How to Replace a Toilet

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If you find that your toilet needs to be replaced, you might think you need to call a plumber - and pay a LOT of money! You can actually do this yourself! It is really a lot easier than you think - just follow these steps and you'll replace yours in no time at all!

As strange as it sounds, toilets can go bad, get too old, or simply just need to be pulled and reset in order to start working at their best again. Sometimes we don’t have enough money to bring a plumber in to do this task or we don’t have access to a plumber quick enough to remedy the situation.  Below, we will share the step-by-step instructions to help you learn how to replace a toilet —  in order to save a bit of money, time, or grief.

  1. Your first step should be to put on a pair of latex or nitril gloves for your protection.
  2. Turn off the water to the toilet at the shutoff valve located behind the toilet. If there isn’t one, you will need to shut off the water to the entire house. This is important. If you don’t do this, you will end up with a watery mess and even chance ruining walls, flooring, etc.
  3. Remove supply line where it connects at the bottom of the tank. Flush the toilet and hold the handle down while looking in the tank. Hold the handle down until all the water has left the tank.
  4. Using a shopvac, suck the remaining water out of the tank and out of the bowl. Remove toilet bolts, which are located at the base of the toilet. There will be two of them, one on each side. Sometimes you may have trouble removing these bolts; they may need to be removed using a hack saw.
  5. Straddle the bowl of the toilet facing the tank. Grabbing both side of the bowl directly between the seat bolts and the tank, lift the toilet out of place. Or if you have help, use two people to lift it out of place.
  6. Remove all wax from the floor flange which is connected to the pipe going through the floor. Once wax is removed, do an inspection of the floor flange to make sure it is secured to the floor or broken in any way. If it’s cracked or broken, it will need to be replaced. If this seems like it is too much for you, be sure to call a professional plumber.
  7. Using a new wax ring, center the wax ring on the floor flange. Using new bolts, attach them to the floor flange.
  8. Your new toilet will come in two pieces—the bowl and the tank. Take the bowl and center it on the wax ring, carefully watching as you lower the bowl so the bolts are lining up with the holes at the base of the toilet. As you set the bowl on the wax ring, put your weight on it and wiggle it side to side to make sure the wax ring seals properly.
  9. Install nut, washer, and bolt cap base to toilet bolts. Finger tighten nut bolts down as tight as you can get them using a small wrench or ratchet. Gently tighten each nut a little on each side at a time, alternating from side to side. Remember that toilets are made out of porcelain and are easily broken so don’t over tighten. Tighten a little bit at a time until toilet is firm to the floor. If toilet does rock due to an uneven surface, you can use nylon shims to make it level.
  10. Now, finish assembling the toilet based on manufacturer’s instructions.

 

Congratulations, you have an updated toilet!

Homemade Apple Jam

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This homemade apple jam recipe is the simplest recipe.....and the taste?! O.M.G. Find out how to turn some simple apples into your favorite way to top your morning toast!

 

When I think fall, one food that comes to mind is apples.  Apple cider, apple butter, apple pie…..all things apple.  One thing you may love and think is difficult to make is apple jam.  You might be surprised at just how easily you can make this yourself (without all of the preservatives and additives you find in the store bought items).

Homemade Apple Jam
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 6 large crisp apples
  • 2 cups of apple cider
  • 1 Box of  Pectrin
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 tbs of cinnamon
  • 4 8oz mason jars or 8 4oz jars
Directions
  1. Peel and finely chop apples.  Place them into a large sauce pan place apples. Add 1 cup of sugar and apple cider. Over a medium heat let fruit cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Once fruit comes to a boil add one package of fruit pectin. Stir fruit so it does not stick. Continue cooking over a medium heat until sauce becomes thick.
  3. Use a ladle and put into the mason jars.  Make sure they are tight and push down the lid.  Put in the fridge and allow to cool 1 - 2 hours before eating.  Then spread on your toast and enjoy!
Notes
If you do not like chunks in your jam, you may want to use a potato masher, immersion blender or food processor to remove large pieces prior to placing into jars.

Healthy Zucchini Pizza Bites

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Love pizza but not the fat and how unhealthy it can be? Make these Zucchini Pizza Bites instead - and get all the flavor with less guilt!

 

One of my favorite foods is pizza.  I am not ashamed to admit it.  Of course, pizza is not a food that we consider healthy.  However, there is a way to turn this junk food into a healthy one  — that you and your kids will love!  These healthy zucchini pizza bites combine the love of pizza with a bit if healthy eating making the perfect combination!

