Our school PTO does a collection just before Winter Break for the teachers, and the parents send in money to be added to a gift card. Then each teacher’s card is filled up and given to them to use on school supplies that they would otherwise have to pay for. It’s an awesome idea that I fully support, but I wanted my kids to give their teacher a little something more. Thanks to pinterest, where I get pretty much every creative idea I ever have, I decided to help them write a book called What We Would Get You If We Had A Million Dollars.
The most precious thing to me is the responses inside so I’m going to share them here.
“I would like to give her the biggest car of all and she could drive it!” – Olivia
“I would buy her a fire engine!!” – Perrin
“A book that has horses in it.” – Olivia
“A lot of fire engines!” – Perrin
“I think I’ll get her a dollhouse and some dolls.” – Olivia
“Paper please!” – Perrin
“I want to give her a tv and wii remote like ours.” – Olivia
“A truck that throws gravel.” – Perrin
“A teensy weensie dinosaur and it should be red, my favorite color.” – Olivia
“Umm, a rabbit. Hop! Hop! Hop!” – Perrin
“A hinker tinker toy.” – Olivia
“Something that’s round like my wrench. My hammer would be better. Okay?” – Perrin
“A clock like mine and it should be a toy clock.” – Olivia
“A plate with a donut on it.” – Perrin
“A click clock mouse.” – Olivia
“A bike with a flashlight on it.” – Perrin
The only thing it cost me was a little bonding time with my kids, which I think I needed as much as them today, and some paper.
Kid 3 turned 11 last weekend and she is a Harry Potter nut. I was going to do a candy themed party but I thought she would like Harry Potter instead. So last weekend, I spent a day online on pinterest and google, planning for her party. There were a lot of things that I didn’t get to do once the time came, but I think the party ended up being great anyway.
We invited the entire class but she forgot to get the invites out before this Monday so we only had three guests. One was a boy and had to go home at eight but the two girls are upstairs with my kiddo now, having a nail polish and makeup fest.
Here is the doorway from my kitchen to my dining room. I wanted this to be in front of the back door but hubby didn’t do the bricks in the right direction and I wasn’t going to complain because hey, he drew bricks on a tablecloth for 45 minutes. He made the sign afterward and I think it came out cute! (Pardon the ipod picture. I didn’t think to get one with the camera.)
Here is the dessert table. We had Sorting hat cookies, Butterbeer cupcakes, a Harry Potter Hagrid cake, and ice cream sundae bar. If you aren’t familiar with the story, I spelled happy birthday wrong on purpose.
For drinks, we used regular cream soda and just made a sign calling it butterbeer. The jar has “potion punch” which is just green berry Hawaiian punch, gingerale, and raspberry sherbet. I poured the gingerale in last to get the fizz like this. I wanted to make up jars of colored water for extra decoration, to look like potions, but I didn’t have time.
I know I’m displaying these a bit backwards because we ate food before dessert, and we drank the drinks with our meal, but the next photo is of our pizza making station. The kids really seemed to like this. It fit well with the Harry Potter theme and it was cheap. I changed my mind on the foods I wanted several times but I’m glad I finally settled on this. We have plenty left over for omelets too! (SOS pads and fire extinguisher optional… oops.)
We didn’t have enough kids to do the sorting ceremony, so we skipped that. I didn’t get the pencils to make pencil wands. We did do two games, though. We did a balloon stomp, and we did a dragon egg hunt. The balloon stomp was loads of fun. I even played.
We made ice cream sundaes after this but I didn’t get any photos of that. The kids loved it. Then came the cake.
And presents… she really loves pickles.
Finally, we handed out the broom loot bags, which had assorted candy, a slinkie (because slinkies magically walk down the stairs), and a balloon. Then we took photos of the birthday girl with each guest and the group.
There was really nothing I missed out on doing that would have made it more fun for them. In the end, she doesn’t care if there’s streamers behind her gift table or a sign in the dining room indicating it’s the great hall, so I think it was a success. With the way she looks in that last picture, I think she agrees.
Also, that concludes birthday season. She’s the last one of the kids to have a birthday through the year. I am SO glad it’s over. Now onto the holidays!
