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Super User

Super User

Now that school’s out for the summer parents and caregivers are wringing their hands thinking of ways to keep the kids entertained.  Summer vacations and summer camps may keep the kids busy for a few weeks, but sooner or later that too must end.  The kids are back and there’s still more weeks before school begins in the fall.  
Don’t let the summer doldrums set in.  Summer fun isn’t just for kids.  Here are 15 silly activities that kids and adults can enjoy.  So release your inner child, kick off your shoes, let your hair down, and have some silly fun with the kids!

1. Blow amazing
bouncing bubbles.

This project from diyncrafts.com
amaze kids and the young at heart.


2. Romp around an air fort.

Get silly and build an air fort all you need
is a sheet and box fan. Instructions
on how to build your fort can
be found at earlylearning.momtrusted.com


3. Act silly with shaving cream,
shower caps, and cheesepuffs.

Put on shaving cream covered
shower caps and toss Cheetos
at each other with this
fun idea from parents.com.


4. Go fly a kite, make one first.

Get instructions from artsycraftsymom.com
then go out and fly your kite. 

5. Get silly with these wind catchers
made from party streamers.

Get DYI instructions for these
colorful wind catchers from 
Then run around the
neighborhood and start a parade!

6. Make this cool layered drink.

This activity is not only yummy,
it also teaches a lesson in
density.  Learn how to put
one together at pinterest.com

7. Roll around on a giant blob.

Get the directions from
Fun activity for
the neighborhood kids. 

8. Draw temporary tattoos with watercolor crayons.

Get creative with watercolor
crayon tattoos. Instructions
from diycenter.net. 

9. Send someone fun and crazy.

Here are a few things you can mail
that are under 13 ounces: a pair
of flip flops, some sprinkles,
a ball. Check out this Pinterest
board for more ideas.

10. Weave bits of yarn in your hair.

Make your own fashion statement.
Learn how at abeautifulmess.typepad.com

11. Build a sculpture with toothpicks and marshmallows.

Kids can get creative with marshmallows
and toothpicks learn
how from motherhoodonadime.com.

12. Make stamp art on the sand with flip flops.

Stomp around the beach with
these cool flip flops.
You can buy foam stamps
or cut shapes out of
foam and glue them to
the bottom of a pair
of flip flops.  Learn
how at jdaniel4smom.com

13. Throwback Thursday, wear a flower crown.

Learn how to make a
flower crown on pinterest.com

14. Go beachcombing and make a wind chime with objects you find.

Spend the day beachcombing 
then make found items into
a fun wind chime, great souvenir
from that summer vacation.
Learn how on Glazed-over.blogspot.com

15. Let the kids decorate for Independence Day with stars made of sifted flour.

Learn how to cover the
lawn with sifted stars
at pinkandgreenmama.blogspot.com.

My Neighbor

“MOM!” my daughter screamed, “There’s a ROOSTER in our yard!”  Having a manic fear of fowls and birds I peeked out of my kitchen window to see what my grown daughter was panicking about.  I saw no rooster or any such creature, only our goofy pet Doberman romping around the backyard.  I told my daughter this, to which she responded “On the fence mother!  The ROOSTER is on the fence!”

I peeked outside the patio door and sure enough a big fat hen was perched on top of the fence separating us from our neighbor.  “It’s a HEN not a ROOSTER.” I informed my daughter who was peering warily at the offending fowl.

“Whatever, it’s NOT supposed to be sitting on our wall!”  I couldn’t argue with her logic so I asked her to find out if it belonged to our neighbor. 

Now it might seem that we live on a farm, far from it.  We live in suburban Honolulu.  It’s not unusual for folks in our state to raise poultry in their backyards, it’s so common that the City Council has had to pass ordinances limiting the amount of chickens one can have in their suburban yards.  So it wasn’t a shock that one of my neighbors owned hens, now to find out which one owned the escaped bird.

We are flanked by two neighbors and back into a “planned golf course”, aka huge empty overgrown field.  So the hen could have come from anywhere.  We asked our neighbor on the right if said creature was hers, she happened to be out that afternoon watering their lawn.  She ran into her house when we pointed out the hen, clearly it wasn’t hers. 