 

Zucchini Pizza Bites
This is a KID FRIENDLY yet HEALTHY version of pizzas!!!
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 2 large zucchini, cut into ¼" rounds
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup marina sauce
  • ½ cup shredded part-skim mozarella cheese
  • ¼ cup mini pepperoni pieces (optional)
  • Italian seasoning (for sprinkling)
Directions
  1. Lightly mist both sides of zucchini rounds lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil or grill the zucchini rounds (I used a grill pan set to medium-high) for 2 minutes on each side.
  2. Place cooked zucchini rounds on a large lined baking sheet. Top with small amounts of sauce, cheese and pepperoni pieces. (Optional).
  3. Broil on low for 1-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and serve warm.
  4. Enjoy!!!

Easy Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

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These Creamy Chicken Enchiladas are amazing!!  They take just a few ingredients (which you may even find right in your fridge and pantry).  When we make them, there are never any left overs!  Click over to get this must have recipe!!!

This is one of my favorite go to meals!  It takes just a few simple ingredients to transform themselves into flavorful, creamy enchiladas!  They are honestly one of my favorite dishes to make as it is about 45 minutes from start to finish (and that includes baking time)!

Easy Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Super easy dinner meal -- that takes just 45 minutes from start to finish!
Author:
Cuisine: Mexican
Recipe type: Dinner Entree
Serves: 6
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of cubed chicken (I buy Tyson as it is already cut up for me)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup of sour cream (divided)
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
  • 5 - 6 Tbs freshly chopped cilantro (divided)
  • 6 8" flour or whole wheat tortilla shells
  • Salsa (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. Cook chicken thoroughly. Add soup, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of cheese and 3 tablespoons of cilantro to the pan. Stir until well mixed and cheese is melted.
  3. Use ¼ or ⅓ measuring cup and scoop onto tortilla shell. Fold down top and bottom of shell and then roll until closed. Place in pan, seam side down.
  4. Spread remaining sour cream across the top of the shells. Add additional cheese and cilantro across the top. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Top with additional sour cream or salsa (as desired). Enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Tortilla

 

 

How To Change Out a Faucet

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Whether your faucet is no longer working properly or you want to give your room a new look, you may find you need a new one. Changing out a faucet is very simple and we've got the step by step tips to help you do just that!

Faucets can sometimes get worn out and will require being changed. Often times they will start leaking or just simply not work right. This is such a simple task that it would really stink to have to call someone and pay them to fix it. Now, it may seem overwhelming at first but once you learn you will wonder why you weren’t doing this by yourself all along. The following is a step by step process on how to easily change out a faucet!

  1. Turn off the water to the faucet you’re going to replace. You can do this by using the shutoff valves under the sink, or the main shutoff to the water for the entire house.
  2. Disconnect supply lines from shutoff valves or piping by using the correct size wrench.
  3. Using a lavatory wrench, remove the supply lines from the faucet. Also using the lavatory wrench, remove the holding nuts from the faucet. If it has a sprayer, remove the spray head from the hose and remove the clip from the end of the hose along with the washers and nut. You will need to shove the hose down through the hole that it’s sticking up through. Remove holding nut for the “sprayer holder.”
  4. Once the holder for the sprayer head and faucet are removed, clean mounting surface with cleaner. You may need to use a type of scale remover to make sealing surface clean.
  5. Depending on the faucet you have, there may be a plastic gasket for the base of it that needs putty applied to it. Apply putty to the base of the gasket that will be placed between the sink and the new faucet. A small amount of putty is all that’s needed. Do the same with the sprayer holder. Some faucets may come with a self-sealing gasket which will remove the need for putty.
  6. Set faucet on sink and center it. Push down on it to seal putty in place. Attach holding nuts underneath the sink. Make sure as you are tightening the nuts that the faucet doesn’t move and go out of alignment. Tighten nuts securely and remove excess putty from base of faucet.
  7. Install sprayer holder, tighten nut, and remove excess putty much like the previous step.
  8. Reattach supply lines to faucet. It’s always a good idea to replace supply lines when getting a new faucet—old supply lines can allow leakage.
  9. Remove aerator from spout of faucet. Turn the water back on and run water through the spout to rinse and objects out. Reinstall aerator and you’re ready to use your new faucet!

Note: Any time you attach anything to piping, you should always check for leaks before turning the water back on.

