Forza Motorsport 5 and M&M’s this Christmas.
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Some people can be pretty hard to buy for, for the holidays. Teens for instance, or maybe a husband? I’ve got one, my hubby. He’s not a big gamer, but he does like car racing games and the new Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One is the perfect gift to put under the tree. He’s also not big on candy, but he loves the Pretzel M&M’s! Their not too sweet and have the perfect crunch that he loves. Perfect for a stocking stuffer!
I stopped at our local Walmart to purchase both items since they are offering a special Buy Snap Redeem Promotion. Buy both the Forza 5 game and participating M&M’s in the same transaction, snap a photo of the qualifying items on your receipt using your phone, and text it to 811811. You’ll get a text back with a reward code for a $10 eGift to Walmart!
The newly released Forza Motorsport game is exclusively for the brand new Xbox One System. With over 200 cars to choose from and continuing “add on” packs. you’ll never get bored racing the same cars over and over. It has “Unprecedented Visual Realism” with all new graphics and” hundreds of cars perfectly recreated”.
My whole family loves the Pretzel M&M’s, so I bought the BIG bag!
Since I got such a huge bag of M&M’s, I needed to somehow divide it up AND fit them into everyone’s stockings without them just rolling around loose in there. All I did was fill some small cellophane bags and top with a cute ribbon. The perfect stocking stuffer!
M&Ms is also hosting an M&M’s Pixel Art Sweepstakes through Instagram. Join me and tons of other Instagram fans to create your own pixel art, for a chance to win an XBOX One game system, the Forza 5 Motorsport Game, and a 14oz bag of M&Ms candies!
Simply create your own Pixel Art using M&Ms candies, snap a photo with your smartphone, and upload it to Instagram, using the hashtags #FueledbyMM and #Contest to enter. The contest is open until December 18th!
I can’t wait for Christmas now that I have the perfect gift under the tree for my hubby and the tastiest stocking stuffer for all our stockings!
Love to all and Merry Christmas! ~Amy
I have been married for 23 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep me young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening, yoga, walking and saving money! I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.
Kids Love a Good Scavenger Hunt!
I decided to repurpose this post again this year. I had forgotten it myself, until I was going through some old posts. The kids had SO much fun doing this last year. It is something I am for SURE going to have them do again this year. Doesn’t cost a thing, keeps them busy for awhile and they get exercise. What could be better?
Do you remember going on scavenger hunts as a kids while at a friend’s party or with a church group? I do and I loved them! The triplets were a little on the bored side (can you believe that? Summer and nothing to do? lol) and I wanted to encourage them to be outside. I do not allow TV, computers or video games during the day, unless it’s raining. I want them to get outside and play, explore and use their imaginations.
I decided the other day to send them on a scavenger hunt. Our town is on the small side, so I felt comfortable with it. I wrote up a list of things that I knew they could find and a few they’d have to search out. I sent them with our home cell phone (nope… they do not have their own yet…. the only ones their age according to them!).
I sent them with a list of things to hunt out and they had to take pictures of them with the phone. No knocking on doors and bringing back an entire bag of stuff (like we used to do).
Here is the list I sent them with:
They had a blast! They took their friend with them and were gone close to 2 hours. I did talk to them during that time, so I knew everything was going well. The only thing they couldn’t find was a garage sale.
I also sent along $5 and told them they could stop at the gas station and get a snack that they all could split, but that they had to have their list completed before they stopped for their snack.
There is now talk of doing another one and competing against another team. One of the mother’s saw I had sent them on a scavenger hunt because I posted it on my Facebook page that day and she said her kids would love to do it with them!
I think I’ve started a new tradition!
Need something new to do with the kids this summer? Check out the Columbus Commons!
by Amy Trauntvein
Summer is here and the kids are out of school. The pool is fun and so is the park, but can’t think of anything NEW to do with the kids this summer that won’t cost a fortune? Check out the Columbus Commons! I have to admit, I didn’t even know this place existed before last weekend, but I’m totally happy that I know all about it now, for some fun in the sun with my kiddos! Our family received an invitation to come check out the Columbus Commons and discover everything they have to offer this summer and beyond. As you can see, my youngest loved the Carousel.
