Planning for Summer: Play Dates

Less than a week ago, after picking up Princess Anna from preschool, she announced from the backseat that this summer, after camp and after her birthday could she have a sleepover at her friends house?  And could she play at her friend’s house?  Because she would have fun.

Now a planned out family summer is fun and all, but sometimes kids just need time to blow off steam with their friends.  Her preschool friend doesn’t live quite as close to us as some of her other friends, but even last summer we made sure they had plenty of time just to play.

That being said, one of the first things I wanted to do when planning this summer was to include her friends.  Last year we had an absolutely wonderful time during spa day, so we wanted to make sure they were included in that.  Craft day was also a hit, and they were there that day also.  And of course a play date here and there.  Now that I have her friend’s vacation schedule, I know when to plan the activities that they won’t want to miss!  But don’t let the play date schedule run your summer.  You still need time to unwind, and you still need family time.  We’ll shoot for play dates every other week maybe, and I think that should be a good balance.

Missed my post about summer trips to museums?  Check it out here!  And keep watching for my next post in my Planning for Summer series: theme days!

Thinking About Summer: Visiting Museums

A few weeks ago, when we were still seemingly in the midst of Winter, I suddenly had the urge to plan out our summer.  So that’s what I did.  Yep–at the beginning of March, I planned out the months of June, July, and August.  Complete with camp adventures.

We knew a while ago that we were doing camp.  Princess Anna is going to Mom & Me Camp for the first time (and she is already packed!), and Rapunzel is going to “Big Girl Camp” for the first time!  We are all so excited.  But of course these camps are short term, and I have a lot of summer to fill.

I’ll be talking in the next few posts about how I scheduled our summer and will be ending with our summer calendar.  But one of the first things I decided to do was to visit museums.  Our family hasn’t been in a financial position…ever…really to visit any museums at a cost.  And just about all of the museums in our area come with a cost.  This year, we aren’t incredibly well off per se, but we are at least finally able to pay our bills, and I knew that our kids could benefit immensely from visiting museums.

Because museums are quite costly, and because there are few I wanted to visit, Prince Charming and I decided to use any extra money I make on the side to put toward a family membership with a children’s museum that has affiliations across the country.  We went with the Family Plus membership, which allows us admission for 6 people (so we can ALL go!), up to three adult cardholders (so a grandparent can take them too!), guest discounts, free access to members-only events, express entry on busy days, and discounts at the museum store, on birthday party packages, on guest memberships, and guest admissions PLUS 50% off general admission to 200+ member museums.  Even if we only visit each museum once and don’t use any other benefit, we are still saving over $26.

Now Princess Anna has this problem called I-have-to-touch-anything-and-everything-especially-if-Mom-doesn’t-want-me-to.  (Reason #2 why we never really went to museums before.)  That’s why our membership includes admission to museums like Port Discovery, Hands on House, and Please Touch Museum.  Now I can breathe a sigh of relief.  I can’t say for sure if we will do this every year, but at least for this year I am pleased to provide my kids with some active learning at a discount.  And what’s better than having your kids learn while having fun?

Taking Care of Friendship

Today, as I attempted to catch up on the backlog of emails in my inbox, I perused through some of my favorite blogs.  As I was doing so, I happened across a few articles about friendship, the importance of developing friendships, and the like.  It got me thinking.  I don’t like to jump on the bandwagon, but when something speaks to me, I feel I need to write it.  (And by the way, you can check out what I read at incourage at The Art of Simple.)

On the radio the other day, I heard one person ask another what the difference was between her friendships 10 years ago and her friendships today.  Well, 10 years ago I was in my senior year of high school.  I can still remember all of my friends from back then, but I think I knew deep down who was real and who wasn’t.  Sure I had my “friends”, but then there are always FRIENDS–you know, real friends.  The ones who wanted me around even though I didn’t want to smoke, drink, and have sex.  The ones that would come to all the sporting events with me or just walk around the mall.

As is no surprise, I haven’t seen most of my “friends” since I graduated high school.  There’s the one I fell away from, the one I’m always talking to, and the one I wish I talked to more.

Then you go to college, make a bunch more superficial friends and a couple of keepers.  I have two of the keepers.

But then you graduate from college and you enter real life: get a job, get married, have kids…and somewhere among the diapers, the milk, the laundry, the soccer games, and the instrumental concerts, you lose touch.  Your friends are two hours away in a new place and you want to be there with her during this transition but you can’t get away long enough to even see her place.  Or she’s three hours away, and you get to see her once–maybe twice a year when you take vacation with your family.  Or she’s just about an hour away but she works full time on the night shift, and the only time you get together is with the kids–which they love (the kids and your friends!), but all you want is some real grown up time sometimes.  Even the friends you make through your kids’ friends (moms unite!) are out of reach most days–they have busy schedules too.

