Wednesday, June 17, 2009

somethin's fishy

oh what fun to plan a birthday party for a 3 year-old boy. he's old enough to get excited about every little thing i do, and yet not old enough to tell me what to do. its perfect!
i found on family fun, directions on how to make a fish cake:
it was actually pretty easy. and quite a big hit with the kids.

i made party hats.

there were miscellaneous goodies like sweedish fish and these little fishing poles made with pretzel rods and rope licorice tied to one end, with a gummy worm tied to the licorice. really easy and quite popular.

the kids got to decorate their own "fish bowl" made of foam sheets purchased at the craft store. (however, aquariums are square and i would do that next time since its easier than trying to cut out a fishbowl-shape-type-thing that doesn't even really look like a fishbowl.) they had an assortment of underwater stickers to use.

i didn't do goody bags or anything, although i considered it after reading the idea of spray painting styrofoam egg cartons, attaching a cardboard handle and turning it into a tackle box which can be filled with toys, candy etc... but i had not the time nor energy for the endeavor.
instead, the kids fished for their treasures. i had a couple of fishing poles purchased at target for like $3. but a stick and rope with a clothespin would do the trick. the kids lowered the poles over our half-wall and bennett helped me attach their prizes.

they also fished for candy. i put paper clips on airheads and they used the fishing poles (which have magnets on them) to collect their treats.

i also considered having goldfish crackers, pretzel sticks and peanut butter for a snack... the kids "fish" by sticking the pretzels in the peanut butter and then grab the goldfish. and also blue jello with swedish fish suspended inside.

another idea i saw was actual live golfish for a party favor... but i just simply could not do this to my friends, no matter how excited the kids might get.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

party hats

since i have nothing else to do these days, i thought i would attempt to make party hats for the upcoming 3 year-old bash. i've kinda always wanted to do this (yes, i'm weird) and it really is quite easy.

i rather enjoy a little variety so none of my hats were exactly the same. (not that i could have gotten them identical even if i wanted.)

i used mostly card stock and just rolled it into a cone. (for one i used lighter paper, but it is much flimsier and i'm not sure how it will hold up if a rambunctious little boy gets his hands on it.) for the taller hats, i rolled them long ways, for the smaller, i rolled them short ways.

for the taller ones, a little glue is needed to keep it together and i wrapped it in rubber bands while it dried. for the shorter ones, one lone staple on the bottom worked fine. (i just stapled it and then trimmed off the excess until it looked even and balanced.)

i hunted around the craft store for some sort of fun topper, but came up empty handed. so i just took a little scrap fabric, cut a small square, folded it accordion style, and cut some strips about an inch down. then, i just stuck it in the top of the hat and fanned it out. i secured it with tape on the inside.

since i wanted a little variety in color, and i didn't have any yellow fabric, i used some felt. i like the fabric better, but if all you have is felt, it works fine and the 3 year-olds aren't gonna care anyway.

a little decoration... ribbon, circles, stripes, etc... i had thought of letting the kids decorate their own at the party, but i don't have the energy for that. but should you be a better mom than me, you could let them use glitter, stickers, crayons, glue and gadgets, etc... this particular party is going to have a fish theme so i thought i might let them use some foam fish stickers to decorate their own hat, but i'm going to use those for a different activity.

and then... i got some elastic rope at the craft store and taped it on the inside... and hopefully the kids will actually wear them!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

...yes, that's the book for me

nap time is quite sacred around here. and of late, very hard to come by with 3 kids at different stages of life. my day usually begins far earlier than i would like. and by the time the kids are in bed, i'm mostly brain-dead and much prefer doing close to nothing... like watching mindless tv shows or catching up on my favorite blogs.

therefore, its hard to find a consistent time to read my bible. i like the whole proverbs 31 lady who rises before the sun. and i'll also note that i strive to be like her in many ways. but i'll be real honest. this whole rising before the sun bit... it aint gonna happen. i'm pretty exhausted. especially considering most nights consist of broken sleep... back and forth from precious child to precious, sleep deficient child.

so, as with all mommy issues i face, i asked my sister for advice. and of course, she's a genius.

devotions have become one of my children's favorite things during the day.
the secret: chocolate milk.

they don't usually get chocolate milk. its a special occasion type thing. and what better special occasion than reading our bible? i often hear, "hey mom, can we read our bibles and drink chocolate milk?" they also have special cups that come out only during this time to make it even more of a novelty.

ella, my oldest, likes the idea of reading a "real" bible. none of that picture stuff for her. she'll sit in her chair and "read" one of my bibles for at least 20 minutes. (no, she doesn't actually read. she'll stare at the page for awhile and then turn it. this has not gotten old for her one bit.)

bennett on the other hand needs a little bit more to keep him occupied. i highly recommend this busy bible:

it, along with the chocolate milk and special sippy cup, only makes its appearance at bible reading time. thus, the novelty is new each day.

and should you be up before the sun (and your children) and already have your bible reading done for the day, you may find this will come in handy in long car rides, waiting rooms, meals out, sick days...

Friday, June 5, 2009

a very yummy crock pot meal... and it isn't even chili

depending on the day, my crock pot is my favorite kitchen appliance. (those other days, its my espresso machine because i NEED caffeine. with sugar.) i like the convenience of making dinner in the morning while my kids are happy and occupied.

but there is only so much you can do in the crock pot. of course, there's the crock pot lady who has a recipe for everyday of the year. but it seems the easiest meals are chili. and... another form of chili. and while i can eat this just about every day of the week (because the psychological flavor enhancement brought about by the ease of opening up a few cans of beans and such), i think my family needs some variety.

so... i bring you my new favorite crock pot meal. yummy and easy.

italian chicken sandwiches:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 2/3 ounce italian salad dressing mix
1 can chicken broth
1 8 ounce jar of mild giardiniera

put all ingredients in order of listing in crock pot, and cook on low for 6 hours. (or however long it ends up being between when your kids allow you to cook and when they start getting unruly and need dinner.) shred chicken at some point during the day, or right before eating. serve on italian bread or rolls with a slice of provolone cheese.

my notes:
i didn't count out my chicken. i probably used more than 6 breasts. i just threw in whatever i had in my freezer. (also, i think there is a bit of nasty flavor/consistency brought about by cooking my chicken completely in the crock pot. its probably just me, but should you suffer from this same issue, i boil my chicken first and then put it in the crockpot.)

and although i enjoyed the flavor immensely, my 4 year-old daughter said it was way too spicy for her. when i make it again, i'll use much less pepper. or give her extra ketchup for dipping.

and what is giardiniera? i sure didn't know, but discovered it is an italian relish of pickled vegetables. i found them in a jar both in the pasta section of my grocery store, as well as near the pickles. my jar was bigger than 8 ounces and it still turned out yummy.

so yeah, go make it and let me know what you think.