It’s Shark Week Viewing Game!

You know how crazy we are about Shark Week! It is a family tradition for us, we watch each night and celebrate the week! I really should work for Discovery promoting them…

This week we are playing a game as we watch. I saw a drinking game that you can play while you watch and didn’t really think it would be appropriate for the kids, and not really for us as we don’t drink. However, if you do, just know that it is out there! LOL!

I changed it up a little and created the Shark Week Viewing Game game you see above.

The kids are going to get little bags or containers and as we play if they earn points we are going to use something like beans, or M&M’s as the points. You could also just use an old fashioned pen and paper to keep track!

This is a fun way to spend some time as a family and hang out together!

Weekend Trip To San Antonio!

The Alamo night

When we have the chance, we often take a weekend trip to San Antonio. It is really one of our favorite cities. We have been coming here for the weekend since the kids were little, there is just so much to do!

We left late Friday night and as my tradition, I have Paul take me by the Alamo. It is silly, but I always cry when I am here. The reason why is a number of things, the history, the story, the bravery, how young all the men were, having an ancestor who fought here, and just the reverence of the building. I won’t ever get tired of visiting.

We headed to our hotel, and got everyone settled. They were exhausted thankfully and quickly fell asleep. We get 2 rooms now that everyone is bigger and I use a kids travel bed for the little ones.

the alamo day

We have been hosting an 18 year old semi – pro soccer player for the summer and since he was done with soccer, we wanted to take him to see some of Texas. That would be McKinnlee on the far right, towering above my little family! :)

It took him a little time to get used to all the kids, but I think he was sad to go yesterday when he left!

ripley's

The Alamo is right in the middle of the city. Parking can be a little tricky, but if we can do it in “the beast” anyone can find a spot! Across the street from the Alamo is an entire 3 blocks of funky and fun shops. They also have the Ripley’s Believe it or Not venue and Guinness Book of World Records.

On this trip we were able to check out these attractions thanks to the San Antonio passport. If you ever need any help deciding what to do in San Antonio, make sure to check out Visit San Antonio for everything with help from finding a hotel, to finding events.

sea world day

Sea World is a tradition for us every year and they had the new Aquatica open this year. It is a HUGE water park where you can get up close to birds and even swim with the sting rays.

Paul and I got the last 2 spots to swim with the sting rays for the day and that was a blast! It was $20 a person for about 20 minutes. They were like little puppies all looking for some food! The kids sat on the side all grouchy that we were having all the fun. For $5 you can sit on the side and feed them. which is worth a try as well.

sea world sign

Ok this is what I like the best. You can being a small cooler into Sea World, which for me with all my little kids is a big deal. I love that I can bring in water (I freeze it first so it is cold all day) and snacks. The cooler can’t be bigger than 12 inches on any side.

Plan on spending all day at the park and even maybe a 2nd day if you have the time.

Magic Time Machine

Tradition for us is always to go to Magic Time Machine. This is on of the most bizarre restaurants you will ever go to, and make sure to ask where the bathroom is…. :)  The waiters and waitresses all dress up like a character, some have been the same one for 9 years or more.

I usually get a gift certificate HERE. Currently they have a $50 gift certificate for only $30.

paul driving

Traffic has always been a little heavy on 1-10 into Houston on a Sunday afternoon. But it gives us time to hang out as a family in the car, which believe it or not we like to do.

One my most favorite things in the world is to be on the highway with all the kids, this guy ^^^^ driving and some good music on. If you are thinking of San Antonio, you won’t be disappointed. Make sure to message me with any questions and I can help you plan a weekend trip!

 

How to make a Harry Potter Wand


Follow Me on Pinterest

We spent the weekend being crafty. My kids are on a BIG Harry Potter kick, about 5 years behind the times, but loving it none the less. We watched most of the movies in the car on the way to and from California and all over Arizona and Texas this past month. They turn everything from straws. to sticks to  granola bars into magic wands.

