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How To Throw A Hot Wheels Birthday Party

How To Throw A Hot Wheels Birthday Party

HotWheelsThemedPartyMy youngest son, Rylyn, just turned 5!  We had such a fun birthday party for him – you see, Rylyn used to love trains more than anything – but as the years have gone by, his love for trains has turned into a love for all things cars, especially Hot Wheels tracks and cars.  He loves them!  When we started to think about themes for his birthday party, we knew we had to do a Hot Wheels themed party.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I love to plan birthday parties for my kids and I love to plan over-the-top fun parties on a serious budget – in my mind, there is no other way to do it!  I think if you work at it, you can absolutely have an amazing birthday party for your child without spending a lot of money – and, you can do it from home (which saves even more money)!

 

I wanted to make this party for Rylyn extra special because it’s the first “friend” party he’s had!  I know what you are thinking, Katrina, he’s 5, why in the world is this his first real party?  Well, I’ll be real honest with you, take a seat…. I’m a mom of 3 kids, and he’s the 3rd kid.  Simple as that – plus I’m smarter now.  :)  I didn’t want to start off this awesome birthday party tradition with Rylyn too soon, because I have many years ahead of fun parties with him.   He’s a crazy boy with so much energy, that I honestly wanted to put off the “friend” parties with him for as long as I could.

 

This was the first year that he finally noticed the fun parties that my other kids had and was already planning his own party.  When I think back on it now, I can’t believe that my oldest son, who turned 10 this year, has had 10 amazing at-home birthday parties.  His parties have been over-the-top!   He’s had really fun themes like: Messy Party, Star Wars, Science Lab, Minute-To-Win-It, etc.  My daughter, who turned 7 this year, has had a few less than my son (you see, I was starting to wise-up).  Her fun at-home parties started when she was 3 with her first “friend” party.  She’s had 4 great years of fun parties with themes like: Tea Party, Italian Cooking Party, Cheerleader Party, Daddy-Daughter Construction Building Party, etc.  Now that we are on to my 3rd, I’m older and wiser and think it’s ok that he’s just starting his “friend” party tradition.

 

When I’m planning a birthday party I start out by making a quick Word doc with all my ideas of themes that they might like.  I then make a guest list and ask for input from my child on who they would like to invite.  We go over the themes and I let them pick one.  Thankfully this year I pretty much knew what theme he was going to pick, it was either going to be Trains or Hot Wheels.  He chose Hot Wheels and I was off the races to start coming up with games and things to do for a November Hot Wheels party indoors with a bunch of 5 year olds.  What in the world can you do inside with car track? I did what any mom would do, I got on Pinterest to see what everyone else has done.  I found a lot of great pins for decorations for a “car-themed” party, but I know my son, and he could care less about the décor, he’s all about the fun things you would DO at the party.  He’s a very active boy and so are his friends, I knew I needed to keep them very busy or I’d lose control of them all.  I really didn’t find very many ideas at all of fun Hot Wheels themed activities we could do and was bummed.

 

It was close to Halloween and I still didn’t know what we were going to do at this party, but I had the invites made, the décor picked out and a cake ordered (from my mom of course).  A local high school in our area was hosting a Halloween Party for little kids, so we got ours all dressed up and headed over there for the free candy!  Once inside they had transformed the whole school into a Candy Land themed Halloween Party with tons of carnival games and it struck me, we could do that for Rylyn’s party!  Carnival type games that are Hot Wheels themed!  Genius!  My older son even mentioned to me much later that we should do a bunch of those simple games for Rylyn’s birthday party because Rylyn had so much fun and so did all the kids his age!  He even offered to help me make the games, and viola, we were off and running.  I was pumped because they all were fairly simple and inexpensive to put together, and they would work as indoor or outdoor games if the weather was nice enough (which at the time I had no idea what the November weather in Colorado would be like).  We got super lucky and had very warm weather the day of his party and could do most of the games outside, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

Here are all the game stations we came up with:

 