I miss my friends.

Take some time to read Jennie Allen and Tsh.

And then take the time to pursue meaningful friendships.  Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, whether you feel like the frazzled mom with no friends or the laid back mom with a million, call up a friend or send her an email–whatever it takes to refresh those precious friendships.  Male or female, single or married, ten kids or no kids.  We need those friendships in our lives.  We were made for friendships.  So pursue them.  Cultivate them.  And then tell us how you did it.

And while you’re at it, pin this prayer from Elisa Pulliam.  Or print it.  Or just visit it over and over again and pray it every time you see it.  You’ll be glad you did.  And so will they.

The Prayer of a Friend

Scrapbooking (and Smashing!) Heaven

Yesterday, I was on the hunt for lots of miscellaneous scrapbooking and smash booking STUFF.  At this point, I really don’t remember exactly what I was looking for, but I’m sure I got way off track in the process anyway.  I have a major problem with scrapbooking supplies.  And digital scrapbooking supplies.  I have yet to really get into digital scrapbooking, but I am seriously considering it.  The only down side is that I can’t paste any other additional ticket stubs or keepsakes in it.  (If you have a solution for this, please let me know!)

Anyway, I’ve found a bunch of great scrapbooking freebie sites along the way, and I am highly addicted.  I sure hope you like them as much as I do!

Miss Tiina – I found this one a while ago.  She has a ton of free printables: fonts, project life cards, etc.  Love love love!

Pixel Scrapper – This is most definitely one of my favorites not just because of the amazing designs, but because you get free credits every day–for stuff you can download for commercial AND personal use!  I’m always looking for things to use for my blogs, and now I’ve found something awesome.  If you need something along these lines, I highly recommend checking out this site.

The Lilypad – I love the wonderful designs on this site as well.  Can’t say much more about it–it really just speaks for itself.

Check them out and let me know what you think!  Who is your go-to for free or cheap digital downloads?

Sickies

it is, undoubtedly, still cold season–at least at our house.  I can’t even seem to muster the energy to write (what I feel is) something that sounds remotely decent.  For four weeks, we have had sick germs floating around our house.  It started when “the boy next door” got sick…and made his entire family sick.

Before we knew it, Rapunzel was sick.  Exactly a week later, so was Princess Anna.  The next week, I was down and out.  No sooner had I pseudo-recuperated from the stomach bug than I came down with a sore throat.  By mid-week last week, Rapunzel and I both had strep throat, and she also had pinkeye.  But that’s not all–at that same time, Prince Charming came down with the stomach bug!

Thinking the worst was over, we breathed a sigh of relief…until this morning, when Wendy came down with the stomach bug…and then Princess Anna was cranky, then hot, then in pain.

I don’t mean to complain, as I have recently been feeling very blessed in other areas.  And we are very blessed that this is the worst of our problems.  However, I picked up some Lysol at Rite Aid this evening.  Cinderella sprayed every surface she could think of, I scrubbed the sinks, and on the task “menu” for tomorrow is disinfecting every surface I can find.

My struggle here is that my sister has gotten me thinking about more organic products, and now I worry about what I’m using.  Next on my list: finding some great pinterest ideas for disinfecting our house.  Keep an eye out: maybe I’ll find something good!

What’s your go-to disinfectant?

Sore Throats Soothers

I had every intention of writing last week, but alas, my plans were foiled once again.  I hope all of you out there in the world had a better week than I did!

My week started out with an infection, mid-way through I caught the stomach bug, and on Friday I picked up a sore throat…which I found out today is strep throat.  Which I also found out today Rapunzel has…along with pinkeye.  We are just a mess over here.  I think I will be disinfecting my house soon.

Well in the meantime I was searching some good remedies for sore throats.  The most popular remedies for sore throat pain:

  • Vinegar (you’ll most often find apple cider vinegar)
  • Lemon Juice
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Lozenges or Lollipops

You’ll even find one remedy that calls for 2 tsp. of vinegar, 2 tsp. of lemon juice, 2 tsp. of honey, and a dash of cinnamon in a cup of hot water.  Let me just say–you have to do this only if you are desperate!  It worked after about an hour or so and lasted another hour or so, but this combination pushed me very close to the edge of throwing up.  I’d almost rather drink them all separately.

