My son, Yawlin, has been fascinated with water balloons lately.  He fills balloons and then thinks of different ways to break them.  He has tossed them in the air, played catch with them with a sister, shot them with his air-soft pistol, poked holes in them to see how long it takes for the water to drain, put tape on one and then poked it with a needle to see if it made the water drain more slowly, he even froze one to see what would happen.

Big sister, Hoob, noticed this fascination and proposed a new game for the two of them to play.  They each hide a water balloon in their room and then, over the course of the week, they secretly search each other’s room to find the balloon.  If they find the balloon they get to take it to the backyard and “kill” the balloon in any way they please.  They call this game “Balloon Assassin.”

Hoob was the first to succeed in assassinating a balloon.  Yawlin determined to find a much better hiding place the second time around.  So far Hoob hasn’t found Yawlin’s second balloon.  It is funny to see one or the other sneak around trying to find a balloon.  Yawlin even enlisted my help the other night in searching Hoob’s room while she was at the gym.  We had no luck.

The thing I like about this game is that my high school sophomore is paying attention to her 5th grade little brother.  Anytime an older sibling pays attention to a younger, it is a good thing.

I just hope the hiding places aren’t so good that the balloons die a natural death and leak all over!

Here is one more game for family game nights.  We played it on Monday during our Family Home Evening and had a blast!  It is called Who, What, Where, When, Why.  

Each player has a piece of paper and a pencil.  On the top of the paper each player writes down a Who (Grandpa, President Obama, Michael Jackson, Uncle Ted, etc.).  Next, fold down the paper so that the Who can’t be seen.  Pass the papers to the person on the left.

Without looking at who is written on the paper everyone now writes down the What (ex. played baseball, went grocery shopping, had a nightmare, etc.).  Details make it fun.  Again, fold the paper down so that the What can’t be seen.  Pass to the person on the left.

Without looking at what is written on the paper now write a Where and repeat the folding and passing.  Next comes When and then Why.  Once the Why is written the papers are passed one more time, unfolded, and everyone takes a turn reading what is written on their paper.  Some of the results can be quite hilarious!

Here are a few examples from our family (please remember that we have teens):

Lady Gaga…became addicted to doughnuts…in the middle of the Gateway Fountain…after the earth was destroyed…because there was a pee stain in the jeep.

Kweenmama…started licking the ice cream while crying…in Neverland with Peter Pan…when she decided to come out of the closet…because Shroom ate a pickle.

George Bush…farted in public…at the Museum of Natural History…after Max started barking…because all of the kids showed disrespect.

Hoob…hated Julius Caesar…in the Pacific Ocean…on Hub’s birthday…because he was claustrophobic.

Jimmer Fredette…was lazy all day…at Hogwarts…on September 17…because he was sick of school!

President Obama…spent all afternoon doing homework that was unnecessary…in a cold, foggy graveyard…when Max’s paw hit the ground…because he was trying to win the lottery.

Our grouchy neighbor…jumped off a cliff with a time bomb in his hand…in the library…on April Fool’s Day…because he was very hungry.

Try it with your family!

Feeling a little guilty about neglecting my blog (why should I feel guilty?  Sometimes life happens and priorities take precedence!) I now quickly post some of the morphed sentences in our family’s latest round of our favorite game called “Morph.”  Juju was in charge of the activity for Family Home Evening tonight and chose to, once again, play Morph.  There are never complaints about playing the game.  It is always good for a laugh.  I have written how to play the game in a previous post.

Our latest morphed sentences:

“Hub is writing a statement.”  Morphed into “Insects like playing golf.”

“Mack touched Brad’s bum today.” Morphed into “Shroom did a sing-a-long to the Black Eyed Peas.”

“Scientology is cool.”  Morphed into “Will Smith lost his toes that night.”

“Max was drinking out of the toilet.”  Morphed into “Hub drank from the toilet.”

“Shawn Spencer and Hoob are pleased to announce their engagement.”  Morphed into “‘I’m in America?!?’ the boy exclaimed.”

“I forgot to bake a cake.” Morphed into “Lassie Face doesn’t like Jewish people celebrating birthdays.”

I tell ya folks, the game makes for a great group activity!

Our ward Halloween party was last Friday.  It includes a trunk -or-treat for the kids, a chili and soup cook-off for the adults, pictures, and carnival style games for the kids–all held at the church.  The young women are in charge of half of the games.  As the young women president, I got to be in charge of one of the games with the girls ages 16 to 18.  We decided to have a “creature hunt” in one of the larger classrooms in the church.  I share it here on my blog so that others looking for Halloween ideas or birthday party ideas (I did a creature hunt for one of Yawlin’s birthday parties and it was a hit!) can use it.

