Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 New Year's Eve Balloon Countdown for Kids

We are ready for our 4th Annual New Year's Eve Balloon Countdown of Activities. (A link to our previous activities can be found here:

I have added some minute-to-win-it style games along with some STEM activities this year. 
The last activity before midnight is a 17-clue Scavenger Hunt designed by my husband. 

The activities: 
Mentos/Diet Coke experiment
Make fortune cookies
Make colorful cupcakes 
Make wishing wands
Water Experiment
Glow in the dark jello
Visit my concession stand
Fill out annual question sheet
Confetti eruptions
Photo Booth
Stack it up game (25 pennies stacked with one hand in 1 minute)
Suck it up (move m&m candy from one plate to another)
Stack attack (stack 21 cups in a pyramid in a minute)
Moving it up (move opposite color cup all the way through the stack)
Glow in the dark bouncy balls
Streamer party ball
Make soft pretzels
Scoop it up game (move ping pong balls from one bowl to another)
Make a time capsule
Make fire ice cream
Make glowing exploding bags
Make party slime
Magic milk fireworks
Glow in the dark ring toss
Defy gravity game. (Keep two balloons in air using only 1 hand)
Scavenger Hunt

The clues for the hunt:
It’s New Year’s Eve
And the Hunt Begins.
Start the Search
Where Shoes Have Been

Shoes Can Be Stinky
It’s Sad but True.
Dad’s Cologne Helps
The Smell and the Next Clue.

Too Much Cologne
And You’ll Smell Like Matt.
Get the Next Clue Where He
Takes Relaxing Baths.

This Drain Was All Clogged
So We Fixed it with Borax.
This Journey Continues
With Rachel’s Favorite Fruit Snacks.

Secret Life of Pets
Was Not a Great Movie.
But the Game on Dad’s iPad
Is Really Quite Groovy.

Wind is Blowing
And the Chimes are Ringing.
Another Clue is Located
Where Rachel’s been Singing.

You Found Daddy’s iPad
Where it Made Most Sense.
The Next Clue is Hiding
Where Mom Hides Presents.

This Closest is Perfect
But It’s Not the Only One.
Another Clue Awaits
In the Closet of the Sons.

The Boys Closet’s Messy
As No One Can Argue.
Is Rachel’s Even Worse?
Check it Out, Won’t You?

Think You’re Done With Closets?
You Best Think Again.
There’s Another Closet
Where Our Coats Have Been.

The Search Must Continue
For Our Excited Pair.
Look for a New Clue
Underneath Dad’s Chair.

Chairs are So Comfy
A Great Place for a Seat.
But Behind the Couch--
Now That is Sweet!

The NES Classic
Has Been a Family Hit.
You Might Find Clue
Somewhere Near It.

Video Games Are Great
But we would rather be in the pool.
Move The Search Along
To Where Food Stays Cool.

Cold Food Is Yummy
But Some Like it Hot.
The Oven Has No Clues
The Microwave? Maybe, Maybe Not.

When Food Gets Stuck
In Your Teeth It Is Gross, Methinks.
You Should Go Get A Toothbrush,
Maybe Near the Sink?

The Search Has Ended
The New Year Is Near.
2017 Will Be Great
Because We’re Full Of Cheer!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gingerbread Man Hunt

One of our daily Christmas activities was a gingerbread man hunt. At the end of the hunt, the kids were led to gingerbread cookie dough and supplies to make a gingerbread man book. 

Here are the clues: 
1. Run, run, as fast as you can; you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man! Follow the clues to catch him! 
2. (was with number 1) I was in the kitchen, but not anymore. I may be caught running by the back door. 
3. Oh you are just seconds too slow. Try finding me where Yoda's light saber will glow. 
4. Oh darn, you are just missing me...Maybe I'm in the Christmas tree! 
5. Nope, not hiding in here. Maybe I'm by the bathroom mirror. 
6. Now I'm running out of steam...I'll be waiting where you store the whipped cream. 

The book cover is made from construction paper and wax paper. The kids decorated their own gingerbread puppet to place in the oven. 

The oven door opens so the gingerbread man can stay stored there until the story is read. 
I stapled paper to the cover and the kids wrote a story for the gingerbread man. 
Page 1: Run, Run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man. 
Page 2:The gingerbread man ran over a hill. 
Page 3: The gingerbread man ran up a tree.
Page 4: The gingerbread man ran into a barn
Page 5: The gingerbread man ran by a lake.
Page 6: The gingerbread man on top of a fox's back. The fox said, "Come a little closer, I  can't hear you." Run, Gingerbread Man, run! 
Full book details can be found on:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Skittles Challenge

The kids really enjoyed this experiment. Put Skittles all around a plate and carefully dump hot water over top of the Skittles. The colors will run together and then stop wherever they meet. 

Pumpkin-shaped Cookies

For the kids' Halloween treats we made little sugar cookies and turned them into pumpkins. They were a big hit! 