Wedding Gift Giving Etiquette: Engagement Parties

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1

 

Starting the Celebration: Engagement Parties

Wedding season is no longer restricted to the balmy, breezy days of early summer. These days, couples are planning their weddings all year round. What does this mean for you as a guest? For one, budgeting for weddings isn’t as easy as it used to be. Secondly, the expectations and etiquette of these joyous occasions have changed as well.

Don’t worry – we’re here to explain the ins and outs and do’s and don’ts of all wedding-related events, including the big day. For part one of our Wedding Gift Giving Etiquette series, let’s discuss engagement parties.

 

And So It Begins

Your phone rings (or dings) and your friend or family member has big news – “We’re engaged!” If there were ever a reason to celebrate, this is it. Engagement parties typically occur within the first few months after the proposal. Traditionally, the party served to introduce the two families coming together through the marriage and was hosted by the bride’s parents. However, anyone can take it upon himself or herself to host a celebration these days, especially close friends or siblings. Some couples even throw their own engagement parties but usually only because circumstance, such as a tight timeline or distance, makes this necessary.

If you decide to throw an engagement party, you’ll need to get the bride and groom involved sooner rather than later. And, to keep costs and expectations reasonable, set a budget before you set a guest list. Lastly, it’s important to note that it’s bad form to invite anyone to the engagement party who won’t make the final guest list for the wedding (unless it’s a destination wedding, but we’ll get to that occasion later in this series – stay tuned!).

 

Be Their Guest

As an engagement party attendee, you’re not expected to bring a gift, especially if the party is a surprise. Some guests do choose to bring a small present, such as champagne flutes, a book about wedding planning, a bottle of wine or simply a card. Since engagement parties don’t typically have a gift-giving portion, like at a bridal shower, there’s really no pressure to bring anything other than your selves.

 

When it comes time to shower the bride (or the couple) in gifts, do you know what the rules are about gift giving? Our next installment will cover everything from registries to properly approaching invitations to multiple showers.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars (Perfect Fall Pumpkin Dessert)

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Fall means cooler weather, apples.....and pumpkins!!! Check out this awesome recipe to make these melt in your mouth pumpkin cheesecake bars. Just a word of warning...you can't eat just one!

It is that time of the year…..PUMPKIN TREATS!!  These Pumpkin Cheescake Bars are fun to make and will satisfy two cravings at once!

They look like they are difficult to make, but they really are not.  So, you can make them for any gathering and your family and friends will be not only impressed at how they taste, but that you worked so hard to make them.  (Don’t worry – it will be our secret that they were easy to make!).

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Author:
Ingredients
CRUST
  • 1 cup gingersnap crumbs
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Rectangular springform pan
FILLING
  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp salt
TOPPING
  • 2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
Directions
CRUST
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray springform pan with cooking spray.
  2. Pulse the gingersnap crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and sugar until mixed into fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse more to blend together.
  3. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before adding filling.
FILLING
  1. Mix cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed - until smooth and creamy.
  2. Slowly mix in pumpkin until blended.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed.
  4. Finally, pour in milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Stir in cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt (or mix on low).
  5. Pour pnto crust. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.
TOPPING
  1. Combine all items in a bowl until well mixed.
  2. Spread on top of bars.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
Notes
Store in air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Find more amazing recipes right here at Penny Pinchin’ Mom!

Not Yelling at My Kids: A Work In Progress (What I Am Doing To Be A Better Mom)

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As a mom, there are times when we lose our cool and end up yelling. It is not our proudest moments. I've been working very hard at NOT yelling at my kids by trying new tips and tricks - and they are working! Click on over and read more to help you gain better control and not yell quite as much.

 

It happens.  You know those moments when you are trying to keep your cool and two kids are fighting. You try to let it go, but it seems that it gets louder and louder and before you know it, you’ve lost your cool and you start yelling back.  *SIGH*  I hate those moments.

I feel horrible when it happens.  As an adult I know it is not right.  That is not how to handle a situation.  Whenever the kids are doing things be it not listening, fighting, being told to do something for the twelfth time….it all can make us blow our tops and end up yelling at our kids.

Now, I am not saying that there are not times when it may be OK to yell at them.  Those are when there may be danger like a hot stove or running into the street, etc.  What I am talking about are the moments when I need to really be the adult and learn how to control my own emotions.