I love listening to them and watching the big kids get completely involved and play along. In fact, we have made up a list of our own “Ivanovsky Spells.”

My Favorite? In place of one of the more popular Harry Potter spells “expelliarmus” the Ivanovsky version is “smelly lamas.” I am sure you can see how the rest of them go!

My oldest has a “real” Harry Potter wand he got one year from Santa, it was the pricy kind at $40 that is motion activated. The little kids drug it out and have been fighting I mean sharing it nicely all week. They had a lemonade stand earning $42 and decided to pool the money to buy another wand. Like that is  going to go well…

My crafty 8 year old got online and found many different sets of instructions on how to make a wand. The other kids shook their heads and said “no!” She begged me to help her make one. Since I had just about everything I said sure, and we got started.

You will need: 

  • Glue Gun / Glue Sticks (about 3 large ones for each wand)
  • Craft Paint (we liked metallic and glitter)
  • Construction paper
  • Chop Sticks or wooden dowels
  • Elmers Glue
  • Marble or something to put at the handle end. We found a bag of wedding gems at Walmart for $3.50 that worked perfectly.

Place glue on one side of any color of construction paper.

Take your chop stick and roll from the corner tightly.

When I got to the end, I taped the corner down and we left them to dry.

Now, when they are all dry, you will need to cut off the ends so they are flat.

Working with one end, I filled the end with hot glue and stuck the end of the gem in. I turned it upside down and held it until the glue had set.

The bigger kids started to take notice and thought we might be onto something cool, so they started making their own construction paper tubes!

Once the top was set, I took more hot glue and make rings around the gem and tube reinforcing it even more. I needed them to be sturdy!

This is where your glue gun skills come in handy! If you lived though the craft phase of the 90′s you know what I mean! :)

Start from the below your gem/marble and start building up a few layers of glue. I tried to spread it down, and as it would drip I would roll it around, making some kinda funky patterns.

The thickest layers need to be at the top and get thinner as you go towards the bottom. Just keep in mind what a wand might look like with a handle.

Once you have the first 1/2 of the wand done and before the glue cools, use the tip and make designs in the glue. This will give your wand cool dimensions and areas to paint when you are finishing it.

Once the glue has cooled, you will paint a coat of solid black over the wand as a primer.

The black really pulls out all the 3D of the glue. They start looking really cool at this point.

By now, I have all 7 kids making a wand :)

Once the black has dried, you can start painting your wand. My kids liked the glitter and metallic paint for theirs. We used gold a lot for the accents.

They took a few coats because of a few mind changes. Plus a few hours of drying time. But once they were done I thought they looked REALLY cool!

The kids were really proud of themselves as well. The big kids were so impressed they wanted to have friends over to make some with them!

These are our finished Harry Potter wands. They are very sturdy and really neat looking! When you feel them it is hard to imagine that they are made of chop sticks, construction paper and hot glue!

I added a few more lines of hot glue at the end on the wands where I painted the gold you can see to give them more of a 3D look then they already had.

For the other end, the kids went out and grabbed a few little rocks and we glued them in. One of the kids use a small gem for theirs, and one of the kids didn’t want anything and I filled the end with hot glue. These really feel like they were made out of wood.

They spent all day playing with them.

One final step that I have not done yet but will when I can get them back is to take a few small drops of black paint and mix it in a lot of water to create a wash. I want to “antique” them some and so I will brush the paint water on and then wipe it off so it creates an antiquing effect.

Cost of a fancy Harry Potter wand: $40  x 7 kids = $280!

Total cost of our Harry Potter wands: $21 for 7!

I am assuming you have a glue gun in those calculations! I had to buy some paint, the gems, and more glue sticks. Total saved = $259. Now if I can just figure out how to make them light up!
Follow Me on Pinterest

4th of July Candy Craft Snack – Candy Kabobs


If you want to keep your kids (and husband) busy for a while, you can try this cute candy snack that we make for the 4th of July each year to take with us as we watch the fireworks!

