My Three Kid Circus

This may be as crazy as it gets… but we're lovin' it!

Teacher Appreciation Week May 29, 2012

My kids’ school just celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week not too long ago, and I wanted to share my simple and fairly inexpensive gift idea.

Thanks to Pinterest, I’d seen various pencils-turned-gift ideas and bought several boxes of yellow pencils way back at the start of the school year when they just were a penny each.  Yes, every once in a while, I do plan ahead.  My daughter and I made this for her teacher.  We started with a simple plant (this is a little tiny fuchsia, I forget its proper name, but it was in a four-inch pot so it was only a couple bucks).  I put a wide rubber band around the plant, and then started inserting pencils around the plant.  Because the pot wasn’t straight, the pencils eventually angled themselves for a slightly different effect.  A scrap of ribbon hid the rubber band.  My daughter made her teacher a card that read, “Thanks for helping me grow into a sharp student,” among other fourth-grade-girl sentiments.

It would have definitely been cleaner to glue all of the pencils onto the pot, but this way, the teacher can use the pencils for next year’s class too!  At this price, I will certainly be doing another round of these gifts next year.  Perhaps poinsettias for Christmas?


February Update February 23, 2012

Filed under: Bento,Celebrations,Crafts — Sarah @ 10:17 am
Tags: ,

It’s been a long time. Again. And I even have timely lunches and projects to show you. Let’s just say I want you to be prepared for next year and leave it at that.

Have you had this bread? Dave’s Killer Bread. Seriously good and full of yumminess.  My kids won’t eat it. I sent it, they tried it and told me it was disgusting.  I beg to differ, so I just saved the rest for my hubby and I.

Anyhow, pretty simple lunch here: half a turkey sandwich, pears and letter cookies.  It’s fun to send specific letters…names, short messages.  I think my bookend kids actually play with the letters at lunch.  I imagine that they are even conversation starters for the 10 year old girls.


This is the dipper lunch.  All things that my kids can dip into hummus. Pita, carrots, sugar peas, cucumber and apple slices. An almond cookie for dessert.

Another dippy lunch. I can tell I must have been to Costco recently. Pretzels and yogurt covered raisins.



Asian infusion lunch.  Noodles tossed in sesame oil, a touch of soy and who knows what else.  Chinese BBQ pork.  Mandarin oranges.  Pears and a cookie wrapped in plastic so that the oils from the noodles don’t ruin it.



Kid lunch galore.  Crackers and cheese (cheese is in a silicone muffin liner so that it doesn’t touch the crackers and make the crackers soggy).  Yogurt covered pretzels.  Apples.  And grapes and strawberries on a stick.  My boys won’t either if they aren’t on a stick…put them on a stick and they’d each a pound of each.  Go figure.


Valentine’s Day Lunch (see, I told you there would be timely lunches). More fruit on a stick plus the featured *hot* dog. Yes, my children made that up. Anything “sexy” is hilarious to them. Including a *hot* dog on Valentine’s Day. To make it heart shaped, I sliced it in half on the diagonal and reassembled it, using a toothpick to hold it together. If you wanted to be really cute, you could find an arrow shaped toothpick, or cut appropriately shaped pieces from cheese to attach to the toothpick to make your own arrow. This lunch also had a side of mac and cheese.

Another cracker and cheese lunch.  This one has that spreadable cow cheese (that’s the sliver wedge tucked in the corner), ham slices, kiwi, apples and a side of crackers.  For dessert, the kids got fortune cookies and a lychee candy.


A “cute” lunch.  My daughter had a school assignment in which she was supposed to write a love note to her parents.  Among the charming things she had to say:  “Mommy, you are so creative with crafts, and you used to be with lunches for school, but that’s stopped now, thanks to the boys.”  So I am trying to make amends with her – meatballs with cute picks and cheetos.  What kid wouldn’t love me?  And yesterday, I was chastised for not putting vegetables in her lunch, so today she gets cucumber slices and carrot sticks in addition to apples and strawberries.


