Things To Do When You Can’t Leave the House

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Baby, the weather outside is frightening. Not even exaggerating. The wind chill is dropping to dangerously low temperatures- life threatening, the weather man tells me. Banks and businesses are closing to keep their workers safe.

Speaking of keeping workers safe, farmers still have to go outside to take care of their animals.

Today was cold, but not deathly cold, so the kids still went outside to play. The next couple of days though, nature will be off limits.  What are some things to do when it’s too cold to leave the house?

  1. Bake something. Nothing warms a home like the oven wafting the scent of freshly baked bread or apple crisp. Here is a simple recipe to make alphabet pretzels. 
  2. Snuggle. We have one Lazy-Boy chair we call the Comfy Chair. It’s usually where I sit to read aloud to the kids. Despite the four youngest being 10, 8 6, and 3, we all somehow manage to fit! With a Schnauzer to boot!
  3. Blanket forts. Here’s a super simple idea my then six year old came up with.
  4. Piles of books.
  5. Car ramps. Lean a board or table leaf against the couch and test different kind of rolling vehicles and things that aren’t, like milk lids, balls of different sizes.
  6. Fashion show.
  7. Write letters. Cookbooks- let the kids write their own recipes.  News letters. Comics.
  8. Make newspaper hats.
  9. Do a puzzle together. My son’s favorite puzzles are Ravensburger.
  10. Board games. An easy one we all can play is Tenzis. (plus it strengthens math skills, but SHhhh…keep that on the down low.
  11. Light “Candles”. These are the exact ones we have, and they have worked forever! The flames look real and truly help to bring about that feeling of cozy. Turn off the lights and have a massage circle.
  12. Face paint.  We started with this Klutz Kit because it has great step by step directions and ideas. Then we switched to Snazaroo when the Klutz paint ran out. We still use the book though every time we do it.
  13. Bracelets and necklaces from cereal.
  14. Hot cocoa from a recipe, not a mix. Iowa Girl Eats has an excellent recipe for you to try if you don’t have one of your own.
  15. Watch YouTube videos of “the most dangerous bridges” ,”Most dangerous insects” , “Snake vs some other animal”; many great learning videos out there and the kids don’t even realize they’re doing science, physics, and geography.
  16. Indoor golf with a ball of aluminum  foil and solo cup holes. Pool noodle clubs.
  17. Pool noodle sword fight, (which, at my house the indoor golf invariably becomes).
  18. Have a picnic by just eating the food on the floor. Spread a quilt if you want to, but I guarantee you’ll end up having to wash it.
  19. Turn on the fireplace. If yours isn’t real like mine, you can find a youtube video of crackling fires to add to the ambiance.
  20. Print off one of those time capsule sheets for kids and fill it out. Hide it in a box in your closet. Put in your phone to open it in however many years- and remind yourself where you hid it. I like this printable.
  21. Painting. Or drawing. We love the book series Draw, Write, Now because it makes us feel successful at drawing what we mean to draw.
       We also love the youtube channel “Art  for Kids Hub” 
  22. Practice lettering.
  23. A craft idea from Who Arted?a local mama with lots of great ideas for you to get your crafty on, with and without your kids.
  24. Have everyone put their choice of movie into a bowl and draw one out. Watch it.
  25. Charades. Here is an excellent set of options to print your own set of idea cards.
  26. Table Talk prompts. You can buy a set of cards called “Table Topics”
    or you can find lists of great conversation starters on line. Here’s an excellent place to start.
  27. Do an exercise youtube video together.
  28. Look up trivia questions for kids and give stickers for prizes when someone knows the answer. This set is for the younger kids.
  29. Zentangles.
  30. Watch Joseph’s Machines on YouTube and try to make one tiny part of one of his contraptions.
  31. Raid the recycle bin and see if you can make a marble run. Here’s one we made a few years ago.
  32. Give the kids straws and tape. See what happens. I wouldn’t give them scissors though. I made that mistake.
  33. Make a hammock out of a sheet buy tying it around your dining room table. Knot on top.
  34. Make a puppet show stage by taping a sheet to a doorway (or use a spring release curtain rod) Draw on the kids’s hands, make sock puppets, paper bag puppets, print off puppets from Pinterest and glue them to straws or Popsicle sticks. Have the kids tell a favorite fairy tale. Here’s a great clearing house of patterns. 
  35. Give them marshmallows and toothpicks. Make some pyramids, towers, bridges. Challenge them to a contest.
  36. Let them climb the walls.

When it’s finally bedtime, cuddle up under your favorite blanket, with a heating pad and beverage of your choice. Binge watch something if you want creepy, try You. If you prefer comedy, I just started watching Parks and Rec. If you want some excellent acting, a poignant plot, and some feel good tears, check out Dumplin‘ on Netflix! SO FANTASTIC.