Kids learn from their parents.  The last thing I want is for them to think that the way to handle situations is to yell.  We know that doesn’t work.  Instead, I want them to learn how to calmly and rationally deal with a situation.

A couple of years ago, my son had my iPad in his hand.  Somehow, he dropped it and it fell on it’s corner and landed on a rock.  Of course, that instantly shattered the screen.  I could have yelled at him.  Trust me, it would have been easy.  But you know what, I didn’t.

Why, you ask?  The reason was him.  The minute it happened, I looked into his eyes and could see the fear.  He thought he was in the deepest trouble he’d ever seen in his young life.  I also realized that it was a thing.  It was replaceable.  Sure, it was expensive to do, but at the same time, he did not intentionally do it.  It truly was an accident.

Instead, I hugged him and told him that I knew it was not on purpose.  We then sat down and talked about how we take care of our things.  We discussed why we really should not take them outside.  Instead of me yelling at him, we turned it into a learning moment.

You might be thinking “That was a special circumstance Tracie, what about the day to day things – like the fighting?”  I have been doing better with this.

Kids having a quarrel and fight - tough parenthood concept

The minute that they start to fight, I just try to stay out of it.  I truly do not intervene.  I am trying to teach my children how to fight their own battles.  I am not going to be with them most of their lives, so they need to learn how to diffuse a situation.  Quite often, they do actually work it out.  (I will admit that I am doing a lot of deep breathing and focusing on something else to ensure I do not get involved).

Of course, they are kids, so they can’t always come to a resolution on their own.  Sometimes, it will end with a punch or slap to the arm.  That is when I have to step in.  I still do not yell.  This is what I do:

  1. Take a deep breath before I speak to them.
  2. I get down on my knees so that I am eye to eye level — or lower.  I don’t want them to feel me looking down on them.  Instead, I look directly at them or up at them.
  3. I hold their arms up by their shoulder so I can ensure they look at me in my face.
  4. I start to talk to them about what happened.  I do this with each of my kids and tell the other one to wait his or her turn.  This is done so I can get the facts.
  5. Once they fill me in, I ask each of them, what was wrong about what you did?  What could you have done differently?  They each give answers to me that prove they have listened to me.
  6. We end with me hugging them and telling them that I always love them, but I don’t like it when they fight.
  7. Finally, they have to hug one another or do a fist bump or something before they are allowed to run away.

That is how we handle fights.  As I said, there are a myriad of reasons as to why we might yell.  These are the thing I have been doing and you know what, they work (most of the time):

Take a deep breath. Before I ever speak when I am upset, I just take in a deep breath.  That allows me the pause I need and can often switch off my brain from feeling the need to yell so that I can speak to my kids rationally.

Put myself in my kids’ shoes.  This is one of them that really works for me.  Whenever my kids say that I am yelling, it makes me think about how it feels to be them.  As a result, I try to put myself in their shoes.  If they make a mess, they were trying to be independent (which is what I want).

Speak softly.  I will admit that I have a pretty powerful voice. I may be just 5’2″, but when I talk, you’d think I was 5’11”.  That can be intimidating to a lot of people, especially kids.  I just try to speak more slowly and calmly.  What is amazing is how much better I feel when my voice is not booming through the house too!  This is a win-win situation.

Being more mindful.  Whenever something is bothering me, be it family or work related stress or I am trying to focus on a difficult task, it can make my temper a lot shorter.  I find in those moments I yell more.  I try to really think about what is going on with me personally and try not to project that onto my kids or others.

I also do this with my kids.  When my oldest gets hungry, she gets irritable and cries.  When my son is tired or overly stimulated, he cries and gets frustrated.  When I can recognize these situations in my kids, then it helps me know that they are not intentionally acting up, it is truly something that they can’t control.  In these moments, I can be more thoughtful and mindful of what they are going through.

Give yourself a time out.  This is one that works for me – a lot.  If I feel I am going to explode with anger and yelling, I will actually put myself in my own room for a time out.  It is amazing how well that works.  I get a chance to just remove myself completely from the situation. I can think for a moment and clear my mind.  It helps calm me down so that I can return to the kids and speak with them rationally and not like a raving lunatic.

Let me just say that this has NOT been easy.  However, most things we do as parents seldom are.  This is not a job for the weak.  You have to be very strong to be a parent.  Sometimes, it just flat out sucks.  However, most of the time, it is the most amazing job on the planet and I’d not trade it for anything at all.

 

How to Throw a Super Mario Bros. Party!

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How to throw an awesome Super Mario Bros. birthday party! Includes games, decor and more!

When my daughter decided on the Super Mario Bros. Party theme for her 5th birthday, I did what every creative, DIY mom does…got on Pinterest!  After some looking, I found some ideas I could build off.  I also found there weren’t a lot of ideas for Mario parties!

Normally, in the past I had made parties difficult for myself. Those parties required me to have a ton of prep, and had me baking until all hours of the night the day before. I decided this year, that everyone would enjoy the party just as much without all that, and I would get to enjoy it even more! In this post you will find all the details and pictures from her party. I hope it gives you some ideas too!

 

Mario birthday cake

Now since this party was for a girl, we decided to go with a Princess Peach themed cake! My aunt at Three Fat Ladies Catering did an amazing job at creating the cake! Each tier was a different flavor. The characters on the cake were part of a set I purchased that included a slew of characters and doubled as a birthday gift as well! You can find the best price on the whole set of characters here.

 

Super Mario Bros Snacks

 

To make things easy on myself, I made some easy signs with pictures and named the food themed names. We had cheeseballs and called them “Fireballs”. I also found Mario Fruit Snacks for $2.00 a box at Walmart and included them too!

 

Super Mario Bros Snacks

 

I also got gold foil covered chocolate coins to represent all the coins in Mario games (these were a hit!). They were hard to find, but check your local Walgreens, or Hobby Lobby for the best bet. I ended up buying mine at a bulk candy store because we had about 50 guests. I also found packages of peach sour gummies at my local Dollar Tree. We called these “Princess Peach Rings” and put them in a cute container. Adding signs to all the food items, really helped guests tie the theme into the foods.

 

Fire Flower Veggie Tray

 

 

This fire flower inspired vegetable tray was my favorite to make! I love adding a healthy element to birthday parties, and this was such a fun way to do it! The orange circle is made from a bag of baby carrots, the yellow inner ring on the face is from yellow bell pepper, the stem is a whole, sliced cucumber, and the leaves are two heads of broccoli. The white face is made from Marzetti’s light Ranch Veggis Dip, and the eyes are a black olive, cut in half. This thing was devoured in no time!

 

Super Mario Water Bottles

 

We removed the labels from ordinary bottles of water, and replaced them with this super-cute, printable Mario labels! They print three to a page, and were the perfect touch. You can get the link to download those HERE.

 

Yoshi Paper Cups

 

These were one of my favorite original creations! Yoshi’s Egg cups! These are just ordinary white, paper cups that I got in the decor section at Dollar Tree. My daughter and I used the lime green stickers that you can get to make yard sale price stickers and put five randomly on each cup to resemble Yoshi’s Eggs. We couldn’t find the stickers at the Dollar Tree, but had no trouble finding them at Walmart.

 

Mario Party Decor

 

For the plates, napkins and utensils, we just used $0.97 items from Walmart’s party aisle. The napkins were a little bit more because it was a larger package, and the napkins were bigger ($2.97), but they were worth every penny – because they looked like Yoshi Eggs too! What a neat find! You should have seen me doing my happy dance in Walmart!

 

Brick Boxes Mario Party

 

I wanted to have a dramatic display featuring my daughter’s name, and that caught your eye as son as you walked in to the venue. Bricks are a HUGE part of any Mario game, and only seemed appropriate to be included at this over the top Mario party! I wanted to make sure my boxes were all the same size and perfectly square, so I purchased shipping boxes from Walmart for $0.68 each to make this display.

The letters were from the craft department, and while they were nearly $2.00 a piece, they could easily be used again for many other things. I painted the boxes with Krylon Rust Protection Primer and the name of the color was Red Oxide. I only needed one can for all four boxes and it only took one coat. I only used the brand and primer than I did because it was the closest to “brick red” as I could find! After the paint dried, I manually drew on the brick pattern with a permanent marker on all four sides of the boxes. For the final touch, I painted the letters of her namepink, and hot glued them to the boxes (since it didn’t need to be a permanent fix).

 

Super Star balloons

 

On the tables, secured with balloon weights, we had Super Star Balloons! These are THE most simple things to make, that even someone who isn’t crafty can make these! The Dollar Tree carries these balloons (style number 182). For $1.00 you get the balloon, which they inflate with helium, and a ribbon attached to it. To make it into a Super Star balloon, and you need to do is draw two rectangles fro eyes with a black permanent marker. That’s it!