  • “Tire Toss” – We set up some old tires which I just so happened to as we had just put new tires on one of our vehicles.  YouHotWheels6 could also use ring shaped floaties used for the pool for kids who can’t swim yet.  You just set up the tires staggered and use beanie bags to toss into the tires.  If they make it into a tire, then they win a prize.
  • “Ring Toss” – We used glow necklaces hooked together to make a ring and had the kids toss them on to yellow caution cones that I happened to have for coaching soccer.  I found both at the dollar store.  The children had to take a “tire” glow necklace and toss it onto the cone.  If they made it, they won a prize.
  • •“Pin Wheel”– Think of Pin the Tail On The Donkey, same idea but I made a big poster board of a Hot Wheels Car instead.  Then I printed and cut out a page of small tires.  At this station, I had my dear friend give each child a tire with some tape on the back and after they spun the child around a few times, blindfolded, they got to try to get their tire on the Hot Wheels Car.  We gave everyone candy for just trying this one no matter where their tire ended up.  I hung this poster on my garage and it worked out great.
  • “Car Walk” – Just think of a good old fashioned Cake Walk!  Same thing, except if your number is called you win candy instead of a yummy baked good.  J I made numbers 1-10 and taped them to my driveway for the kids to walk on.  We played music and when we stopped the music you had to be on a number.  You would then pick a number out of a jar and whatever number was called won a piece of candy.  My daughter helped with this station and loved every second of it.  Hands down, this was the wall time favorite station by all the kids at the party.  I mean, who doesn’t love a good ‘ole cake walk?!HotWheels5
  • “Tire Eating Contest” – This was so fun!!! We hung mini chocolate donuts, which were the “tires” with fishing line from a low branch on our big tree in our front yard all at different lengths.  We then lined all the kids up in front of a donut that hung basically right in their face.  At the same time, with their hands behind their backs, they had to eat the donuts without touching them.  HILARIOUS to watch and so yummy!  The kids loved this one as well.  We only did this station one time as a group.
  • “Car Race”  – this was the last activity.  My older son built a Hot Wheels track that went down our stairs and made the cars go really fast!  We had everyone use the Hot Wheels car they were given from the “Car Fishing” game to face off with each other and see which car was faster.  I initially planned to make a big tournament poster with individual heats for the cars to race, but time got away from me and I realized that being 5 year olds, they didn’t really care who won!  They just wanted to race!
  • “Stop Light Piñata” – I made a VERY simple piñata from a tall rectangular Amazon box and stuffed the candy in the bottom of the box.  Taped it together and then decorated the box by wrapping black streamer paper all around the box completely covering it.  Then I cut out a red, yellow, and green circle from construction paper and taped them on the front of the box and it looked just like a stop light.  We hung the piñata from our front tree and used a very hard baseball bat toHotWheels4 whack it.  I was worried it might have a hard time busting open because it was a real cardboard box, but thankfully, that also meant that each child got to hit the box a few times and then we let the birthday box pound on it until it all feel apart – which he loved.  Was a very cheap way to make an adorable piñata.  This was another all group activity that we did only one time.
  • •“Car Fishing” – This one is where you hold a fishing pole with a string hooked to it, then the child tosses it over a big board and the person behind the board hooks a toy to the string and tosses it back like the child “caught” a fish!  We changed it up a bit and attached a red Solo cup to the end of a string on a wooden pole I had.  When they child tossed it over they were given a brand-new Hot Wheels car in their cup! They all seemed to love this and the best part was that the Hot Wheels cars are usually on $1!  We then planned to have each child keep that Hot Wheels car and use it for the Car Race that would happen later.

 

Other Things I Made:

The Decorations:

HotWheels3If you have read my posts from my other parties, you know I like to keep things cute, but simple and budget-friendly!  Rather than buying official Hot Wheels branded décor, I believe in picking solid colors that match and making my own birthday banners out of poster board and ribbon, and making my own signs and hanging them up.  Plus, we always use matching streamers.  I also made a simple tablecloth for the main table to look like a road.  I picked up a black plastic tablecloth from the Dollar Store as well as some white duct tape made my own road!  It was cute and cheap!  Don’t forget the balloons!  I always get about 10-15 solid color balloons and disperse them around the house – as well as outside so it sets the mood when you guests arrive!  Simple, cheap, and awesome!

Signs:

I made my own signs FREE from my favorite website – Canva, that I glued onto poster board and hung it up near each station.  I also recruited a few parents and family members, even my older kids, to run each station so that they could help the kids and hand out prizes.  My prizes consisted of a lot of candy (that I recycled from Halloween, and small little toys like pencils, erasers, stickers, that were again recycled from Halloween and that I picked up at the Dollar store).  I tried to find some fun Hot Wheels themed prizes, but when they got too pricey, I figured kids love candy and I had a TON from Halloween that was just a week before his party!

Goody Bags:

These were very necessary as the children needed a bag to carry around during the entire party so that they could put all the candyHotWheels2 and treats they won at each station – as well as when we did the piñata.  I kept these simple as well, I just picked up a package of red paper lunch bags that I found from my local Dollar Store and printed out a small tag that I made on Canva.com for each bag that I glued to the front and added each child’s name.  I had these sitting out so each child could grab their bag when they arrived to the party.

The Cake:

My mom is our cake maker extraordinaire!  She makes the cakes for my kids every year and they are  amazing!  The best part about her cakes is that they are gorgeous and usually make for an awesome focal point on the main table.  This year, she out-did herself with a Hot Wheels cake that had a tunnel right through the middle that you could drive a Hot Wheels car through (that was the request from the birthday boy)!   Even if you can’t make an extravagant cake, there are so many cute ideas on Pinterest for cakes, treats, and cupcake that go right along with the theme.  If I didn’t have my mom to make the cake, I was going to go with something simple – a “tire” donut cake!  Just take a bunch of small chocolate donuts and stack them up on a plate just like a bunch of tires. Then stick a candle on top and there you go – a “tire” cake!  Viola and super simple, plus this would be very inexpensive!

Invitations and Thank You Cards:

HotWheels7I also made my own invitations on Canva and used the same layout to make a thank you card.  I like to make invites that are simple 3.5 x 5 in postcards that are 1 sided that I can put in an envelope or pop right in the mail as a postcard.  It’s much faster to just make your own, print them out and mail, versus hunting down a matching invitation at the store and hand-writing in all the info (at least it is for me).  Plus, I love to make stuff on my own and personalize it!

 

It may sound like a lot of work, but besides making the signs and few other décor items, it really wasn’t that bad!  The party was a lot of fun and really you could use the same games to fit any theme for any party!  My son loved this 5th Hot Wheels birthday party and for me, that’s all that matters!

