Thursday, September 20, 2012

Because frankly, I don't trust them with marshmallows.

I've mentioned our big trip up to the backwoods a few times now.  It was a much needed and highly anticipated vacation, one that bug was giddy over for weeks leading up to it...
good thing we didn't tell him about it months ago when it was planned or it would have been a LONG few months...
The trip itself was a 6 hour car ride away.  mr couldn't stay the whole week due to work and church obligations, so he and I drove our own cars up.  We divvied up the kids on the way there, but it left me alone with both of them for the way back.  

Did you catch that?  I feel I need to repeat.  6 hours.  Me.  Two kids.  CAR.  Ugh.  Fortunately, my mom took pity on me and rode with us much of the way there and all the way back.  Phew.

Have you ever taken a 6 hour road trip with small children?  A rode trip that ends in a private cabin on an island in the middle of a secluded lake that's not even on the map?  Hours from civilization?  No cable or satellite?  90 degree weather and no air conditioning and limited fans?  And here's the clincher... with 4 kids ranging from 5-2?  
While I knew there would be plenty of outdoor diversions - swimming, boating, taking walks, studying leaves, fishing, etc. - and a few trips into town - one to visit a nearby waterfall - and several things to do inside - board games, books - I was still worried.  Call me pessimistic, but I couldn't see the 4 cousins laughing and frolicking gaily while holding hands in perfect familial love and harmony.  Call me crazy.  Plus, PLUS.  What would we do when it rained, or if the bugs got too bad at night, or if the kids got heat exhaustion, or if we froze (it's Wisconsin, guys, anything could happen) and we were holed up inside?

I knew my sister was taking care of the car time with her road trip bags.  What we needed were some "just in case" items.  Things that could easily be done indoors and alone or just with each other.  Some way to save our sanity when the 12 of us were stuck inside together.

First up?  I present to you:

Why, yes.  They ARE just like those marshmallow shooters you've seen on pinterest that originated on Come Together Kids.

With a few adjustments you just might like.

 1.  Ok, so that green cup is just for show, as you can see the finished products are gray.  I basically wanted to be clear that this is NOT a disposable plastic cup.  You're going to use one of those very cheap NOT disposable plastic cups.  I tried it the other way.  I even tried it doubling the cups up as was suggested by a few people.  Didn't work.  I was going to write it off as a craft fail.  Then, I was in the dollar section at Target and noticed a four pack of these gray cups.  When I saw the glitter pom poms and the hilarious monster baggies I realized it was meant to be.
2.  Take your cups to your dad and beg him to cut the bottoms of with his fancy shmancy saw. 
2b. Better yet, use your own fancy shmancy saw and cut the bottoms off.  You know, if you have that kind of thing.
3.  You can see that the cut leaves a rather jagged edge.  Use coarse grade sandpaper and sand the edge down.  It doesn't have to be smooth, just get the really bad spots.

4. Take your balloon and tie it in a knot.
5. Use your scissors to cut the tip of the balloon off.

 6. Using both hands, stretch that hole you made suuuuuuper wide and pull it down over the hole you cut in the cup.
7. Place your pom pom in the cup.
8. Holding the cup in one hand, use your other hand to pull the balloon back and release!  Watch it launch!  
(I'll admit, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked when I tested it out.)

Now, you just need to separate your pom poms into colors and match them up with the balloons on your cups.

Take your sharpie and write the kids' names on the back of the zip-top bag.  Put the pom shooter in the bag and zip 'er up.  Look at those cute little monsters!  

 And let them play!

Would you like to know the best part (and also the reasoning behind) the color matching?  Each child get their very own color.  While they're playing, there's no confusion about whose pom pom is whose... when they clean up they can easily identify what's theirs... when they put them down and return later there's no squabbling about which one they should play with...

Ah.  A way to squelch the fighting - once and for all!  Just kidding.  If only it were that easy...

However, it does actually help.  Later I'll show you how I continued this concept of color coding per kid to help with other items.

 But for now, let's just have fun, shall we?  You can put in one pom pom, or a whole cupful!

You can take this as seriously as you want.  It's not all fun and games...

 And why did I make them pop out pom-poms instead of marshmallows?

Hahaha!  I'm laughing because you had to ask.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

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