A Grateful November with me & my BIG ideas

mambithanksboardIn the past, the boys and I have done Thankful Turkeys and Grateful Trees for the month of November. This year, I wanted to do something different and something with the whole family. I LOVED the me & my BIG ideas leaves the second I saw them. I also knew I wanted to something where each of us could write down a daily gratitude. We have used popsicle sticks and mason jar before with our Boredom Buster Jar, but I wanted to incorporate them into this project as well. I decided to use mini bags as the focal point, with the intention of trimming them down and transferring to my project life or making them into a gratitude mini album. One bag per person:



And a jar of popsicle sticks and Sharpie waiting for November 1. I love capturing the boys’ handwriting and look forward to having various pieces of their daily moments to keepsake…it can be one sentence, one word, one doodle. Ultimately, I am looking for one memory or gratitude a day from all of us.

mambithanksJoin me for a Grateful November!!


2013 Salt Dough Advent Calendar

IMG_9730I made two batches of dough this year: one for each kiddo. I did very little, they took on most of this project on their own. It has become one of my most favorite Thanksgiving Break traditions.

IMG_9732After baking at 250 for approximately 5 hours and letting the ornaments cool overnight, they were ready to be decorated. The boys were up EARLY and ready to go…

IMG_9759An old egg carton = perfect paint holder. Other half = perfect embellishment holder.

IMG_9762Christmas music playing, warm cup of coffee in hand, happy boys…swoon:

IMG_9772Their finished products. Ready to be sealed (one coat of Mod Podge and embellished):

IMG_9784Jake’s favorite part:

IMG_9791Our 2013 Advent Calendar:


Boredom Buster Jar

Summer Vacation prep is officially under way. First up, update our Boredom Buster Jar:



In addition to our favorite activities from last year, I added the following:

* Pirate’s Map Treasure Hunt: have each kiddo hide a treasure and then draw a map for us to find it.

* Backyard Scavenger Hunt

* Basketball Challenge: various types of shots from various spots on the driveway, possibly different items- bean bags, whiffle balls, etc.

* Send a Letter

* Cars and Ramps: see how high the boys can build a ramp without cars flipping, see how many cars they can bounce from a ramp into a bowl of water, etc.

* Ice Cube Melting Race

* Clapping Call Ball: have the boys throw a ball in the air, call out a number, and try to clap that many times before catching the ball (would also be fun with a balloon).

* LEGO Challenge: have the boys each fill up a bucket with Legos and see what they can build, or have them build by color, size etc.

Salt Dough Ornament Advent Calendar

I have a feeling this will be a Thanksgiving Break activity for the next few years…we all love it and the final product makes me smile. I am glad we’re a little early this year as it just means a few extra days to look at the boys’ hard work. The boys were able to do the majority of the work. After helping to mix the dough, I divided it into two halves and let the boys roll it out:

And then handed over the cookie cutters:

I love how they are completely covered in flour…heh. On Ty’s face, shirt, arms…everywhere:

We worked in batches and the entire process took us about three days. I ended up making three batches of ornaments: two were perfect, one, I forgot to punch the holes in the top. Grrr. This is the third different salt dough recipe I’ve tried. I wasn’t happy with last year’s and gave this new one a try. I think it’s a keeper. Simple: 1 cup salt, 2 cups flour, 1+ cups water until thoroughly mixed. Bake at 250 degrees for 3 hours…

After letting the ornaments cool over night, I set the boys up for painting. Christmas music on in the background for inspiration, paints ready to go, and the boys went to town:

Batch one: success. I painted a quick, light layer of Mod Podge on each ornament after the boys went to bed:

As soon as they woke up, they begged to make the ornaments “beautiful”. I handed over the bling, sipped my coffee, and watched them beautify the ornaments:

Makes me swoon…

As I stringed the ornaments, I had the boys make super simple bead ornaments to add to the mix. All you need are a few pipe cleaners and beads. I put a star on the end and bent the pipe cleaner about 3/4 of an inch up to give me room to work with and finish the ornament:

Good for fine motor skills practice and takes a loooooooong time. One bead at a time…

Their finished ornaments:

And our family advent calendar. Each day, the boys will hang one ornament on our tree…

Loving the addition of Star Wars ornaments this year:

I had a little ornament-making fun as well:

Kid made holiday goodness…bring on the December crazy!!

Grateful Tree: Green Kid Crafts Box

After some wet rainy day cozy coupe fun, we headed inside for a few crafty endeavors…

I traced a simple tree trunk outline on a piece of 12 x 12 kraft paper (could easily use a paper bag):

Inspired by the Green Kid Crafts “use everything” philosophy, we completed this project with simple things around the house. I cut up a few pages of today’s newspaper for the boys to use as the tree trunk. Gave them the glue and let them go to town filling in the trunk shape:

For the branches, I had the boys rip the little pieces of newspaper in half. Kept it simple.