And the Reading Room…
And the Art Box…
My older kids and hubby liked the Ping Pong table and Corn Hole games…
And they ALL had a great time with the huge building blocks at the Imagination Playground!
And the best thing about all these activities? Most of them are FREE! (Carousel Rides are $1) The Columbus Commons is open every day (hours vary) with all these family friendly, fun things for you and your kids of any age. Check out the details of their Free Open Play Activities.
If you’re interested in even more fun stuff at the Columbus Commons, here is their full (printable) 2013 Family Friendly Programming Schedule which includes activities such as Commons for Kids every Friday from 10-2, Movies at the Commons in June and July, Mayor Coleman’s Neighborhood Pride Block Party in August, and Family Fun Day also in August to name just a few. And don’t forget, many of these are FREE! Free fun for the whole family? You can beat that!
The Columbus Commons is located in downtown Columbus right across the street from the convenient and affordable (only $2!) Columbus Commons Parking Garage located at 55 E Rich Street or 191 S Third Street.
I hope you’ll check out what the Columbus Commons has to offer for your family and maybe I’ll see you there! I know I will be heading to the Commons with my kids many times this summer and beyond!
Love To All! ~Amy
I have been married for 23 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep me young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening, yoga, walking and saving money! I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.
Pigeon Roost Farm Is The Bomb!
We discovered Pigeon Roost Pumpkin Farm in Hebron, Ohio last year and loved it. I shared the post from last year, just a couple weeks ago. I wanted to give you all another blast from this year.
One of the things I love about Pigeon Roost is that the prices are really reasonable. There is not cost to part, no cost to get into and shop the upper area, get great pictures and enjoy the atmosphere. If you want to go into the lower part of the farm and do all the activities, it’s only $5 per person. Considering another local pumpkin farm charges $8 per person for just the corn maze, I think this is quite a deal.
I’m going to share the pictures with you…. they pretty much tell the story!
This is the kids favorite activity. They call it the hamster wheels.
Dave decided he would try it out too…. Elise won. LOL
This was the rubber ducky race.
Pigeon Roost Farm is in Hebron, Ohio. This is not a sponsored post, I just want my readers to know about this awesome place here in Ohio.
Roar and Explore in Columbus, Ohio
I first posted this Roar and Explore on my Explore Ohio with Sandy blog last July. But my family really enjoyed one of our own Columbus, Ohio adventures – Roar and Explore! I did look and it appears that you can purchase the Roar and Explore package again this year.
My family had an awesome vacation in Ohio and just outside of Ohio this year. We started off with the canopy tour, headed down to KY to tour Mammoth Caves and then came back for a three day Columbus Adventure Package called Roar and Explore that you can find here
Here is a Video Recap of Our Three Day Adventure
Day One The Zoo
We planned our three days according to the weather forecast. The first day was the nicest one. Clear skies and cool. It was in the low 70′s, so perfect for the zoo, but a little cold for the water park. The animals were out…. perfect. We walked in and realized it had been awhile since we had visited the zoo. The entire entrance had been redone. It was really nice!
We went to an animal show that was just about to begin and it was really cute. Started off without any people, just different strange animals running across the stage and performing different tricks (like knowing which doors to go in that would open and let another animal out.
It was really fun day for all of us.. we were all exhausted by the end of it and ready to head back to the nice comfy hotel to rest (or go to the pool as the triplets did)
Day two – COSI
It was a bit stormy and rainy so we went to COSI (Center of Science and Industry). They had a special dinosaur exhibit that we were able to go into. This was an extra cost to get into this exhibit. It was nice and the kids had fun. To be honest I don’t know if I would have been excited if I would have paid much more to be able to see it. It wasn’t the kids favorite part of COSI.
They loved the 3-D movie (extra cost) but I think their favorite part and I know my favorite part was the outside exhibit of the construction equipment. They actually got to work some of them (with assistance of course). That was cool.
Day three – Zoombezi Bay
Ended up being a wash for Zoombezi Bay. It was storming and we weren’t able to go. The good thing is that the tickets are good until Sept when it closes for the year.
Drury Inn & Suites
We had a blast at the Drury Inn & Suites hotel. We had two nights there and I can’t count how many times the kids went to the pool. The room was really nice, there was a work out facility that had glass walls right next to the indoor/outdoor pool. Dave used it and was very pleased. We had a very nice warm continental breakfast (no charge for any guest) and the staff was lovely. I’d have no problems recommending it to anyone. The only thought I had was that I wish it were closer to the Zoo and Zoombezi Bay. The one we stayed at was in Grove City.
Our package was provided by ExperienceColumbus.com for our family of five. All the pictures and videos (except the Zoombezi Bay picture) were mine and my opinion was not swayed by the complimentary package. Thank you Experience Columbus, we had a wonderful time. No pictures or videos are to be used without my permission.
This post was first posted July 23, 2011 on Explore Ohio with Sandy.com
Dave and the kids go Fishing
Drew fishing on his own a little further away from us. (smart! LOL)
I just liked this picture of Elise
The bait. The kids found bag worms and centipedes along with regular worms (that no one could find in the can) while at the farm.
Dave and Zach whistling the Andy Giffith Song on their way back.
No fish…but lots of fun. Something as simple as fishing can bring a family together. Of course with hooks in trees and stuck on things in the water, I am not saying there is any lack of frustration teaching kids to fish. lol Dave is really awesome like that. He really should have been a teacher, he wants his kids to learn everything he knows – and he is patient enough to teach them (not like me!). They spent one afternoon just learning to tie knots at the farm, the weather didn’t permit fishing that day – so they just worked on knots.
This day that we went fishing I don’t think anyone even caught any fish, I mean really…. I would have had that trophy “it was THIS big” picture in there if they had! lol But as you can see from this last picture, Zach still had a great time. I absolutely loved that they were walking and whistling the tune from The Andy Griffith show. It was totally spontaneous and so fun… Zach had a hard time whistling because he kept smiling. These are the little kinds of things that kids will remember about their Dad. It doesn’t take fancy cars and lots of money to buy your kids things. Just spending time with them – that is what they crave the most.
Kids Are So Proud When They Make Cards Themselves
Majority of the time we have the kids make their own cards. It is cost effective ..yes, but more than that, they get such a sense of pride when they make their own cards.
Look at Alex’s face as John (his step brother) reads his card. I think the triplets were about 6 years old here.
He was so excited for John to read his joke.
Here is Zach while John is reading his.
I absolutely LOVE this picture of John and Zach hugging. Look at Zach’s face. Then look at John’s heartfelt face. There is just so much love and a feeling of pride for Zachy there.
Here are some cards they made for Dave. The kids were 8 years old.
This is a terrible picture of Dave since I got him with his eyes half shut… but look at Elise’s face. She is so excited he is comparing himself to the picture she drew of him.
Kids have so much creativity in them. I think we need to encourage that anyway we can. Why go out and pay $2-5 per card at the store? Let the kids grab some of their construction paper, crayons or markers and go to being their creative selves. There are pennies in the supplies and you don’t have so spend hours trying to find “Just the right card” for the different occasions.
They are going to get much more satisfaction out of making a card.
Dave and I would both rather have a home made card from the kids. You never know what they are going to come up with and they certainly are something that are going to be more cherished than if they sign their name to a card that Hallmark wrote. They are just so excited to have you look at their cards.
But here is an important clue. Give their cards as much or more attention to the store bought gift that may or may not go with it!
Making and Decorating a Cake Is a Fun Project
Why go out and buy a “store bought” decorated cake when the kids can create one for the occasion?
They were so proud of this cake they decorated for their Dad for his birthday a couple years ago. You never know what kind of creation you may get.
We don’t have the kids decorate all the cakes. But it is a fun project for them to do occasionally.
When they were eight years old for their birthday, we told them they could either make their own cakes this year, or we would buy them – (like we usually do). The triplets have always gotten their own birthday cake for their birthday. Yes… three cakes. We also always sign Happy Birthday to each one of them individually. (Yes.. we sign it 3 times) They all decided without even saying it twice that they wanted to make their own cakes.
We let each one of them pick out any cake mix and frosting they wanted at the store. We got foil cake tins so that there was no problem with not having enough cake pans, and so there would be no problem with someone having a pan that was a different size than the other.
They each got turns making their own cake.
Then they went to the decorating
I think we must have gotten some extra vanilla frosting for the middle of the cakes. They all have vanilla inbetween layers. I can’t remember the exact reason for that now. lol
Think he is proud?