And NO!  I didn’t send a six pack of beer for my kids’ lunches!  That’s my hubby’s Valentine Day present.  Inspired by this, executed at midnight with only the kids’ leftover scraps.  Not usually a good plan, but he loved it anyhow.  Do it next year, your hubby will love it!


More Clean Up and Wrap Ups January 4, 2012

Filed under: Bento,Celebrations,Crafts — Sarah @ 10:00 pm
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Here is another lunch that was made from leftovers:

The Contents:  Deli chicken slices and cream cheese wrapped in a tortilla, orange and apple slices, cheese booty, something from the hodge podge of leftover Christmas cookies.

The Details:  In my almost-6 year old’s case, his cookie included the belly and one leg of his massive gingerbread cookie.  He calls these his “man cookies.”

And as part of my 2011 wrap up, I wanted to show you a project that my husband and daughter worked on over the holiday break.  It’s another one of those projects that I find online and sign him up for, but he didn’t mind this one too much.  My daughter likes to work with him in the “shop” and it wasn’t so hard that they didn’t kill each other.  He built the table for her and then printed the directions and wrapped them up for Christmas.  Together, they built the benches and painted it in the color of her choice.

Here are the directions if you’d like to build your own.  He built it to spec, except for lengthening the benches a bit…I guess so her dolls could have a bit more space.  It was a very inexpensive project…about $5 for the wood, $6 for specific nail gun nails plus paint. (of which he has most of the package left).  He had wood glue on hand.

And speaking of wrapping, here is the wrapping that intrigued my kids to no end:

I made each of them a pillowcase using this pattern.  Looks complicated with the three different fabrics, but it was really so easy.  As in each pillowcase probably took less than 30 minutes.  I think I’ll be making a few more as a fun gift wrap for upcoming birthdays.  They were great for wrapping the odd shaped present, like the table.  Or the really heavy present, like the ream of paper and paper airplane folding book for my almost-6 six year old.  And the best one was the one in the middle that was stuffed with 24 unwrapped socks (courtesy of our puppy, who got into the original nicely wrapped package) for my eight year old who feels the need to rip holes in atleast two socks a week. 

In addition towatching my kids get giddy with anticipation, this made me smile too:

Loved seeing my almost-6 year old stuff almost his entire body into his pillow case!  Oh, and notice his jammie pants.  Wish I had a better picture to show you, but those were a result of my Christmas-moment-of-insanity when I decided that my kids needed matching jammie pants.  Their daddy loves the Rudolph movie, so when I found fleece with all of the characters from the movie, I just had to add that to my list of things to do too 🙂


Angry Birds Birthday September 19, 2011

Filed under: Birthday Parties,Crafts — Sarah @ 7:13 am

My middle son loves sports.  This kid has always been happiest with a ball in hand (or on foot) and he plays on a variety of teams throughout the year.  It really hasn’t been until the last year or two that he has had much of an interest in toys as he is constantly in motion.  If trapped indoors, he is playing baseball or football.  Kicked outdoors it’s basketball or kickball.  His favorite team sport is soccer.  He loves to jump rope, swim and run as well.  He wakes up in the morning to watch Sports Center and when I make him turn off the TV, he asks to check scores on my phone.  He saves his weekend TV time for games and rattles of scores and stats like no eight year old should.  Not surprisingly, nearly all of his birthday parties have been sports themed. 

So this year, I was in a bit of a quandary when he announced that he wanted to have an Angry Birds themed party.  I wasn’t quite sure how we were going to pull this off, but thanks to a little bit of ‘net searching, we put together a pretty fun party.  I love all of you who think that I need to market this party.  You know how to flatter a mama.  But really, like most of my parties, it’s all about the research. 

I have to admit, this party ended up to be a comedy of errors.

The wheels for this party were set in motion way back in July.  My kids are constantly planning parties but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to pull this party together until I saw the sets at our church VBS.  Our church did the Pandamonium curriculum and part of the set was the Great Wall of China.  See where I’m going?  Yep.  I snagged those boxes and got work researching a life-size Angry Bird game.  Of course, someone already had this idea and so I was able to move pretty quickly.  I even found the balls I needed to make the birds at our local Fred Meyer on sale for 75 cents a ball.  I snagged a dozen and thought I was in most excellent shape.  The next week, Michaels had acrylic paint on sale for 29 cents a bottle.  The patterns I was planning to use called for just a bit of paint and so I only needed 3-4 bottles with plenty left over.  Heck, it wasn’t even August yet and look how far ahead I was!  And look at how inexpensive this party was turning out to be! 

