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Purposeful parenting amid a world of sugar, screens and schedules.


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Fairy Tea Party

Spring is here!  The changing of seasons is great time for a fairy tea party.

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We did one in the fall and it was great fun.  I wanted to keep the party small so I decided just to invite our girl friends.  The girls all dressed up as fall fairies and everyone contributed some yummy fall food.  Apple-cranberry chicken salad sandwiches, pumpkin bread, apple crisp, etc.  We had cinnamon tea and apple cider and drank them in adorable little tea cups.  We had our gathering outside, surrounded by apple trees and fall leaves.  It was lovely.

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After the tea party all the girls gathered on a picnic blanket and I read this Fairy Houses book.  It is a really cute story about a girl who makes a fairy house in the woods and waits for fairies to come enjoy the house.  While she waits, the house is visited by different forest creatures.  I like that it talks about only using things from nature, which is really good to keep in mind when building a fairy house in the forest.  We did not follow these rules because we were making our houses for our backyards 🙂

After the story all the girls made their own fairy house.  The houses were adorable!  They were all very different.  The girls all brought their own fairy house base and some craft supplies to share.

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Big Sis set her house up under a lilac bush, and even made a little tree for her fairy.  Then she put a toy fairy in there to live.  Because although she loves to dream and pretend and imagine, she is far too practical to think that a real fairy would come to live in her house.  haha

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I hope someone decides to have a spring fairy party!  Let me know how it goes 🙂

Thanks for reading!

 

This post contains an affiliate link.  It does not affect you at all, but if you see something you like and decide to purchase it, if you use my link you will be helping to support me and my family!  Thanks!


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Unit Studies for Adults: World War II

After my last update for my reading challenge, I decided to read a book in my “to read” pile that a good friend of mine gave me YEARS ago.  She gave it to me when I was pregnant with my oldest (Big Sis is almost six now!)  But at that time I was working two or three jobs while my husband was student teaching…in addition to being pregnant and preparing to have a baby.  Then once  I had that baby my reading became very sporadic.  (Which is one reason why I started this challenge!)  I am absolutely loving reading regularly again.  I still don’t go through as many books as I used to (i.e. I don’t binge read every free second I have until I am done with a series that I start) but it’s great reading every night in bed.  It helps me sleep better, too!

Anyway, the book I decided to read is called “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” I had no idea how fun this book was going to be when I picked it up.  It is not an unforgettable book that will stick with me forever.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it, will probably read it again, and love that it’s the kind of book I feel like I could recommend to just about anyone.  It was lighthearted, charming and sweet.  Exactly what I needed after the last book I read.  This is a story of an author who, after World War II has ended, finds herself corresponding with a group of people from Guernsey, a British island that had been overtaken by Germans and the Hitler regime.  She is captivated by their stories and decides to learn more and possibly write a book about it all.  The book is written entirely of letters.  It is a little sad, as anything about World War II is, but it is beautiful.  It made me want to go to Guernsey.  And start a book club.  And learn more about the war.  I started with the latter.

Reading this beautiful piece of historical fiction inspired a World War II kick for me.  I then read “The Book Thief,” which was a bit of a tear-jerker, but also really great.  It was written in a really unique way…told by Death.  It’s a beautiful story of childhood and friendship in the midst of really awful things…and how family extends beyond blood relatives.  I also really love the part books play…how stories can help through hard times and the power of literacy.

Next on my list is “All the Light We Cannot See,” which has fantastic reviews and everyone I know who has read it says that it was awesome.  I was going to check it out at the library but there were about 26 people in front of me in line!  So I’m guessing it’s worth purchasing.

I found a bunch of World War II documentaries on Netflix (I started with “World War II in Color”) and I looked up the answers to questions I had as I wondered them.  I ended up spending some time looking up Japanese internment camps, because that’s something that is typically not covered much.  I remember first being introduced to this topic when I was a senior in high school reading “Snow Falling on Cedars.”  I could not believe that something like that could happen in our own country…and that I had never even heard about it!

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I also ordered this World Wars book with my latest Usborne order, which I’m pretty excited about.  I figure since it’s written for teens, it will be engaging and easy to read, which will be nice because I have a hard time getting through nonfiction books sometimes.  If it skirts around some things that I’d like to go into more depth on, I can look those things up.  I’m particularly interested in learning about World War I, which I’m realizing more and more that I really don’t know anything about.

As you can see, my reading challenge has joined together with my love of themes and become an ADULT UNIT STUDY!  🙂  Maybe I have a new category for my blog.

