10 Water Balloon Games (For Kids, Teens & Youth Groups)

water-balloon-games
Water Balloons are some of my kids favorite things to play with in the summer – here are 10 fun games to play with them!  These make a great summer birthday party theme, or fun way to wrap up VBS or Youth Group events.  And save yourself HOURS with this awesome little water balloon gadget - so worth the $8.90!

*You’ll find 100 more fun ideas on our summer bucket list printable.

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How to Tie-Dye T-shirts (Tips & Tricks)

how to tie dye shirts

Well, we’ve got sun (plenty of it), and most of us probably have some old white tees lying around – which leads us to ….. Tie-Dying!  This was one of my favorite summer activities growing up and it’s a great way to make memories with your own kids.

You don’t need much special equipment for this craft (which is one of my requirements) and the kids will be able to wear their art all summer long.

Here’s what you need:

  • a couple deep buckets/bowls/pots
  • 2 or more colors of fabric dye
  • 100% Cotton white tees
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Rubber Bands/String
  • Salt

How to Tie Dye:

  1. Get your dye ready in the separate buckets according to directions – add 1 cup salt into the hot water (even if the directions don’t call for it) to make the colors last longer.
  2. Pick a center for your shirt’s design and pull that center into a point.  Smooth the rest of the shirt down until you’re holding what looks like a shirt-snake.  (Yep – a shirt snake.)  Tie string or rubber bands TIGHTLY around clumps of the shirt in 2-3 inch sections.
  3. Set your shirt into one bucket of color and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
    - If you have more colors than one, dunk half of your shirt into one color, and the other half into another – letting it sort of straddle both buckets at once.
    - NOTE:
    If you have a few squirty bottles – you can also achieve a “rainbow” effect by squirting different color dyes onto each banded section!
  4. Now, wring out the excess dye and put it in a ziploc bag to set overnight.  (This gets it EXTRA colorful)
  5. The next day, rinse your shirt as you cut off the rubber bands, then wash it ALL ALONE in the washer.
  6. Hang it out to dry in the sun!

Groupon: Great Wolf Lodge for 50% OFF! (Great Family Vacation)

. greatwolflodge

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Here’s a HUGE discount on a fun family getaway!

Right now Groupon is offering savings OVER 50% off at Great Wolf Lodges across the United States, and they all look like some great deals!!  Get a 1-night stay for as low as $99 (+ Resort Fee)!

With summer bread right around the corner, these could make for a great trip.  The resort looks perfect for my family – spacious cabin suites above an indoor water park?  Yes please!

Depending on your location, this special runs as low as $99 a night  - which is an AMAZING price for a hotel stay and water park in one.

Check out all the Great Wolf Lodge Locations offering specials through Groupon right now.

 

Check out more Online Deals

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Cheater’s Peanut Butter Fudge Icing

peanut butter fudge icing

Cheater’s Peanut Butter Fudge Icing

Jamie here! I’m going to let you in on a little secret….  although I LOVE to make crazy birthday cakes, and pull out my Wilton toolbox to decorate them with homemade buttercream icing (recipe in this post) that I’ve whipped into a rainbow of colors – I definitely will take a shortcut when I’m not in the mood.

I’m not in the mood a lot of the time, actually…

But just because I don’t feel like making homemade icing every time, doesn’t mean I don’t add my special mom touch to the store-bought can.  One of my kids favorite cupcake toppers is what we call “Peanut Butter Fudge Icing”.  I LOOOOVE peanut butter fudge – I could eat a whole pan in an evening and tell myself I was just protein-loading, for all that bodybuilding I do. (hehe)

Here’s how to bring the fattening joy of peanut-butter fudge to the already-fattening joy of a cupcake:

Take a can of vanilla icing and mix in 4-6 BIG tablespoons of peanut butter (you’ll just have to taste as you go here, to see when it gets to your desired peanut-butteriness) – VOILA!  Peanut butter fudge icing!

I think it tastes extra “fudgey” if you use the chunky peanut butter – it’s a little drier and thicker that way.

P B & J Icing?

Another cool take on this would be to make PB&J Icing.  I haven’t tried this, but I bet if you iced your cupcakes with peanut butter fudge icing, and then put a small plop of jelly in the middle, and then swirled it into the icing with the tip of a knife or toothpick – you’d end up with a cool treat!

Or Strawberry cupcakes with peanut butter icing?  So many fun possibilities!

peanut-butter-no-bake-cookies-recipe

If you’re a peanut butter fudge fanatic – you will most DEFINITELY want to hop on over to check out my favorite Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies Recipe as well!

peanutbutterbrowniecookies

 

And don’t miss these Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies for that chocolate + peanut Butter combo goodness!

10 Tips to Keep Your Family from Catching School Germs!

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My 6 year old started sniffling today - and while my brain registered that it was very likely his allergies kicking in and not the flu – it did remind me that we’ve forgotten to get back into the after-school routine we began last year.  Or as I like to call it – Operation Decontamination.

We were getting sick so often from the kids bring home school germs, that I began having them wash their hands and arms as soon as they walked into the door and change into play clothes, putting their germy school clothes into the hamper.
I know it may sound a bit over-the-top, but it was the only way I could think of to stop our whole family from constantly getting whatever was going around the elementary school.

Here are my Top 10 Tips to keep your family free of school-borne illness:

1 ) Keep anti-bacterial wipes in the car, to de-germ as soon as possible after school pickups

2 ) Wash your hands the minute you walk in the door

3 ) Change their clothes upon arriving home

4 ) Sneeze into tissues and then toss them immediately – sneezing into an elbow or sleeve is also better than a hand.

5 ) Take Vitamins (Especially C) to keep their (and your) immune systems strong and resilient

6 ) Teach your kids not to share things like thermoses, cups, food, etc… at school

7 ) Stay informed about illnesses spreading around the school, and don’t be afraid to keep your child home for a “Sick Day” once in awhile when the risk of catching something is high.  In the long run, it can prevent them, and you, from having to take extra time off school or work.

8 ) When your kids DO come home sick, switch to paper towels instead of cloth towels for a few days so they won’t spread the germs to other siblings or adults.

9 ) Teach kids to wash hands for at least 20 seconds (That’s how long it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice)

10 ) Exercise, Plenty of Sleep, and Healthy Eating are tried and true ways to keep your body’s defenses up!

 

What do you do to make sure your family stays healthy all year long?

16 National Park Free Days for 2016!

national park free days

Planning an outdoorsy weekend sometime soon?  Check to see if you can make use of one of these 16 National Park Free days!  

On these dates, you can get FREE admission to any National Park Service sites that normally charge fees – including fairly expensive stuff like tours of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky (one of our FAVORITES).  Mammoth Cave would normally run about $50 – $60 for our family to take a tour, so we plan AROUND days like this.

Here’s the scoop and the days coming up – mark your calendar and plan out some fun family days!

The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016 and we want everyone to join the party! On 16 days in ’16, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone.

Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2016:

  • January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 16 through 24: National Park Week
  • August 25 through 28: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 24: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

These fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the 127 national parks that normally charge an entrance fee. The others are free all of the time. Plan your visit and enjoy our country’s history and nature.

AND – while you’re at it – check out this new AARP sweepstakes - where you can win a 2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country (YES PLEASE!!) or a trip for 2 on a National Parks Adventure Trip!!  Just click the banner below to enter :)  ***GOOD LUCK!

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