I sent my son-in-law over to the other neighbor’s house, I strongly suspected it was his hen.  My son-in-law returned with neighbor in tow to have a look at the hen, after much debate he decided it was in fact his wife’s hen. 

Sometime during all this the hen hopped off its perch where it had been safe from our dog, the flapping and fussing of course alerted the dog who came barreling towards the clucking hen.  The owner intercepted the dog, narrowly averting a massacre.  A chase ensued, everyone, hen, neighbor, and dog were chasing each other around my yard.  I wisely retreated into my house to watch the comedy behind the safety of my screen door. 

My neighbor finally caught the hen, tucked it under his arm and walked home promising to return with an explanation. 

He returned a few days later and explained that he’s sort of a “prepper”.  He told us of the next impending disaster, a stock market collapse, riots and chaos in the streets.  He was prepared, the hens, he has 3, would provide eggs, which he would eat with the rice he has stockpiled in his garage. 

So for the last few years I’ve known I live next door to a prepper, no big deal, he brings us organic eggs every now and then. 

I’ve gotten used to his predictions of doom.  I thought I heard everything, until today, when I overheard a conversation between my 12 year old grandson and prepper neighbor’s 13 year old son.  The boy was offering to give my grandson homemade lock picks, his father’s new hobby is crafting lock picks and teaching his son how to use them. 

Intrigued I asked why.  The answer was “My dad’s kind is of weird, instead of teaching me how to play ball he teaches me how to pick locks.  I guess it could come in handy if we ever get hungry and need to get sandwich stuff from Subway.”

I raised my eyebrow and he added, “Just kidding we would never do bad stuff, but you never know when the skill will come in handy.”

I guess it’s one more quirk I can attribute to my neighbor, but I can’t complain, after all we did have a horse in our backyard not too long ago.  It’s no wonder the manager of our Homeowners’ Association dislikes the people in my loop, we’re all just one step away from crazy. 

Scout’s Brownies

Everyone loves brownies, it’s the ultimate comfort food, rich, chewy, and chocolaty, it triggers all your happy spots.
Here’s a recipe I’d like to share from Diane Mott Davidson’s book “Dying for Chocolate”. I read this book years ago and have been making
these amazing brownies since. They really are “to die for”. They’ve become a family favorite.


1 cup unsalted butter
3 ½ oz. Valrhona or best quality unsweetened chocolate squares
3 tbs. Valrhona or European style cocoa powder
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1    tsp. salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup Ghirardelli chocolate chip morsels 


1.    Preheat oven 350 degres
2.    Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate squares in a double boiler; set aside to cool
3.    Sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt
4.    Beat eggs until creamy
5.    Beating constantly slowly add sugar
6.    Add vanilla and cooled chocolate mixture
7.    Stir in dry ingredients until just combined
8.    Spread batter into buttered 9”x13” baking pan
9.    Sprinkle chocolate chips over surface
10.    Bake 30-35 mins.  or until center is set
Cool completely before cutting into 32 brownies.  Serve with a glass of ice cold milk for an awesome treat.

School’s out, summer is officially here.  We’re heading to Europe with the kids and grandkids in a couple of weeks, but when we get home there will still be another month before school begins again.

It’s going to be a long month!  The kids will be restless and complaining that they’re bored.  I find the last weeks the most challenging time of summer, when kids are not quite ready to go back to school, yet the initial excitement of summertime has waned.

Here are a 7 ideas to keep kids busy and entertained until it’s back to school time.

Haul out the old Slip n’ Slide, or buy a new one.  Or just use your lawn sprinkler.  Invite the neighbors over for a splashing good time. Grab a ball and head to the basketball court for a pickup game with the neighborhood kids.

Spend the day at the beach, if it’s not too far from home.  Kids can look for snails, fish, and other little sea creatures in the tide pools, sand board down the sand dunes, or build sandcastles.  Don’t forget the beach toys!  

Go fishing at a nearby lake or stream


Spend a weekday at a fun park.  Buy a day pass to ride and play all day.  Encourage your budding artist, set out paints, markers, and paper.  The next Picasso might be living right under your






When you have kids traveling with them is almost always a necessity.  Whether it’s a quick run to the grocery store, a road trip to the Grand Canyon, or a flight to Aruba, taking kids along means taking their gear too.

