Last Minute Halloween Prep

fall-sunrise-alaynascreationsLife can get crazy-busy very quickly and it is so very easy to let it take us for a ride – which is exactly what has happened to me in the two months or so since my husband got home from deployment.  First, we spent a few weeks all wrapped up in enjoying having him home and doing all of the family stuff still on our bucket list.  Then we jumped into a massive remodel of my parents’ kitchen (so many blog posts to write!) before the husband had to return to his civilian job.  Plus, school started before that project was completed and we have all been doing our best to get back into the normal routine of work/school/extra-curricular activities.

And now?  Now we are knee-deep in October which is Birthday Month around here (7+ birthdays to celebrate – more on that soon!) and I suspect things are going to keep moving just as quickly.

Which brings me to today’s project, or rather yesterday’s project – my son’s class party for Halloween.  His teacher has developed her own traditions and one of them is performing a Mad Scientist show for other classes in the school.  I’ve known about this for weeks – after all, I’m the Room Mom this year and my job was to organize the parent helpers and donations to provide lunch for the class in the middle of their busy day of Mad Scientist shows.  So it really shouldn’t have been a surprise when my 9-year-old came home the night before the party talking about turning a shirt into a lab coat.

I guess I had just figured that a pair of safety goggles and some crazy hair would be a “good enough” costume (and really that would have been fine) but my little guy wanted something a bit more.


(ah boys – he was dead convinced that Mad Scientists don’t smile and I couldn’t manage to get him to pose any other way)

An old shirt and a Sharpie saved the day.  In less than 5 minutes (and $0!) we were able to transform a shirt he no longer wanted to wear into a lab coat by simply drawing a few lines on it with a marker.


It turned out cute, he was pretty excited about it  – and after seeing all the other kids, some with full wigs and everything, I was glad we put in the little bit of extra effort.

Tyler received plenty of compliments on his costume and it had me wondering…I bet that’s not the only costume that could be pulled together in a pinch with just a shirt and a Sharpie.  Any ideas for other options?!


Deployment Care Package Idea – Half-Way There

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Celebrate the middle of a long deployment with a box full of items cut in half AlaynasCreations

We are approaching the final countdown on this military deployment – YAY YAY YAY – and having that husband of mine home again is on my mind a lot.  I can’t wait!

Now that we are approaching the end, I remember how much I looked forward to the mid-point of the deployment and how much fun it was to put together the care package with a Half-way There theme.

Everything was cut in half – and I mean EVERYTHING.

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Making it half through any long separation especially a military deployment is cause for celebration  Decorating the inside of the box is a good way to set the mood

I decorated the box with two different patterned scrapbook papers, so even the box looked like it had been divided in half.
And again, I always include something in the very bottom of the box as an extra surprise – the funnier the better.

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Fill a care package full of items cut in half  I even included half of a pair of shoes for  the midpoint of Deployment

The box was filled with anything I thought might lend itself to being cut in half – a package of pudding cups, a package of microwave-able mac n cheese, Pop Tarts, Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies, powdered drink mix, balloons, and a package of party confetti poppers.

The boxes were fairly easy to cut in half.  For any packaging that didn’t stand on it’s own or threatened to spill the contents once cut in half I simply covered the exposed end with packaging tape.

Splitting up the pair of running shoes my husband had requested and sending just a single shoe was my daughter’s idea. Haha!  Of course, we put together a second (workout themed) package with the other shoe and sent it the very next day.  We were a bit worried one of the packages would get lost but it went perfectly and the two boxes arrived back to back without any problems.

Deployment Care Package Ideas Any kind of food with writing is fun to use for care packages  I used this Snickers bar that reads impatient for a Half-way There Deployment Care Package

I love how some of the snack foods now have fun lettering on them.  I made sure to snap up this Snicker’s  candy bar that reads “Impatient” the minute I spotted it, then held on to it for a few weeks (some days that wasn’t easy!) knowing I would find the perfect package to send it in.

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Idea All of my care packages include a little something from the kids

The kids always try to contribute a letter or drawing to each care package.  To stick with my theme, I cut my son’s drawing in half and did the same with the letters from myself and my daughter.  Then I cut an envelope in half, putting half of the letters and drawing in each side and hit one part of the envelope on the bottom of the package and placed the other part in the top of the package.

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Celebrate the middle of a long deployment with a box full of items cut in half

I’m sure hitting the half-way point of the deployment was the high point of my husband’s week, but he did get a real kick out of the package too.