Here are their finished products
Elise’s strawberry creation
Alex’s chocolate frosting & cake
Zach’s vanilla with devil’s food cake
They had so much fun creating their cakes. It of course is a great money saver, but they had a blast doing it… and still talk about that birthday and how cool it was. They also got surprised when we took them to Walmart to look at some things Daddy needed. We walked by the bikes and Dave told them “Surprise… Happy Birthday.. Pick out a bike!!” I think Dave and I were as excited as they were.
Archery Can Be A Great Sport For A Kid!
Or course that is if your kids are old enough or mature enough to realize they can’t turn and shoot the dog.. or their sister!!
Dave got himself a new bow (which he hasn’t had for about 15 years). He knew it was adjustable one and thought he would be able to adjust it so the kids could use it too. He attempted it once and realized it would be no easy feat to adjust it back and forth for them to use.
So he went out and bought them one they could use that wasn’t terribly expensive. He measured their draw length first to see if the triplets were even able to use the same bow. They were. You also have to know what poundage your kids can handle. (Dave knows all this stuff…not me)
Dave worked with the kids to explain how to hold it, and of course safety measures they HAVE to follow.
The dogs were not allowed outside and of course there were no kids on the community playground back behind our house.
Dave is so patient in teaching the kids.
They love it
Cross bows are very popular right now… but Dave isn’t fond of them. He wants them to learn how to shoot with a “real bow and arrow”. Actually he would love to get them a recurve bow (no pullies) but they are too expensive. Plus this is like Dave’s is like that he bought.
I’m surprised how well the kids are doing! They rarely miss the target block.
They do plan to go out with their Dad into the woods this fall. Dave will not let them shoot at any deer this year. They aren’t ready for that, but it will be good experience.
This is not an inexpensive sport. Once you get your bow and arrows, it isn’t too bad. But the arrows are around $6 per arrow (so you don’t want to lose them)
I remember taking archery in high school. I really enjoyed it myself. (There are pink bows you know! lol)
How Do Kids Learn If You Don’t Teach Them?
Dave is so good at teaching his children things. They have never been able to be in Boy or Girl Scouts because of the divorce situation and having them go when they aren’t with us. So, Dave teaches them things himself.
When we were on our vacation this year, we came back and spent a day at our farm for a night. We had planned to go fishing, but the river was too high, so we had to adjust.
Dave decided to teach the kids how to tie knots.
Dave made it fun for them once he taught them the fundamentals.
“You are caught out in the water…I’m throwing you a rope and you need to tie it around you so I can pull you in.”
He taught them the names of the knots and when you would use each one.
Then worked with them until they got it.
Then they practiced….
and practiced some more
Something as simple as tying knots was a memory that I bet these guys will have with them for the rest of their lives. Their Dad spent a couple hours with them that day and they loved it. He came up with all kinds of fun scenarios for them to use their knots. Asking which ones they would use for what… enabling them to tie their own fishing knots…. etc.
But for them it was just time with their Dad. Time learning things he was teaching them and knowing that he loved them enough to take that time to teach them.
He would be an awesome home schooling Dad. Not that it is an option for us. It is something I know I couldn’t do…. but I envy his patience with his kids and his drive to teach them everything he can.
He is actually in the back yard as I write this… teaching them how to shoot the bow he got them. Yes… I went out and got pictures…. future post for sure. lol
Raising a Pet Teaches Responsibility
I think it is great for kids to have a pet or a couple pets to take care of. It teaches them that there is a life that is depending on them, for food, water and shelter.
But I also believe the kids have to follow through with the responsibility if they decide to get a pet.
I have to tell you this story, because it is such a hoot. We took the triplets to a local street fair. Dave told them they could have a couple dollars each to either ride a ride, get something to eat or play a game. (The kids had a karate demo there, so we were just sticking around for a few minutes after the demo – we didn’t go just for the fair).
They all decided they wanted to try a ring toss game. You know the one… you get the little rings and they are nearly impossible to get on the bottles?