I have started with the contests I mentioned in the last entry. The first one is on Facebook. Once we get to 200 “likes”, I will be giving away a homemade Christmas stocking. I’m hoping that will get some business going. Here is the link, if you’d like to join in.
There will be a blog contest here too, soon. My kids have finally learned to share and they’re giving each other the flu so time is limited but I’ll be making two items and the winner will be able to choose between them. Stay tuned!
First, a recipe. I can’t take credit for this one but I can promise you that it’s delicious. I made it for myself last week, then used the remainder of the salsa on a hamburger patty the following night because I got home late and missed dinner. I made it again on pork chops for the entire family a couple of nights later, just doubling the salsa recipe. I served it over rice both times I made pork chops and I thought it was amazing.
I haven’t been doing much cooking at night lately because I’ve been leaving it up to my oldest daughter. She mentioned in passing a couple of weeks back that she doesn’t know how to cook. My parenting philosophy has always been that I am training children to be adults, somewhat like a job trainer. I’m teaching them to live without me. It occurred to me that I failed miserably in this case, so I have been teaching her all of those recipes that I would want her to know if I suddenly passed away. I don’t expect that to happen for many years and I hope I’ll be there for her to call on when she has a question, but that’s how I’m going about it. She has a friend that is her age that has no clue how to even boil water because her mother does it for her. I’m sorry, but I think you’re doing your children a great disservice if, by sixteen, they can’t even cook basic foods. You’re not going to live forever. You don’t want your kids living with you forever (or I wouldn’t think you would, anyway). They need to know how to survive. This applies to boys and girls, by the way. Food is a basic need and fast food every night is bad for you. It’s nice to want to do things for your children but you have to let them go off on their own eventually.
Thankfully, my daughter could always boil water. Now she can also cook French toast, spaghetti with homemade sauce, pulled pork, mashed potatoes, and chicken pieces. We’re still working on the rest.
Since I have all of this free time (ha!) on my hands, I’ve been building up my etsy shop. I have enough inventory in there that I can go live and hopefully make a little money before Christmas. Another quilt will be going up some time today. I have a Black Friday sale in the works and I’ll announce that anywhere I can (including here) when I get that together. I also plan to do a giveaway soon to get the word out, and all customers will get a 10% off coupon for their next purchase when they receive their first order. There’s not much I can do other than that, except to watch and wait (and sew). So stop on by and if you find something you like, feel free to buy it. Even if you don’t, remember to support small businesses this holiday season.
First of all, get a pinterest account. Learn how to use it. My parties have gotten a million times better since I did. If you don’t want to do that, then google image is your best friend. Heck, it is even if you do use pinterest. Do research and plan ahead. You can come up with so many ideas using things you already have at home and this will not only save you a fortune but your party will look better for it.
My son turned three today. The party was yesterday. The theme was Sesame Street, mostly because I found invitations that were still in the package for a quarter in June. Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of those but it’s not like I did anything to create them. However, you can go online to a site like this one, where I printed almost all of my printables from, and they also have invitations. As long as you or a close friend has a printer with ink in it, and you have printer paper, you have free invitations.
The first thing we do when I throw a party is eat.
Obviously the things you have in storage are going to vary from what I had but here is what I did. The plates and napkins came from Wal-mart. Grand total for that was (I believe) $2. The forks were in my stored party supplies. We didn’t need spoons or knives. The glass the forks were in came from my cabinet. The tablecover was left from last year’s Wizard of Oz party. I already owned all of the dishes. The picks in the sandwiches were leftover from my daughter’s sweet 16. So were the cups. If I had it to do over with these trays, I would have used shorter cups and left bowls of extra dip on the side but it made the house full of toddlers happy so that’s what matters.
The food was:
A veggie tray designed like oscar the grouch with broccoli, carrots, black olives, and a red pepper slice; The eyes were homemade dill dip (sour cream, fresh dill, seasoned salt).
A fruit tray designed like Elmo with strawberries, blackberries, pineapple, and goldfish crackers in a cupcake wrapper for the nose; the eyes were vanilla yogurt.