As silly as an adult unit study might sound, I think it’s a huge bonus to homeschooling.  I love learning for the sake of learning rather than because a teacher at school told me that I needed to learn it to pass a test.  And I’m excited that my kids will get to grow up experiencing that!  I hope that I can reign in my excitement for planning things and really let them do most of the leading in our schooling, as we explore the things they are curious about.

Anything you would add to my adult unit study?  Throw your ideas at me!  

Thanks for reading!!

 

This post contains affiliate links.  They do not affect you, but if you like something that I post about and decide to purchase it, you can support me and my family by using my links!  Thanks!  🙂  


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Studying Winter Animals

I have shared before how I have a bit of an obsession with themes.

My love of themes will someday turn into a lot of cool unit studies for homeschooling, but for now they are very mini unit studies since I just have young children.  As much as I’d like to go all out and come up with TONS of fun ideas for crafts, science, math….what I do instead is mostly follow their lead on what they are interested in…letting them come up with ideas, offering more activities that I’ve come up with only if their interest holds and they are asking questions. And I don’t really push academics at this age so I do not really incorporate math, etc.

It’s mostly for Big Sis at this point.  Little Sis enjoys some of the stories and activities, but she has a sort of sixth sense about when someone is trying to teach her something and loses interest.  Ha!  She’s going to be an interesting one!

I’ve been wanting to start posting about these mini unit studies for ages, but I’m finally purposefully taking time to write.  So hopefully these posts will start to happen more often!

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My first one is on WINTER!  

Have you heard of shine-a-light books?*  I love them SO much!  I just love fun nonfiction books that are interesting to my kids anyway, but these books are extra special because you can shine a flashlight behind each page to find a hidden picture.  Once you turn the page you can learn more about it.  Like this:

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My favorite one is “Secrets of Winter”…maybe because it’s so applicable to our life where we live. Its beautiful and we get to learn all about what happens in the winter…frogs can freeze, some animals’ fur changes to white, some animals hibernate,  etc.

So at our homeschool co-op we read this book and then did some fun winter animal yoga.  You can get on pinterest and find some awesome examples of different yoga poses but I ended up just creating my own.  I told a story about wind coming in, snow coming down, and what different animals were doing to get ready.  Then we got into our cave and hibernated a bit as I sang a song about hibernation.  Then Spring came and we woke up and stretched some more.

Then we did this fun experiment to see how animals stay warm in the cold.

The kids thought it was neat how long they could keep their hands in the icy water without getting cold.

The last thing we did at our co-op was play (many) rounds of hibernate-and-seek.  One child was “Spring” while all the other kids pretended to be a different hibernating animal.  It was a hit.  (Of course…because what kid doesn’t like hide-and-seek!)

There are SO many other things you could do on this topic and Pinterest is great for that.  But my FAVORITE thing about homeschooling is letting the kids’ interest lead us.  So we did some other learning on this topic that I don’t have documented.  We asked questions and looked things up….”what other animals hibernate?”  “what do bees do?”  “what do ants do?”  “do frogs really freeze?”  (Another reason why I love homeschooling….because I learn so much too!!)  And of course we did a lot of playing outside and observing nature.

Any other ideas out there for activities or your favorite books for learning about winter?  I’d love to hear them!

 

*I am not going to turning this blog into one big advertisement for Usborne books, but I do want to mention that I am an Usborne Books and More Consultant (they are so awesome for homeschooling!)  I sell these children’s books so that I can build our homeschooling library and earn some extra income for my family.  If you’d like to check out the shine-a-light books you can click HERE to see them all on my site.

Feel free to message me if you’d like to learn more about the books or if you’re curious about getting involved somehow to build your own library!  Use the “contact” me link either on the top right of this page or on my Usborne site.  Cheers!

 


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How I Made a S’Mores Ice Cream Cake

My big girl had a birthday recently and she chose an Under the Sea/Little Mermaid swimming party theme.  She changed her mind a million times but we finally landed on this…partly because I had the most fun coming up with ideas for it.  You can check out my post on the party HERE, but this post is about how I made the ice cream cake.

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ICE CREAM CAKES WITH CAKE

Our first home made ice cream cake was made by my husband as a mother’s day gift.  I love ice cream cakes but you don’t really get to have stuff like that…with cake anyway…when you have food issues like gluten intolerance.  It took some time for sure, but the concept is simple.  You bake your cake the way you would normally make a layered cake but maybe make your halves a little thinner than normal.  Then you use the same baking pan and cover it with saran wrap.  Let your ice cream soften a bit and press it into the pan to mold the same size as your cake.  Once the ice cream is hard you just layer cake, ice cream, cake and frost it.  Easy!

