Tag Archives: Just4Fun

Ringing in the New Year! Welcome to 2017!

img_20161231_200213Welcoming in the new year at our homestead is a fun event. We are not really “party animals” and do normally spend New Year’s Eve with our kids at home.  We play games the entire day and eat homemade finger foods (like homemade egg rolls, meatballs, chips and dips, etc).

This year, we had new games added to our collection including Steampunk Munchkins, Timeline – American History, The Ticket to Ride expansion for 1910 and Oregon Trail. (Yes, I know! Not the standard games that everyone else had in their collections – But we are a gaming kind of family and have all of those standard Sorry and Monopolies too!)

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So for hours and hours, we spend time as a family…. What have I learned while playing games with my kids? I have learned that I don’t like playing against Griffen in Munchkin… He is RUTHLESS! Trystan still does not play well with others and cheats his way through every game that he plays. Larry remembers all of the rules to all of the games that we play…. He is filled with folders of useless knowledge too.  I know that Rowan and Elwyn are very competitive, but will help you out on teaming up on games.  I know that Shelby LOVES to just sit and play any game, anytime with anyone.  Berlyn does not always play well with others. Breckin is a good sport and will not only play games with his sisters, but will dress up for one of the princess games with them.

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Upon the ringing in of the New Year, we make it outside to bang pots and pans and yell Happy New Year…. then come in and drink “kid champagne” AKA  Sparkling Apple Cider. 

This morning, we woke up to 2 new baby goats on our homestead! Declan (one of our registered Purebred Nubians) and Ava (a Registered American Nubian) had 2 baby girls…. We are thrilled to have already added to our homestead this early in the season…. 

So, from our family to yours!

Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Gluten Free Lemon Zucchini Bread

IMG_20150908_140829489Ingredients

  • 1 TB Tapioca Starch or Corn Starchglutenfreelemonzucchinibread
  • 1 TB Xanthan Gum
  • 1 cup Brown or White Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • Juice of one lemon (zest first)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini

Directions

  1. Mix flours, starch, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Then add oil and sugar until well blended. Add lemon juice, buttermilk, lemon zest to this mixture and blend all together.
  3. Fold in zucchini until it is mixed well.
  4. Add dry mixture to the wet mixture and blend all together until well combined.
  5. Pour batter into greased 9×5 loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 375 for 60 minutes or until bread is cooked through.

Pool Noodle "Stick" Horses – Summertime activities

I love Dollar Stores!! I found $1 pool noodles… I don’t have a pool… What am I going to do with them?

I am going to make pool noodle HORSES!

My little LONE RANGERS need these!!! These were so easy to make.


We ended up making 15 of them for our house (and for the motorhome to take with us camping!!)

krisandlarry-poolnoodle ponies

 

 

These are so simple to create! Here’s what you need!!

  • pool noodle
  • large, thick rubber band
  • twine or ribbon
  • felt  – cut to create hair. (fold the piece in half long ways and cut strips towards the folded section but not all the way through to make fringe)
  • sharpie marker
  • low temperature hot glue gun or gorilla glue – school glue didn’t hold well. (The high temperature WILL melt the noodle!)

Directions:

  1. Fold the noodle about 12 inches from the end and place the large rubber band around both pieces (see, it needs to be a large this one!).
  2. Tie the ribbon on the horse around the “nose” and the body and make a rein.
  3. Glue the Felt Hair on the pony and draw a face with the marker…

krisandlarry-poolnoodle ponies2

Natural Dye Easter Eggs!


EasterEggDye
I LOVE finding interesting articles online. THANKS AUNT DONNA for sending this to me! This article was on What’s cooking America. Every year we use different items like the follow list to dye our eggs. Looking forward to the weekend to do it again. 🙂

As most of you know, Elwyn is Anaphylaxis to Red Dye – Easter when she was about 15 months old, I fed her jelly beans and she has a reaction that sent us to the hospital when her heart having to be restarted among other terrible things because of the dyes that I fed her. We have converted the entire house to dye-free and it helps my 3 amigos as well (Autism and PTSD & ADHD can also be effected by dyes and processed foods as well). 