 

 

HotWheelsThemedParty

 

 

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February 27, 20170 commentsRead More
How To Make Dehydrated Apples

How To Make Dehydrated Apples

HowToMakeDehydratedApplesYes, I know it’s summer, but my house smells like Fall!  What’s better in fall you say?  Apple Pie!  Yes!  My house smells like Apple Pie and here’s why – I’m dehydrating a bunch of apples today!  Yummy!!  A neighbor came over and when I opened the door she told me my house smelled amazing and she wondered what candle I had burning!  I told her I didn’t have a candle lit, but was making dehydrated apples – she was impressed!

I’m not kidding, it really smells awesome and I can’t wait to make them this fall!  They are so easy too – and I think they are even easier than the dehydrated bananas.  I sort of feel like I’m a pro now at this (ya know, because I have dehydrated one batch of bananas and one batch of apples – :) – yep just pass me my pro status ribbon right now!) – so I have a few extra tips on how to make dehydrated apples quick and easy.

For starters, my dehydrator only has 4 trays – so I can’t do a lot at the same time, but I did realize you can prep a whole bunch at once and save half the batch for later.  If you have fewer trays like I do, then peel/slice/core your apples and place all the extra apples in a big bowl filled with a bit of water and lemon juice.  Cover and store in your refrigerator until you are ready to dehydrate.  I did one batch during the day (about 8 medium to large sized apples), and then cooked the second batch overnight.  This totally happened by accident, I really had no idea how many apples my trays would fit so I ended up buying a 5 bags of 3 apples each on clearance at the grocery store and prepped all of them at once.  :) Silly me!  But I was happy to prep and save all the extras.  It worked out great!

One other tip, if you plan to do this a lot, then make sure you get an Apple Peeler/Slicer/Corer machine – I know Pampered Chef sells one, so does Williams and Sonoma (which is the brand I have – I’m lucky though, I found mine at Goodwill for $5).  I tend to use mine a lot and it makes the whole process so much faster and super fun for your kids to help with!  It’s messy and sticky, but a lot of fun!

How To Make Dehydrated Apples

You will need:

  • Food dehydrator
  • Small spray bottle
  • 15 medium size apples
  • Juice from one lemon or 2 Tbs of bottled lemon juice
  • Cinnamon
  • PAM or Misto filled with Olive Oil
  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples the same thickness so they dry evenly – 1/4″ is perfect.  I used an Apple Peeler/Slicer/Corer.  I picked mine up at Goodwill for $5 and I LOVE it!  Makes peeling super fast and my kids love to help with it.  Also, apples are sliced the same thickness which is helpful for drying.  If you don’t have a Peeler/Slicer/Corer, you can do it manually.
  2. Lightly srapy your dehydrator trays with olive oil or PAM to help with sticking.
  3. Place apples in single layer on dehydrator trays.
  4. Spray apples with lemon juice from your small spray bottle to keep the apples from turning a yucky brown color.
  5. Lightly sprinkle cinnamon on the apples.
  6. Turn on the dehydrator and set to 135 degrees.
  7. Check apples in 5 hours and consider flipping over (again depends on the design of your dehydrator).
  8. Cook for a total of 10 hours until apples are no longer mushy to the touch.
  9. Store in an air-tight bag or container.

Trust me, you will love how these make your house smell!! Yummy!  Making these apples yourself is super healthy and such a great way to help stretch your grocery budget!  My kids LOVE them and they are a super healthy snack for school!  Win win!

If you try them, let me know what you think!

HowToMakeDehydratedApples

 

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August 2, 20160 commentsRead More
Being A Mom Hurts

Being A Mom Hurts

BeingAMomHurtsWhat is it about a child’s birthday party that can cause so much motherhood turmoil?  Forget about all the stress over color schemes, themes, balloons, food, to make a cake or just provide cupcakes, frosting colors, candles, games, to give out goodie bags or not, and the worst part of all – the guest list.  Serious drama and stress flows out of birthday party planning for me.

Let’s back up a few steps…something you should know about me and my amazing mom.  When I was a kid, my birthday parties were something I looked forward to ALL year long.  My mom would make birthdays super special and over the top!  Plus, she would come up with these amazing themes that she would manage to do on a very tight budget and she always had time to hand make our cakes.  I remember some amazing cakes…there was once an adorable Strawberry Shortcake cake that was a thing of fine art (that cake in the picture is my ACTUAL cake my mom made me when I was 3)!  I also remember the Barbie skirt cake, you know the one, where you stick Barbie on the top of a cake that looks like her skirt.  My mom was doing this 30 years ago, long before this idea was all over Pinterest!  She made birthdays a monumental event that made me feel like the most special kid in the whole world – even if not a soul showed up to it!

Fast forward 30 years later and my mom has successfully passed the birthday party baton to me.  I LOVE planning their parties, I love making a HUGE mess at them, I love seeing the excitement on their faces when their friends come over and truly enjoy their wacky mom.  I love personally hand-making their invitations, and spending hours and hours researching ideas of fun things to do during their parties.  I start planning their parties right after Christmas – 6 months in advance, and I’m not kidding one bit – this gives me 6 months to fine tune the chaos and find the best deals on all the supplies.  Plus, it takes us a very long time to pick out the cake design – and I’m the luckiest mom in the world because my mom still creates amazing cakes for their parties each year (plus, sometimes I even get to help – but my mom is the true artist for all things cake – I’m better with paper).

