Every year, I look forward to school getting out for the summer and then wonder what all the fuss was about when my household is falling apart within days. Here are a few strategies I’m armed with this year to help us stay afloat, keep a little structure and still have fun. (For those that are new here, my boys are 10, 8, almost 7, 5, and their sister is 2.)

And no, it doesn’t consist of setting Maggie after the kids to run all their energy out.

Snapshot Saturday

But, it does consist of:

1) This Zoku popsicle maker. Probably the best summer gadget we own. While a bit pricier than stocking up on freezie pops, it makes popsicles start-to-finish in 7 minutes (and you can do multiple batches; works best if you stick it back in the freezer while the popsicles are setting up and allows for more popsicles to be made!) and we can make them with whatever we have on hand (smoothies, our own chocolate fudge pops, etc.). My kids use this contraption every single day.

2) Lots of outdoor time. While getting a puppy hasn’t necessarily been the easiest thing in the history of ever to happen (fun? yes, cute? yes, easy? no), she does encourage a lot of outside play – even more than normal – and it also gives the kids a chance for responsibility. We live on a little bit of property with lots of room to explore and run around. Even though the bugs are terrible, getting outside is key to surviving summer.

Snapshot Saturday

3) Speaking of bugs, I use this Bug-off essential oil blend (the only natural blend that has ever even come close to working, and I’ve tried all of them, although you do have to reapply it more often than commercial products and don’t talk to my husband, Brian, because he’s a total naysayer) and a drop of rose geranium oil on our wrists and ankles has kept the ticks away for the most part (on Maggie, too, when I remember to put it on her). As backup, if we are going to use the real stuff for traipsing around the deeper woods, these wipes keep the mosquitoes away and the application is a lot better than spraying right into my kids’ faces and mouths.

4) Along with bike rides and long walks to wear Maggie the Puppy out, we also swear by water guns and water balloons (for the kids, not the pup). They keep the kids occupied for hours especially now that my adept 10-year old can help tie them. The kids also have a lot of fun outdoors with the trampoline and scavenger hunts for bones and “stuff that makes mom shriek” along with other random outside activities. Playing catch with each other in the yard with baseballs and footballs is a favorite pastime as well as these clever fling socks – they’ve provided lots of fun over the years (half the fun is getting them unstuck when they get caught in the trees).

5) Another strategy: Reading. Lots of it. My kids love to get their noses stuck in a book on a normal basis but to give them a little incentive to keep up their reading over the summer, I typed up a very simple reading chart where they color in a box for every 10 minutes they read, read to their siblings or are read to. They get a small prize (think: stickers, stay up 30 minutes late, $1, extra iPad time) after filling up each 20 square segment, and when their entire chart is completed (I think it’s about 100 – 140 squares total), they get to pick out a book of their own from Amazon, most likely. They are pretty excited about this (and our little piano practice timer is coming in handy for them to keep track of how much time they are reading). I also have a couple books waiting on the docket to read out loud to them (usually before bed). Right now we are in the middle of Sign of the Beaver (the boys are enthralled with it so far) and next up is Bridge to Terabithia followed by Elijah of Buxton. Reading. It keeps our summer rolling along (with lots of trips to the library thrown in there!).

Snapshot Saturday

6) Twice a month, we are also doing Kids Cooking School. My boys love to cook and are getting quite good at it. In order to help encourage this hobby, one of the days in the month, each child will choose a recipe that we will make together while we learn certain things: oven safety and taking hot pans in and out of the oven, using the stand mixer, measuring accurately instead of sloppily filling the measuring cup, etc. And then of course we get to eat all the spoils! The second cooking day of the month, I get to choose the theme and the recipes. I have a few ideas up my sleeve: grilling for kids, simple bread making (letting them get their hands in the dough to knead and learn about it), a cookie dough project (more details to come on this!), knife safety and skills for their ages, homemade ice cream, simple dinners they can make from start-to-finish, and a few others.

7) Jobs. Chores. Work. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a really old school, handwritten job chart that I’ve used for years. I recently updated the job assignments to work better for our family and I just have to say that sometimes simple is best. These circular job assignments work wonders for our family. No guessing on who has what job. Even if child A messed up the basement and it’s child B’s turn to clean up basement, they know they have to do it. What goes around comes around (and hopefully the lesson learned isn’t to mess up your brother’s room job but instead to pick up after yourself). Speaking of charts, the kids also have a “wake-up” chart they see in the morning with other simple assignments that I detail on a white board (like practice the piano, one household chore, a learning activity like xtramath.org or something similar, someone is assigned Maggie duty that day, etc.). Don’t worry, it only takes 30-45 minutes in the morning for them to do everything so they have plenty of time to be kids and play, too. But the requirement is that they have to complete their jobs before they can read, play outside or have screen time.

