Day 142: Planning a Game Night

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My brothers and I love video games, though we’ll spring for a good board or card game. Over the years, our parents accrued quite a collection and there were entire closets and drawers stuffed full of various games from classic to novel.

One of the nice things about a board game is that it brings everyone together in a relaxed setting. You are then able to talk to each other while playing the game.

You might want to set a specific night in the month or the week in which you have a game night, so it is something that can look forward to. I remember on Sunday evenings after the younger children and went to bed, my parents let the older children stay up later and play card games with them. We often played the card game Rook and had a good time, feeling like we were in some sort of exclusive club because we got to stay up late to play games.

One thing that you need to watch out for is getting overly competitive. If you started this tradition young, it is a good idea to instill in your children to focus on having fun spending time as a family, rather than crushing your opponents. We have had a few games spoiled by some of that, or even the temptation to flip over the board in anger and storm off. No matter how frustrating it gets, it really is just a game.

There are many games that are easy and fun to play with the entire family. Here’s a list of places where you can go by board games and some of my recommendations:

Game Buying Sites:

https://www.funagain.com/control/main

http://www.gamenightgames.com/

http://www.yourgamehaven.com/

http://www.boardgames.com/

http://www.gameparadisestore.com/

My Recommended Games:

Settlers of Catan

Carcassone

Miles Bournes

Skip Bo

Risk

Monopoly

Rook

Phase 10

7 Wonders

Ticket to Ride

Pandemic

Scatagories

Apples to Apples

Day 100: Summertime Sprinklers

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If you need you an alternative if you can’t get to the swimming pool. It can likely be found on the side of your house. Growing up, my dad often got out the sprinkler and set it in our backyard in a central location.

He turned the water on high and we got in our swimsuits to play in the sprinkler to cool off. Most the time because it was even more fun, we placed the sprinkler underneath our trampoline. The trampoline’s holes were large enough to let the water spray through.

In many ways, it is even more fun than a swimming pool We would be able to bounce around for cooling off. We had to be careful not to let children who were too young to get on though because it was a bit slippery, though most of the older kids played there regularly without incident.

Sometimes, we even got multiple sprinklers, our sprinklers with different patterns to mix things up. It just goes to show that you don’t have to go very far and spend a lot of money to go have fun with your kids.

Day 79: No-Bake, No Hassel

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One of my favorite things to do with my parents growing up was making dessert. Both my mom and dad were comfortable in the kitchen and creative to boot. One of our favorites was no bake cookies. As the name suggests, these cookies don’t require you to turn on the oven, and were especially nice during the summer when turning on the oven meant heating up the house.

The idea behind no-bake cookies is that they’re created of ingredients that are sticky enough to hold together and then are usually put in the fridge or freezer in order to harden them up. They don’t contain any eggs or anything else that would be questionable to eat raw.

There are many kinds of no bake cookies. Many of them involve chocolate, peanut butter, or different kinds of baking chips. Since they don’t have to spend any time in the oven, they’re also very easy to whip up quickly, though you get better results if they have more time to cool.

Try one of the following recipes (or adapt them) and let your kids join in on the fun both in the preparation and in making those cookies disappear.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cooking-live/chocolate-peanut-butter-no-bake-cookies-recipe/index.html

http://www.shugarysweets.com/2013/06/skinny-no-bake-cookies

http://www.sophistimom.com/cream-cheese-no-bake-cookies/

Day 72: Making Flubber

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Now some of us they remember one of the movies made about a wonderful substance known as Flubber. It bounced all around and generally caused havoc. Growing up, we used to make a version of Flubber, which was plenty bouncy and squishy, but did not cause all that much trouble. Is a big hit with all of us kids and really fun just to sink your fingers into.

It is easy to make and can be done with the children. It’s also not that expensive as the main ingredients are regular school glue and borax soap. When you make it, it is not sticky and doesn’t leave a mess everywhere.

Here is the recipe for making Flubber guaranteed to put your on your kid’s “World’s Best Dad” list.

http://crafts.creativebug.com/make-flubber-1998.html

Question: Would this be an activity my kids would enjoy?

Day 65: Camping Out Close to Home

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You don’t have to travel far to have a great camping experience with your kids.  Though it is fun to have the entire wilderness experience, this can be difficult, especially if you have young children.

The fun part though, is if you make the pledge to pack up and agree not to go back into the house unless there is a major emergency. Bring all of the food that you will need, all the entertainment, the sleeping bags, the camp stove, the tent, the flashlights, etc.

If you don’t have a firepit in your back yard, you might not want to alarm you neighbors by having a bonfire. Camp stoves or grills work just as well for making s’mores, foil dinners or hot dogs.  Don’t forget the bug spray, depending on where you live so that you don’t end up with a few battle scars.

The only thing you shouldn’t bring are electronics. Turn off your phone, leave the iPhone behind, and unplug for a little while. Enjoy the time together and use your imagination.

Be sure to bring some stories to tell by flashlight and if nothing else, take the chance to look at the stars.

