Happy Halloween!

IMG_2623What a fun crafty time of year it is!  We actually finished a couple of our pumpkins ahead of time this year!  Can I tell you I got a little verklempt when E carved his pumpkin without help?  C painted a minion on a spaghetti squash which was a fun departure from the standard pumpkin fare.  When I saw recycled jars turned into luminaries at the zoo I knew we had to do that at home this year.  So super easy and fun!

IMG_2627 I thought I was done doing “room mom” stuff,  but our Science Club is having a Halloween Party and I volunteered to do the big kid craft.  We are doing paper haunted houses.  It’s really all about how much work you want to put into it so some kids will probably take a long time and others a few minutes.  I figured it would be something they could replicate at home if they enjoyed it.  I ended up making a quick pattern that I could print onto the card stock.  I was really wishing for a fancy cutting machine so we could make our own bat and tree cut outs.  You can check out the paper houses I used for inspiration.  I chose to make mine larger so they took two piece of 8.5″x11″ cardstock for the walls and another half sheet for the roof.  I didn’t make a floor to make it easier to just set them over an LED tealight.


The boys have been taking archery lessons this semester.  Usually they shoot inside, but this week they had the chance to shoot pumpkins at a much longer distance.  I love that we are able to work things like this into our schedule!

Hope you have a very Happy Halloween!

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Weekly Wrap-Up WUH

7 Fun Ways to Celebrate Dr. Suess’s Birthday

Dr. Suess’s birthday is March 2, so why not celebrate ?   Need some ideas?DSC_0778Make Oobleck –  Mix equal parts cornstarch and water with a few drops of food coloring.  Make additions as needed until you have a non-Newtonian fluid ( it behaves like a liquid until you apply pressure, then it acts like a solid).   Read Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

Menagerie of Polymer Clay Animals

Design your own menagerie of Suess worthy animals – You could draw them, make masks, or sculpt them with clay.  Let your imagination soar.  Read or If I Ran the ZooHappy Birthday to You! or McElligot’s Pool. 


The Adventures of Super Pig

The Adventures of Super Pig

Write and illustrate your own whimsical stories or poems.  

Painted Turtles Sunning 3/20

Read Yertle the Turtle  then take a hike to your favorite turtle pond.


Lay in the grass and see what you find in the clouds.

Chromatic Pool


Find pictures of exotic landscapes and imagine what might live there, then find out what really does.

Read books like 101 Freaky Animals or watch documentaries about the deep ocean to discover strange creatures that really do exist.


End the day by reading Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book




What will you be doing to celebrate?

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List_it_Tuesday    HHH    Highhill Homeschool

11 Favorite Holiday Traditions (Normal and Not so Normal)

I love holiday traditions!  I’m not talking Pottery Barn perfection.  I’m talking real families with jokes and laughter and warmth and love and silliness.


1. “Christmas at Our House” – Ever since the boys were small we have celebrated “Christmas at Our House”.  Because we have BIG family celebrations on the 24th and 25th, we carve out some time just for us and the kids ahead of Christmas.  We completely pretend it is Christmas Day. We wake up early to open presents and fix a special breakfast.  For Santa believers, we ask him to come early.  Then we spend the whole day putting stuff together and playing.   If you are hosting a party on Christmas Day, it lets you enjoy your family time without worrying about cleaning up and hosting duties.  If you are traveling, it gives you time to enjoy the presents without trying to get everyone out the door.  The kids think it is a huge bonus because they get to open presents earlier than most of their friends.



2. Photo Ornaments –  Each January I make maybe 6-8 photo ornaments.  It is so fun to share memories as we decorate the tree.  I usually pick up the frames at Micheals.  I can’t put this one up without thinking of how many times a certain little boy fell asleep in his high chair (or lots of other places).


3. Reading the Christmas story – When I was a girl we always read Luke 2 before opening presents at my Grandmas house.  The tradition continues with my family.  I love hearing my brothers deep voice reading the passage.  After the reading we have a circle prayer of thankfulness.

4. Cinnamon Rolls – My mom always made overnight cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning.  I have continued that tradition for our celebration.

5.Playing with the cousins –  Video games / Monopoly / Pool / Fuseball – Which game depended on who was hosting, but the cousins were always playing games together.  Monopoly for some reason was a favorite and hotly contested match that went on for hours and included trading sessions, partnerships, and shady back room deals.   Now my kids are the ones chilling out with their cousins playing games for hours.  I recently asked the boys what their favorite part of the holidays is and the both answered, “Playing with the cousins.”

6. Soup Day – The day after Christmas is “Soup Day”, declared by my sister-in-law.  It’s a refreshing way to get back to healthy eating.

7. Chocolate pie for Santa – I seriously don’t know how this got started, but the boys always leave chocolate pie for Santa.  One year I was making pie at 10 PM because they were so adamant Santa wanted pie.