All you need are some lollipop sticks or skewers and soft candy. I used mostly gummy candies. I also tried to just use red, white and blue for the 4th of July to make it festive. It would also be cute to do them to match birthday parties with different colors.

I was able to buy ALL the candy at our local convenience store this year. They carry all kinds of bagged prepackaged gummy candy, salt water taffy, and gummy lifesavers. I placed them all in bowls on the table, gave each child/Dad a lollipop stick and let them at it!

This is the one Paul made, actually one of the 10, he really got into it with the girls! We packaged ours in little gift bags with ribbon tied around the top. The sticks and bags we put them in cost $1.75 each at Walmart. You can find these in the craft section at your local store.

On the ones for the girls we have little necklaces for the 4th to go with them, turned out really cute!

Do you have any cute crafts for the 4th?

Hitch Haul – Can’t live without item!

::REPOST – We just used ours again this weekend and had someone ask us about it, so I am reposting!::

I know this is a frugal blog but it is also my family blog AND an in general, “how to make your life easier” blog. You didn’t know you were getting all that in one did you?!

This weekend we went out of town to the Frio river for a long weekend. On Sunday as we were eating lunch it occurred to me that how handy the “Hitch Haul” that we have really is. The Hitch Haul is a platform that you can attach to the back of your truck or car to give you added storage space for your vehicle. This is one of the best, if not the best, under $100 purchases we have made for traveling! Well, beside the adapter to charge my computer while driving…

Sunday we used it as a picnic table to have lunch on, and again on Monday!  Usually we use it for the ice chest, water cooler and extra Rubbermaid’s that don’t fit in the truck. We have used it to haul wood, hay and anything else that is dirty to avoid having to vacuum out the truck when done. We used it for boxes when we moved.

We purchased ours at Amazon for around $70. It has been so used and needed I think it is one of the best purchases you can make if you travel!

How to Make Emergency Hygiene Kits!

How to Make Emergency Hygiene Kits

This is my How to Make Emergency Hygiene Kits supply list and tutorial.

These are cheap to make from your stockpile and a huge blessing to pass along to disaster relief. Pin this, share this, email it to yourself so you have it handy then next time something comes up that you want to help with.

How to Make Emergency Hygiene Kits

Making kits is very simple, and when the need arises and I don’t have the items I need in my stockpile, I get them at the Dollar store. Hygiene kits provide disaster victims with basic items necessary for health and cleanliness.

Assembly Instructions

  • 2 unbreakable combs (no sharp handles)
  • 4 toothbrushes (packaged)
  • 1 tube of toothpaste (6-8 oz., no pumps)
  • 2 bars of soap (approximately 4 to 5 oz.)
  • 2 hand towels (new towels, approximately 15? by 25?. Please do not use dish towels or washcloths. To sew towels, serge or zigzag the edges of terry cloth to make a 15? by 25? towel.)
Obviously you can make them with whatever you want in them, but for official sending overseas kits, the above contents are what they need to have. Locally, you can do them with anything you have on hand!

* Thanks Tracy and Esmerelda for the pre-made hygiene kits from a previous relief aid drive!

Now that you know How to Make Emergency Hygiene Kits, make sure to start stockpiling these items when they are on sale to have them ready!

Pick Your Own Blueberries in Houston – Pioneer Blueberry Farm

pick your own blueberries in Houston

:: Repost from last year ::

For 20 years we have been going to pick blueberries north of Houston at Pioneer Blueberry Farm. It is a small family farm owned by the Harger family.

Over the past years we got to know Ed, and his dogs and looked forward to seeing them every June for berries.

Sadly, two years ago Ed passed away but his 17 year old granddaughter was there today running everything. She was really cute and fun!

Pioneer Blueberry Farm

When we go picking, we get up early and leave the house as the sun is coming up so that we stay out of the heat of the day. Pioneer opens at 6:30 am. We try and be there by 8am.

