Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Coolest Last Minute Halloween Costume EVER - Glow Stick Man

My little man (you know, the one that's not so little anymore, the one who was simply too cool to trick or treat this year) decided TODAY that he wanted to trick or treat tonight after all!

So, a-Googling I went. There's a lot of last minute costume ideas out there, but not a lot of cool ones. Yeah, he could be a hobo or a football player, but... Eeh.
I stumbled across this idea, which,of
course you can purchase online...but A, that's more than I wanted to spend, and B, uh, hello, last minute?
It's called a Glow man (we're PC here... Or Woman)! And OMG, how easy ! All you need is black pants, shirt, stocking cap, and glow sticks.

I hot glued the ends and middle of the glow sticks to the shirt and pants in a stick man design. Be sure to do front and back so you can see it from both sides. Then I had him put the cap on and made a circle out of three glow sticks and hot glued the top of the circle to the hat. You want the circle to frame the face like a stick person face.
That's it! Took maybe 20 minutes to hot glue everything together. I will warn you... Activate the glow sticks BEFORE you glue. Before. I activated after, and had to pull off about 5 glow sticks that were duds.
We used 48 glow sticks total, for a cost of about $5. I actually spent $8 for 80 glowsticks, but we had a lot leftover.
The clothes we used were play clothes, so I'm gonna call them free!
The picture of this costume really don't do it justice. This baby is sooooo cool looking! And did I mention cheap and easy?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween/ Fall Festival Games: Spooky Bowling

Need an awesome idea for your fall festival, Halloween party, harvest fair, or just for around the house? Need another reason to show your kiddos how totally awesome you are?

Thinking outside the box is always good... especially when it comes to anything kid-related. Unless you're a fan of "I'm bored", "This is bor-ing!", or any variation thereof...

And boring is especially no good when it comes to other people's know, the ones who don't have to act interested in your wacky ideas that you promise will be fun, especially if they just wait three hours for the crayons to melt. Nobody wants to host the fall festival game that none of the kiddos are interested in playing. Anyone else have nightmares about droves of children at the fall festival, happily playing every game there, except yours? Nah? Just me?

Well, Spooky Bowling is guaranteed not to disappoint. If the line of kids at our Fall Festival was any indication, this game rocks! Don't be fooled by the simplicity....we ran out of prizes, ok?

First of all, you need to go to CVS, Dollar Tree, or somewhere else you can buy these Luxury Wafers in a can. They come in chocolate and vanilla flavors for only $1 per can. (Please don't buy them from Amazon- they are way cheaper at the store!). You will need 10 cans. Darn! Must eat cookies!

You will also need some orange and black paper, glue/ glue gun, Halloween themed stickers, and a ball. We tried a variety of balls, from tennis balls, to Sky balls to the cheap 79 cent big rubber bouncy ball. This is one instance where cheap is better.

Step 1: Eat the cookies! Discard the top and wrappers.
Step 2: Cut your paper to fit around the can.
Step 3: Glue the paper to the cans. I used a glue gun. You choose!
Step 4: Decorate the cans with stickers. Don't you just love the candy corn stickers??
Step 5: Arrange the cans on a level surface in a pyramid shape. (Our surface was paved, so we used chalk to make little Xs so we could easily set the cans back up)
Step 6: This step is totally optional, but will make your game even cooler! Cover your ball (or a variety of balls) with Candy Corn or Spider Duck Tape. If you want to use ghosts or pumpkins, that's okay too! We just tore small strips of tape and covered the balls.
Have you ever seen anything cuter than a Candy Corn ball???
Step 7: Decide how you will award prizes. If you're playing at home, you can skip this step.

  • My original plan (which would work well for a family game, classroom, or other setting with a relatively small number of kids) was to place a small prize into each can and the kiddos earned the prize that was in each can then knocked over. You knock over 7 cans, you win 7 prizes. 
  • Since we had so many kiddos at our festival, we decided to be a little more moderate. We made a sign indicating 1-3 pins = 1 prize, 4-7 pins = 2 prizes, 8-10 pins = 3 prizes. 
  • After the game was such a hit, we moved to Plan C: "Yay! You knocked down ___ pins! Here's your (1) prize!"

Step 8: Mark off lines for different age kids to stand behind as they bowl. If your kiddos will be all relatively the same age, you can skip this step.

Get ready to have some bowl-a-rific fun!

Need another Halloween game? Try Halloween Luck!

Linking up at

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Festival Games: Halloween Luck

Finding a DIY game for the fall festivals, school or church carnivals, etc. is always tough. You want a game that's fun, easy and cheap to make and play, and unique. There's always a bean bag toss and fishing game at these types of events. In this series, I'll provide you with ideas and directions to make two fun, unique, and cheap Fall Festival games.  They're also fun to just play as a family, or at a birthday party.