*We put dark butcher paper up in the windows to darken up the room.  The girls did such a good job that when we turned the lights out it was pitch black.

*We hung green crepe paper from the ceiling in different lengths.  We put the scrap butcher paper on the floor.  We stacked chairs and covered them with sheets.  Basically, we did our best to make the room not look like a church classroom.

*We hid plastic spiders, frogs, snakes, insects, skeletons, bats–creatures around the room. 

*Our final touch was to have a cd player with scary music.

*We allowed the kids to enter the room in groups of two or three.  Each kid was given a mini flashlight to use (purchased from Oriental Trading) in the pitch black room.

*For 60 seconds they used the flashlights to collect as many creatures as they could find.  Whatever they found, they kept.

*After each group, we hid more creatures to make sure there would be enough for all kids to find something.

And, yes, just like at Yawlin’s birthday party, the Creature Hunt was a hit!

I came home with a grocery bag half full of leftover plastic creatures.  I guess I’ll save them for next year…

Here is a fun game we recently played with our youth.  It was a hit, so I thought I would share it here so that others can experience “Garbage Softball” too.

*The game is played using items you can find around home.  Anything goes. 

*Play it with normal softball rules (three strikes, 4 balls, three outs per inning, etc.).  We had a 6 run mercy rule because we weren’t sure how each inning would go.

*Only the pitcher and catcher get regular mitts.  Everyone else in the infield has to use other items from home as mitts (oven mitts, ski gloves, garden gloves, foam #1 hands, etc.).  The catcher also wears an old Halloween mask as the “catcher’s mask.”

*Outfielders have to be three-legged.  We used big hair bands to put around the partners legs to make them three-legged.

*The ball is a tennis ball, the bat is a tennis racquet.

*The batter has to wear reading glasses while batting and while running to 1st base.  Make sure the glasses make the vision blurry enough to make batting and running more difficult than normal.

*From 1st base to 2nd base the runner has to use crutches.  The runner has to use the crutches as crutches, they can’t pick the crutches up and run.

*From 2nd base to 3rd base the runner has to jump into an old laundry bag or gunny sack and hop all the way.

*From 3rd base to home the runner has to loop a giant rubber band around their legs twice and run sideways.

*Provide leaders who run the “handicap” items (reading glasses, crutches, laundry bag, rubber band) back to the original base once the runner is done with them so that the next runner can use them.

*Anything can be used as “handicap” items.  If you don’t have crutches or a giant rubber band, for example, you could use clown shoes or over-sized boots or old skis–basically it is whatever you can find!

*It is helpful if you have one leader as umpire behind the plate and one leader as umpire in the infield to make the calls at the other bases.  One leader can also be scorekeeper.

*Use old pillows as the bases.

*Play for a set time or until it is too dark to see.  Make sure the playing field is a large one, some of the kids can really pound a tennis ball!

We played until dark and then served chocolate chip cookies and chocolate milk (it seemed “Septemberish” to us!).  The kids had a blast playing, and the leaders had a blast watching.

Give it a try sometime!

Our youth conference was a great success!  Unity was built, life lessons were applied, feelings and testimony were shared, encouragement was given, and everyone had fun!

Activities included team building challenges, a ropes course, individual challenges, a dance, and games.

There was humor, food, and other youth groups.  Everything a good youth conference needs!

Allowing for anonymity…here are a few images from our youth conference:

Three-way volleyball

Heading to the challenge course

"Crossing the wires"

The "flying squirrel"

He made it!

Flag tag

Ultimate scoop ball

SPRAY crab soccer

Giant Twister

Sharks and lifeguards

Trying to get warm...

...the "cinnamon roll hug" works better!

One more game before other youth groups show up

33 youth, 10 adult leaders, and one conference host had a blast for three days!

I was happy to be there with Mack and Hoob.  It would have been nice to have Juju and Shroom there too, but their mother sent them to Europe instead.  They are apparently having fun.  Shroom sent Hub an email this morning telling how he and a friend tried using French “pick-up lines” on French women in France.  It didn’t work for them, though, because they were reading the lines from a book.  Ah, the antics of 16-year-olds!