Snapshot Saturday

8) Friday Adventure Days. Fridays are when we we throw all the chores and jobs and structure out the window and have an adventure day. Things like swimming, driving out to the state park and exploring, packing lunch and eating it somewhere fun, taking a road trip (2 hours) to the Children’s Museum and of course IKEA, staying in our PJ’s all day, etc. It should come as no surprise that this is a day we all look forward to.

9) My boys love a good craft. They’ve been enamored with perler beads lately – literally creating for hours. They also recently learned (everyone but my 5-year old, it was a bit tricky for his fine motor skills) to knit using this clever homemade tube/popsicle stick knitting device and it kept them busy for hours; they each have new yarn to try out with it. I have my eye on making these larger than life homemade bubbles at some point this summer, too.

Snapshot Saturday

10) Road trip(s). Our only real trip this summer is a road trip out to the West Yellowstone area in Idaho. Cue lots of driving through North Dakota. I have a lot of strategies for road trips with kids but that’s another post for another time (assuming anyone is even interested or that you’ve actually read this far, if you have, let’s be BFF’s). I think we’ll end up throwing in a few spur of the moment road trips, too – I really want to take them to see the headwaters of the Mississippi near us and to a few other “local” sights.

Snapshot Saturday

We’ll see how this all plays out! So far, one week down and it’s been pretty good with only about 6 1/2 meltdowns (most of them me).

What are your strategies to make summer break fun and survivable?

58 Responses to Snapshot Saturday: Summer Break Survival

  1. Cyndi B says:

    I love your blog. These posts always make me a little melancholy. The times when my boys were young were great and summers were so fun. Now they are grown men. Such fond memories. Enjoy this time, before you know it they will all be grown. Also, your children are adorable! Love the book mark in the glasses. Too cute!

  2. Sheila says:

    Love this post . . .interesting, informative, humorous writing and adorable pictures of kids and a puppy! This post is encouraging to me as a reader. The excellent job you do for MKC is not the least bit inhibiting your priorities as a wife and mom. You continue to diligently pour into your little ones’ lives love, structure, disciple, responsibility, fun, skill building in both body and mind, and even road trips geared toward building your children’s knowledge with lots of physical activities and fun. Why am I encouraged? I don’t know how you do so much so well but since you do maybe MKC will continue for decades even if posts need to go down to 1 post a week. :-) (Pretty selfish, huh? I need your character building in my life.

    Our plans are pretty simple. Lots of camping, bike riding, hiking, vegetable gardening, creek walking, reading, and lots of time bonding with family and good friends with trips to the New River Gorge area and Washington, DC thrown within.

  3. Anna S. says:

    Such good ideas! I need to utilize them (then again, I am only dealing with one 11 year old girl + a fat and lethargic cat. She is going to her first week-long, overnight church camp next month – eek! I am a little nervous.

    P.S. More pics of Maggie the puppy, please!

    P.P.S. Your balsamic noodle bowl is my last-minute dinner lifesaver.

  4. Kristy says:

    My 8-year son has a “Summer Bucket List” (though his 4-year old sister obviously participates, too!) – we use a small pail and fill it with slips of paper folded up that they can randomly pick from throughout the summer. The slips of paper have various activities we can do, color coded by category (we just scribble a swath of color on the outside of the folded up paper, so we can at least tell which category the kids are selecting beforehand, since some require more time than others!!). The categories are “Activities & Games” (fun things to do indoors), “Let’s Eat!” (ideas for delish treats to make or anything having to do with FOOD), and “Oh, the Places We’ll Go!” (outings & other things to do outside). They love this bucket and enjoy the surprises – we don’t pick every day nor do we get through all items each summer, but they still love it!!

    I also put together an “I’m bored, now what?’ Resource List” (i.e., do puzzle book, do sticker book, read for library summer reading program, play board game, complete puzzle, use rock tumbler, do something with art cart, do something with art baskets, use science experiment book, etc.) that hangs on my son’s bedroom wall. When he comes to me with that tireless summer question, I simply point to the list ;)

    Another thing I try to do (though if I’m honest, I am very unsuccessful at this one!!), is to read to the kids one book off their bookshelf each day this summer, trying to get through ALL of their books. We have so many books that I sometimes feel as though we are missing out on enjoying more than 1/2 of them, so this is my attempt to try to cycle through them all. This didn’t go well last summer :) We shall see how good I am at sticking with this goal this summer!!

