Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Winn Dixie $25 Giftcard

I almost forgot! I have a gift card to give away to a reader! Yay for a reason to smile while you're shopping for August's groceries! Smile about groceries, help your local school, AND save money on gas! It's a winner folks!

-When you buy 5 participating Box Tops items at Winn Dixie save 
10 cents per gallon on gas AND get 20 Bonus Box Tops
-Find great savings on Box Tops products including Big G cereal, 
-Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, 
and many other great products
-Check out www.boxtops4education.com to find out more 
about the Box Tops for Education program and how you can help 
support your local school

So how can you win a $25 gift card to Winn Dixie? It's very simple.
And since I'm in a good mood, I'm gonna give you lots of ways to win. : )
Leave a separate comment for each, and I'll pick a winning comment this
very Saturday, August 4.
Mandatory Entry: Like Of Such is the Kingdom's page on Facebook 
and facebook this (or something similar)
Win a $25 gift card for Winn Dixie over at Of Such is the Kingdom!
And here are some extra entry opportunities:
1. Check out Winn Dixie's website and leave a comment about it.
2. Like Winn Dixie's FB page and leave a comment saying you have.
3. Check out Box Tops for Education's webpage and leave a comment about it.
4. Like Box Tops for Education on FB and comment saying you have.
5. Follow KingdomOlivia on Twitter and comment saying you have.
6. Follow Of Such is the Kingdom and comment saying you have.

See! Seven total ways to win. Have a happy day!

Disclosure:  The information and gift cards have been provided 
by Winn Dixie and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Crockpot Breakfasts

I have learned many things from pinterest. Some people are a bit down on it for the very reason that they love it too much, but I have always been fascinated with it and respectful of it in many ways. Not to say that I don't occasionally waste 2 hours perusing other people's ideas and pictures, BUT I know that is totally my mis-handling of this amazing internet tool.
I am using it to storehouse recipes, collect school ideas, and categorize school projects. I feel a bit more ready for this homeschooling challenge a little bit because of pinterest and the free organization it offers.
With that all said, I can say that pinterest has taught me a brand new idea that is making me breathe easier and sleep better at night about this breakfast-during-homeschooling-worry.
I have learned that you can cook breakfast with your crockpot.
Cool, right?
And possibly life-changing!
You can layer your ingredients right into your crockpot, turn it on, and go to sleep.
And when you wake up in the morning, your breakfast is ready.
There are tears of joy in my eyes.
Really, could anything be more magic than waking up to the smells of bacon and eggs that were cooked for you overnight by this tiny little machine that basically counts as a live-in maid?
(I'm going totally overboard with this, I know, but I definitely am excited.)
So, I've done a little research on pinterest and the www, and found some lists, and looked carefully at the recipes, and these are the ones that sound good to me. (Sometimes the lists are longer, but if you look closely, several of the recipes are identical.)

Crock Pot Sausage Casserole

  • 1 dozen beaten eggs
  • 14 slices of bread
  • 2 1/4 C milk (low-fat or skim is ok)
  • 2 1/2 C grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 lb. sausage, cooked and drained
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tsp. mustard, optional
  • Grease the sides of the crock with butter. If desired, spread mustard on one side of the bread and cut bread into large squares. Make layers in the crockpot of bread, followed by sausage, followed by cheese, ending with a cheese layer. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Pour over crockpot mixture, cover and turn on low. Cook for 8-12 hours. 
1 whole loaf of bread 
--1 dozen eggs
--2 t vanilla
--4 cups of milk
--1/4 t salt
--2 t cinnamon
--1/4 cup brown sugar
--1/4 cup walnuts, or other desired nuts (optional)

Grease the inside of your crockpot very well with butter, shortening, or cooking spray. Slice your bread into large slices and place the bread into the crockpot. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla together. Pour on top of the bread. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. This is done when the bread has soaked up all of the liquid and the egg has cooked.

