Thursday, April 5, 2012

Filling Easter eggs and baskets

It's soon Easter time and I have heard numerous parents/grandparents/teachers say, "I don't know what to put in _____ Easter eggs/basket!" With the rise against not wanting your child to inhale a ton of candy it can make occasions like Easter and Halloween difficult a time to get more creative. Some are even asking, "Do I want to do an Easter basket?"

That is the question I found myself asking last year after Christopher was born. He was almost 3 months old around Easter time so I knew that he would have no recollection of what we did/didn't do. We decided to buy him a jumperoo and deem that his Easter present since it was an item we were already going to buy for him, why not knock out two things at once? This year was no different, Easter was coming and I again contemplated Easter basket or no Easter basket...

My main reasoning for questioning this tradition is that I struggle with overshadowing the real reason for our family celebrating Easter. I don't want Easter (or Christmas) to become about getting gifts, taking pictures with the Easter bunny/Santa or for us to get caught up in all the other fun traditions. These holidays are a chance to get to celebrate the amazing gift of life that we were given through our Savior being born into human form and then paying the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

Don't get me wrong I LOVE HOLIDAYS and everything that goes with them!!!!! It's a great time to get together with family and friends, decorate the house, do crafts, etc. and since these are some of my favorite things to do, I enjoy every moment. (Tim may even say I go a bit overboard!) This is why we decided that there is definitely room, at least for our family, to do both things. It is our job in the joys of the traditions, games, candy and family time to incorporate the story of our Savior and make it the biggest part of either holiday.

For this year I decided brainstorm, and use the wonderful resource of the internet, to compile a list of what could be used to fill your Easter eggs and baskets. I know it is a little late this year as most probably already have both of these things done, but just in case, here's a little help!

* Easter egg ideas:
  1. Stickers
  2. Small stuffed animals 
  3. Coins, or dollar bills if you are feeling extra generous :)
  4. Cars (Hot Wheels/Wheelies/Thomas the Train, etc.)
  5. Character Band-Aids
  6. Treats (Teddy Grahams, Fruit Snacks, Goldfish, Raisins, Animal Crackers, Cheerios, Puffs, Mini M&M's, Nuts, etc.)
  7. Temporary Tattoos
  8. Chapstick/Lip gloss
  9. Party size Play-Dough
  10. Mini cookie cutters to use with Play-Dough
  11. Puzzle pieces (after finding all the eggs, put the puzzle together!)
  12. Mini Erasers
  13. Coupon for new book, bowling, movie, date night with Dad/Mom, etc.
  14. Finger Puppets
  15. Hair Barrette/Bows
  16. Jewelry
  17. Mini Animals (You can usually find a set or two of these on clearance at Michaels)
  18. Barbie Outfits
  19. Silly Putty
  20. Legos
  21. Socks (I always find the cutest character socks in the dollar bin at Target)
  22. Water capsules...stick them in water and watch them grow
  23. Coloring page/maze, folded up
  24. Magnets (Have cheap packs of letter/number magnets at Wal-Mart)
  25. Cool Shoelaces
  26. Dice
  27. Fisher Price Little People
  28. Balloons/Punching balloons, not blown up of course
  29. Mini bottle of bubbles
  30. Stampers
  31. Mini Paints
  32. Squirt Toys for bath tub
  33. Bath tablets that change the water color
  34. Packet of seeds that you will plant/water together
  35. Inflatable ball
  36. Mini slinky (looking for minis is a great idea, or just look in the party favor section for some smaller items)
  37. Put a piece of paper with number on it that goes to corresponding prize - great way to include bigger prizes that don't fit in eggs
  38.  Bouncy Balls
  39. Mini Water balls to play with in summer
* Easter basket ideas:
  1.  Book (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5)
  2. Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  3. Kite
  4. CD
  5. DVD
  6. Toy
  7. Sidewalk Chalk
  8. Bubbles
  9. Bucket/Shovel
  10. Playdough (Make your own!)
  11. Gardening Tools
  12. Jump Rope
  13. Crayons/Coloring Book
  14. Puzzles
  15. Pinwheel
  16. Lacing Beads
  17. Art/Crafts Supplies
  18. Puppets
  19. Game
  20. Lunchbox
  21. Small Backpack
  22. Chalkboard Mats
  23. Bathtub Toys
  24. Outfit/T-Shirt
  25. Foam Stickers/Shapes
  26. Bubble Bath
  27. Summer Shoes (Keens or Crocs)
  28. Mini Pillow Pets
  29. Small Instruments (Tambourine, Maraca, Egg Shaker)
  30. Disposable Camera
  31. Swimsuit/ Beach Towel
  32. Sunglasses
  33. Brain Quest
  34. Small Cars
  35. Water Bottle
  36. Stuffed Peeps (These are adorable, wished we lived closer to a BRU!)
* Easter egg hunt ideas:
  •  Have each child find a different color egg (ensures that each child gets the same amount of eggs and easy to put age appropriate items in if you have children with a large age difference).
  • Fill eggs with "Bunny Bucks" or "Bunny Money" and have an Easter store. The children can spend the money they got in the egg hunt at the store.
  • Do an Easter egg scavenger hunt (hide clues in the eggs to lead to each child's Easter basket). Can put a clue only in the eggs or a clue and a treat.
  • Do an Easter egg hunt at night with flashlights (inside or outside).
Some of my favorite Easter memories as a child were going to this huge Easter egg hunt that took place on our Legion field. There were TONS of eggs (and people) and of course lots of candy and prizes. Each year you would hope to find an egg that had a number in so you could take it to the stand and see what big prize your number matched. I also loved getting to prance around in the beautiful Easter dress that my Aunt Reesie had made for me, sue me I was/am a girly girl at times :)

