Tip Tuesday: Find a Place to Have Quick (Cooling) Summer Outings!

Tip Tuesday

It’s that time of year again!  The mercury is going to soar, and tempers are going to get shorter and shorter.  I tend to be very hot-natured, as does Muffin (and his dad).  So, it’s extremely important for us to stay hydrated and COOL during the summer.

Window shopping with a six-year-old tends to be very not conducive to being frugal.  And Muffin tends to short out and have a meltdown if I try to browse every aisle in Walmart or Kroger attempting to beat the heat.

It is imperative to find activities for Muffin that will help him to not overheat.

I could take him to a water park, like Splash Kingdom or Magic Springs or Hurricane Harbor.  But if we do that more than a handful of times (keeping in mind that Magic Springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Hurricane Harbor in Arlington, Texas, are more than three hours away as a one-way trip), the cost racks up fast!  Also, tourist hot spots (pardon the pun) tend to be all-day affairs.  Most of the time, we don’t have that in our workable summer schedule.

So where does the intrepid Muffin and his at-her-wits-end Mama go when the mercury rapidly approaches the triple digits?  (No, it hasn’t happened yet, but it’s coming…fast!)  We are blessed to have a lot of neighborhood parks in our twin cities area.  At least two of them have splash pads.

You know, those places where the water shoots up from the ground, or rains down from suspended buckets, or shoots out of Muffin-controlled cannons?  They are usually free, and they are a mama’s Godsend.  A.  Serious.  Gift.  From.  God.

Free.  Cooling.  Great Muffin pic opportunities.  And you score brownie points for being the “Best Mama Ever!”  (Quoted from Muffin on Sunday)  Add in some sunscreen, a towel, and a picnic lunch, and you’ve got a respite guaranteed to make a Muffin smile.

And please do add in the sunscreen (and as a Mama apply it yourself).  We learned the other day that Muffin-applied sunscreen tends to leave spaces and streaks vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays…the painful way.

Here are the happy Muffin results!

I do need to add one disclaimer.  We went to the Toronto Zoo while on our trip to Canada.  They have a massively huge (easily 10x the size of the one that is local to us–at least) splash pad that is included with the price of admission.  It is not free by itself (but totally worth it if you are visiting the zoo on a sweltering summer day).

What are you doing with your little one(s) to beat that summer heat?


Funny Muffin Friday: Muffin at Rest

Funny Muffin Friday

Some of Muffin’s cutest moments are when he’s at play.  But, to me, the most precious and priceless images that have been captured of Muffin are when he is asleep.  So, I present this nearly wordless post.


IMG_1191 IMG_1291 IMG_1364 IMG_1458

Yes, in the last picture, that’s my boo-tay, my bo-hunk-us that Muffin is resting his head and arm on.

I felt soooooooo loved!

Tip Tuesday: Variety Is the Spice of Life for Muffin School Lunches

Tip Tuesday

Today’s Tip:  Spice up your child’s school lunch with different snack, dessert/treat, fruit and veg, and drink options every day.

I think some of my readers don’t realize from the (several) obsessive amount of blog posts that I’ve written about Muffin’s school lunches that I am truly that Type-A about them.

I don’t do the cutesy bento stuff (most stuff has to be prepacked the night before and stashed in the fridge–to be removed and placed in his lunch bag the next day–or placed immediately in his lunch box), but I do strive for variety with him.

Because while he likes hot dogs, nuggets, sandwiches (cut in triangles and the crusts removed, of course…he is is mother’s son), if he had a steady diet 170 days of the year of these at lunch, he probably would stop eating them.

There are those people who can eat the exact same thing day after day and be okay with it.  Kudos to you!  I can’t.  Muffin can’t.

In the weeks leading up to Muffin’s entry into kindergarten, I stocked up on several “easy grabber” lunchbox essentials:  juice boxes/suns/waters/juices, fruit snacks in a variety of shapes and flavors, treat options, and fruit cups.

I created a template for planning it out.

My goal?  No exact two drink types throughout the week.  No exact same treat types twice throughout the week.  No two fruits exactly the same throughout the week.  No two entrees the same throughout the week.

So far, I’ve been fairly successful.