  • 1/4 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 1/4 cup long grain brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp. barley
  • 2 Tbsp. cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Spray the inside of 1-1/2 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all the grains, the dried fruit and cinnamon in slow cooker and mix well. Stir in water and vanilla. Cover slow cooker and cook for 5 to 7 hours on LOW. Stir the cereal before serving. You can add more water or light cream to make the cereal creamier if you'd like. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve. Serves 4. If you have a newer crockpot, check for doneness at 4 hours.
Note: My crockpot doubles as an oven, so I actually have degree settings on mine. I'm hoping to make the above recipe with slightly lower than the normal "low" crock pot setting. (Somewhere in between slow cook and keep warm on my machine.) Hopefully this will cook my grains without making them rubbery.
Note #2: Comments on the above recipe included the fact that you really can use ANY combination of grains that = 1 cup. and ANY amount kinds of dried fruit that = about 1 cup as well.

Crock pot cobbler

  • 2 cups peeled, sliced tart apples
  • 2 cups granola cereal
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
Spray inside of 3-4 quart crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. Combine apples, cereal and cinnamon in crockpot and mix well. Stir together honey and butter and drizzle over apple mixture. Mix gently. Cover crockpot and cook on LOW 5-7 hours OR until apples are tender. Serve this crockpot cobbler with fruit yogurt, if desired. 4 servings
Another Note: Again with the lower than low thing. I guess if you want to get up in the middle of the night and turn it on, you could, or this could be a dessert during the day.

Crockpot Egg Casserole

  • 32 oz. bag frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 1 lb. cooked ham, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. In small skillet, cook onion and green pepper in olive oil until crisp tender. Let cool about 10 minutes. Place one third of the frozen hash brown potatoes in the slow cooker. Add one third of the ham, onion, green pepper and cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the cheese.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk and seasonings until well mixed. Pour over the ingredients in the slow cooker, cover and turn on low. Cook for 8-10 hours on low, until casserole is set and eggs are thoroughly cooked. Check after 6-7 hours.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pray for Kervens to come home!

Remember this cutie?
(More about his story and a plea to pray for him to come home
This very morning I got a text from his momma saying that his paperwork has passed through the President of Haiti's office!
Hooray! That means:
timeframe is more identifiable as months instead of years
Our God is Sovereign, Holy and Amazing!
He listens to YOUR prayers. Yep yours.
Thank you for praying.
And just because this step has been passed,
don't stop praying.
We won't stop praying until every child in that orphanage is in their forever family, ok?

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:14-18

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Update

Sunshine and Rain--at the same time!

muddy feet--the rest of the boy was just as muddy

walk in the city

wading in the creek
I am thankful that our summer has been very full of great family time. We've been able to play games, watch fun shows (spiderman cartoons and phineas and ferb mostly), take walks, go on family dates, go swimming, learn some new things together, play lots of legos, cook together, play in the rain and lots more. I think waiting for our fourth (and fifth and sixth?!) child has made me treasure each moment with the oldest, the boy, and the youngest even more. 
Happy Summer!
--hey, de-lurk today, will ya'? if you're a regular visitor, leave me a comment! I'd love to hear from you! And first time visitors, feel free to chat it up as well. : )

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Breakfast (!!)

I love breakfast. It's true. If you look back at my food posts you're going to see a lot of breakfast.
I also have a pinterest board just for breakfast now--Check out "I love breakfast."
Part of the reason I post so much about it is that it's a bit hard to be creative for breakfast--something about hungry kiddos at 7:30 just makes me want to stay on the couch, you know?
I'm also looking forward to fall when we'll start our homeschool schedule. Right now the plan is to do our family history curriculum from 8-9am so that the hubby can participate. That means breakfast needs to be done and on the table no later than 7:35. This is a bit earlier than our usual 8 or 8:15...so I'm thinking I'm going to need to turn more than Tuesday over to the oldest for breakfast. : )
Another plan to make things easier and less stressful is to stock on breakfast baked goods. And by "stock up" I mean have a baking day when I make a dozen recipes of different muffins and put them in the freezer. When I stumble out of bed, I think I can probably handle opening the freezer.
Here's a list of healthy baked goods to make our mornings happy:
Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Carrot Cake Muffins
Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Zucchini Blueberry Bread
(made these as muffins the other day and they were great! It's exciting to have both zucchini and blueberries in your breakfast!--sorry no pics)
Banana Nut Muffins
Chocolate Flax Seed Muffins
Breakfast in a Muffin (savory muffins for breakfast--I'll use greek yogurt instead of the cream cheese)
Breakfast Bread (looks EASY and good for toast)
Pumpkin Muffins
Any Fruit or Veggie Muffin
Banana Muffins
Morning Glory Muffins (with carrots and cranberries--yum)
Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins 

Breakfast Grain Muffins
Raspberry Muffins
Coffee Cake Muffins
Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins
Heavenly Vanilla Muffins
Lemon Yogurt Muffins
Spoon Muffins (with yeast)
I think with an arsenal of these in my freezer I could meet the morning with courage and charm!
Happy Breakfasting!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Bring Him Home

"Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’
Bring My sons from afar,
And My daughters from the ends of the earth—
Everyone who is called by My name,
Whom I have created for My glory;
I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”
Isaiah 43:5-7

I have a request to make of you. It's not difficult, and if the stats on this blog are anywhere near correct then well over 100 of you will see this. 
Will you pray?
I hardly know how to type this because my heart is bursting!
Please pray that Kervens will be able to come home.
I only know this little one through pictures and the stories of his momma, but who could help loving him? He is caught up in a struggle that I believe is akin to that time that Daniel prayed and the angel couldn't answer right away because he was held up by battle. This is THAT kind of issue. And you can fight!
You can pray.
Kervens is at this moment in an orphanage in Haiti. A place where Satan has in some ways seemingly won. Children are offered as human sacrifice. Apathy and poverty and unfairness are the norm. 
Kervens' parents live here in my little community. They go and visit him whenever they can, and when they step off the plane, Kervens reaches for them and cries, "Mommy!" and "Daddy!" When they leave Haiti, everyone is in tears and his sweet Momma has an interpreter explain again to this little three-year old why Momma and Daddy have to go and that he will be coming with them some day.
The paperwork for Kervens' adoption is done. The papers sit on the President of Haiti's desk waiting for his signature. A signature that stands between a Momma and her baby. A signature that stands between Kervens and a home. These papers have been there, oh, 6 months? a year? I'm not sure how long, but I know this process has been around two years already. 
And not only that, but many of Kervens' friends in his orphanage are spoken for as well. More than half of those children could go to forever homes right now with a signature or a simple next step in the paperwork. Please pray that these families will be united!
The orphanage where Kervens lives is a very good orphanage by Haiti's standards. It is a very good orphanage by Godly standards as well. The children sleep 14 and more to a room on little pallets, but they have nannies who love them and love the Lord as well. They live behind bars and guards, but they have meals and lessons. They cannot go outside the orphanage walls very much because the parks are filled with tents and crime is so rampant, but they know they are loved by a Heavenly Father. 
One of the reasons that is important that these children go to be with their forever families is because there are more children being turned away at the orphanage because there is no room (and food and care) for them. These decisions are prayerful ones that the director makes cautiously, knowing that children he turns away could be taken and used for child sacrifice. There is no justice for these children.
I'm rambling, can you tell? This issue is just too much for me!
I am tempted to feel helpless, to feel overwhelmed by this evil and brokenness. 
But we are not helpless. God has given us his armor and taught us how to fight.
And this is it: we bow and we pray and we don't stop until the fight is won!
So please pray! Facebook this, tweet it, email it. Encourage others to pray! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pasta Salad for a Crowd

rice salad, green salad, and mini broccoli cheese muffin
If there is one thing I make incessantly during the summer, it's salad. Green salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, shrimp saladpea salad-- you name it, we eat it as a salad pretty much.

My mom doesn't always enjoy cooking, but she gave me some valuable training when I was growing up about making summer salads. When I was beginning to cook on my own, she told me, "Add mayo, pickles, and boiled eggs (and maybe a little mustard) to just about anything to make a great summer salad." And she's right. Think about it. Add those things to potatoes, you get potato salad. Add them to tuna or chicken or ham and you get the corresponding salad. Come to think of it, just serve mayo, pickles, and boiled eggs and you can have egg salad or deviled eggs; take your pick. And, of course, add them to your favorite pasta, and you have a great pasta salad.
But as I've told you before, I pretty much have to tweak any recipe, even if it isn't written down.
So here's my suggestion for "Pasta Salad For a Crowd"
32 oz. pasta (bow tie, shell, or elbow are my favorites)
8 boiled eggs
2 jars diced pickles (or the equivalent, if you're chopping your own)
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped and rinsed
3 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1/2-1 1/2 cups (+/-) light mayo and or dressing/olive oil
2 T Italian seasoning
1 t garlic
(and whatever else you feel like adding at the time)
You can also swap out the pickles for green olives (my favorite) or use broccoli instead of the pickles and peppers.
All in all, it's really hard to mess this salad up and it makes A LOT!
(first posted last July)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Waiting in Faith