The prizes? Huge stuffed animals hanging from the center, kids bikes on each corner of the booth and a cage with live bunnies. There was one red bottle in the center of all of the bottles. I figured that was the one you would have to get in order to get the big prizes. I asked the guy…. he said that if you got a ring on any bottle you had your choice of a huge stuffed animal or a bunny. If you got the ring on the center, then you won a bike.
The kids wanted to play because they wanted a bunny. I said, “We can’t have a bunny at our house. Sadie loves to chase bunnies and she actually killed one this summer inside our fence. If your mom will let you have a bunny at her house, then you can get a bunny if you win.”. The next step was calling their mom. She agreed that if they won, they could have a bunny – but only after she asked what the game was. She told me later she never considered any of them would win.
Guess what? Alex did!! He got a ring on a bottle and you should have heard him whoop!! Here is the call to his very surprised mom. He was SO proud!!
It really is a cute bunny.
We had the bunny at our house over night. The kids took it in the back yard in the morning to let it hop around. It was having a great time in our fence yard until Elise was coming out of the house and Sadie pushed pasted her (she had been watching this bunny in our yard and barking like crazy at the window). You would have thought we were on a sit-com… kids yelling… adults running.. grabbing dogs… kids chasing the bunny… getting dogs in the house after that had a taste of fur….finding the bunny hiding and checking it over for doggy damage … ( it was fine) .. phew!
As a side note. Alex has also realized how much work goes into cleaning cages…( “Yes Alex, bunnies do poop a lot!” lol ) feeding and nurturing.
Bowling is a Great Activity for Kids
There are many bowling alleys that participate in a program called Kids Bowl Free . Bowling is an activity that kids love! Many adults too.
We did this last year and really enjoyed it. You can sign your kids up online and they can get two free games of bowling everyday all summer long! Perfect if you live within walking distance from one of the participating lanes …that’s for sure! You can check but I know last year I was able to buy a full family membership for $24.95 (I think) and that allowed the older kids and Dave and I to also bowl.
The bowling was during the day hours, not in the evenings, and I don’t think on the weekends either. Their shoes also are not included.
At the bowling alley we were going to, we figured out that it was less expensive for us to buy them shoes if we planned on going several times throughout the summer.
It is designed to get the kids to love bowling, and keep them out of trouble.
When my older boys were young, they were in a bowling league and dearly loved it. It was our weekly Saturday morning activity for a couple years.
We haven’t gotten the kids into a bowling league, they have other sports they are into. But it is a fun diverse activity.
We used to have a bowling alley right in our small town. But unfortunately it closed down last year. I think there were a lot of repairs needed and it was old, but great for birthday parties and the kids could be walking to it now ..if it was still there.
I love it when the kids get a strike or a great shot… you never know what kind of reaction you may get. I wish you could have seen Alex’s full “victory dance”
Plant and Maintain a Summer Garden
I can’t take any credit for the gardens that we have in our yard. This is a Dave activity for the kids. When we moved into this house it had two raised garden beds. Most every year that I’ve lived here, Dave has planted gardens with the help from the kids.
This year he added a third raised garden bed. He let the triplets pick which veggies they wanted to plant in the gardens. They actually are good vegetable eaters, so it wasn’t a teeth pulling event!
The garden has flourished this summer. The kids have been in charge of watering, weeding and pulling the veggies when they are ready.
This is a picture of Dave getting the first radish out. He was showing and talking to the kids as he was getting it.
Look at the beans that are ready to pull.
We have some squash and cucumbers that are coming along too.
Gardens can be such wonderful teaching and learning experiences for kids. Not only do they learn how to plant and take care of a garden, but they learn how valuable it is to take care of things. They realize how much food you can have for little. It is teaching them life lessons.
When my son Tim was young he went to a daycare that was part of the school they went to – during the summers. He had such a wonderful teacher. She did all kinds of activities with the kids, they didn’t just sit inside and paint pictures. They had field trips near by almost everyday. She also started off the summer by having the kids plant a garden. Each day they went out and took care of the garden and got to watch it grow throughout the summer. What a great lesson!
Bring On The Sprinklers!
Are the kids bored? Tell them to get their swimsuits on and get out the sprinkler! It can be that simple.
We do not turn on the sprinkler much in our town because water tends to be pretty expensive. But we also do not have a pool membership. (The kids do with their mom, so they aren’t deprived)
I surprised them the other afternoon and asked them if they wanted to play in the sprinkler. You know what they said? “Do we even have a sprinkler?”