This week’s lunch plan looks like this:

Monday:  hamburger with tomato slices and pickles, grapes, cheese balls, chocolate milk, fruit roll up

Tuesday:  Lunchable (includes drink and treat), raspberries, cucumber slices

Wednesday:  hot dog, tomato slices, fruit cup, yogurt, water, leftover Halloween candy

Thursday:  sloppy joe (from leftovers), clementine, green olives, cheese stick, Kool-Aid Jammer, pudding

Friday:  leftover ziti, fruit salad made from leftover fruit at home, grape juice, leftover tiramisu

Funny Muffin Friday: Baby, You’re a Firework!



Funny Muffin Friday

For the Fourth of July this year, we visited my sister.  On the day we chose to go purchase fireworks, it poured buckets.  So, we waited out the storm as well as we could in the huge seasonal fireworks warehouse.  Muffin decided to pose as a firework while he waited (and while he and his cousins helped us decide which fireworks to purchase).


And so, to quote one of his favorite songs (known as “circus song” because it comes from Madagascar 3), “Baby, you’re a firework!”

We Plan Wednesday: Muffin’s Lunchbox for the First Week of School

We Plan Wednesday

Muffin starts kindergarten this year (as I’ve mentioned).  The official start date for kindergarten in our district is August 17.  He will be carrying his lunch this year from home.  I’m not even sure what the full price of lunch is for elementary school students in our district is, but it is not as affordable as, say, taking leftovers or items that I know he will eat.  In fact, the first day of school, I plan on leaving with the school office, his teacher, and the cafeteria a notification that, barring him forgetting his lunch, he is not to go through the lunch line.  Unintentional charges have been known to happen.

So far, I have purchased one of those lunch blocks kits from Rubbermaid at Kroger (on sale half off and a coupon guardian angel had left a dollar off coupon by the Rubbermaid display).  I also plan on purchasing him at least one more lunch box/kit.

I’ve purchased five packages of fruit cups as well as a copious supply of Hostess cakes.  Those will be used SPARINGLY and only with a super-healthy rest of the lunch.

I’ve also been saving unused condiment packets and napkins for use of making his lunch more interesting.

As far as I know, other than being peanut-free (no mention of tree nut-free) and the other federal restrictions (no labeled items or items labeled with a restaurant label–an “ingenious” way of keeping brand-name sodas, etc., out–hint:  remove the label), there have been none mentioned.  That means, as far as I know, the Lunch Nazis will not be going through and confiscating parts of my son’s lunch.

(I probably won’t be very nice about that.)

So, I’ve been trying to figure out WHAT, exactly, I plan on packing in his lunch.

Monday, August 17:  leftover pizza rolls, fruit cup, veggie sticks and ranch dip, spaghetti sauce for dipping the pizza rolls, milk (preferably shelf-stable), Hostess snack

Tuesday, August 18:  homemade lunchables, whole fruit (grapes/strawberries or combination), veggie sticks and dip, Ikea juice box, small candy

Wednesday, August 19:  leftovers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, olives, Hawaiian Punch in thermos, small cookie

Thursday, August 20:  leftover quesadilla, sour cream and salsa for dipping, infused water, fruit of the same variety as the infused water on the side to eat with the water, pudding cup, carrot and cucumber coins

Friday, August 21:  tuna fish and crackers (Muffin loves tuna!), aquatic fruit snack, blue Hawaiian Punch, “sea” cucumbers and celery fishing boats, orange wedges

What do you think?

Funny Muffin Friday: ‘Station Vivle School!

Funny Muffin Friday

Today is Muffin’s last day at Vacation Bible School at my cousin’s church.  He really loves his second cousin, Nikki.  In fact, he said the whole reason he was behaving (and everyone insists that he is behaving) at VBS is because Nikki is there.  (Trust me, the past week or so’s worth of days have been rocky, to say the least, in Muffin behavior terms.)

To make this entry short and sweet, Muffin has a special name for Vacation Bible School:  ‘Station Vivle School.  And he assures me that he’s made many friends (but he forgets to ask their names) and that he’s learned a lot (although he can’t remember what).  His favorite parts of ‘Station Vivle School?  Snack time and dance time (with Nikki).

Here’s a shot of him sporting one of his new temporary tattoos that he one at VBS for answering a question.

What are you and your little ones doing this summer?