As you can see, I’m pretty psychotic about birthdays and I’m learning this year that I care about them so much more than my kids do.  While I’m glad to learn this lesson – talk about huge reality check – it’s still really sad at the same time.  And it should come as no surprise that I care more about who all can come to their parties than they do.  Which is sooooo silly!!!

More experienced moms tell me, “You will hurt so much more than your kids hurt, when they are hurting” – it’s silly, but it’s so true.  Classic example – remember that one time when you were younger and all the other kids got picked for the game of dodgeball and you were the last one chosen?  Ouch.  Or that time you were hoping the really cute boy would ask you to Prom – but he asked your best friend instead?  Or that time you didn’t get invited to that one birthday party that all your other friends got invited to?  (I was there – more times than I would like to admit – break out the Double Stuffed Oreos right now).

I’ve honestly not experienced this whole idea of ‘hurting more than my kids are hurting’ very much yet.  My kids are not that old yet – and my oldest is a boy – he just doesn’t have much drama yet – or maybe he just doesn’t get involved in it, but it’s happened a lot more than I would like lately with my 1st grade daughter.  School is hard for girls and the drama starts at a young age.  She has had a rough year, she tries to act brave when she’s not included with her friends, but I’ve seen the tears that she wipes away when no one is looking, and it totally kills me!

I’m learning that I really do hurt so much more than they do, which makes me feel like a total wimpy mom.  If my daughter can absently brush off not being invited to a birthday party, why can’t I brush off the fact that she was not invited?  I mean seriously, who is the adult here?  This is my time to admit just how human I am.  I’m still that kid who didn’t get invited to the “cool girls’” birthday party because I wasn’t stick thin and didn’t have long hair.  My mom likes to tell me that I was “too cool” for all those girls, but it still hurts when you are left out – and it still hurts you as a mom when your child is left out, not picked, bullied, etc.  I personally think it hurts us as moms so much because it feels like they are not picking us – even though it really has nothing to do with us!

You would think that as a grown woman I would have this figured out and would know not to take things so personally – especially when it’s usually out of no spite at all that our child was not chosen.  It’s just life.  Plain and simple.

My mom gave me some great advice and thoughts to ponder when you find yourself in this situation – because I’m sure if you are not in this situation yet, you will be soon!

  1. Being a mom hurts, but is so joyful too!
  2. God knows what is going on with each situation your child is in.  He is watching and is there for every part of it.
  3. God uses these hard situations to teach us about life and how to personally treat people.  Also how to develop compassion for others that we hurt.
  4. When you kids are hurt it teaches them what real love is, and ugly sorrow lets us learn the true meaning of joy.
  5. Our job as moms is to teach our kids from God’s perspective through these types of situations and at the same time God will use it to teach us moms as well.
  6. God loves you.  Before, during and after anything that happens, He loves you and longs for you to be loved by Him.

Isn’t my mom amazing?!  Now I need to let her advice and words sink in.

Hugs momma!  Praying for you all!

BeingAMomHurts

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May 23, 20162 commentsRead More
7 Budget Birthday Party Ideas For Girls

7 Budget Birthday Party Ideas For Girls

budgetfriendlybirthdayI’m a big planner – I like to start planning for my kids’ birthday parties about 4-5 months in advance.  I do this because I’m a tad bit neurotic, but I also do this to save money.  When you plan in advance, you are able to start thinking about what you’ll need and can pick those items up whenever you see them on sale, instead of having to buy them the week of the party at a more expensive price.  You can always save more money when you have more time to shop around.  To save money you need to be consistently patient as you look and wait for deals.  My two oldest kids have birthdays 2 weeks apart, so I tend to plan way in advance because I have to do two parties near the same time.  While researching ideas, I’ve gathered my top 7 unique, easy, and frugal birthday party ideas for girls.  My daughter’s birthday comes first and she is turning 7 this year, and after gathering all these great ideas from other amazing moms, we have picked the theme for her party that I’ll tell you all about in the next few months!

Top 7 Unique, Easy, and Budget-Friendly Birthday Party Ideas for Girls 

  1. Art Party - There are lots of things I love about this party, especially the 6 layer rainbow cake!  Being an artist myself, I love the idea of sharing that love with a bunch of other little artists!  If you have a budding artist, this is a great party idea with lots of ways to keep the kids busy!  I’ve tried the marble painting idea in this post and it’s so much fun.
  2. Slumber Party - Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned slumber party?  There are so many fun things you can do with the actual ‘slumber party’ being the theme of the party.  I love the revised Spin the Bottle game – I know my daughter would love this since she loves to paint her nails all the time!  There are many other good ideas on this post of frugal and fun ways to have a great time hosting a slumber party that your daughter and her friends will love!
  3. Cheerleading Party - My daughter loves cheerleading and this is the party we did for her last year which had a cheerleading theme!  We made easy invitations from home and had very simple decorations.  All the girls got their faces painted, they got to make their own megaphones out of poster board, and they made simple hair ties to match their new pom poms.  As an added bonus they got to learn a cheer and they performed it for the parents!  If your daughter loves cheerleading, check out this very budget-friendly cheer party!
  4. Cooking Party -  Such an adorable idea for a party!  The cooking courses are simple and fun and what could be easier than salad on a stick and english muffin pizzas?  Yummy!  Instead of having to make an elaborate cake all the children get to decorate cupcakes instead!  With cooking as the theme, you don’t have to purchase any extra snack foods! Great for your future chef and her friends!  I’ve even seen some easy chef hats on Pinterest that you can make out of poster board and tissue paper that are adorable!
  5. Tea Party - What group of girls doesn’t love to get dressed up and have a fancy tea party?  Adorable and budget-friendly ideas on how to decorate and save money on the entire party.  Wait until you see the fancy cake!  This party is so cute and fancy and will be a big hit that I’m sure your daughter and her friends will remember for a long time!
  6. Science Party - Do you have a future scientist who loves to experiment?  She and her friends will love this science themed party full of frugal science experiments that will have them in awe!  I really like the notebook idea for young scientists to take notes about each experiment, as well as the great idea for lab coats.  Plus, a party schedule and printables are also included!
  7. Breakfast In Your PJ’s Party – YUMMY!!! This party includes all things breakfast – doughnuts, pancakes, cereal, and all while in your pajamas!  What fun?!  This party is great if you don’t feel like doing the sleepover the night before, but want to still achieve the same sort of idea.  The pancake relay game sounds like a lot of fun and is super simple to do.  All in all, this looks like a great party theme with some really simple and yummy food!