Lozenges and lollipops work, because they cause your mouth to create more saliva, coating the throat.  I found gum helps me as well.

If you’re congested too:

Humidifiers are often recommended to release some congestion.  Strangely enough, I’ve heard that rubbing Vicks on your feet alleviates congestion, though most often we will rub it on our chest.

If you’re dealing with a sore throat right now, I hope some of these tips will help ease your pain!  Feel to comment some of your tried and true remedies!

A Disney Frozen Birthday: Party Invitations

Disney Frozen Birthday: Party Invitations | Making the Most Blog

I’m so excited–my Disney Frozen Thank You postcards have been selling great on Etsy!  These are my first Etsy sales, so I’m super excited!  Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to check them out.

Because they are doing so well, I wanted to make a comple

mentary invitation to go with them.  They may be purchased individually or as a set on my Etsy shop:

Invitation
Set

Let me know what you think!  The first three people who comment on this post will receive a free copy in their email.  Thanks again for your awesome support!

Cabin Fever – A Bucket List

Well, it’s started…

The big snow has begun, and we’re waiting for anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow.  School is cancelled already for tomorrow, and we are anticipating yet another snow day–trapped inside, away from the bitter cold.  I’ve lost track of the number of snow days we’ve had already–enough to take away almost all of the school’s remaining days off and bordering adding time to the school day or going until the end of June.  I anxiously await the picking at each other and the inevitable…”I’M BORED!”

So in anticipation of yet another snow day, I put together a Snow Day Bucket List.  Let’s try to make the most of being stuck inside with each other…again.

What about where you are?  Are you snowed in?  What’s on your bucket list?

Snow Day Bucket list | Making the Most

Feel free to use this as a printable image but only for personal use.  Thanks!

Linking up this week on Gingersnap Crafts:

Gingersnap Crafts Wow Me Wednesday Linkup

Cheesy Potato Soup

Cheesy Potato Soup | Making the Most

I don’t know how the weather has been for you, but it’s been bitter here–cold, snowy, icy…you name the winter weather, we’ve got it.  I’m well over it by this point, but what can you do?  On Thursday, we beat the cold with some hot yummy goodness called Cheesy Potato Soup.  I pinned this recipe from Lil’ Luna quite a while back, and Thursday was the second time I made this.  This is one of my family’s very favorite, and I swear I could probably eat five bowls of this stuff if I weren’t trying to lose weight.  They’re even better in bread bowls if you have the time to make them (delicious, by the way!), but I’ll save that recipe for another post.

I posted a picture of my Cheesy Potato Soup on my personal Facebook page and had several people asking for the recipe, so I had to help them out.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy this as much as we did!

Oh–and you’d be glad to know that this is SO easy!  Just dump everything into the crock pot and run.  My favorite!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 package of cubed frozen hashbrowns (I would do the plain kind–no spices.  Generic works)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 pint half & half
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste

How to make it:

  1. Melt the butter in crock pot.
  2. Add all ingredients, except cheese, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cook in crock pot on high for 3-4 hours.
  4. Add 1 cup of the cheese, salt, and pepper before serving.
  5. Use the remaining cheese as desired on top.
  6. Enjoy!

Let me know how it works for you!

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A Disney Frozen Birthday

Yesterday, we celebrated Tinkerbell’s birthday.  Her birthday is actually in the summer, but having had a summer birthday, I know many people will be out of town for her birthday.  Because of that reason, I wanted to make sure she had a successful birthday, so we just celebrated 6 months early.  As a family, we will celebrate on her birthday, but her friends were able to celebrate with her this weekend.

Her newest favorite Disney character is Princess Anna–in fact, I had thought of changing her name on here to Princess Anna, but we may be too far into it now to start confusing people.  Let me know what you think: Tinkerbell or Princess Anna?

Anyway, because her favorite character is Princess Anna, of course we had to have a Disney Frozen birthday.  With the movie just having come out this winter, it was tough to find everything I was looking for.  In fact, when I went to Party City on Thursday, they didn’t even have the Frozen products out yet; they had to get them out for me, and then I bought every plastic cup they had!  I must say I was very fortunate for them to have them; I was cutting it pretty close.

Everything else I either created myself or found on Pinterest.  Here’s what we came up with:

Disney Frozen Birthday: Winter Snack Mix | Making the Most

1) Winter Snack Mix: I got this recipe from Miss Janice.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the cute snowflake-shaped pretzels as in her picture, but these worked out just fine.