    One last thing we are trying new this summer is to complete an “Ice cream shop reviews/ratings chart” – we’ll put together a chart of all the sweet spots in town and come up with ways to rate/rank them (i.e., variety, taste, cost, etc.) then visit each place at least once this summer to rate each spot. At the end of the summer, we’ll go back to our favorite for a family ice cream party to kick-off the new school year!!

    We also do lots of scheduled activities (I’m a planner and like to stay busy with the kids!) – VBS, swim lessons, soccer camp, 1-day dance camp, pool time w/ Grandmum, playdates with friends, camping (hopefully in our own backyard this year!!), $1 movie day in town, Planetarium, various library programs, s’mores in our backyard, day trip to the lake with friends, day trips with Dad (when he can take off work) to local amusement parks, city pool, etc. We are so looking forward to summer!! Thanks for this post – it got me excited as we enter the last week of school :)

  5. heather bell says:

    Love this snippet. Love nature! Youlr kids are so cute. Ok, you have answered my prayers. Honestly! We went to the community water park yesterday and it was thrilling and we are tempted to get a pool pass, but besides it costing $190 for a summer, we’ll be out of town for July. The extra pressure of rushing to get dinner done and everything squeezed in just so we can go to the pool isn’t worth it, I think??? Besides that they are fighting so bad bc of exhaustion right now. ahhh!!! Also, we too will be u pin the Yellowstone area July 2-10 or so. In laws live in Idaho Falls. Would be cool if we ran into you.=) And finally!! I came up wwith a few survival systems as well.=) My goal this summer is to get the kids to be self starters! http://bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com/2014/05/my-schedule-kids-responsibilites-and.html

  6. Megan says:

    One comment on your roadtrip – I am from western North Dakota and while I don’t live there anymore, my parents do. With the increase in oil activity, Bismarck west into Montana now has the craziest traffic with lots of trucks and some road construction. Just an FYI so you can plan extra activities or look into a detour!

  7. heather bell says:

    Last thing, our friends out here went to the heado f the Mississippi and loved it!!!

  8. Sue says:

    Your website is so helpful, Mel! You give not only great recipes but also great family ideas. Your summer sounds a lot like ours: jobs, reading, outdoor time, and a road trip. Hope you have a wonderful one!

  9. Barbara H says:

    Love this post! My boys are 5 & 3 so this is giving me ideas for the future. My hubby is looking forward to reading chapter books with the oldest soon so this gives us some great ideas. Incidentally, we’re from Manitoba so we travel through North Dakota fairly frequently – I hear what you’re saying on that! Just finished a trip to Wisconsin Dells & Minneapolis which the boys loved.

  10. Teresa says:

    This is a wonderful post filled with lots of great information and ideas! My boys turn 14 and 16 this month, so this post brings back lots of fond memories of things we did over the years. My kids also loved Sign of the Beaver, right up there with My Side of the Mountain. We’ve always kind of had old-fashioned summers, although things are starting to change as they are getting older. The kids work so hard during the school year, and we are looking forward to summer in just about another week after final exams. I just made fudge popsicles from Smitten Kitchen this week, which were excellent. Would love to see a post on yours soon. Enjoy the first exciting days of summer!

  11. kellyc says:

    Your summer plans look similar to ours. Love the cooking lessons idea. Especially with each of your children. =0) We have been doing extramath too. That is a great help for reviewing the kids math facts. We got the zoku pop maker as a gift 22 summers ago. Love it. Great tip about keeping it in the freezer while its freezing. =0) Any zoku pop recipes would be great!! (hint hint) We are traveling cross country too (to Gettysburg!!!! We are all really excited to go) It will be a 23 hour drive….here are a couple of things that have helped us on longer road trips:
    ~find a hotel with a pool to get that extra energy out.
    ~speaking of books/reading, we LOVE books on cd for road trips. Love the classics…Heidi, Swiss Family Robinson, Hans Brinker The Narnia series are longer. Shorter ones: any of the Lamplighter Series (they are about 2-3 hours long and very captivating.) You can borrow them from the library. I have read The LIttle House Series in the car (thankfully I don’t get car sick!) But that is what makes the audio cds such a great option. =0)
    ~travel snacks
    ~travel bingo and mini car games (checkers, chess, trouble, etc)

    Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful summer!!

  12. Linda says:

    Hi Mel,
    Love this snapshot! Just wanted to say that yours is my FAVORITE food blog, and I really enjoy the snapshots too. The pic of your son laying across the recliner made me laugh – SO CUTE. And I really love that you inspire so many to train their children to help and learn about housework and cooking. That is so important. I taught both of my children basic cooking and cleaning. When my son got an apartment, his friends were shocked, and impressed, that he could cook! You are doing such a great job raising your family, and inspiring others along the way. Keep up the good work! And enjoy your summer.

  13. This is such a helpful post! I have two kids – a 5-year-old daughter and 2 year-old-son. My summer survival plan includes lots of walks and playtime outside/at the park, time at the pool, reading, and some morning chore time (I love your chore charts!). My kids also love to help me in the kitchen so I’m sure we’ll be doing lots of cooking and baking together, too. Oh, and I can’t forget afternoon quiet time! That is essential for everyone’s sanity. :)

  14. s says:

    The popsicle maker sounds interesting..I was contemplating getting an ice cream maker but am worried about freezer space so this may be a better alternative especially since they love smoothies. I have some sponge things pinned to make that you throw which look easier than water balloons..my guys love a good water fight! I plan on some kid chopped sessions since they love it but I love your idea of teaching some true cooking skills as well. Summer is as always a challenge for me to balance free for all mayhem and some structure and down time. Most late afternoons/evenings find us at the lake so any ideas for easy and portable dinners are much appreciated!

  15. Amiee says:

    Thank you for this post! We are going up to northern WI next week and I am ordering this popsicle maker to take with us. My kids are 6, 2 and 9mo so it should be great fun, if you keep the word FUN defined loosely… We are looking forward to it though, lots of family time, and my husband’s phone doesn’t work up there!

  16. Cindy R says:

    When my 3 sons were little they would always ask if they got any mail. So i decided that every Monday they would write a letter to someone. They quickly learned that writing to girl cousins and teachers wielded more letters, boy cousins not so much. It was good practice for their writing skills and they looked forward to thhe mailman.

  17. Lorraine says:

    I highly recommend Burt’s Cabins at Itasca State Park. It was one of our best family vacations. The cabins are stocked with all of the necessities, so you just have to bring food. It’s not on a lake, but there are many other resorts in the area if you’re looking for lake time. It’s a beautiful area!

    Make sure to plan a stop in Medora, ND–there’s mini golf, a ranch where you can ride horses, a pitchfork fondue, and the Medora Musical. Great family activities!

  18. Brooke says:

    Love these ideas. You really are an amazing mom and cook! I am curious. What do your boys make with the knitting thing? Is it just the action they like or are they making something fun?

    • Mel says:

      Brooke – Basically they just make really long knitted strings (it makes kind of a square knitted cube) and they use them for various things like tying up each other’s ankles. :)

  19. This is such a great list! We, too, love being outside, taking road trips, and lots of reading in the summer. Friday adventure day is a fun idea – it gives everyone a special day to look forward to. Thanks for the links on the bug repellent. I’m always in search of something that works and is safe. Love the pic of the adorable guy relaxing and reading in the chair. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Laura says:

    Oooooo, I want to hear your road trip advice. We are heading out in a couple weeks and I’d love to hear about your tricks. Especially with younger kiddos. Mine is 2! Thanks :)

  21. Julia says:

    My daughter’s teacher gave me this idea- a reading “race” to help keep an independent reader excited (even try a new genre or series). You both take turns reading the same book (when it’s lying around, you can pick it up and read it). Your child has a bookmark and you’ll have a bookmark. You race to see who will finish the book first. You can discuss it as you go.

  22. Nicole F says:

    I love snapshot Saturdays! You have so many great ideas. We do the enormous bubbles often (though our recipe doesn’t use baking powder or j-lube–the bubbles are just as big) and we all have a blast with them. Our summer is entirely too unstructured at the moment, so this was an especially helpful post. Thanks!

  23. Stephanie says:

    Love this post! We just survived our first year of kindergarten and while I am looking forward to no more making lunches every night (loved your post on that one btw) I am dreading the lack of structure. These were some great ideas and it is nice to know I’m not alone!