So many great ideas by some amazing bloggers!  I hope you all enjoy this list as much as I do and that it gives you lots of great ideas for the next birthday party you host.  Sometimes the best ideas are the simple ones!  Enjoy!

Ibotta-logoDon’t forget to shop early, use your coupons and pay attention to all the great extra savings you can achieve using my favorite coupon app – IBOTTA - when you are buying items you need for your party.  The great thing about signing up with IBOTTA is that you will automatically earn a $10 rebate after you redeem your first offer!  It’s a quick way to not only save money, but make money!

If you plan to purchase anything online such ebatesas party decor, make sure you use eBates to earn extra cash back on everything you purchase!  eBates is a great site that you will want to check out and start using anytime you shop online – it’s very simple, you just use the eBates site to earn additional cash back on your online purchases.  You can shop at major retailers like Walmart and Target and earn an additional percentage back on your total purchase!  When you refer your friends to eBates they pay you $25 for each referral!  It’s another great way to save and make money!

 

All photos and content are copyrighted and from the original blogs on which they reside.

Some links in this post are affiliate links, thanks for using them – while they help you save monney, they also support me and my blog.

budgetfriendlybirthday

 

 

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March 7, 20161 commentRead More
Why My Children Do Chores

Why My Children Do Chores

WhyMyKidsDoChores1Are you one of those moms that does too much because you have children that don’t do very much.  Make it your goal to work yourself out of a job.  If a child can play a game on your iPad, he/she can help with chores.  Now doesn’t that hit you like a ton of bricks?  When I first read this, I was in total agreement.  It’s so true.  Sometimes, we as moms, do way too much for our kids.  You know how it goes, your oldest child might tend to spill too much so it’s easier for you to pour the milk for cereal rather than letting him try, spill, learn, and you’re on your way out of a simple job.  I’m totally guilty of this.  I hate messes, so I tend to do way too many little jobs for my kids just to make sure there is a not a huge mess to clean up afterwards.  But I know I’m just making my job as a mom harder in the long run.  Kids need to learn to help even if it makes a bigger mess.

Confession time…when I was a kid I remember my mom making me and my brother do a lot of chores around the house.  The worst one of all was dusting and I had the lucky job of dusting this curio cabinet that had glass shelves.  I had to take every single little Precious Moments figurine that my mom collected off each shelf and make sure the shelf was dust free.  This job was so awful!  It was meticulous and took what seemed like FOREVER to do.  The worst part to doing a lot of my chores as a child was that even though I ‘thought’ I was doing a really good job as a 10 year old, my mom would always come along after and redo whatever I had just done, because it wasn’t done as good as she would have done it.  It always used to really drive me crazy – I never could figure out why I needed to waste the time doing the chores if she was just going to redo them anyways.  I catch myself doing the same thing to my kids.  Why???  I have no idea, except that I’m a crazy neat freak.  But I’m trying really hard to not redo their work anymore.  I’m trying very hard to remember how old they are and what their actual abilities are and then asses their level of efficiency and effort.  Your kids absolutely should be helping you around your house.  They live there for free – so they should pitch in and help!

So the next question becomes, what chores should your kids do and should you pay them to do those chores?  Here’s what I think.  Yes, yes, yes!  I’m a big Dave Ramsey follower and we love his ideas on kids and money!  Dave believes that you, as parents, are the boss and your kids are your employees.  As a boss your kids work for you, and they should earn commission.  When they work, they get paid.  When they don’t work, they don’t get paid.  Simple as that.  It works too!  It also teaches kids the value of money.  Rather than just paying them because they breathe, this forces them to equate working hard for the money they want to spend on fun things.  This idea works really well when your children are old enough to really understand what their money can buy them.  We have three kids, ages 4, 6 and 9 right now.  We started doing commission for chores when my oldest was 4.  At that age he did very simple chores and was paid at the end of each week.  From his weekly commission earnings he would then distribute that between three different envelopes for Giving, Saving, and Spending.  We have taught all 3 of our kids these concepts and they each have a list of chores based off their ages and abilities that they earn commission for.  This process forces the kids to see chores not so much as a chore, but as a job they can earn money for.  When there is a special toy they want to buy we often have some requests for extra chores in order to earn bonuses, and sometimes they do business deals with each other - getting paid from a sibling to do their chore!  It’s great! To a mompreneur like me, I love seeing business deals happen with my young children (and so far, they have been very fair)!
Just in case you are wondering what type of chores I have my kids do each week here is a quick list:

9 year old:

  • Undo the dishwasher/Set the table (alternates with 6yr old)
  • Shovel the driveway and back patio (in the summer instead of this he cleans up dog poop)
  • Clean room and make bed
  • Vacuum
  • Take out trash

6 year old:

  • Undo the dishwasher/Set the table (alternates with 9yr old)
  • Dust
  • Clean room and make bed
  • Sharpen pencils (in summer instead of this she waters the flowers)

4 year old:

  • Collects the newspaper from driveway
  • Feed the dogs/let’s them out in morning
  • Make bed
  • Collect trash

Bonuses (when I’m feeling generous… I don’t always pay for these things, but sometimes I do, especially when they help without being asked and without expecting a bonus):

  • Clean the bathroom
  • Sweep/Mop kitchen floor
  • Clean basement toy room
  • Clean glass windows and patio doors
  • “Help” mow the lawn and trim bushes
  • Unpacking groceries and helping put food away
  • Prepping/Washing weekly veggies
  • Cooking
  • Pitching in and helping mom with whatever job she is doing without being asked

Do your kids do chores?  What ages and chores do they do?  Do you pay them?  Would love to hear what you have tried and what works for your family!  Hugs to all!

WhyMyKidsDoChores1

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January 25, 20162 commentsRead More
How To Get Your Family To Eat Leftovers

How To Get Your Family To Eat Leftovers

20151218_184051There is a simple solution to leftover boredom and it’s called…Mystery Dinner!  It’s been a really long week, Christmas is just around the corner and I’ve been sick with a terrible sinus infection for the last 14 days – so as you can imagine, this momma is tried and didn’t want to cook.  I realized that I had cooked quite a bit this week so we had a bunch of random leftovers. While I don’t really like leftovers all that much, I do like that they are  a great way to be economical and save my household some money.  You know me, I love saving 20151218_182101 money!

The average American household throws away a lot of excellent food, in the form of leftovers, just because eating out is a more fun, or because they just don’t like leftovers.  While I completely agree, eating out is a lot more fun, I do love coming up with a ways to save m20151218_182343oney and if eating our leftovers will do that, then I’m all for eating what’s left in the refrigerator. Tonight we had a bunch of things to choose from, but not enough of any one thing to feed us all, so I decided to have a special “Mystery Dinner” like my mom used to do when I was kid!  In fact, my amazing mother still has Mystery Dinners with my kids when they are at her house!  If you have never had a Mystery Dinner then you are in for a real treat!

All you need to do is get out all the leftovers and start coming up with some fun and mysterious names for each dish.  Add them all to a hand-written menu and call your family to dinner!  Have each family member choose a few items from the menu without telling them what they are actually ordering.  It can be pretty funny when their plate is served and it has some pretty interesting items on it!  I pulled out these leftovers from my refrigerator:  homemade chicken noodle soup, bow-tie buttered pasta noodles, Italian sausage and pasta sauce, edamame, taco meat, Mexican rice, sweet potato hash, chips and salsa, yogurt, and bananas.  Like I said, a wide variety of random stuff!  I started trying to come up with some menu items based off what I had and here is the list I came up with:

Main Dish:

  • Frozen Snow Balls - buttered noodles20151218_182427
  • Melted Snow Balls - buttered noodles with italian sausage and pasta sauce
  • Lily Pads - edamame
  • Shoveled Snow - sweet potato hash
  • Frozen Rock Canyon - nachos created from the taco meat, mexican rice and chips and salsa

Dessert:

  • Grassy Field - Key Lime yogurt with banana and a shortbread cookie
  • Sunset - Raspberry yogurt with banana and a shortbread cookie

I g20151218_182153ot everything warmed up then I called my family to dinner!  For special effect I made them go outside and ring the doorbell!  Once they came in, I escorted them to their table (which was just the regular kitchen table) where I placed a menu and a couple card games to keep them busy while I prepared their order.  I got my notebook and pencil and waited on them.  After reading the menu everyone just giggled!  They had no idea what was what!  It was a blast!  I allowed them each to pick three items listed under Main Dish to get the ball rolling.  When their food arrived they all laughed, a few were pleasantly surprised, and one was not happy at all about his Melted Snow Balls!  After they all figured out what each menu item was they asked for their favorite item as a second helping.  Next, they all wanted to order dessert and thankfully, everyone was happy about it!20151218_184328

Overall, the night was really fun!  We ate up a lot of our leftovers and I didn’t have to spend hours in the kitchen making a brand new meal.  :)  We saved money and also had fun creating a brand new family memory.  I can tell you, days later that I overheard the kids talking about how much fun they had at Mommy’s Mystery Diner and they couldn’t wait to do it again!  I dare you to give it a try – pull out those leftovers, put your creative cap on and have some fun with your family!  I’m so glad we did!

Have any of you ever tried a Mystery Dinner?  How did it go?  What did you serve?

