Thursday, July 28, 2011

Activities for the car!

We spend a lot of time in the car.  A lot.  Since we live in no-where-ville we have resorted to turning a DVD on for the kids and it is usually a peaceful ride to wherever we are going.  However, when we are on trips that take over an hour to get to…they get bored pretty fast.  Knowing that we would be in the car for a total of 18+ hours for our family vacation, I called in help from my mom and we came up with some fun car activities for the kids.  So if you have any upcoming long car rides…or if your kids hate the car, maybe you will find a few of these useful.  
    1.   Scavenger hunt
Prepare a list of things that you might see along the way and call off the items.  Keep a tally of who finds the most items.  My oldest loved this…and so did my husband and I.  The younger kids could find the easier things like cows and certain colors of cars, but some of the things were harder.  Things should be somewhat easy for what type of terrain you are traveling.  The hardest thing on the list for us was a dog and a green car.  We ran out of items, so I had to make a second list.  It is amazing how much time you kill by hunting for things.

Some example of items:  bridge, yellow flower, chair, dog, cow, person wearing a hat, gas station, sign with a word that starts with “whatever letter”, the state’s name, pond…etc.      

 2.  Sticker books
My kids LOVE stickers.  My mom gathered up some older random stickers and a few little notepads and the kids had a great time filling up their sticker books.  Great time killer!  Post-it notes would be fun too if you didn’t have stick. 
   3.  Pipe Cleaners
      Yes you read that right.  Hand the kids random colors and call off items that they can flowers or a dog.   If you have younger kids, cute out shapes of felt, cut a little slit in the middle of each felt piece and they can thread the shapes through the pipe cleaner.

         4.  "I feel it" game.
      Put a whole bunch of random little items in a dark bag.  Make a master list of the items.  Call of an item and have the kids take turns feeling for that item.  We actually have a game where the items are pictured on the card, but you could make your own game.  The kids loved it!

         5.  Coloring
      My girls could color for hours.  Easton colors for maybe 5 minutes.  I made them each a little baggy for crayons and they picked out a coloring book at the store.  

       These are just a few of the activities we did....I brought various other toys like legos, mini-Disney toys, and a few etch-a-sketches.  What type of things do your kids like to do in the car?  I am always looking for new ideas!
Not keeping an eye on the kids in the car...could turn out like this...this is Jocelyn (at age 3) having fun with a blue glue stick when she was on a road trip with my parents at the Grand Canyon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More Birthday fun for Katelyn & friends!

Katelyn has been talking about her 4th birthday...well pretty much non-stop for the last year.  She had it all planned was going to be a Little Mermaid themed birthday party and she had already verbally invited just about everyone she knew.  I got so tired of hearing about it...non-stop...I decided to plan a surprise party, so the birthday chatter wouldn't intensify.  So after the kids went to bed, I spent my time making Ariel gift bags and getting ready for her party.  Most of her friends live in Omaha, so we took over my parents basement and had the party after church.  Here are a few pictures from that day!  Thank you to everyone who called or e-mailed on her birthday!!  It meant a lot to this little girl!
The gang + Easton

Getting ready to play a game!

Playing hot little mermaid game...they didn't quiet get how to play...the object was to NOT have the mermaid when music stopped...if you had you were whoever had it was soooo excited and was happy to leave the game...hmmm??
Pin the tail on the mermaid game

Waiting to open presents
Stack-o-presents-- we gave each girl a little mermaid instead of a lot of trinkets in their gift bag
Katelyn showing off one her presents
I made these little mermaid totes...stole the idea off of
On her actual birthday the girls had a friend over and we enjoyed cupcakes and played on our water slide.
All smiles with her cupcakes

 The evening of her birthday we went out to Cherries on Top...yum!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Katelyn's 4th Birthday!

Katelyn Rose entered this world on July 22, 2007!  She was 7 lb 13 oz.  She has been a very fun, loving little girl.  We love her to pieces!  Love you Katelyn!  Happy 4th Birthday!

At birth
1st Birthday
2nd birthday
3rd birthday
4th birthday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nebraska and onward day 5-7

If you missed days 1 & 2 click: here
If you missed day 3 click: here
If you missed day 4 click: here

Day 5:
We were sad to go, but we had plans to head east and then drop back down to Nebraska.  Our last day in the Black Hills consisted of me getting a wonderful 1 hour massage and facial...and Sean taking the kids to McDonald's and cleaning up baby covered from head to toe in poop.  He said I planned it...I swear I didn't.  

