Monday, December 29, 2014

Game Day

We had my uncle's family over for a "game day."  We actually started out at Kylen's basketball game in the morning, went to Del Taco for lunch, and spent the rest of the day at our house talking, playing games, and eating.  After monopoly (won by cousin Austin) and pit (won by Aunt Kelly, Cousin Kailee, and Uncle Aaron), we played Mission Risk.  The two younger kids doubled up with their parents, since they hadn't played before.  Several of us came close to winning, but Kylen eventually took the victory right after turning in cards.  It was fun!!  Looking forward to next time!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014

We had my favorite kind of Christmas again this year:  staying home!  It included all the traditions we love: reading about Jesus' birth, picking out gifts for the needy, opening presents, relaxing, talking to friends over the phone, and playing new games.  Happy birthday, Jesus!  We love you!!

I should frame this!  ;-)
Always fun opening the packages we get in the mail from my friend, Kris.

We appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into each and every gift we received.  Just a small sampling and a big "Thank you!"

Kylen was completely surprised when he opened an xbox!

Possibly my favorite present last year was a ME daily calendar. Loved the quotes/pics throughout the year and having today's date right next to my computer. I was so glad to get another one!

A lovely addition to the décor from dear friends.

After I went to Starbucks for coffee with a good friend from women's Bible study, she handed me a gift bag with this ornament (and cookies!)!!  What a neat way to remember our wonderful chats!

A new Kitchen Fairy from Hubby!  LOVE it!!!

T-shirts with witty sayings continue to be highly prized by my boys!

We've already played all these new games!

Kylen's big gift from his grandparents: an electric keyboard!

Sermon We Listened to Today: Robert Jeffress

Jesus and the Party Poopers Part 1 and Part 2.  :-)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, we joined Greg's parents for dessert and gifts.  It's always nice to see them.  :-)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Lights

We ended up making several trips into downtown Spokane over the last month, and we kept passing the two huge lit up stacks of the Steam Plant.  Greg drove around until I could get a close up shot.  They sure do add a nice touch to the city skyline at dark!

Christmas Get-Together

We got to enjoy a Christmas get-together at a friend's house with another family.  There were sweets galore, and we played MadLibs and In a Pickle.  Great company and fun!

Our annual Rice Krispies squares were still warm when we cut them, so they didn't cut pretty . . . but still tasted great!

From the tea station!


In a Pickle

Bubble Ball

Kylen has been able to play bubble ball twice, and both times he had a BLAST!!!  And it's an awesome workout!  You're basically playing soccer while wearing an inflated ball that lets you ram into other players and do flips.  What we totally don't get is why so few people showed up both times he played.  I don't think folks realize how much fun this is.  He managed to take a friend to the last event, and they both had a lot of fun. Kylen is in blue, and his friend is in red.

Piano Recital #7

Kylen did fantastic at his 7th piano recital.  He played three Christian songs: "He Reigns," "Indescribable," and "Mary Did You Know."  He worked hard preparing, and it paid off!  We're proud of him, as always.

Parks & Rec Basketball

Kylen has been on a parks and rec basketball team for a couple weeks.  He's had some practices and one game.  It's pretty cool, because he knows all the players through our co-op.  Greg sometimes helps with assisting the coach. They got to choose their team name and logo: The Guardians. Here he is waiting for the first game to start.

Melting Snowman

I sent a melting snowman to several of the winners from our co-op's Christmas party and decided to try it out myself to make sure what I was sending worked.  It's actually pretty fun!  You make a snowman out of the silly putty type material and add plastic pieces.  Then, watch it melt!  It was melting so fast, I had trouble getting a decent picture at the start.  It was already looking a little scrunched by the time I got the camera ready.

Christmas Musical

We usually attend one event at my uncle's church around Christmas.  Most years it has been their candlelight service on Christmas Eve, but this year it worked out better to go to their Christmas Musical.  His oldest son and his girlfriend were Joseph and Mary!  That was quite a surprise and a real honor for them at such a large church. They did a great job!!