Like usual, we did an evite.  I have to admit, my daughter recently received a themed paper invitation to a party and it really set the mood and got her excited.  But, I’m just not that organized.  Even though I sent the evite out a good month ahead of the party.

(Do you sense a theme here?) 

Fast forward about three weeks.  Things are still going well.  My husband was on task to build a slingshot.  My kiddo wanted root beer floats.  Feeling rather inspired, I talked him into doing these cake balls too.  Since we were butting up against dinner time, we decided to serve pizza and fruit too.

We are now about two weeks prior to the party.  I decide to to a test bird ball.  I used these templates and things tested out fine.  I reminded my husband about the slingshot.  He got to work.  The first thing you should know about my husband is that he is an engineer.  Apparently he missed the part of the conversation when I directed him to the link above about how to make a slingshot.  So, being the nice wife that I am, I explained it to him and he kindly pointed out all of the flaws in my grand plans.  He and I, we are a good team.  I come up with crazy ideas and he figures out how to execute them.  Sometimes he gets too engineer-y and I have to bring him back down to earth.  This was one of those times.  I think he forgot that we were just talking about a bunch of 7 and 8-year-old boys here.  No state or national code to uphold at this party.  But he got to work.  I’ll show you pictures of what he created in a little bit.

Then things started falling apart.  I thought I had a whole week to get ready.  Three of those days would be sans kids. 

But then, it happened.  Again.

Our family has a knack for visiting the ER on birthdays.  It’s always been for something minor, but it still takes time.  This year, it was my turn.  On my son’s actual birthday day, my dog decided to snag a rib bone and shattered it.  I stupidly tried to fish the shards of bone from her mouth.  Just a couple of stitches but a reasonably open wound and loss of motion definitely made for a more challenging week. 

The bird balls got done.  They turned out really well and were super easy.

I traced the templates onto the balls using a non-permanent marker.  We had some primer left over from a house project so I used that to put a base coat on the ball.  The primer was oil based but I don’t think that matters.  Once that was dry, I painted the details with my acrylics and then used a paint marker to outline the face.  Finally, I sprayed the face with a matte finish spray so that the paint wouldn’t chip off.  We let each of the boys take one of the balls home as their party favor.

The slingshot got done too.  My husband completely blew my party budget but guess what?  This is probably the strongest, most industrial slingshot you’ve ever seen.  It’ll end up in my backyard and I suspect it’ll get loads of use. 

Here’s what my husband did.  He purchased steel pipe pieces and their connectors and they all twist together.  There is another piece at the base that connects pipes into 2×6 boards that he screwed together and into a sheet of plywood.  For those of you less techy people like me, the sheet of plywood actually stabilizes the whole contraption so that it doesn’t tip over.  That being said, we still had a grown up sit on the beam as the kids were able to pull the slingshot off the ground when they were launching their birds.  Anyhow, he also taped the pipes with brown electrical tape and then spray painted the wood to give it a more authentic look.  The “pouch” is made of burlap, doubled for extra strength.  I taped the edges with a double layer of duct tape and then my husband punched holes in the corner to tied the medical tubing that served as the bands to attach the pouch to the “sticks.”

The cake balls did not get done.  I tried, but they fell apart the night before party when I tried dipping the balls into the chocolate.  I made rice krispy treats instead. 

The night before the party, I also forgot to buy spoons for ice cream floats, ICE CREAM for ice cream floats and lord knows what else.  I was not in good shape that night. 

But, it didn’t matter.  The party was crazy fun.  We started with several games.