This pretty much sums up what I'm feeling today. 
He isn't silent in this adoption thing, and for that I'm so thankful. 
He's taught me two things this week:
1. This is what faith is!! If what I desired, what I truly feel that He has commanded me to desire, came immediately, I wouldn't need faith. My faith is strengthened in this waiting. Because the doubts do come--it is very tempting to start thinking, "Is this really what we're supposed to be doing?" when nothing is happening. 
2. If He were turned away from us (another doubt I'm tempted to feel) than life wouldn't be just missing something--it would be terrible. My reading was at the beginning of Ezekiel today, and basically I got the message: Here's what happens when the I AM is mad--there's no food, no clothes, no home, no joy at all. And in this horrible message that Ezekiel was told to give the doomed Israelites, I actually hear GOOD NEWS: He is with me. {Please don't read that there is necessarily a direct correlation between bad things happening and God's wrath! It's more about the fact that God's presence brings peace and joy.} 
"Never think that God’s delays are God’s denials.
Hold on; hold fast; hold out.  Patience is genius."
Comte de Buffon

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ikea's Golden

 When we left my parents house after Independence Day celebrations, we headed to Ikea to buy some inexpensive furniture for our homeschool room (more on that later--it's awesome!) My dad couldn't help but give the kiddos some money for their shopping trip. I wasn't sure what they were going to find at Ikea--the last time I went with just the hubby on a date and hadn't really been paying attention to the kids' stuff--but when we got to the relatively small toy department area in Ikea, the kids picked up and tried out every toy and all three of them settled on the same exact toy--a stuffed Golden. Near the dog were some doggy clothes (not pictured here), so we got each of their dogs a different shirt/jacket/cape so they'd be able to tell them apart. Since then, these dogs have become the center of a lot of play. When I downloaded pics from my phone the other day, I found (surprise!) these:

This is one very expressive dog, don't you think?
Evidently the clothes on the stuffed animal was a very inspiring idea for our three. They dug through the doll clothes and every animal got a clothes (even the small dragon on the right there, see?)
Happy playing!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Fun on the Cheap

Ten Inexpensive Ways to Have a Grand Ol' Time This Summer
1. Slow down. This is really just me preaching to myself. I need to slow down! Just because my kids are playing nicely doesn't mean I have to rush around getting ten household chores done! What if I just sat and watched or played with them? What a novel idea! And what fun too!
2. Start your own camp. My oldest is headed to a camp at a nature center next week (also a great way to have fun in the summer!) and since there was no option for the boy for that camp, we're making up our own. We've invited all his friends to tag along with us as we visit a different (free or nearly free) attraction each morning after we drop off the oldest for her camp. We're going to the park fountain, a cool playground, the zoo (on dollar day), the wading creeks outside our aquarium, and then hiking on the last day. If the busyness doesn't kill me, we'll all have a great time!
3. Have a block party. We're thinking that a few days this summer we will set up all our toys in our yard and driveway and just telephone all our neighbors and see if they want to come play. We'll set up our bounce house and sprinkler and get out all our riding toys and just hang out.
4. Set up a lemonade stand. We've already done this once, and it was quite entertaining! I helped the kids make lemonade and bring it out to the end of our driveway with lots of ice and cups. At first I was afraid we would just spend a lot of time setting it up and then they would get bored with it, but they stuck with it, and it about 2 hours, they had made $6. They had to share evenly with the neighbor kids (their "employees") and pay for the lemonade, but that hard-earned $1 a piece was worth every minute!
5. Hang out by the pool. We don't have one, but several of our friends do, and I'm bound and determined to leave plenty of time just to chill by their pools a few days this summer. The kids will re-learn to swim, we'll get to relax, and we'll get to hang out with our friends! There is also a pool at a local Christian college that is open to the neighborhood that I would love to check out.
6. Join the reading programs at your local library or bookstore. Our library has a great program where if the kids read (or are read) ten books, they get an invitation to a carnival at the end of the summer with plenty of activities and freebies to enjoy. I'll bet your local library has something like this too!Barnes and Noble and Borders Books also have reading programs where you can earn a free book for reading a set amount of books and filling in a reading log.
7. Have a themed family fun night. We had several a while ago--a fish family fun night and aVeggie Tales family fun night. I'm thinking we might have a boy themed one (A Lightning McQueen Family Fun Night) and a girl themed one (A Tinker Bell Family Fun Night) complete with movie, creative dinner, and activity.
8. Take a family camping trip. We've been sort of planning to do this for years, but I'd love to make this the summer we finally go for it. There is a camp ground a short drive away from our city where we could camp right on a lake with a little beach. The spots are very cheap to rent, and though I'm sure none of us would get much sleep, tons of memories would be made!
9. Have a reading day. My kids love to read and be read to, so this would be right up their alley! I'm picturing lots of popcorn and maybe making a tent, and just reading and reading and reading--our own little reading holiday.
10. Visit a home-bound neighbor. We have our sweet Ms. Charlene next door. She's either at home or being taken to the doctor and we try to visit regularly. She adores the children; she's always trying to give them something with loads of sugar; and we've all kind of fallen in love with making her happy!
Have a great summer!
(first posted June 2011)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ditto the June Food Thing