Half-way There Deployment Care Package Idea for the middle of military deployment or any other separation from your loved one

I was thinking if you currently didn’t have a husband on deployment (lucky you!) what else would be a fun theme for a half-way gift?  Any other long distance separation, of course – long distance relationship, missionary gift, college care package, countdown to a big milestone like marriage or graduation…

Any other ideas I’m missing?


I’m still adding a lot of my care package ideas to the blog – please feel free to explore.
Beat the Heat Summer Care Package
Favorite Things Care Package
First Care Package for Deployment
Deployment Survival Kit (for military spouses)

Or check out some of my other Gift Basket or Summer Fun ideas for the Kids and more:
Summer Themed Dinner Gift Baskets (in red, white and blue!)
Summer Bucket List
Cupcake Wars Birthday Party


5 Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Under $25

5 Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Under $25

Happy 4th of July!  It’s ok if I jump the gun a little bit right?  I’m pretty sure the festivities (4 nights of rodeo) start tomorrow night here anyway.

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the enthusiasm for it here in my hometown.  The flags all over the place.  So many events to pick and choose however we want to celebrate.  And the red, white and blue – one of my favorite color combinations.  So, when it worked out that it’s my mom’s turn to host our Bunco group right after the 4th of July we were really excited to put together the prizes.  And what better for a 4th of July/summer theme than food-related gift baskets?!

The prizes are supposed to range in cost from about $12 to $24 so all five of these gift basket ideas are under $25.  As a fun twist we not only stuck to a summer food/dinner theme but tried to incorporate as much of the red, white and blue patriotic theme as we could find.  With the 24th of July Pioneer Days celebration here in Utah, we keep the red, white and blue out the entire month of July 😉

Picnic Themed Summer Gift Basket Patriotic Red White and Blue for 4th of July

My favorite basket would have to be our picnic themed one.  We found this adorable insulated picnic basket to use as the base for the gift (from TJ Maxx).  I love that it’s red, white and blue colors but flower-patterned instead of stars and stripes so you can use it any time of year.  We filled the basket with  patriotic themed picnic supplies – paper plates, napkins, those adorable red mason jar drinking cups with straws, a vinyl tablecloth, and red, white and blue tortilla chips to finish it off.

Fourth of July Patriotic Themed Gift Basket Idea Summer Picnic Gift Basket Idea for Bunco Wedding or other events

Ice Cream Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea Patriotic Red White and Blue for 4th of July

What’s summer without ice cream, right?  We just had to do an ice cream themed basket but the kind of base to use for the theme was a bit of a sticking point.  In the end we went with a basket of sand toys – ice cream and the beach works great, right?  The little sand strainer was the perfect thing to lift the items up so you can seem them above the top of the basket.  The basket is filled with an ice cream scoop, ice cream cones and waffle bowls, and a selection of toppings like chocolate and caramel syrup, marshmallow cream, and of course, some red white and blue sprinkles.

Popcorn Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

With all of the free concerts in the park, drive-ins, or those fun DIY back yard movie theaters that summer has to offer, we went with a popcorn theme for our third basket.  This one was also a good fit for our least expensive gift basket since it doesn’t take a lot to make this one cute.  We grabbed a blue popcorn bowl for the base and smaller individuals bowls in red, then added some microwave popcorn and a selection of popcorn seasonings.

Hot Dog Roast Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

Our local grocery store always has these great hot dog roasting sticks in stock and we knew we wanted to use these for one of the gifts (I have a set and we use them ALL the time).  The tricky part was figuring out how to package up something so long and skinny.  In the end we went a similar route as the ice cream but instead of sand toys we tied everything to a children’s bat and ball set  (baseball and hotdogs – totally works).  We also added a set of hot dog baskets (red, white, and blue!) like you would get at the drive-in, condiment squirt bottles and a container of potato chips.

BBQ Themed Summer Gift Basket Patriotic for 4th of July

For our final gift basket we went with a back yard grilling/BBQ theme.  The container is a plastic water pitcher to which we added some grilling tools, kebab baskets, corn on the cob holders, a grill brush with some barbeque sauce and a marinade, and a lighter.

BBQ Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

I can’t decide which one I would like to win – can you? 😉  I can’t wait for our Bunco party, but first I’m going to enjoy the fireworks this weekend.

Five Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Bunco Wedding gift or other special occasion


Beat the Heat – Deployment Care Package

Beat the Heat Care Package Ideas for decorating and items to put in a care package to your loved one to help them stay cool this summer Military Deployment or Gift basket

Summer, summer, summertime!  Sometimes it’s a bit less enjoyable than others – especially when it’s hot.  We hit 90 degrees here this week but the husband has been telling me that is their nightly low for the past few weeks over there on deployment.  Ick.  He has been complaining about the high temps since April and there’s not much we can do about it – except send a care package 😉  A Beat the Heat/Stay Cool care package, of course.

