Sunday, June 29, 2014

Great American Backyard Campout Fun!

Item #44 - Do a backyard campout

This was one list item that we were not sure we were going to be able to do at the beginning of the summer. Living in an apartment complex, we thought this was going to be something we would have to do when we moved, which could be as far away as next March. Would it be something we couldn't cross off the list? 
Well then I was told about the Great American Backyard Campout, a nationwide event that gets people into nature and appreciating the wildlife around them, whether at a camp ground or even in their own back yard! And every pledge to participate was $2 that went toward the National Wildlife Federation's fund. That's a pretty good cause! So we dared ask if we could set up a tent on the grassy area in front of our building and management gave us more: We could set up next to the front office and invite everyone else in the complex to join us!

With the pool and grills right next to us, it was an awesome camp site! Unfortunately no one else decided to join us for the night, but that didn't stop our kids from having all kinds of fun! We made our usual hotdogs and s'mores until it got dark, at which point we tried a new experiment: glow sticks and bubbles!

The couple that hosts the events here at our apartment complex came down to see us for a little while with their adorable son, so we were really hoping this would work out and be some great fun for the kids. We cut the top off the glowing sticks and added the goo to the bubble solution, hoping to get glow in the dark bubbles. While the mixture glowed, it was only at the bottom as the glow liquid sank and didn't mix in very well. As the two began to mix the glow began to diminish, so we counted this as a fail. However, giving up is not our style! We will try this one again with different methods! Does anyone out there have any ideas? We were thinking of using the glow liquid as the base for a homemade bubble solution and seeing if that worked a little better. If anyone has any ideas, please let us know!

Despite the failed attempt at nighttime entertainment, the kids had tons of fun running around blowing bubbles and getting to do their usual campout fun! The night itself can be counted as a success in our book! Plus, we discovered a new activity to partake in each year, because you know we will be pledging and joining in on the fun again next year!
Did anyone else make the pledge and campout? Tell us how your night went! We hope everyone had as much fun as we did!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Homemade treats! And one epic fail!

Items #6, #60 - Homemade Goodies!

Two days of special desserts took place on our 2 days off this week! Both were on the list but the recipes I found on Facebook were what really inspired these fun activities!

#6 - Make Homemade Popsicles

A friend of ours gave us popsicle molds last year and we had tons of fun using them for Kool-Aid popsicles. This year, however, we decided to branch out, looking for more unique recipes, and we found one!

The recipe we found suggested Sprite, but we prefer Sierra Mist (Ok, truthfully, Mommy prefers it so they must all deal!) 

We filled the molds to the top with the gummy bears. Not shoving them down, but making sure there were plenty! The hubby was shocked by how many I got down in there, but I loved the flavor so many gave it! (The lonely bear fell into the one mold that no longer had a stick.)

Top it off to the brim, very carefully, with the soda, and put the sticks in. Pop them in the freezer in a safe spot. We started this at around 10 in the morning and enjoyed the treats after dinner, so they had plenty of time to freeze, but we also had to watch out when we took things out! 

A tip: Run hot water over the outsides of the mold when you are ready to eat them. It helps loosen them enough to slide right out.

They were a hit! The bears were frozen so they were a bit hard to chew, but they gave the soda a great flavor! And they were fun! 

#60 - Make Homemade Icecream


1 large ziploc bag
1 small ziploc bag
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
Lots of Ice
6 Tbsp salt

Combine the milk and sugar in the large baggie. We added vanilla to one and cocoa to a second one so that we could try both flavors. Using syrups would give you a lot more flavor options, but for this first try we stuck to the basics.
In the smaller baggie place the ice and salt.
Put the small baggie in the large one and shake for a good 10 minutes!

In the future, and for you, we would suggest that you switch the baggies around. With the ice being on the inside we were forced to scrape the ice cream off the ice bag. When I did this sort of thing in school we put the milk on the inside and wrapped the whole thing in a towel to keep our hands from freezing.
Whichever way you decide to do it, the ice cream comes out great!

There was just not much! Each baggie made about a serving for a small child. (Yes, I would probably make more for me!) But that was perfect for us before we went wasting a whole gallon of milk on it! We now have a recipe that we enjoy and we can multiply it to make a large batch for the kids to shake while we make dinner!

This was a hit!

Now for our fail! =(

A long time ago I found a blurb on someone's Facebook or Pinterest about turning a Mountain Dew into a glow stick. This was years ago! And I guess I didn't really think we would ever get the chance to really do it, because I didn't write the recipe down in full. (My note read: 1/4 bottle Mountain Dew, Baking Soda, and 2 capfulls of Peroxide)
Well, we got the chance to try it! Using the ice tubes from some tea jugs, we divided a can between the two, doled out the peroxide, guessed on the baking soda.