My sweet daughter invented this game all by herself. After playing it, I'm quite impressed.
She took a square cardboard box (ok, technically a cube) and painted it orange. Once the paint dried, she painted different Jack O'Lantern faces on each side of the box. She also took two pumpkin buckets (like the kind used to make Jack O'Lamp-erns. In one bucket, she put slips of paper listing the faces (vampire teeth, circle mouth, triangle nose, etc.). In the other bucket, she put slips of paper with various challenges. (Do a toe-touch, play patty-cake with the wall, do a cartwheel, hop on one foot and sing a Christmas song... your imagination is really the limit here!)

How to play the game:
Players take turns drawing a slip of paper with which face they need to roll. They toss the dice into the air (no cheatsies!). If it lands on the correct face, they win a prize or get a point, depending on how you're playing. If they don't land on the right face, they must draw out and challenge and complete it. (I'd give them a prize after they completed the challenge if they're good sports.)

Roadschooling Rocks

We are using a prepared curriculum in our roadschooling endeavor (K12). However, we have learned to use other resources we would've never used while attending a brick and mortar school.

During science class, we take off walking around the lake or by the river. During the Rock Lab, go outside and look down. During the erosion chapter, go outside anywhere.

It's fantastic that anything you can think of to correspond to each class, you can do it! It's just you and your children, so you decide what's the best way to teach them.

About two months ago, Hunter was getting really frustrated during school. We were at the pavilion next to the lake, which is calming enough... I thought. But everything I was saying to calm him down just wasn't working. So I made him run around the pavilion in his shorts acting like a chicken. He got to laughing so hard he couldn't be upset anymore!

Not saying that would work for everyone, but it did work for us that day. The point is, this isn't normal school. Do whatever you need to do to make it work, and you'll be rewarded!

I wouldn't be on this wondrous adventure with my child if we hadn't rediscovered how much we love camping. What a life altering 10 day trip! Thank God for my Jayco 31 by 8!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bumps in the Roadschooling...

So, it's been a while since I wrote a column, but I've been extremely busy with hosting and homeschooling. To catch up with what I last was talking about, the longer we're in our Jayco 31 by 8, the better. It's hard to explain how close you become after almost 7 months in a camper (March 31 until now).

A turtle! Yay! What a learning experience!
So, you're thinking of homeschooling. The plan is so grandiose, everyone is excited about it. You decide to start off easy, with a planned curriculum. It starts out great. This homeschooling thing is a piece of cake!
Then, you get into the meat of it. The newness wears off, and all of a sudden, you and your child are having school together. You are "the" teacher.  All the respect you've earned over the summer is gone. You are not some stranger that he has to see and listen to one hour a day, five days a week. No, he's with you 24-7.
We butted heads pretty hard for a week or two. Then, I realized that we've got to make this better. So, I started making changes here and there. It's still a work in progress. Last week, it all came together and reminded me how great our roadschooling really is. We had exam week, and Hunter aced them! He missed one question each in Math, Science, and Social Studies. He missed 4 in Language Arts, but... WOW! Hunter is a great kid, but he's just never done extremely well in school. That's fine, as long as he has tried his hardest. But now, wow! One quarter of homeschool under his belt, his lowest grade for the quarter was a 94, and the K12 people recommended gifted testing.
Not only do we have class in PJs, under the awning, but it's working really great!
Thank God for my Jayco 31 x 8!

Full-time RV -ing.... in the front yard

For those who read our blog regularly, we've established that our family is different. We're okay with that. Really. If you've met anyone who loves camping more than we do, I'd like to meet 'em! In the words of my son, "You could say we like camping. I would say we cherish it!"
We're still working on the whole logistical aspect of the dream. Darn money. Our hosting gig is up for now, as the park is closed for the winter. We'll go back in February to get it ready to open, unless something works out for us to hit the road before then. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
We even hung our bucket light. See???

