2.24.2011

Homemade autograph books for Disneyland!!

We are so excited to be planning a little getaway to visit my mom in California next week. We have to hurry and go while I am still feeling good and able to get around. Since I am already almost 27 weeks, that means we have to go NOW! :) We decided since were out there to take the kids to spend a couple of days at Disneyland. Now since this was kind of last minute we are trying to do it as cheaply as possible, and one thing I thought I could easily duplicate would be those darned autograph books my kids love so much! If I remember corrrectly they are anywhere between $10 and $15, that gets a little pricey with three kiddos! So, using items I already had laying around the house I came up with our own that my kids are absolutely crazy about!
First I had 3 of those plastic 4x6 picture-holder-books-things :) I decided to just stick a 4x6 index card on the left of every page and then on the right we will slide in the pictures of the kids with that character after we print them off.
Then I simply used scrapbook paper that I already had and printed out pictures of the kids favorite Disney characters and "Autograph Book".
Here is Brittons:


Here is Kendall's:


And here is Skylar's:



These were SO easy to make, all together they took me about 45 minutes. The kids love that they are a little bit more personalized with THEIR favorite characters, and I love that they were FREE! :)







2.22.2011

Do you buy out of season??

I used to really struggle with this concept...buying things almost a year before I would actually use them! However, I have seen the light (and the proof in my receipts!;) and am now a HUGE believer in buying things out of season when they are at their lowest price. The only thing about doing this is you HAVE to be organized...otherwise you forget you bought stuff the year before and end up buying more stuff, or not realizing you have things til the kids have outgrown them or they have gone bad. Yes, I have learned from experience :) So as long as you organize it as you go and keep a good tab on what you have on hand, I think buying out of season when prices are at their lowest is the way to go! Here is an example of what I was able to get today for my kids Valentines festivities next year at Walgreens and Target:
2 Monster Charmers (singing monster dolls) Regularly $9.99 each - Paid $.99 each
4 boxes of valentine cardes Regularly $2.50 each - Paid $.25 each
4 Valentine key chain holders that sing :) Regularly $2.00 each - Paid $.50 each
4 Jumbo pencils Regularly $1.00 each - Paid $.25 each
4 Sticker books Regularly $2.00 each - Paid $.50 each
4 Puzzles Regularly $0.50 each - Paid $.12 each
3 packs of sugarfree gum (for easter baskets) Regularly $1.79 each - Paid $.32 each
SOOOOOO.....a grand total of....
$9.50 + tax!! (Don't try the math at home...I am rounding ;)
Not too shabby considering retail value would have been in the neighborhood of $53.00!!
It feels good to know if life is crazy and hectic next year, as it inevitably will be, that I will be able to run down to my stash and throw together a fun Valentines for my kids and be able to spend my time enjoying them! So now I want to know, do you buy out of season???

Cutting the Chaos in the playroom!! (At least a little bit)

Does anyone else have a playroom that gets looking like this?? (Please tell me I'm not the only one!:) My favorite thing about the home we are in now is that my kids have a playroom, but man, it is always such a mess!
One of my biggest pet peeves is having the toys stuffed away in a drawer somewhere. The kids forget they even have them, and if they do happen to remember they have to dump out the entire drawer to even be able to play with them.

This was the case with all of our Princess Barbie dolls. My girls LOVED playing with them when they got them, but really haven't done much with them since. I thought of a great way that would take up less room, and also make them visible to the kids so they could actually remember they had them :)
Introducing....the clear plastic shoe organizer!! I have several of these in my home in different closests and realized it would be the perfect size for Barbie Dolls. Now my girls can open the closet and see each doll and easily choose one to play with. Since I have done this they have been playing with these nonstop...so I think it worked ;)

And just so I'm not totally embarrased, here is the after shot of the playroom...we are not total slobs :) Have a great week everyone, I would love to hear some of your great playroom organizing tips!!







2.21.2011

Rainforest Week!



Hello everyone! This week we are learning and doing fun activities all about the rain forest. We started the week off today by going to our local Aquarium and spending lots of time in the Rainforest area. My kids were enamored by the big snakes, frogs, fish and more...I think its gonna be a fun week!

One fun thing I thought of doing would be going to the grocery store and picking out some exotic rainforest fruit that we don't normally have like mango, kiwi, papaya, star fruit, etc. Then have a little fruit buffet and talking about which ones we like the most.

Another fun idea I found on Everything Preschool is to make our own rainsticks. I am simply going to use some of those saved toilet paper rolls I was telling you about, fill them with dried and beans and rice and then cover both ends. The kids will have a blast decorating them and a blast driving me crazy with them :)

One thing my kids love learning about is frogs. One day we will learn all these facts about tree frogs so I thought this next treat would be tons of fun:



Too cute, right? You can thank Familyfun.com for that one! :)

I also wanted to work with my 2 year old, so I colored a bunch of these frogs different colors and then laminated them. We are using them to learn colors and to work on counting (1 pink frog, 2 orange frogs, etc.)


On the frog theme I thought another fun snack idea would be to make dirt cups with chocolate pudding and crushed oreos. Then instead of sticking in worms we are going to stick in those yummy green gummy Haribo frogs :)


Finally I found this cute craft idea on Familyfun.com. I am using my handy Cricut to cut out a bunch of leaves and flowers, then you just get a long piece of green yarn and sandwhich it between the flowers and leaves to make some fun vines. Then I think we will hang it on the girls door so they can enjoy it for the whole week!

President's Day family home evening


Man, I wish I could get a little more on top of things and actually post these family home evening ideas BEFORE Monday! :) But here it is, it will be pretty easy to throw together so maybe it can still help someone out for today.
I was excited to put together a little family home evening to describe President's Day to the kids and help them learn why we don't have school or work today. I also wanted to focus a little on honesty and tie that in too.
To get started we are going to talk about and repeat several times the 12th Article of Faith: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." Then we will talk about how important it is to obey all the laws and that today we are honoring two president's that were a great example of honesty to us.
I found this great website that had short stories about both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I simply printed them out, backed them on cute paper and laminated them so we will have them for future use.
After we read these stories and talk about how they were both honest and how we really need to strive to be honest in our lives we are going to do a simple fun craft, making Abe Lincoln's black top hat :) All you do is get several toilet paper rolls ( I always save these for future crafts ;) and paint them black. Then you glue them to a circle of black construction paper and cut out a circle to cover the top....and there you it!!
I was also excited to for the treat we are going to do. Anyone remember these great pilgrim hat treats for Thanksgiving from Family Fun?? Well I think without the yellow buckle they will look JUST like a black top hat :) I hope you all have a wonderful day with your families and a great holiday!!


2.14.2011

I'm feeling the love!

Well another Valentines Day has come and gone! I am completely exhausted, but in a good way. It was a memorable day full of love and fun, and the kids went to bed saying "This is the best Valentine's Day ever!!" Music to my ears :) I am so lucky to have kids that enjoy all the little things we do, and really appreciate any effort to make the day more special. The especially love waking up and the morning and coming down to see our traditional table set up. We have done the same thing for the last 4 years, and I think we'll stick with it for a few years to come. For breakfast we always have Strawberry heart-shaped muffins, pink scrambled eggs, strawberries and pink milk.


My camera conked out about halfway through the morning so you'll have to excuse my lack of good pictures :) This next one is the supplies we needed to do the girls favorite activity of the day. It was SO easy and I couldn't believe how much they loved it! I simply went to the party section at Walmart and picked up a package of dress up rings for $1.00. Then I popped out the middle that has the "gems" and let the girls pick out coversation hearts to glue onto the rings. They LOVED them and I thought they actually turned out pretty cute!









The rest of the day was filled with decorating and delivering sugar cookies, pink hot chocolate with heart-shaped marshmallows, a great family home evening on using kind words and 3 visits from the Valentine's Man himself! :) He brought the kids some fun little toys and new pj's. I loved when the Valentine's Man would come visit when I was little and its so fun to pass that tradition on my my little ones.
Paul and I decided we will be celebrating a romantic Valentines Evening another night, right now we are just having too much fun enjoying our children and making it a family affair! I hope you all had a fantastic Valentines and got to share it with the people you love most!



2.13.2011

Valentine's Day family home evening

This family home evening was inspired by those cute little candies running rampant this time of year...conversation hearts!! I wanted to do something that went along with the holday but that would also be of great benefit to my young family. One thing that I have kept feeling over and over is that we have to work on the way we speak to each other in our home, only using kind words so the Spirit can always be here. I thought conversation hearts would be a fun way to tie in using kind words! :)

The scripture I am basing this family home evening on is found in Ephesians 4 29-32:

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And agrieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Using my handy Cricut machine I cut out a bunch of little hearts in pastel colors. Then in red pen I wrote some kind things we say in our home, and some not kind things as well. I laminated these and will have them taped up all around the room. We are going to take turns picking one off the wall and deciding if this is something that helps the Spirit dwell in our home, or not.

I also cut big hearts and did the same thing, wrote good and bad things and laminated them. I am putting these in a circle on the floor and we are going to all walk around on them while primary songs play. When I push stop we have to stop on whichever heart we're on and whoever is on a nice heart gets a little treat. I love doing activities like this because it helps my little ones get their wiggles out while learning an important principle.

Finally as our last activity Paul and I are going to help the girls "write" letters to each other using conversation hearts. We will glue them on the paper and the girls can tell us what they want to write to fill in the blanks.

I am so excited for this lesson, not only for the kids, but for me as well. I often find myself saying things that are unkind or sarcastic and am excited to challenge myself and my family to be a little bit better.

Oh, and I almost forgot about dessert! Bakerella had these darling cupcakes for the decorator-challenged....yes please!! I hope you all have a fantastic Valentines Day and enjoy those sweethearts in your life! :)




2.09.2011

The urge to craft...

It feels like it has been SO long since I have done something even somewhat crafty! I decided to take some of my LOADS of fabric and make something cute for the girls for Valentine's Day. Now seriously people, these were so simple its almost silly but I think they turned out cute and only took me about 30 minutes :)
This is all you need to get started: yo-yo maker, thread, needle and scissors! Throw in some cute fabric and some plain shirts and you are all set!




I simply made a bunch of the smaller yo-yo's and hand-sewed them around the neckline of one shirt and as a little corsage on the other. I am making headbands and clips to match for my little sweethearts on Valentine's Day :)





It feels so good to make something again and get those creative juices flowing!!


2.08.2011

Cutting the Chaos in the car

I don't know about anyone else, but it seems like we spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car these days. Between taking Paul to work, picking him up from work, taking the girls to dance and school and just running errands we are in that thing all the time! We have to wait for Paul to come down from work, wait for Skylar to come out of school...wait, wait, wait!!
I should tell you we are very old-school and currently do not have a DVD player in our van, so needless to say I felt like I needed to come up with some ways to keep my young kids happy, our nice new van clean and be prepared for anything that comes my way. Here is my attempt at that :)

I put together all these containers, each with a seperate purpose, but each giving me the chance to be organized and prepared. It has been SO lovely to not have to try and grab a million little things as I am trying to run out the door, they are all ready for me in the car :)

These 3 containers provide different things I am always in need of in the car. The bigger one is full of trial sized cleaning supplies so I can keep the car nice and clean. I have a garbage bag, Windex wipes, Clorox wipes, and Febreze spray in there. It has been so nice to wipe down the messy spills in the car and leave a little spray when we get out. Its lovely to climb into a clean, nice-smelling van every morning. The middle-sized container has essential toiletries that you always want to have on hand: diapers, wipes, pull-up, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, feminine products, lotion and sunscreen. I cannot tell you how many times that extra pull-up would have come in handy! And finally the smallest container has band-aids and all kinds of medicine.


Now this container has been heavenly! I filled it with fun little toys the kids can play with in the car....but they HAVE to stay in the car! That way the kids actually look forward to playing with them and are not already bored with them. I have basics like books, Color Wonder coloring books with markers that came with a little tray and holder and those magnetic drawing things...doodle-something-or-other :) I also got some small puzzles and attached magnets to the back of each piece. Then I stuck a small magnet board in there and the girls are loving putting together their magnetic puzzles and I am loving not finding puzzle pieces everywhere! The beautiful thing is when they get in the car they pick up what toys they want for the drive, and when they get out they put them all back in the bucket.



Finally...the snack bucket!! I don't always have time to grab things as we are running out the door so I filled this bucket with kid-sized water bottles, fruit leather, kidz clif bars (so good!), instant breakfast packets, and packs of trail mix. Once a week I try to replenish the bucket and change it up...its also been quite nice for me to grab a healthy snack on the go too! :)
All these things are helping to make our van a less chaotic, happier place to be!


2.07.2011

LOVE Family Home Evening

Tonights fhe is a great one, partly because of content and mostly because I was able to find the entire thing on line....all I had to do was push print! :)

Seriously, I found THIS amazing blog and they have some truly fantastic family home evenings. Go HERE to print out this great fhe to use around Valentines Day.
For treats I am making these goodies...

My kids love em! (and so does Paul!)

We are also going to use tonight to start our Wall of Love, its going to be a great week!! :)

2.06.2011

It's LOVE week! :)

I LOVE Valentines Day!! I think it is such a fun holiday to celebrate, so I have been looking forward to this week for a while :)


I found a wonderful Family Home Evening that I will post about soon, but in it you teach the kids 3 basic principles: To love the Lord, love your neighbors, and love your family. I thought this was a great thing to model our week of love around and here are some of the things I am planning!





This is the Johnson Family Wall of Love. We hang up these fun little decorations and everytime someone shows love to someone else we write down what they did on a heart and tape it up on the wall. It is a great way to make the kids more aware of showing each other and every one in our family a little more love. One tip: this is the 3rd year we have done this and last year I finally came up with the brilliant idea to cut a ton of hearts with my Cricut and laminate them. Now I have them for every year and I just write on them with a dry erase marker and then we can reuse them for next year!



Family Fun is THE place to go for adorable, easy valentines crafts, recipes and more!! We are going to make these simple valentines to take to all the kids friends. We are also going to be making sugar cookies and delivering them to our new neighbors. I think this will be a great way to teach the kids about loving our neighbors and a good way to get out and meet the people in the neighborhood.


I LOVE this little valentine card because no matter how young your kids are you can still have them participate! We are going to make these for all of the wonderful Grandma's and Grandpa's in our lives and deliver them with a special little treat.


We also make these treats every year. It is a nice break from all the sugar the kids will inevitable be getting in their valentines...and the kids love to help with the cookie cutters :)


HERE is a cute matching game you can print out on Family Fun that I have laminated that my kids really enjoy playing.


I hope you all have a fantastic week-before-valentines-day and that you are feeling the love in your sweet families!! :)

2.04.2011

I think its going to be a long day

Britton was up all night with a bad fever and cough. We are trying to get Kendall off of Pull-Ups and that is not going so great either. Today is going to be full of sick kids, washing all the bedding, cleaning my messy house and trying to battle this constant headache I have had for the last two weeks. SO....just to cheer myself up a little bit (and anyone else that may be having a less than stellar day!:) here are some pics I just love that remind me why I do what I do every single day...and I would never trade it! :)




















2.03.2011

Kinecting as a family :)

Paul nagged and nagged me to get the Xbox Kinect for Christmas...obviously I gave in and we have LOVED it!! It is so fun to have something we can all do together as a family...I think bowling and dancing are our favorites. Even Britton gets in on the action :) Here is what we did last Friday night:

Skylar rocking out to Lady Gaga....the girl's got moves I tell ya! :)

Believe it or not...Paul actually has moves too :)

Kendall LOVES the dancing game, as in screams her head off when we make her stop. But you could never guess that from this sweet face.

Good form!

Oh yeah, another strike baby!! (Okay, it was probably a gutter ball!)

So if you're every bored and don't want to go to the club or the bowling alley, just call the Johnson's and come on over!! :)




2.01.2011

Cutting the Chaos...its back!!

Ok, its been a while, but we are back!! I can't guarantee I will be posting a Cutting the Chaos post every week, but I'm going to do my best!!
One of the things we focused on in our Family Home Evening last night was making the Sabbath Day in our home more holy. I have been excited to put in place an idea I have had for quite a while....introducing the Sunday Bucket!!!
This bucket is full of activities my kids can do on Sundays. We ONLY pull out this bucket on Sunday, and I really think that helps keep it special and something to look forward too. I am always on the look out for things to add to the bucket, but some of its contents right now are:
Coloring books of the bible with crayons
The Primary Songbook CD
A binder with all the Gospel Art kit pictures in it
A Noah's Ark matching game
Book of Mormon floor puzzle/book
Pictures I printed from The Friend to color
Latest issues of the Friend magazine
Book of Mormon Bingo
Articles of Faith game
LOTS of book about Bible stories and Jesus
Book of Mormon Eye Spy Game
Sunday Quiet Book
and so much more!! :)
Many of these things I have gotten for SUPER cheap at Seagul Book in their clearance section. Other things I have gotten at the Distribution center and some I have made myself.

To go along with our Sunday Bucket I also made a little CTR jar for our family...always reminding us to Choose the Right to keep the Sabbath Day Holy. In this jar I put different ideas for activities we can do on Sunday. Each week the kids pick one out and that is what we do. I love doing this because the kids get SO excited to see what they will pick, and it also ensures that we don't end up doing the same activities and have the kids get sick of them.

Here is a list of some of the activities in the jar:

Go for a Walk (weather permitting:)

Act out favorite Scripture Story

Color a Sunday Picture for Grandparents

Play Sunday Games on the computer

Listen to our favorite Primary Songs

Pick a game from the Sunday Bucket

Play with Sunday Quiet Book

Watch a Sunday Movie (The Testaments, etc)

There are many more things, these are just a few. I have been thrilled with the Spirit that has been in our home that last few Sundays. Of course it is not perfect, but it does feel like a different day, just as it should. Cutting the Chaos and making Sunday's a more holy day in our home has been a huge blessing....what do you do with your young ones on Sunday's??