Here are 12 accessories we found that every parent needs.  They will make life on the road just a bit easier.


1. This stroller organizer fits onto a stroller’s handlebars.


This Skip Hop Stroller Organizer keeps everything you need at your fingertips.  Available at amazon.com.


2. A “SlumberSling” prevents baby’s head from drooping.


Sold at ashandalysbabes.comthis product keeps sleepy heads from drooping.  I helps prevent sore necks when baby wakes up.


3. Booster Seat Headrest keeps older kids comfy on road trips.


Going on a road trip?  This headrest from zulily.comwill keep older kids comfy.


4. Stroller hook is a great help anywhere. 


Simple and inexpensive this stroller hook will make life so much easier.  Available at oxo.com.



5. Save car seats with this Piddlepad.


This Piddlepad available at amazon.com will save car seats from accidents when you’re on the road.



6. The “My Buddy” tag bracelet alerts you when your child leaves your sight.


Every parent’s worst nightmare, losing track of their kids.  This handy bracelet helps ease some of that fear.  Find them at http://www.mybuddytag.com/


7. Put a BiKN tag in your child’s pocket for a high tech solution


These tags from bikn.com  help you keep track of children in big crowds.  You can also use the tags keeps track things you frequently lose, house keys or your car in a giant parking lot.


8. Carseat iPad holder protects iPads from sticky dirty hands.


Find this great organizer at zulily.com.It not only protects the iPad, it keeps it in place so you don’t spend all day searching for it.  


9. Keep kids busy and organized with this On-The- Go-Play tray.


Keep all your child’s necessities at her fingertips with this tray from ltdcommodities.com.


10. The Stroll-n-Cool keeps your child comfy on hot summer days.



You can get this cooling pad at strollncool.com


11. This chair luggage attachment will make navigating airports much easier and less stressful.


Get this at rideoncarryon.org  

You might get some add looks at the airport, but who care’s at least your arms aren’t sore and your sanity is safe. Keeps kids always within your sight.


12. These Sip Snaps turn any cup into a sippy cup.


Turn any cup into a sippy cup, the rubber fits over any size cup.  Order them from weespring.com

Gardening is a great summer long activity for kids.  If you don’t have a yard, a nearby community garden, or don’t want the kids digging up your lawn, let them garden in containers. 

It’s easy and inexpensive.  All it takes is some potting soil and seed packets from the garden shop.  You can use containers you already have, just remember to drill holes in the bottom for drainage. 

Container gardens can be taken indoors when the weather gets cold for year round gardening fun.  Here are some creative ideas to help you start your own container garden.


  •  A Fairy Garden in a plastic tub is a great idea from Jessica Yonker, hgtvgardens.com


Photo from lunar.thegamez.net


Photo from Metrokids.com
  • This great idea from Metrokids.com uses an old Radio Flyer wagon.  Click here for Justine Ickes simple 7 steps for planting a container garden.


Photo from Olivewood Garden and Learning Center


Photo from diynetwork.com
  • diynetwork.com  uses old or reproduction food tins to make fun and decorative planters.




    As you can see, just about anything can be turned into a container garden.  Look around your house to find something your kids can use to make their own unique little garden!

Giant Pod Duo

I actually decided to buy a bike trailer for 2 reasons, to go jogging and for our upcoming family European vacation.  The bike trailer with a stroller conversion kit is ideal for jogging and when folded makes it ideal for travel. (You can check it in for free and pick it up at the oversize luggage claim, not on the baggage carousel)

I researched brands including Burly, Thule Chariot, Instep, Schwinn, and Giant.  I wanted a trailer large enough to fit 2 children, my 6 month old son, and my 6 year old nephew.  I needed to have a conversion kit and storage space.  It also needed to fit my budget of $500 or less.

In the end I decided to purchase the Giant Pod Duo which was in the intermediate price range.  The Giant Pod duo sits 2 children weighing up to 100 lbs combined.  It has a five point shoulder harness to keep kids secure, extra support under the seat so kids don’t sink in or sag, and a jogger converter.  Most importantly considering our upcoming vacation it folds easily and has a large storage space. 

