Christmas will soon be here but until then, there is a lot of time to fill! Kids who are out for the holidays plus parents who have a lot to do to get ready for the big day means that we have to pull a few tricks out of our hats. Here is a fabulous DIY for something the kids love and can spend hours creating with! Homemade Christmas gak is perfect for preschoolers (who aren’t tempted to eat stuff) all the way through adults who love to play with squishy gak. And, it can be scented to smell like Christmas with thieves oil or cinnamon spice.
All three of our boys have never been known to be quiet as babies. Thankfully we go to a church where the people love our children and don't mind the baby babbles during service. It has always been important to keep them busy and happy, though, so they are making happy sounds and not fussing. I like to keep them in church for as long as possible but we do have to get up and head to the nursery if they're too loud….which is embarassing, but I want to catch as much of the service as possible.
I wanted to share with you some things that keep Baby Brother happy during church, plus a few more great things you can make or gather for your church/restaurant/special occasion bag!
1. Quiet toys like these adorable DIY Soft Blocks from Mama Say What?!
2. Board books are great for babies to look at during church or other quiet times. (Until Baby Brother decides he needs to yell at the characters. 🙂 Check out this great list of the best board books for baby from Carrie Elle:
3. Tag blankets like this one from COOPCRAFTS are great for babies to play with. They love exploring all of the little pieces and different textures.
4. Wooden toys are great and usually pretty quiet. We always pack this wooden fish toy from BeginAgain toys:
(The adorable chevron blanket is from Mamas and Papas, and is handy when Baby Brother can play on the floor.)
Do you have any quiet toys or ideas that could be added to this list?
We have been using glass cups, bowls, and plates for a few years now to limit our use of plastics in the home. I try to get our dishes from thrift stores or clearance but things DO break with kids using them, so you really can never have enough! Recently, my mother gave me quite a few of these cute little jars that she had saved for us, because they are the perfect size for little hands. (They are great for portion control for juice and keeping spills small, too.) I had seen a great idea to decorate coffee mugs with oil based paint markers and thought it would be fun for the boys to personalize their repurposed glass jars. We dedicated about an hour to decorate our clean glasses and let them dry for about 24 hours. I think they turned out super cute! They've made it through one dishwashing without chipping, but really should be hand washed to avoid chipping.
- clean glass jars
- oil based paint markers
- clothes that can get messy (because as much as you tell a three year old "don't get it on your clothes…it's not going to work 😉
- Follow directions on markers to get them ready for drawing.
- Draw, write, create with the markers on your glass jars. I wouldn't recommend drawing inside of the glasses because I'm thinking that would leech chemicals into your beverages..which is the whole point of using glass jars anyway. 🙂
- Let jars dry for about 24 hours.
- Place decorated jars into a cold oven.
- Turn on oven to 350º.
- Leave the glasses in the oven for about 30 minutes. Warning: you will smell the paint "cooking," so definitely open up a few windows or do like we did and head outdoors during this time.
- After 30 minutes, turn off the oven but feel free to leave the glasses inside to cool….then they're ready!
This was so much fun for the boys and they just went to town, asking for more jars to decorate. It all cost about $12, which was the price of the markers…the jars were F-R-E-E! So now, all of my glass jars that I use for food storage are pretty and decorated!
We also made a fun Father's Day gift for Daddy to drink his favorite juice:
(The jars I used were from this product, in case you wondered.)
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I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This #SummerGoodies shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser.
I have always wanted a grilled pizza, but have never been brave enough to try it. After a very busy week, I just wanted to relax, but of course the boys wanted to play in the water and do "something special." I quickly sold them on the idea of having a "Backyard Pizza Party" and I went to Walmart to pick up some food. I saw that Jack's frozen pizza has grilling directions right on the package – that's right, you can grill it! Sold!
I bought two Jack's pizzas from the frozen foods aisle – pepperoni and also pepperoni and sausage..our favorites! And on the same aisle, I picked up some Nestlé Drumstick cones in the new Peanut Butter Variety for after dinner.
Preparation for our party was pretty easy, which is just what I was hoping for. All we had to do was turn on the gas grill and get to grilling our pizzas. Okay, Daddy did all of the grilling while I sat inside and took care of Baby Brother, but I got the plates ready.