Another great memory was the Easter cantata at our church. I loved feeling like I was at a play and watching to see if there would be any live animals there (one year the man playing Jesus got to ride in on a donkey!). It was so different from any other church service and revealed the story of Jesus's death and resurrection in such a real way. Let me end by saying I understand, and respect, that everyone's beliefs/ways of celebrating are different so I'm hoping you find fun things to do with your family in a style you are comfortable with and enjoy!!

A few days early but have a Happy Easter everyone :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Project Simplify, Week 4: Choose Your Own Adventure

Before I was even through reading the phrase "Choose your own adventure" I knew what area of the house I was going to focus on. Are you ready...


When we first started looking for houses a finished basement was on our "must have" list. I wanted a place that our children could hang out with their friends, have sleepovers and a sports haven for Tim.  Most of the houses we looked at though did not have finished basements, or were above our price range.  Our "runner up" house had a beautifully finished basement with a game room, office, gas fireplace and much more. I fell in love, but the house didn't compare to the house we ended up buying, so we sacrificed the basement.

Looking back an unfinished basement is perfect for our family right now. We can store all bigger "baby" items in between infants, we have plenty of place in the basement for all of our summer items (grill, lawnmower, Christopher's outside toys, etc.) until we get a shed and it isn't another huge area to clean which I am thankful for since moving from a small townhouse to our house has already quadrupled our cleaning list :)

Upon moving into our house back in April the basement definitely got to be the "dump" for boxes we weren't sure what to do with, all of the things we needed to go through and all of our things that were going to be stored down there. Having a three month old did not give us much time to go down and clean/organize so it stayed messier than I would have liked for a little while. SLOWLY, but surely, I got most of our things semi organized and all the boxes had been sorted through.

As Christopher outgrew things and we settled into our house more items ended up in the basement without the time to properly store them and although most others wouldn't have called it a mess I knew I wanted to weed through some more of the boxes and organize some more!

Sadly, I forgot to take "before" pictures and by the time I remembered I was in the middle of organizing and moving things around so there were things everywhere. I honestly didn't think that I would get this project done in a week, especially when I didn't feel motivated and I felt like I was just making a bigger mess, but I DID IT and it definitely feels rewarding. I just took it one step at a time and anytime I saw something that needed to be done I did it! So, it's definitely not a beauty but here is our basement...

Tim's office area for when he teleworks, which is rare.

Our "yardsale" corner, plus a friend's recliner. Whatever doesn't sell by the end of May is going to Goodwill.

Outdoor and baby items
When our basement is finished this back nook will stay a storage area for our camping gear, seasonal decorations, etc.
I hate storing things in Cardboard boxes, so you will only see 1 or 2 of them :)
Thankful for Sterilite containers and laminated note cards to label!
Craft/teaching supplies
Cat Corner :)

Overall March went incredibly fast and I was excited to complete Project Simplify. It gave me enough motivation and accountability to finish projects I wanted to do around the house. Next thing on my list, finishing Christopher's one year scrapbook :)