grand-daughter, niece, friends kid...etc)

Here is what you will need:
Fabric: I recommend felt or flannel for that soft feel, but woven knit works too!
Stuffing/batting (just a little for the pillow)
Sewing machine with thread and other sewing tools (like scissors)

I used the same fabric for both the inside and outside of the sleeping bag, but you could totally mix it up and use different patterns together.

**All seam allowances are 1/4 inch**

1. Cut out your fabric.  Cut two 12.5X6 rectangles and two 9.5X6 rectangles
2. Place right sides together and sew around 3 sides leaving the bottom side open.

3. Flip both rectangles right side out
4. In the longer rectangle put the stuffing in
5. Push the stuffing all the way to the top to form a pillow
6. Top Stitch across right under  your stuffing to form the pillow shape.

7. With right sides together place the smaller rectangle on top of the larger rectangle with the unfinished edges both on the bottom.  Starting 1-2inches down on one side, sew 3 sides like below.
8. Trim your corners and flip right side out.
And your done... Put your barbie down to sleep and tell everyone "Shhhhh- Barbie needs her beauty sleep!"

This would make a great add on for a girls gift!  
And wouldn't it be fun to make it with your daughter to give to her friend?! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 easy ways to drink more water

My husband and I have been on a mission to drink more water for the passed few years.  Here are 5 simple things you can do to help drink more water.

1. Get a fancy/cute cup.
 I love smoothies mostly for the cup they come in.  I got a reusable drinking cup with a lid and a straw and I use it all day long.  I even used vinyl to put my name on it. If you use outdoor vinyl it can go through the dishwasher.

2. Use a straw and put ice in the water
I drink so much more water when i use a straw. I also drink more water when it is cold.  I buy 100 straws for $1 at target.  My kids LOVE to drink from straws too so they are drinking more water too.

3. Add Fruit to it
If you need a little flavor add some fresh or frozen fruit.  The fruit that I like the best is: Lemon, Lime, strawberries and raspberries.   I love to add frozen raspberries, they act like an ice-cube and taste good too!

4. Don't buy pop or juice.
We only have water or milk at our house.  We have no choice but to drink water when we are thirsty.  It has actually saved us a lot of money since out tap water is pretty good.

5. Use a filter pitcher
I was able to sample the CamleBak Relay.  When it was sent to me I wasn't sure I was going to love it.  We have used other filtered pitchers and have not loved them... but we do really love the Relay.  It filters water fast and it double filter's it too, on the way in and out of the pitcher.  It is available at, Target and Amazon.

How It Works:
CamelBak has been developing innovative hydration products for 25 years. Their newest product, Relay, takes a new approach to the water filtration pitcher and is designed for the active person. Relay utilizes a unique filter with Double Filter Technology; it filters the water twice, once as you fill the pitcher and a second time as you pour. Relay's filter is pleated and contains plant-based activated carbon which delivers great-tasting water 10X faster than the leading competitor. The filter only needs to be changed every four months, twice as long as the leading competitor. Relay’s lid features side-locking latches to create spill-proof pouring and ensure that the lid stays in place while moving between the sink and the fridge. The pitcher shape is streamlined for better ergonomics and fits 10 cups of filtered water in a surprisingly small pitcher that easily fits in most refrigerator doors. CamelBak Relay is BPA free and dishwasher safe. Like all CamelBak products, Relay is covered by the CamelBak Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee. 

How do you drink more water? 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 ways to make back-to-school easier for Mom

We have been back to school for a little over 2 weeks now.  We are in the swing of things now.  The newness has worn off and we are in a routine.  I have tried a few things this school year to make things run smoothy for me as the mom as I get the childern off the school.  

Here are 5 things that are making my morning run a little bit better.  These are not rocket-science ideas, just simple things that have helped me, so I thought I would pass it on. 

1. Wake up before the kids.  
For me that means 6:30 AM.  We have a rule that the kids need to stay in bed until 7AM.  I get myself all ready so when the kids wake up I can just focus on getting them ready, instead of trying to put my make-up on while the kids are brushing their teeth. 

2. Pick out clothes the night before and lay them out. 
This is to stop the battles I had with my 4 year old daughter.  Now we talk about her outfit before she goes to bed (when she is more agreeable - in the morning she is quite crabby).  Then she can wake up and put the clothes that she picked out.  Some times she wants to change the outfit but I tell her she can wear it tomorrow.  We used to spend a lot of time in the morning over what she would wear and now it is hardly any time at all.  I some times pick out her clothes for the whole week.  

3. Wear Play Proof Clothes
I was sent some Play Proof Clothes from Nano-Tex to have my kids put to the test.  These clothes release stains in the wash, resist wrinkles, breathes easy, looks great wear after wear!  Perfect to send off to school.  Having easy washable clothes makes my life easier, not having to stain-treat everything!
Right now they are available at Gymboree. 

4. Put frozen food (that will thaw out by lunch) in their lunch. 
Did you know that there are several things that you can freeze that will thaw out by lunch time?!  On-the-go yogurts, apple sauce/fruit sauce pouches, PB&J sandwiches, Mayo&Meat sandwiches (no lettuce or tomatoes), and Apples to name just a few. Put them in the freezer and they will be ready to pack in your lunch and you don't have to worry about them getting too warm before lunch, and they will keep other things cool in the lunch box as well.   We call the frozen yogurt pouches Popsicle Yogurt... the kids love to eat them frozen for breakfast too  

5. After School Snack Bowl
Every day, when the kids come home, they want/need a snack.  My kids are too young to be trusted with an open snack cupboard and they cannot get the food by themselves yet.  I would have to stand and tell the all their choices and then make a baggie for them once the made a choice.   Now, I  put pre-portioned, mom-approved snacks in a bowl for them the choose from after school.  I let my kids pick 2 snacks before dinner.  They feel like they have control over their snacks and I can get stuff done without having the stop and get a snack for them all the time.  

What are some ways that you make your life easier at school time? 

*Disclosure: I was supplied with the Play-Proof clothes for free, however all opinions are 100% mine*

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Barbie Doll Sleeping Bag DIY

Look what I am sharing over at Skip To My Lou today! 

It is a super easy sewing project for the beginning sewer.  It would be great to do with a little sewer like you daughter or grand-daughter!  Hop on over there to check it out!  

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