I LOVE how the grilled pizza turned out! Hubby is an awesome griller, but the grilling instructions were so simple, so you really don't have to be a professional to grill a mean pizza, but I am thankful that he does have mad grilling skills, anyway. The Jack's pizza turned out to be perfection. The crust was crispy, the cheese and meats were the perfect temperature, and of course the pizza had nice looking grill marks, too:
We all enjoyed the pizza and after dinner, we enjoyed the Nestlé Drumstick Cones. They were a huge hit! I bought the peanut butter variety, which included vanilla, vanilla with peanut butter, and my favorite, peanut butter!
The Captain's absolute favorite part is the unique chocolate nugget at the bottom of each Drumstick cone. He's like me, we like our chocolate!
And don't forget the backyard water fun! The boys were able to burn off all their energy with our DIY backyard splash pad, making our Summer Grilled Pizza party extra fun! I hope to make this a tradition in our house because it was so easy and fun to share each other's company!
DIY Splash Pad for Summer Fun, Year After Year!
When the weather begins to become even slightly warm each year, the boys start talking about summer and asking to play in the water. Thank goodness we live in Texas, because the Captain and D LOVE playing in the water in the backyard! A couple of years ago, Hubby built a DIY Splash Pad for them to play in and it has been a huge hit. The boys started asking to set it up a few weeks ago, and since it stores well and is a snap to set up, we bring it out year after year.
Below is a step-by-step guide to purchasing and setting up your splash pad just like the one in the picture – courtsey of my awesome hubby!
supplies for a 25' x 8' DIY sprinkler/splash pad:
- 140 feet of three-quarter inch PVC pipe (they come in 20' sections)
- ten 90° PVC connections
- ten T connections
- two ball valves
- one female water hose adapter
- two PVC 3/4" caps (All the pieces must match the 3/4" PVC pipe fitting.)
- hand powered PVC cutter
- PVC cement
- a long hose
1. Using the PVC pipe cutter, cut your pieces into these measurements: four 2' pieces, eight 5' pieces, ten 5' pieces, five 8' pieces,
2. Gather your base materials. You will use the 2' and 5' pieces as well as two caps, two ball valves, the female water hose adapter, and all 10 T connections, to assemble your base.
3. Lay all of your base materials out in two 25' assembly lines. Start by laying out your PVC pipes in this order. One 2', four 5', one 2'. Then, in between your pipes, place a T connection. Do the exact same thing with your other 2', 5' pipes, and T connections. you will have two identicaly assembly lines (unglued). See the picture to help see what it will look like once assembled. To finalize your base, you will need to lay your caps, ball valves, and hose adapter just outside each of the 4 ends of your assembly line. Each assebly line will have a cap glued on one end, and a ball valve glued on the other end. Pick which ever ball valve you want your hose adapter on the end of. I chose to put the hose adapter at the end of my splash pad that is closest to my water spicket.
3. Now it's time to asseble the base. Please note, the PVC cement dries very quickly so you will want to apply it and connect it quickly to avoid errors, thus saving you money. The cement takes less than one minute to dry and become un-changable. Apply the cement liberally when connecting PVC and other plastic pieces. Starting with the 2' PVC pipe end of the assembly line, apply cement liberally with the applicator, where this piece connects with a T connection. Make sure and cover the connected surface area of both pieces you are gluing before you connect them. Once connected, you can lay them down and move to the next piece of PVC pipe (5'). The T connection you just glued will have an open end where you'll place the 5' piece. Using the same gluing method, connect them. All T connections need to be pointing up in the same direction. Follow this same pattern for both assembly lines, gluing each piece together, until you have two identical 25' foot pieces, with 5 T connections connecting each one. It's important that these two 25' pieces are identical at this point. Using the same gluing method, you will glue your caps, and ball valves to the ends you placed them on. You'll want to make sure that your ball valves are pointed up, in the same directions each of your T connections are. Then, glue your hose adapter to the end of one of your ball valves. The other ball valve, connected to the other 25' piece is there to drain your pipes, which will help keep mildew from buildling up.