 

How to make natural egg dyes:

  • Wash hard-cooked (boiled) eggs in warm soapy water to remove any oily residue that may impede the color from adhering to the eggs. Let eggs cool before attempting to dye.
  • You need to use your own judgment about exactly how much of each dye stuff to use. Except for spices, place a handful (or two or three handfuls) of a dyestuff in a saucepan.
  • Add tap water to come at least one inch above the dye stuff. NOTE: This will be aboEasterEggDye2ut 1 cup of water for each handful of dyestuff.
  • Bring the water just to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Let simmer about 15 minutes or up to an hour until you like the color obtained. Keep in mind that dyed eggs will not get as dark as the color in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Pour mixture into a liquid measuring cup. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of strained dye liquid. Pour the mixture into a bowl or jar that is deep enough to completely cover the eggs you want to dye.
  • Use a slotted spoon to lower the eggs into the hot liquid. Leave the eggs in the water until you like the color. NOTE: Allow the egg to sit in the tea for several hours or overnight. The longer the egg soaks, the deeper the final color will be. If you plan to eat the eggs be sure to do this step in the refrigerator.
  • When eggs are dyed to the color you desire, lift the eggs out with the slotted spoon. Let them dry on a rack or drainer.NOTE: An egg carton works nicely as a drying rack. Be careful to handle the eggs gently and minimally as some of the colors can easily be rubbed off before the egg has dried.
  • For a textured look, dab the still wet egg with a sponge.
  • Eggs colored with natural dyes have a dull finish and are not glossy. After they are dry, you can rub the eggs with cooking oil or mineral oil to give them a soft sheen.
Color
Items To Dye With
Blue
Canned Blueberries
Red Cabbage Leaves (boiled)
Purple Grape Juice
Brown or Beige
Strong Coffee
Instant Coffee
Black Walnut Shells (boiled)
Black Tea
Brown Gold
Dill Seeds
Brown Orange
Chili Powder

Gold
Turmeric
Green
Spinach Leaves (boiled)
Liquid Chlorophyll
Greenish Yellow
Yellow Delicious Apple Peels (boiled)
Grey
Purple or red grape juice or beet juice
Lavender
Small Quantity of Purple Grape Juice
Violet Blossoms plus 2 tsp Lemon Juice
Red Zinger Tea
Orange
Yellow Onion Skins (boiled)
Carrots
Paprika
Pink
Beets
Cranberries or Juice
Raspberries
Red Grape Juice
Juice from Pickled Beets
Red
Pomegranate juice
Canned Cherries (with syrup)
Raspberries
Cranberries
Lots of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Violet or Purple
Violet Blossoms
Hibiscus tea
Small Quantity of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Red Wine
Yellow
Orange or Lemon Peels (boiled)
Carrot Tops (boiled)
Chamomile Tea
Celery Seed (boiled)
Green tea
Ground Cumin (boiled)
Ground Turmeric (boiled) or Saffr

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He's 12… And was supposed to stay LITTLE! Happy Birthday Griffen

griffenbirthday12 years ago (just after midnight) I delivered a VERY little baby boy who was 6 weeks early and not breathing very well. That scared us so badly!!

9 days in NICU he came home… all 4 pounds 14 ounces of him.

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Griffen, today, you are turning 12. I can’t believe how big you have gotten (as tall as mom now) and how much I truly LOVE YOU! You are AMAZING!

You make me laugh and have one of the best senses of humor I have even known.

You are a hard worker and an down-right good soul! You are one in a million!

Your smile is contagious and you are so inventive! Some of things you say and do just make me laugh!

I love that you still hold your mama’s hand in public and the way you say “I love you mama” like Elvis! And hug and kiss your sisters still.

I love that you volunteer at church in classes that have littler kids and take the little cub scouts under your wings.

I love that you can build anything out of Legos and on Minecraft.

I love that your 4th of July talent is the “tummy roll”. I don’t think that is a talent that every one should do… or see! HA! Oh Yeah… and Armpit farting can be added to that talent!

I love that you let your sister’s paint your toenails and braid your hair. I love that you will play board games with all of your little brothers, even when you really don’t want to play, just to humor your mom.

I love that you will snuggle on the couch and watch chick flicks with your mama, just to snuggle with me.

I love that you con your dad into snuggle parties every weekend and laughed through the movie “Aliens”. (And tried to scare your sisters by describing ALL of the scary parts to them.)

Happy Birthday Griffen!!

I LOVE YOU!!! I hope that you enjoy the photos!!!

Afterschool Organization

Over the last year, we have had our ups and our downs with everything. Their therapist and I have been trying to work through the food hoarding and stealing and we think that we have found what is working.

With my trusty Cricut Machine and vinyl that I picked up from www.PickYourPlum.com

I added names to the sides of plastic shoe boxes. These are the SNACK BOXES!!! Each child gets 15 snacks added to it on Sunday night. They can choose to eat them all in one day, or keep them for all week. The very first day, Breckin at 8 snacks, but soon came to realize that he only had 7 for the rest of the week.  The girls are pretty smart. They will eat some of their snacks and then put back what they don’t eat for later.

Now, the first thing that the boys do when they get home from school is ask if they can have a snack… and they know what box is theirs!