While they glued, I cut out the leaves for them. I  used the leaves on the back of the Tile Collage as a template for the orange and yellow paper:

My heart swooned a little as Ty filled out his leaves. As he wrote meticulously, we talked about things both boys loved and would miss if gone. We also talked about things we were grateful for. I love how this “supplemental” activity on the back of a set of directions could easily be a fifth addition to the box and sparks such meaningful conversation:

Jake dictated his answers but was more than ready to glue on his own leaves:

Finishing up his tree. LOVE the little glue bottles. I am going to keep and refill them (keeps the boys from emptying the contents of larger containers in one go)…

Real, five-year old answers:

The finished trees. Such a sweet project:

Our fall display. I was so excited I didn’t let the trees dry completely. They have since dried and all dripping paint has been wiped away. This space makes me so happy. I love their love of artsy fun…

Summer 2012 Bucket List

I really enjoyed having goals to work towards last summer and decided to do another family bucket list. I asked the boys and the husband for ideas and wanted to put something together as a visual reminder. I debated a chalkboard but ultimately used the peg board left over from our Christmas Advent Calendar. The finished board sits in our family room where everyone can see it, the boys are so excited about the tasks they chose and their excitement serves as great motivation to get them all done.

Kept the cards and tags super simple:

I plan to display evidence/keepsakes/photos of our completing each task on the accompanying board. Our Boredom Buster Jar has already got a lot of love, I am really enjoying it and the boys love feeling as though they are “choosing” an activity:

The actual list:

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Boredom Buster Jar

Our Boredom Buster Jar is complete:

Each popsicle stick has an activity, ranging in difficulty and parental involvement. I’ll have a kiddo pick one when we are in need of something to do. It can also be something they earn along the way: one pick from the jar, etc. Each activity is something that can be done with things already around the house:

A few examples:




* KNOT RACE WITH RIBBON: have kids tie ribbon in as many knots as possible before the timer beeps.

* MELTING MONSTERS: have kids draw monsters on thick construction paper, hang paper outside, have them use a squirt bottle and water to make the monster melt away.

* BEAN BAG COLOR TOSS: bean bags + various colors of construction paper. Use masking tape to make a line and have the kids toss bean bags to a certain color of paper.

* STORY TIME STOMP: pick a book to read, have the kids choose one word, each time they hear the word they have to jump up and stomp their feet.

* MUSICAL SCOOP BALL: using newspaper balls or tennis balls, disperse balls outside on the lawn, have the kids retrieve as many balls as possible before the music stops playing. Repeat.

* SLIPPERY SPOONS: have kids transfer various items via a spoon between two points.


All items in each bin can be used independently. I also have plastic breakfast trays that I place in front of each kiddo to keep markers or crayons from rolling away. They also help contain water colors or paints if necessary…

I have had a few people ask for a list of activities included in our Boredom Buster Jar. Here is what I have got so far:

* Freeze Dance

* Kickball

* Bean Bag Bowl Toss: similar to the above color toss, but kids will try to get bean bags into various sized bowls

* Shoe Box Mailbox: we will make a mailbox and the boys can then make various letters to “mail” (construction paper, cutting, scissors, gluing, stamps, stickers, lots of fun possibilities)

* Send a letter

* Sensory tub sorting

* Make a doorknob hanger

* Train tracks

* Finger print thummies

* Weave a picture

* Cut paper mosaics or collage

* Game cabinet

* Zig zag bike roadway in the driveway (boys LOVE this, just draw a figure eight track with chalk on the driveway)

* Pizza shop/grocery store/pet shop

* Mini Beach Blanket Toss: use a king sized pillow case and blow up ball, toss away

* Play dough

* Bubbles

* Make a lunch bag puppet

* Masking tape car track

* Lacing cards

* Outdoor chalk

* Block city

And our 2012 Summer Bucket List is officially under construction:

Beaded Name Collars

Super easy, fun activity for rainy/bad weather days. You only need a few things:

– pipe cleaners

– beads (I have a few old cupcake liner containers that are the perfect size for crafts. I use them for glue or to hold small pieces like beads.)

– tag or small piece of paper to write animal’s name

– favorite stuffed animal

I also like to use a breakfast tray to contain any beads that might spill over, they can’t roll very far.

Have your kiddo string on the beads. One at a time…

Both boys LOVED this, they had a lot of fun picking out names and deciding how many “stars” each dino had earned (I used a mixture of clear beads and star beads):

Wrap the ends tight and put on the dino. Ty named this one “Thundercrack Super Hero Squad”…

And for fun, a shoe box = bed for the baby dinosaurs:

DIY Hallway Spy Game

Hallway + painter’s tape

DIY “I Spy” Jar

Super easy. Literally, took about ten minutes. Wash and dry an old glass jar (or use any see through container). Collect various small trinkets and treasures:

Make a simple list of all the goods going in the jar to make up your “I Spy” finding list:

Put all the goods into the jar. Even better if you have an eager helper to do this for you:

Add rice:


To make sure my boys didn’t use their super stealth figure-out-how-to-open-and-dump anything skills, I secured the top with hot glue and added fabric tape around the top. All ready to go. Can you find…: