Monday, November 9, 2015

Uncommon Gifts for Boys

It's that time of year again! It's getting chilly out, and all sorts of holiday decorations are going up. My boys have started asking how many weeks until Christmas, and are wondering if maybe, just maybe it will snow ;). 

There are just over 7 weeks left until Christmas, and this year I want to be organized. I want to make or buy meaningful gifts that aren't chosen in a rush, just for the sake of having something to give. Having said that, I always have very good intentions of making fabulous handmade gifts, but the reality of this mama's life right now is that there just aren't enough hours in the day. 

So, I'm thinking that the next best thing is to purchase gifts from a company that believes in sustainability, and sells products that are handmade, organic, recycled, etc. 

That's where Uncommon Goods comes in :). I love this store!! I discovered it just last year, and have been hooked on it ever since. When they contacted me to see if I would be interested in a store credit in exchange for writing a post about their gift products, I was so excited!! They carry so many awesomely unique products; things I've never seen anywhere else. Check out their gift selection here. Their products are made by artists and small manufacturers (most of which are made in the US) who also believe in the same standards of sustainability. This organic-loving, chemical-hating mama loves to know that the gifts I give my children (or anyone else for that matter) aren't full of horrible chemicals and toxins. 

I learned my lesson a couple of years ago, when I ordered a cheap plastic alphabet popsicle-shaped puzzle toy for my then one year old. I opened the package on Christmas Eve and the toxic smell of rubbery plastic filled the entire room! ugh. Not cool! 

So, I'm compiling a little list of gifts that I know my boys would love. There are some seriously cool uncommon gifts to pick from! You can take a look at the whole selection of incredible gifts for boys (and girls) here.

1. Blockitecture
2. Electric Light Blocks
3. Stack and Scare Block Set
4. Magbot Magnetic Block Set
5. Scratch Map
6. 104 Things to Paint
7. Fingerprint Art Set-Bugs
8. Colour the Earth Kit
9. Kinetic Sand
10. 5-String Banjo
11. Build Your Own City
12. Choo Choo Train Dining Set
13. Circuit Board
14. Rory's Story Cubes
15. Stop Motion Claymation Kit
16. Construction Plate and Utensils

There's another great blog post here with a list of excellent STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) gifts :) As a homeschooling mama, I'd LOVE some of these in our collection!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Lego Party (Finny turns 6)

It was birthday time in our house once again! Our little Finn turned 6 last week, and it honestly feels like we just had his 5th birthday! eek! Stop going so fast!!

Finny has been wanting a Lego themed party for the past 6 months at least, and came up with a lot of the ideas himself. Quite handy, actually ;) It saved me from having to think up games, snacks, etc. He's a party guy, and parties are my love language ;) Works well!

I loved seeing his face light up every time I showed him a new part of his party that I'd been working on (favour boxes, banners, etc). He's into the little details, and notices every single thing. A man after my own heart ;)

A Lego theme is actually really easy to do since it's all done in primary colours. Easy to find poster board, plates, etc. One thing that made it really easy were the Lego sticker books! We put Lego stickers on everything! 

I made the invitations using PicMonkey, and decided to make them like little Lego sets. Too much time on my hands? ;) hah! Not exactly. I actually find this kind of crafty stuff relaxing! I had the invitation part printed as 4X6 photos then glued it on the front of the box (which I made out of card stock). I then made the number 6 out of lego, and drew a little instruction sheet. I dug around our Lego stash, and found enough pieces for each little lego set, and put them in mini zip top bags. Finny couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that he had his very own custom Lego set! :) 

I made the minifigure heads using paper plates and permanent markers. I found the square yellow plates at Dollarama. The "Finn is 6" banner was made using felt rectangles that I also found at the dollar store :).

The snacks were very simple. Cookies, popcorn, chips, fruit, marshmallow pops and cake. 

The cake was a specific request from Finny for a "Lego Brick". I wasn't sure how to make it, but it was actually pretty easy! I just did three layers of chocolate cake in a rectangular pan, then iced them and draped yellow fondant over top. Then I wrapped Oreo cookies in fondant to make the "dots" on the top. It was looking a little rough around the edges, so I did a little embellishing with Lego/Duplo bricks and minifigures. It worked perfect to cover up the dodgy corners where the icing was oozing out ;).

The favours were also kept really simple. I found these little boxes at the dollar store as well, and the boys had fun putting lego stickers on them. We packed them with a Lego minifigure in its packet,  a couple of treats and a glow stick.

The Birthday boy blowing out his 6 candles!

These stuffed balloons were a lot of fun! Each kid got to pop a balloon, and get the prizes inside. 

Finny's idea for a game was 'pin the moustache on the  Lego man". Haha! Hey, it worked just fine!

Another fun game was "throw the Lego bricks into the cups". So random, but they loved it! I gave them tickets for each piece that made it into a cup, and they proudly showed off their long strings of tickets! Once the game was over, they got to trade their tickets in for a turn to pop a balloon pinata.

It was "the best day ever!" according to Finny :)

Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with us! Our little man was so excited about this day for so long!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Learning with Hot Wheels

Happy Summer, everyone!

We are so enjoying this beautiful hot weather, and have been spending most of our time at the cottage! Our days have been spent playing at the beach, building a treehouse/zip line platform (yes, the boys and I did it ourselves...and it's actually standing!), chasing wild bunnies, picking blackberries, riding bikes and just having lots of good old fashioned fun :).

It's been such a lovely break from our usual routines of homeschool and activities, but when Hot Wheels got in touch with me to see if we would be interested in trying out their Hot Wheels Fundamentals learning program, I was all for it! (And so were the boys!). It's a program focused on making learning fun...and that's right up our alley! There are some fun summer activities for the kids to do when they need a break from the sun, and some downtime in the middle of the day.

We decided to try out the Cityscape activity, and it kept the boys busy as bees for quite a while. #win Yes....I actually got to sit back with a cup of tea and a book! Sweeeet! ;)

They coloured away, and folded and fiddled, and were so proud of their creations! 

The Cityscape activity can be downloaded for free here.

Thank you, Hot Wheels! We can't wait to check out even more learning activities when we start up our homeschooling again in September!

Monday, May 4, 2015

An Outlaw / Cowboy Barn Party

It was birthday time again in our house (and man, it seems to come around a lot quicker now that we have three kiddos!)..... 

Toby turned 8! 

I'll save you from hearing the same old.... "how is he possibly this old? where does the time go? blah blah blah" line, but I have to say that 8 feels big. This little man has grown up so much in the past year, and has amazed me, and surprised me, so many times! He's a sweet, sensitive soul who picks up on the emotions of everyone around him, and sometimes that can be hard on a little guy! He also happens to have an excellent sense of humour, and an easy, infectious giggle! We love him to bits, and are so lucky that he's part of our family!

When he suggested we have an outlaw party in our little barn, I was in!

It was the perfect idea!! 

We feel so, so lucky to have this little property in Point Roberts, WA, and are thoroughly enjoying every minute of downtime spent there as a family :). The little barn is perfect in every way, and I had so much fun decorating it for the party!

 I kept it pretty simple! A scavenger hunt, some zip-lining (we have a little zip line from Amazon, and it's a whole pile of fun!), roasting marshmallows and making s'mores around a campfire, and a 'dirt and worms' birthday cake (Toby's specific request).

No fuss, just a bunch of kids running around on a beautiful sunny day having fun!

Ok, so the one thing I did spend a few evenings on was these WANTED posters :) I found pics of each little outlaw, and used PicMonkey to edit them and make them look old/western. I had them printed at my local print shop, and they turned out so well!

The birthday Outlaw himself ;) Looking oh so seriously 'outlaw-ish'.

My tiniest outlaw ;) (moments before he decided it would be a good idea to take a large bite of a foil-covered chocolate gold coin .... wrapper and all!) 

Let's just say it was a rough night!

It was the perfect sunny day, and the little outlaws seemed to enjoy themselves! 

Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate our biggest little man!


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