Friday, June 26, 2009

Cardboard basics

As promised, I'm committed to giving mom's tips on how to have a fun summer with your children without spending a lot of money. Today's tip won't cost anything unless you decide to purchase paint.

Remember the old black and white movies with the "little rascals"? It's my personal belief that much of the technology we experienced in the 50's and 60's was due to the fact that during the depression and through the 40's children were "forced" by poverty to develop strong creative minds. I remember laughing as the little rascals built clubhouses, rickety skateboards and push cars. All of their creations were made from trash they found lurking around the house or some junk yard.

My experience also assures me that creative children are "happier". I personally believe that when we are taught to create - it sparks the part of our brain that involves hope. We are more confident because we have proven to ourselves that if we need something and can't afford it - we can probably make something that will do.

Today's tip involves free cardboard. Make a quick trip to any large appliance store and ask for free boxes. There are several things you can do with these boxes. One summer my daughter and her boyfriend made a full size police car for our church to use during VBS. They used a full size refrigerator box and attached several small ones to it. Once it was at the the church they also attached a small wooden bench inside. They had drawn dials, connected a steering wheel and a flashing light on top. While the project belonged to my daughter, the entire family was swept into the flow of creative juices. When it was painted we were amazed at the creation and detail. It actually looked like a pint size police car complete with top, windows and swinging doors. (I've looked for pictures but I think my daughter has them)

Also, did you know that larger pieces of cardboard will slide down a grass hill much like sledding on snow? When my children were about 5 we were at my parents. My Dad was cutting up large boxes to put in the trash. One of the children grabbed a piece and took it to the top of a ten foot slope. Not only did he slide down the hill, but he did a twisty at the end. For the next three hours all three children had the fun of sledding without worrying about freezing toes and coats. And the best didn't hurt the grass!

Cardboard boxes can be made into clubhouses, personal tents, bird houses and appliances for a toddler kitchen - like a stove and counter top. My son's personal favorite was to take a box and cut one side and half of the other completely off. He would color or paint the outside to look like a race car. I'd take two pieces of twine or two belts and make shoulder straps. The straps would then hook to the box. He now had a race car hanging from his shoulders. For hours he would run around the house or play in the yard. He even discovered how to hang it from his tricycle making it the "coolest" car.

In the 70's the biggest rage was to take two pieces of cardboard and clothespin or duct tape them to the spokes of your bicycle. It makes a cool sound when you're riding down the road.

Have a fun summer!


Vacation Help!

We received an e-mail from Brenda is looking for tips when it comes to vacation! She writes from WI and is hoping from help, you are welcome to leave a comment if you can offer advice!

We are looking to take our boys to the Crayola Factory next summer, possibly June, but aside from the Crayola Factory I'm wondering what else is in that general area for the kids. They will be 4 & 5 (almost 6) by then. I've been searching the Internet and I don't know if I just don't know what to search for or if there just really isn't much else to do. We would very possibly be staying in Tamiment, PA so that would be our 'home base' each day. I'm going to find out exactly where Yankee Stadium is, I'm thinking maybe we could take a ride to NY and catch a Yankee game. Not that we're Yankee fans, but I'm sure my husband and boys would get a kick out of being able to say they got to see Yankee Stadium. . If you have any ideas I would greatly appreciate them.

Thanks a bunch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Recipe of the Week

Thanks to Loretta for the tip! You can e-mail recipe's, bargain's, and anything else mom-related to We love how simple and tasty this sounds!

I had 2 boxes of Betty Crockers Seasoned Hash browns that I didn't know what to do with. This is what I figured out and man did the kids love it.
2 boxes of Betty Crocker Seasoned Hash browns-this part is a must.
3 lbs of ground Turkey-or beef whatever you like
2-3 cans of Cream of Mushroom soup-or whatever creamed soup you like

Simply brown the ground turkey and drain. Make the harsh browns according to the package and mix with ground turkey. Then add Creamed soup the amount to your liking. It needs no seasoning there is plenty in the Betty CrockerHash browns. Yummy.

Loretta Wolfe

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ohio Family Fun!


Thanks so much to Rick for sending this e-mail and fantastic website!

Hello Mom Squad!

My name is Rick Pavia and I, along with my wife, publish a local event directory targeted to moms who have kids ages birth to 13 years old. It's FREE and it comes out monthly. It is available at over 85 locations...and growing! We also have a web site ( that is also free and has the most up to date event information. Lastly, we have a weekly E-newsletter that people can register for on our web site. They will get a weekly reminder each Monday about the upcoming weekend's events!

We also take an active roll in helping local charitable and non-profit organizations. As an example, we work with Ashley's Hope, which helps parents who are dealing with medical crises related to their children.

Thanks so much Rick!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kids, Food and Fun

After a week of pizza, take out burgers and peanut butter and jelly - the summer food fest can become boring. Why not combine a little fun with your summer meals.

It's been proven that digestion is better and we eat less when food is pleasing to the eye. Instead of plopping in front of the TV at suppertime, why not play the summer garnishing game.

Teach your children how to set the table. Ask a different person to make a centerpiece once a week. Centerpieces don't have to look like something out of Paula Dean's magazine. Centerpieces can be kid friendly and fun. Maybe there are flowers in the yard that would make a nice bouquet. Perhaps your child wants to make a tent out of a napkin and place action figures at every plate. Maybe an artistic child would want to make place cards and color or decorate them. Perfection is not important. Having fun is.

Make a game of manners. I've seen many beautiful girls dropped by handsome men (and vice versa) simply because their table manners were horrible. Make a game of using napkins, never talking with your mouth full and saying please pass the peas.

Finally, enjoy your food with your children. If they are very young, you can teach them to fold and place garnishes. If they are old enough, you can teach them to carve garnishes. It's a lot easier to eat your carrots if they look like a flower.

Google "garnishes for food" and you will find hundreds of sights that will help you make healthy food look and taste better. I liked the very first website listed
This website includes pictures to show you how to complete each step.

I especially liked the cucumber boats and the honeydew melon basket. It's a fun project that will make summer a little more special!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tea Time

Don't you love those lazy days of summer when you can kick back in a lounger and watch the children play. When it's hot it's nice to have a cool drink in your hand. I found this recipe in a cookbook from the Andy Griffith’s show. Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook has some wonderful treats to try. You can find this book on

I’ve tried this Tea and it was wonderful!

Russian Summit Tea

1 – 12 ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate
2 – 6 ounce cans frozen limeade concentrate
1 – 6 ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 ½ cups water
Juice of 8 lemons
Juice of 2 oranges
12 cups prepared tea
3 cups pineapple – grapefruit juice (1/2 large can)
Sugar to taste

In a pitcher or large container combine all of the ingredients. Stir until well blended and sweeten to taste.

Serves 12

Monday, June 15, 2009

Annual Duct Tape Festival in Avon, OH 6/19 - 6/21

This is a fantastic event with average attendance of 40,000 and a unique way to celebrate FATHER'S DAY! Darlene's son, Micah of Micah's Wallets will be there Sunday. Stop on by and say hello. Enjoy the many rides, delicious food AND see amazing things made out of, you guessed it...DUCT TAPE!!

The sixth annual Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival will kick off on June 19, 2009, just in time to celebrate Father’s Day. The festival will be an all-weekend event starting Friday at 4:00 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Avon, Ohio.

This three-day event celebrates duct tape, its enthusiasts and its wacky and fun uses. The festival also honors the history and heritage of the city that is proclaimed the “Duct Tape Capital” of the world—Avon, Ohio—the home of Duck brand duct tape.

From sculptures and fashion to games and a parade, everything at the festival revolves around duct tape and the wonderful City of Avon.

Dates and Times: Friday, June 19: 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Saturday, June 20: 11:00 am to 11:00 pmSunday, June 21: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
All-U-Can-Ride Wristbands: $15 ALL DAY

Individual ride tickets will also be available

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yea! The children are home!

The first week after the children are home for the summer is a whirlwind of activity. Everyone sleeps late, cooking breakfast is like Saturday morning and we rush around shopping for summer clothes. There are parties for graduation, wedding receptions and vacations.

But as the flurry dies down, stay-at-home moms and home daycares are faced with endless hours of "I'm bored! I don't have anything to do." If we aren't careful our entire summer will be filled with Entertaining the children rather than enjoying them.

For a well-balanced home during those lazy summer days, Mom needs a little rest as well as the children needing stimulation. The best task for a lazy day is to present the materials and then encourage your child to "create". By doing this, mom can sit back with a cool drink while the children create to their hearts content.

Did you know that spontaneous creativity will help your child in school? Did you know that the neuropathways that lead to problem solving are often started when children are at play? Avoid doing this task for them. Provide verbal encouragement but let them create.

This summer, each Thursday I will be suggesting a "low cost" way for you to get your children involved in creativity. I'll keep the cost of materials as low as possible.

June 11.......Painting the driveway......

In the fast paced final days of school children have colored, painted and worked inside until their little bodies are screaming for outdoor activities. They want to be set free. Painting the driveway is a creative way to keep them occupied with a mental task while allowing them to be outside and a little crazy.

For this project all you need is a large paintbrush and a bucket or bowl. You can find both these items at the dollar store. You can also ask friends or family if they have an old clean paintbrush - the condition of the brush doesn't matter. You can use a Tupperware bowl.

If you live in an apartment ask your manager if you can paint the sidewalk or if It's okay to sit by several parking spaces while people are at work and watch your children as they paint.

Children should be dressed in swimsuits or clothes that can get wet and dirty. Fill the bucket with water and give them the paintbrush. Their task is to paint as large a picture as possible before the sun dries the water. If you have several children this can turn into a real contest. Of course, there will be splashes of water and lots of running around and giggling. On hot days they may only be able to paint a smiley face. On cloudy days the pictures may expand.

Several nice variations are to include sidewalk chalk. The goal for this variation is to paint with water first and then fill in with the chalk. This helps their motor coordination skills because they are rushing for time.

Another variation is to use soap. Bubbles make it easier to keep the picture going.

Sometimes if the brushes were not real brittle I expanded the game to include painting the tires on our car. The children loved it and my husband was thankful that the tires had been scrubbed clean!

All children love to play in water and most all children love to paint. In my in-home daycare this game was one of their favorites.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Stuff We Love

Thanks to D-D for sending this along:

Hi all, Becci came over last night and brought her new blow dryer to show me...I was AMAZED by it. I have never seen anything like it but wanted to share a link with you in case you have shoulder length or longer hair (or know someone that does) and are in the market for a new blow dryer. Check it out at


Thanks D-D. We feel like a product test is in order, this looks fantastic!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Recipe of the Week


Hawaiian Chicken

4 Boneless Chicken Breasts, fresh or thawed out
1 Bottle of Lawry's Hawaiian Marinade1
16 oz bag of frozen Sugar Snap Peas (I prefer Bird's Eye Steamer bag)
1 Can of chunk pineapple (optional)
1 Can of chicken brothBrown rice (as much as your family eats)

1. Turn crock pot onto the warm setting, cover the bottom of crock with chicken broth. You only actually need a half of a can. Pour about 1/3 of the bottle of marinade into the chicken broth, stir and cover with lid.
2. In a mixing bowl, cover the chicken breasts with marinade (don't use it all, but most of what is left). Make sure they are coated, cover bowl and place in fridge for about an hour.
3. After the hour is up, put chicken and the marinade from the bowl into the crock pot. Make sure the chicken is covered in juice. If it's not then add a little more broth. Cover.
4. Turn up crock pot up to high. Cook on high for one hour.
5. Turn crock pot down to low and cook for two more hours.
6. At 45 minutes before the chicken is done, steam the sugar snap peas in the microwave. Drain the water and pour steamed veggies into the crock pot. At this time add the can of pineapple (if you choose, just as yummy without it) and the remainder of marinade.
7. Cook your brown rice.
8. Serve chicken mix over the rice! YUM!!

Friday, June 05, 2009

3 Free Things

3 Free Things for Your Weekend!

It's the 4th annual "Meet the Trucks" festival in Lakewood. Come see, touch and even blow the horns of Lakewood's finest fleet of 20-25 trucks. From city trucks (fire, police, garbage) to Big Rig (semi-truck cab), Coast Guard and a Digger, there’s something for everyone! The event will also have face painting, caricature artist, balloon twister, a D.J., bounce houses, raffles and the Burning River Roller Derby Girls skating at noon. Jungle Bob will be performing two shows, This FREE event will be on Saturday, June 6 and begins at 10:00 AM and will end at 2:00 PM at Lakewood Park, 14532 Lake Road. Lakewood.

It's "Tunes on the trail" ! Musician Dan Rice will play old-time music from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Peninsula Depot in Peninsula on Saturday. Bring the kids and sing along!

Quail Hollow State Park near Hartville will hold its fishing derby for children 15 and under from 9 a.m. to noon at the Shady Lane Pond Saturday. Personnel will be on hand to help beginners. Some fishing rods and bait will be provided.


Everyone could use a little Friday's. Take the family out this weekend and enjoy!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Free Event for MilitaryMoms

Thanks to Kathy for the head's up!

Just wanted to let all you ladies know that Tri-C is holding a special, free resource event for especially for Women Veterans at Tri-C Corporate College this Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Speakers, resource tables, free lunch and a chance to win one of five special door prizes. Register day of event or call 216-987-3075 and register for course number 54101

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

40 Ways to Pray for Your Children


Christianity Today has a beautiful article with ways to pray for your children. The journey of raising a family brings different challenges at different stages of their lives and this does a beautiful job of covering petitions and hopes. Click here for the article.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Tips for a Better Breakfast


With our hectic schedules, finding the time to prepare breakfast can be challenging. Here are some tips for making this important meal a little easier to get on the table -- or in your hand on the way out the door:

1. Set up to-go bags the day before a crazy morning. Include low-fat yogurt, a baggie of granola, hard-boiled egg and a handful of grapes.
2. Have a smoothie. Just make sure to add some protein, like yogurt or tofu, to keep you satisfied longer.
3. Make quick and healthy breakfast sandwiches with frozen waffles (toasted), peanut butter and sliced banana.
4. Set foods aside the night before; cut up fruits, pour cereal or prepare mixtures for baked or scrambled eggs.
5. Consider steel-cut oats for a super-healthy and convenient meal. Combine the oats and water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let set overnight. The next morning, you just have to reheat them.
6. Use your microwave. Most hot cereals have microwave instructions. Mix the cereal with liquid and flavorings, pop it in the microwave and finish dressing while breakfast cooks itself.
7. Keep your freezer stocked with frozen waffles and healthy breakfast burritos.8. Don't think of berries as an extravagance. They're outrageously good for you and they turn the most boring bowl of cereal into something special.9. Keep hard-boiled eggs in your fridge -- it's an easy dose of high-quality protein.