  24. Danica says:

    How is your little girl 2 already??? Wow I swear you just had her. I’m loving these ideas though, and that puppy is so. Dang. Cute.

  25. Rodney says:

    On your way to West Yellowstone you could see devils tower and then go to Cody Wyoming to see the Buffalo Bill museum. Both are great stops for boys. FYI West Yellowstone is in Montana, close to Idaho. I deliver plants and drive from Layton up to that area once a week.

    Ps my wife likes to use your site for lots of dinner ideas, and it is great, thanks for the recipes.

  26. Torrie says:

    Seriously, you are amazing! I am so impressed with all these ideas, and your kids are so lucky to have a mama like you to teach them the value of work AND play. As a teacher, I seriously give major props to parents like you who take a vested interest in the daily learning of their children, esp. during the summer.

    Keep up the good work! I hope that when I’m a parent, I can be half as good as you are at it :)

  27. Valeri says:

    You should really check out https://diy.org/ for your boys. It encourages kids to learn new skills and crafts. A perfect example is they can earn their baking patch (https://diy.org/skills/baker) with Kids Cooking School days!

  28. michelle says:

    We also have the zoku. Any chance of getting some recipes for it? We’ve messed around with it quite a bit and had some fun (and tasty Popsicles) but would love some new tricks!

  29. Ruth says:

    My children are grown —-so no kiddos at home,——but I still really enjoyed this post, along with the comments! Thank you for sharing your ideas, your strategies, and your adorable family with us! I really admire you!

  30. Stacey says:

    I love your cooking lesson idea! I’ll admit, I have trouble letting the kids help all the time in the kitchen even though they want to, sometimes it just makes everything take so long! I may have to try your way of making it an actual scheduled thing, much easier to do if it’s planned so there’s time for it to take longer!

    We made those giant bubbles last year and the kids loved them, but something in that recipe completes kills the lawn. We did it in the backyard, and the spot where the bucket was was completely dead a couple days later. I don’t know if it was the glycerin, or just that we spilled more than with regular bubbles, but it definitely wasn’t good for the grass!

  31. Allison says:

    Hey Mel! I jumped on to be inspired with one of your lemon desserts for RS on Tuesday but got sucked in by your great writing skills and pictures of your kids. Although we’re not officially in summer yet (1 1/2 weeks to go) I appreciate your ideas and wish that I had a bit more space for the boys to run around in. I’m going to check out some of the books you suggested too!! Wishing we could come play.. ;) Your “friend”- Allison

  32. Bri says:

    I made it through, but we were already bff’s right? You are such a cute mom. Your family is so awesome. I would love my kiddos to live by such great kids! Great ideas!

  33. Megan says:

    I’d love to hear your road trip advice! I love the mix of structure and free play you have for summer. That’s how I like to enjoy summer, too. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  34. Holly says:

    Sounds like the recipe for the perfect summer to me! Your five little kiddos are so lucky to have such a fantastic mom!

  35. Oh how I love all your great simple ideas!! Pinning this post! Thanks for sharing!
    P.S. I am a former teacher, and there is nothing better than seeing a mom encourage reading all summer! That IS HUGE!

  36. Melanie says:

    My little girl is about the same age as yours and she loves her rain boots too! I originally bought them for snow/rain, but they are so easy for her to pull on and off that they have become her all purpose adventure boots. :)

  37. gracie says:

    Hi Mel,
    This is my first time commenting. I taught at the primary level for many years and had to write to let you know how great your summer ideas are. You certainly have you hands full with five kids and a new puppy but you seem to be very organized and on top of a good mix of structured fun and less structured choices for free time. I love , love, love the reading incentive chart. Nothing beats turning the pages of real books.You will love the giant bubble activity. I always did this with kindergartners in June and it made for endless fun. You can make bubble frames from many different, simple materials like drinking straws and string. Finally, I love your site and recipes. I made your Whole Wheat Coconut Oil Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and shared them with my trainer and other staff at the speciality gym I attend. I figured I could call them ‘healthy…ish’ based in the whole wheat, oatmeal and coconut oil. Every staff member came over to be to thank me for the treat and tell me they were delicious…so, thank you!

  38. Courtney says:

    Yes. I’d love to hear your road trip advice. I have some practice going back and forth, but it seems like a new age means new ideas. I prefer not to have his face stuck on a screen the whole trip, although I will allow it for Wyoming. Sorry folks, but that’s one of the least “look out the window” friendly states out there.
    We’ve played bingo and ispy. Played with cars, and done preschool worksheets. Book reading won’t work on the way out because the driver isn’t appreciative of it, although it should work on the way back (different driver).