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HOW TO MAKE A S’MORES ICE CREAM CAKE

For Big Sis’s birthday I wanted to make a sand castle ice cream cake, using a sand castle bucket.  I figured it would be pretty difficult figuring out a way to layer cake in there so I decided to just make cupcakes and then make the “cake” purely ice cream.  Because the “sand” look is made with graham cracker crumbs, I thought I’d make it a s’mores cake.

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This is not really a recipe since you don’t have to cook anything.  It is in no way healthy like the desserts I typically make (it was a birthday cake after all!)  But I am really proud of it because I made it up myself.  I feel like pinterest, although really awesome for inspiring creativity, also can take away any feeling of originality!  But this was the original sand castle cake post, and although it was a wonderful inspiration (she did a fantastic job!), what I ended up doing was nothing like it.  I am also going to talk about how I would make it a normal ice cream cake rather than a sand castle cake because it was sooo good, it should be made for all occasions, not just some beach/mermaid/swimming parties.  Here it is:

What you need

  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • 1 box of Graham crackers
  • 1 container of Cool whip
  • 1 container Marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 a packet of plain gelatin
  • 1/8 tsp Almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows- large if doing a sand castle, mini if not
  • Optional- chocolate syrup or melted chocolate to drizzle over the top if not doing a sand castle cake
  • Saran wrap
  • Pam spray??

Choose how you want your cake to look and find a container that produces that look.  I used a sand castle bucket but I think I would use a bread pan otherwise…I think a rectangle would work well.

I used Pam spray on the inside of my bucket.  We had never done this using the small round cake pans but I thought it might be difficult to get out of a deep bucket (it was) and that the oil might help (not sure if it did.)

Cover your pan with saran wrap with plenty sticking out to help pull the ice cream out when the time comes.

Let your cool whip sit out a bit so it’s not too cold (especially if you had it in the freezer.)  Whip up your marshmallow cream with a bit of cool whip with a hand mixer and slowly add more cool whip.  Add your vanilla and almond extract and the 1/2 packet of gelatin and mix all together.  Cover and put in the fridge.

Let your ice cream soften a bit so that you can easily smoosh it into the shape of your pan/bucket.

Put your graham crackers in a gallon ziplock and crush with a rolling pin until it’s pretty fine and you’ve broken up all the big chunks.

Layer:  vanilla ice cream; layer of the cool whip/marshmallow cream frosting, graham cracker crumbs, mini chocolate chips; chocolate ice cream; layer of frosting, cracker crumbs, chocolate chips.  Repeat until your pan is full or you use all your ice cream or it’s as big as you want it.  Cover it with saran wrap and put it in the freezer to harden (I let it sit over night.)  Put your coolwhip/marshmallow mixture back in the fridge.   (*I actually didn’t layer it like this- I only did the frosting/crumb/choc chip layer in the middle of the cake rather than between each layer of ice cream.  But I loved it so much I thought it needed more.  Do what you think is best.)

Once it’s ready, close to the time you are going to serve it, do what you need to do to get the ice cream out of the container.  Pat the sides, hit the top, pull on the saran wrap…it was difficult with the deep bucket.

Put it on the plate or serving platter you intend to use.  For the sandcastle cake, I frosted the platter and put cracker crumbs down before putting the ice cream cake on.  Frost it with the coolwhip/marshmallow mixture and cover it with graham cracker crumbs.  Kind of tricky to get the sides.  I kind of threw it on.

For a sandcastle cake, take large marshmallows and dip them in the frosting and cover them with cracker crumbs and put them on the top of the castle.  If you aren’t doing a castle, I would suggest putting mini marshmallows and chocolate chips all over the top in a decorative kind of way and maybe drizzle some chocolate over the top.  Put it back in the freezer until ready to serve.

I was thinking if you wanted to do it with cake and not just ice cream, you could do a round cake like I described above and use layers of chocolate cake instead of chocolate ice cream.  

 

Well, there you have it.  I was pretty detailed with my instructions so it is kind of a lot to read, but it really wasn’t very difficult at all.  Especially since I didn’t incorporate layers of cake.  Just smooshing ice cream together is pretty simple  😉 

Let me know if you try it out!  Thanks for reading.


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Under The Sea/Little Mermaid Swim Party!

Big Sis had a birthday party this weekend.  She wanted a Little Mermaid swimming party.  I had a lot of fun with this theme.

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On this table: Blue hawaiian punch mixed with sprite.  (Hawaiian punch, sprite, and sherbet is one of my favorite easy punches for parties but we went without the sherbet for this.)  S’mores sand castle ice cream cake.  Flounder cupcakes.  Goldfish crackers (they have a s’mores option now which was so perfect since the ice cream cake was s’mores!)  Oreo crabs…Sebastian of course 🙂???????????????????????????????

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This ice cream cake was SO good.  You can check out how I made it here.