This weekend coming up, Father’s Day weekend, should be the height of the season.

The berries are the best you can find, they have 4 different varieties, the smaller ones have the most flavor and the bigger ones that are SUPER juicy!

We pack water bottles, and sunscreen some might want bug spray, but I usually don’t use it. The berries are NOT treated with any pesticides. They have buckets for you.

The first trip of the year I usually don’t have any to freeze, the kids will probably eat them all today and my husband will finish them off tonight! Have you ever changed the diaper of a 2 year old who had eaten 3 lbs of blueberries? Interesting. Very interesting.

When I do freeze the berries, I flash freeze them. Do not wash them first or they will become a mushy mess. Place them on a cookie sheet with sides and freeze them for about an hour, then dump them in ziplock bags and they will not stick together so you can scoop them out.

Andie Picking Blueberries

What I love so much about Pioneer ( I do not like Moorehead!) is that the bushes are smaller and so the kids can pick berries easily. At Moorhead, I found that they were always too picked over and the berries were so far up the bushes that the kids were not able to pick very many. Which means then they complain because they are board. Which means then they bug the crap out of me :)

Pioneer Blueberry Farm

Pioneer Blueberry Farm:
Take 1-45 north almost to Conroe, exit loop 336 south and go right or east at the light. Take 336 east until you come to 105. There is a gas station and McDonalds at the corner. Take a right and go east. At this point set your odometer! Take 105 east for 8.6 miles. You will be looking for a little street sign that says Pioneer Lane. Turn left on Pioneer Lane. Ed Harger’s blueberry farm is about 1.2 miles down on the right side. He is open sunrise to sunset every day. Blueberries are $2.25 a pound this year, he uses no pesticides.

Pioneer Farm Houston

We picked 2 buckets worth in about an hour, each bucket held around 10 pound. I should say *I* picked most of it as the kids ate blueberries and ran around.

I like to set my bucket on the ground and squat down looking up at the branches. I use 2 hands and pull the berries off and drop into the bucket. The bigger ones always seem to be on the underside of the branches in clusters. OR I will prop the bucket in the tree and pull the berries into the bucket that way. It just depends on how full the bushes are.

Pioneer Berries 
2512 Pioneer Lane
Cleveland TX 77328
936-537-0446
Closed Sunday  - Open till the berries are done or July 4th

* Call ahead to make sure they are open for the year!

Couch to 5k Running Program With Kids

Couch to 5k

Working from home and having 7 kids home for the summer means I have to have a good plan to be organized. Having the kids home means it is much harder to get work done and keep the house clean. Which is not the worst thing in the world, as I really love the summer and having them home. It just means *I* need to be able to manage my time and their time better then normal.

I have done the “couch to 5k” running program a few times with the kids and I really enjoy it. It is exactly what it sounds like, it takes you from not running at all to running a 5k (or 3.1 miles) in 9 weeks.

This is a great program for kids. A few of my kids can already run a 5k, actually my 6 year old can, and some are really close. We go early in the morning, before it gets horribly hot. My kids are all required to do something for exercise each day, I don’t care what they do as long as they do it, so all but 1 went with me this morning. When we have done this in the past they all end up wanting to participate.

couch to 5k program

I printed off the schedule and laminated it (my laminator HERE). You can also download the app to your phone. Grab a stop watch and water bottle and get out there!

How to make a Candy Card! {great for Father’s Day!}

How to make Candy Cards

Making a candy card is a really easy and fun way to say thank you! My girls made a few for teachers to go with a little gift they have for them today.

making candy cards

First, take a poster board ( I cut this one in half) and lay out your candy bars on the paper. With a pencil write out the wording you want to use. I just made up mine with the candy bars I could find.

Once you have penciled out your wording, take a marker or paint and do the final draft. Then mark along the side where you want to add your ribbon. I didn’t have a big round punch so I used a hole punch and made a few holes for the ribbon to go through.