And when they didn't glow we began experimenting, adding more peroxide to one and more baking soda to the other. Epic fail is a good term!
We were shocked to discover that when we came back to them this morning the Mountain Dew had been drained of all its color!

Anyway, while we have failed, we would love to know if anybody knows how to do this! So if you have the recipe on how to PROPERLY do this little trick, please let us know! We would love to do it again for this weekend's Great American Backyard Campout!
And let us know if you try the popsicles or ice cream, and let us know what you think of them! 

Have an awesome week, and get ready to hear about our awesome backyard camping fun on Sunday!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Great American Backyard Campout

This year is the 10th annual national campout, and me and the kids will be participating! Unfortunately the hubby will be unable to join us due to work, so instead I have invited the whole apartment complex! We will all be setting up our tents around the office building and having a group campout to support the National Wildlife Federation.

For everyone that pledges to take part in the campout, the Board of Directors for the NWF and their friends has agreed to donate $2 to the wildlife conservation work. This may not seem like much to you, but when people all over the country join in and pledge the money adds up! You get a night under the stars and help a great cause at the same time!

If you can't make it on the 28th, that's ok. You can still pledge and just camp out at any point over the summer. Just remember to take pictures and send them in of you memorable night in nature!

We look forward to getting the chance to spend the night with friends, and hope that everyone takes the challenge as well! So go to BackYardCampOut and pledge! And let us know that you did! We will post more on the day of the event!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Going for a hike! And a Father's Day project!

List Items - #23, #57, #96 

We had a special guest for our Saturday afternoon. A little girl I watched for a while got to stay the night with us. So we wanted to have tons of fun while she was here! First we loaded everyone up in the van and made our way over to Isle Du Boise once more. While a hike was not her idea of fun, the results sure made her smile!

#23 - Go for a hike 

We decided that finding a trail at the State Park would be perfect for what we wanted to do. After arriving we choose to stop just inside the gate and walk the Lost Pines Trail since Brewster was still having a bit of trouble dealing with the car. We walked the trail until it reached the lake where we found rocks and shells perfect for what we wanted to do! Bringing the rocks home the wind began to pick up and we decided to take advantage of it as soon as we got home!

#96 - Go Fly a Kite

Livia shared her kite with Jayden, letting her friend help get the kite into the sky and take a turn at holding the string. Then of course they began to chase each other around while watching the kite fly high.

We flew the kites overhead until we ran out light to really see them. It caught the attention of some of the people at the pool, which was right behind us, and some watched until we finally pulled them down. The had so much fun, and the wind was pretty gusty while we were out there! Finally we went back home and finished up the day!

#57 - Paint Rocks

Call me crazy but I let the kids sit down and paint their finds once I had cleaned them off.  They weren't exactly clean about it, but we use Crayola paints which wash off easily. What's fun without a little mess every now and then!

Once they were done we let the rocks dry over night. They were each beautiful in their own special way!
Once dry I got out my gold metallic marker and wrote a special note on the rocks. We sent Jayden's home with her to give to her father, and we presented Daddy with his when he woke up this morning. And it made for a very special Father's Day gift!

We had so much fun and this whole trip cost us absolutely nothing, and we were still able to cross off 3 more items off the summer list! We were  so glad that we were able to have Jayden over while we did some of these things, especially with her being practically a member of our family. Another successful fun day!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

PB&J Theme Night

I have an amazing friend with an amazing mom, and when they last went berry picking they spent the day making jams! They were then kind enough to send me some! Planning for a PB&J testing night  began. Finally we did it, picking a movie, and discovered all the new flavors!

We had 6 different flavors! StrawberryRaspberry, StrawberryPeach, Strawberry, Peach Marmalade, Apple Marmalade, and Cranberry Marmalade.

One each of the sandwiches. We wanted just a taste of each so that we could figure out which ones we liked! 

Cut them in quarters so they are bite sized samples and add some Cheetos (or Cheez-Its in Jareth's case) to help cleanse the pallet in between flavors!

We watched this cute movie about a high school junior that discovers that he has the super power to create food from his hands. 

It turned into a fun little night! And my picky eaters discovered some new flavors they like. Jareth just loved the StrawberryRaspberry and plain Strawberry Jams and he liked the Apple but was not a huge fan of it. We both discovered we are not Peach or Cranberry fans. And while I don't particularly like apples unless they are whole, I am now a fan of the Apple Marmalade! 