Beat the Heat Care Package decorating the inside of the box

I’ve developed my own little system for decorating the inside of the boxes.  I usually use a Medium Flat Rate box (though I think this one may have been a Regional Rate A which saves a bit on postage), which is easily covered by 5 sheets of patterned paper (works out great for using up my giant stash of scrapbook paper).  I usually print the letting for the theme of the box directly onto the papers before attaching them to the interior of the box then finish it off with a couple of funny memes and don’t forget to add something extra to the bottom of the box.  A little humor goes a long way.

Beat the heat Care Package funny meme for decorating the box for summer stay cool gift box

Next step – add items that fit the theme (but won’t melt!).

I’m still surprised at how easy it is to fill these boxes if you just keep your eyes open when you’re out and about.  Snow cone flavored gum?!  Icee flavored candy?!  Yes!  And those cooling towels are great.  My husband has been using them in various versions when outside working in the heat for years now but left all of his home because they were too brightly colored.  I did my best to find an understanded looking one.  They really should make them in camo print, doncha’ think?  Maybe I should suggest that… 😉

The complete list of items I included in the box:
-cooling towel
-freezer pops (he has a mini-fridge in his room so I know they can freeze these once they arrive)
-Icee slushies (note that any time I put things that are more liquid in the package I make sure to put them in zip-top bags just in case)
-Icee squeeze candy
-snow cone flavored gum
-“ice” breath drops
-drink mixes to add to water bottles (one of the biggest requested items since they can only drink bottled water and drink it by the gallon every day)
Other ideas might include sunscreen, chap stick (with SPF), exercise-type water bottles, etc.

Beat the Heat Summer Care Package with lots of great ideas to fill the box to help your loved one stay cool Military deployment gift box

Final step:  box it up and send it on its way!

Beat the Heat Care Package Ideas for decorating and items to put in a care package to your loved one to help them stay cool this summer Military Deployment or Gift basket
Interested in seeing other care package (or gift basket) ideas?  Stay tuned – I will be trying to catch up on posting photos of the packages I have sent over the past few months.  And don’t forget to check out my ideas for my First Deployment Care PackageFavorite Things Care Package, or May the 4th/Star Wars Mini Care Package.

I am down to needing only a couple more care package ideas before this deployment ends – woohoo!  Do you have any favorite ideas you would like to share?!


Linking to:  Pretty Pintastic Party, Home Matters Party,

Summer Bucket List 2016


Summer Bucket List 2016 Fun ideas for getting out and enjoying summer with the kids AlaynasCreations
Summer is in full swing!  With the Summer Solstice/First Day of Summer this past week I think we can declare it official – as if we hadn’t already.

The kids and I have spent the past couple of weeks getting into our daily summer routine, which includes spending the mornings at the pool for swim team and a lot of lazy afternoons.  It feels very easy to just drift along and let that be all we worry about and that’s been great so far but I’m afraid that too much down time leads to sibling arguments and mommy crankiness (and maybe a bit of jealousy when we see everyone else’s vacation photos).  So it has become our tradition to sit down as a family at the beginning of summer and make a list of all the things we each want to include in our summer – a Summer Bucket List.

Summer Fun with the Kids Make your own bucket list of ideas for summer fun

You know the tradition is a good one when the kids ask “Mom, when are we going to ____?” and that’s exactly what happened this year.  A week or so before school let out my little guy was asking when we were going to make our summer list and that weekend we sat down to compile ideas.  The husband even contributed a couple via chat (though mostly his big goal was to finish this deployment).  We try to come up with a combination of ideas – some easy, some that require more planning, a few goals (last year we wanted to hike to the top of Timpanogos), some that are fun and some that might require a little work.

This year’s list includes:
-lots of playdates/friend time
-family vacation
-family game of Monopoly (Tyler is obsessed)
-Kaitlyn:  babysitting, swim camp, get a state swim time, YW camp, be in the parade, build muscle
-Tyler:  new tricks on skateboard/scooter/bike, 4H Arts and Crafts Camp, Scout badges, change bedtime to 9 PM (his biggest request)
-sleep under the stars
-make a list of things to do on rainy summer days
-night games
-parties:  water fights, treasure/scavenger hunt, end of school party
-Do/see something new
-play baseball with Bambi (the dog)
-regular exercise for all, especially Bambi
-try out a new restaurant
-kids learn to cook a few things
-Sam home!

You can see last year’s list HERE.  And if you need even more ideas to get you started with your own list I have a great post full of Summer Fun Ideas Without Breaking the Bank.

