A Puzzle for Big Kids (and Moms and Dads!)

I've been doing this puzzle of Northern Africa and Middle East countries for a couple of days now when I have a spare minute and want to unwind online.  I was rather shocked at how little I knew about the geography of those regions!  Eek!  I didn't even know a couple of them were countries!  :)  I'm pleased to say that I now pretty much have it down pat where Turkey and Turkmenistan are in relation to each other, and where almost every other country that ends in "stan" goes (and there are a lot!).  How well can you do?

Happy Friday!


Helping Haiti

If you haven't donated towards rescue efforts in Haiti yet, look for an organization or business that will match your donation and effectively double it.  Design Notes is matching funds up to $25,000 to UNICEF and the homeschooling store CurrClick is matching funds via World Vision (starting with just $5).  I'm sure there are more, but there are two to start the list.  Please leave a comment if you know of other groups.

Please hug your babies, count your blessings, and do what you can to help.

String painting!

Here's a fun way to paint if you've never tried it.  Try string painting!  Simply give kids an assortment of tempera paint colors and a few long pieces of yarn.  Make sure you protect your table and wear craft clothes as this gets messy!


We had fun guessing what each painting was supposed to be.  Victoria had a snake in the desert that I thought might be an exploding sea creature.  :) 

The boys opted to paint with popsicle sticks and fingers, so this is a better craft for slightly older kids.  That's good though, since older kids sometimes get shortchanged on messy crafting.

Happy Thursday!

5 Good Things

In no particular order...

1.  We're halfway through doing this craft
and I hope it looks half as pretty.
I'll let you know!

2.  Magical Mama Sara has written up a list of
20 family activities to enjoy in winter
and had some lovely ideas!

3.  This project is so awesomely cool
that it makes me forget that I never accomplish these projects
and then I always feel like a deadbeat.  ;)
But really!  It's so neat!

4.  Lastly, magical Mama Risa recommended this video
and it's just so delightfully whimsical and brilliant that I had to share it.

And with that, I'm off to sample fresh apple goodies from the oven,
courtesy of a hubby who is woefully unappreciated some days.

Happy Wednesday!


More or Less

This week,


Messy crafts

Cooking with kids

Reading aloud




Fighting siblings

Playing on the internet

Sneaking chocolate

Okay, just a little less.



10 Ways to Make Today Magical (Winter Style for Warmer Climates!)

I've been posting so much winter fun that I've heard from a few people in warmer climates who are wishing they could get in on the spirit.  I asked around for great ideas to have winter fun without cold and snow and got some great answers. 

In honor of you lucky folks in sunny places, here's 10 ways to make a little winter magic in any temperature.

  1. Magical Mama Claire suggests cutting up a billion paper snowflakes to decorate the house.
  2. Find an ice skating rink and go ice skating together.  Magical Mama Natalie says, "Sometimes
    we'll go to the local ice skating area and fill some containers with "snow" the Zamboni has removed from the ice surface.  Makes quick snowballs or use sandbox toys to make shapes."

  3. Make your own snow in a sno-cone maker or with a blender set to crushed ice.  Top with homemade syrup (just dilute condensed juice half and half with water for an all natural recipe or google for the koolaid version).  Or leave plain and eat as snowballs!
  4. Make a big batch of mashed potatoes and make mashed potato snowmen and snow forts at dinner (use ice cream trays for forming the bricks!).
  5. Magical Mama Mary says, "I give the kids a cup or bowl of marshmallows and turn them lose to have a "snowball fight".  We've even done this at the local park in the summer.  The kids love it! Save a few to eat BEFORE they hit the floor or the wall."
  6. Take a page from 5 Orange Potatoes and make Fauna's Melting Flowers (photo above).  Who needs icicles when you can freeze flowers and play melting games?    
  7. Use bananas and various fruit bits to make snowmen on a stick.
  8. Spray fake snow around all the windows and mirrors.  Even better, make epsom salt concoctions to make your own frost for the windows in whatever pattern each child dreams up.
  9. Raid the recycling container for white paper to crumple up and stage a huge snowball fight.
  10. Make your own snowflakes with boiling water and borax, like Martha Stewart.  Please be sure to use care around the borax and kids.  Better yet, dissolve salt or sugar to make the crystals instead.  Keep adding either one until no more will dissolve and then proceed the same.  Supposedly, this method takes a bit longer but it's much safer if you have a child who's likely to mistake it for rock candy!
There you have it, wintery fun no matter where you are!  :)  Have a magical week!  Don't forget to add cocoa!

Blizzard Fun?