In this first game, we simply let the kids get used to the slingshot.  If they hit the pig ball, they got to get back into line.  If not, they had to go to “jail.”  The next kid to hit the pig got everyone out of jail.  The game was over when everyone was in jail, but I’m not sure that that happened.  This game was a good game to start with because not only did the kids get some practice, it allowed us to get the slingshot set at the right distance for them to be able to actually knock the piggies over!  I think they played this for half an hour, no kidding.

In the second game, we divided the kids into two teams:  Pigs and Birds.  The Pigs got about five minutes to build the best wall that they could (protecting the King Pig, of course) while the Birds ran themselves silly.  Once the Pigs declared themselves ready, the Birds lined back up to try to knock that wall over.  The wind blew in and made things quite challenging for the first team of Birds, but they all had a great time.  We switched sides and started over…I think this game lasted 30 minutes too.

Like I said, I was able to snag the boxes from my church, but the concept was pretty simple (not to discredit the people who spent hours on all of these boxes).  They were made of old packing boxes and spray painted with grey and black paint.  They also used a textured paint which made them quite realistic.  The boulders are made of paper grocery bags that were stuffed with newspaper and painted to match the boxes. 

After games, we opened gifts and then had pizza and fruit.  The kids ran around a played keep away while everyone finished up.

Our last game was supposed to be “Capture the Golden Egg” (aka, Capture the Flag) but due to a miscommunication between my son, husband and I, that didn’t happen.  The kids elected to play kickball instead.

As our final schabang, we called the kids over for rootbeer floats and rice krispy treats.  There isn’t much Angry Bird stuff out there, so I just used a plain black tablecloth and red plates and cups.

For their party favors, each of the kids took home a bird ball and a “golden egg.”  Since I couldn’t find golden eggs, I wrapped a cup full of candy in shiny gold paper tied with gold ribbon. 

Despite the mishaps along the way, the kids had a great time and that is all that matters!

Now, my husband’s birthday was this past weekend and my youngest decided that he too needed an Angry Bird birthday party.  So my husband ended up with this birthday cake:

The cake was made by my five year old, just a simple cake mix and frosted with the leftover frosting from my cake ball disaster.  We made the eyes out of full size Oreos and the eye ball is made from a mini oreo.  My five year old was very proud to point out that he adhered the eyeball with a bit of red frosting so that it wouldn’t slide off 🙂  The fuse is made from a Cow Tail, which is a an inexpensive candy that was as gross as it sounds.  I ran a skewer through the middle so that it’d be more stable in the cake.

And my son decorated the house with these birds.  I am so irritated that I forgot to bring these out for the kid party.  I made several of these last winter using this pattern.  Pretty cool, eh?

I made a bunch of these stuffed Angry Birds back around Christmas and my boys enjoy throwing them at each other things.

Another simple rendition of the original party.  And now my five year old wants to throw it for his birthday.  Indoors.  Little boys + slingshot in my house?  I dunno honey.


Bento Meets American Girl Crafts July 21, 2011

Filed under: Crafts — Sarah @ 12:42 am

My daughter took a knitting class week, and she and her friends are completely swept up by the American Girl craze right now, and so I’ve been inspired to knit up a little something for her doll.  Like my needles for this project?  Perhaps you’ve seen them in other posts…usually, you’d see them strung up with fruit, maybe some sausage, perhaps some ham and cheese?

Yes, they are my favorite 6″ skewers 🙂 

They’re working out pretty well.

In other fun news, I was being my data geeky self and noticed I had a couple of referrals from a new-to-me site.  I don’t know why my stats didn’t tell me this before, but someone gave me a little write up last spring!  How fun is that?  Thanks, food ‘ n crafts!


Good Reads June 20, 2011

Filed under: Celebrations,Crafts,School Work — Sarah @ 11:30 pm

One of my goals as a parent is to raise good readers.  While I wish I could say that I’d like to raise children who like to read as well, I am fast learning that it is very difficult to dictate what your children like.  At best, I can expose them to a lot of things and immerse them in things that are important to our family, but at the end of the day, it’ll be up to them to decide if they actually like something, no?  But back to my original goal.  Even if my children end up hating to read, I hope they atleast learn to be good readers:  readers who can choose books that are atleast mildly interesting to them, books that occassionally challenge their ability or thoughts, books that provide them with knowledge, a laugh or strike a chord with them somehow.  Our children have been read to since they were infants, one of them has had a love for books from that moment on and today, she is often found with her nose in a book.  Another took years before he’d sit long enough to hear more than a few words at a time.  And yet another reads purely for information.  I am grateful that my children have always had teachers who have also placed high value on reading.  So when I came across this bit of subway art, I knew it had to be turned into our end of year school gifts.