Bucket List Summer Fun with the kids

Once our list is compiled I like to put it on display in a frame where we can easily refer to it and cross things off (dry erase markers work great on glass).  True to form, it took me a while after our family pow-wow to type it and get it up on display.  I suppose that works in my favor since this week I’ve felt like we needed to give ourselves a bit more direction and now all we have to do is pick something from the list and go do it.

Summer Fun Witouth Breaking the Bank Sprinklers

My biggest take-away from my chat with the kids was that they wanted to spend a lot more time with friends.  I get that.  During the school year we have very little time between school, homework, and activities and they were feeling socially deprived.  No one wants to be bored or lonely or to feel like our friends might be out having fun while we sit at home, especially during the summer.  But it does take some effort to turn that Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) into Getting Out More Often (GOMO), doesn’t it?  I’ve found, however, that the effort and planning is worth it.  And once I get past some of the roadblocks like trying to coordinate with friends with busy schedules and that whole Jungle-Book-esque mind-set of “What do you want to do?”  “I dunno, what do you want to do?” (don’t tell me I’m the only one that pictures those buzzards every time we have a hard time coming up with a plan?!), it’s really not that hard to get out and have fun.

Still need a bit more inspiration or ideas for things to do?  Check out websites like Eventbrite – it’s like TicketMaster but for smaller events, and can be used to coordinate your own events like a local 5K.  I hadn’t heard of this website until a few weeks ago, then coincidentally a few days later my son brought home a note from school about 4H opportunities this summer and wouldn’t you know it – online sign ups were available through Eventbrite.  Tyler was excited about the Arts and Crafts workshop so I had my first experience personally using the website and it was pretty easy and user-friendly.  I could see this being a great resource since you can search for events by area or even create your own events (oh how great would that have been when we were putting together our own version of Paint Night?!  Oh wait – I haven’t blogged about that one yet.  Remind me to do that soon – it was awesome! 😉  )

Other great resources include your local community events (4th of July plans, anyone?), summer workshops (Kaitlyn just had a blast at swim camp at a somewhat-nearby university), outdoor concerts and plays (we gave my mom tickets to Peter Pan for Mother’s Day and the play was on Tuesday.  It was so much fun – one of my favorite plays to date and I’ve seen quite a few), and so on.

No excuses, right?  I’m off to call a friend and make plans for a picnic at the park for next week.  Or research a nearby hiking trail the kids and I haven’t had a chance to explore yet.  So tell me, what’s on your Summer Bucket List?


Linking to:  Home Matters Party, BFF Open House,

Splash Bash – Last Day of School Water Party

Hello Summer!

Well, almost summer here.  The kids still have one more week left of school but the countdown has certainly begun and I’m nearly as excited for the change in routine as the kids are.  Oh how great to get a later start on the mornings, and to not have to wait until the kids are out the door in order to get a chance to take a shower!  (someone remind me of this feeling on one of those long summer afternoons when the kids are “bored” or constantly bickering!)

This past weekend the kids and I sat down to work on our Summer Bucket List – which has become one of our yearly traditions.  (you can see last year’s list HERE and I will post this year’s soon!)  As we were talking I noticed a theme emerging from their suggestions – fun time with friends.  I wondered for a second if my kids have been feeling…socially deprived…?  (and if so, do I lose Mom Points for that? 😉  ) but quickly realized it was just a manifestation of their fun-loving, outgoing sides which I would like to help them nurture.  Being a bit of an introvert myself, I admire that side of their personalities while at the same time I have to subvert my own desire for calm and quiet in order to give them the chance to explore that.  So we made a list of things they wanted to do with friends and party ideas and I agreed to let them host something on a regular basis.

Splash Bash Fun and Easy Summer party or end of the school year party Alaynas CreationsFirst up on their list – a party for the last day of school!  This is something we did a few times in our old neighorhood but didn’t follow through with last year and Kaitlyn, in particular, was very excited about hosting something.  She quickly decided on a water theme (after seeing an idea on Pinterest for SlipNSlide baseball a few days before) and in less than 30 minutes we not only had a plan and menu ideas, but had created and printed out the invitations too.

Summer Water Party Splash into Summer End of the School Year party invitation AlaynasCreations

I found the Splash clip art on the internet then simply added the wording over the top and printed everything onto cardstock (4 to a page).  The back side of the invitation holds all the details:  time, date, location, etc.

