April 29, 2016

Mother's Day Coupon Books

Coupon books are an easy present for kids to make and give their mothers.

cute coupon books for Mother's day and great coupon ideas!

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I work with the girls at our church, and with mother's day coming up, I wanted to make a small gift with their girls that their moms would enjoy. We made these small coupon books and they were a hit!

cute coupon books for Mother's day and great coupon ideas!


To make your own, print out the coupons (or make your own) and cut apart the coupons along the lines. If you want to attach the coupon books with brads or ribbon, you can print on card stock. If you want to sew your books together, just use a nicer paper; not as thin as regular printer paper, and not as thick as card stock. I found some old nice resume paper that we've had for 15 years and never used. 


Now take the thread off your sewing machine and run your coupons through on a setting that puts the stitches close together. Do it about 3/4 inch in from the side. This will create the perforation so the coupons can easily be pulled from the books. 

cute coupon books for Mother's day and great coupon ideas!


I put 8 coupons together for my books. I cut a piece of card stock that was 2 inches by 12 inches, folded it in half, and stuck the coupons inside. With the nicer thin paper, I was able to sew along the edge to make the book. With card stock, punch holes and string through ribbon or brads to make the books. 

cute coupon books for Mother's day and great coupon ideas!

Now I've gotten coupons from my kids before, and sometimes they've been pretty lame, like "I'll do the dishes for you!" or "I'll make my bed!" And I'm thinking, "Wait a minute. I'm the mom. And if I ask you to do those things then you'll do them whether or not I have a coupon." So I asked some moms I know and came up with a list of coupon ideas that are not chores or expected responsibilities and might be things mom's would actually have fun using. Here is the list:

cute coupon books for Mother's day and great coupon ideas!
- breakfast in bed
- clean out the car
- make mom's bed for a week
- backrub or foot massage
- play with/brush mom's hair
- be in charge of meals and dishes for a day
- speak in a british accent for an hour 
- babysit siblings
- day with no complaining/whining
- day of doing things before being asked
- an hour when the child sings everything instead of talking
- a day when the mom is always referred to as "your majesty"
- perform a song for your mom
- find the good in every situation all day long
- play games or read books with a sibling for 30 minutes
- tell mom a story you make up with her as the star
- make mom her favorite treat or meal
- for a whole day, all questions/problems/arguments go to dad first!

I told my daughter I wanted her to give me the british accent or singing one, and she said she wouldn't because I would probably try to redeem it when she was out with her friends. She knows me too well. 

What coupon ideas would you add to the list?

cute coupon books for Mother's day and great coupon ideas!

Thanks for reading!


April 11, 2016

Jungle Adventure Birthday Party

This jungle adventure birthday party theme works for boys and girls, requires little money but lots of imagination.


Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

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When Christopher turned 8 years old, we threw him a jungle birthday party. He was very involved in choosing the theme and the games he wanted to play with his friends. The party took about an hour and a half including time for presents and cake. 

I like to have an open-ended art activity going for the guests when they arrive that they can work on while we wait for everyone to get there. For this party I had the kids decorate their paper-plate jungle hats. I bought oval paper plates (they were Chinet platters) and paper bowls. I cut a hole in the platter (just so it would fit on the kids' heads better) and glued a bowl upside down on top. The kids colored with crayons and we used string to tie them on to the kids. You can also have the kids make fun jungle binoculars with cardboard tubes if you happen to have enough saved up. I didn't. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.


Once everyone had arrived I handed out their jungle bags which they would use to collect items they found along their adventure. These were super easy to make and involved no sewing. I bought brown felt and some cording. First cut the brown felt into a rectangle about 8 inches wide and 21 inches long. Cut a piece of cording about 34 inches long. Fold the brown felt about 7 inches up to make a pouch (the top part will hang over the pouch) and hot glue the sides together. While the glue is still hot, stick the cording in between the felt folds so it is attached with the glue. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

When Christopher got his bag, he happened to find a treasure map in his!! (I had told him it was in there and he was supposed to pretend to be surprised when he found it). Everyone decided we should follow it to see what we would find. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

The first picture on the map showed us traveling through jungle vines. The kids took turns going through the vines and avoiding the balloon snakes my daughter had made (which you can't really see in the pictures). After successfully traversing the vines they received a bag of red vines to put in their brown felt jungle bags. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

Next, the kids had to conquer some wild beasts. Christopher had colored some animal faces on paper plates. We strung them up with yarn across our family room. We armed each child with a pvc pipe dart gun and gave them a bag of marshmallows for ammunition (we let the marshmallows sit out for several hours to harden up a bit to make them easier to shoot and less squishy if they got stepped on). They lined up and shot at the targets. There was lots of cheering when they managed to hit a paper plate! Then the grandpas decided they should be wild animals and turned into moving targets. The kids loved that! After they defeated the wild animals, they got a bag of circus animal cookies to put in their jungle bags. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

The next item on the map showed the kids crossing piranha river.  Unfortunately for the kids the river was flooding! I took a blue bed sheet and folded it over a couple of times. My daughter made some balloon fish to stick in the "water". The kids lined up and all took a turn jumping across. After everyone jumped at the current width we made the river grow wider by unfolding the sheet. If a child touched the water, they were eliminated and sat down. Each time the water grew a bit more. The game was to see who could jump over it when it was really wide, but you could also play without eliminating the kids when they touched the sheet. After this game they got a bag of Swedish fish for their jungle bags. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.



Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

On the map next was a bunch of Lego bricks. Strange, huh? But as I said, Christopher was heavily involved in planning and really wanted to build with his friends. So, we decided that the kids would come up with their own creations to help them get through the locked door that was blocking our way to the treasure. We got out a bucket of Lego bricks and the kids got to work. We gave them about 10 minutes and then they each got to get up and show people their creation and tell them what it did and how it would help us get to the treasure. The kids were very enthusiastic about this activity and loved showing off their inventions. They received a bag of candy bricks to add to their collection of things found in the jungle. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

Lastly, we took our inventions to get into the treasure room. This last game was chosen by Christopher because he thought it was so fun when we did it at Joshua's Minecraft party the year before. We stacked up foam blocks. Some of the blocks had a little picture of gold taped to it. The kids took turns picking off blocks until they found one with the gold picture. Then they got their bag of chocolate gold coins to put in their jungle bags. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

The kids got more candy than I usually give out at parties, but I'm sure you could also come up with some non-candy things to represent each adventure if you'd rather not give out so many treats. I tried to make the treat bags small anyway. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

We then went into the kitchen for cake and ice cream and presents. I made Christopher's cake 4 layers tall so I could make jungle trees on the side. The trees are made with Rolos for the trunks (glued together with frosting) I also used green Sixlets to help decorate. 

Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.

The kids all went home with their jungle hats, pvc pipe dart guns, jungle bags filled with treats, and a balloon snake from the vine game. It was a fun party!


Great games for a jungle themed birthday party! Games are easy, cheap, and totally doable! perfect! great for boys and girls too.
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March 20, 2016

Why Unfair is Okay

It's the time of year when parents try to think of creative ways to make sure each child gets the same number of easter eggs, but I'm going to tell you the benefits of letting things be unfair.


Interesting thoughts about why it's okay to let things be unfair! Give kids practice thinking of others

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I first experienced a public Easter Egg hunt when my three kids were 5, 3, and 1. My husband was working but I thought I could handle it on my own. The hunt started at 10am at our local YMCA. I signed us up and packed the kids in the car. Little did I know (this being my first community easter egg hunt) that when they said the hunt was at 10 they did not mean everyone arrive at 10. They meant the whistle would be blown at 10! (Newbie mistake)  Right as we pulled into the parking lot we heard the whistle blow and saw the kids scatter everywhere. My 5 year old daughter started freaking out and I thought "oh no, this is going to be a disaster!" as I imagined the fits I would endure the rest of the day since she missed the hunt. We hurried out of the car (as much as you can when you have 3 kids to get out of car seats) and ran over but with the 3 year old holding my hand and the 1 year old on my hip, I couldn't do much to run around and help her find any missed eggs. I turned to her to apologize and just then a little angel of a girl came up to Maren and handed her a couple of her Easter Eggs. Maren turned to me with her face beaming and said "mom! she shared with me!" My daughter didn't complain that she only got two eggs, or that we missed the hunt. She beamed the whole way home because a stranger saw that she didn't get any eggs and shared with her.

This experience changed how I feel about always making things fair for our kids. Our kids need the opportunity to see another's need and share. And it will make them happier.

Now when we go to Easter egg hunts, I always remind my kids to look for someone who has fewer than they have. I don't make them share, but we talk about how they feel when someone shares with them, and how we feel when we share. They agree that they feel happy when this happens, but it's so hard to give away what you think is yours! If we start this when they are young, giving will become a habit. There's always the opportunity that someone will be selfish and greedy when you do egg hunts this way, but that's a trade off I'm okay with. These kids need to practice noticing others and their needs. And when they are looking out for people with less than them, they tend to be less jealous of those who have more.

Today we had another neighborhood hunt. My older two children are now too old to participate, but the 9 year old and I went (the 6 year old was off with grandparents). I was so proud of Christopher as I watched him recognize a boy who joined the hunt late (his parents must have made the same mistake I did that first time!) and saw him give the boy 3 of his eggs. And when he ended up winning 2 stuffed animals, I proudly watched him find a little girl who was sad and give her one of them. There were definitely kids today who had more eggs than Christopher collected, but he didn't focus on that. He came over to me with a huge dimpled smile and proudly told me how he had shared his eggs.  That to me is definitely worth things being "unfair"!

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? How do you teach your kids to look out for others in need? I'd love to hear from you!


Interesting thoughts about why it's okay to let things be unfair! Give kids practice thinking of others


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