This was a great chance for us to discover new things, including a cute movie! And it was all thanks to some wonderful friends! I encourage everyone to try something like this! When given a lot of choices the kids were more comfortable with trying new things because they knew that it was ok to not like one thing. And now I have knew things I can feed the kids once more!

Another Theme Night success!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blanket Fort takes over the living room!

List Item #7 - Build a blanket fort

After a long day at A-Kon we decided to have some family fun time at home! With snack foods for dinner and an afternoon of Fairy Tale to end our Anime day, we knew just the item to knock off our Summer List! Blanket Fort!

I don't know what the rules are for a blanket fort, but Gary and I decided early on that since it needed to be big we would need a little help. We got the supporting poles for our tent out and used those to create the structure. Draping a sheet over most of it we had plenty of room for the whole family, yes Brewster was included, to sit, eat, and enjoy some of Natsu and Lucy's adventures! We are proud of our large creation as it held together through the night and all of Livia's antics! And the kids loved being able to chill on the floor with Mommy and Daddy under the canopy. It was a great ending to this wonderful day! Here are the pics!

This adventure was definitely worth the hassle it took to get it just right! And it is another item off the list! Tell us, have you ever built a blanket fort? What did you use? Maybe we can do this again with your ideas! Have an awesome summer!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A-Kon Dallas: Random Nerdy Fun!

So friends of ours own this cool little comic shop, SuperVillain Comics, and they decided to set up a booth at A-Kon, one of the most awesome Anime Conventions, which was celebrating their 25th year. We decided to go see them and take the kids on their first nerdy adventure. The whole day turned into so much awesome it was hard to contain! We saw people from all our favorite animes as well as some other fandoms! Even my father, a nerd at heart but an old fashioned kind of one, had some great fun seeing the costumes and some characters he recognized. We also came away with some awesome goodies! Here is a look:

Right off the bat we got to see Spirit, Toad, and Mouse from Soul Eater! Right in front of our booth!

NoFace, from Spirited Away, was walking around with a handfull of gold just trying to make friends.

We found a cute little hat shop! Too bad these cutties were too small for the beautiful creations. Maybe next time!

We were very impressed with Maka and Soul from Soul Eater! She was very beautiful and very sweet. This was when we began to really see people and feel confident about asking for pictures.

The hubby was very happy to see Madara Uchiha from Naruto: Shippuden.

Other fandoms were welcomed too! The boys were terrified of this very awesome Dalek from Dr. Who!

Death the Kid! This Soul Eater character was very nicely done and impressed Jareth.

Natsu and Grey may fight a ton on Fairy Tale, but they were more than nice when it came time to take a picture with Happy and Jareth!

With Sailor Moon making a comeback next month, I was so excited to see this excellent costume! And love it when the people are as nice as the characters!

PawPaw, who was a bit out of his element, was all grins when he saw someone he recognized. The man dressed as Snake Blisskin was glad to take a picture with him!

PawPaw found more things to be excited about, although I thought he looked a bit sinister!

Another surprise! Legolas and Gimli really made Jareth smile, nerds all around!

Luffy from OnePiece was seen in a booth with some awesome items, but he stopped his looking long enough for a quick picture with a fan.

I think this Ash was a little suprised to find a Pokemon fan that was so young! But Jareth couldn't be more excited to get a picture with her and Pikachu!

A very impressive costume for this Halo soldier. He was spotted many times without a helmet, though, with it being so hot! But he was nice enough to put it back on for our picture!

Another very impressive costume from Silent Hill. He had a very large crowd just waiting for pictures in awe!

We were on our way out when we finally found a Kirito! With Sword Art Online coming out with a season 2 next month, Jareth was eagerly looking everywhere for this particular character. His day ended on a high note!

A bit of adorable advertising! Liv walked around with a SuperVillains Comics monkey in her hands! And she was not letting go!

While it may not look like it, Jareth was excited about his new Power Rangers shirt!

Our loot! I am thuroughly in love with my new Asuna (Sword Art Online) wallet! And our new book marks will come in handy as we take on the Summer Reading Program!

And of course we had to try something new. As lovers of Pocky, we could not pass up the green tea flavor, and it was amazing! These little sodas were a big hit since you have to push a glass marble down into the jar to open it. I think Ramune is our new favorite drink!

Over all we had such an amazing time walking around seeing everything! All the booths and people were so incredible! Definitely a great first experience in our geeky convention adventures! We can't wait until the next opportunity to show the kids around the nerdy world! Have you been to a convention? What was your experience like? To what geeky fandoms do you belong? Let us know so we can share fan tales! And have an awesome time at your next convention!