Here are some tutorials to help you make the camping experience the best it can be:

Making S’mores: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Cookie/Smores/Smores.htm

Making Foil Dinners: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/07/20/cooking-around-the-campfire-9-easy-and-delicious-foil-packet-recipes/

How to Pitch a Tent: http://www.backpacker.com/how_to_pitch_a_tent/videos/39

Campfire stories: http://www.americanfolklore.net/campfire.html

http://www.ultimatecampresource.com/site/camp-activities/campfire-stories.html

Question: What would you do with your kids on a campout?

Day 58: Passing Down Music

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Like it or not, I grew up liking a lot of the music that my parents listened to. My mother loved musicals, and would play the tracks for us, while telling us the plot of the musicals so that we grew to love them even before we saw them on stage.

As an adult, I love the music of James Taylor, because my mother listened to it while I was growing up. This fall, I will have the chance to actually perform with him in Salt Lake City with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I now share my favorite kinds of music with my sons, and they have taken to it completely. It has been a way to bond with my sons and feel like I am passing something on to them. My oldest loves choral music so much now that he recently sat through a 90 minute concert with barely a peep, because he was so in to the music.

Sharing your music is easier than ever. Not only can you download music digitally to your phone or computer through sites like Amazon.com and iTunes, but there are now digital music services like Pandora or Spotify that allow you access to a wide library of music for free.

It’s even more fun if you dance around with your kids to upbeat music. I remember that we’d all lie around the living room and my parents would put on “Comin’ to America” by Neil Diamond that starts out really slowly. During the slow part, we would all gradually stand up and when the fast section came, all of us kids would dance around the room until the song was done.  Good memories.

Question: How could you share your favorite kinds of music with your kids?

Day 37: Play it Again…

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I remember the wonder on a Christmas morning when my brothers and I unwrapped a Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It felt having an arcade in our living room.

Video games these days that I played on that system now run on my phone and the cutting edge games look more like movies. There is still something charming about those old games that many of the new games do not capture in my eyes.

One fun bonding thing I like to do with my son is replay some of those old games that I grew up on: the old Super Mario and Zelda games in particular.  These games were often simpler to learn and play than many current titles and so it is easier to play them with my children, and relive my own childhood at the same time.

What’s great is that you don’t necessarily need to dust off a retro system from the attic. In my case, my current system has the option of purchasing retro games and downloading them directly onto the system’s hard drive. The new system doesn’t require quite so much cajoling to work properly.

Day 30: Cookies that are Cake? Madness!

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In our house, C has always been for cookie. I love making them, and I love eating them even more with a cold glass of milk. The only problem is that many cookie recipes are time consuming and require many ingredients. My children want to pitch in, but sometimes there is just not room in the kitchen.

Thankfully, when I was growing up, my mother introduced me to a tasty cookie shortcut: cake mix cookies. The recipe is simple:

1 cake mix (whatever you want the base flavor of the cookies to be)

2 eggs

1/3 cup of oil

Add ins (chocolate chips, nuts, candy pieces…whatever you want)

You simply mix all of these together, put them on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 min at 350. These cookies taste great and are always soft. The combinations are many, which allow you creativity. I’ve made cookies out of white, yellow, devil’s food, strawberry, lemon and even funfetti cake mixes and I’m happy with the results every time.

They are also so simple that it’s easy to have your kids help you make them. And eat them of course.

Day 16: Making Pancakes with Style

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Pancakes were a staple in the Young household, especially Saturday mornings. In fact, my father had a sourdough pancake start that had to be used every week in order to keep it going.  If you have never tried one of these, you are missing out. Here’s how it works:

http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,165,144173-244202,00.html

Whether you are making the normal pancakes or the Mickey Mouse variety, making pancakes can be deceptively tricky. Having made a batch or ten myself, here are some things I have learned:

  1. Preheat the griddle or pan.
  2. Use cooking spray, oil, or butter to grease the cooking surface. (You won’t like the results if you don’t)
  3. Wait until the bubbles that form in the pancakes pop and stay before flipping them.
  4. Watch them carefully and only give each side a few minutes.

Start your own pancake tradition, and your kids will thank you.

Here are handy recipes:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Todds-Famous-Blueberry-Pancakes/Detail.aspx?prop24=RD_RelatedRecipes

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Pancakes/Detail.aspx?prop24=RD_RelatedRecipes

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Oatmeal-Pancakes-II/Detail.aspx?prop24=RD_RelatedRecipes

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Wheat-Germ-Whole-Wheat-Buttermilk-Pancakes/Detail.aspx?prop24=RD_RelatedRecipes

Or create your own! (Just about) anything goes, especially berries, nuts, dried fruit, and of course…candy or chocolate (or any other kind of) chips.

Day 9: Playing “Three Clues”

Clue

My young son loves the TV show “Blues Clues”, thanks to the wonder of streaming Netflix. The game they play there is simple: one person places three clues around the house and the other person has to guess the meaning.

I play a modified version with my son before we go out to do a fun activity. I hide clues on three objects around the house and have him seek them out, and let him figure it out. You can cut out shapes from construction paper or find some other way to mark your clues.

For example:

One clue on the car keys

One clue on the freezer

One clue on my wallet

Put them all together, and it spells a trip to the ice cream store.

Question:

What other clues could you put together with your kids?