Here’s what you need:

  • Yogurt-covered pretzels (you could probably use white chocolate-covered pretzels also)
  • Yogurt-covered raisins
  • Frosted Cheerios
  • Mini marshmallows

This is so easy too–just dump in however much of each ingredient you like, and you’re good to go!

Disney Frozen Birthday: Snow Cap Punch | Making the Most

2) Snow Cap Punch – I got this recipe from Bubbly Nature.  I didn’t make special cups, but the ice cream in this recipe makes a great wintry effect as it is.

Here’s what you need:

  • Sprite (or other lemon-lime soda)
  • Blue Hawaiian Punch
  • Vanilla Ice Cream

How to make it:

  • Mix equal parts Sprite and Hawaiian Punch
  • Top with desired amount of vanilla ice cream

The directions on Bubbly Nature tell you to add the ice cream when serving the drinks, but to save time we added it to the punch bowl, which worked out well for us.

Disney Frozen Birthday: The Cake | Making the Most

3) The Cake – I definitely don’t have the time or patience to create a cake on my own.  My little princess loved this cake with the Disney Frozen kit, which you can order from your local grocery store (if they carry them) or Wal-Mart.

Disney Frozen Birthday: Party Decor | Making the Most

4) Decor: The decor was mostly my own.  I used a roll of white tablecloth (we keep a roll at home for all of our parties), and I found some sparkly white confetti at Party City that worked out perfectly for a snow effect.  I had hoped for snowflakes, but since it’s February it was slim pickin’s.  The confetti worked out perfectly.  I also found some colored snowflake ornaments at Wal-Mart on clearance for $0.10!  If I had shopped a little earlier, I might have found more snowflake items, but these were the perfect colors, so I was happy with them.  I just cut off the string, and you could hardly tell they were ornaments.  Here’s a better picture of the snowflakes and confetti:

Disney Frozen Birthday: Party Decor | Making the Most BlogDisney Frozen Birthday | Making the Most

5) Paper Products: More props to Party City, which provided me with these dessert plates.  If you’re providing more food, they also have lunch plates, but we kept it small and stuck with the dessert plates.  There are also napkins, paper cups, and plenty of colored utensils.  I personally liked the plain clear utensils (think ice).  We also purchased a mall banner, which was a little small for us (a bunting might have been better), and they also had a Frozen tablecloth, but the white worked well for us.  They had some great prices as well.  I’d definitely check them out for paper products.

Disney Frozen Birthday: Pin the Nose on Olaf | Making the MostDisney Frozen Birthday: Pin the Nose on Olaf | Making the Most

6) Games: We played one game at this party: Pin the Nose on Olaf – As soon as I saw the movie, I new exactly what I was going to do for this game.  I found this Olaf image at Stitch Kingdom.  I cut the noses off of one of the other Olaf images on the same page, copied, and pasted them so we would have one for each kid.  Just like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, the kids had great fun with this game.

Disney Frozen Birthday: Party Favors | Making the Most

7) Party Favors: Party favors really depend on the person.  I’m not really one who likes to spend a lot of money on favors, but I hate to send home favors that will just get thrown away.  I really value gifts that will last a while.  I picked up these cups at…you guessed it…Party City.  I purchased one for each girl that was coming and let the boys and adults use paper cups.  Each girl took one of these cups home with them.  I am also a huge fan of printables, and they are SO cheap!  I printed off the following activities and sent them home with each child:

1) Coloring/Activity Book

2) Build Olaf Craft - The instructions on this activity suggested allowing the child to keep the pieces separate and rearrange as desired.  I had some brass fasteners lying around and decided to connect the body parts with the fasteners.  I was thrilled with how this turned out!  The kids could put together their snowman however they wanted, and I gave them the option to color him as well.  When they were done, they could move his arms and legs as they wanted.  I would suggest poking holes with a safety pin to allow the fasteners to poke through the paper easier.

3) Disney Frozen Papercrafts

4) Disney Frozen Door Hanger

Disney Frozen Birthday: Thank You Cards | Making the Most

To follow up the birthday party, we are sending one more party favor, but that’s a secret for now.  When I finish putting those together, I’ll post a that idea as well.  Until then, I have one more idea for you.  We’re working on sending thank you notes with the kids right now, so we kept notes of who gave what and will be sending thank you cards shortly.  I couldn’t find anything I really liked online, so I made my own!  Visit my etsy shop to purchase these thank you postcards as a digital download, or I will send a copy to the first three individuals who comment on this post!

Overall, I think this party turned out pretty well.  What ideas do you have for your Disney Frozen party?

 

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