Our Jayco is parked in our front yard. You know, where people normally park their campers when not in use. The only difference is, our camper is in use. We have a perfectly nice, 3000+ square foot two story home. Roomy? Yes. With real beds for everyone? Yup. More TVs than people? Of course!
Yes, you are reading this correctly. Our family of four has chosen to sleep in a 31 by 8 foot travel trailer in our front yard instead of in our large, lovely home.
Can I tell you a secret? We have not slept in our home for seven months!
When we returned from our spring break camping trip, we were so energized and close, we didn't want to be apart. We secretly slept in the camper during the week and camped on the weekends. Then we camped during the week too and secretly drove back and forth to work. Then it was summer. Then we became hosts. Then half of us stayed at the campground all day and roadschooled while half of us went to real school. Then, the park closed for the winter.
And we are still camping. In our front yard. We still do laundry in the big house. But we spend our time in the camper house. Our camper feels like "home". Who needs a big house?
I know, by now, you have one question. WHY???
Because we're different. I told you that!
But, also, because there's just something cozy about all being in a 31 by 8 foot space together. We interact. We talk. We are family. It warms my heart to wake up in the middle of the night and be able to take 5 steps to reach my daughter, and two more steps to reach my son. I can look at them. I can cover them up. When morning comes, they're both within an arm's length to wake up in the morning. You can't sleep too late because someone's gonna wake you up (insert evil grin here). You can't go play in your bedroom for hours on end and ignore the rest of the family. You can't play video games until your eyes glaze over. You are forced to BE TOGETHER! And we love it.
Are we crazy? Maybe. Are we a loving, extremely close-knit family? Sure 'nuff! Will we continue to "full time" RV in our front yard? You betcha! (that is, until we figure out how to "full time" across the US and live our dream!)

Could you spend 5 months with your family in a 31 by 8 foot camper...

"And call it fun?
We know we could!"

That was my darling children's introduction to their 4-H presentation at County Project Achievement, an adorable vocal performance of Lakey Lakey Hart . The little dears won second place in the Vocal category!
Although, I know the audience probably thought we were Crazy with a Capital C!

I think you have to be "camping people" to get us.
We have a dream that most people think is crazy. (We don't care!) We like sitting under the awning. We like to BE with our kids, and make stuff. We think fungi are cool! Our favorite place to be is outside. We know our kids. We are happiest when we are all together in our Jayco 31 x 8.

Most people could not answer the question above with a YES! Most parents would consider seven months (now) in a travel trailer with their children full time akin to medieval torture devices... you know, the ones that pull your fingernails out (or cut off your head)!

Us, not so much! These past seven months have been AH-MAY-ZING!
I can truly say that Life is Great in a 31 by 8.
We'd Rather Be Camping.... my motto!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jack O'LAMP-erns

About eight years ago, my brilliant hubby (pun intended!) invented a cool Halloween decoration idea:
Jack O'LAMP-erns! (Yes, another bad pun! You're welcome!) Not only is it a spook-tacular decoration , it is dread-fully cheap and easy! (I just can't help it!)

We used the Jack O'Lantern trick or treat buckets you can buy just about anywhere for a dollar.
They're a cinch to make, assuming your hubby is like mine and has every tool known to man! And they'll fit any standard lamp. We replace every single lampshade in our house with these. I've even taken one to my classroom at school. Kiddos think they.are.SO.COOL!
You need a 1 1/4 inch paddle bit and a battery drill.
And, of course, an assortment of Jack O'Lantern buckets in various faces and colors. Personally, I'm partial to the traditional face and pink or orange.

Kiddos can help with this craft, but it definitely requires an adult to "assist".
Step 1: Insert your paddle bit into the battery drill.
Step 2: Gently press the paddle bit into the bottom center of the Jack O'Lantern  bucket.
Imagine there's a battery drill attached here :)
Step 3: Drill slowly and easily through the Jack O'Lantern.  If you force it, your hole will look like the blue pumpkin. If you're nice and easy, you'll have a smooth, clean hole like my yellow pumpkin.
Step 4: Remove your lampshade and light bulb from your lamp.
Step 5: Place your Jack O'LAMP-ern over the lamp socket.
Step 6: Screw your light bulb back into the socket. (We usually use CFL bulbs in our lamps, but for Halloween time, we switch back to standard light bulbs, since they are a bit brighter. We have used 100 watt bulbs in these Jack O'LAMP-erns for 8 years and have had no issues.)

Just in case you're thinking, "Why would I want to destroy my kid's trick-or treat bucket?", I'll let you in on a little secret. I have covered the hole with clear packing tape (both inside and out, so it's not sticky) and let the kiddos use them for Trick or Treating.
Happy Jack O'Lamping!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

There's something majestic...

About the sun gleaming through a spiderweb.
Grab your kiddos and go spiderweb hunting.
Take a camera.
Look for all the little miracles of nature you can find.

My kiddos appreciate the little, simple things...

 Madison wanted so desperately to go mushroom hunting! She and Brian hunted mushrooms in the woods for hours. Instead of picking them and taking them out of nature, she took pictures... probably 50 plus... amazing pictures. These are some of the coolest.  It thrills me to no end that my sweet girl would rather hunt mushrooms in the woods than play computer or video games. So, when was the last time your kiddos went mushroom hunting?

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