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Spring Break without Breaking Bank

Spring Break is scaring me this year. Honestly, there’s no way I can spend a few hundred dollars a day over Spring break. It seems everytime we get in the car and go anywhere, it costs more than $100/day.  Sometimes, it’s that just to get in the door. That being said, I’ve been brainstorming some fun thrills for spring break on a dime. Here’s my top 10.

* Load up and go to a local park. Take a picnic lunch and let the kids play. If your kids think they are too old for the usual park then find a nature trail, a skate park, go hiking, or have a scavenger hunt. (big kids can take roller blades, bicycles or skates and hit the sidewalks). We have a new skate park that is a huge hit. Lucky me, it has a playground for my little one also.

*Get kids involved in the community. Ask your kids what charity means the most to them. Take a day and visit their headquarters. Kids can collect items to donate and you can take them along with you. The bonus here is that you just might get your garage, their room,  or closet free of some of their clutter. (shhh…don’t tell them your counting on it)

*Go fishing. Baiting hooks isn’t exactly my idea of fun, but I have agreed to do it one day. (any volunteers wanting to do the dirty work are more than welcome to come along).  No one likes to fish? go to the lake and feed the ducks, take a walk for an hour or so. Take along a camera and let them be in charge of it as you walk along. You may be surprised what they enjoy taking pictures of.

*Give the kids a movie marathon day at home. We’re expecting rain for spring break (more than we’ve had all month).  Homemade tents, movies, games and popcorn will surely pass the rainy day.

*Tweens want Freedom. Hate to break the news to you but hanging with mom is no longer “cool”. Well, it’s also not cool for me to take my 10 year old and drop her off at the mall or movies and hope for the best. We’re working on “freedom issues” (a whole other blog post!) but I have managed a good idea. She’s having dance parties in my garage with a few girlfriends on Friday evenings. They bring their music, take out some drinks and snacks, I’ve set up a table they can “hang out at”, I back out the car and close the door. They promise not to play the music too loud. Those girls are out there for hours!  For spring break, she’s inviting a couple friends from school to come and join her and the neighborhood kids. After setting a few ground rules, this works wonders to give her freedom and me some peace of mind to know she’s safe. It’s a hit with the kids. I’m sure for spring break this will take place more often than just Friday night.

*We’re planting a garden together. Small, of course. It will be a fun outdoor day. Gardening is work but by giving them some control of what is planted and where you arrange things, they will help out and have a good day with you. You can have a container garden just the same. We planted herbs a few weeks ago from seeds, same idea.  It’s a fun project, they like to eat what they grow, so it’s another win-win!

*Go to the mall and make it a scavenger hunt. The buddy system must be in place. No kid is alone…ever! I am in the store while they go look at something else. She and her friends have a list of things to find and either snap a picture with their phone or buy but they can’t pay more than ____ for it. Text each other, meet up at the door and walk to the next store together. Kids love this. Time to eat? hit the food court!

*Have a spa day at home. Pedicures and manicures.  Bright colored polished. (lemon, lime green, orange, blue, pink, black, glitter polish, neon colors…they love those). Let them paint and design whatever they wish.  Add some more fun by having hair accessories and letting them play with styles. This is fun with a small group.

*Hit the craft store. I find things online that they can make, some supplies you can buy at the dollar store if you don’t already have at home. Set up the project inside or out and let them get to work. Homemade sand art? necklaces/bracelets/rings? building an ant farm? Making stepping stones? building a bird house? Painting? whatever their interest, they will enjoy this.

*Let them earn some extra money. Weather permitting, pay them to wash the car.  Throw out a few soaker balls while your’re at it. Playing in the water is the best day for kids.

One last suggestion: Ask them if they’d like to plan an activity? Give them a few boundaries and then go and do what they come up with. This is how I initially found our new skate park in the first place. Kids have a radar for what’s new and what their friends are doing for cheap fun.

Hope that you can enjoy some of these ideas and they help take the anxiety of money off your plate. I have found that times at home with projects like this are not only fun, they are a great bonding time with my children. During the course of day, the conversations that come up may surprise you. Relax and enjoy the week with them.

 

 

 

 

Help a girl out here will you?!?!

Party, Party, Party!!! I’m looking for your help here!

My little girl turns 4 next week. Her birthday is the day after Valentine’s day. It’s also in the middle of the week so her party won’t be until the weekend after.  Already scheduled to take cupcakes to school on her day and let’s not forget the Valentine’s preschool party either. Do you see where this is going? That’s right…Valentine’s Day, Birthday, then Birthday Party+ 2 school parties all in 3 days.  Wow! that’s alot of sugar!!

I can’t let her day go by without doing something! I’m looking for ideas to help celebrate without cake, cake, and more cake.  Ok, I have a confession….there must be cake at her party…and something with a candle in it on her actual birthday! Period. No options. But at the same time, I don’t want 2 birthday parties.