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Here is a link to how these are made.  I found them on pinterest.  I think they are so cute.

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I saw an idea for cupcakes with gummy fish on pinterest here.  They are cute.  But I wanted Flounder so I just drew it on.  I usually do cream cheese frosting because it is yummy and white and then I color it the colors that I need and use condiment containers to draw with.  Cheaper than buying the little colored squeezy frosting in the stores.

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I don’t usually do a whole lot for decorations.  I’ll decorate a food table or the entrance or something but not much else.  It gets expensive, you can’t eat it or play with it, so you know…I just don’t choose to spend the time or money on it.  But I did decide to make the octopus balloons I found on pinterest pictured on the above right.  They looked easy enough.  So I bought the blue balloons and some colored balloons and some long skinny balloons.  The 20 blue balloons that we bought did not cover as much ground as I thought…and they kept popping.  Then we couldn’t even get the skinny balloons to air up at all.  We tried everything we could think of and they would not blow up!  There must be a trick we don’t know about. But we didn’t have time to look it up.  So we grabbed a sharpie and made the colored balloons fish balloons instead.  And some of those popped too.  So our fence decorations ended up looking pretty sad.  I think it might be my first official pinterest fail 🙂

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We had a great time.  Big Sis was so happy to have so many friends celebrating with her.  We managed to have the one nice day on a week of rainy days.  We had a slip’n’slide, a big kids pool, and a baby pool with a baby slide.  In addition to all the desserts, we also grilled burgers and hot dogs and had our guests bring side dishes to share.  Other than the time I chose to spend making all the fun food, it was a really simple, inexpensive party that provided loads of fun 🙂

Thanks for reading!


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Disc Golf Themed Birthday

In my “about me”, I mention that I’m a sucker for themes.  Themed parties, themed family Halloween costumes, themed fun days for the kids…I just love themes.  So this is the first of many posts on this topic.

I got this photo off of disc golf course review dot com. It’s from the course my husband and I play.

My husband’s birthday was yesterday.  I wanted to have a nerf gun party for him.  We’ve been wanting to have nerf gun party for a while and have been collecting darts for it.  I don’t know if it was just a busy weekend or if most of the other adults in my life think it’s time we stop throwing birthday parties for adults (say what?!), but nobody was going to come.  We decided to try again later.  So I switched gears and tried to think of some fun things to just do as a family.  At the last minute, because we were doing it on Thursday rather than Saturday, I thought it might be possible that our two closest couple friends might be able to join us.  I didn’t expect them to be able to, but they happened to be free!  Yay!  So that morning I decided to do a folf themed surprise party.

*Side note- I will from now on refer to folf as “disc golf” because Jason has informed me that it is not really known as folf around the globe and that disc golf is more of a proper term for it, especially considering you don’t use frisbees, you use special (folf?) discs.  I get this because I changed from saying “pop” to “soda” once I felt like it made more sense and stopped pronouncing “pillow” “pellow” and “milk” “melk.”  😉  But it’s difficult for me.  It has been “folf” for a long time.

With only 7 hours to plan everything I knew that there was a possibility I might be pulling a typical Amber move and may at some point realize that I don’t actually have time for everything and end up stressed out.  But that did not happen-  the day went flawlessly and it was a lot of fun.

We bought Jason a disc golf basket so he can practice his putting.  I’ve been wanting to get him one of these for years and had seen one on sale, plus I had a $10 off coupon.  I was super excited to be able to get this for him and of course it was perfect for the theme.

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And to go with the gift is the disc golf basket cake.  It was one of the easiest cakes I’ve done.  I bought a gluten free King Arthur brand chocolate cake in a box.  I’ve tried Betty Crocker and done some  home made cakes and this is I think by far the best (and easiest) cake I’ve ever made.  Just add oil, water and eggs.  It was yummy and super moist.

I made a bunt cake and put it upside down to have sort of the shape of a basket.  This worked out perfectly too, because the hole made it really easy for the paper towel roll wrapped in aluminum foil to stay up.  For frosting I used pudding mixed with a bit of whipping cream, which turned out to be really yummy.  And then I colored some whipping cream yellow to make the side of the cake look like the basket.  I always use condiment containers to draw on cakes and cupcakes it’s so easy to use- not like trying to squeeze frosting out of hole you cut in the corner of a baggy.  And so cheap- you don’t have to buy the colored frosting they have at the store.

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I cut out a circle from cardboard, had Big Sis color it yellow, and then hot glued yellow pipe cleaners around the sides.  Then I just put some paper clips together and glued them to the cardboard.  Bam!  Done.  Success 🙂

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We had a wonderful disc golf themed party with our friends last minute.  Thanks for reading!