  39. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have a 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old and we are into our second week of summer break. I am looking forward to our summer but have never been very structured. I like to remain flexible but still have some sort of weekly agenda and daily rhythms. I would welcome anything on how your manage your days, organize, etc., as well as the road trip strategies you referred to in this post. I absolutely love your blog and have never tried a recipe from it that wasn’t great! I always look here first if I am looking for a specific recipe. I would also love more posts like this as they are a great help. Keep up the amazing work!

  40. Karen says:

    Also, if you can ever post on how you manage to work on your blog (not to mention do such a superb job) with five kids, I would love some ideas! I am starting a business from home and only have two kids so would love any advice :-)

  41. Jolene P says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful tips, Mel! I also have 5 kids and we recently bought 5 acres, so there’s no shortage of things to do around here in the chore category. We are all looking forward to 2 camping trips we have planned for the summer, but these tips will help fill in the rest of the weeks with fun & learning activities. I love your blog and tell everyone about it. Thanks for all the work you put into it.

  42. Katie Slade says:

    Love this list! My kids still aren’t in school so our summer is just a continuation of normal life:). I don’t know when you’re coming to west Yellowstone (we live in Idaho falls) but on June 28th there’s an awesome celebration and fireworks show in driggs Idaho. It is put on by the huntsman family on their golf course and is called celebrate America. We went three years ago and haven’t missed it since. The fireworks are amazing and you are sitting so close to them. Have a fun time in Yellowstone!

  43. Angella says:

    You are such a nice family. Thanks for this great site you’re an amazing mom.

  44. Rachel says:

    Great Snapshot Saturday. This blog post reminded me of growing up in WI and IL. I check your blog at least 3 times a week. Thanks for keeping up with it and sharing all your great recipies along with your little trick of the trades. Have a great summer! Your kiddos (and hubby) are blessed to have you!

  45. Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing your ideas! You inspire me to be a better (more creative and fun) mom! You are amazing!

  46. Kara says:

    I would love it if you would do a whole post about reading with boys and the books that you have found to be good and interesting to them. I have 4 boys too! I’m trying to read aloud to them more, but I need ideas. We just finished Charlie and the Chocolate factory, and we all enjoyed that. I’m probably more concerned with them being into the book and enjoying it (begging me to read more), than any “messages” or “morals of the story” at this point. I know you are super busy, but if you have time, I’d love to hear your ideas. Thanks- love your blog!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kara – I know what you mean! My husband read Peter and the Starcatchers to the boys a few months ago and they were enthralled (same with the book Holes). I’ll have to compile some more of our favorite read-aloud books.

  47. Kristi wright says:

    Love all your ideas! I bought the zoku maker…any chance you will post your favorite Popsicle recipes?

  48. Laura says:

    Do you use a carrier oil with the big off essential oil blend? Just trying to figure out the best way to use it. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Laura – this is how I use the Bug Off blend: I mix about 20-30 drops of the oil with 1-2 ounces rubbing alcohol and 8 ounces witch hazel. Shake it up like crazy. I keep it in a larger bottle and pour it into my smaller spray bottles as we run out. Hope that helps!

  49. Judy says:

    I think I saw someone else recommend this also, but we got this for water balloons and it is so great! http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B007R1Z80W/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?qid=1404085036&sr=8-2&pi=SY200_QL40

    It took my 5 year old twins about 3 times of practicing and the can now tie their own balloons. The only thing they need my help with is getting to top off and on to fill it up. Well worth the $!

  50. Kate says:

    HI! I have a few kids who love to help with cooking as well and was looking into purchasing some child safe knives (you know to help with some easy cutting). Do you use any or recommend any? Thanks! Love the blog–your cinnamon roll recipe has topped all other recipes I have tried, love the freezer burritos (great for the summer), the pita bread-holy cow! Love it. Thanks for sharing and working so hard on the website.

    • Mel says:

      Kate – That’s a good question! I don’t have official kid-safe knives; they either use a table/butter knife to cut up soft things like olives and cheese or else I let them start using the sharper paring knife when they get old enough to teach them knife safety. Sorry I’m not a better resource! I might have to check into the kid-safe knives on the market, though (PS – so happy you are loving the recipes!).

  51. April says:

    I just found a ZoKU at past treasures for $1. So excited to try it

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