You’ll have to put together your own list if the kids are out of school another day. That’s all I got.  😉

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parenting toddlers and teens large family life big family

Parenting Teens and Toddlers

Six kids is a lot of kids. Just saying. I have a 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 3 year old.

My tween stays up later than I do and my toddler is still in my bed most nights. And then there’re all those kids in between.  My older girls want to be up with me, hanging out with me, talking to me. They come alive at night.  I remember doing that too. I’m a night owl myself.  And also a morning dove. So yeah, I’m tired.

My ten year old thinks he’s a Bigglet now too. I conveniently had my kids in pairs, so we refer to them often The Big Girls, The Boys, and the Little Girls.

Monday night has been our girl’s night, which means I hang out downstairs with my teens. Usually, we watch Gilmore Girls and have yummy snacks, and just be together. My boys get Stay Ups when they are halfway or all of the way done with one of their books in Barton Method Tutoring, which means they get to hang out with me like this about once a month.

Lately, it’s been a HUGE source of conflict at bedtime, because the ten-year-old is supposed to be in bed and we’re having so much fun without him. I end up going to bed cranky, he ends up going to be cranky, he keeps the eight year old, who really needs the sleep,  awake and the Girls don’t get to enjoy their evening.

In school, my Girls are in junior high and high school; they don’t need a lot of my help, but they do need a lot of my presence. My Boys have troubles reading so we need to do a lot of reading aloud. And the Little Girls are constantly finding ways to make messes, even though it’s usually just creative play.  When the Big Girls were five and three, I would sit and read to them for hours. We would have special snacks. We would do fun activities, like playing with paint, colored water, building a little pig house out of actual sticks. My Little Girls are lucky if they get one book just for them a day, and a craft or art project once a month. They have to make their own snacks.Parenting toddlers and teens large family logistics

My Bigglets help the Littles with many many things. My Eight is excellent at helpingThree with many of her self care routines. Ten makes breakfast. Fourteen and Twelve often help everyone stay on task to finish their zones. The Littles help the Bigglets. Three compassionately offers people kisses, tissues , and boo boo bags when they’re hurt. Five makes tea and poetry happen on the regular, which everyone loves. She loves to bring breakfast in bed to the Big Girls. Twelve plays swinging around games with the Littles which I’m too old for. Ten loves to give shoulder rides. We all love to snuggle up together and read or watch a cozy movie. 

It’s hard being the parent of teens and toddlers. There is so much happening all of the time, and so many words flying hither and yon. It’s an incredible blessing parenting toddlers and teens at the same time.  They’re getting experiences and opportunities they wouldn’t have had without having a crazy mama, who had six kids!


Easy and Inexpensive Christmas Centerpiece

Who loves Christmas as much as I do?

YOU!? Great. We can be friends then.

Cheap and easy diy Christmas centerpiece

I love all the seasons and holidays to be honest.

Decorating my mantel and house for every occasion (when I feel like it and have the energy) is my favorite. I go all out for autumn and Christmas which I love especially . Autumn fall table centerpiece

My log candle holder for fall-this is simply a fall garland wrapped around it.

I usually start decorating full on for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, but I have an autumn/winter mix going on for most of November. Hey, just like Iowa weather!

I wanted to share with you my super simple and cheap dining table decor.

I bought a piece of buffalo plaid flannel at Joann’s when it was 50% off so this cost me $6. I didn’t hem it or anything. I just folded it in half. When a kid bumped into my coffee (This is also our homeschool table. There are always kids and ALWAYS coffee!), I just flipped it over to the other side, and folded the selvedge edge under.

Yep. That’s how I do it.

My handsome husband drilled divets into an actual small log so I could put tealights into them when I was getting all hygge last winter. I can make this log work for all the seasons, but I love it most in the fall and winter!Buffalo plaid table runner Christmas centerpiece log candleholder diy

Dollar Tree decorative picks and a homemade log candleholder make for an inexpensive, lovely Christmas centerpiece.

The Dollar Tree has their Christmas decorations out now, which, even though I feel like Thanksgiving should have its day to shine, I’m not mad about, honestly.  I bought 6 decorative picks and bent them and bumped them until I was satisfied.Dollar tree Christmas decorative pick floral pine cone evergreen

This is what the Dollar Tree picks look like on their own.

I did have to take the flannel off and wipe under it and shake out all the crumbs, before replacing it. Don’t ask me how that happens.

There ya go. Minimal effort and minimal cost, which in my mind, equals perfect!

Christmas centerpiece decoration log pinecones Yule candleholder huge
My cozy Christmas centerpiece