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December 21, 20150 commentsRead More
How I Potty-Trained My Stubborn 3 Year Old

How I Potty-Trained My Stubborn 3 Year Old

 

How I Potty TrainedOk, this might be a dicey topic to tackle but I’m going to share my journey to potty-training my very stubborn, strong-willed 3 year old.  Meet Rylyn, my adorable, fun-loving, very adventurous, super strong-willed 3 year old son.  Rylyn turned 3 in November of last year, depending on who you ask he is either ‘way past the age he should be potty trained‘ or ‘just barely 3.’  If you are still scratching your head trying to figure out how old he is, he’s 3 years old and 3 months.  Ever since he turned 2 I’ve had friends, relatives and random moms I’ve met ask me when I’m going to get him potty-trained.  It’s like there is some unwritten rule that every child must be potty trained as soon as they have their second birthday or you as a mom are doing a terrible job being their mom.  I’m here to say, that is absolutely WRONG!  Hate me if you want, but it’s wrong.

Here’s my story.  I’m a mom of 3 children.  Rylyn is my third child.  Oh I can hear the gasps out there – yes he is my third child, this is myrylyn_jeep third time down the potty training road.  Before Rylyn was born I was on the same team that said you should really have your child potty trained sometime after they turn 2, and if it took until they were 3, then your mommy potty training skills must be lacking.   Let me take a minute to explain my older two children.  My oldest son, Coen, is a very inquisitive, too-smart-for-his-own-good type of child and he was interested in the toilet and how it worked when he was a year old.  By the time he was 18 months old he was asking to use the potty like a “big boy.”  Before his second birthday he was completely potty-trained, and at the time I totally thought that was because I was an amazing mommy that deserved a “gold star” in all things potty training.  In reality his personality was one that went hand in hand with being potty-trained early.  I got lucky, and he was my first!

My middle child, Makenzie, is a very agreeable, easy-going girl.  She loves to please and do what she is told and is always wanting to help mommy with everything.  I was due to have my third child, Rylyn,  in November, and had no intention at all of trying to potty-train Makenzie before he was born since she had just turned 2 in June.  I vividly remember being hugely pregnant with Rylyn, and planning to go grocery shopping with Makenzie one Sunday morning.  Before we left she very shyly asked me if she could wear panties that day.  We had never talked about potty training or even had her sitting on the potty or wearing Pull-ups.  I was surprised she asked, and thought it was the worst possible timing to potty train just weeks before Rylyn was born.  But, I said ok, and she never once had an accident in those panties.  She knew she was ready and it was a non-issue.  Done and done.  Now, again, I was giving myself a huge pat on the back and claiming my next mommy potty-training trophy.  In reality, she’s a girl, she just got it, and she decided she was ready.  I got really lucky with her too.  (She’s like this with a lot of things so far, she’s just a great kid and easy to be a mom to – she makes me look like I’m doing a good job being a mommy).

Kat_Rylyn_zooNow, let’s move on to my third boy, Rylyn.  He is very sweet, but full of spice little boy.  He goes 100 miles an hour all the time, and would leap tall buildings if he was allowed to.  He’s very stubborn and loves to throw tantrums anytime he doesn’t get his way.  He’s like fire and ice – all the time.  Now, when this child turned 2 he had no idea what the potty was for and didn’t care one bit – all he cared about were his trains.  At 2 and half, I was hoping and praying he would get a clue about the potty, but still showed no interest and in fact cried when the little potty magically showed up in the bathroom one day.  Around this time a lot of his little friends were starting to use the potty, he still showed no interest at all.  When he turned 3, I was really starting to stress about it.  I had well-meaning friends and family members ask me over and over when I was going to get on the ball and get him potty trained.  I’ll tell you what mommas – I chose not to listen to any of them, and here is why.  I’m his mother and I know my child best.  Period.  What I know about my child was that he is stubborn and pushing him to do something was going to make him dig in his heels even more.  I also know that he is a very smart child – so trying to bribe him with little gifts, or toys, or candy wasn’t going to work (we had tried that for a few weeks and nothing was motivating him).   Thirdly, after having two other kids go down the potty training road, I do know that their body needs to be ready and so does their mind, the two have to work together in order for potty training to click – and Rylyn at the age of 3 just wasn’t ready – he just didn’t get it and he didn’t care.

So, we didn’t push him.  We noticed he was starting to put the pieces together when his favorite cousin was visiting for Christmas (his cousin is about 5 months younger) and was regularly using the potty.  For whatever reason, Rylyn really seemed to pay attention and we noticed he started to get embarrassed when his diaper was messy.   About three weeks later, out of the blue Rylyn asked me if we could go to the store and buy some Chuggington (his favorite thing in the world) underwear because he was ready to be a “big boy!”  And later that day, we did just that.  He picked out his new underwear and it was a done deal.  I knew he just needed to make up his own mind to do it and as much as I pushed him, he was going to push back.  So we just stopped pushing and removed all the pressure and he just decided.  He is now 3 years and 3 months old and wears his underwear proudly everyday and has had very few accidents.  I’m completely confident that he gets it and I don’t stress about him having an accident when we are out and about.  I’m so glad that I listened to my own intuition and I didn’t force it on him.   I’m very proud of my little guy and the potty-training journey we went on together!

My advice if you are knee-deep in potty training woes:

  • Don’t listen to what anyone else says is the right time for your child.
  • Listen to your intuition.
  • Pay attention to your child – after all you know them pretty well.
  • Don’t put any pressure on yourself or your child to be trained by a certain time or date.
  • Find what motivates them – if it’s a toy, or candy, etc – and use that to your advantage.  (For Rylyn it was being a “big-boy” like his siblings and getting special “big-boy” privileges such as going to the “big-boy” class a church rather than the nursery with the babies)
  • Encourage them through the whole process.
  • Learn to bite your tongue when you are frustrated or when they have an accident.