We headed an hour east of Rapid City to a drug store.  How could you not stop...they had billboards lining the highway...apparently we HAD to stop.  If you have no clue what I am talking is Wall Drug Store in Wall, SD.  It was in one big compound, but more like a mini-mall.  There was a drug store and then little specialty shops like camping, kids toys, home decor, gold mining....the list goes on...we didn't visit every little store.  There was also a soda fountain, fudge shoppe, and a little cafe.  I heard that they had wonderful homemade donuts...and yes they did!  That was our lunch for the day.  Kind of sad I know.  The kids didn't seem to mind.  Don't worry we got them some more McDonald's later that evening.  :) Here are a few pictures of Wall Drug.
You know...a jackalope
Singing cowboys
All this excitement for only 50 cents!!!
Jocelyn was upset because we weren't going to go pan for gold...again.
That night we made it to our next destination of Valentine, Nebraska.  We rented a cabin at Heartland Elk Ranch.  We had no internet, cell phone service, or television.  It was kind of nice!  My husband went fishing for a bit at their pond and we drove around checking out the area.  

Day 6:  
Our plan was to take the kids tubing in the river on this day.  We were so excited and had even bought a double tube so it would be easier to keep track of the kids.  Well we took one look at the river and decided it was not going to happen.  The river was really high and was moving faster than both Sean and I had anticipated.   Maybe in a few years.  We were all a bit let down by this, but all in all we had a great day.
We ended up hiking to a few waterfalls: 
Smith Falls 

and Fort Falls
after we ate lunch and drove around checking out other state parks we took the kids back to Smith Falls and swam under the waterfall.  It was PERFECT for them and they had so much fun.  

Weston testing out the waters...he wasn't so sure at first.
Me...I always look like a dork!
Weston loved it...and he loved eating the rocks and the sand too!
We then took them to the river to wade and our decision about not going tubing was confirmed...the current was way too fast.

 So that was it.  Our first family vacation by ourselves. We had so much fun!  Any ideas of where we should go next year??  Oh and I took quiet a few more pictures...I will post those on facebook sometime.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about our vacation!

Nebraska and onward: Day 4

If you missed day 1 & Here
If you missed day  Here

Day 4:  
We still had several things that we wanted to do with the kids.  This day was a bit foggy, but it didn't stop us from enjoying the Black Hills.  We moseyed out of the hotel and didn't feed the kids breakfast until 11am.  They were troopers and didn't even complain.  I gave them 2 M & M's to hold them over. :) Funny that they are good at reminding me about snacks and meals at home ...but while we were on vacation...they didn't complain at all.  We missed several snacks...and meals...I guess we were just too busy having fun. 

Our first activity of the day was to take a drive through the Wildlife Scenic loop in Custer State park.  Right when we entered the loop was saw a bison (buffalo).  I thought to myself if we are seeing things right away...this is going to be great!!  So we drove...and we drove...and we drove...we were losing interest of the kids fast...we saw quiet a few prairie dogs...those aren't very exciting after you see hundreds of them.  

We took side roads...we were getting pretty desperate to just find any type of animal.  FINALLY....we ran across some burros (wild donkey's) on the road.  Cars were stopped and the burros were trying to get into people's cars.  We then drove a little further and pulled off the road and let the kids out to pet a few.  Sean was a bit cautious, but they had a good time.  A guy gave the kids cookies and they fed the burros...and they were NOT happy when the cookies were all gone (the burros...not the kids).  They got kind of aggressive, so that was our cue to leave...they followed us to our car and tried to stick there heads in our windows.  It was fun...but I was glad to get back in the car.  

 We drove a bit further and ran across some bighorns (antelope) and hundreds of bison.  It was a great drive and in the end we all had a good time!

After the wildlife loop we headed out to learn how to pan for gold at Big Thunder Gold Mine.  We didn't take the tour, but I have heard they have great tours.   After the gal taught us how to pan for gold, we went in their trough and panned away.  The kids (and Sean) had a great time panning.  The girls were more interested in finding pyrite (fools gold), but Sean wanted to find the real stuff.  He did end up finding 4 pieces and was thrilled.  Not sure we can do much with it, but it was a fun activity.  Now that we are expert panners, we are hoping to go panning in the creeks down in Missouri like Sean used to do as a child...well he didn't find real gold...just pyrite, but who knows, maybe we will strike gold!!:)  

After we went panning and out to dinner in Rapid City...we took the kids to Storybook Island.  They were really tired from the long day...and no naps.  I wasn't sure what their reaction would be.  When we pulled up they could see through the gates...and were BEYOND EXCITED! They screamed and ran...Sean and I could hardly keep up with them.  I took a million pictures, so I will just post a few...but trust me...this place was a wonderful break for the kids.  If you are ever in the area...this is a must for the kids.  I wish we had one here.  Rapid City also has a few really nice water indoors and the other outdoors.  Someone in our family (not me) does not do water parks...but they looked really fun.

Stay tuned...tomorrow we are leaving the Black Hills and heading east to the biggest drug store I have ever been too...and back to Nebraska....some of the prettiest pictures coming up!