Monday, November 30, 2015

Homemade Crystal Ornaments :D

Every year, we tend to "misplace" ornaments. We were running low this year, so instead of buying some, I suggested to the kids we make some. They are always on board for any kind of creative activity, so of course they were excited. I wanted to find something fun and a little more exciting then the traditional homemade ornaments, so I found some instructions online for how to make crystals with borax and that led to a video of people making crystal ornaments. It looked super fun, inexpensive, and easy enough for my kids to do. So I took some pictures of the process and wanted to share.

Disclaimer: Borax shouldn't' be ingested. It looks so pretty, if you're doing it with kids make sure they  are monitored and know that the final product is not candy ;) 

First off, I wanted to introduce our table. I do all of the painting, crafts, activities, etc. on this thing. At first, I tried to keep it super clean but then I figured I would embrace the look of having little kids. It was and is super cheap, so I know it's not a something I'm going to be using for a long time. Mostly though, I love the look of scattered paint, scratches, stickers, glitter, markers, etc. all over it. To me it reminds me that kids should have fun and not to stress over things out of my control. One day, it will be replaced with a solid wood and fancy dining room set, but for now the kids and I love this little, well loved table.

Now onto the craft, here's what you'll need. 
   -Pipe Cleaners
   -Pencils or any kind of straight stick (skewers would work well)
   -String or Yarn
   *Optional Food Coloring
   *Optional Cookie Cutters

We had most of this stuff already at the house, so there wasn't much to buy for us.

Duh. Christmas Shapes ;)

First thing we had to do was to make our little shapes. Some we formed free hand and the others we used the cookie cutters to make the shape.

We made candy canes by twisting up red and white
and just forming it freehand.

If you notice the paint missing from the walls, here's what happened...
The kids were making a countdown to some event and instead 
of using the wall putty we have, 
they used normal Elmer's Glue without my knowledge. 
I had no clue until the event arrived, and they ripped 
off the count papers and the paint with it :/

Free Form Heart

Stevie made a snowflake. So pretty!
I think it resembles a Christmas Poinsettia
 and wanted her to dye it red, but she really wanted a snowflake ;)

Titus was the only one to successfully remove the pipe cleaner 
without any help from dad while keeping it's shape.
After doing this he shouted "I'm a Christmas Genius!!!" 
Hahahaha. I love this boy :)

Next it was time to make the crystal solution. It's super easy. I just mixed boiling water and borax. Honestly, there were a few different sites that each had different ratios of water to borax. So in true Seth fashion, I just kinda eyeballed it. I have no clue what the ratio was, but I do know you need a pretty large ratio to make some good crystals. 

Look at our cute little Christmas elf salt and pepper shakes. 
True Fact: They have been out and in use since last Christmas. :D haha

Once the solution was ready. I let it cool for a bit and poured it into Solo cups. I didn't feel like scrubbing crystals out of nice jars or cups, so I thought this was a quick and easy solution for cleanup since I could just throw them away afterwards. After we poured it in the cups, I let the kids add food coloring to some of them and I left some undyed for clear crystals.

They LOVED stirring in the color. 

The next step was to tie a string through the ornament and hoop it through the pencil. I tied the strings and let the kids put it on the pencil. 

Then came just dipping the ornaments into the cups. It is super simple and the kids were SUPER C.A.R.E.F.U.L every time. It was cute :)

Olive really got into making these.
I can tell she's growing up because she is pretty 
independent nowadays with this kind of stuff.

Once they all we dipped, it's time to wait. Some of the things I read said wait about 4-8 hours, so I figured I would just leave them in there for awhile.

Such a little ham... ;)

It worked out nice because while we were waiting, we just decorated the house. 

My kids love blowups :)

After about 8 hours they stopped growing crystals, so we decided we would just take them out after school the next day. They were so pumped to see them when they came in from school today.

So pumped!!!

We both loved her crystal candy cane!

Neela's Christmas Tree is my personal favorite :)
I like how we used white pipe cleaner with green dye.
It looks like an evergreen covered with snow.

Olive's Christmas Bell is so cool.

She was also very proud of her gingerbread man :)

The completed ornaments :D

I'm sure we will do it again next year. However, I will make sure I have more colors in my pipe cleaners. I think the colors would be more vibrant that way. Overall though, my kids loved it and the wait time worked out super great since we just decorated the house while we waited for the crystals to grow :)

If you try it yourself, I would love to see some pictures!

Be Blessed and Thanks for Reading,

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Friday Fun Facts 11/20/15

1) Olive is currently only referring to herself in third "Minnie Mouse"

- For example:  (both actual quotes for this week)
"Minnie Mouse isn't going to eat that". *pointing to green beans
"Minnie Mouse needs daddy to wipe her butt."

2) Before my Nana passed she got really into Facebook. However, it took her awhile to get the hang of it. You see how when you go into type a post it says in light gray "What's on your mind?

Well, I think she thought it was a part of the login process to Facebook because for a month when she first started, I would see this pop up on my newsfeed.

Hahahaha! I liked it everytime! I thought it was the cutest thing ever. After awhile, I went over there and showed her what she was doing and she busted out laughing. :D She was a jewel.

3) Today when I picked Neela up for school and asked how her day went, this was our conversation:

Neela - "Today I made up a worship song called 'My Heart Shines' "
Seth - "Really?! That's beautiful. Will you sing it?"
Neela - "Well, I couldn't finish because I wanted to eat some paper."

4) Recently, I did a mega cleaning/purging of the house. There were a lot of things that were getting worn, broken, or just plain gross. So spend a few days packing my garage full of that stuff to clean out the house. This is what my living room ended up looking like...

I began the search for a new couch, rug, etc. to fill up the living room again. However, I noticed that when the living was somewhat empty, my kids would instinctively start to color, play, ride bikes, build blocks, etc instead of just plopping on the couch and watching a tv show. They didn't really watch a ton of tv anyways, but now it seems like it's hardly ever on. Normally, it's just during a family movie. We'll all just get pillows, lay on the quilt together, and watch it together. Plus it's like a giant playroom with a ton of free space. I know it sounds weird, but I think I'll keep it like this for awhile and see how it goes. For the meantime, I think everyone is enjoying it.

5) Titus has some warts on him. I have walked on him a few times talking to himself about them. "Awww... look at these cute little babies. I love you warts." I keep trying to talk him into letting me remove them; however, I have learned he is extremely protective of his wart friends.

6) My current favorite Bible verse is Ephesians 4:29 :)

7) Animal Updates: Today we met a baby squirrel who hasn't even opened his eyes yet. It was pretty much Neela's dream. She hasn't stopped talking about it. Actually at this very moment, she is building a "squirrel catcher".

My kids were in LOVE! 

Here's a little 12 second video :)

Another Animal Update: Tomorrow someone is bringing us this to keep ... hahaha. Neela is going to flip out. Lately, she's been asking for an "real creature, the kind no one else wants" (which means something weird) to take care of.

His name is Pinky

8) I recently added "topics" to the blog so readers can easily locate various posts by topic. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I mention cats in about 1 out of every 4 posts. That junk is hilarious to me.

9) Speaking of cats, I've designed a shirt for the blog and am going to start selling them soon. Just going to sell them for cost. I just don't like the idea of making money off the blog. That's why I never plan placing advertisements or endorsements on my page. Not that there's anything wrong with it. I have considered it (you can make a lot of money from ads on a blog). I kinda view it like my little way to brighten my little corner of the world. Anyways, back to the shirts. Here's what I'm thinking they might look like. I'm going to be giving some away for free once they are final and printed :)

10) The other day I was working at my desk while the kids were just playing around the house. (I do a lot of work from home). Anyways, it works out pretty well. I just keep my door shut and I can kind of listen to them running around and playing. However, this day I heard a looonngg period of silence (never good) followed by extreme laughter and giggles (even worse). So I walk into the girls room find Titus wearing only his underwear and spiderman mask sitting in a toy bin filled with red water. He was spinning in circles in the toy bin, while Neela had the entire 4 lb. bag of sugar and was dumping it over his head. Apparently, this was their method of making Kool-Aid. They filled the tub with water and Kool-Aid powder. Titus was mixing it up while Neela was pouring in the sugar. hahaha.(ps. they got in trouble).

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Ultimate Challenge - "Church Humor" (The Church Christmas Party)

It's that time of year. Time to host the annual Southland Christmas party. My job for this event is to write, organize, and entertain people for about an hour. I love the challenge of this and look forward to it every year.

Seth's Note: I just kind of skimmed over this post after I finished it. I never proofread as you can clearly tell ;) Anyways, this post kind of sounded like I think I am the funniest person on the planet. Obviously, that's not true. Most of all my friends are way funnier than me. This is just my take on humor and a listing of past skits and stuff that I organized for the church Christmas party :)

I kind of view my personal assignment on earth to be 1) An encourager and 2) To make people smile and laugh. It's something I take pride in and normally it comes naturally. I have a wide variety of friends with a variety of different senses of humor. I can tell you the most challenging form of humor to craft is definitely "church humor". We've all heard and seen countless lame and not funny "Christian comedians" (there are very funny ones, just to throw that out there).  Sometimes, the stuff in church that is intended to be funny produces just a chuckle if anything. It's a really hard thing to write stuff that won't (seriously) offend the church crowd, isn't material we haven't heard before, and is actually funny and entertaining. I really don't view myself as a super funny guy, but I do think I have learned the art of crafting "church humor". Maybe I put too much thought into it, but because of the mixed audience age and varying moral standards of the church it's a fine line of balancing between dull and a little-too-much.

Church skits are my favorite.