Splash Bash Summer Water Party Invitation Easy DIY invite for a fun and inexpensive summer party AlaynasCreations

We checked the weather forecast and so far it looks like we will have sunshine and decent temperatures – yay!  That means we can go ahead with our ideas for SlipNSlide kickball, water gun target shooting and Splash Ball lacrosse.  (actually we don’t know how to play lacrosse but we do have a couple of sticks and they can play catch)  Kaitlyn helped me pick up supplies and snacks last night so we’re all set to party.  Bring on the last day of school and bring on SUMMER!

I’ll be sure to post party details after the event – check back soon!  Or check out some of our other Last Day of School Traditions, End of the Year gifts for teachers and kids (Buckets of Fun idea or Teacher Gifts in a Cup ideas) or Summer Fun Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank.

Linking to:  Home Matters Party, Pretty Pintastic Party,

Week in the Life 2016 – Sunday’s Words and Photos


Sunday was the final day for my Week in the Life photo project – a full week of taking extra notice of all the routine things in life and documenting them (a fun project spearheaded by Ali Edwards.  More info on her blog).  It was a fun week and I snapped a lot of good photos I might not otherwise have taken, but it’s intense to put that much concentration into something every day all day so it’s been nice to take a step back and get back to my more natural photo taking practices (which still means plenty of photos).

I truly do want to finish up the entire project this year, which for me means pulling together the photos and the journaling here on the blog – getting it all down in black and white while the memories are still fresh – before putting it all together in an album.  I have done this photo project 3-4 times in the past and I do well with the photos and note taking during the week and pretty good putting most of it on the blog but I have yet to get an entire Week in the Life fully in an album yet.  This week is going to be the year I do that!  (Someone remind me of that a week from now when I am still procrastinating on ordering the photo prints!)  So to keep myself on track – here is the journaling and photos from my final day of Week In the Life – Sunday:


Started this rainy Sunday out slowly getting inspiration for the last day documenting #weekinthelife #documentyourdays (caption from Instagram Post)


Bambi was excited to go outside first thing until I opened the door and she realized it was raining.



9:00 AM sorting through the kids’ summer clothes before we go shopping. Tyler has a lot that still fit from last year, Kaitlyn needs an entire new wardrobe


10:15 AM  Kaitlyn and I are ready to head out the door for some shopping but there was no hurrying Tyler.  I guess I could have let him put off his weekend chores until later but I had already let him out of it on Saturday morning so this is Kaitlyn impatiently waiting for Tyler to finish vacuuming.



Today’s plan: shopping for summer clothes for the kiddos. Easiest thing to find – tank tops for Kaitlyn. Hardest thing: finding Kate shorts…and keeping the little guy from complaining. (caption from Instagram post)


First stop was Justice where we had lots of choices for Kaitlyn with Tshirts and tank tops but didn’t love any of the shorts.



11:30 AM  Old Navy resulted in a couple of pairs of shorts for Tyler, this Minecraft Tshirt, and flipflops for both kiddos.  Children’s Place yielded a pair of shorts for Tyler and I had to talk him out of a new tie and baseball cap.  Still on a quest for denim shorts for Kaitlyn, we struck out at Aeropostle before taking a break for lunch.


12:30PM lunch at Panda Express.  Choosing a restaurant always a hard thing when eating out with Tyler (not so much with Kaitlyn anymore – yay) so we over-use Panda Express (and Taco Bell).  Oh well – everyone ends up satisfied so it works.  PS – his time in the high chair only lasted for a couple of minutes before he switched to a regular chair.  Sometimes being a little silly is ok.


When we pulled into the driveway after shopping today Kaitlyn got out then immediately turned back to the car and grabbed my phone so she could get this shot of the robin. #weekinthelife may be teaching them more than how to pose for photos without complaining 😉


2:15 PM  Home with all our loot.  A stop at TJ Maxx yielded a couple of pairs of shorts for Kate from the Juniors section (not sure how I feel about her transitioning to adult sizes!  Right now it’s super hard to find things that fit her but it’s also another sign my little girl is growing up) and a trip to Wal-Mart gave us more cough medicine for Kaitlyn (thank goodness the cold never turned really horrible for her) and a gift for one of Tyler’s classmates for the party next weekend, and Kaitlyn and I treated ourselves to new pens.


5:00 PM  Rainy, cold and overcast all day meant it was not a day for the dinner over the fire that Tyler had requested but we went with the hot dogs anyway.  The marshmallows will have to wait for another day.


Final sunset for this project.  Rainy days make the best sunsets.


I thought it was nice to mirror the first photo from this morning.  This is the end table in the family room next to the chair where I usually hang out.  I managed to finish that book (one I’ve been reading all week) while drinking hot chocolate after the kids went to bed.  Good night.