We have been experimenting with this for 3 weeks and we have seen no other food hoarding or stealing for that time. YEAH!!!

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Getting Kids organized for school

blog-calendar1Keeping 7 kids organized is a task in itself. I am often asked how can I manage to get all kids where they need to go. I have a calendar… actually I have MANY calendars. I have an online calendar that my husband can access through google. This allows him to post to the calendar and it emails me when he does. I have a paper calendar that I carry. I seem to like that one better than the online one. And I have a new one just for kids.

This is a removable vinyl whiteboard that is sticky on the back.  This allows me to write a schedule for all of the kiddlings to see. Breckin gets many anxiety issues with not knowing a schedule and routines are very important to Berlyn.  Since they are both reading now (at least Berlyn can read his name), they can both check each day and know exactly what is going on (or at least that something is going on that day) without coming to mom to check. The kids get so excited to see their names on the calendar for an activity. I tend to write them in color code as well (That reminds me to pick up some new white board pens while everything is on sale)

Having many calendars can often times be a problem if they are not “sync-ed”. Every morning before I get kids up and going, I check my emails and check all 3 calendars just to make sure that they all match for that day and the week. Then,  I adjust as needed.

So, no matter how much I don’t want to go someplace, I still can’t use the excuse that I didn’t know about it… it is bound to be on one and then all 3 calendars here at our house. … Getting there on time? That is a totally different matter. 😉

Summertime activities – Positive Behavior System – Quarters

We have had SO many views of our POINTS AWARD SYSTEM (Click here to see information on this) that I wanted to share another system that we have been using this summer in our home.

Quarter Reward System

On the first of the mquartersonth (or what ever day works best for you), each of you children receive ONE roll of quarters in a jar. Mom also needs to have a roll of quarters as well.

Every time a child in our home is disrespectful or mean to another (and mom or dad hears or sees this happening) then that child owes the other a quarter. If they backtalk mom, mom gets a quarter. Mom can hand out quarters to any kid who is going above and beyond – doing a chore without asking, being extra nice, etc.

If a child runs out of quarters in the month, then, they will have to do an extra chore for each time that they act out.

One the first of the next month, the child will get to keep ALL quarters that they have in their jar to save or spend… And mom starts over with a new roll of quarters.

This has worked AWESOME with our new little boys… They do NOT want extra chores and LOVE to help extra around the house to earn quarters.

A larger family dynamics

After the adoption of our 2 boys, I have been asked MANY times if Larry and I are finally done having children. We are told OFTEN that 7 kids are a lot … A HUGE family!  I have to disagree with them. We are not finished if God wants us to have more. We know that God will only give us what we can handle and Larry and I after the birth of Shelby knew that we were destined to become parents – the best parents that we could be. We look at families with 10 or more and and I am in awe of how they all work together.

We have a dynamic in our household that people with 2 children just don’t understand. Is is chaotic? Yes, at times… but when is it not chaotic for someone with 2 or 3 children too. Is it loud? YES! But again, I wouldn’t change it for anything. We always have something going on… we always are on the go with activities together. I have a home office where I do 75% of my work from. … I am essentially a stay-at-home mom. We have 4 children who are homeschooled and 3 who are public schooled. We are back on the foster care and adoption lists for a little girl (or 2) under 4 years old.

How with work, school, homeschool, and everything else on my plate do I juggle everything that I do? Recently at a CFT (team meeting for our boys with CPS and therapists) Larry and I were asked what our strengths were of each other. Larry had one for me that I was not aware of… He said that he thought that my greatest strength in the household was my ability to juggle all of the kids and get them to where they needed to be while still being an amazing mom. WOWWIE! I am honored to think that my husband “sees” everything that I do with the kids.

I have been asked an MANY occasions what the essentials in my household are. Here is my “mom” list.