Take a ribbon and measure it around the outside leaving extra room for the bow and some “poofs” along the way! Then weave the ribbon around.

Lastly I taped the candy bars on. I have hot glued them before, but it has melted the chocolate and makes it hard to take them off!

They don’t have to be perfect!! Just make it fun!

easy candy cards

Traveling with kids – Packing the Car Tips and Tricks


Traveling with kids is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get…

My parents always traveled with us 6 kids growing up. We never flew anywhere. Paul and I do the same with our kids, we drive any place that we have to go. For a few reasons…

  • 9 plane tickets is expensive
  • When we get there, no one has a vehicle that we can rent that will fit all of us. We have to rent 2 and that stinks.
  • They get to see the country
  • We get to spend more time together

Yes there are many drawbacks, but that is another post! There are a few things that I do to get ready each time. Make sure that the oil is changed, the car is vacuumed out, and the laundry is done.

Each child is allowed a back pack and a duffle bag or their rolling suitcase. The back pack goes on their lap or under their feet in the front of the car, this is what you can find in them:

  • Books
  • iPod and ear phones
  • 1 change of clothes and P.J.’s
  • Personal things they want to have with them while driving
  • Blankies

They are not allowed to drag a bunch of stuff into the car, all they can have is what they can fit in the backpack. This is also what they will bring into the hotel/motel when we stop. We don’t want to unpack the entire car each time we stop, so this is their overnight bag also.

In the duffle is the rest of anything they are bringing, all their clothing etc. Each child also travels anywhere we go, day to day in town as well, with a water bottle that is their own and that they are responsible for filling up when we stop.

Behind the driver’s seat, is where I always have had the baby seat. This works for us as a lot of open space for extra things since it is not interfering with anyones legs. I have 2 tall Rubbermaid’s with lids that hold a few important things…

First one is filled with all the snacks. I try and not get anything that has a lot of little wrappers as I don’t want them all over the car. This time we have fruit snacks, nuts, M&M’s, beef jerky, apples, granola bars etc.

Second one is the art box. This has anything that I am bringing for the kids to do. Crayons, colored pencils, paper etc. This box will also go in the back row under the little kids feet there, a big kid can help them get things out of it.

Last is the yellow bag you can see, this has diapers, wipes, books and a few things for the baby. I usually have a package of wipes in each row of the car. You always seem to need wipes!

In the back of the car are all the duffles and suitcases. Plus the cooler, unless it is on the hitch haul on the back of the truck, and a few more Rubbermaid’s.

I have a small bucket for all the electronic cords for all the devices that come along. Otherwise they are falling out of everywhere and kids are losing chargers. I have even written on the lid what we have with us on trips to keep from leaving a charger in a hotel room or a cord somewhere. Kind of anal I know…

The last few buckets are all the supplies to make breakfast ( if needed) lunch, and snacks on the road. We like to stop at rest stops or when we get gas, make sandwiches and swap out snacks. It really saves us a lot of money to not eat out along the way, plus it is just healthier for you.

A 6 pack of soda {the bottles with the tops on them} is $3.48 at Walmart. These 20 oz. sodas in a gas station are $1.39 – $1.59 each! I pay $.58 by getting them at Walmart before we leave and keeping them in the cooler. We stocked up on Goldfish from the mega event sale at Kroger last month for $1 each, price matched at Walmart. The chips I got at Randalls BOGO last week and the fruit was price matched at Walmart from Fiesta grocery store. I cut all the fruit up before we left and used leftover Glade Christmas containers to store it all in. I would rather have the kids snacking on fresh fruit then junk all day in the car. Somehow a large bag of M&M’s made it in… but that is ok! We are teaching the baby her colors and that is the only way to do it right?!

Traveling with the kids can be a lot of fun, you can even make it easier on yourself by having things for the kids to do in the car, and keeping the car uncluttered and organized.

Follow Me on Pinterest