Tea sandwiches made from regular white bread (I normally use whole wheat at home but one white bread sandwich won’t hurt anyone), deli ham, and mozzarella; there were no condiments on them because it was easier than pleasing everyone.
I don’t think I spent more than $50 on food, total.
The pasta salad came from a recipe at http://makedinnereasy.com and was called Mediterranean orzo pasta salad. As a side note, if you’re looking for a menu planning site, this one is awesome and free. I’m not getting anything to say that. I truly do feel that way. I haven’t cooked anything yet from her site that I didn’t like.
Here is another photo up close of the veggie and fruit trays.
Of course you have to have something to drink when you throw a party so we had Rubber Ducky punch. The container was one I already had but I bought it fairly recently for $10. It’s a worthwhile investment but I think one with a stand would have been better. At any rate, the punch is half of a gallon of blue hawaiian punch, one liter of gingerale, and half of a quart of pineapple sherbet. The rubber ducky was in the toy box. I cleaned it up and floated it on top. You will want to make sure you use one that has never been in water, though. Those little plastic toys are a breeding ground for black mold once they’ve been in the tub. You can buy a new one for a dollar at any store with a toy section.
Next we played games.
First we played a guess-how-many game. I used one and a half boxes of dots, partly because of the rainbow color and partly because they were cheap. The jar doubled as a centerpiece for the cake table. The fabric and ribbon were in my craft room and the jar was left from a jar of something-or-other that my mom gave me.
My adorable niece won the candy and I used the candle later for the cake.
The next game was Oscar’s trash toss. It involved construction paper, a box, and pieces of paper. It was completely free since I had everything already. Pardon this really crappy photo. I didn’t intend to show this one here but I didn’t get any others.
Our sweet little friend won this one. She won a package of tootsie pop candies that I found for 89 cents.
Then we did Stick The Nose On Elmo. Again, completely free!
Big sister won this one and she also got tootsie candies.
Next up was the cake. Learn how to decorate cakes. Seriously. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Even if you buy a cupcake decorating kit and learn how to make frosting swirls, you will save so much money. The price the stores charge for cakes is ridiculous when you find out how much it costs to make one. The cost of labor doesn’t have to be factored in when you do it yourself.
I explained the cakes more in depth at my other blog, but the cost is figured in to what I mentioned earlier about the expense of food. The plate that the cupcakes are on is something I already owned and the tablecloth is a cloth one I have that I use during the holidays.
Then we opened presents. This didn’t really involve anything I had to make. Big boy got lots of cool presents and it really made his day. His favorite thing was a firefighter costume that he still hasn’t taken off.
We handed out treat bags with an Elmo theme. The bags have been in my cabinet longer than he’s been alive, and the labels all came from the website I mentioned above. I split one box of crayons that I had bought with school supplies between all eight kids, and split one package of goldfish crackers. Everything was wrapped in tissue paper and either taped or tied with ribbon from my stored party supplies. So… maybe $2 was put out for this?
If I had it to do over, I would have used plastic bags or something for the crackers because the grease soaked through, but I don’t think the kids cared.
The only other thing I didn’t get a photo of was the sidewalk. I had one of my older kids write the letter P and the number 3 all over it with sidewalk chalk for a cute entrance.
Disclaimer: Not only am I not a photographer by any means but my camera battery is dead and I can’t find the charger. These crappy photos are only meant to show you what I’m talking about and are not, by any means, intended to look professional.
We took kid 5 to the mall today to walk with his walker. This particular mall doesn’t have much in it, and it’s not the kind of mall where you walk around window shopping, so the corridors are fairly empty.
Two things this mall does have are a used book store and a Salvation Army thrift store. I stopped at both. The book store is just fun to look through and the Salvation Army was because I have gained more weight and my pants don’t fit.
At the book store, I got 2 murder mysteries, 2 quilting magazines, a Scooby Doo movie and 8 children’s books, and hubby got 2 woodworking books, all for $13. One of these was the Disney hardcover version of Prince and the Pauper.