We took it out for a run the other day, my son loved it!  He sat safely secured in his harness, the ride was very smooth even over uneven pavement, no shaking or jostling.  My baby enjoyed the ride so much he promptly fell asleep, a sure sign that it was a comfy ride even tho the seat does not recline as other stoller seats do. 

I know our Giant Pod Duo will come in handy when we stroll down the cobblestone roads in Italy.  It will comfortably sit my baby and my nephew with room to spare.  The large storage will fit all the baby gear and even have enough room of our shopping.!

For more information on the Giant Pod Duo check their website:   http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/gear/product/peapod.duo.child.trailer/567/38642/#features

All the bags are packed, you’re ready to go.  All that’s left is getting to the airport on time and then the family vacation finally begins.  Or does it?  In my experience the vacation doesn’t really begin until we get to our destination.  I often find myself asking “Am I’m having fun yet?” as I navigate the airport with luggage and kids in tow.

Air travel is supposed to be simple and hassle free, with online check-in and security pre-screening we’re supposed to zip thru the process, buckle our seat belts, and enjoy the flight.  This might be true for the fortunate few flying first and business class or have some type of premier access, they have special lines with virtually no waiting.  The rest of us who booked economy have to hurry up and wait in line after line; check-in, baggage drop-off, security, and boarding.  The process may be tiresome when traveling solo, but a nightmare when traveling with kids.  It can turn into a nightmare should you run into unexpected snafus. 

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way to help keep you sane en route to your destination. 


At the Airport:



  • Arrive early so you have plenty of time to check-in, drop-off luggage, go thru security, and find your gate.  You may encounter long lines at baggage drop-off and security checkpoints even if you checked in online.
  •  Airports are busy if you travel with an adventurous toddler or with multiple children consider using a safety harness or a “rideoncarryon” to keep children safe and within sight.  It’s easy to get distracted and kids wander off.  Even if he didn’t wander far small children are hard to spot in busy places, not to mention losing sight of parents is a traumatic experience for a child. 


  •  Some airports have special security lines for families traveling with infants and small children.  Watch for signs or listen to personnel directing you to them.  Some airports don’t require children to remove shoes, jackets, and belts.  Security personnel will let you know their requirements.
  •  Children must be taken out of strollers; strollers are inspected by security personnel, either x-rayed or manually.


  •  Parents may be able to go thru security with baby in a carrier or sling; or the carrier may have to go thru x-ray and baby carried in front of the parent.
  • Breast milk, juice, and formula are exempt from the TSA rule limiting liquid containers to 3.4 fluid ounces when carried on the plane. You make take larger amounts of these liquids but you will have to present them to security personnel for inspection.  Thankfully they no longer require parents and children to perform a taste-test before allowing them thru.
  • ·         Find gate seats close to the jet way.  It avoids struggling thru hoards of people blocking the way waiting for their turn to board.



  • If you have a stroller and/or car seat you will not use on the aircraft you can gate check them as you board.  The gate agent tags your item and gives you a claim ticket.  Leave your item just outside the aircraft door.  Fold your stroller; luggage handlers may not be able to and will toss strollers in the luggage compartment in any condition.  Airlines consider these items “fragile” and my not reimburse damages.  Pick up your item at the same place when you reach your destination.
    Photo by Carmina Ahmed
  •           At the gate waiting to board take note of restroom locations.  Sooner or later someone will have to “go right now!”



    •        Set up temporary “camp” at the gate so children can be comfortable.  Keep them entertained where you can keep an eye on them and your belongings.



    •         You might be able to charge mobile devices at the gate.  Some gates have charging stations with multiple outlets for passenger use.  These are busy hubs, you may have to wait your turn.
    •       Most airlines no longer pre-board families with kids.   Some might board families after first class and premier card holders.  If you need the extra time to board ask the gate agents if it’s possible, they might say “yes”

  Photo by Carmina Ahmed

On Board:

  •  Once you’ve boarded the aircraft have your child sit on the seat while you stow your carry-ons.  If your child is too young to sit on the seat and needs to be carried it might be a good idea to take your seat while other passengers board, you can stow your gear when the aisle is less crowded.  If the flight is full you could try to ask for assistance from a flight attendant or fellow passengers to help you stow your bag in the overhead compartment before they all fill up.

