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Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

7 Unique Birthday Party Ideas

Your child is special so why shouldn’t his birthday be just as special? When celebrating with friends and family at your home, you can make it themed like a birthday party place. With a little creativity, coming up with unique birthday party ideas can be super easy and super cheap. Most of the party idea decorations can be found at local dollar stores. Not only can you do these super fun party ideas cheap, but your kids will be learning without even knowing it.

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Most parents just can’t afford to have a birthday party in Hawaii, so instead of trying to go there, make Hawaii come to you. You can usually find Hawaiian skirts, coconut tops and lays at your local dollar store during summer months. Find some Hawaiian music and have a Hula dance competition. Complete your look with orange light bulbs for the sun, blue table cloths for the ocean and and a kid painted mural of a coconut tree. Play pin the coconut on the tree for a fun game. Watch Lilo and Stitch for a fun Hawaiian film.

Under the Sea

Have a deep sea adventure birthday party. With a little creativity, and some construction paper, you can fill your house with deep sea creatures. To give the effect of being under water, cover lamps with blue vinyl table cloths. Create rainbow fish by drawing a fish and pasting tin foil fins on it; make handprint octopuses and different kinds of fish (fine motor skills). Cut your fish out and hang them on the ceiling for a feel of swimming with the fishes. Play sharks and the minnow. Watch a sea movie like The Little Mermaid or Finding Nemo.

Camping Party

Camping is always a fun activity for birthdays, but some birthdays just don’t fall at the right time of the year. No worries, you can have an indoor campout. Have roasted marshmallows over the gas stove, put up a small tent or blanket tent and create a fire place with blocks or legos (spacial skills).

Indoor Obstacle Course

When the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor activities on birthdays, friends will enjoy a little indoor competition. It isn’t everyday that you let your kids run through the house, jump on pillows or scream and holler like their outdoors, so why not let their special day be really special with an indoor obstacle course. If you have stairs, a basement or an easily accessible attic, use it. Use every part of your house as a fun course to get through. Have friends and family line up to relay race through hula hoops, dive under blanket forts and hop from pillow to pillow. Create your obstacle course and give winners a handcrafted, gold olympics necklace.

Hula hoops, pillows and couches what more do you need?

Lava Party

Instead of having specific activities, invite your kids to use their imagination with a lava party. Cover your floors with orange and yellow table cloths, blankets or construction paper. Tell your party animals that the whole floor is lava and if they fall in they will burn up. Have a goal to get to the treasure as a group. Every time one of your team mates falls in, everyone must start over. Or, have them storm the castle surrounded by hot lava and save the captured princess. Have a volcano cake and make a volcanic eruption with a pop bottle by adding vinegar, dish soap, red food coloring and baking soda.

Bubble Party

Bubbles are fun for everyone no matter what the age. You can get some dish soap and glycerin from your local dollar store and have a bubble making party. Use pop bottles, water bottles or containers to shake up your bubble mixture and make a pool of foam. Have a bubble making contest for the biggest bubble. Do experiments to see how much soap and glycerin to use to make the best bubbles. Have an outdoor bubble bath to swim in or if you must bring the party indoors let kids swim in their suits in a bathtub filled with bubbles. And, of course, a container of bubble party favors are sure to make a big hit.

Homemade Pizza Party

Everyone loves pizza, so why not let your party kids make their own. There are two ways of doing this:

-Buy pre-made pizza crust: Most local grocery stores will sell individual pizza crusts.
-Make your own pizza crust: Self rising flour and greek yogurt mixed together is a great two ingredient pizza crust.

Get enough pizza sauce, pepperoni, veggies and cheese for a whole army of hungry kids. Once pizza is cooked and cooling, have a best pizza competition where they have to vote for someones pizza. Play pin the pepperoni on the pizza by using a poster board cut in the shape of a pizza and round, red construction paper (peperoni) to tape on. Enjoy pizza, cake and ice cream, good games and fun times.

Unique birthday parties don’t have to be expensive. They just take a little creativity and a lot of imagination. Let your mind wander and give your special kid a unique party every year.

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Silly Superstitions to Celebrate With Kids

Whether or not you are superstitious yourself, you and your kiddos can probably name a few common superstitions. Beware of black cats crossing your path. Never walk under a ladder. Keep your eyes peeled for four leaf clovers. And for heavens sake, eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away. There are so many superstitions to celebrate with kids!