Afterwards, we ate at Dairy Queen.  I couldn't believe it when I looked over and Greg had attempted to tear his burger in half with his bare hands.  It looked terrible!  Lol! He wanted to give Kylen some.  He had forgotten that there is a little thing called a knife.


Live Nativity

We went to a live nativity around an hour's drive from our house. The nice thing about this one was that we could stay in our car and keep warm.  The line was an hour wait, and the nativity took about 20 minutes.  They gave us a CD to listen to that told the story for each scene and would let us know when to move on.  They also handed out hot cocoa.  It was neat, but I probably wouldn't go again unless we took friends along to visit with during the long wait.  And I'd want a latte to sip on!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Co-op Christmas Party 2014

This was my third year of organizing our co-op's Christmas party.  I alternate "big party" years when I do crafts and prepare more elaborate games around a theme.  Two years ago was pretty time-consuming, but this year was even more so!  The theme was "A White Christmas."  I didn't get inspiration from Frozen, although all the promotion probably influenced me subconsciously!  Lol!

We had a performance by the handbell class, followed by the usual potluck, followed by crafts and games, which ran in parallel.  We also had giveaway drawings for several winter-themed items such as a snowman cookie jar, talking snowman, and Olaf popcorn tin.

There were four craft options.  The first was paper snowflakes coupled with a snowflake making contest.  There was a box in the center of the table for entries. Unfortunately, most of the children didn't put their names on their snowflakes, and the helpers must have forgotten to remind them.  We did the judging later at home and had to toss most out for lack of identification. If I did that contest again, I would need to find ways to improve on this.  Maybe put a sign with red letters on the front of the container saying "Don't forget your name!"

The other crafts were a melted snowman ornament, mittens cards, and pet peppermint snails:

Clear Plastic Ornament, Epsom salt, Peppercorns, Orange Foam, Ribbon

Note Card, Paper, Hemp Cord, Mini Clothespins, Tissue Paper

Spice Drops, Peppermint Candies, Pull & Peel Twizzlers, Sprinkles, Orange Segments, Small Candy Canes, Small Bowls, Sugar, Large Gumdrops (not pictured)

Wish I could take the credit for coming up with these, but I got all the ideas from the net.  All three had lots of color options for individuality.  The snails were by far my favorite.  Saw the mushrooms and snails on Martha Stewart's site and expanded on the idea by adding the bowl for a "cage," sugar, sprinkles for food, and candy cane/large gumdrop for snails to "climb" on.  I love that no frosting or other adhesive was required.  You simply use a plastic knife to slice off a little of the spice drop, and the stuff will stick stronger than glue.  A toothpick was used to scrape away sugar where the sprinkle eyes and licorice stick (or Twizzler pull apart) antennae would go.  The antennae didn't fall off mine even after excessive handling.

Some of these games were planned for specific grade ranges, but many would work for almost any age.  There was a prize bowl with little items found at Michaels, Target, and Hobby Lobby that included balloons, bouncy balls, small plastic puzzles, jumping frogs, and mini bulbs:

Winter Olympics
*Arrange students into groups.
*Announce a contest category such as “The Tallest.”
*Each group selects one person to represent their group. Chosen people come forward.
*Reveal action/measurement selected people will do to win such as “Whoever has the tallest thumb.”
*Chosen people compete.  Winning team gets point.
*Do several rounds.
*Each person from winning team gets item from prize bowl.

List of Contest Ideas
*The Tallest....Thumb *The Longest....Hair *The Fastest…Plastic Cup Stacker (10 cups per contestant)
*The Highest….Jumper *The Funniest…Face Expression *The Longest....Stare in Staring Contest
*The Fastest….Word Looker-Upper *The Nearest…Birthday to Christmas
*The Smallest....Shoe Size *The Fastest....Alphabet Song Singer
*The Farthest....Length to Throw Paper Airplane *The Largest….Bubble Blown
*The Fastest…Sum Adder (21+37+44=102) *The Strongest....Thumb in a Thumb War
*The Longest….Thrower and Catcher (Two People Needed) *The Best….Coin Spinner
*The Most…Colorfully Dressed *The Fastest....Crab Walker *The Greatest…In Age

Dry erase board and marker, plastic cups, dictionaries, paper, bubble gum, plastic balls, coins, stopwatch

Act or Draw
*Player pulls out a slip of paper and must act or draw until someone guesses what it is.
*First to shout out correct answer goes next then picks item from prize bowl.