At the Salvation Army, we got 2 pairs of jeans for me for $4 each, a pair for kid 4 for $2, 4 vhs movies for 79 cents each and another (South Pacific) for a quarter. There seems to have been something else too but I forgot what it was.
Then we packed the little ones up in Mike Tyson (our van) and headed over to Goodwill. There, I got a pair of jeans for $3, a pair of dress pants for $2, 2 pieces of fabric to make formal dresses for $2.99 each, 5 sewing patterns for 50 cents each, a bottle of window cleaner and a box of sandwich bags for $1 each, and a yellow dress for kid 4 to wear on Easter for $2.
All of those things are a big score, but it gets better. When I got home, I measured the fabric. One is a purple fabric that would retail at Joann’s for about $6 a yard. Remember, I got the whole piece for $2.99. It turns out that it was 3 3/4 yards so that breaks down to 79 cents a yard. The other fabric was silver taffeta with sparkles on it that normally retails for $7 a yard or so and again, it was $2.99. It was 2 1/2 yards so that’s $1.19 a yard!
Plus, as I’m looking through the patterns, I’m reminded of the best part of buying used patterns for 50 cents. Someone else already did the labor of cutting the pattern out. I absolutely hate doing that and I don’t have to!
Yesterday was a really nice day. My mom came over in the morning and we had lunch together. It was a bacon wrapped pork roast, broccoli slaw, deviled eggs, and au gratin potatoes, then we had candy cane cheese pie and homemade cookies for dessert. It was simple and I only made about half of the above list.
The kids got a ton of loot between us and both sets of grandparents, and also two of their aunts. With five kids, there’s too much to list everything. Santa ended up giving them (from oldest to youngest) a phone, another phone, a baby doll, a marching drum and sticks with other instruments, and a vacuum. There is much, much more, but I’ll spare you.
I got some really nice gifts, too. I would have been happy to just make others happy but it was nice to be thought of. I got a better sewing machine, a 52 ounce refillable mug for the gas station by our house, a container of English Breakfast Tea, an immersion blender (always wanted one of those even though I didn’t ask), a wok (again, didn’t ask but always wanted one), storage bowls, a gardening set, an oven mitt with a brownie mix inside, and a lottery ticket. I didn’t win anything on the ticket but that’s okay. I’m content with what I did get.
Dinner at my mother-in-law’s ran late as always and we didn’t eat until 8:00 so nobody really wanted to hang around for dessert by the time presents were opened. We brought our whole pie home, as well as a big chunk of pineapple upside down cake, a lot of our cookies that we took with, and a mess of other leftovers. I didn’t cook at all today and tomorrow there will be a big salad to go with whatever I do cook.
We got home at around 11:00 and Kid #5 had trouble going back to sleep. Once we got him down, I went to bed and didn’t get up again until 9:30. Then I ended up taking a nap this afternoon. I finally feel a little more human. I just needed the rest. The cold I’ve been dealing with the past few days is easing up and I think with another night of sleep, I’ll really be on the mend.
We missed lighting candles last night for Hanukkah so we made up for that tonight. We have one more night tomorrow night so tomorrow is when the kids get their “big” gifts. It’s not anything that big, really, but they got plenty for Christmas.
We did the first night of Kwanzaa tonight, also. We didn’t do the exact traditions as outlined by my friend and the internet when I consulted them, but we made it work. We worked together to weave mats out of construction paper. There were 4 so we’re using them as regular placemats. We don’t have a Kinara either so I cut one out of construction paper and taped it to a door. We also didn’t have the right color of paper for the candles (no green) so I used white and wrote the English words for the principles on them in the appropriate color crayon. Tonight’s principle was unity and I think working together to make those mats signified unity more than anything else I would have come up with. From here on, we’ll do an activity each night, talk about the principle, and add a yellow “flame” to the paper Kinara. It’s the best I could do on the fly when I’m broke from Christmas, but it was definitely something that brought us together and that’s the point of Kwanzaa (at least partly).
I really feel like I’m offering the kids a lot here by offering them knowledge about other cultures and making these traditions a part of our family. They like it, they enjoy the experience, and we’re making family memories together. All in all, I really like this, even if 11 days with overlapping holidays does get pretty hectic!