Fall Paintings

My mom, sister, aunt, and I have started monthly painting parties. Here are some of our fall creations. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cake Mix Pie Crust

I saw a video showing how to do this on the Duncan Hines site. I tried it with a spice cake mix and had great results! 

1 spice cake mix (or yellow)
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 Tbsp butter, softened

Mix all of the ingredients with your hands. Fold it multiple times until all the ingredients are incorporated. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Place in a pie pan. I filled my pie with my apple pie filling and crumb topping, but you could fill with anything. (
Bake the pie at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. 

I cut the extra dough into strips and sprayed them with cooking spray. Then I topped with cinnamon and sugar and baked for about 12 minutes. They were delicious too. 

Easy Canned Tomatoes

My mom taught me this method of canning that eliminates the need for peeling the tomatoes and using a pressure cooker. It is so much easier and all of our jars always seal. 

Spaghetti Sauce:
1 large kettle of washed and quartered tomatoes
5-6 cloves of garlic
3 onions
2 large green peppers
3 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup oregano
3-4 Tbsp basil
Thicken with about half of a large can of tomato paste 

1 large kettle of tomatoes washed and quartered
3-5 cloves of garlic
2 large green peppers
3 onions
5-6 jalapenos
3 Tbsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp vinegar
Thicken with about half of a large can of tomato paste

Chili Juice
3-5 cloves of garlic
2 large green peppers
3 onions
3 Tbsp salt
4-5 stalks of celery
2-3 jalapenos
1 large kettle of tomatoes washed and quartered

Regardless which recipe above you want to make, the steps to can are the same. Start by washing and quartering your tomatoes. You will not be taking the skins off.

Add the peppers, onions, garlic. (Add jalapenos and celery if the recipe above calls for it.)
Using an immersion blender, chop up all of the ingredients and add the spices, salt, (and sugar). 

Boil the mixture, stirring frequently. Let it simmer for about an hour or until the tomatoes are cooked down. 

Make sure the jars you use are clean. Place the canning lids in a small saucepan of boiling water. Fill the jar with the hot tomato liquid. Wipe the top of the lid with a dry cloth. Immediately place the hot lid on top of the jar. Screw on the lid and immediately flip the jar over on a towel. 

Let the jars sit overnight. When you flip them over, they will be sealed. Every one of these jars settled using this method. 

Back to School Scavenger Hunt

We decided to bring some excitement to our last day of summer vacation by having a back to school scavenger hunt. 

Here are the clues:
Clue #1: Back to school, Back to school, Your hunt begins near Dad's tools. 
Clue #2: Dad hates screaming, But mom hates a mouse, Matt doesn't care, He moved into his own tiny house. 
Clue #3: Hillary is running, But so is Trump. It'd be HUGE, to go where Rachel jumps. 
Clue #4: It was a Christmas gift, And then David's smile reached far. But putting it together, led to cash in the swear jar. 
Clue #5: The hunt is almost over, It seems it came and went. Find your prizes In the family room tent. 

The final prizes were all the kids' school supplies, backpacks, and lunch boxes. 

Basil Pesto Chicken Bake

2 large chicken breasts split in half to thin
3 oz basil pesto
cherry tomatoes quartered
1 cup mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Place the chicken breast in the dish. Spread pesto over the chicken breasts. If desired, place the cherry tomatoes on top of that (the kids preferred to leave the tomatoes off of theirs). Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over that. 

Top with Mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. 
This could be eaten plain or served with noodles. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Path to Motherhood

The path we take to motherhood can come in all shapes and sizes. On this Mother’s Day I reflect and embrace the journey that led me down the most rewarding path I have ever taken in my life…

From an early age I knew I wanted children. From living in a home that doubled as a daycare to eventually having my own makeshift daycare as a teenager, I did all I could to prepare myself to be a mother. I idolized my mom and took notes from all of the positive mom role models I had in my life. I even remember making fake grocery lists from sale ads as if I was preparing to buy groceries for my own family. (I know, a little crazy!) However, I thought I had my life all figured out and my path to motherhood was going to be an easy one to travel.

Then, life happens, and in the words of Robert Frost, “I took the one (path) less traveled”. After meeting the man I knew I would spend the rest of my life, I not only became a wife, but also a stepmom to a two-year-old little boy. Being a stepmom is something no one can prepare you for. But I embraced this opportunity like no other opportunity I ever had before. I loved that little boy like he was my own. I knew I would never replace his mom, but I would work so hard to be the best second mom this child could ever imagine. The path of a stepparent can be full of twists and turns and uncertainty, but “has made all the difference”.

Walking down this particular path of motherhood made me ache that much more for more children. This is where my path met many road blocks. No one can prepare you for the loss of three babies and the heartache that comes with trying over and over again to be a biological mom. The tests, the emotions, the results leading to essentially no answers. But, if we all stopped in our tracks the moment things got tough, we would never make it back to the main road.