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  26 with my phone and 41 with the DSLR
-5647 steps taken
-48 miles driven

If you’ve missed any of my earlier Week in the Life posts feel free to check them out or follow me on Instagram as I’ve been posting photos as I go along this week.

-2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Thursday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Friday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Saturday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day

Bucket Full of Summer Fun

Thanks for helping me have a great year Last Day of School Thank You Gift for Teacher AlaynasCreations

Hello Wednesday!  Has anyone checked their calendars lately?  And did you do a double-take (as I did) when you realized just how quickly the last day of school is approaching?!?  T-minus 15 (school) days and counting, according to my little guy on Monday, which translates to just over two weeks until school is out for the summer.  That’s a bit late for our typical school year and I know a lot of schools are finishing up even sooner than that.  So in the interest of being on the ball, ahead of the game, and all of those other clichés that help keep me from feeling stressed, I wanted to put together a fun little end of the year gift for the teachers – and do it now rather than later.

Bucket List Last Day of School Teacher Thank You Gift Idea AlaynasCreations

The first place I always turn for inspiration is my Pinterest Boards and it wasn’t long before I ran across this great printable Bucket List tag.  So cute – and half the work is already done for me!  So I printed it out and took a quick trip to the dollar store.

Last Day of School Bucket List Teacher Gift Idea AlaynasCreaions

Don’t you just love the dollar store?  I never leave there with just the items on my list, but I sure do have fun while I wander – and my kids or husband usually get some fun treat out of the deal.  For this project I simply let myself wander, repeating the thoughts “summer…bucket list…summer” as the kids and I wandered through the store.  In the end my collection included a fun pair of sunglasses, sunscreen, Sunny-D (catching the theme here, aren’t we?), a bag of gummy bears (Tyler’s pick for his teacher when I told him we needed a treat to add to the bucket), and some small buckets.
*the dollar store is my absolute favorite place to find inexpensive containers for gift baskets.


Bucket List Last Day of School Teacher Thank You Gift AlaynasCreations.jpg

It looks pretty good all put together doesn’t it?  Hopefully the teachers will like it and if not, they’ll still appreciate the sentiment.

Last Day of School Bucket of Fun for Summer gift idea for the kids AlaynasCreations

I had purchased the buckets in a set of three so I had one leftover after putting together the two teacher gifts.  I decided it would be great to use for a little Bucket of Fun for my kids on the last day of school.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted in the bucket so I took a look at what I’ve done over the past few years (I wrote a blog post about some of our traditions last year.  You can find it HERE)…then decided that wasn’t really helpful since my kids already had those items. 😛  So plan B was to just let things jump out at me and it worked great.  One day at the grocery store I ran across those Milk Magic flavoring straws – Cotton Candy flavored!  That’s something I knew my kids would love to try, so I picked them up.  Another day Tyler was with me at the store and spotted the Slushies on the shelf.  I told him we didn’t need them that day, then when he turned around I snuck them into the cart under the vegetables.  And this past Sunday the bubble wands caught my daughter’s eye while we were looking for a birthday gift for a girl in Tyler’s class.  12 years old and she still thinks bubble wands are fun – great!  So I let her grab the 5 pack, gave two to the kids to use that afternoon, put one in the birthday gift, and kept the other 2 for the bucket.  Perfect.

Last Day of School Summer Bucket Quick and inexpensive gift basket idea for the kids or teachers at the end of the school year AlaynasCreations

Bring on the last day of school because we are now ready for it!  Are you??  Maybe not, but just think of all those days we might be able to sleep in a bit instead of rushing out the door to school, and no homework and… 😉

For more Last Day of School (or teacher appreciation) gift ideas or End of School traditions with the kiddos feel free to check out:
End of the Year Teacher Gifts in a Cup (my most Pinned blog post on Pinterest for the past month!)
Super Powered Teacher Gift
Crazy Cool Teacher Gift (this one was for Valentine’s Day but I think a “stay cool” spin on this idea would be awesome)
-my Last Day of School Traditions over the past few years


Linking to:  R&R Wednesdays, Home Matters Linky Party,

Week in the Life 2016 – Saturday’s Words and Photos


I put aside the blogging the last two days of my Week in the Life photo project (and attempt to capture some of the everyday details we often overlook, a concept I ran across on Ali Edwards’ blog) and concentrated on just living life for a couple of days.  I think that’s the lesson I am constantly learning/making myself aware of – finding the balance between what I want to do, what I “should” do, and what my body, energy, motivation or emotions are telling me they want to deal with at any given time, when to push past it and when to step back.  I think once the intense energy and concentration of taking a lot of photos for an entire week was past I ended up wanting a little breathing room, a day or two to put my focus on other things.  So I took the time and let myself get back into a more normal mind-set and now I’m ready to put the journaling and photos together for the final two days of the project before I forget any of the smaller details.