 Photo by Carmina Ahmed

  • During take-off and landing the change of altitude can cause pain in the ears.  Offering your child a bottle or pacifier at those times will unblock the tubes and offer your baby some relief. You could also nurse your child at this time.
  • It would be good to ask the flight attendant which restroom is equipped with a changing table.  Not all aircraft are equipped with them. 
  • During the flight if there is no turbulence and the seat belt signs remain off you can walk your infant in the aisles so you can stretch your legs and give your baby a different view.
  • As a courtesy to others try to keep your child calm and relatively quiet throughout the flight.  No one wants to listen to a screaming baby for 10 hours, especially on red-eyes when everyone is trying to sleep.
  • Aircraft aisles are busy with service carts, flight attendants, and passengers moving thru.  Keep toddlers out of the aisles when food and beverages are being served, after meals, and just before landing when passengers are rushing to the restrooms.  Once everyone settles in for the flight and if the seat belt signs are turned off you can walk up and down the aisles with your child if it keeps him entertained.
  • If your party is occupying several seats lifting the armrests give you a bit more room and will allow smaller children to lie down and sleep.

Photo by Carmina Ahmed
  • If there are empty seats on board you could ask the flight attendants if you and your child can move to those seats to be more comfortable.  They are usually accommodating as long as the empty seats are not crew seats, their unions require crew rest areas on long haul flights if the aircraft is not sold out.

Delays, Canceled or Missed Flights, and other travel snafus:

  • Flight delays and cancellations happen, particularly in the winter when bad weather can strand passengers for days.  If your flight is cancelled or delayed, stay calm, getting upset gets you nowhere fast and it trickles down to your kids making the problem ten times worse.  Relax, you are not alone, all the other passengers are in the same situation.  It is a good idea to check on your flight before you leave home, if it is delayed or canceled it saves a trip to the airport.  Stay home and head out to the airport at the appropriate time.  If you are already at the airport you might be able to go home and re-group.  It is easier to make alternate travel arrangements in the comfort of your home thru the internet or on the phone.  No matter how long they put you on hold it beats standing in the long lines at the airport with a tired and cranky child.  If you are still at home or can go home I don’t recommend heading back to the airport until you have a confirmed seat on another flight, traveling stand-by with small kids, particularly if you are a large group, is nerve racking and stressful. 
  • Confirm your return flight before you head out to the airport.  If it is delayed or canceled you can make arrangements with your hotel or resort to stay later and go to the airport at the appropriate time. 
  • Missing a connecting flight, or a canceled/delayed connecting flight is the most aggravating, you’re stuck.  If you miss a connecting flight by minutes I find that going to the gate where the flight left from is easier than standing in line at the customer service counter.  If you’re lucky enough to find the agent still at the gate he or she will help you re-book your missed connection.  On international flights you will usually be met by airline representatives who will walk you to the transfer desk where agents are available to re-book you.  If neither option is available you are pretty much stuck in the long customer service lines unless you have internet or phone access and can re-book on line or over the phone.  Some airlines offer hotel and meal vouchers if they cannot re-book you on a flight that departs the same day.  Vouchers are usually not offered if a flight is delayed or canceled due to weather.  Check with your airlines to see how soon they can get you back on your way or what amenities they are offering.  Whatever you do remain calm, yelling at the agents can leave you and your family stranded for days.
  •  Airlines are famous for losing luggage.  If you can’t find your luggage on the carousel head to the baggage claim office.  They will need your ID and claim ticket to fill out a claim form.  They are usually pretty good at finding your luggage as luggage tags are now scanned into their system, it just may not be in the same state or country you are in.  When you file a claim they will ask you to fill out a form telling them where you will be staying.  If you are away from home some airlines give you a survival kit that contains a toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving kit, and a t-shirt to tide you over until they deliver your luggage to your hotel.  Don’t expect to get luggage for at least a day or two.  If you’ve packed extra clothes in your carry-on you should be ok.  Your hotel or resort might be able to provide you with toiletries, if not many hotels have a small shop in the lobby where you can purchase some necessities or the staff can point you to the nearest store.  
  • If you have purchased travel insurance lost luggage, delayed and canceled flights, as well as medical emergencies will probably be covered.  Check with the plan provider to find out what the benefits are and how to use them should you find your travel plans interrupted for the above reasons.  One of the companies that sell travel insurance is www.travelguard.com.