4. Now you will drill your holes (water spouts) into your 5' and 8' PVC pieces. All of your holes will need to be on the same side of your PVC pipe (in linear fashion) and only need to enter through one wall of your pipe. Using a saw horse, or work table, and your 1/16 in. drill bit, drill 2 holes equidistant from each other into each of your 5' pieces. Using the same method, take 4 of your 8' pieces and drill 5 holes equidistant from each other in linear fashion. For the fifth 8' piece, you'll drill 15 holes in linear fashion equidistant from each other. There is some flexibility on your hole placement, if you would like a different spray pattern than what you see in the pictures.
5. Assembling the gates. Once all of your holes are drilled, you'll need to assemble your U-shaped, PVC "gates." Notice in the picture there are 5 "gates" and they are connected ot the base at each T connection. To assemble each gate, lay out two 5' pieces at the ends of one of your 8' pieces, thus making a U-shape. You will use your 90 degree connections to connnect your 5' pieces to your 8' piece. It's important that you line up your pipe's holes in linear fashion so that the water that sprays out of them is all directed inwardly. Except, your 8' piece with the 15 holes will be an unique "gate" where the holes on that piece will face up at a diagonal (creating an entrance or exit soaking). Once you get your pipes and connections ready, glue them using the same PVC cement and gluing method you used for the other pipes. Make sure your gate measurements are identical when assembling. Please use the picture if you have any questions about assembling gates. Give all of your pipes and connections 2 hours to dry in low-moisture conditions.
IMPORTANT NOTE***Your gates will NOT be glued to your base. They will remain push-to-fit so they can be detachable for easier storage.
6. Final assembly. After 2 hours of drying, you will push-to-fit your final assembly. Push-to-fit assembly means that you will not need to use any more cement. You will just need to line up your two bases, on a flat, grassy area with the T connections pointed up. Then you will take each gate one by one and push the uprights of the gates into the open holes of the T connections on each base, to fit tightly (see pictures below). It helps to have 2 people put the gates into the base, but it can be done alone. Then, close the ball valve opposite the hose adapter end, and open the one that's attached to the hose adapter. Then, screw in any kind of water hose to your water hose adapter. At this point, the only place water should be able to escape, is your 55 water spouts you drilled into the pipes. Turn on your water hose, and give it a few minutes to build up pressure before expecting optimal performance. After 5 minutes, you should see water shooting out of every one of the 55 holes, with a strong but not a fast flow, similar to a shower head. In our splash pad, we chose to place a 15 foot slip and slide underneath the "tunnel" of "gates." You could do all kinds of variations of "soaking" with this splash pad. For older kids, you may consider placing this portable splash pad at the top of a grassy hill, and placing some heavy plastic underneath it, extending down the hill for for 50' or 100'.
7. Storing the splash pad – it's very simple to detach and move the splash pad. By hand, firmly pull up each gate, separating it from the T connections on the base. This leaves you with 7 large pieces. You can store them in direct sunlight, or in a garage.You don't have to worry about wrapping or protecting your pipes. They can handle the elements for years.
The boys love it, but what really made it great as they got older was putting a slip and slide underneath it:
You can add different things to make a mega splash pad for a party. Here are a few more fun backyard water ideas:
And don't forget to brush up on your summer safety tips, too!
Start Your Garden Indoors with DYI Seed Pots!
I received these seed pots from Oriental Trading and we were excited to decorate them. I gave the boys some markers, eco-friendly glue, googly eyes, tissue paper, eggshells, and old cooked spaghetti noodles, just for fun. I was curious as to what they would come up with. (The googly eyes and other items that aren't biodegradable should be removed before planting.)
We had a blast decorating the biodegradable seed pots. The Captain tried to make a pot that looked like Daddy. We made a smiley face out of eggshells that we had put in the compost bucket. We used the cooked spaghetti noodles to spell "BP" for bell pepper. D made a four-eyed monster that he was quite proud of:
After we were done decorating, we filled the pots with potting soil and planted a few seeds in each. We planted herbs, tomatoes, and bell peppers, then wrote on the back of the seed pots the name of the type of seed that was planted in them, so we wouldn't forget.
These DIY Watch It Grow Medium Seed Pots can be purchased at Oriental Trading or something very similar at Amazon, as well. They are made of biodegradable peat fiber, so you can plant them right into the garden without worrying about disrupting the roots. As I noted before, however, you should remove all plastic decorations before planting them, although most fall off with watering.
Happy Spring and Happy Earth Day, too!