Wow.. I didn’t realize it had been that long since I had the sprinkler out. I used to water my lawn routinely before I moved to this town.
You can kill two birds (or more) with one stone! Your water gets a drink, and/or your garden (if you have the water on high enough).
You can also make a dog who likes the hose, very happy. Sadie loves to play in the hose and get drinks from it. Gizzy hates the hose. When the sprinkler came out… she ran the other way and wanted to go into the house.
The kids can get so goofy when you bring out a sprinkler.
They were doing somersaults through it…. jumping in it… tackling each other in it.
The kids had a great time. I didn’t have to spend any money (well, at least until I pay the water bill that is) and they had a fun experience that they will of course want to repeat. I did put a time limit on it, but they turned off the hose themselves before my time limit was up.
I think Sadie had even a better time!
I ended up with three very happy children, a couple wet swim suites (they decided to sit outside to dry off without towels too!) and a dog that was happy and worn out too.
The triplets had a lemonade and Kool-aid stand a couple of years ago. They were so excited. They made a list of what they would need (with some assistance). They made their products. Dad helped them to understand what the supplies they used cost. E made the sign (and we of course didn’t have the heart to tell her something was spelled wrong.) They got it all outside (with lots of assistance) and sat for a long time…. drinking most of the profits.
But they did make a little money and had fun and learned some lessons. They had the cash register outside and when there were no “customers” we worked on how to make change.
This is a low cost activity the kids can do. They don’t forget it either. The kids have often referred back to their lemonade stand. My guess is that one of them will have it on the list of things they want to do this weekend. Labor Day weekend is the time to do a lemonade stand in our town. There are a couple of huge weekends that you have garage sales. The biggest is Labor Day weekend. The reason is because there is an event every year in our town called Swappers. Swappers day is basically a massive flea market.
You wouldn’t believe the garage sales in this town. There had to have been hundreds. Last year was unbelievable. The weather was perfect and everyone was out. It is just such a fun weekend. All that to say that if they want to have a lemonade stand that is successful they should have it then. But I don’t think they would mind at all. The experience for them is the setting it up, the anticipation and of course.. drinking the lemonade.
Kids don’t need a big deal picnic. You don’t have to plan an outing that will use your gas etc.
It can be simple. Kids love to do things that they do not normally get to do. They can make and pack their own picnic if they are old enough. The triplets are ten years old and did the whole thing.
They went down to the basement and got the picnic basket and blanket out too. By the way they also put everything away themselves (without me even asking them too!! I was in shock!)
We have a picnic table out back but it was more novel to eat in the grass. They scoped out a place and checked to make sure the dogs hadn’t visited there first….lol . They spread out the blanket and had their lunch.
They will love the feeling of independence. They were thrilled with doing the whole thing themselves.
Here is one of their lunches. Nothing fancy, but he did it himself.
They can even just use a brown paper bag or lunch box.
Tell them to invite a friend over and they can picnic with their friend.
If they are young, they will still appreciate it. I remember when my older boys were little, we had a little kids picnic kit that was all plastic. They loved having lunches out of that.
You’ll be amazed at how something so simple can be so fun for the kids. Just to eat outside when that is unusual. If you eat a lot of meals outside at the table, then change it up. Let them picnic on the front porch or in the grass. If it is a rainy day, then let them have a picnic lunch in the family room on the floor, on a blanket.
It doesn’t take much to make it special.
I LOVE this picture of Dave and Zach. They were just coming down the road after the rest of us. We had all gone fishing together. They were really whistling the theme song from the Andy Griffith Show!
The kids love to fish. Of course Dave doesn’t get a lot of fishing done at this point. He is usually busy helping untangle a line, or helping in some way.
But Dave makes the kids bait their own hooks and take off their own fish.
I love this picture of her when she was about 4 years old. I just had to throw that in. The kids have been fishing since they were about three.
An activity that the kids learn to sit quietly, concentrate and enjoy nature.
This is a great activity for kids, of any age. It just depends on how involved you want to be.