Saturday’s Words and Photos:

IMG_9547“Are you taking a picture of my messy hair?”  Of course I was.

I was awake at my usual time (around 6), grabbed breakfast and read for a while.  Kaitlyn was up at 7:00 and said she slept great.  That must have been true because she easily and eagerly got dressed, fed Gma’s dogs, did her chores (dusting the basement this week) and took Bambi outside to play all before 8:00 AM.

IMG_9548AThis is how we found the kitchen table this morning.  Obviously Tyler had been wearing his cowboy hat while out with Grandpa the night before and had also picked the single tulip from the front berm (I had spotted it yesterday while taking out the garbage and do have a photo of its lonely self).  We have tulips in other parts of the yard, but not on that hill and I’m not sure how it got there in the first place.


Dishes.  Again.  Not many, thank goodness.


Kaitlyn wasn’t the only one with motivation.  I cleaned the bathroom then took a shower while Kaitlyn was doing her morning stuff.




She even practiced her piano!  (something I often have to remind her about)
This photo also demonstrates the state of her room.  She may have a lot of my own habits/leanings but her tolerance for “visual clutter” is all her.  She also has a tendency to just drop things thinking she will take care of them later (never does) or come back to use them in a while and doesn’t put them away.  Typical kid, I know.


8:00 AM woke up Tyler.  I had a hard time getting him moving and had to keep nudging him, plus we had to have a talk about complaining vs having a good day.  He really wasn’t on board with my plan to take him with us when I took Kaitlyn to swimming practice.
I took this photo to compare/contrast to Kaitlyn’s room.  Sure, Tyler’s room was completely clean but it usually has a lot less clutter than hers and always has.  The clothes that were taken off but not put in the basket, the book on the floor, the unmade bed.  Tyler has taken to reading for a while after bedtime and I’m ok with that as most mornings he doesn’t seem like he needed more sleep and I don’t have to nag him to get his reading time in.


8:40 AM #carselfie Off and running on this bright #saturday morning (caption from Instagram post)


This is one of my favorite views on the drive to Heber – as you come around that final bend at the top of the hill and the valley opens up before you.  Since I was on my 4th trip there this week I figured I may as well stop and get a photo this morning


9:25 AM we dropped Kate off at swim practice then took Tyler to the park. That kid never has trouble making friends and b within about 5 seconds of our arrival he had a new buddy and they played happily the whole time we were there. I just sat there reading my book and enjoying the weather thinking “good choice mom” as my debate this morning had been whether or not to bring Ty or leave him home (to spend a couple of hours oh his tablet I’m sure)
#weekinthelife  (caption from Instagram post)







10:30 AM #weekinthelife#groceryshopping
This is the face I got when I told him we would not be getting jello at the store. Forget about the fact that I had already agreed to hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner and Transformers fruit snacks (caption from Instagram)


It was after 11:00 when we picked up Kaitlyn so I had Tyler pick out something for lunch while we were at the grocery store.  Lunchables with nachos for him, Lunchables with turkey sandwich for her (not one she had tried before but she compliment Tyler on his selection for her), and sushi for me (this has become my standard when I want to grab a quick lunch from the grocery store.  I’ve very happy that a couple of my favorite grocery stores have a good selection made in-house).  Tyler and I ate our lunch while waiting for Kaitlyn in the parking lot of the pool and Kaitlyn ate hers on the drive home.  Kaitlyn was still in a good mood after having a good time at practice.


11:50 AM again taking advantage of the urge to just stop and take a photo we pulled over at the #jordanelleoverlook on the way home. I told the kids#pretendyouratourist and got this pose.#illtakeit


11:55 AM spur of the moment decision to go wander the boardwalk at #rockcliff and see how high the river is. The kids couldn’t remember being there before though I know we did some exploring just last summer.#ministaycation
We wandered around for 30-40 minutes until I started worrying about sunburn and remembered we had groceries in the car. The kids thought it was great so this day definitely goes in the #momwin category










On the way home we stopped at the Rec Center to sign the kids up for Pre-comp swim team then again at the Post Office where Kaitlyn ran inside to get the mail.  She likes to get the mail while Tyler prefers to let me do it.


1:30PM  The kids helped me put the groceries away then headed out to the back yard to play baseball with Bambi’s help.





The kids played outside, then on screens, then outside, and so on the rest of the afternoon and evening.  At the end of the day I realized Kaitlyn was looking a little pink but it was too late at that point.  Dad and I insisted she put on some aloe but though the sunburn was obvious it didn’t hurt her at all that night or the next day – got lucky with that one.




