7 Boredom Buster Ideas For Holiday Breaks

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Hewlett Packard. I was compensated but all opinions are my own.
HP Sprout

As parents we've all heard it. The incessant whine of kids on holiday break proclaiming, "I'm bored." It gives every parent chills up their spine. Even those who seem to be have a Pinterest board for everything will sometimes find themselves mired in the depths of their children's "holiday boredom blues." Never fear because I know that deep dark feeling. You don't have to curl up in a corner and go to your happy place during this holiday break time because I'm here to help. 

I've come up with seven ideas to help rid your house of the boredom whines. Feel free to share these ideas with friends, call them your own, or tweak them for your family. Just don't send your kids over to my house because I will just load them up with espresso and candy, give them each two kittens, and send them back to you. After all, I've got three kids of my own to wrangle during the break.

HP Sprout
Photo courtesy of dadlogic.net
1. Make a Blanket Fort
When I was growing up my brother and I used to build these all the time. We would use heavy books, trophies, and lamps to hold the blankets up. Inevitably it would all come tumbling down on our heads. I recommend using clothespins or some small clamps. These tools will work wonders and make it more stable (and much less painful). Don't be afraid to spend the night in the fort with your kids, they will remember it forever!

HP Sprout

2. Practice Their DJ Skills (With Headphones Required)
One of the cooler apps I've found is the Crayola DJ app for the HP Sprout Workstation. It is free and has kept my kids busy for long periods of time. They don't even need to know the first thing about being a DJ to make it work. Let them get hands on and make their own music. Seriously though, headphones are an absolute must. Plus, if they have some large headphones it can just add to the DJ experience.

HP Sprout

5 Truths Of A Real Family Dinnertime

Monday, November 23, 2015

This post has been sponsored by Campbell's Soup. I have been compensated but all opinions are my own.
campbell's soup

Every parent knows how precious family dinnertime is. Or how chaotic. I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Let's be honest. Pinterest is awesome for all sorts of ideas but not every family dinnertime is Pinterest perfect. Despite the best of intentions, I would argue that much of what happens at family dinner does not go according to schedule or a plan. No matter what has happened that day adults, kids, and dogs are still expecting a meal. It doesn't mean it's a negative thing, it's just real life. Because real life happens here are 5 truths that apply to most families at dinnertime.

1. Dinner is Never Soon Enough
Parents don't really need a timer for cooking food. You always know when the meal is ready when you hear, "I'm hungry, isn't dinner ready yet" seven times. Or is it seventeen times? Sometimes I miscount. It doesn't really matter. Even if you start cooking at 2 pm dinner still won't arrive soon enough for a ravenous fourth grader.

2. Kids Always Want the "Other" Kind of Food
The one fortunate side effect of kids being constantly hungry is that they are ready to dive in at a moment's notice. The unfortunate part of this is that whatever food you prepare, they always want the other one. Sure they were addicted to plain white rice with butter last week. This week it is that dish is much too spicy. Did you make the deadly mistake of picking the can of Campbell's Tomato soup? The correct choice was the Chicken Noodle. Unless it's Thursday or every fourth Saturday.
campbell's soup

3. Staying Seated is Almost as Difficult as Splitting the Atom
Why don't we have seatbelts at the dining room table again? You would think by the number

Learn to Make Fun Thanksgiving Placemats With Your Family

Thursday, November 19, 2015

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Hewlett Packard. I received compensation for participating in this campaign but all opinions are my own.
HP Sprout

There isn't much that gets me as excited as eating Thanksgiving dinner. The deep fried turkey, the mashed potatoes, the pies, I look forward to the splendor of the meal all year long. As a parent, I love sharing this time with my kids as well. The only problem with having kids is that they cut into the bounty of the dinner. For example, I love Turkey drumsticks. Growing up it was understood that they are mine. My daughter now loves them and my oldest son does as well. But if you just did the math that means no drumstick for me.

Aside from my turkey thieves, the best part of Thanksgiving is family getting together. So we decided it would be really fun to create a craft that family could take home with them that showed them that the kids are thankful for them. This is where these placemats come in that we designed on the Sprout by HP. We really wanted to come up with something that was fall themed, the kids could help with, were personal, and easy to make. When you are in charge of Thanksgiving dinner the last thing you need is to create complicated decorations from scratch.

HP sprout

Here is what you will need to create these custom placemats:
A variety of leaves

Amazing Blackened Deep Fried Honey Turkey Recipe

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This is a sponsored post partnering with honey.com. I was compensated but all opinions are my own.

I have come to the realization that Thanksgiving without turkey is not something I can support. I have tried to follow along with people as they make their case for a turkey-free holiday, I just don't buy into their reasoning. I usually just end up shaking my head and telling them that, "I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong." That being said my family has experimented with many different turkey cooking styles over the years. 