  1. I know that my house will never be spotless, nor should it ever. Our house is very well lived in and it is NOT a museum. Our house will at times be cluttered and really messy. Do we clean, YES, all of the time! Everything does have a place and will make it there as soon as I stop playing with my children!
  2. Kids schedule organization is essential. With any number of children in your household, you need to be organized with a calendar. I have both a print calendar that I keep on my desk and take with me in my “Mary Poppins Purse” and I put everything online on my Google calendar that my husband and oldest daughter can access from their phones. Everything is color coded by person.This makes it SO much easier to know who needs to be where and when.
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  3. Take time to do something fun with your children every day! I try not to get stuck in a mundane routine… Over and Over and OVER again causes for BORING! However for many children routine is very important so block a “time” every day.
  4. Get a hobby that you can include  your children. We cook… and BOY, DO WE!  All of my children cook. We make everything from scratch and make up so many recipes. They don’t always turn out. But we do write down all that we do  create together.
  5. Always, always, always eat and pray together every night. This will allow you to visit with your children, learn who they are all over again. You can have your “family meetings” during dinner. Our are loud and full of laughter. We do not sit quietly and I love every minute of those giggles and talking about your day moments. Soon enough they will no longer be at home to do this.
  6. blog-quietplaceTo deal with the loud and crazies, create a “quite area”.  In my office, I have a chalkboard wall, a glider rocking chair, children’s books and quite felt and wood toys. This area is a quite zone for all children who need to have alone time.
  7. To streamline your household, plan out your meals in advance.  I know what I have in my pantry, in my freezers and in my refrigerators all of the time (unless I have an older kids help themselves to something. Last week I was missing 2 bell peppers… come to find out my oldest 2 kiddos  ate them for a snack – REALLY? A Bell pepper for a snack? At least they LOVE veggies!) We know exactly what we are making for dinner when I get up in the morning to make my day go easier. Most of the time, I load up my solar oven pans in the morning and let it cook all day!!!
  8. Recruit children to have their own toys, help with clean-up and to help others with their chores. With as many little hands that are in our home, I know that we can accomplish ANYTHING! Use children in the skills that they are best at. Elwyn LOVES to be in the garden. She loves to pull weeds and calls that her private time. Berlyn does NOT like to do yard work, but he is really good at organizing things in bedrooms. We use each child with their own special gifts.
  9. Make the most of time that you are kidless. I work when Larry is off. I work at night after kids are in bed and during “brain-rest” time. I chose to work like this so that I can give 100% to my kids.
  10. Lastly, remember that every day is a new day. It has to be or you will make yourself go crazy and pull out all of your hair. You will NOT accomplish everything that you planned every single day, but you can give it your best shot each and every day.

Summertime Activities for Kids… Hop Scotch

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STEP 1-3

With 7 kids at home during the summer time (Yes, I know that we homeschool 4 of the kids but that does leave 3, all special needs, that are normally gone all day!), I have been finding activities to do every day with them. As a child, I loved playing hopscotch. I started thinking – I have a TON of cement driveway around my house and I was sure that I could make one fairly easily. I mean… I draw them all of the time with chalk anyhow!

Hop scotch is one of those age-old games that can be found around the world as well as in every language out there. There are no set rules, as a matter of fact I was amazed to hear how Breckin learned the game at school too!

Today, we taped the ground outside on the driveway and created a hopscotch on the sidewalk. I had left over blue painters tape from the girls room and my office chalkboard wall (I will post about those soon!)

This will prove to be hours of fun for any number for the kids and will probably drive Berlyn a little crazy with OCD and Autism. As a matter of fact, Berlyn kept peeling and straightening my lines for me.

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STEP 5

Step 1 – Blue tape the outline of the hopscotch. There are many different patterns that you can find online for a hop scotch.

Step 2 – Create the inside lines. Remember to put one tape down, then a space and a second tape down to form lines that you are going to paint.

Step 3 – Tape around the entire outside to make a space between the step 1 line and this line.

Step 4 – Take scissors or a blade and remove any over lapping tape to make a continuous line form. 

Step 5 – Spray paint the open lines to form a permanent hop scotch on the cement.

NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT  spray paint while it is windy like I did or you will get stray spray!

Step 6 – Remove the blue tape – Fun for the kids once your paint dries… Breckin was right there to volunteer for me! And he even took it to the garbage for me as well!

Step 7 ENJOY!!!!  This can prove to be hours of fun for your littles!

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STEP 6

 

Found a cool site with some FUN information:

http://www.sportsknowhow.com/hopscotch/history/hopscotch-history-2.shtml

Hopscotching Around the World

As mentioned the game is a bit different around the globe, and variations are plenty, from the French version which features a spiral instead of the usual set up, to Ekhat-Dukhat in India which only has two squares.

The New York version of the game is Potsie, which comes from pot or the home base which a player gets too (if he doesn’t fall off). The New York term for hopscotch, which is played pretty much the same as the English one, dates back to the late 19th century.

The French version might be a bit harder to play if you are used to English hopscotch. The course is a spiral, much like a snail’s shell, and players need to hop to the centre and back. A player can also pick out a square of choice and can land on this square with both feet; this is because there aren’t any squares side-by-side.

Hopscotch in German-speaking countries is called “Heaven and Hell” and has different rules; players need to kick the stone from square to square when advancing, and cannot stop at the “Hell” square which is the second-to-last in the game.

In Cyprus and Greece, they play Ayaktasi (try saying that with a mouthful) which is similar to how the Australians play hopscotch. The player throws a stone into a square in the usual way, but the game is played in stages and only ends once the stone has landed on all possible squares.