But sometimes celebrating silly superstitions is a hilarious way to connect with your kids. You can adapt our list of favorites to fit your preschooler or your Boy Scout troop. No matter how you celebrate, we can pretty much guarantee some funny conversations and time together as a family. Have fun!

Fun and Silly Superstitions to Celebrate With Kids

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Hoodie Hoo Day (February 20)

Did you know that everyone in the Northern Hemisphere should work together to scare winter away on February 20? If you didn’t know, maybe you’re the reason why my backyard is still covered in more than 20” of snow. This year, let’s work together to chase winter away by celebrating Hoodie Hoo Day. Here’s all you have to do: at noon on February 20th, open your front doors and head outside. Bang on pots and pans, all while yelling “hoodie hoo” loudly. Rumor has it, if everyone does it, winter will be frightened and head away quickly, leaving room for spring to come early. If your family isn’t around to yell at noon, we think that any time of day is a good time to celebrate. Add a little extra fun by doing something spring-like; try brushing the snow off the grill and making burgers, and plan your garden over dinner.

Mardi Gras King Cake (date varies)

Mardi Gras is a celebration that concludes on Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent. There are plenty of fun Mardi Gras traditions that your family can get involved with each year right in your own living room, and the King Cake is one of our favorites. A King Cake is a New Orleans speciality, a sweet and braided pastry iced and sprinkled with Mardi Gras colors (yellow, purple, and green). Inside each King Cake is a small, plastic baby. You heard me – there’s a baby in the cake. Superstition tells us that whoever gets the baby will have good luck all year, and has to bring the King Cake to the Mardi Gras party the next year. Sometimes, the baby-finder is the King of all Mardi Gras celebrations that year.

Horseshoes

Superstition dictates that horseshoes, when turned up and placed near a room, will keep nightmares away. If you have a kiddo who is needing a little extra bedtime confidence, we think that a quick craft project might be just the ticket. Grab a horseshoe (you don’t need to find a real one, a wooden one will do) and give it a fun makeover with paint, glitter, or anything else you have on hand. Hang it near the bedroom door upright – so that it looks like the letter U – and say so long to nightmares.

Friday the 13th

While you might have grown up with a creepy killer named Jason coming out on Friday the 13th, we think that you should turn this unique date into a silly day, not a scary one. Make a few traditions in your home for Friday the 13th days. Colorful pancakes (just add food coloring to the batter) or glowsticks at bathtime might be an interesting way to make this date a little extra special.

April Fool’s Day (April 1)

For many April Fool’s Day, my mom would wake me and my brother up by telling us there was a huge snowstorm overnight and we had a snow day. Then after she got us up and out of bed to look at the snow, she cackled and yelled “April Fool’s – gotcha!” We groaned every time, and she eased the pain by having a big breakfast ready for us, instead of our usual bowl of cereal. April Fool’s Day can bring an extra dose of silly into your family’s day. Have breakfast for dinner, or add a few jokes to your child’s lunch box.

Ring bells

It is common to ring church bells on wedding days or other celebrations. This ritual is steeped in history, starting out when bells were thought to scare away evil spirits. Every family needs a way to restart a bad day or shake off the sleepy days. How about keeping a bell in your kitchen or in your purse to pull out and ring when everyone just needs to calm down or smile. We think this could be a unique family tradition.

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Wishing Stars

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight. Sounds like the perfect outdoor family activity to us! Gather up blankets, flashlights, and some snacks and head outside to watch for the first star you see. While you are out there, see if you can find common constellations. We especially love that you can find wishing stars no matter the season – while it would be the perfect summer evening activity, you can also bundle up and head out to the car in the wintertime to see the stars on a clear night. Happy wishing!

Winter Solstice (December 21)

Similar to Hoodie Hoo Day, but with a much longer history, people have gathered on the Winter Solstice for hundreds of years to encourage winter to leave. The shortest day of the year, people celebrate with bonfires and lighting candles. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a cozy family candlelight dinner to us.

May Day (May 1)

A tradition on May Day is to bring flowers to neighbors, ushering in the spring season. Typically, this is the only time that it is appropriate to “ding dong ditch”, or ring the doorbell and then run away. My son and I passed out flowers to neighbors last year on May Day and no one had heard of the tradition. I was surprised, as I used to make little paper baskets filled with dandelions for my neighbors growing up. Let’s bring back May Day traditions – it is fun, and your kiddos get the chance to love on their neighbors, which is always a good lesson.