Now back to the Southland Christmas Party. I love my church because they pretty much have trusted me from the very beginning to do whatever I felt would be funny and appropriate for the crowd. Every year, I always think "I'm going to get a call about this tomorrow" or "I wonder how many emails this joke will get me". So I just keep on keeping on. hahaha

This will be the fifth year of hosting and we am starting to plan out jokes, skits, videos that I want to do. Pretty much, it's just an hour of mostly me standing up there acting like a goofball. A lot of it is off the cuff and just saying whatever pops into my head. Last year, I remember thinking one of my set of jokes on the car ride over :) I doubt my pastors really want to hear that. Things are normally pretty planned out in advance.

Anyways, the reason I wanted to do this post is because last night I was just looking over stuff we have done over the years just to get me excited and to make sure we won't repeat any jokes or themes that have been presented in the past. Let's go over a few of the past years things...

1) "The Entrance"
I always thought it was fun kicking off the night with a bang. So I have always enjoyed doing a dramatic and somewhat ludicrous entrance just to prepare people for the hour of nonsense they have agreed endure by attending the Christmas party.

2011- I busted into the sanctuary in my tuxedo with tails (keepin' it classy) waving the flag while simultaneously blaring the epic song by Europe "The Final Countdown". It was fun :)

2012- We made a little introduction video welcoming everyone to the party. At the end of the video, it said that I hid a $100 dollar bill under the seat. So while people were excitedly looking under their seat, I got carried in on a stretcher throwing out rose petals. Then the video said there was no $100. Pure weirdness and nonsense. :)

2013- The room was quiet and suddenly the Mr. Rogers' theme song came on and I walked in wearing a cardigan and sneakers singing the song. On stage I changed into my dress shoes and dress coat. Sorry no picture.

2014- This year instead of a dramatic entrance me and my friend Justin sang a song to kick off the event. It was really funny. 

Props to Justin on this skit. He planned it, did most of the vocals, and played guitar. 
My only contribution was randomly squawking like an eagle. 

2) Videos
I really like creating videos for this event. There's a few reasons. I plan most of this stuff on my own and that way I can make these videos and edit late at night. I was looking over and have about 12 of these things, but I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. Hopefully, they can make you laugh :)

This was a "Behind the Scenes" video on how the Christmas party is planned, catered, and setup.
Sorry for the poor sound quality. I didn't have the best equipment.

We like to do a "Kids Christmas". This was very first one from 2011. 
It's the worst quality video/audio (bad equipment and no access to good software)
Mostly, I wanted to share because of how cute my and my friends kids were.
(Side note: I LOSE it every time Neela trips over the chair :D haha)

I also like to do fake PSA's. 
We've done a few, so here's one for your viewing pleasure

3) Awards
We started switching the format up last year and phased out the awards. They were getting cliche and old hat. However, we did them the first few years and they were alot of fun.  I think I, along with everyone else, enjoyed them so much because they were a subtle, lighthearted way of poking fun with people in the church. Some were sweet and some were funny. Here's a list of some of my favorites:

-Always smiling
-Never smiling
-Sexiest beard
-Most likely to grab the mic during service
-Most likely to miss this event due to a hair appointment
-Scariest fingernails (this one went to a man :D )
-Most likely to wear embroidered jeans to church
        and my person favorite
-The most likely to see a stray dog on the side of the road and take it home. After a few days, you find see a missing dog poster, so you call the number but the phone is disconnected
so you drive around town asking people if they know who
posted these missing dog signs. No one knows anything about the signs, so you just end up taking care of the dog Award

My best bud, Lyn Stalvey (Memaw), won 
"Most Excited About the Christmas Party" three years in a row
Memaw loves the party ;)

4) Skits, Games, and Songs
There's always funny skits, games, and songs every year. Some of the ones we have done in the past we "Worst Present Ideas", some funny top ten lists, and my personal was a piano ballad I played and sung encouraging the church to buy bathroom air fresheners. Pretty much, I just picked out a few of my friends who I knew wouldn't mind and sang about how bad their poop always stunk before church. That song ended with Memaw dancing in her formal church dance robe spraying Lysol around the stage. (I'm a lover of low-brow).

Also, a local costume shop (Bouncin' Balloons and Costumes) donated mascot costumes every year for the kids enjoyment. We've had Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, The Grinch, Woody & Buzz, and quite a few others. (Side note: if you ever need a costume or cartoon character for a birthday party. They are the sweetest most giving people on the planet. Check them out here and support a local business that loves to give back to the community). We also do a yearly tradition of giving out bags of candy to the kids :) It's just fun

We also do big games some years. Last year, we did a newlywed game which was hilarious, but sometimes we do more Christmas themed things. It just depends on the year.

In conclusion, it's a fun party and a good chance to show that God DOES have a sense of humor :)
If you are a member or attend Southland, consider coming to the party. Who knows? This year I might just take my shirt off.

Don't worry. I'll trim my nipple hair for the church crowd ;)