This is a lower cost activity … that is if you have fishing equipment. You will probably have to buy a fishing license for the year, and maybe some bait. But if you don’t have fishing gear, be sure to check garage sales and Craigslist. You can pick things up pretty inexpensively I’m sure.
Summertime….and the living is easy?
by Evelyn Cucchiara
Ah….summertime. That season of the year when everything slows down and you get a chance to relax. At least in theory. Reality might be a bit different, especially if you have kids. If you’re not careful, you may just replace your hectic running around school time schedule with a hectic running around summer time schedule. Except it will now be accompanied by a side dish of guilt because you know that summertime is supposed to be when you slow down and relax. A vicious circle. Time to jump off that merry-go-round.
Summer can be all you remember it being when you were a child. Long lazy days and what seemed like unlimited time. You just have to do a bit of organizing before the season starts. Some ideas to get you started:
- Don’t sign up for more than 2 scheduled activities. What sounds like a great idea now won’t be so great in a few weeks when all you and your kids want to do is relax.
- Sit down with your family ahead of time and find out what activities/day trips/events they want to do this summer. Keep a list. Tops on our list is going to an amusement park, having giant ice cream sundaes for lunch one day, scheduling a trip to a different library once a week followed by reading time, watching movies (complete with popcorn and snack bar) on rainy days…….. you get the idea. Find out what is important to your family – don’t worry about what the neighbors are doing.
- Once a week, enlist one of your kids to help cook dinner. They’ll learn important life skills, you’ll spend quality time together, and hopefully when they get older they will take over some meal prep!
- Try this idea year round, not just in summer – so that I don’t end up being the maid all summer, we schedule two family clean-ups a week just to keep the house in shape. What’s a family clean up? We ring a bell, all family members gather, each member picks a chore to do (in our house you get a choice of dusting, de-cluttering, vacuuming or a quick cleanup of the bathroom.) First come, first choice. This keeps the house in decent shape.
- To keep the kids busy and give them a sense of contributing – son #1 is in charge of sweeping off the front walk daily, son #2 handles blowing off the driveway and deck weekly. (Son #3 is 18 and has an actual paying job out of the house.)
- Two birds with one stone idea – the kids clean out their bedroom and playroom and gather any toys they haven’t played with in a year. They can play with them for a few more days, then we list them on Craig’s List or eBay and they get to keep the money.
Those are a few ideas to get you started. Just remember, summer is about slowing down and recharging for the next year. If you don’t have time to read a few pages of a book just for pure pleasure this summer, something is wrong. Plan a lose schedule of events and activities, and you should end up in August reflecting on what a great summer you had, not wishing you had done more.
An important part – don’t forget to schedule some time with your friends – no kids allowed! A girl’s night out at the movies, some couples meeting for drinks at an outdoor watering hole, whatever sounds good to you! Just be sure to organize it before the summer slips away……………………………..
Hello everyone! I’m Evelyn Cucchiara and I’m a mom, business owner, author & blogger from New Jersey. My organizing experience comes from the trenches, so it works! Here’s my life in a nutshell: I’m a mom of three boys, I own and operate a children’s art studio, I write 2 blogs, I wrote an eBook on organizing entitled “30 Days to an Organized Home”, I tweet daily organizing tips and, along with my husband, I own a house flipping business. Want more info? Visit one or more of my websites:
http://www.bestorganizingtips.blogspot.com for daily organizing ideas http://www.comeongethappyblog.com for ways to bring happiness into your life
My art studio web address? http://www.artadventuresartstudio.com.
And last but not least – my eBook website http://www.organizingwithevelyn.com
And if you’d like to follow me on Twitter: @organizingwithe
Have you heard of them? OMG… they are So good! What a great activity for the kids! Ours didn’t turn out as fancy as you see them in the Cake Pop book, but the triplets had a great time making them.
I saw these Cake Pops and went out and bought the Cake Pops book by Bakerella.
I bought all the required items. If you happen to have these supplies, then it is a low cost activity. For me… there was a lot I needed, so not so low cost.
Cake Mix & supplies needed to make. Oil, eggs, water
Candy Melts (she calls for 48 oz which is four Wilton bags, but I only had 2 bags and didn’t use them all)
Styrofoam – the size I got cost me $8,99 at Joann’s. I’m sure you can buy it for less, but I didn’t have time to shop around.
sprinkles – we had a lot of that.