You got this momma!  Potty-training is so hard, but chin up!  One day you will look back and can have a party when you get to pass all those unused diapers on to someone else!  WAHOO!

Comment below and share with me what things you have tried on your very own potty training journey.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What mistakes did you make?  What do you wish you have done differently?  I’d love to help, if you need advice or tips let me know! Hugs!

How I Potty Trained

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February 4, 201511 commentsRead More
Help! I’m A Control Freak

Help! I’m A Control Freak

I know I’m a control freak, but nothing proves that more than when we do arts and crafts around my house, especially crafts that involve paint. Ok, sopainting3 today I decided it would be a great idea to do a painting project that I heard about. I’m enough of a control freak, that when I heard about this craft I was thinking that it would be the perfect craft to do because it didn’t sound very messy at all, and it was something that all three of my kids would enjoy doing. Boy was I wrong! Let me start at the beginning…

It’s late November, it’s cold outside today, super cold and snowy. We are on Thanksgiving break from school so all three kids are home and it’s not vacation time yet for my hubby, so I’m entertaining the kids this week until Thanksgiving day by myself. We don’t have any family visiting this year, so there are no cousins to play with and most of our friends are busy traveling that we don’t have a lot of playtime with our friends. We are basically stuck inside for 3 days and if I don’t plan things to do for the kids, I (yes, me) go crazy with them asking to play computer or watch movies all day (I think technology has a way of sucking their brains cells and turning them into little devils so I don’t like to let them play too much). My usual go-to when it’s cold out is to painting4craft something. My older kids LOVE to do crafts, my youngest, not so much.

Let me pause for a quick background on me to help you understand my craziness even more: I’m an artist. Yep. I am.  I’m a huge crafter, I love to scrapbook, draw with chalk, was an art major in college and have a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. So I’m used to be wild, fun, “out-there” and getting messy.  But as I’ve already mentioned, I’m also a huge control freak who likes to be clean and I tend to clean up as I go when I’m being creative.  I’m much more creative with organized chaos

You would think that getting messy and having fun is what my house is like every day right? So 100% WRONG! I’m such a crazy control freak that I hate when things are messy. Hate it. Imagine trying to raise kids and be such a crazy control freak that you go nuts when they get messy? Do you know any moms that have a huge stash of Wet Wipes in their giant purse they can grab at a moment’s notice when their kids spill Ranch on their shirts, or literally waste an entire package of wipes when you are painting something because they are constantly making their kids wipe their hands every time they get a drop of paint on them? That’s me! I am that mom! UGGGGGH!!!! I must have the best kids in the world because they put up with my crazy neat-freakinesspainting7 and still want to keep doing crafts with me.

So back to our craft from today, it was a painting craft. You get a giant oatmeal container and roll a piece of paper and drop it in the container, and then you coat a few marbles with paint and shake them up inside the container. The paint stays in the container for the most part and it makes a really cool design on the paper. Sounds innocent enough right? I thought so too…but gosh, this was super messy. First off getting paint on the marbles is super complicated – it gets all over your fingers and I had wet wipes flying in the air trying to keep up with the kids and the paint drips. Don’t get my started on trying to get the marbles out of the containers…I had marbles flying all over the kitchen and because they are covered with paint they are super slippery and were rolling all over the table and floor and one even went flying across the room and covered my blinds with a nice line of red paint (because someone forgot to put their lid on their oatmeal container – he shall remain nameless). At first, I felt like a fireman flying around the kitchen trying to keep up with the fires that each one of my kids was setting, but after I yelled for the fifth time and was diving across the floor trying to save the runaway marble that was leaving a line of purple paint all the way to the laundry room, I seriously burst out laughing! The kids laughed, we all did, and the tension in the room that I had created with trying to stay “clean” dissipated! Yeah, we made a total mess, but it was so much fun! I was covered in paint from head to toe (seriously…head to toe), but it was washable paint, and the giggles that escaped my kid’s lips will be a sound I won’t easily forget. The fun was well worth every painting1spot of paint I had to clean up later.

So my point in all of this (and my point to myself) – relax and allow yourself to get messy (Katrina). Enjoy your kids and don’t yell at them when they are making a mess – after all, they are just kids (Katrina, are you listening?). Let them be creative and get dirty. My oldest tends to be pretty messy with just about everything – he always has stains on his clothes either from food or markers, but he’s very creative and he needs the freedom to get messy in order to be creative. I need to chill out – BIG TIME, with him and just let him be himself.

I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings.” –Psalm 116:11 The Message 

Such a powerful verse and such a good reminder.  As moms, God calls us to nurture our kids and love them as they are – just like He loves us as we are. So, if you are a control freak like me, chill out and focus on the blessings God has given you. Go get really messy and do it with your kids, and choose to laugh the whole time. After you are done, you will be thankful you allowed yourself the fun time with your kids and you will feel incredibly blessed. Promise. I sure did, and I mean that. After I chastised myself out loud, then told myself to chill out and have fun, finally, we all had a great time! We made some really pretty art too!

If you are a control freak like me then chill out, relax, and get messy! Hugs!

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November 25, 20140 commentsRead More