Time to get ready for the next “event” of our summer…

I’m back from being “unplugged” and I’m rarin’ to do some blogging!  One of the things I want to share is this game called Morph that we played while being unplugged.  Mack learned the game at work and kept telling me she wanted the family to play it.  Finally, one night, we did.  (BTW, I named it Morph because Mack didn’t know the name of the game.)  Our family liked it so much that we played it twice that night.  Here is how you play:

Each person has a blank piece of paper and a pen or pencil.

Each person writes a sentence at the top of the page and then passes the paper to the person on their right.

Each person reads the sentence on their new piece of paper and underneath the sentence draws a picture to match the sentence.  Make sure to not draw the picture too big because several sentences and pictures will go on each paper.  Once the picture is drawn the person folds the paper down so that the sentence is hidden but the picture can still be seen, then passes the paper to the right.

Each person now looks at the picture on their new piece of paper and underneath the picture writes a sentence to match the picture.  They then fold the paper down so that the picture is hidden and only the new sentence is showing.  Pass to the right.

Each person now reads the new sentence and, you guessed it, draws a picture underneath it to match, folds the paper down, and passes to the right.  And so forth…

Keep passing papers as long as you want.  Mack kept count and had us stop once our original paper reached us.  The fun part is when each person unfolds their paper and shares with the group the morphing that has taken place.  It was hilarious to hear the sentences and be shown the pictures that were drawn.  

I can’t show the funny drawings our family came up with, but here are how some of our sentences morphed (keep in mind that we have a bunch of teenagers, so their humor can sometimes be quite crude):

“Tomorrow I will take a shower”  morphed into “The teacher threw up and scared her students!”

“Yawlin kicked a home run in a game of boccer”  morphed into “The ball was hit so hard that it passed an alien and three black holes.”

“Max grew longer legs so Trent couldn’t make fun of him anymore”  morphed into “Kweenmama became an evil dog trainer and trained her dogs to chase the bad kids at her crossing.”

“Yawlin’s feet smell like moldy cheese” morphed into “The ugly, big-headed baby made it to the circus and was everyone’s favorite.”

“The Kweenmama family went to Moab”  morphed into “Hover craft Honda is fun to drive.”

“007 is a way cool spy” morphed into “She wore a diaper and had double muscles!”

“Share your toys” morphed into “He pooped out a ball and killed the poor boy in the middle.”

“Max is a very fat, fat, fat, fat dog” morphed into “The rat-wolf could talk!”

“This is a statement sentence” morphed into “Then the Pillsbury Dough Boy poked Juju back.”

“Hoob was watching ‘Criminal Minds'” morphed into “The end of the world just came!”

“It takes two to make it right” morphed into “Grandma got run over by a semi.”

“Yawlin fell off the trampoline and hurt his face” morphed into “A cookie likes biology.”

“My mom turned Yawlin into a clown with a hammer” morphed into “Shroom had a big hand and hit a kid with it.”

“Huh farted so big that the house blew up” morphed into “Hoob blew a giant snot bubble and scared Shroom.”

Try it with your family/group and see what laughs you create!

A quick post for a busy day:

*Cooper, the cute puppy, has a new home.  We were firm with the kids about only having one dog.  Mack solved the problem by posting information about the dog in the online classifieds section of a local tv station and sold the puppy the very same day–at a $60.00 profit!  I guess if she couldn’t keep the puppy, extra money was the next best thing.  She went shopping the next day and came home with a new skirt, new tights, and new boots.  I just hope she doesn’t start buying and selling puppies on a regular basis!

*Game recommendation:  “Blink” by Mattel.  Two to four people can play it.  Each round lasts 2 minutes or less.  You simply match cards as quickly as possible using color, number, or shape.  It’s quick, makes us laugh, and is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Yawlin and I played it yesterday after church and kept tying each other.   After awhile I decided to snooze by the fire (my favorite place to nap this time of year) and Yawlin and Hoob played the game together.  Buy it if you can find it, your family will love it!

*A great quote I recently found:  “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”  –Mignon McLaughlin


Activities on a vacation don’t have to cost a lot.  Here are some ideas from our recent vacation to the Oregon coast:

*Shop online for affordable lodging.  Hub used the site (Vacation Rentals by Owner) to find us a house to rent near the beach.  VRBO is the same site we use to rent our Moab condo to vacationers.  Our needs were simple.  We didn’t require a hot tub or a game room.  Balconies and garden paths were luxuries not needed.  We were looking for a place near the beach that could sleep nine people and had a kitchen so that we could cook most of our meals ourselves.  The house we rented fit the bill.  It wasn’t fancy or big, but that didn’t matter.  It cost us under $800.00 to rent it for an entire week.  Run the numbers, you can’t find hotel lodging for nine people for that price.  

*We saved money by using the kitchen of our little beach house.  Had we stayed in a hotel we would have had to eat out for our meals.  By renting a house and visiting the local grocery store, we cut our vacation costs down.  Because the kids were allowed to make requests for meals, they didn’t mind not going out to restaurants.  Breakfasts were cereal, waffles, fruit, and bacon and eggs.  Lunches were usually sandwiches.  Some days we planned “day activities” that required us to pack a picnic lunch.  Dinners were spaghetti, stir-fry, lasagna, grilled cheese sandwiches and soups.  As long as the kids bellies are full, they don’t mind where the meal comes from.

*Take advantage of the location of your lodging.  We purposely chose a house near the beach because our kids love the beach.  We knew we would be spending lots of time there.  The beach was within easy walking distance.  In fact, we could see the beach from the house.  We used the beach for many of our activities.  And it was free!  Explore the area within walking distance of where you are staying.  You never know what you might find.  One afternoon Hoob and I took a walk around our temporary neighborhood and picked up fliers advertising the other vacation homes in the area.  We imagined what it would be like to stay in each house.  We talked about the features we liked most.  It was fun to walk it together.  (And it was gratifying to see that most of the houses were renting for $3,000 – $4,300 per week–Hub really did find us a good deal!)

Our little beach house.

Our little beach house.

*Look for free souvenirs.  We didn’t spend a dime on souvenirs this vacation.  The beach is a great place to find interesting things to bring home.  The kids loaded up on sea shells, pretty rocks, bits of sea weed and sea glass.  If  you are staying near the woods, allow the kids to find pine cones and pretty flowers to press.  Look for pamphlets of the places you visit.  My son gathered pamphlets with great pictures of one of the museums and some of the other sites we visited.  I once read a story in a magazine about a woman who collects the dirt from each of her vacation spots.  She had sand from different beaches, red soil from her jeeping experiences, dark soil from the woods, all stored in little decorative bottles on her fireplace mantel.  There are numerous ideas for free souvenirs.

*Pictures!  Pictures can be some of the greatest souvenirs, and with a digital camera, you can take as many pictures as you want and then delete those that don’t make the cut.  Make sure to get lots of candid shots along with the posed pictures.  Let the kids decide some of the shots and make sure your pictures tell a story.  Take shots of the scenery, the silly people you see, and local sites you aren’t likely to see again.  The kids loved bringing the laptop to Grandma’s house two days after we returned home from our vacation and showing their grandparents and cousins the pictures from our vacation.  Once the vacation is over, the kids can choose some of their favorites to print out  and maybe even frame.  One of the gifts I gave to Hoob for her birthday was a new frame with the picture of her jumping on the beach (see my last post).

Scenery:  A lighthouse we visited.

Scenery: A lighthouse we visited.

*Before the vacation, do some online research to find out what there is to do in the area.  As I researched for our Oregon vacation I learned that the breezes on Oregon beaches make kite flying ideal.  I shopped around for a couple of months before the vacation and found kites for $1.99 for each of us.  We made sure to spend one afternoon flying our kites on the beach.

Putting the kites together.

Putting the kites together.

Four of the kites in the air.

Four of the kites in the air.

*A bonfire and s’mores.  Keeping with our desires to spend a lot of time on the beach, and wanting to do the typical “beachy” things, we built a fire on the beach and made s’mores on our last night in Oregon–an inexpensive activity that all enjoyed.



*Use your imagination.  While shopping for kites I found canisters of glow-in-the-dark bracelets (15 ct.) for $1.00.  I bought two canisters and we used the bracelets to play glow-in-the-dark-tag on the beach one night.  It was fun to see the different, creative ways the kids affixed the bracelets to their bodies before starting the game.  And then we all laughed at how funny it looked to see the “glowies” bouncing around and racing all over the beach.  This game isn’t limited to the beach.  It could be played in a field, an empty parking lot, or even a large backyard.
Getting ready for glow-in-the-dark-tag.

Getting ready for glow-in-the-dark-tag.

*Find the free places.  Nearby where we were staying there was an overlook with a display all about whales.  It had big windows with views of the ocean and binoculars we could use to look for whales.  It was free.  In the same town there was a science center that had displays about marine life and tide-pool tables at which the kids could touch various marine animals.  This was also free.  We visited both places and the kids not only had a good time, they learned a few things as well.
*Hang on to traditions.  It has become a tradition for me and the girls to paint our fingernails in the same shade before we all go on vacation together.  It creates bonding.  This year things were so crazy before we left (Huh’s graduation, filling a vinyl lettering order, packing) that we didn’t get around to painting our nails before we left.  I packed the fingernail polish–shades of green and blue this year to represent Oregon–and let the girls know that I had brought the polish.  On one rainy afternoon we stayed indoors and painted our fingernails and toenails and watched episodes of “House” (a cable station was showing multiple episodes of the show).  The boys joined us in the t.v. watching but not the nail painting.  🙂  It was a nice, quiet activity on a gloomy day that didn’t cost much.  I think the nail polish cost me $3.50 for three bottles.  And, we kept our tradition alive.
Lovely nail painting job.

Lovely nail painting job.

**I included the above picture to show the shade of green I chose for my toenails.  But, the REAL reason the picture was taken was to show my wet pant leg after I’d gotten caught in a wave while tide-pooling.  The entire family was trying to reach an outcropping of rocks and we were timing the waves.  Both Hoob and I got caught in one.  I got one leg wet, she got both of hers wet.  We were the only two that got caught by the wave.
Many of the ideas presented in this post can be adapted for “Staycations” or even “Family Nights.”  The point to any activity with your family, whether it be a vacation or a night at home, is to relax and make the most of it.

A few images from our cabin trip this weekend:

One view along the new fence Dad built.

One view along the new fence Dad built.


The flag pole dad made out of a tree.

The flag pole dad made out of a tree.


Kids along the fence.

Kids along the fence.


It rained for most of the weekend, which meant that it was also chilly.  It’s been a long winter in the High Uinta Mountains, so the quaking aspens didn’t have leaves yet.  There were 23 people sharing one bathroom.  And yet with all of that, it was a great weekend!  Some of the highlights:

*Allowing Huh to drive the entire way to the cabin and then back again when the weekend was over…and we didn’t die

*Going with Mack on a drive in the Arctic Cat (side-by-side) while she drove.  Hoob, Yawlin, cousin “J”, and the dog rode in the back.  And…we didn’t die!

*Brushing Hoob’s and Huh’s hair one night after they’d taken showers to get the day’s grime off.  Thankfully my teen girls still like Mom to brush their hair–not style it, mind you–but brushing it is relaxing to them.

*Playing rounds of “Blink” with all of the kids, cousins, and my mom.  (Buy “Blink” wherever games are sold.  For 5 or 6 bucks it provides a lot of fun!)

*Watching my dad give “Yawlin” his first lesson on driving an atv.  And…they didn’t die!

*Sitting on the swing, closing my eyes, and just listening.  Birds, squirrels, buzzing bugs, more birds, all the sounds of the woods were there to relax me and help me enjoy the moment.

*Seeing two deer pass by the cabin.

*Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire.

*Finishing my library book.

*Listening to Mack recount the story of the two of us attending an aerobics class and yoga class together one day last week.  The classes kicked my butt and Mack loves to tell how funny I was as I tried to balance on the stupid, over-sized exercise ball but kept slipping off, and how it was nearly impossible for me to do some of the torture yoga moves.  My brother-in-law quipped that I probably looked like what Elaine from “Seinfeld” would have looked like taking an exercise class.  (Okay, maybe this was more of a low-light rather than a highlight.)  Sheesh!

*Taking a walk with Max, the dog.

Max going ahead.

Max going ahead.

Max Charging back to me after I pretended to run back the way we came.

Max Charging back to me after I pretended to run back the way we came.

Max running after Huh and Cousin "C" on the atv's after they passed us.

Max running after Huh and Cousin "C" on the atv's after they passed us.

*Getting to talk to Hub on the cell phone just before he and Squid bedded down for the night in Moab.  They chose a river run as their one-on-one trip together before Squid leaves on a mission for our church.  It was nice to talk to Hub one last time before they tackled the mighty Colorado River and no longer had cell phone service.

*The cousins got to spread out and sleep in the main room of the cabin.

Cousins NOT sleeping.

Cousins NOT sleeping.

*I got to hold and play with my two newest nieces, ages 9 months and 3 weeks.

*The kids were all willing to pitch in and help with meals, dishes, and clean-up.  And…they didn’t die!

*I got to be totally lax in the way I dressed.

My stylin' cabin footwear!

My stylin' cabin footwear!

There was time spent with family, time spent alone, there was laughing and playing, cooperation and visiting, birds and squirrels, sunsets, fire and hot dogs.  For me, it was the perfect cabin weekend!

Next Page »