15 Creative Mardi Gras Activities for Kids

15 mardi gras activities

Mardi Gras celebrations typically take place in the week or two before Fat Tuesday, which signals the beginning of Lent on Wednesday and the end of the celebrations, however here in Northwest Florida Mardi Gras is like a season that lasts a couple of months! We have parades, king cake ceremonies and lots of parties during January and February and the kids love to get involved with fun Mardi Gras crafts so I’ve rounded up a few of our favorite craft ideas here:

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Build Your Own Giant Wood Stacking Block Game

Disclosure – This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FreeToBe #CollectiveBias

Build Your Own Giant Wood Stacking Block Game

Two of my five kids and I suffer from both seasonal allergies and sensitive skin so it can sometimes be hard to get the kids away from their screens and outside to play. I’m constantly trying to encourage outdoor activities so I love coming up with new and exciting things for them to do outside. Last weekend the kids and I worked together to build our own giant wood stacking block game, similar to Jenga but on a much larger scale and we had so much fun that they’re already planning their next “tournament”.

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4 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

4 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

Summer vacation means only one thing for children: Freedom from school! For young ones, this time of the year means a blissful few months without having to wake up early, do homework or see their teachers. It means fun, fun and more fun. For parents, however, summer vacation can be a completely different story. Many parents tend to stress over just how much time their children should spend lazing around on the couch and watching television or playing computer games.

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10 Frugal Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

10 Frugal Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

Holidays like Valentine’s Day can be difficult if you’re on a budget. There’s so much pressure to spend money on your clothes, gifts, and date activities. But Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, not about paying a small fortune. Luckily you don’t have to spend a lot to have a nice Valentine’s Day! If you and your loved one want to have a nice Valentine’s without spending tons of money, take a look at these 10 Frugal Valentine’s Day Date Ideas!

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11 Family Friendly Ideas for New Year’s Eve

11 Family Friendly Ideas for New Year’s Eve

I don’t know about you but gone are my days of dashing out at 10 pm in a dress, heels, and sparkly party hat to begin a New Year’s Eve party – now it is more likely to include me wiping noses that are fighting off a cold and very likely to be asleep by 10 pm. But I am not complaining! I am very happy to have my family and spend my time with them, it’s just that it is probably not exciting by most people’s standards. That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything at all to ring in the New Year, we just go a different route. Here are some ideas we have done in the past or are planning to do in the future in case your New Year’s sounds a bit like mine!

1) Non Alcoholic Toasts

There is no reason your family (ie kid friendly) party can’t include a toast to celebrate the new year. Fill plastic champagne glasses from the dollar store with clear soda, sparkling grape juice, or ginger ale.

2) Make Family Resolutions

Instead of or in addition to individual resolutions create some together. Things like – Eat dinner together every night, start a family movie night once a week or month, exercise for 20 minutes together 4 times per week, etc…

3) Host a Block Party

Get the other families in your neighborhood involved. Set up tables in a central location and have everyone bring a dish. You will get a lot of adult interaction and playmates for your kids. Pool your funds to buy fireworks for a neighborhood show if it’s allowed in your area.

4) Decorations

A fun idea that will keep the kids busy is to make your own party hats and noisemakers instead of buying them. The noisier, more sparkly, and goofier the better!

5) Celebrate Early

With really little ones you don’t have to shoot for midnight. Celebrate and be done by nine. It’s your party you can have it when you want to.

6) Make a Time Capsule

Fill a plastic container that has a tight fitting lid with predictions for the new year, letters to your futures selves, family pictures, newspaper articles, etc. Place it in a sealed plastic bag and bury in the yard (or stick it up in the closet) to be opened on the next New Year’s Eve.

7) Have a Slumber Party

Right in the living room, have the whole family get into their pj’s and watch movies or the ball drop in Times Square. Spend the whole night cuddled up on pallets or the couch.

8) Take Pictures

Take photos of your child in the same spot, shirt, etc.. every year to document their growth. Get creative, take photos of your family holding up the numbers of the year or twisting their bodies into the number shapes.

9) Bag it Up

Put a treat, a joke on a slip of paper, or a small toy in 12 (or however long you want to make it) decorated paper bags, let the kids open one each hour from noon to midnight.

10) Learn Something

Research New Year’s festivities in other countries – for example Chinese New Year is actually celebrated in late January-February.

11) Make Fun Food

Celebrate New Year’s with your kids by making a round cake and using gel frosting writers to make a clock face, bake cookies but use number cookie cutters to shape them, bake crescent rolls in the shape of the year, the ideas are endless!

Family Fun and Adventures in Destin and Fort Walton Beach #EmeraldCoasting

Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village

My family and I are fortunate to live in the Florida Panhandle where we are within driving distance of so many fun and exciting things to do. There are lots of attractions along the Emerald Coast in Destin and Fort Walton Beach for kids, families and adults – with so many options you’re sure to find something that you love to do and activities that will make the whole family happy.

Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village

One of my absolute favorite places to stay and frankly my personal top ranked Destin vacation rental is the Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village. Located right on the Destin Harbor the condo rentals are fabulous, very comfortable rooms with kitchens and every amenity including beautiful views in every room, like the one above from our balcony. The resort has a ferry (shown above) that will take you to a private beach where you’ll find beach chairs, umbrellas and towels and you can even order room service right from your chaise.

Margaritaville

The Harborwalk Village adjoins the property and boasts all sorts of wonderful restaurants, retail shops, entertainment and water recreation activities like the Buccaneer Pirate Ship, snorkeling, fishing, dolphin cruises, parasailing, jet skis and glass bottom boats. There are also quite a few bars and night clubs available for a little adult entertainment in the evenings.

Lulu's Restaurant

Lulu’s restaurant is one of the absolute best places along the Emerald Coast for seafood. You’ll find fun food, boat dockage, live music and activities for the kids plus they have an extensive allergy menu for those who are gluten free or have nut, shellfish or other allergies.

Uncle Buck's Fishbowl & Grill

For a little fantasy underwater family adventure I highly recommend a visit to Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill.  The walls have hand painted murals of underwater scenes, all sorts of fish hang from the ceilings and all of the bowling ball returns feature sea life like shark, octopus and alligator. The whole place is amazing and the food is pretty darn good too!

Wild Willy's Adventure Zone

There are so many fun things to do at Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone that you may want to plan on spending a few hours there.  Available activities include the T.Rex Island Adventure Golf Course, Ptero Jump, Tree Top Challenge (shown above), Spin-O-Saurus Coaster, Inflatable Zone, Boat Battles, and the Redemption Arcade in addition to my favorite 4-D Movie Experience. Grab some pizza, wings and frozen yogurt while you’re there!

Gulfarium

The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is also a must see while you’re in the area, especially if you’ve brought the kids along. Located right on the white sands of Fort Walton Beach, the Gulfarium is home to a multitude of marine life including dolphins, alligators, turtles, penguins, stingrays and sea lions.

We’re Excited to See the Interstellar Movie!

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post on behalf of Paramount Pictures, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you heard about the new movie Interstellar? It’s about a team of explorers who travel beyond this galaxy to find out if mankind can survive elsewhere since our time on Earth is coming to an end. It’s a story of hope and discovery and it stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Bill Irwin and Ellen Burstyn.


The movie will be available in limited location in 70mm IMAX film, 70mm film and 35mm film on November 5th, and everywhere on November 7th. At least one of my five kiddos is a real space nut so I’m planning to take the whole family and we are excited to see the movie.

Zachary and his telescope

It still amazes me that since birth my quadruplets have had such different personalities, even the identical boys. Of course they are all individuals, but they are SO different from each other its incredible. One of the boys is very into everything dealing with space – he got this telescope for Christmas last year after begging for months, he saves up his allowance for books on space and he’s constantly Googling different space topics. While the kids all have widely varying interests, they will often gather around and let Zachary teach them what he knows about the stars and planets. I think it’s fabulous that they do all share an interest in science and that Zachary can teach them things I don’t even know about astronomy.

Zachary and his planets

Zachary often gives himself homework to do and it always seems to be space related. One of his favorite projects was making a solar system from styrofoam balls. He picked out nine different sized styrofoam balls to depict the eight planets and the sun, then painted them different colors, put a “ring” around Saturn and connected them all with wooden dowel rods.

To do this project at home you’ll need three small styrofoam balls for Mars, Mercury and Pluto, five medium balls to represent Earth, Neptune, Saturn, Venus and Uranus, a large ball for Jupiter and one extra-large ball for the sun. Cut a circle of poster board or cardboard about one inch larger in diameter than the Saturn ball, then cut out the center so it will snugly over the styrofoam ball and glue it into place. You can paint the balls any color you would like, of course yellow works best for the sun and blue or blue and green for the Earth. Use wood dowel rods in different lengths to attach the planets to the sun and then glue the sun to a flat round styrofoam piece for display.

Record Your Adventures with a GoPro Hero Camera

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post and I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

GoPro Hero Lifestyle

Whether you are into extreme sports or if you just take your family to the amusement park on occasion, you could really use a GoPro Hero camera to record all the action! With five young kids and a full time job I feel like I’m constantly on the go and never have enough hands. The kids are growing up so quickly though, and I really enjoy getting to do stuff with them so I love the idea of getting to record all our fun activities with a GoPro.

GoPro Hero Lifestyle

We are saving up for a Disney trip in the not too far future, but in the meanwhile we have a local water park and a small local amusement park that the kids absolutely love to visit, in addition to our beautiful beaches. Being able to wear or mount a GoPro action camera is huge when you don’t have your hands free, plus they’re super easy to use – you can just view, tap and swipe the screen. There is even a GoPro app that allows you to control the camera remotely from  your phone, as well as view and share your content.

GoPro Hero4 Black

This GoPro HERO4 Black is the most advanced GoPro ever. It features improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.

GoPro Hero4 Silver

The GoPro HERO4 Silver is the first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. It makes controlling the camera easy so you can play back footage and adjust settings quickly and conveniently – just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a whopping 30 frames per second, the HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality image capture with the convenience of a touch display.

GoPro Hero

The original GoPro HERO features high‐quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, and 5MP photos up to 5 fps. HERO captures the same immersive footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world.

GoPro Hero Lifestyle

I love to shop at Best Buy because they have such a huge selection of the latest cameras and camcorders, including the full line of new GoPro cameras, plus a wide assortment of accessories. GoPro cameras make perfect holiday gifts for everyone, from kids and teens, to gadget gurus. GoPro’s new line of cameras allow you to beautifully and authentically capture and share the experiences that bring purpose, adventure, and joy to your life. Learn more at www.bestbuy.com/GoPro or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person.

Entertaining the Kids with Kool-Aid Play Dough

DisclosureEntertaining the Kids with Kool-Aid Play Dough

It’s just the first part of July and already it’s too hot to keep the kids outside all day so I’m always looking for ways to keep them busy and entertained inside. One of their favorite things to do it make homemade play dough and we really enjoy coloring it with Kool-Aid packages because it’s more fun than food coloring and makes the dough smell so good, so I went shopping at WalMart and picked out some Kool-Aid and other necessary ingredients.

Entertaining the Kids with Kool-Aid Play Dough

We start out by making a big batch of dough, since I have five kids I make five times the single recipe below, then divide it into plastic bags for each kid and let them pour in the Kool-Aid in their favorite flavor or color and knead it together. Once they’re done with the kneading they have a blast making designs with it or using cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes.

Kool-Aid Play Dough
 
Homemade play dough using Kool-Aid for scent and color.
Author:
Cuisine: Craft
Ingredients
  • 1 package Kool-Aid
  • 1 cup white flour
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool-Aid together in a pan.
  2. Stir in the water and vegetable oil then put the pan on the stove on medium heat.
  3. Stir constantly until the mixture begins to clump together in the pan.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool before kneading with your hands until lumps are gone.
  5. When done playing with the clay store in the refrigerator in a zip style bag or airtight container.

The kids are also huge fans of Big Time Rush and they got super excited when they heard that there is a current promotion where you can buy $6 worth of Kool-Aid and upload your receipt through the Shoparoo app then get a family four pack of Big Time Rush concert tickets for just $50.

Entertaining the Kids with Kool-Aid Play Dough

There is even a cool contest going on right now where you can upload a photo of your family’s Kool-Aid creations for a chance to win meet and greet passes and tickets to a Big Time Rush concert near you. Hurry over and check it out, you can enter once per day per concert! This picture of my daughter’s Kool-Aid play dough heart creation was our entry for today.

Find a Music Teacher With TakeLessons.com

Guitar Lessons

My eight year old son had asked repeatedly for a guitar so I finally got him one for his birthday last year. He loves to get it out and play it but no one else in the family plays so we’re not able to help him learn how. For that reason I was super excited to learn about TakeLessons.com where you can find local in-home or in-studio music and singing lessons, and some lessons are even available online via Skype.

In addition to private music teachers, you’ll also find art instructors and academic tutors from across the country. They can hook you up with all sorts of lessons, not just guitar and singing, they also have piano, drums, violin, dance and acting lessons. The best part, in my opinion, is that there are no long term commitments and you can even change your instrument, schedule or teacher at any time. Plus there is a 100% money back guarantee – if you’re not happy after your first lesson they’ll find you another teacher or give you all of your money back, including the fee for the first lesson.

TakeLessons.com

The prices of lessons vary depending on the length and the location, but you can take 20% off all lesson packages through April 1st with promo code SPRINGMUSIC. You can book your lessons online or give them a call at 855-334-1831 to discuss pricing and options with a student counselor.

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post, however all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.