Suggestions please?!?! (some of you are VERY crafty, don’t hold back)  If I use your idea, I promise to blog about it and link back to your site with tweets and facebook mentions too!

Thanks!

Holly 🙂

PS. Did I tell you,  I love you for answering this post!!

Quick recipes for Super Bowl Party

My super bowl party this year is me, 7 tweens, a couple of preschoolers and 2 brave friends. I’m expecting loads of fun without much work in the kitchen (as you can see from the guest list, I have to be on my toes).  Thought I’d share some super-simple recipes with you in case you need a “no work/kid friendly party” also!

I use these for impromtu parties and to take along with me to others’ parties. They’re super simple, and I never have left overs.

Dips:

Spread Cream cheese in a pie plate, cover w chili and cheese..bake until bubbly. Serve with chips.

Unwrap Cream cheese, cover with salmon (I use the package salmon) pour spicy cocktail sauce over top. Serve w crackers.

Mix sour cream, Knorr’s vegetable soup mix, thawed (or freshly chopped) spinach. Serve in Hawaiin bread bowl and use the broken bread pieces to eat. Delish!

Munchies:

Mix Popcorn, Pretzel sticks, marshmallows, cheerios, and M&M. ( I leave out peanuts b/c of allergies, but they are a great addition). This one kids will love. Others things that you can add or mix and match:
chocolate covered raisins, almonds, any type of cereal, sesame stix, dried fruit, pecans. Use popcorn as your base and throw in whatever you like.

or try this w/out popcorn.

Pretzels, wasabi peas, chex mix, spicy peanuts, sesame stix, and yogurt covered raisins.

Hot appetizers

Meatballs: place frozen meatballs in crockpot. Add crushed pineapple, bbq sauce, mustard. cook 4-6 hours.
here’s another one: meatballs, grape jelly and chili sauce.

Serve on platter using toothpicks in meatballs.

Chicken kickers:

dice chicken breast, place chicken piece inside hollowed slice of jalepeno,  wrap in bacon, roast in oven until bacon is crisp and chicken is done. These are great on the grill too if you have time.

Boil Beer ( I know, what a waste right?) add shrimp and cook. Drain and serve.

Cold Appetizers

Dice cucumber and avacodo, tomatoes, and red onions. Mix together olive oil, garlic and salt. Toss all to coat. Serve with pita chips.

chop raw broccoli very fine, toss with cranberries and cole slaw dressing. serve w pita chips. (This was a huge hit at my last part)

boil shrimp and cool. toss with diced red onions, garlic, olive oil, 1 tsp mayonaise, crushed red pepper. Chill in fridg unti time to eat.

Dice vodiala onion in fine pieces, add one cup mayo and one cup sour cream. Spread in pie plate. serve w cracker or pita chips.

Kid Friendly

mixed fruit tossed w poppy seed dressing

wrap hotdog weenies w thawed pretzel dough. Bake until golden brown. Serve w mustard or cheese dip

Fruit skewers. Just dice up your favorite fruits and put on bamboo skewers. Kids will think it’s fun and mom sneaks in good for you food. (I also skew an occasional piece of cheese, carrot, celery– mix and match at your pleasure)

mix sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, chili powder and ham in mixer until smooth. Shape into football. Pipe soft white cheese (from can) to make the final football touches. Serve this cheese “ball” with crackers.

Sundae fun:

I buy vanilla frozen yogurt. An assortment of toppings and let the kids make their own sundaes. It is Super Bowl “Sundae” isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny little boxes, A Whole Lot of Love!

Operation christmas child is a charity I honestly haven’t heard of until this year. Omg! I can’t believe I’ve missed this. What an amazing thing for kids to be involved in.

I have always passionately tried to make my kids understand giving to others. It all started when my oldest was 2 and I was cleaning out her closet. Suddenly every toy and old shirt was her favorite. At that time I was a new mom, and for the first time realized “she doesn’t have a clue what I’m doing, I need to make this easy while teaching her. This is MY responsiblity”. The best I could come up was to tell her that we were giving her things to “another little girl who doesn’t have anything”. Long story short, after a brief talk she was throwing her socks in the bag to give away!
That day marked the start of something we do often together. Now that I have the little one, she’s involved too. On any given day, those 2 girls will still say they are “giving it to another little girl” and help me fill a bag or two. It’s brought me to tears more than once.

Operation Christmas Child was the perfect way to get them involved, stay on their level, save on my budget, and let them be in control of it. This was introduced to me through their youth group at church. As soon as I heard about it, I grabbed 3 boxes and out the door we went. One for L, one for T,  and one for their friend A who goes to youth group with them. The oldest 2 kids purchased a couple of things for their boxes with points they had earned at church. The little one was given a set of markers by her teacher. The rest was up to us!

Last night we filled these boxes and had so much fun. I told them both again “this will go to another little boy or girl all over the world”.   We found so many things and I filled all three boxes for $25.00. Crayons, stuffed toy, playing cards, games, writing pads, jacks, balls, a teddy bear, book, tops, glow sticks, flip flops, socks,lip gloss, ring, plastic bendable animals,  the list just goes on.(I highly recommend Dollar General or Walmart if you’re going to do this). We even found hats and 2 pack of cute gloves for $1 each.  I can’t stand the thought of any child being cold. That must come from my mother, who did the same things with us growing up. Mom always bought pajamas, warm socks, hat and gloves. We donated old coats and blankets (which by the way, I have some I am taking the homeless shelter tomorrow)..Thanks mom for teaching me that!!

Our boxes were packed up within 15 mins of being home. The kids were so proud of themselves. Of course, I was beaming with pride for both of them. Tonight they will deliver their boxes and I think we can even track them later on. How exciting!

You see, these boxes are filled with a whole lot of love! My kids love for “the other little boy or girl” and my love for my kids.

Learn more about Operation Christmas Child at www.samaritanspurse.org

 
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The Forgotten Holiday

Somewhere between Halloween and Christmas we have a holiday that gets little attention in comparison to the others. Frankly, I think Valentine’s day is more popular than Thanksgiving. (It must be the retailers’ fault).
That forgotten Holiday is one of my favorites. Oddly enough, I think it is a favorite because of its simplicity. I love everything about it, especially our family traditions.

My family gathers every year and we eat and laugh, play some football, watch some football, eat and laugh some more. Some of us girls talk shopping and pass around the sale ads for black Friday. There’s traditions of making favorite pies for some and cakes for others. The dining table is so full of yummy side dishes, there’s barely room to sit. Now, every year there is an added challenge of making a dish all the kids will love. We are often defeated at that challenge, except for desserts! We even have a good time cleaning up.

To me it’s a day of being together. Our busy lives don’t lend much time to gather all of us at once anymore. For most of the year, I “talk” to my brothers through my mom. “tell him this, tell her that” and finally on Thanksgiving day, we’re all together.

Ironically, we spend quite a bit of time that day planning for Christmas…informally in our conversations we’re talking about the perfect gifts and where we’re shopping, our trees, decorations, and what Santa is bringing all the kids. Friday morning, the Christmas season kicks off and there’s no looking back. Except for our memories of another Thanksgiving day spent together laughing and playing.

Every year I go to bed on Thanksgiving night and say a special Thank you that I have those people in my life and was able to spend such a wonderful day with them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipe so simple you’ll think I’m Nuts for eating it!

Last week I agreed to a lunch and learn. Sounded like a good idea at that time!
Today, I get a call at 9am reminding me to bring the appetizer. Tex/Mex is the theme. HOLY COW! I forgot. I’m half way between preschool and my first appointment and you want an appetizer? So, with all the control I could muster in my voice I tell my friend “I have an appt at 10am and will be there by 11:30, see you then!” (OmG! Just between us, I laughed when I hung up because she honestly must have thought I had it in the car!!)

Long story short, I have 30 minutes when my appt is over to get there and it’s now 20 miles away…surburban miles—red-light-at-lunch-time Miles!
SO I did what any self-respecting woman would do– I threw something together and hoped for the best!!
I call this my Southwestern Corn Dip (and Every ONE of those ladies thought it was wonderful, not a bite left !! Now, heaven forbid…they want the recipe!!
so Here it is:

Southwest Corn Dip
1 can whole cornel corn drained
1/2 can ranch style beans with peppers
Dash garlic and onion powder
Dash coursely ground black pepper
Enough Sour Cream to stir it all together (you can use plain yogurt but I was out)
Diced tomato on top

TaDa!!!! Mix up & Serve with tortilla or corn chips!

The ranch style beans give it the SW flavor. I was going to look up my recipe for corn dip (which I KNOW did NOT have beans) and go the store and get everything. well in a time pinch, I threw this one together instead…and I like it better! Next time, I better double up 🙂

Maybe you can enjoy it too!

From baby to little girl

My 3 year old is making strides. This time last year, she was a stay-home toddler who played with me, her big sister, her dad and by herself. The dog was her favorite companion of all I believe.

In August I put her in preschool. Much to her dismay. She cried everyday. Once so loud the director approaches the room stating very sternly “whose child is that?”…talk about making a mom feel terrible.

Today it dawned on me. She’s playing with her little friend across the street everyday after school. She talks about her friends at school, and describes them to a ‘ T “. She knows their favorite cartoons and what they’re going to be for Halloween. She jitters about music class, gets excited about art projects and mimics her teacher…”boys and girls EYES ON ME”. She tells me she’s the doctor and her friend has a cold. My little baby is entering the world of make believe….why just yesterday her and her friend loaded up the baby stroller. They pulled it all across the yard a half-dozen times on their way to the beach!

It’s something I remember very fondly with my oldest daughter too. So much goes on with them in a such a short period of time. The little one reminds me of the older one growing up. It’s taught me to stop what I’m doing and treasure each of their growing stages…by tomorrow, they just may be all grown up with their agenda.