 

Yoshi Egg Game

 

Now, what fun is a party with no games? We had an old-fashioned egg-on-the-spoon race. Except for, I hard-boiled the eggs (because of the age of the majority of the kids, and we had a carpeted floor), and to keep with the theme, we used a lime green permanent marker and put polka dots on the eggs. Each kid was given a spoon, and if the egg was dropped they had to start all over. If they made it to the bowl with their egg still on their spoon, they could return to the line to allow the next child to go. We also had a “level up” round, where the kids had to the same thing with their eyes closed! It was a hoot!

 

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I couldn’t believe how well these kids did with their eyes closed!

 

Pin the Mustache on the Mario game

 

I think this game was a party favorite! We played, “Pin The Mustache on Mario!” Each child was blindfolded, and given a stick on mustache (find them in packs of seven at the Dollar Tree.) They were then shouted directions by the other kids in line at where to place it! The child who came the closest to giving Mario his proper mustache – won!

Pin the Mustache on Mario game aftermath

 

Here was the aftermath after some of the kids had taken their turn! Some of them were pretty close! By the time it was all over, he had mustaches in his ear, on his hat, his chin and all over. The kids all enjoyed it! Finding a Mario without a mustache to use can be tricky, but I used this downloadable file, and had it printed at my local UPS Store as an 18″ x 18″ poster to make playing easier.

We also had a pinata that looked like a Mystery Box, but do you think I can find pictures of that before they beat the snot out of it? Nope.

All in all, the party seemed to be a great success. All the kids had a good time and most importantly my daughter was overjoyed at getting to spend time and play games with her friends. And Mommy was happy to, because I was able to enjoy the party and the gueests for the first time, without being overly stressed.

Most of these images were taken by an amazing photographer named Jill Phillips! She not only does photography, but makes some AMAZING Geek Girl Accessories that make awesome gifts to. Check out her website!

Now you know how to plan your very OWN Super Mario Themed Party!!!

15 Ways to Ask Your Kids “How Was Your Day?” Without Asking “How Was Your Day?

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If you ever ask your kids "How was school?" they usually just answer with OK or don't really share what happened that day. Check out these AWESOME ideas on how to engage your child in conversations about their day (and even find FIVE bonus questions for teens)!

How to Ask Kids How Was Your Day?

Every night at the dinner table we would ask our kids “How was school?”  We’d get the obligatory “Fine.” or “OK.” response.  It seemed that was all they would say.  Both my husband and I knew that we wanted to connect with the kids more and truly find out what they did that day and possibly open up ideas to have a great family conversation.

This last year, instead of asking them “How Was Your Day?”  we started asking different questions.  These are allowing us to not only find out what went on at school, but even get to learn a little more about our kids.  We’ve learned how much our oldest loves science and that our son really enjoyed making presentations on the computer.  Without opening up our family dialogue, I do not know if we would really know as much as we do now.

I know you are wondering, how in the world can my spouse (significant other) and I do this with our own kids.  Below you will find ten different ways to ask your kids about their day without actually asking the same rhetorical question to them.  Just be prepared for some great conversations! 😉

1.  What was the best thing about your day?  (You can follow up asking what was the worst)?

2. Who did you sit by today at lunch?  What did you talk about?

3. What did you learn today?

4. What did you do at recess?  Who did you play with?

5. Who would you like to get to know more?  Why?

6. If you were teaching the class, what would you do differently than your teacher does?

7. What was the funniest thing that happened (or something that made you smile)?

8. What subject is the easiest for you? Why?  (Can follow up with which is the most difficult)

9. Who is your best friend?  Why?

10.  Who is the funniest person in your class?  Why?

11.  Is there anyone in your class who you think could use a new friend?

12. What did you to to help someone today?  What did someone do to help you?

13. If you could teach any subject, what would it be?

14. What would you do if you had one day where you were the principal?

15. What do you think you need to work on more in school?

 

BONUS:

If you have a teenager, it can be even more difficult to talk to them.  Check out these five additional questions you might ask:

A.  If you could be invisible, which place in the school would you like to visit (can’t say restroom or locker rooms).  Why?

B.  Which class is the easiest?  The hardest?

C.  If you had to write a book about today, what would the title be?

D. If you had the ability to read thoughts, whose mind would you read?

E. What do you all do when in the halls between classes?  Where do you go after school?

 

I know there are more great questions you can ask your kids, so if you have ideas, please share them below!