Funny Muffin Friday: Muffins Vocabulary (“Peckish”)

Funny Muffin Friday

Since he began talking, Muffin has had an interesting vocabulary.  He absorbs, seemingly by osmosis, words that he hears and is able to incorporate correctly in context in sentences.

He loves to try out new words, and sometimes we have difficulty discerning where he learned them.  For example, a few weeks ago, he used the word “peckish.”  His exact sentence was, “I’m peckish; I want something to eat.”

I called up my mom with a wry “thanks” for my dad, figuring that, since my dad taught him the meaning of the word “parched,” he also taught him the meaning of “peckish.”

My parents had no idea where he learned the word.  So, I called Muffin over and asked him where he learned it.  He answered me immediately–“Stampy.”

Inwardly–and possibly outwardly–I groaned.  Stampy Longnose is the bane of my existence, the You Tube character who plays WAY TOO MUCH Minecraft!

Josh was at work, so I called him.  He concurred with glee that Muffin learned the word “peckish” from watching Stampy.

Here is a picture of Muffin being parched–and peckish.

DSC_0676[1]What new vocabulary has your little one started using?

Meal Plan Monday: Fancy Schmancy Eats?

Meal Plan Monday

I tried a new recipe this weekend that Josh and I personally liked, but Muffin didn’t seem to enjoy.  Of course, lately it’s been hard to tell.  He’s in the phase where he thinks it’s okay to take a bite or two of dinner and be “full” or “done” and then want a snack five minutes later.  We’ve now put our feet down.  There will be no snacks or dessert after dinner (in other words, supper is it).

This week also marks the week leading up to Muffin’s fifth birthday.  Five!  After waiting for what (for him) seems forever, he will finally be his favorite number.

Saturday:  Chicken au Champagne (or Champy, as I kept writing it) from Cooking with Curls, roasted asparagus, crescent rolls, rice

Sunday:  stuffed potato bar

Monday:  Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork sandwiches from Spend with Pennies

Tuesday:  Loaded Chicken and Potato Casserole from Life in the Lofthouse, roasted asparagus, tomato slices

Wednesday:  Fuji Chicken from Mandy’s Recipe Box (This time, I promise!), rice, egg roll

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Friday:  Josh will grill–pork chops, hopefully a veg (or potato), grilled garlic bread (if green veg)

Saturday:  spaghetti and meatballs using the Slow Cooker Pizza Meatballs (the same recipe as the meatball subs from last week!)

Sunday:  dinner out at the Horseshoe Casino The Spread buffet (Muffin’s choice for his birthday)

What’s on your menu for the week?

Funny Muffin Friday: The Green Walmart

Funny Muffin Friday

I may have mentioned before that Muffin’s favorite color is green.  He requests green straws in his cups.  He will choose green things before any other color.  He eats green things (and will try them because they are green).

Recently, the first Walmart Neighborhood Market opened in our area (Well…there was one half an hour away in Texas, but this one meant that we wouldn’t have to drive down the scary busy street to get there).  If you are unfamiliar with Neighborhood Markets, their predominant color is green (as Target’s is red, regular Walmart’s is blue).

Green carts.  Green maps.  Green stuff all over the place.  Green water bottles handed out at the opening filled with green stuff.

And it’s opened 24 hours.

The green Walmart might be Muffin’s new favorite place.  He followed the building of it almost as closely as he did the building of the new Circle K on the corner…a very big deal in the mind and eyes of a four year old.

Ever since it opened, anytime I mention Walmart, I hear, “Are we going to the green Walmart?!”

Advent Calendar Activities: December 2-3

Muffin is enjoying the advent season because each day Ketchup the Elf moves to a new location, he gets to build a Lego piece for his Lego City advent calendar, and he gets to complete a new fun activity.

On Tuesday, Muffin built a mailbox for his advent calendar.  Ketchup the Elf planned to hang out and complete some cleaning.  But…watching the Frosty movie on Netflix didn’t happen.  Josh and Muffin were batching it that night since I had to work at a basketball game.  They played Minecraft instead.

Even though Josh’s birthday was Wednesday, Muffin and I let him open his presents Tuesday night after I got home from the game.

Wednesday, Josh’s birthday, coincided with the day to take our family picture for the Christmas card.

Wednesday’s Lego advent calendar creation was a snowman.

Ketchup the Elf was feeling a bit bashful.

How are your advent activities going?