We decided to go with the very basic cake pop. Having triplets, I had to divide up the jobs so everyone got a chance.
One thing about baking or cooking. There are so many lessons and skills that can be taught. We talked about fractions, how to measure, how to flour.
It was a great teaching moment.
Thank goodness there were three eggs in the recipe… that’s all I can say!
Learning how to use a hand mixer…. and can you believe that none of them lifted it up to early? I fully expected a nice cake spraying!
Then of course once you make cake…. you get to help clean up.
Of course since there are two beaters, you have to have the third have the spoon.
Bake the cake as usual. Once it is cool, cut into four large sections.
They had to read the recipe. I was there to guide and teach, but they did the work. I didn’t do it for them.
They got to crumble up the cake into tiny pieces…. think they had fun with that?
I had some homemade awesome frosting left from some cupcakes I had made last week. It was vanilla frosting, but it was just colored pink. The recipe called for 3/4 of a can of canned frosting. A can is 16 oz, so I had them measured 12 oz of frosting.
They took turns mixing it in.
Of course they all dove in to make up the cake balls.
Their ball rolling wasn’t perfect, but this activity was for fun, not perfection. The box made 48 cake balls. I made them figure out the math of how many rows and how many in each row on the two cookie sheets.
We took the two trays of cake balls out to the freezer. We brought them in after 15 minutes like the directions said, but we left the whole tray out. The directions said to only work with a few at a time and keep the others in the refrigerator. We learned.
We gave them more time in the freezer, then brought in one tray and kept in the freezer inside. Then we only got two out at a time.
We melted the candy melts. You only heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. I also ended up adding some Crisco (as per direction) to thin down the candy melts.
You take your candy stick and dip it first into the candy melt. Then you put it into your cake ball. Not all the way through.
Then dip it in and lift right out of the candy melt. This one didn’t get down far enough. I was using the spoon to help put some extra on the ends. I also would try tipping the bowl to make it deeper.
I used one of my deepest bowls, and I think had we had a couple bags of candy melt in the bowl, instead of just one it would have been easier.
But our main problem was that they would fall off the stick. Even after just coming out of the freezer. I think the issue there was that I must have used a little too much frosting. I think they were just a bit too gooey. Then you tap it gently to get some of the extra off.
They got to then dip them in the sprinkles. But we found it worked better and was less messy to sprinkle the sprinkles on top and not dip the cake ball into the sprinkle bowl.
I had also bought a bag of chocolate melt. It seemed to thin out a little better. I also added a little bit of Crisco to that too.
The whole process took us about 3 1/2 hours from start to finish.
The kids found out that the “duds” tasted just as good as the “good ones”.
They couldn’t have been prouder. They raced in to show their Dad when he got home and their brother. Of course I heard, when can we make them again?
What are some of the recipes your kids like to make?
Reading Clubs at Your Local Library
The Columbus Library has a program going on starting tomorrow, June 4th.; called Be a Hero – Read
Don’t forget to utilize your library! They have great programs for the kids during the summer that are completely free.
We aren’t far from one of the Columbus library branches. It is where my husband usually gets his books on tape for his daily work commute. Our library doesn’t have nearly the selection that the Columbus libraries do. So it is easy for him to take the kids in the evenings if they want to do a run over there. Last year that participated in both programs. It really gave them incentive to read even more.
The triplets went yesterday (first day of their summer break) and signed up for the reading program at our library.
We are lucky because the library is within a bike ride for the kids. They will be going into 5th grade and can follow the rules of the library and go on their own.
My husband has given the kids a daily assignment. They are to go to the library and read one article from the Columbus Dispatch newspaper. Then they have to explain to him in the evening what the article was about.
They get credit for the amount of time they read or are read to. (Starts at age 3)
They love it! Now we will have more scenes like this in our house.
My daughter has a girlfriend that loves to read, so she has already told me that they plan on going to the library everyday. Of course they want to earn the prizes for reading for so long…. so there is added incentive.
The libraries also have programs and activities through the week for the kids. I know our library has a magic show scheduled, they have routine reading time for the younger kids too.
I’m all for that. A great activity for the kids, that they enjoy… is free… and they are learning at the same time. What could be better? Check out your local library!