8. Mixing up the chocolate box –  For years my parents bought a box of chocolates that had a diagram showing where each piece was located.  By about noon it would start getting a bit picked over and someone would move the least desirable pieces (orange cremes) so you never knew if you might get the unpleasant surprise.  One year my dad cleverly substituted something we liked in place of the orange cremes before the “official” opening.  We were all so confused when the offensive pieces never surfaced.

Growing Borax Crystals

9. Homemade Christmas Ornaments / Science Experiments –  Borax snowflakes!  Gotta love these.  We also enjoy salt dough ornaments and polymer clay ornaments.  This year I’m hoping to make some snow globes.


10. Gingerbread Houses –  Candy and frosting and construction?  Yes please.  I have a friend whose family drives over their gingerbread houses on Jan. 1st.  Smashing them with the car, I like that.

11. Calendars – The grandparents look forward to a calendar with photos of the grandkids each year.  Putting together the calendar is probably my favorite part of getting ready for the holiday.  I love looking back at the pictures from the last year and remembering all the fun we’ve had together.


What are some of your holiday traditions?  Do you have any quirky or unusual ones?


HHH List_it_Tuesday

Minecraft Birthday Party


I always feel a bit apprehensive about “at home parties”, but that is what C always requests.  I get nervous every year and then we all have a great time.

The boys helped make a lot of the decorations and come up with ideas for the party.  I have to admit, it was fun to have a theme where things had to be homemade.   It was a great chance to learn more about my kids favorite parts of the game.


Our guests played a bit of football when they first arrived.





Then they each set off a Diet Coke / Mentos fountain.  That has nothing to do with Minecraft, but lots to do with being 8-10 year old boys.









Next, we had a scavenger hunt for iron, diamonds, emeralds and gold.  After they each collected the four items they traded them in for goodie bag items.


Then they launched water bottle rockets.  My husband built the launcher about 5 years ago and we’ve used it quite a bit.  You can buy the commercial version or find instructions on the web.   Our design allows us to use the air compressor for some pretty impressive heights.  Since water bottle rockets aren’t precisely a Minecraft thing, we decorated one as a minecraft pig and called it “Rocket Pig.”





Some of the boys made either a mask or a water bottle rocket cover using cardstock. I provided lots of cardstock, glue-dots, and scissors.   About half the boys wanted to make a character and the other half wanted to just chase the water bottle rockets.










We also made torches from LED tea candles and a 6″ x 12″ piece of cardstock.






In case of bad weather, we could have done the scavenger hunt inside and decorated the goodie bags while listening to Minecraft parodies.  I also had glue and borax on hand to make slime if we ended up inside.

Food and Decorations:


The food was a breeze.  Chicken tenders, watermelon, apples and caramel dip, carrots, and pretzel sticks.  The newest Minecraft update added salmon, which would have been nice if we were also feeding grownups.


The drink station was fun.  The boys mixed up potions.  We labeled Powerades as Minecraft potions and provided Sprite to mix in as desired.


I was a total copycat on the cake.  My friend Carolyn posted pics from a Minecraft party this summer.  I’m not sure if hers had a lake, but I remember seeing some lakes as I was researching.   If you really like the jello lake idea, try to come up with a container you can slide into place at the last minute.   I used plastic wrap to isolate the jello from the cake and it was sort of difficult.  Also the jello didn’t come out of the mold well.  Per request I left the sides of the cake un-iced.



SNOW GOLEMS!  I came up with these on my own and they turned out great.  All it takes are cake pop sticks, marshmallows, an edible marking pen and orange sugar (which I happened to have in a Halloween sprinkle assortment).  Wipe the top and sides of a marshmallow with a wet paper towel and roll in orange sugar.  Stick a plain marshmallow on the stick followed by the orange sprinkled one.  Paint on eyes, mouth and buttons with the edible marker.   So Easy!  You might even add pretzel stick arms.


To round out the decorations we made crêpe paper spiders, decorated our light fixtures as torches, made creeper and endermen balloons,  and created a photo backdrop using tablecloths and square-cut clouds.

Additional Ideas:


The boys have been busy with the rainbow loom.  E came up with this cool creeper bracelet design and wanted to make them for the party guests.  Unfortunately we didn’t have enough green rubber bands and I couldn’t find any more locally.   He did make each guest a simple bracelet in a variety of colors.


We also tried making Perler bead pickaxes and swords.   Given the need for a hot iron and adult supervision, we decided it wouldn’t be the best party activity.  We thought about making swords and pickaxes for the goody bags, but we didn’t have enough of the desired colors.  With more time, I could have ordered the right colors direct from Perler.

I hope you’ve found an idea or two that will work for your party. Remember – at the end of the day it isn’t about the perfect decorations.  Birthdays are a chance to celebrate life and friendships!

Thanks for visiting our Minecraft Party!