I would have to say this was the best day of the week – beautiful weather, happy kids, enough to keep us entertained but a slow enough pace to feel relaxed and easy.  This may have been the day I took the largest number of photos as well – so many things to document and enjoy.  I love Saturdays.

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  99 with my phone and 55 with the DSLR
-6782 steps taken
-53 miles driven

If you’ve missed any of my earlier Week in the Life posts feel free to check them out or follow me on Instagram as I’ve been posting photos as I go along this week.

-2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Thursday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Friday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day

Hello 2016

hELLO 2016 Snow and sun flair behind the trees AlaynasCreations

Hello 2016.

I didn’t intend to take a three week break from blogging – it just kind of happened and I suppose it was a natural break.  Once again we are in a transition phase, kind of closing up a chapter of our lives and starting in on a new one and it works out nicely that it coincides with the new year.  My husband will be leaving on a military deployment SOON so I will be shifting into “single parent” mode and all that goes along with it (as well as putting together some AWESOME care package ideas so stay tuned!).  Since the husband was my carpenter for the laundry drying racks we are also putting the Etsy shop into hibernation.  I’m not sure yet if that is temporary or permanent, but I do know that it is a relief to be able to put my concentration and energies more fully into everything else right now.  In November we did a massive build with the rest of our supplies and I am happy to report that as of last night the last lonely drying rack in our inventory is SOLD.

My husband was out of town for training most of December so when he got home a couple of days before Christmas we enthusiastically jumped into Family Time mode and have been having a blast.  If we had a Winter Bucket List we probably would have checked off most of it in the last few weeks.  We did all the Christmas festivities and parties, took the kids snowmobiling, had sledding parties, ice skating, tubing, enjoyed many cups of hot cocoa and learned the importance of wearing ski masks in subzero weather, saw the much-anticipated new Star Wars movie, have had more than our share of yummy meals out, shopping, date nights, and even ran away for a night for some extended one on one time with the husband. It’s been fun and wonderful and…exhausting.  We have another four day weekend coming up (geesh, already?!) and I have no idea what’s left on the list of family fun and entertainment ideas but I suppose we will figure something out.  Then I’m pretty sure I will willingly and happily jump into our “new normal” routine.

In among all of that I really have been putting a lot of thought into shifting gears and doing some of my typical end of the year introspection.  I realized I had hit the end of my 101 in 1001 List time frame (wow time flies!), and will be posting a new list soon.  And, of course, I have chosen my Word for 2016 and signed up for another round of Ali Edwards One Little Word workshop (the One Little Word concept is something I’ve been doing for quite a few years now.  For those of you not familiar with it, as opposed to setting goals or resolutions, it is simply selecting a word for the year that resonates with you and using that to focus and explore in your life) and have put a lot of thought into where I am heading this year.  I know 2016 is going to be a big one for personal endurance with Sam being deployed for at least the first half of the year and really wanting to get the approvals for the new house going (all by myself).  I foresee plenty of work, plenty of frustrations, and I want to be able to stay centered and calm – and happy and peaceful despite anything I may be dealing with.  The giant list of To Dos will get done (mostly) and the time will pass, but I want my efforts to be not on making it to some sort of finish line but on my state of mind.  To not spend my time wishing for something different.  To not be overwhelmed with the big picture but to know that I only have to take it one step at a time and I can handle that. I also know that I really want to focus on the people in my life.  To give them more of what they may be needing – love, kindness, attention, time.

The word I have chosen for this year is


I want to give love, give kindness, give joy, to actively decide that whatever I am doing with my time and energy at any particular moment is something I am giving freely, willingly, and happily.

I love that the word give can be used in so many ways – give it all you’ve got, give it a chance, give yourself a break – and that all of them are positive.  I also love that it can be applied to the physical as in actually giving gifts (and I have oh-so-many ideas for that already from Rand Acts of Kindess to big guestures) and to the less tangible things like time and acceptance.  It’s a big concept and I’m looking forward to exploring it this year.

What’s even more fun is that my 12 year old is really into the concept this year too.  She has chosen her own word and already made a magnet for the fridge as well as led a conversation with the rest of the family and insisted they all choose words.  It’s fun to see her take some initiative an to see her enthusiasm, no matter how much or how little time she spends exploring her word later on.

Do you have a word for this year?  A goal or list of goals?  I would love to hear more about it – please share!  And feel free to check out the Pinterest board where I will be saving all my quotes and ideas for Giving this year.  (Who doesn’t love Pinterest right?!)

And as always, have a Happy Wednesday! 😉

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