Do you remember my June Food post? Pasta salads, grilled meat, kabobs, easy crock pot meals, lots of vegetables and fruit? Well, ditto that for July. And Happy Independence Day, by the way. I didn't post a big celebratory flag like I usually do because I was too busy actually celebrating! The hubby took the week off (sigh!) and we went to my parents to have barbecue chicken with my dad's family and the night of the fourth we even had a real live date with movie, dinner and fireworks and everything. It was a wonderful week. Oh, and on the way home we went to Ikea--I'll save that for it's own post, but it was a fun trip. : )
So back to the food thing. More of the same. We have a lot of kid's meal type lunches, including just throwing a bunch of snacky foods onto a plate (or into a box) and calling it lunch. We eat A LOT of tortillas and cheese--grilled mostly.
And I didn't actually make this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad (I never did get lemons last month, for some reason), so that is going to be tonight's dinner. I don't have asparagus, so I'll probably throw in green beans instead. Our fresh basil from our garden makes everything more delicious, so I'm excited about that!
I have everything to have this Southwest Pasta Salad again as well, so that will be coming up sometime soon.
But I do have a few new tricks up my sleeve.
First one is an addition to the kid's meal list. Guess what? My kids love black beans! They will eat them right out of the can, just warmed up with a little cheese. They devoured some the other night when they needed a second dinner (they're growing, I guess). Yay for another meal idea that's mostly healthy and yummy to them.
Here are a few new pinterest finds:

Slim Potato Casserole is what we'll be having with our grilled meat one night. It looks great! The recipe calls for frozen hash browns, but I think I'll start with potatoes, chop them, boil them slightly and then fry them in a tiny bit of olive oil. Then I'll follow the recipe, which has no sour cream and no butter, by the way!
Oh, and I'm very much looking forward to this Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice dish. It looks so yummy! I'm going to try to pass this off as a meatless meal, but I may have to serve the hubby some leftover meat of some sort. Since zucchini was 3 for $.88 at Aldi, this fits perfectly into what I've already bought. I know, I know, we should have zucchini growing in our garden already, but because of the black widows (didn't I tell you about those?) we didn't get our garden started until very late. We'll have some in a week or two.
Now that I'm thoroughly starving, I'll throw in my last gem. These Zucchini and Summer Squash Chips look amazing. I can't wait to try them. In fact, I think those will be on the menu for today. They'll go well with cheese quesadillas, don't you think? Think I could get away with that meal for breakfast? : ) Just kidding. Breakfast will probably be greek yogurt and fruit.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Activities

Summer Fun--Ten ideas with old faves like sitting by the pool and maybe things you haven't considered "fun activities" like visiting a homebound neighbor.
More Summer Fun--Pics of us splash padding and blueberry picking the summer away.
Fish Family Fun Night--Activities and Food centered around fish make a regular stay at home evening a memory!
Veggie Tales Family Fun Night--Yes, we had lots of veggies! That and a big bad apple. : )
Learning Stations--Why not set up several different games and call it stations? Have a timer going so that kiddos have to switch every so often.
Wit's End Activities--Play with beans, draw on the table and more ideas!
Window Chalk--Why not draw on the window. This chalk makes it (relatively) easy to clean up.
Make Crayons--Only have crayon pieces that are not much fun to color with? How 'bout making some new crayons?
Play with Ice Cream-- Word matching with ice cream helps new readers and would pair really well with the following idea for a themed family night. (Ice cream for dinner, anyone?)
Bagged Ice Cream--This is a list of 10 summer recipes including smoothies and make it yourself in a bag ice cream.
Take a Hike--My kids go to school about 2 miles away. This post is about how I ran to pick them up (literally).
Start a Picture Tradition--Our family's? The hubby and I kiss while the kids play at our feet. See them all here!
(first posted in June 2011)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade

Use a lemonade recipe (this one looks amazing!) and add 6 frozen strawberries pureed in a blender/food processor. Not only does your lemonade taste better, it turns a beautiful shade of pink. 
If you're not in to the strawberry pulp (it does add another element to your pink lemonade), just add the frozen strawberries to your lemonade to give a pretty contrast and color to your pitcher. 
And, by the way, does it date me that I can't get the song "Strawberry Wine" to stop playing in my head while I type this?...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Water Play!

When it's hot, it's a no brainer that you're going to want to have water involved with your play outside.
Water + sun + kids = happiness
It's true. (Oh and don't forget the sunscreen!)
So after an arduous search far and wide (aka an hour on the internet), I bring to you a looong list of great ideas for water play.
#1 Make grass soup. Only have a small bucket and a little bit of water? The clear answer is muddy water! Let the kids play and enjoy finding bits of grasses and weeds that smell or have different textures to add to their water. And of course dirt! Be sure to give them several kinds of spoons (there are very cheap plastic sets at Wal-Mart that might be good to keep outside) and watch as their imaginations take over.
 #2, 3, 4, and 5 Childhood 101 suggests using bubbles in the water, teaching measurement, punching holes in a plastic bottle (genius!)--and this bottle could even be taped to your hose---and adding indoor toys to outdoor water.
#6 Hooray for aluminum foil! Camo and Bows had the idea to create a tin foil river through the front yard to float bath toys down. The stream is easiest when you start the water running on the flat foil and then create your river around that. The children can even change the flow of the river just by adjusting the foil.
#7 We made these amazingly easy sponge bombs (my name; I don't really know if they have a name yet or not) yesterday. They are great! They take the place of water balloons and take about two sponges each to make. The Dollar Store has packs of 10 colorful sponges that work great for this! I bought three packs, cut all the sponges into three strips, grouped 6 strips together and tied them tightly with a twisty tie (tucking the ends in close to the center of the sponge bomb). That's all it takes! In about 10 minutes, I had 15 of these bombs made for the kiddos to dip into water and throw at each other. They played with them for an hour. And the best part? They can be reused. Yay!
#8, 9, and 10 Creative with Kids suggests using buckets of water, paintbrushes, paint sponges and sidewalk chalk for all sorts of fun play. Dip the chalk and then draw on the sidewalk, draw on the sidewalk and then paint over that with water, chalk up toys and then "clean" them with your paintbrushes and water. Excellent ideas!
#11 I will try this one soon. I've seen these all over, but this one comes from the Krazy Coupon Lady. Pour water into some kind of container, add water-proof toys and freeze. Then let those kiddos go after the block of ice with spoons and small hammers, etc.
#12 I really love this idea and can't wait to try it as well. Playing By the Book created this amazing water wall by recycling bottles, tubes and tubs. The kids can experiment with moving around the tubes and bottles to let the water run different routes. Water can be recycled by letting it run into bigger buckets at the bottom and then pouring it in again at the top. I think my big kids would really get into making this and I can see it being an ongoing project throughout the summer.
#13 I have never heard of water beads, but just looking at Play at Home Mom's pictures makes me want to put my hands down into them and squish them with my feet. I think my kids would love this!
 #14 And what do you do when you don't want to pay the bill for all that water? Go use someone else's water, of course! We have a few great splash pad/water steps that we love in town that always great for a good dowsing.
#15 Last, but not least, here's another idea that is totally do-able. Go Kid Yourself suggests that you take a large piece of plastic sheeting (LARGE), fold it over, duct tape the edges to seal them, and fill the huge "bag" up with water. Kids can walk, bounce, lay and roll around on this huge, cool water bag. This would be especially great for the very young children.
 Go get wet and have fun!