Tuesday, May 31, 2016

FREE Lowe's Build and Grow Captain America on June 11

Here is this summer's first FREE Lowe's Build and Grow!

Registration opened yesterday, so don't delay in signing up. Your little super heroes will love to make their own super hero to display in their room and help decorate their bedroom. 

I have signed up my son to do this with his dad while I am at a swim meet with my daughter. It is always a good time for the kids to get one on one time with one of us.

This Build and Grow is at 10am on June 11th. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Gift #5: Thanks for Being a TEA-rrific Teacher DIY Mug

The mug itself is a project I found on Pinterest. This website, The Sweetest Occasion, has some pretty good instructions on how to make a mug like this one. I have read a lot of posts though where people have failed horrible at making this project. I found that the key is to use a lot of fingernail polish right away. This was a good project to use up colors that we had not used in a while that were about half full but we still ended up using about 6 or 7 bottles that were half full to do just one mug.

The other one my daughter made for herself in blues and was hoping it would look like waves in the ocean. She is a swimmer and really like the idea of having a mug like that.

The mug she made for her art teacher she stuffed it with a variety of Teas and we attached a card that said "Thanks for being a TEA-rrific Teacher!"

Her art teacher appreciated the time and creativity she put into this.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

FREE Paddling Event on the Minnesota River State Water Trail

Are you looking for a fun group paddling event? Do you have a group and want to set out on your own on an assigned route?

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is hosting a "Paddle the Minnesota River State Water Trail in a Day" on June 11th during which there will be organized group paddles. Some of them do have canoes or kayaks available, so don't let the lack of a watercraft be a barrier, just check out the list of group paddles and it will tell you which ones have them available?

Not all of the river is taken and there are spots along the river for other individuals and groups to paddle. Some of the group paddles are listed as family-friendly as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Historic Forestville

This is a site that is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, but while you are there you should also check out the Forestville Mystery Cave.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Easy Star Hair Design for Girls

To do this you should be prepared with 5 hair ties and any bows you want to use. If your child has curly hair like mine it might be easier to use wet hair rather than dry hair.

I took the first third section of hair at the top of her head and split it equally into three sections. Secure each of those sections with a hair tie. The section at the very top can be secured tight but the ones on the side should be somewhat loose until you have put your star lines in place.

Divide each of the sections into two sections. Twist the hair up. If the hair is wet it should stay Twisted nicely and the hair will be smooth. Use the picture as reference to where you should put your hair sections. Use the remaining two hair ties to make the bottom two points. For a variation you could braids the sections after they have been separated.

Hopefully these directions are not too confusing. I think it is really easily to just look at the picture to figure it out.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Easy Patriotic Non-Alcoholic Drink

I have to admit, this was what I came up with AFTER a pinterest fail. I was trying that drink where you use Gatorade and Hawaiian Punch and Diet Sprite. I failed so many times with that one. I read about tips and making sure that you have a big enough difference between sugar contents (most sugar on the bottom) and adding ice at different times. Mostly I got purple drinks and one time I kept 2 colors separate, that's it. It was time to come up with something easier with what I had on hand.

Carbonated clear water or soda

I decided to layer ice in between the fruits to keep the separate, So, ice on the bottom, then strawberries, then more ice, then blueberries. Pour you clear carbonated beverage over the top.

Simple and easy and a little snack too!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

From the Heart Half Marathon Relay

Two weekends ago I did the  From the Heart Half Marathon Relay with a friend. It was a 2 person relay, so we each had over 6 1/2 miles to run. This is a local race that supports families who have someone battling cancer. It was their 8th year holding this race. They also do a 5k run walk and a half marathon, as well as the relay. The 5k has the biggest entries. When I got on the bus to be shuttled back from the exchange point, there was only 15 of us on the bus but I understand a couple people were picked up before I made it to the exchange point. So, there isn't a ton of people doing the relay; there are more doing the half marathon by themselves.

If you noticed, over the last couple years after I did 2 half marathons, I have really only been doing 5ks. I think I just needed a break from running so much and at this point I can just go out and run a 5k and it's not a big deal. So, this winter I approached my friend about starting to run together this spring and suggested we find a race to build up to. Building up to 6 1/2 miles by May 7th was pretty much perfect.

