Please, Can I Have S’more?

smores35 Easy Ways to Make S’Mores

Fall is here. I am sure there are many of you who, like me, wish that summer hadn’t come to an end, although with all this hot weather I think Mother Nature is a little confused. There is still a way to keep that summer feeling alive even after all this warm weather ends- by making and eating s’mores!!!!

I know, I know….. but s’mores require sticks to roast the marshmallows, and a fire pit, and a fire. Or do they? Here are five easy ways we enjoy s’mores at our house all year long. And not one of them requires sticks or a fire!

1.Crescent Roll S’mores

All you need to make these easy treats is some crescent rolls, chocolate chips and marshmallows. We just roll up the chocolate and marshmallow inside the crescent roll, then sprinkle with the chocolate and cinnamon grinder from PC (although this is optional or you could sprinkle with whatever you like) and bake as directed for the crescent rolls. Yummy!

2. S’mores Trail Mix

Something simple that the kids could make themselves. Marshmallows, chocolate chips, and Golden Graham cereal that they can just mix in a bowl or cup.

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3. Nutella Indoor S’mores

These can also be made (partially) by the kids themselves ( I don’t let them use the microwave on their own yet). I just lay out graham crackers, Nutella, and marshmallows. They can spread the Nutella on the graham crackers and add a large marshmallow. Then we microwave for about 20 seconds or until the marshmallow puffs up, then remove and top with the other graham cracker and enjoy!

4. BBQ S’mores

If you are already barbecuing dinner why not make dessert too? Just assemble the s’mores on foil and place in the barbecue. Sometimes we make it even easier and use cookies that already have chocolate on one side. The barbecue can even be turned off as long as it is still warm. Wait until the marshmallow is ooey, gooey and take a big bite of the messy goodness.

5. The “Super Easy Mom is Tired” Smores Snack

I think these pictures say it all. Easiest s’mores snack ever!

 

And of course there is the good old-fashioned way to make and enjoy your s’mores. But, of course, that would require a fire and sticks.

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Kitchen Assistant to Junior Chef

limesI know I have said it before, but I believe kitchen skills and cooking are essential life skills. I begin teaching my children how to cook (or at least to help prep food or be involved in some way in the kitchen) at a fairly young age.

Recently, we were at the cottage and became hooked on the Food Network when we had some nasty weather roll through each evening. My younger daughter (she’s 7) became obsessed with Chopped Junior and decided she could do better. I challenged her to make up an entire meal – dinner, dessert, and a drink- and told her I would buy the ingredients but she had to prep, make, and serve it. She embraced the challenge and not only made up the recipes and menu, but drew me a list of ingredients to purchase for her.

Her main course was what she dubbed Caroline’s Summer Fresh Salad which contained lettuce, red, yellow, and orange peppers, and bacon (because everything’s better with bacon!) and was to be served with Raspberry Vinaigrette. I admit, I convinced her to serve the vinaigrette on the side because I knew her brothers wouldn’t eat it.

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For her drink, she decided she wanted a lemon and lime flavoured water but wanted it to be fizzy. I suggested adding something carbonated for fizziness and she chose Club Soda. I helped her slice the lemons and limes, and she removed the seeds, placed them in the jug in an arrangement of her choosing and adding the remaining ingredients and stirred it to mix. She decided I should fill the cups with ice to make it extra cold.

For dessert, she made Whipped Cream Donut Dreams. She had me get plain donuts which she sliced in half and filled with whipped cream (from a can to make it easy for her). She then drizzled them with melted chocolate and added some rainbow sprinkles.

 

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She had such a good time from planning and executing her menu, and I was so proud of her! I think this exercise really boosted her confidence in just how much she can do in the kitchen. She is now constantly asking to help out in preparing our meals and I let her do as much as I safely can. She recently helped me make homemade burgers and mixed all the ingredients herself. She has even asked to be enrolled in cooking classes!

Children are capable of so much more than people give them credit for. Challenge them and see what they can do. If we just allow them to spread their wings, just think of how high and far they could soar.

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8 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained This Summer

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Listen parents……I know how it is. You look forward to summer for three quarters of the year, but once it’s here the echoes of “I’m bored!” have you wishing for the return of September quick (and that’s just the second week). As you know from last summer’s blog post, I don’t necessarily plan out my entire summer. And as you can see from the title of this post, it is not about how to keep them busy or constantly on the go, but how to keep them entertained. Here are some of the things we have been doing this summer.

ICE BOWLING

I got this idea scrolling through Pinterest. The post there had specific moulds to make elaborate ice bowling balls and I just don’t have the time, patience, or energy for that. So we went outside and set up “pins” made from Duplo and took a cooler bag full of ice cubes and gave it our best. We did draw some lines to stand behind at various distances so the littler ones could be closer if they wanted. Sometimes the ice cubes slid along the driveway, sometimes they bounce, sometimes they were aimed and thrown. There were no real rules. You hit a pin, you got a point. Best part? Minimal set up and clean up.

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THEME DAYS

I am a HUGE fan of theme parties and theme days. There are so many to do and such various levels you can take it. One of our favourite themes this summer has been Under the Ocean. We do crafts (see below), watch a themed movie (Shark Tale in this case), and have themed snacks too (Goldfish crackers and penguin cookies).

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SPLASH PAD OR PARK VISITS

Let’s face it- our summer weather has been less than stellar this year. When the weather co-operates, we have spent the time in the sun at the park and splash pad in our neighbourhood. But why restrict it to that? Check out one of the many splash pads outside of your neighbourhood for a new adventure.

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GO ON AN ADVENTURE

Go somewhere you’ve never been before even if it a local area. Bring binoculars. Let the kids take pictures. Look for treasure.

OUTDOOR GAMES

Remember all the games we used to play outside when you were a kid? Bring them back for your kids. I guarantee they probably haven’t heard about them at school from their friends. We use our sidewalk chalk and I draw out hopscotch, obstacle courses, and bulls eyes for them to toss things into for points. Bubbles are always a great time waster too.

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SIDEWALK CHALK

Yep, good old sidewalk chalk. It’s cheap, its colourful, it washes off easily, and you can take it anywhere.

 

S’MORES!!!

Need I say more (or S’more?).

PLAY-DOH

Okay, I admit, this is not my favourite. It ends up everywhere, the colours all get mixed (which does nothing for my type A, uber organized self), and everyone always seems to want all the same tools to use at the exact same time. BUT every single kid I have ever met LOVES this stuff and it can keep them entertained for an entire afternoon. Do you know how much laundry you can get done and put away in a whole afternoon with no interruptions? (4 loads at my place!).

What kind of activities do you rely on to keep your kids entertained during the summer months?

 

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Kids in the Kitchen

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Cooking is a life skill that I believe everyone should learn. You don’t have to be a master chef but the basics are something that everyone should know. I start teaching my children (both the boys and the girls!) very young about cooking and baking so when they are older, they can be self-sufficient and independent in the kitchen. Teaching them young gives them a feeling of accomplishment and helps them feel comfortable in the kitchen as they get older. It also helps with numbers, weight, measurements, time, and following instructions.

Here are some of our favourite things that kids can make with just a bit of guidance.

  1. Momma’s Magic Oatmeal Cookies (aka Quinn’s Favourite)

These cookies are so tasty! It started with a simple Oatmeal cookie recipe but we have mastered it over the years, adding our own spices and adjusting different ingredients to make it the perfect Oatmeal cookie. They are crispy on the edges but soft and chewy throughout the middle. Sweet and spicy. So, so yummy in your tummy! I admit these are made on a monthly basis (and sometimes even more often!). Try them out for yourselves. I have included the recipe below.

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  1. Pillsbury Wrapped Wieners

I made these a few years ago for a Halloween party we had for the kids. They were a huge hit. They are so easy and there really are no precise measurements so easy for kids to do with a little help. I do all the knife work and they do the rest.

 

  1. Bread In a Bag

Another easy recipe that is simple for kids to do. There are several recipes on Pinterest you can use. As a side note- I reduce the salt as I find the result is pretty salty. This bread turns out pretty dense, but it is great for toast and French toast. My kids love it warm out of the oven with butter and jam.

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  1. Mashed potatoes

My six year old is really beginning to help out in the kitchen and likes to help with the big family meals. One thing I let her do that not only takes the job out of my hands, but allows her to do it with minimal supervision is mashed potatoes. I still cut and cook the potatoes and she adds in the butter and mashes them up on her own. Really simple, but still helpful.

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  1. Homemade soup

I love homemade soups and stews. With limited time, the crockpot is your friend, but sometimes it is nice to smell the soup simmering slowly on the stovetop.

I recently taught Caroline how to make pea soup with ham. We used the leftover ham bone and she helped by cutting up vegetables and adding all the seasonings to the pot.

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Try giving your young ones a little more freedom in the kitchen. By no means am I suggesting you have your five year old prepare a five course meal on their own. Safety first! And I know that sometimes it gets messy, sometimes it takes twice as long, but it is learning through fun. Your future selves will thank you…especially when you come home and dinner is already made for you.

 

 

Momma`s Magic Oatmeal Cookies

 

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 cup oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp hot water

2 cups rolled oats

1 ½ cup flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp all spice

(sometimes I add more of the spices depending on my mood, or use pumpkin pie spice)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs in mixing bowl until frothy. Beat in both sugars and add oil and vanilla.

Dissolve baking soda in the hot water and add to bowl. Stir.

Add in oats, flour and salt, and all spices. Stir together. Using a cookie scoop or by spoonful, drop onto cookie sheet and bake between 8 and 11 minutes.

Makes about 3 ½ dozen small or 24 larger cookies.

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You Can’t Beat Kindness

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This cold and dreary weather has been dragging on this year. Where is our sunshine? I find myself feeling irritated and cranky, and I’m sure others do as well. One day, we were out shopping and my son noticed another person who he felt had a “grumpy face”. I explained that sometimes people just don’t feel happy. Do you know what he said? “Well, maybe they just need a little more love.” And my wise little boy was right. Maybe all they did need was a smile, or a gesture, to help make their day better. So we went about making some other people’s days better. 

The statement from my son that maybe people just need a little more love gave me an idea. I crocheted a pile of little hearts and we attached a string to them. We decided that a good place to reach people was along a walking path near our home that has a lot of people walking their dogs, biking, or walking. We took the hearts and hung them from a couple of trees along the path. Then I wrote the message “You Are Loved. Please Take One” along the path with an arrow pointing to the hearts hanging on the tree.

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My youngest three set about drawing joyful pictures and words to spread the happiness. We had a few takers while we were still there drawing and one lady told us it was the happiest part of her day.

 The second happiness project the kids came up with was to secretly gave people “happy cards”. We decide the best place to do it was the library, a place we visit often. They drew joyful pictures of flowers, sunshine, rainbows, and other brightly coloured pictures and we glued them onto card stock and added the message “Have a Happy Day!” We took them to the library and selected some of the new release books (since they would surely be taken out sooner than others) and we slipped the cards between the pages. Then the boys replaced them on the shelves for an unsuspecting library patron. Erik decided that the librarian deserved the prettiest picture he had drawn to make her day happier.

 

Photo 2017-02-28, 9 44 48 AMAs parents, we try to show our children small ways to be kind- help a neighbour bring in their garbage cans, take cookies to someone under the weather, volunteer to carry someone’s groceries, hold the door open, just offer a smile. You never know what others are going through or feeling and even the smallest gesture of kindness can brighten their day. So, as Erik says, just show a little more love because you can’t beat kindness.

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March Break Madness

We recently made another March Break road trip to Florida for March Break. Our family trip was a little (actually a LOT) different this year as, for the first time, our two oldest were not with us. Our oldest daughter is in college now and she had school, and our oldest son is in grade 12 so he was away on his grad trip with his school. Even though we had two less people in the van, we still seemed to have just as much stuff!

We missed the older kids as we usually have them as extra eyes and hands at the beach or in the van. As you know from previous posts, our older kids help out with the buddy system when we are at an outing or at the beach. This year hubs and I were outnumbered 3-2 by the wee ones.

In another way, it was a bit easier for planning things to do since we only had to plan for one age group of kids when we did outings or activities and not worry about anyone being left out. Usually we plan things in advance to make sure everyone gets the most out of the trip but this year we headed down with no set plans, just ideas on things we wanted to try. We asked the kids what they wanted to do on their trip. Top three answers were go to the beach, have ice cream, and eat crocodile.

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We spent a lot of time at the beach. Let me tell you- sand is my nemesis. It gets everywhere and into everything and is just a mess to clean up. BUT it is easy entertainment for the kids and they can make it into anything with their imagination. We had some extra excitement this year in that two dolphins came in quite close to shore so we saw them swimming and coming up out of the water.

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There is a little local ice cream shop we always go to when we are there and this year was no different. I admit there were quite a few visits to the ice cream shop. And we also ate ice cream at the beach. This trip was definitely not waist-line friendly.

We went to a Nature Learning Centre where there are several paths to walk through and see things in their natural habitat. There are several different paths leading to different areas but we only did one. We will definitely be heading there again to do some of the others in the future.

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Can you believe we drove all the way to Florida to watch the Blue Jays? Not really, but they just happened to be playing a Spring Training game against the Boston Red Sox at the stadium close to where we were on my son’s fourth birthday, so it was a fun outing for us to do together.

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We also spent a day at a Children’s Museum in Naples that we had been told about. It was a great interactive museum with different areas all made specifically for kids to be kept active, interesting and engaged. They are already asking to go again next year.

Each time we go to Florida we try to balance the time between trying new things, going to new places we haven’t seen before, and just relaxing at the beach. We try not to “plan” ourselves too much and just deciding on the day what we want to do. We had another great time making memories with, and for, our children. As always, the trip seemed too short and I look forward to when we go back.

And just in case you were wondering…….we did not eat crocodile.

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Back Yard Winter Fun

 

This month I asked Jeannine to come up with some outdoors activities for the blog. Being the super smart mom she is, she consulted the experts. Those experts came up with some fun and simple activities any little person will enjoy. Who are these experts? Read on to find out. Until next month….enjoy. Anna

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Outdoors with Little People

As Canadians, we are supposed to love winter (or is that another myth? Wink, wink). It is easy to keep kids occupied and having fun outside when there is a never-ending pile of white, fluffy stuff for them to play in- make a snowman, have a snowball fight, go tobogganing, build a snow fort- the list is endless. But what do you do when there is NO SNOW?!?!?

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When it comes to packing, trip taking and big family outings, I am a major type A personality (you know I love lists, right?). But for the everyday of family life with kids, I am the Queen of unstructured play. I believe children will use their imagination when it comes to finding something to catch and keep their interest. So, when it was time to find some outdoor activities to keep my wee boys busy in the backyard, I simply bundled them up and we went outside to see where their imagination would take them. Here is what they came up with:

Play Soccer with a Beach Ball

Apparently winter soccer only works with a beach ball. A regular soccer ball is only for summer. That’s what they told me. I’m taking their word for it.

Play Dinosaur Tag

This really just entailed playing tag while roaring like a dinosaur if you were it.

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Collect Pine Cones to Use as Building Materials

Each of them took an old plant pot and started filling it up with pine cones, sticks and anything else they found in the frozen tundra of the yard and then they decided to build a village with them. And, since they are boys and love destruction, then they knocked them down. While roaring. Like dinosaurs.

Have a Picnic with Cookies and Hot Chocolate

The boys thought that a picnic would be a good idea since they were so worn out from all the building and destroying. And since they needed to replenish their dinosaur energy ( again, that’s what they told me), cookies were suggested no less than seven times as we were planning out where to have our picnic. Hot chocolate may have been very subtly suggested by me as I needed to replenish my body heat.

 

Put Out Birdseed and Count How Many Birds and Squirrels Show Up

Last year, we put up new bird houses and new bird feeders and as soon as we filled the feeder, squirrels surrounded it and spilled all the birdseed. The kids thought it was hilarious that the squirrels were eating out of the birdfeeder and the birds were on the ground eating what the squirrels had spilled. I gave each of them a small container of birdseed and oats and let them sprinkle it wherever they wanted. Then we waited. And waited. And then the dinosaurs got restless and decided to play more tag so we ended up with a count of zero birds and zero squirrels. Maybe when there are no more dinosaurs roaring in the area, they will show up for a little snack.

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Don’t let the lack of snow affect having fun outside in winter. Bundle those kids up and head out to the backyard and see where their creativity takes them. I promise you’ll have fun and be amazed at what they think up.

 

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