My path finally provided hope. Eleven ultrasounds, countless stress tests, and a baby aspirin a day, eventually led me to my little miracle baby. While motherhood itself if never easy, holding the little person and hearing the words “mommy” are enough to make you forget about all the struggles and sleepless nights.

Three years later, my path got even more joyous when my second miracle entered the world. She is making our path through life so fun and interesting! It’s amazing how children with the same parents can be so different!

Now, I will never forget about those babies lost, but I know that everything happens for a reason. My path to motherhood has led me to the three most precious children I could ever have imagined. And maybe taking this long, testing path is what makes me take this job so seriously, but whatever the reason, I am so proud to be a mom and do everything I can to take advantage of every moment.

There are so many different paths to motherhood, some easier than others, but regardless the path it takes to get there, the outcome makes all the difference. Embrace your path and keep traveling.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Earth Day Scavenger Hunt

For Earth Day we decided it would be fun to do another Scavenger Hunt. I just love the excitement and emotion that comes out of them when they search for clues (and Steve writes the clues, so it is pretty easy on my end). For added excitement, the final prize of this hunt is Detroit Pistons' Playoff tickets. (David and Matt have been dreaming of going to a play off game for years.) I am so excited to see their faces on the final clue!

Here are the clues: 

It’s Finally Earth Day!

It’s time to go looking.
The first clue is found
Where we do the cooking.

The clues will continue
Until they suddenly stop.
You’ll find the next one
Where we keep our pop.

Pop is so sweet
And is always so fizzy.
Moving to the freezer
Will keep you all busy.

The food here is frozen
And it’s oh-so-cold.
The last clue is warmer,
At least that’s what I’m told.

The Oven’s the finish line,
The Hunt didn’t bore us.
It’s time to see...Jackson,
Drummond and Morris!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Detroit Tiger Opening Day Cake 2016

We have made an Opening Day cake every year for three years now. The Detroit Tigers open tomorrow, so we thought we would celebrate with our annual family party. This is the cake we came up with...

Here is a link to last year's cake and our Paws refrigerator

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mini Easter Cakes

We saw some pictures on Pinterest of mini bunny cakes, so we tried to make some of our own. 

I mixed up two boxes of white cake mix and divided it into four equal parts. Then I colored them pink, blue, purple, and green. I just used a large sheet cake pan for two of the colors. 

I baked the cakes for about 10 minutes. 

Then I cut each color of cake into circles. I piped the outside of each circle with frosting and then stacked them up. 

Using a star tip, I piped frosting on the top. 
For the ears, I cut a large marshmallow in half. Then I shaped the marshmallow to look kind of like an ear and dipped the sticky side in pink sprinkles. I added a pink chocolate candy for the nose. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Easter Handprint Picture

This simple craft doesn't take a lot of supplies and is very quick. 

We started by making a yellow handprint. Then we glued down scrapbook paper for a hill. We cut out a cross and glued that down. 

Rachel wanted to add animal stickers to hers as well. 

Peep Experiments

We decided to do some experiments with Peeps tonight. We started by placing Peeps into various liquids for observation. (I will update the post in the next few days with our results. For liquids, the kids chose, vinegar, laundry detergent, water, Coke, and Gatorade.

The next experiment involved the microwave. We cut the top off of a Gatorade bottle and stuffed some Peeps inside. Then we set the microwave for 1 minute. We watched the Peeps expand before our eyes. We did an observation at one minute and then started it for about 20 more seconds. 

The overflow actually pulled off of the microwave very easily. We let it sit for about half an hour on the counter. It became very hard on the bottle. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt #4

We had our 4th Annual St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt today. The kids just love this activity. Steve writes all of the clues for these hunts, so definitely have to give him credit for his rhyming skills. 

Clue #1:
With green in your hearts
You look for new clues.
Get this party started
By looking in shoes.

Clue #2
Shoes can be stinky,
Especially Matt’s.
Find some relief
Where David takes baths.

Clue #3
Bath time is fun
Until you get out.
But grab a new towel,
Get dry and don’t pout!

Clue #4
Towels need cleaning
And then they need drying.
Find the next clue in that room,
And there’s no need for crying.

Clue #5
Your journey’s nearly over.
The puzzle’s almost done.
If you locate jumper cables
The party’s begun!

For more clues, here is a link to our first three hunts:

Monday, March 14, 2016

Annual Pi Day Celebration

Today we had our annual Pi Day celebration, complete with Pi cheese bread, mini pies, and pi-inspired activities.

We started with our pies on a stick. I just used refrigerated dough to make these mini pies. I used homemade apple pie filling to fill the circles, crimped them together with a fork, brushed egg white over the top, sprinkled on cinnamon and sugar, poked some holes in the top, and baked them for about 12 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Then I made our regular cheese bread dough and shaped that into a pi sign. (  

Next, I had the kids graph the number pi on some graph paper. (I just used scrapbook paper that had a set of lines on it. I added another set of lines to make it look like traditional graph paper.)
Then we did some patterns on pictures of circle-shaped objects. 

The last thing we did was make whole "pies" out of our fraction paper plates.