I have to say, this was a really fast half marathon pace. I pretty much kept my normal pace which typically puts me in the middle of the group, but in this particular race I was further back. But my friend and I were not running it to win a medal for time (they have them for this race). It was for the cause and to push ourselves to run further distances.

I had been running all winter with a friend who trained for this to be her first half marathon and I was happy I was able to run with her for my leg (the first half that was the hilly leg!) and be able to chat with her. Yes, we could have ran faster if we weren't talking, but it helped pass the time immensely and that is how we run together. It's a social sport for me.

The race started and ended at Lake Kohlmeier, which is why I took the cute picture of the grandpa and son at the Lake after I finished running. All I could think about after the race was eating the asparagus I picked from my garden with some eggs over easy and bacon. Yum!

There are a couple things I wish were different about some of the planning for this race. One of the things is there were only 3 bathrooms (porta-potties) total and we waited in line for 20 minutes and I barely got to the start line before the singing of the national anthem and there were a ton of people behind me and they were anxious too and asking if people ahead of them were running the 5k (which started a half hour later) or the half marathon or relay.

The other thing is that it felt like the relay is kind of just lumped in there. The relay people didn't get their own shirts like the half marathon and 5K people did; they all had shirts with their race on it whereas we got ones with half marathon it. I know some people have said they feel silly wearing it because they only ran half of the half marathon and don't want people to think they are trying to say they have run a half marathon. Since I have run two half marathons and feel like I probably could have if I wanted to that day,  so I don't feel that way but I get it  from people that haven't. The other thing is that they had not planned to give medals this year to the relay (to save money) but didn't communicate that to their volunteers prior to the race, but after all medals were given out and they realized they had a ton of medals left they gave them to the relay. Each person in the relay paid (we paid $95 for the relay) nearly as much as someone running the half marathon. It felt like we just got the leftovers and are an after thought. If I were to do this race in the future, I would probably just sign up for the half or the 5K. I did like splitting it, but not how it made me feel insignificant.

Kids Bowl FREE & OTHER Summer Bowling Programs

Check out the list of bowling alleys participating in this summer's Kids Bowl Free. The closest one to us is about 30 minutes away. In this program, kids can bowl 2 games free all summer long. You still need to rent shoes though. They do have a family pass so that parents can bowl at a discount.

But if there isn't one close to you, don't worry, just call your closest bowling alleys and see if they have any summer specials or programs going on. We are sandwiched between 2 towns and they do not participate in this program, but have their own specials/programs.

One near us has $1 games and $2 shoe rental on week days, and $2 games and $3 shoe rental on weekends. Both very good prices and we usually go bowling a couple times during the summer. It's a great place to go when it's raining out or hot, as most bowling alleys are air conditioned.

The one other near us does $25 summer bowling for 2 games & shoes every day. I believe this is for adults and children. We did this once and it was a lot of fun to go bowling so often.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: The Field Museum in Chicago & Prehistoric Creatures

The Field Museum in Chicago
featuring "Sue the T-Rex Dinosaur, plus bones of many other prehistoric creatures and dinosaurs

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Star Paper Plate Wreath

With a little bit of preparation, you can easily make this cute weath with your child in a short time.

I bought the cheap paper plates that have a circle indentation around the center. Start a hole for them so they can get their scissors inside and have them cut out that inner circle. While they were doing that I cut out Stars. Cut out squares in the size you want so that you can easily cut out stars using a template. I made a template and then cut out 3-4 stars at a time. Then let them glue them into place. I had some excess ribbon and just tied it in a bowl and let them glue that into place as well.

Super quick. Super easy. Super cute.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Flag Waffles

Just a fun idea to have a patriotic theme to your breakfast for the upcoming summer holidays of Memorial Day and 4th of July and Labor Day. I made homemade waffles and have a waffle maker that makes two waffles this size at a time. You could possibly even use frozen waffles if you wanted that are square as well. Just slice up your fruit to fit in the size hole that is available on the waffles you are using. I used blueberries strawberries and bananas but next time I think my kids would love to have me use raspberries. They love this and it got us to eat more fruit that day.