I started with this cast of characters:

I love this piece because it captures just about every single “expectation” that we’ve set forth for our kids.  You can download your own copy at eighteen25

The piece of wood is actually a cutting board that I found at Daiso.  And I used red acrylic paint and glossy mod podge that I had leftover from other projects.  Put all together, it turned into this:


I made an extra one for our incredible school librarian too.  She’s makes being a librarian a way cool job. 

Changing topics only slightly, one of the ways I will encourage my kids to read this summer is to sign them up for different local reading programs.  If you don’t do this already, I highly encourage you to check into it!  Your local library probably has a program, as do many bookstores.  My kids are participating in a minimum of four programs so far.  I recently heard a stat (I’m not sure I actually believe, but I will share it anyhow) that claims that if children read just four books at their level over the summer, they will maintain their end of school year reading level over the summer. 

How do you keep your kids reading over the summer?  And what good reads have they picked out so far? 

PS – If you’re stuck finding reading programs, here are two:

Borders, Double Dog Dare

Barnes and Noble, Summer Reading Imagination Destination



Pan Frying Potstickers, Peeps April 13, 2011

Filed under: Bento,Celebrations,Crafts,Recipe — Sarah @ 9:04 pm

I have all sorts of pictures for you today.

First, business as usual.  Lunch.  I still have no food in my fridge, and my morning went totally haywire.  My allergy boy had a fairly big allergic reaction to something he ate for breakfast – what, I don’t know as he’s had all of these foods before, even from the exact same package.  Thankfully, he is okay and this weekend we probably see if we can replicate the reaction.  But, because I was in the middle of making lunch when all heck broke loose, lunch got a little overcooked and thrown together as my daughter ran out the door.

The Contents – potstickers, frozen veggies, a mini banana muffin, 2 starburst, and not shown – mandarin oranges.

The Details – So the potstickers got a little overcooked.  Which is ironic because a friend called me yesterday to ask me how I cook them so that they turned out so nicely.  That made me laugh, because normally, I just throw them in boiling water and in my opinion, they look a little sickly, but the kids like them that way and it’s really the easiest method.  But the day she saw them, I pan fried them.  To pan fry potstickers:

  1. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Once it is heated, swirl it around the pan to coat.
  3. Layer potstickers in the pan.  They can touch, but don’t put them on top of each other.
  4. Add about 2/3 c warm water to the pan and cover.
  5. Cook for about 8 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated.
  6. Take the lid of the pan and let cook for a few more minutes as the liquid continues to simmer off.  During this part, you can flip your potstickers if they are getting toasty.

Let the potstickers cool before putting the lid on your lunch – this will prevent them from getting mushy.  It is highly likely that they will soften up before your kiddo eats them.

The Verdict – Lunches eaten.  No one cared about the burnt potstickers, whew!


Look at the bedtime snack my daughter made for herself.  If she is going to pick up any of my neurotic habits, this one isn’t so bad.  I’m guessing she also picked out an animal pick to eat it with – my kids like to eat bananas with picks.


And finally, I can’t take credit for this, but I had to share:

I have no idea who made this, I wish I could tell him or her how much I love it.  But these are greeting me at the entrance of the church where my son goes to preschool.  Is this not the cutest thing you have ever seen?  The details are incredible, right down to the little glasses on Pastor Peep.  Even the banners and alter are pretty exact replications!

Anyhow, I am a little obsessed with Peep creations, so I had to share.  I am trying to decide if and how I should incorporate Peeps into our lunches…they seem like they’d get a little gross, no?


Linking up to What’s For Lunch Wednesday!