We went out of town to visit my hubby's parents and celebrate my birthday, and then got trapped by a winter storm.  There are jackknifed semi trucks, closed roads and no travel is recommended.  Lucky for us, we're at a great motel that gave us a drastically discounted rate.  We're down the street from thrift stores and even got to go to the mall with some friends who live nearby.  Grandma and Grandpa brought the Christmas presents they've been holding onto since we couldn't come up for Christmas, so we have books and toys and all sorts of fun stuff.  I'm having a lovely extended birthday!  See you soon!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Sorry I didn't post 10 ways to make the day magical today.
I was up till 3 a.m. with my hubby and girls and played hooky!
I figured the 100 ways to enjoy winter would do for a bit instead!

I'm off to the wilds of Mankato for a couple of days.
It's my birthday and we're finally going to celebrate Christmas
with the grandparents while we're at it.

Please do all sorts of magical things with your kiddos in my honor
and then post them here.

Okay, at least one?!

...And eat chocolate and be fabulous to yourselves and your kiddos
all day
as a birthday present to me.

Happy Tuesday!  See you in a few days!


100 Things to Do with the Kids This Winter

As promised, here's my list of 100 things I'd like to do with the kids before winter is over...
  1. Spray snow with colored water
  2. Catch snowflakes on our tongues
  3. Go sledding down a really big hill
  4. Blow soap bubbles outside when it's cold enough to shatter them
  5. Make ice ornaments
  6. Bring cookies to the fire department or city offices
  7. Make snow ice cream
  8. Bake no-knead bread
  9. Make homemade marshmallows for hot cocoa
  10. Make snow beasts and funny snowmen
  11. Have a snowball fight
  12. Make homemade bagels
  13. Read a wonderful chapter book together
  14. Post a video on you-tube
  15. Do a photo shoot with each child
  16. Make treats for the birds
  17. Go to the science museum
  18. Send letters to the troops
  19. Go to the mall (this is really rare for us!)
  20. Make a snow fort
  21. Do a lapbook with each child
  22. Have a dinner party for family friends
  23. Look for animal tracks outside
  24. Go ice skating
  25. Bring homemade goodies to the Bakkens
  26. Make real snow cones
  27. Play Hyper Dash
  28. Make our own sprouts
  29. Go visit Tiffany's gang in Nebraska
  30. Make homemade caramel sauce
  31. Volunteer at the humane society
  32. Take pictures outside
  33. Make ice sculptures
  34. Start seeds
  35. Sit in front of the fire at Grandma & Grandpa's
  36. Have a movie camp-out in the living room with the kids
  37. Visit Petco
  38. Play dice games
  39. Capture snowflakes on black paper or glass
  40. Make snow angels
  41. Do a puzzle together
  42. Watercolor paint
  43. Make rock candy
  44. Visit an art gallery
  45. Bake something with apples in the freezer from last fall
  46. Stay overnight at a motel and swim
  47. Do a messy glitter craft
  48. Read a historic novel
  49. Make homemade cheese
  50. Play cards
  51. Scrapbook
  52. Go see a movie
  53. Play charades
  54. Make maple syrup candy in the snow
  55. Write a family song
  56. Go snowshoeing
  57. Buy hyacinths and other blooming bulbs for indoors
  58. Redecorate the kids' rooms
  59. Make crafts to hang from the ceiling
  60. Keep a family journal
  61. Start a rotating nature/oddities display on the hall dresser
  62. Make caramel popcorn
  63. Eat pears we canned ourselves last September
  64. Give each other pedicures
  65. Have a pillow fight
  66. Go maple syrup tapping
  67. Plan our spring garden
  68. Do a photo challenge
  69. Attend a conference, class or workshop for kids
  70. Attend a conference, class or workshop for grown-ups
  71. Shop clearance sales
  72. Visit Erica and her gang
  73. Go out for pie
  74. Attend a nature program
  75. Print out paper toys or paper dolls
  76. Sock skate on the kitchen floor
  77. Try more new recipes
  78. Enjoy a pot of Tiffany tea with cream and sugar
  79. Bake a cake
  80. Stay our pajamas all day long
  81. Bring goodies to the neighbors
  82. Participate in an Unplug Your Kids challenge
  83. Decorate the windows with paper crafts
  84. Get fresh spring rolls from the Hmong grocery in Walnut Grove
  85. Play with snow at the kitchen table
  86. Have a sleepover
  87. Try a brand new craft
  88. Go ice fishing with Grandpa & drive on the lake
  89. Send cards and letters to loved ones
  90. Do science experiments
  91. Have a tea party
  92. Try growing seeds in balloons again
  93. Make crayon shaving pictures
  94. Donate a box of children's books to another family
  95. Go for a walk while it's snowing
  96. Participate in a Valentine swap and make handmade cards
  97. Have a family music day
  98. Study Spain for a week, eat Spanish food and make Spanish art
  99. Breathe on windows and draw designs on them
  100. Read as many winter and snow themed books as we can find, starting with "The Snowy Day."

After making my list, I very nearly even like the idea of winter!  ;) 

No snow where you live?  Here's some snow-themed activities to do anywhere, inside.