Friday, May 13, 2016

FREE 4-Day Camps at Microsoft

My kids did the Kodu Game Lab, which is a 4 day camp, at the Microsoft store at the Mall of America last year. Yes, my son is under the age of 8-11 for this camp, but there was a spot open and I asked if he could and said I would stay there with him the entire time, otherwise parents just drop off at these camps.

The other camps they have are for 12+ and are in Learn to Code: Flatverse and "Start Your Own Business" and both of those camps are 4 days as well. 

I really appreciated that the camp was free and that all the programs they worked on were able to be downloaded for free. My son will still open up Kodu and program him to do things. This is a great experience to help your children learn some new skills.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

FREE Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

My kids have done this program the past couple years. It's fun and easy and helps keep them reading all summer long.

From the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Website:

Kids Earn a Free Book!

Here is How

Step 1. Fill out the Summer Reading Triathlon Reading Journal (PDF).
Step 2. Bring the completed Reading Journal to your local B&N store. Find a Store.
Step 3. Choose a FREE BOOK from our selection on the Reading Journal list at the store... Enjoy reading!


Our closest Barnes and Noble is about an hour away, so we usually combine it with some other summer field trip I plan with the kids and hit up the one at the Mall of America.

If I had to guess what books they would pick, I am sure my daughter will pick the American Girl one "Lea Dives In". For my son, I am inclined to say he might pick out the "My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish".

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Shoreline Water Taxi in Chicago and Views from the Boat Ride

Shoreline Water Taxi in Chicago and Views from the Boat Ride

Review: Elf Star Take-a-Part Build Toy

I got this product, Elf Star Take-a-Part Build Toy, for a deep discount for the purpose of reviewing it. All thoughts, opinions, and photographs are my own.

The age on this is for 5 and older and I knew that my 6 year old son would love to try it out. There were 4 different kits to choose from and each kid had two different plans to make automobiles.

It comes with colorful instructions that were pretty easy to follow for my son and I. For the most part he could do it on his own but needed help holding the nuts in place while he used the screwdriver type tool to screw it into place. He thought being able to use the tools while putting it together made it more fun.

We have put together one of the designs so far. He wants to keep playing with that one for a while before he disassembles it and rebuild it to follow the other instructions.

The only thing I wanted to point out was that the packaging is just a brown box with writing on it as you can see in the picture. If someone were to be giving this as a gift it doesn't present as cool looking as a lot of other gifts would win this is just in a brown cardboard box. But since we were doing it for a review and playing with it at home it didn't matter as much but I know for some people the presentation of the packaging says a lot.

Product Description from Company:

The take apart vehicle is a great development toy for children who love to assemble and build! With this set, children can build their own vehicle, take it apart and rebuild again. Two plus models can be built from the set. Encourage your children to find more possible ways to build. The fun is endless! Features:

• Non-toxic eco-friendly rubber fiber material, safe to the children
• Large brightly colored pieces, easy for small hands to maneuver
• Precision craft, no sharp edges
• Fifty (50) pieces including necessary tools

• Improve hand-eye coordination
• Encourage spatial thinking
• Develop patience and attention
• Create quality parenting time
Recommended Age: 5 and Up

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea #4

Pretty simple teacher appreciation gift idea......just print off the above image that I created and attach a gift card. Eesy-peasy!

Monday, May 9, 2016

How to Make a Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

I have tried various ways to make a perfect hard boiled egg over the years and what it really comes down to is being ready to set the timer when the water starts boiling.

How to Make a Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

Place your eggs in a small post, covering them with water completely.
Bring the water to boil. 
AS SOON AS IT STARTS BOILING, set your timer for 9 minutes.
As soon as the timer goes off, remove from heat and pour out boiling water.
Cover eggs with cold water.
After about 30 seconds, pour out that water and cover eggs again with cold water.
Allow eggs to cool in this 2nd batch of cold water.
Peel and Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Review: Cooper & Kid Gross Kit for Father's Day

This is the Cooper and Kid Gross kit. It is a project kit filled with multiple projects that are geared towards dad's to do with their kids. The above picture is of my husband and my kids before they are about to open the kit to see what is in there. I received this kit for free for the purpose of reviewing it. No monetary compensation was received. All thoughts, opinions, and photographs and video are my own. Speaking of video, check out the video below to watch them open it and see everything for the first time.