Dry erase board and marker, 40 slips of paper with words in bag

Snowball Relay
*Divide into teams.
*First player on each team is given a Styrofoam ball (snowball) and pencil.
*Players place their ball on the floor in front of them.
*On your mark, they use pencil to push snowball across room, around obstacle, and back to next in line.
*First team to finish wins.  Winners get item from prize bowl.

Styrofoam balls and pencils, cones

Snowball Toss
*Have students form 2 lines.
*On go, front students toss marshmallows through wreaths into buckets (wreath directly in front of bucket).
*Decide how many marshmallows they must get in to pick a prize from bowl.

2 bags marshmallows, 2 wreaths, 2 buckets

Penguin Shuffle
*Players stand side by side with their "eggs" (beanbags) on top of their feet.
*On go, they shuffle to line without dropping their "eggs." First one to succeed wins and picks prize.
*If more kids than beanbags, divide into teams and have them line up.  Front players race, run back when reach line and hand beanbag to next player. Players winning team choose something from prize bowl.


Snowflakes Keep Fallin’ Off My Head
*Divide players into equal teams.
*Determine starting and ending points, about 10 feet apart for each team.
*Give first players a paper snowflake.
*On go, they place snowflake on their head and clasp hands behind back.
*They walk to the turning point and back. If the snowflake falls, must start over.
*Winning team gets item from prize bowl.

Paper snowflakes

Traditional Games with a Winter Twist
Snowman/Frosty Says instead of Simon Says
Ice Light (fast), Snow Light (slow) instead of Red Light, Green Light
Freeze Tag: works as is!
Frozen instead of Statue

Trivia Game
Our co-op leader expressed interest in doing something special for the teenagers, and I thought that was a great idea.  I did a trivia game years ago when a bunch of my extended family was together for Christmas and thought it would be fun for the teenagers.  You have to find out "unusual" information about everyone and form that into trivia questions.  I interviewed some of the kids/parents and also got information by sending an email out.  As an extra motivation, we sponsored a drawing at the end for a gift card to a location of their choice.  They pretty much just had to show up to be entered once and got a second entry for a correct answer to a trivia question.

Questions to Get 'Em Thinking
Any strange collections?  Maybe she collects dryer lint or price tags.
Does he have surprising dreams for the future?  He'd like to be President or invent a new soap?
Any odd food combinations?  Ice cream with ketchup and that sort of thing.
Has he experienced anything unusual such as visiting 20 countries or being abducted by aliens?
Does she have extraordinary abilities?  Maybe she can do handstands while bicycling.
Has he had some surprising forms of employment or volunteer work?
Funny nicknames?
Habits such as avoiding cracks in the floor?
An unusual interest or hobby?
An obsession of some sort?  Maybe a fascination with ants or likes to stare at the wall for hours?
Terrified of butterflies?  Has 20 pet tarantulas?  Once sneezed 50 times in a row?  Can blow a bubble larger than a microwave?  Nearly got ran over by a buffalo?  Can't stand it when people hum?  Typically goes to bed past 4 a.m.?

It took an hour to get through about 40 questions, one per student.  I had a second set prepared we didn't get to. As an extra diversion, I brought a squiggle pad and invited them to do drawings while we played. They could give me their drawing at the end for a chance to win a small prize.  We chose the winners at home and sent them ice cream gift cards through the mail.

This was a labor intensive party, but it was very well received.  There were minimum 50 signed up for each craft, and they took a week to prepare, not counting making demos and figuring out pricing. Most of the games were much easier, although the trivia game was pretty time-consuming. After the party, it took three days to unpack everything, which is like getting back from a two week trip!  I'm glad I did it, but I'm looking forward to an easier party next year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Easy Entertainment