Air travel with kids can be stressful but with a lots of planning and sensible packing it’s possible to arrive at your destination without losing your sanity.  I find that having a sense of humor and a relaxed attitude makes it a fun and memorable experience for you and your kids.

Do you have any travel tips to share?  I’d love to hear from you. 



The 4th. Of July brings parades, picnics, barbecues, baseball, and fireworks, it also means the kids have been out of school for over a month; often times the boredom has set in and parents are tired of hearing the familiar lament, “I’m bored!  There’s nothing to do!”

For some Independence Day marks the beginning of that long anticipated family vacation, for others it marks the beginning of the back to school count down.  Those parents are scratching their heads wondering how best to keep the kids amused until school starts, which thankfully in many areas starts sometime in August. 

Before you lose your mind looking for budget friendly activities for the kids here are a dozen more ideas.  Read on to save your sanity; many of these ideas are done with things you may already have in the house, others may require the purchase of some materials that shouldn’t cost more than $10.



1. Leftover bubble wrap can be a fun way for kids, and adults to make original paintings.


Unleash the inner artist in a fun way with this great idea from messforless.com.  Great way to reuse that bubble wrap you have stashed away in the closet. 


2. DIY a target tarp.

All you need are Tarp, rope, scissors, marker, tape and you’re ready to play ball.  Instructions at gurutotheoutdoors.com


3. Super fun balloon rockets are fun and educational.


Kids have a blast while learning the basics of action and reaction with this project from discoverexplorelearn.com.


4. Bowling with marbles and pencil erasers.



Easy and inexpensive to make this addictive game from frugalfun4boys.com will keep kids busy for hours.

5. Teach kids about colors, shapes, counting, and more play “Escape the Volcano”.

Print out  templates from toddlerapproved.com and start playing.



6. The Popcorn Olympics, all you need is popcorn.



Find a list of popcorn games, like “straw blow” and “distance throw,” at  oneshetwoshe.com to keep kids of all ages entertained.

7. Play Balloon Ping Pong all you need are Paper plates, popsicle sticks, and a balloon


Get DIY instructions for this fun game at keepingitsimplecrafts.com.  You might want to move breakables!


8. Painter’s tape and newspaper are all that’s needed for this “Sticky Spiderweb” game.


This Halloween activity from handsonaswegrow.com works for summer time too. 


9. Make a Rainbow Bubble Snake from stuff you have around your home.


Housingaforest.com will show you how to make this cool bubble maker.


10. Make a cool giant bubble wand.


Fun for the whole family, find out how to make giant bubbles with this DIY bubble wand at funcraftskids.com.

11. Play Doh filled balloons make an interesting new sensory experience.


Find out how to make these fun and interesting toys at playcreateexplore.org.


12. Pool noodles make a fun marble track.


There’s a tutorial about making your own marble track on myhomespunthreads.blogspot.com.

Gardening is a great summer long activity for kids.  Give them a patch of dirt in the backyard, buy some seed packets or seedlings from the local garden shop and let them plant away.  Gardening is a good excuse for kids to play in the dirt, it’s also educational. 

I love the wonder in my grandsons’ eyes when they see the first the seeds sprout,  and excitement as they watch the plants grow.  If you plant fruits and vegetables the kids get to harvest them too, they really enjoy that. 

Here are some ideas for your kids’ gardens. 

Kids love having their own garden tools.  You can pick them up at any discount store.  This colorful set can be ordered from Amazon.com. 

Plant fast-growing plants like radishes they take only 30-60 days to mature. Confectionary sunflowers, sprout in just 7 days and can grow 2 feet high in a month.  They produce delicious snack food that kids can eat. Loose-leaf lettuce can be harvested and eaten when it's only a few inches tall.  For more ideas check Amy Enfield’s article Gardening with Children.


Photo from miraclegro.com



For instructions and more ideas to help your family start a garden check out this website Kidsgardening.org

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