Tag Archives: February Vacation

Monday Musings: Making your own fun

17 Feb
Using the components from games you already have to create a new game is a fun way to spend a day out of school!

Using the components from games you already have to create a new game is a fun way to spend a day out of school!

It’s school vacation week for us this whole week ahead. Monday, President’s Day, is a day off for many kids around the country, even if they don’t have the whole week off.

For many parents, a whole week out of school during the winter months can seem daunting. What to do? Where to go?

As a mom, I often find that the most fun and memorable moments come from an unplanned event or from the kids’ own minds when left to their own devices.

And I don’t mean electronic devices.

Often we’ll allow some electronics time and then all devices go off and it’s time to find something to do, whether they need to read a book, occupy themselves in their rooms, or play a board game.

Over our last school vacation week, my younger two girls decided to play dominoes after my youngest had played them at school during indoor recess time on a rainy or snowy day. She was thrilled to find out that we had dominoes here as well, and what began as making “domino effect” structures and watching one domino lead to their demise, ended up being an hours-long project, using all of the dominoes plus all of the previously-popular “Squinkies” to create two entirely new games.

Without any parental direction or involvement whatsoever, the girls created a challenge for themselves, to each take a set of the dominoes and some of the Squinkies, and create their own game and rules for the game, which they’d then teach each other to play.

I know I said it, but this bears repeating: this took them several hours.

Creating the box for storing their game components was almost as much of a challenge for them as creating the games themselves.

Creating the box for storing their game components was almost as much of a challenge for them as creating the games themselves.

Between coming up with the game they wanted to create, coming up with the rules for it, playing it for and with each other, and then the next part: creating a box to store the games in, complete with some marketing images on the boxes, took them hours.

The box they created had a challenge to it as well. They decided to use one box, which had originally contained a pair of men’s boots, to store both games. However, they split the box down the middle and each came up with completely unique packaging to market their particular game.

I swear to you, I had nothing to do with this. I was downstairs sorting through *last* school year’s papers that I was archiving into bins to save.

They were completely engaged, not bored, not arguing, not asking us for ANYTHING, for hours.

And best of all, they had a blast. It was a highlight of their week.

It didn’t cost us a dime, we didn’t leave the house. They never even changed out of their pajamas.

It was excellent. And they were so, so proud of themselves.

Sometimes, as parents, I think we get caught up in the pressures of planning the perfect day off, the perfect vacation week, and I think sometimes if we leave some down time in the schedule it can be a good thing.

I know that there’s a fine line between leaving too much time free, and leaving no time free, but I think it’s important as we enter this school vacation week, to remember to leave at least some time for the kids to tap into their own creativity and ability to entertain themselves. Nothing pleases me more than to see my kids all playing together, laughing, talking, thinking out loud and being creative. It’s a valuable skill to foster in kids, and who knows what they’ll create!

Give it a try this week or on your next snow day, holiday, day off or weekend and see what your kids come up with! They just might surprise you.

Did you survive February Vacation Week? Reward yourself!

24 Feb
Vanilla pudding dessert with vanilla wafers, strawberries and bananas

A perfect treat for the end of the week!

It’s Friday!

Did you survive the week?

If so, treat yourself to a super-simple dessert that I found on Pinterest (been on there yet??) and just had to pin for future use. The future came sooner than later! If you click on the underlined words above, it’ll take you right to the blog post where I got the recipe from.

In the past, I’ve mixed vanilla wafers, vanilla pudding and bananas for a treat before, but this recipe just looked so much better because she served it in mason jars, and I just so happened to have mason jars downstairs, sitting there doing nothing.

I also happened to have both bananas and strawberries, which in my opinion go so well together, so I figured I’d throw some of those in as well.

I got my ingredients at Aldi's, including the bananas, the strawberries and the milk.

To make this, I used two small packages of instant vanilla pudding, just as I would to make pudding for my family usually, plus three bananas and almost the entire package of strawberries. I don’t have a specific number of vanilla wafers to tel you that I used, but I made six mason jars worth of dessert, so I used almost the whole package of vanilla wafers. I just threw them into a gallon-sized ziploc bag and used my rolling pin to crush them up.

You have to let the pudding chill once it’s mixed, so I mixed it first and did the other ingredients next. Once it was sufficiently solid, I started my assembly line of layering the ingredients in the jars.

mason jars

Assembly line layering worked best for creating this dessert.

The layering was easy. I simply layered the vanilla wafers first, then the pudding and the fruit. I did another layer of wafers, a little more pudding and fruit and then whipped cream on top with a couple of strawberries for a garnish. If you have any of those nice long iced tea spoons, they are the perfect utensil to use for eating this type of dessert.

This is also the kind of thing that doesn’t keep well, so once you make it, you have to eat it right away or else the vanilla wafers get soggy inside the jars and obviously you can’t refrigerate it with the cream and strawberries on top either!

I think it’s a perfect dessert for company, for summertime, or….for the last day of February Vacation!! I also saw a comment on the original post that said someone put in mini chocolate chips too! Wouldn’t *that* be yummy?! I didn’t have any, but it’s on the list for next time!

I bet your mouth is watering right now!

Enjoy!

February vacation AND Ash Wednesday…a double whammy!

22 Feb

All you need for a great meatless meal during Lent!

Surviving February Vacation week? I hope so! I know a lot of schools don’t actually have a vacation in February, but in our neck of the woods we do, and I’m always grateful for the break. Have you been doing anything special? If you live near a national state park, check out their website. Oftentimes they have special things planned for school vacation weeks. If not, you can always set up an indoor campsite with tents or forts.

Alex set up “Camp Rock” in our house the other day with her guitar and all kinds of stuff in her tent in her bedroom. Kept her amused and busy for quite some time. I always find forts to be a good use of time also. They stay in them for hours.

Alex was set up in her tent for a long time the other day! Forts and tents = tons of fun!

This week Lent begins in the Catholic religion, which means for my family that today is Ash Wednesday and so begins the 40 days of Lent. During Lent there are several practices we follow, one of which is the giving up of meat on certain days, namely holy days and Fridays.

One of our favorite meatless meals is Grandma Rose’s Tuna and Spaghetti. It’s pasta with a twist. It’s a Depression era meal, one that she grew up on back in the 1930’s. It’s one of our family’s favorite meals, and whenever people hear about it, they first say “ewwww” til they taste it. I’ve never had anyone try it and not like it. If you’re looking for something different to try during your 40 days of Lent, or just in general (because we do it this all year long too) give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

Tuna and spaghetti sauce

There's nothing like a pot of bubbling sauce simmering away on the stove!

GRANDMA ROSE’S FAMOUS TUNA AND SPAGHETTI

INGREDIENTS

one 28 ounce can Kitchen Ready Tomatoes

one 6 1/2 ounce can Bumble Bee Tuna and Oil

one clove garlic

1 TBl. olive oil

salt, pepper, basil, oregano to taste

1 cup water

DIRECTIONS

Use 2 qt. sauce pan and brown the garlic and oil.

Remove garlic

Add tomatoes (you can angle the cover of the pan over the pan to avoid splatter.)

Add one cup of water, plus salt, pepper, oregano and basil.

Cook on low heat for 1/2 hour.

Add tuna, including oil in can, and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Grandma Rose gave us her pasta bowl for serving our pasta. I think of her every time we use it and she's so glad we get lots of use out of it!

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