This particular kit is the gross kit. If you choose to order this subscription box it will come quarterly. The box is filled with a large amount of projects to do over quite a while. On the first day my family opened it they spend quite a bit of time looking through everything. We are still using everything in the kit. It would not be possible to do all of this and one weekend. There will be different things to different quarters.

Here is the table in of contents inside the activity guide book. It has 9 different activities and most of the supplies are included there are a couple of things they included coupons for us to go by food products. I'm not sure if that is normal for many of their kids or not but this one is about what happens inside your gut so food does need to be a part of this.

So there's the video. You can hear them tell you every single item and describe it for you. Below is a picture the contents. It does include a kit to make a microscope. This is something that a dad should do but he will need help taking some parts into place.

When you sign up, you will also get access to online activities as well through their online access portal. So be sure to check your email. The fun doesn't have to stop after you use up everything in the box.

I know it's Mother's Day today, but in just over a month it will be Father's Day and how fun would this be to present to the dad and your kid's life. Something to create memories with them because that is what it is about. They will remember the time they spend with you and why not make the time awesome with a Cooper and Kid kit.

Find out more information about Cooper and Kid online:

Friday, May 6, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea #3: FREE Printable Fill-In Paper About Teacher

I made both of these for my kids to fill out for their teachers. Feel free to print them off and use for the special teachers in your kids' lives. Even though teacher appreciation week is coming to a close, there are still these last days of school to let a teacher know that they made a difference.

Gifts don't all have to cost money. Gifts that come from the heart will mean even more than another coffee mug. I also like to send an email to the principal letting him know what I appreciate about each one of the teacher's my kids have. I know he appreciates hearing it and sends on the info to those teachers.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

125 Miles Challenge from the Minnesota DNR

I just love the idea of this and am participating!!! In honor of the 125th Anniversary of Minnesota State Parks and Trails, they are hosting a 125 Miles By Bike, Boot or Boat Challenge.

It's a challenge, not a race. The goal is to finish 125 miles during 2016. The catch is that you are supposed to log these miles at a state park, state recreation area, state forest, state trail or state water trail. This is totally do-able!!!!

When you finish and turn in your log sheets you will get your free finishers sticker. Each person does this. Wouldn't this be an awesome goal to finish with your family this summer and each of you can get a sticker!

I have already done some hiking this year with my family on the trails at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation area and we plan to bike it this summer and fall, so we should rack up some good miles there. Also, I sometimes will bike and run on the Sakatah State trails with friends and family. I probably won't rack up a ton of miles by boat, but I usually get my kayak out a couple times at a state park and the kids like to go paddle boarding every summer to at a state park (state parks have the best rental price for paddle boards!)

Print Off Your Logs Today!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea #2: "Thanks for Helping Me Grow" Hand Print Craft

This is one that my kindergarten son made for his teacher. It's a perfect for the younger child like preschool and kindergarten.

It's a simple hand print craft and he loved painting it for his teacher. They only stay little for so long, so let them finger paint and get those hand prints while they are still little.

Thanks for Helping Me Grow!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea #1: An Apple

I know....An apple for the teacher....How original!?!?!? :)

But seriously, how often do you think a teacher actually get a real apple these days?
Not very, if at all.

We kicked off Teacher Appreciation week this week with an apple for the teacher and wrote on it:
Roses Are Red, Apples Are Too.
I'm So Glad, I Spent the Year with You!

A simple apple, with a paper leaf tied with some butcher's twine. It's a thoughtful and inexpensive teacher appreciation gift. We give their main teacher a gift every day of Teacher Appreciation Week and give one gift to each of their elective class and physical education teachers. So, come back every day this week and find some more ideas.