Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Boredom Busters for Kids-Summer Edition

How many of you have heard the phrase, "I'm bored!" from your child this summer? Or how about, "There's nothing to do!" I'm sure as summer is winding down, we've all heard these and many more common childhood phrases too many times to count. Are you running out of ideas to keep your kids occupied and off screens? I've complied a list of five great ideas to get you through these last weeks of summer. Many of the ideas provide fun as well as some good life lessons along the way, a win-win for everyone! Every mom deserves a couple whine free weeks of summer, so check these out.

one...Kids in the Kitchen. Put your child in charge of a meal. Dig out any cookbooks you own for your child to look through. Check out kids cookbooks from the library, or browse recipes online. Have them come up with a menu for dinner. They should create a shopping list of ingredients needed to make the meal. Have them check items in the pantry to see what they can use from home, and what needs to be purchased. You could even go as far as giving them a budget for the meal (for older elementary age kids) to teach them to stay within a budget. Have them prepare the meal, cook, set the table, and clean up. You can supervise in the kitchen but let your child take the lead and give them ownership. It's great to start teaching them how to budget, shop, cook, and clean up at an early age. They will be going off to college before you know it! It's fun for them, and a great teaching experience.

two...Raise Money for Missions or a Charity Organization--Popsicle Stand or Lemonade Stand. I asked my friend Kari if I could share her, and her kids, amazing idea. During the week of VBS (Vacation Bible School) Kari's kids set up a popsicle stand to raise money for the missions offering, to build a well in Haiti at Fellowship School of Hope. What a great idea to beat boredom while raising money for a good cause all at the same time. I was so proud to hear what Kari's kids had done, and during the hottest week of summer to date in Kansas City!

This is a perfect teaching moment, to talk about the many blessings we have and how we can live to bless others.  Have the kids brainstorm ways to help others, and then let them take ownership to follow through on their idea. It will have such an impact not only on others, but them as well!

three. Creek Walk or Explore Nature. It's easy to spend too much time indoors. Many of my great childhood memories occurred outside, in the summer. I want my kids to get out, from behind the TV, and have fun outside. To explore, to get dirty, and have fun outdoor adventures. The creek or nature trail is the perfect outdoor classroom, full of cool experiences and lessons around every corner. Plus, it's a free activity with unique experiences each trip.

four. Water Balloons and Water Games.
1. Set up pool rafts, rings, and floats around the yard as targets. Have the kids line up at a certain spot and see how many balloons hit the target.
2. Use sidewalk chalk to create targets on your driveway or sidewalk (big circles with point values) have each child go one at a time and total up their points to see who is the winner.
3. Water balloon fight. Honestly, this was one of the activities my kids loved the most. A great way to cool off and get some exercise at the same time. Who does not love a good ole' water balloon fight?
4. Fun in the sprinkler. We set up the ball sprinkler and my boys created a slip-n-slide, all on their own, with our big dinosaur raft (that had been a target for idea #1 above). At first, the mom side of me wanted to stop them. I didn't want them to pop the raft or to get hurt, but as I watched and monitored them, I was impressed with their ingenuity. They had beat the boredom and come up with something I had not even thought of, all on their own. Being bored is not a bad thing! Boredom can cause children to use creativity and their imaginations.

five. Pool Party. Yes, I know, you've probably been to the pool a hundred times this summer. It's a great activity to get kids out of the house and active (great for their health). So, why not find a way to make the pool feel new again even at the end of summer? Plan a fun pool party. This doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Pick a theme, here's a few fun ideas (50's, Christmas, 80's, Evening Swim with glow sticks, Little Mermaid or Pirate). Create a fun playlist of music on Spotify or Amazon Prime Music to play at your party, or have a dance off. When I say party, it could be as simple as you and your child. Or invite friends if you would like. If your pool allows outside snacks think of some easy snack ideas that would fit your theme. At our Christmas in July pool party we enjoyed watermelon that had been cut into the shape of Christmas trees, featured HERE, and these melted snowman cookies, find the recipe HERE. Simple, easy, but what was old is new again by changing it up just a little.

I hope this list of activities can help provide many hours of fun over the remaining weeks of summer. Do you have another boredom buster idea? Please share in the comments below or on the Facebook post, so we can add to the list. Also, tag me in your summer boredom buster fun, I'd love to see!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Kids in the Kitchen-Watermelon Shapes

Happy Monday! I'm popping in to share a quick idea for a fun activity to do with children in the kitchen. The prep is as easy as getting out your cookie cutter stash and cutting a watermelon! Have kids use cookie cutters to cut fun shapes out of the watermelon. We used some Christmas cookie cutters for a fun Christmas in July snack for the pool last week. Any cookie cutters would work and it excites the kids to help, and they are more likely to be interested in eating what they have helped prepare/make. I love that this activity is a good one to get young kids involved in the kitchen, and a great sensory activity.

 We also cut some of the watermelon in the shape of trees. I placed them in a large container and put it in the freezer for several hours. Ice cold watermelon is so refreshing. We took our container out of the freezer and headed straight to the pool. We had plenty to share with friends, and it was a hit on a hot summer day.

What is your favorite summer treat? What are some of your favorite ideas for getting kids involved in the kitchen?

Friday, July 26, 2019

Five Things Friday-July 26

It's Friday, and I blogged three time this week! If you missed my post on Wednesday, I talked about a valuable lesson I learned about motherhood, in the kitchen, of all places! I love how lessons are waiting for us everywhere! Here's the LINK if you want to check it out. It's Friday, so you know what that means, time to share five things from my week! Let's go!

one. The Dapper Doughnut.
We ran across a little shop called the The Dapper Doughnut while out back-to-school shoe shopping for the boys this week. Everyone needed a little sugar to spark us back up to finish our shopping so we stopped in to check it out. They serve fresh, made to order, mini doughnuts! Lincoln pulled up a stool so he could watch the entire process, he was mesmerized! These mini doughnuts were good, and the mini size is a bonus, you can indulge in moderation!

two. Junior High Back-to-School Night. I just got an email from Max's new school that Back-to- School night is next Thursday. He already received his schedule in the mail a couple weeks ago. Maybe they send things out early to help the parents like me who are in denial. First of all, how am I old enough to have a middle school age child? Can anyone else relate? I had just come to terms and accepted the elementary age years, and now I'm about to be thrown into the whole new world of pre-teen boys and girls? A sweet friend gifted me a great book, Age of Opportunity. A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, by Paul David Tripp.  I need to dive back in and finish this book so I'm ready for this new life stage and can parent successfully. Second, how is it even time for back to school anything? We just got out of school last week, right? End of summer is also a good time to start praying for our students, teachers, and staff for the upcoming school year. Click HERE for a list of things to pray for in my back-to-school prayer guide.

three. Gideon study. Lifeway is doing a Women's Online Bible Study of Gideon by Priscilla Shirer. It is a seven week study beginning August 8th through September 19th. I would love for you to join me! If you want to jump in and study Gideon let me know, it would be fun, for anyone interested, to create a group chat to discuss what we are learning! Click this link to sign up on the Lifeway website. It's completely free, and you will have full access to all the teaching sessions for the duration of the class. It's so great that Lifeway does these online studies. Priscilla Shirer is one of my absolute favorite Bible teachers. You can purchase a study book which will have weekly homework, and the session guides to take notes. If you would like to get the most out of the study, I highly recommend getting the book. But, you can also participate by only watching Priscilla's weekly online sessions. The link above explains the process if you would like more information. I'm excited to jump into this study, would you join me?

four. Pizza on the Grill. Maybe I'm the last to the "Pizza on the Grill Party," but WOW, it's so good. I found a recipe in my She Reads Truth Romans study for homemade pizza, completely from scratch, and it what so fun to make. Yes, that is kale on our pizza. I was skeptical, but it was so delicious! Who knew I could love pizza without cheese!

five. Netflix or Amazon Prime Series. Chris and I are "currently without series" ;-). I would love to know your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime series. Help! Leave me all your favorite shows and series below in the comments.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Lessons of Motherhood Learned in the Kitchen: The Melted Snowman Cookie Tale

To shake up summer, we've been doing some fun Christmas in July themed activities. The boys helped me bake these fun melted snowman cookies yesterday. They are pretty easy to make. The boys had a blast, and I learned a wonderful lesson along the way. 

In our Pinterest/Instagram inspired world, it's easy to get caught up in the beauty of wanting things to look perfect. When it came time to decorate our snowmen, I found myself taking over. "Let me try the first one," quickly turned into five cookies. I immediately put my piping bag down. What was I doing? I wanted my boys to have fun and love baking with me, and I had quickly began to take over so things would look "just like I wanted them to look." I took a seat and told Cooper to start decorating. He quickly got into melting the marshmallows and piping the icing. Judson came over and jumped right in too. I sat back and watched as they were enjoying decorating the cookies. I loved watching Judson's cute face as he concentrated while placing the eyes, nose, and mouth just so. I loved seeing their faces light up in delight with their finished creations. I loved hearing the stories about each cookie. Jack explained that the green sprinkles represented the grass that the snowman was standing on as he was melting in the sun. "Brilliant!" I'm so proud that he was using his imagination and creativity to come up with his own back story to the entire "melting snowman"saga. Something that I hadn't even thought of. I was making each cookie the exact same way! As I sat back and watched, I was captivated with the beauty of motherhood. Watching my babies using their hands, problem solving, and finishing a project without me stepping in to help at every turn. It was pure JOY for me to witness. I would have missed it all if I would not have stopped myself from taking over, and forcing myself to put the piping bag down.

Cooper at one point commented that his snowman wasn't going to turn out right. I was able to encourage him to continue on and that his new finished product may turn out better than he originally planned. I talked to him about all the inventions that have occurred because of a happy accident, when something turned out differently than originally planned. The first practical implantable pacemaker, the microwave oven, penicillin, the ink jet printer, x ray images, post-it notes, potato chips, Coca Cola, and chocolate chip cookies, to name a few.  These inventions have either changed how we do things, had a big impact on life, or are just delicious; all thanks to happy accidents. 

These special moments came from something as simple as decorating a cookie. I'm amazed at how much I took in just by watching, and what I was able to share with their little hearts, just simply practicing the ministry of presence and enjoy being their mom. I learned a valuable lesson in my kitchen yesterday, sometimes it's best to step out of the way and watch the beauty unfold rather than charging ahead trying to make things turn out just the way you want them to. I love that valuable life lessons are waiting for us everywhere, particularly when we quiet our hearts and our minds to simply enjoy the moments. So, really the bottom line is to just have fun with my boys with no agendas! 

For the Melted Snowman Cookies I used my favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe (for cookie cutters). This recipe is what I've been using since I was a little girl.

Sugar Cookie (Cookie Cutter)

3/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla or 1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Blend shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and then add flour, baking powder, and salt. Chill at least 1 hour. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Ungreased baking sheet for 5 minutes.

 You want a decent size circle cookie cutter. My was a little over 2 inches in diameter which was a little small so we rolled the dough thicker and cut the circles. Then we took a rolling pin and rolled them to create appoximately a 2.5 inch cookie.
You could use any icing recipe. A thicker icing turns out better so it doesn't run off the cookie.

 Icing Recipe:
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

After mixed, place in a piping bag or zip lock bag and cut the tip off to pipe a melted look with the icing.

 Decorating Ingredients:

Large Marshmallows
M&M's (regular or mini)
gel or icing pens

Microwave each large marshmallow for 5 seconds (it works best to microwave one marshmallow at a time). Place on top of cookie. Pipe eyes, mouth, nose, arms, scarves, etc. You can use regular or mini M&M's for the buttons. To give a melted look don't line the M&M's up perfectly.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Felt Ball Garland

July is the perfect time to start or complete any unfinished projects you have started for Christmas.  I started this felt ball garland over a year ago, after eyeing some adorable garlands on Etsy and thought I could make it myself for a fraction of the cost.  I hit up Hobby Lobby and bought this 100% wool roving (found in the aisle with yarn). At $1.59-$1.79 a package you can have an economical garland done in no time (I only needed three packages)! I selected a green, red, and white/cream package to create a fun Christmas garland. After setting almost complete for over a year, Christmas in July was the perfect time to wrap this project up and now it will be ready to go come Christmas!

To start, stretch the wool piece out and begin to eye how big you want each ball, keep in mind that the wool will shrink as it gets wet with water and you roll it. I got 9-10 balls from each package of wool.

After you cut a square piece you need two cups with warm water. To one cup,  add a couple drops of dish soap and the other have just water. Submerge the first square in the water with a small amount of soap.

After you remove from the water begin to form a round shape.
Then begin rolling the ball around in your hands. It will take a few minutes for each ball to take shape. Every so often dip ball in the cup with warm water only. This helps to shrink the ball as you roll it. Then return to rolling the ball between your hands.
After your ball is solid and you like the shape and size, place on a paper towel to dry. It takes a good 24 hours for felt balls to dry.

After your 24 hours of dry time. Take embroidery floss and a large needle (I used an upholstery needle). Decide the color pattern you would like for your garland (white, red, green, etc). Thread the needle and go through the middle of each felt ball to string on the garland. Space out the felt balls to your desired length. When you have them all on the garland, tie a knot in the embroidery floss so the end balls do not come off. Then cut the string at the desired length (leaving room on the end for hanging, etc). You can use the garland many ways.

That's a wrap! I can't wait to decorate with my felt ball garland this Christmas. What projects are you excited to start/finish for Christmas?