I know people will argue this point, but I believe deep fried turkey is by far the crispiest and juiciest bird for any celebration. This has been my method of choice for at least ten years so I am always slightly tweaking the exact recipe. Two of the secrets of a perfectly deep fried turkey is the injectable marinade and the dry rub. I wanted to go in a completely different direction this year so I made my injectable marinade from a recipe on honey.com. The link is below. I also tried a blackened bird. I know it looks a bit dark but skin was perfectly done and the white meat was the most moist I've ever had. The honey gave the meat just the right amount of sweetness. You can choose to cook your turkey however you like, I just recommend deep frying it. My family devoured this recipe so I think I'm on to something. If you disagree just remember, "I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong."


The link to make the marinade is below but I changed the amount of ingredients to accommodate just one turkey. 
Cajun Honey Glaze Marinade: 1 3/4 cup honey, 2/3 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup tomato

Learn to Make a Fun Thanksgiving Turkey Lunch

Monday, November 16, 2015

I have partnered with Smarty Pants Vitamins for this post. I have received compensation but all opinions are my own.
Smarty Pants Vitamins

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I thought it might be time to do a turkey lunch for my kids. Our family tradition is to travel to my wife's family's cattle ranch and spend a few quiet days enjoying some deep fried turkey and taking nature walks. It's something my kids really look forward to. Since this is my kids' last week of school before the big day, I had to get them prepped for it by making them this fun lunch!

This lunch can be put together in a matter of minutes and can easily be made the night before. I used my kids' favorite Smarty Pants Gummy Vitamins in place of fruit snacks. They devour these and I like that they provide some colorful decoration and nutrition for the lunch. 

Let me know in the comments below what your Thanksgiving traditions are! 
Smarty Pants Vitamins
Smarty Pants Gummy Vitamins
Whole wheat bread slices
Sandwich meat

How to Make A Balloon Lunch For Your Kids + Fun Indoor Game Ideas!

Friday, November 13, 2015

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Let's Play, but all opinions are my own.
Let's Play

Kids always have fun with balloons. They are a simple concept, but think about it. How hard is it not to smile when there are balloons around? You are cracking a smile right now just imagining it, right? This is exactly why I wanted to create a simple balloon lunch for my kids and also show you how to make it. 

Not only that, but I also came up with some kid-tested (ok, adult-tested as well) balloon games for you to play with your family. The best part is that these games are designed to play inside so, so they're perfect for keeping you and your kids active together during cold weather. As some of you may remember, I'm a 2015 Play Ambassador for Let's Play, a Dr. Pepper Snapple initiative to encourage kids and families to make play a daily priority. So take a look at my easy to follow lunch instructions, then head on over to my blog post at Let's Play and see all the activities you can play inside with your kids this fall and winter. 
Let's Play
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 slice of Provolone and cheddar cheese

How to Make The Good Dinosaur Movie Sock Puppets

Monday, November 9, 2015

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post partnering with Fandango Family. I received compensation, but all opinions expressed are solely my own.Fandango Family

There are many exciting movies coming out this Fall and Winter, but the one that my kids are currently asking about is The Good Dinosaur, which comes out on November 25. This is the latest release from Disney/Pixar so we are pretty much assured it's going to be phenomenal. This story is about the dinosaur Arlo, separated from his dad, who must find his way back with the help of friends that he meets along the way. From humans to other dinos, he discovers trouble and friendship around every turn. 

Since this will probably be the animated blockbuster of the season, my family had to get creative and make something to celebrate. We thought, "What better dinosaur craft could there be than sock puppets?" It's easy to think that our kids are mainly interested in tablets and video games, but don't underestimate the fun and bonding that can come from doing a project with your kids and putting on a show together. 

To make the Arlo and Butch sock puppets, just follow my easy instructions below. I've even included FREE printable coloring sheet downloads at the end of this post. Use this for a rainy day activity or just on a lazy Saturday morning. Whatever you do, make sure and head to Fandango to get your tickets for The Good Dinosaur on November 25!
Fandango Family
You Will Need:
Green socks for Arlo, red or brown socks for Butch
2 Googly eyes per puppet 
Black felt
White felt
Fuzzy craft poms poms for Butch
Glue or adhesive dots
Green permanent marker

Fandango Family

Cut two rows of square teeth out of white felt. Cut two rows of sharp teeth out of white felt as well. Cut four small to medium sized circles out of black felt for nostrils.

For Arlo:
1. Ball up 4-5 tissues and place them toward the end (but not quite the end) of the green sock. You will use the tissues where you place Arlo's eyes. Put your hand in the sock like you are using the puppet.

2. Glue googly eyes onto sock directly next to each other. Glue nostrils on sock on the end of Arlo's nose. Glue one row of square teeth to the top of his mouth and one row to the bottom.

3. Finish by making freckles on Arlo's snout with a green marker. 

For Butch:
1. Glue googly eyes to fuzzy pom poms. 

2. Make two balls of tissues. Stuff one ball into the end of sock. Put other tissue ball where your thumb will go in sock puppet. Place hand in sock puppet like you are using it.

3. Glue pom pom eyes onto sock right next to each other. Glue nostrils on the end of Butch's nose. Glue one row of sharp teeth to the top of his mouth and one row to the bottom.

Now that you've made the dinosaurs, have some fun creating stories where you, your kids, Arlo, and Butch are the stars. These puppets might even be perfect for your kids to take to see The Good Dinosaur with your family!

Fandango Family
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