Summer Solstice (June 20 or 21)

The longest day of the year, or Midsummer, is the perfect fun summer celebration. Make flower crowns, put flowers under your pillows for good dreams, eat strawberries, and stay up past bedtime. Enjoy the extra long daytime hours, and use the time to explain a bit about how the sun determines our seasons here on Earth.

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Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

Making Your Own Music

Brief History of Music

Music may very well have existed even before man. The first musical instrument was likely to have been a hollowed out stick that one could blow through to make sound. There are 6 major periods of Western Music:

Middle Ages (400-1400)- This period consisted of mostly chants and church music. Some greats included Hildegard and Machaut.

Renaissance (1400-1600)- Music became more sophisticated and a variety of different styles emerged. Some greats included Marcello and Monteverdi.

Baroque (1600-1750)- Music became even more complex with lots of experimentation with instruments and form. Some greats include Bach and Vivaldi.

Classical (1750-1800)- Music now follows well defined forms with the main form being the Sonata. Some greats include Beethoven and Mozart.

Romantic (1800-1900)- Music shifts to emotional and expressive as it tells a story. Some greats include Tchaikovsky and Brahms.

20th Century (1900-2000)- This period took on a rule of “no rules”. Lots of new styles and ideas. Some greats include Stravinsky and Bernstein.

The collaboration of all these periods makes up the roots of music. And, it keeps on growing and growing.

Making Your Own Music – Instruments

Maracas

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Supplies Needed:

-Empty and rinsed 20 oz. soda bottles
-Sand, dry beans, rice or small pebbles
-Low temp glue gun
-Decorations such as stickers, ribbon or yarn
-Funnel

 Instructions:

1. Using the funnel, fill each bottle 1/3 full with your sand, beans, rice or pebbles. (You can easily make colored rice by mixing rice in a bowl with some food coloring)
2. Secure the lid on with the hot glue.
3. Decorate your maraca with ribbon, yarn, stickers, anything you like.
4. Shake!

 Drums

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Supplies Needed:

-Empty tin cans, various sizes (bottom end should be removed with can opener too)
-Leather laces
-Decorative fabric
-Low temp glue gun
-Large needle or hole punch
-Pen
-Dowels (3/16” x 12”): 2 for each drumstick
-Spools (3/4” x 5/8”): 2 for each drumstick
-Piece of leather (large enough to cover both ends of your tin can)

Instructions:

1. Start by cutting your decorative fabric to fit around your can. Glue in place.

2. Next, place your can onto the leather and trace with a pen. Measure 1 inch from your traced circle and draw another circle. Repeat this process so you will have a covering for each end of your drum. Cut out your circles along the outside line.

3. Go around the outer circles and mark holes where you will string your laces through. Make sure not to get too close to the edge. Use a large needle or a hole punch to poke out your holes.

4. Run your lace through the holes like you are sewing and place over the top of your can. Cinch up tight and tie. Turn the drum over and repeat the process for the other end. String some laces diagonally from the top to the bottom of the drum if desired. Your drum is now complete!

5. For your drumsticks, put hot glue on one end of the dowel and poke into the spool. Set aside to dry. Repeat the process for your second drumstick. Once dry, you are ready to start drumming!

6. If your child can’t get enough, they can learn drumming at a number of locations!

Kazoos

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Supplies Needed:

-Paper towel or toilet paper tubes
-Scissors
-Wax paper
-Markers
-Rubber Bands

Instructions:

1. Decorate the tube by coloring designs with the markers.

2. Cut a piece of wax paper about 4” x 4”. Place the wax paper over one end of the tube and secure it tight with a rubber band.

3. With your scissors, poke a small hole in the tube near the end with the wax paper. (The hole should be no bigger than the end of a pencil)

4. Play your kazoo by blowing into the open end.

Techniques

-You can play your maraca in several different ways. Shake it once per note, twice per note, play every note of the song or try every other. You can shake it in the air or shake it against the side of your leg.

-For your drums, try making different sounds depending on where and how hard you strike the drum. You can hit the drum once per beat, or a couple of times. Try some drum rolls too!

-For your kazoo, experiment making different tones by changing the form of your lips or changing how hard or light you breathe into your kazoo. Make distinct beats by saying “to” as you blow into the kazoo.

Song List

Familiar songs that everyone knows work the best and provide the most fun (and laughs). Consider some classics like:

-Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
-Yankee Doodle
-If You’re Happy And You Know It
-Mary Had A Little Lamb
-You Are My Sunshine
-Skip To My Lou
-When The Saints Go Marching In
-She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain