A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids

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A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids

Today, I’d like to share a fun activity at home for little kids this summer…because as much as I love to be an on-the-go mama, with on-the-go kids, sometimes it’s nice to just be at home and enjoy some downtime (especially in the afternoon when it is so HOT to play outside!).

On the flip side, I can only play Legos or My Little Ponies so much before my eye starts to twitch (just keepin’ it real, moms!).  Which means that I am constantly trying to invent (or have the kids invent and create) fun indoor games to play…and if I can get some stealthy learning lessons in there, I will!  Here’s what I call the “Toy Store” game…and it kept them busy for at least two hours!

Prep work

First, I explained that we were going to make a toy store in our playroom – you can pretty much make up any kind of store, but we liked the idea of a toy store the best.  I thought if we played grocery store, they may eat all the “merchandise” before the game even began – lol!

I asked them each to pick seven toys (you can choose any number you want) and set them aside.

“Build” your toy store

Next, I gave them the task of “building” their store.  We have these large play “bricks,” which worked perfectly, but let their imaginations take over.  Part of the fun is letting them create this space!  Get out blankets, blocks, fabric boxes, let them move kid furniture around…whatever they want to do.  My one rule – they had to work together as a team.

Pricing

Then, I had them work on price tags. Here’s where you can sneak in a math lesson and work on fine motor skills.  Each of my kiddos have different things they need to practice, so I assigned each kid a job.  My 5-year-old had to trace rectangles (to immulate price tags) and then carefully cut them out. Next, my 7-year-old assigned each price tag a different monetary value.

A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids_2

Raid your piggy bank

Here’s my kids’ favorite part – I had them dump out their piggy banks and put handfuls of real money in little ziplock bags. I had them each categorize pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters – then pick them up (a great fine motor building activity!) and put them in their ziplocks.  They thought they were rich!

Set-up your store

Here’s when we put the final touches on their “store.”  I had them place each of their chosen toys in the store space, and then assign each toy a price tag.  Just for fun, I threw in a handful of Dollar Store toys so they had some cool, new things to “buy.”  They were thrilled!

Time to shop!

And, finally…it’s shopping time!  They could each pick out one toy at a time to “buy,” and they brought me (their trusty cashier) the toy and the price tag.  Then, they had to count out the exact change to purchase the item. This was awesome for so many reasons – they practiced counting, money denominations, how they could reach a certain price several different ways (depending on their available coins), adding, subtracting – the math lessons rocked in this game!  Here’s a picture of each of my kiddies, deep in thought (and counting).

A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids_3

Overall, this was a really fun game that both kids enjoyed…and like I said, it took a good two hours! They worked as a team, used their creativity, practiced math, and even got to “buy” some new toys.  They loved it, and asked if we could play “toy store” everyday.  This is a huge compliment coming from them (even though they had already moved on by the next day – lol!).

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Random Thoughts

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Well, we made it. We made it to summer that is. Friday was the last day of school. But every single year, it never ceases to amaze me just how exhausting the last few weeks of school can be. SO much stuff. Too much stuff. My bestie sent me this text in the middle of it. Yep. Summed it all up.

imfine

Last weekend was my husband’s birthday, and of course, also Father’s Day, so when friends invited us to share their campsite down at El Moro for the night, it was pretty much his idea of heaven. And I couldn’t say no given the birthday/Father’s Day thing.

So we packed up for one night of camping.

The entire back of our minivan was full. We packed for 1 night but could have stayed for a month. Here we are in front of my Dollar Tree birthday tent decoration with my husband forced to do an awkward kneel to get the decoration in the photo.

birthdaytent

We had the most gorgeous 24 hours spent on the beach and camping with a group of friends, so the packing of stuff was worth it for the memories.

And my kids had the time of their lives.

Lesson, if something involves potentially good family memories, just go.

firstdayofsummer

The very next day we headed home so we could unpack and get over to my parent’s house for a Father’s Day BBQ. I snapped this selfie with my dad and sis and I truly didn’t realize until this very photo just how MUCH we all look alike.

I’m on the left, my sis Suzanne‘s on the right.

I love my dad.

dad

Emma’s birthday. Check. Hubby’s birthday. Check. Father’s Day. Check. Next up, Morgan’s birthday. Yes, my three family members all have birthdays within three weeks. Um, it’s a lot of celebrating.

One to go.

I recently learned about this company Shindigz and was given a credit to shop for supplies for my little one’s birthday party. We are talking full party themes of stuff. Including lots of personalization options.  I had so much fun. You really could outfit your entire party without having to step in a store. Look out for post to come on all the adorable rainbow birthday party goodies I found.

Squeal.

1B136E41-BE23-E469-887C805D534F7D1D

Speaking of Morgan, yesterday was her first day on a swim team.  I was on a swim team growing up for many years and I have a lot of good memories of swimming.

I love the culture and the sport.

My heart went pitter patter a bit when I saw her in the cap and goggles. Is there such thing as “Swim Moms”?

swim

Happy beginning of summer to you! How has yours treated you thus far? 

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Cheap Movies for Kids this Summer in Orange County

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Who doesn’t love to go to the movies?
Wellllll…sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming with little ones in tow.  That’s why I LOVE these cheap OC movie theaters and their summer movie showings for kids! We are talking $1, fun movies for kids this summer  (yes, only $1!), offered at many theaters locations I have compiled for you below.

cheapocmovietheaters

These kid-friendly movies are shown in the mornings. Typically filled with other parents and excited, squirmy kids. And it’s okay that your kids laugh extra loud, talk during the movie, spill their snack, and get up and down, and up and down, and up and down…

Cheap OC Movie Theaters

Summer Movie Deals for Kids in Orange County 

Regal Entertainment Group

Summer Movie Express Program

Tuesdays and Wednesdays / Start time:  10 a.m.
(All tickets must be purchased at the box office).
A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.
Cost – $1

Regal’s 2015 Movie Schedule Includes:

Week 1 –
Tuesday, June 23 – Nut Job
Wednesday, June 24 – Annie

Week 2 – 
Tuesday, June 30 – Earth to Echo
Wednesday, July 1 – The Boxtrolls

Week 3 – 
Tuesday, July 7 – Paddington
Wednesday, July 8
 – Turbo

Week 4 – 
Tuesday, July 14 – Rio 2
Wednesday, July 15 – How To Train Your Dragon 2

Week 5 – 
Tuesday, July 21Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Wednesday, July 22
 – The Book of Life

Week 6 – 
Tuesday, July 28 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Wednesday, July 29 – Penguins of Madagascar

Week 7 –
Tuesday July 28 – Madagascar 3
Wednesday August 5 – Dolphin Tale 2

Week 8 –
Tuesday, August 11 – Muppets Most Wanted
Wednesday, August 12 – Alexander and the Very Bad Day

Week 9 –
Tuesday, August 18 – The Lego Movie
Wednesday, August 19 – The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Click to enter your zip code and find the closest participating theater to you. And feel good knowing that a portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.

Picture Show at Westfield Mainplace

Westfield MainPlace
2800 N. Main Street
Santa Ana, Orange County, 92705
Discount shows on Tuesdays 

Krikorian Premiere Theatre

2015 Krikorian Kids Series – 6/16/2015 – 8/18/2015
(Buena Park and San Clemente locations)

Krikorian Premiere Theatres is excited to announce the return of kid’s movies throughout the summer! Every Tuesday from June 16th through August 18th, Krikorian locations will be hosting the 2015 Summer Kids Series, a 10-week series of kid’s movies that are fun for the whole family.

Two showings per day will be available at 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Tickets are $1.00 (Buena Park Metroplex 18 tickets are Free – sponsored by Buena Park Downtown), and are the same price for adults and children. Seating will be first come, first serve, so be sure to arrive early!

Buena Park Metroplex 18

8290 La Palma Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620

(714) 826-7469 (SHOW)

***Movies are FREE at this location!!  Sponsored by Buena Park Downtown.

641-B Camino de Los Mares
San Clemente, CA 92673
(949) 661-7469 (SHOW)
$1 movies at this location

Every Tuesday from June 16th through August 18th
Two showings per day will be available at 10:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.
Seating is first come, first served!

Tuesday, June 16 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Tuesday, June 23 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Tuesday, June 30 – How To Train Your Dragon 2

Tuesday, July 7 – The Boxtrolls

Tuesday, July 14 – Annie

Tuesday, July 21 – The Book of Life

Tuesday, July 28 – Rio 2

Tuesday, August 4 – Paddington

Tuesday, August 11 – Penguins of Madagascar

Tuesday, August 18 – Dolphin Tale 2

Cinemark – Century 20 Huntington Beach & XD

Summer Movie Clubhouse

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.
$1 movies (when purchased at the box office)
$5 for 10 movies (when purchased in advanced at the box office)

Century 20 Huntington Beach & XD
7777 Edinger Avenue
Huntington Beach, Orange County 92647

June 16 -18 – Dolphin Tale 2

June 23 – 25 – 
Mr. Peabody & Sherman

June 30 – July 2 – Penguins of Madagascar

July 7 – 9 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

July 14 – 16– How To Train Your Dragon 2

July 21 – 23 – Alvin and the Chipmunks 3

July 28 – 30 – 
Dog Days: Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3

Cinemark – Orange Cinemark Century Stadium 25 & XD!

Orange Cinemark Century Stadium 25 and XD!
Stadium Promenade Shopping Center
1701 W Katella Ave.
Orange, CA 92867

Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.
$1 movies (when purchased at the box office)
$5 for 10 movies (when purchased in advanced at the box office)

Tuesday June 16 & Thursday June 18
 – Dolphin Tale 2

Tuesday June 23 & Thursday June 25 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Tuesday June 30 & Thursday July 2 – Penguins of Madagascar

Tuesday July 7 & Thursday July 9 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Tuesday July 14 & Thursday July 16 – How to Train Your Dragon 2

Tuesday July 21 & Thursday July 23 – Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked

Tuesday July 28 & Thursday July 30 – Dog Days: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Tuesday August 4 & Thursday August 6 – The Nut Job

Tuesday August 11 & Thursday August 13 – Rio 2

Tuesday August 18 & Thursday August  20 – Turbo

**Disclaimer and note – I encourage you to always call ahead or check theater websites for updates!

Another great resource I found is Plan a Day Out – this site shares about local discounted movies, movies in the park, movies at your local library…plus lots of other great summer activities and event ideas.  Check it out!

And if you also have little ones, I encourage you to read my blog on “Tips for Taking Little Kids to the Movie Theater” – hope they help!

I love these $1 movies for kids.  It’s cheap, it’s air conditioned, and it’s fun for summer!  Share your favorite thing to do with your kiddos below.  And, where do you like to take your kids to the movies?

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Grill Crashers Giveaway!

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 Disclosure: This post was sponsored by our friends at the National Pork Board to inspire new delicious pork recipes.

porkcollage3

Yesterday I shared our recent Grill Crashers party Susanne and I planned to kick off the summer season and surprise our guests with a flavorful new pork chop recipe – Grilled Pork Chops with Chimichurri Sauce.

The pork chops were a hit and so easy to make for a party!  Grilling pork chops are a great way to play around with new flavors and delight guests with a moist, delicious, lean protein as the star of the meal.

Today we want to give YOU the opportunity to host your own Grill Crashers party and BBQ pork this season with a pork giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a $75 Kroger Gift card and a brand new digital meat thermometer to ensure you cook your pork to perfection. 

Before the giveaway, let me inspire you with the best pork chop recipes you will want to try…

Grilled Pork Chops with Mango Guacamole

Grilled-Pork-Chop-Recipe2

Grilled Pork Chops with Chimichurri Sauce

grilled-pork-chops-with-chimichurri-sauce Brined and Grilled Pork Chops with Grilled Peaches

Brined and grilled pork chop recipe with grilled peaches

Pork Giveaway! 

Is your mouth watering? Do you want to have a party this summer and crash YOUR grill with pork?  Enter the Grill Crashers sweepstakes below and enter to win a $75 Krogers (Ralphs) gift card and digital meat thermometer so you can plan your own Grill Crashers party! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Crash Your Grill with Pork!

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Disclosure: This post is Sponsored by our friends at the National Pork Board to inspire readers with our favorite pork chop recipes!

porkcollage

Last month Susanne had us over for dinner and made these mouth-watering Grilled Pork Chops with Mango Guacamole.

The chops were so tasty we were inspired to host a family BBQ for friends to try out another one of her delicious pork recipes, Grilled Pork Chops with Chimichurri Sauce.

grilled-pork-chops-with-chimichurri-sauce

Crash Your Grill with Pork!

It’s common to get into a grilling and flavor rut, isn’t it? I know personally, we have our standard go-to grilling recipes that are recycled over and over again. Boring.

Grilling pork chops are a great way to mix up your menu and delight guests with unexpected, delectable flavors.  

This season, crash your grill with pork, and watch the rave reviews that result!

Plan a BBQ Together with a Friend

We wanted to surprise our guests with a delicious pork recipe at an outdoor BBQ to kick off the summer season.

Susanne came up with the amazing menu,  grilled pork chops with chimichurri sauce over a bed of grilled asparagus and tomato bread pudding, we set the date and our Grill Crashers Party was in motion.

From menu planning to shopping to designing the decor, planning a dinner party with a friend is so much fun. Not only does it split up the work load, but being able to share ideas and to-do lists takes off the burden and allows you to enjoy the process from start to finish.

Step 1: Time to Shop 

Ralphs

Ralphs was our supermarket of choice for shopping because we knew they would carry everything needed for our party. We love their selection of fresh herbs, all the Simple Truth product options, amazing wine selection, fresh flowers, and more.

The first stop on our shopping excursion was the butcher to check out their selection of boneless pork chops. When serving smaller groups, look for pre-cut pork chop packages, but when planning for a large group, you can ask the butcher to cut them for you.

Our Ralphs butcher was so accommodating. When the butcher cuts the chops you can customize the thickness (our preference – 3/4″ thick).

For those that opt for natural meat, Ralphs natural and organic line, Simple Truth, carries natural pork which is humanely raised, fed an all vegetarian diet, with no antibiotics, added hormones or preservatives.
porkpic RalphsCollage

Step 2: Party Prep!

I got to Susanne’s house early to help with the cooking and set-up. This is another benefit of throwing a dinner party with a friend – you can sip on a little wine and chat while getting ready and it doesn’t feel like work!   

She handled the food prep and I worked on setting the table.

Flowers are one of the most inexpensive ways you can add a pop of color to your party and make your dinner table feel special.

I love using mason jars and milk bottles as vases for outdoor BBQ’s. To me, this inspires a natural, rustic feel.

For a backyard party with all the natural elements, you really don’t need much more for decor. Opt for some fresh flowers, candles, and cafe lights and you add instant ambiance, without breaking the bank.

rustictable2

rustictable3

Now it’s time to talk about the star of the party – the pork chops! Here Susanne will give you the how-to on how to make this delicious pork chop recipe for your next party….

Grilled Pork Chops with Chimichurri Sauce,
Tomato Bread Pudding & Asparagus

[Click here to download and print the recipe]

serves 8 people

Chimichurri is a super fresh, herby sauce.  It’s little salty and a touch spicy in the best way possible giving your pork chop a bright, summery flavor.  Warning: you may want more than just one!  Paired with asparagus (in its peak season) and the delicious and sort of indulgent savory bread pudding.  This plate is sure to please the party people.

Grilled Pork Chops with Chimichurri Sauce

12 pork chops, boneless, 3/4 inch thick

garlic powder

onion powder

salt + pepper

Pat the pork chops dry and sprinkle liberally with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Once done, set aside until it is time to grill.

grilled pork chop seasoning

susanne seasoning

Chimichurri Sauce 

1 cup flat leaf parsley, packed, stems removed, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp fresh marjoram, chopped (or fresh oregano)

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt (maldon or kosher)

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Stir together ingredients, serve at room temperature.  I like to make chimichurri sauce no more than a few hours ahead as the freshness of this sauce is key.  (If you need to make ahead, no more than 24 hours.)

chimichurri sauce herbs

chimichurri sauce

Grilled Asparagus

2 bunches, asparagus, tough ends snapped off and lightly shave the ends

1/2 lemon

drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

salt + pepper

When you are finished grilling your pork chops, quickly put the asparagus over medium heat for no more than a few minutes, taking care to keep a little crunch to them.   Then quickly add the lemon to the grill for a minute to sweeten the juice a little and squeeze over the asparagus.

grilled asparagus

Tomato Bread Pudding Recipe 

Serves 6-8

12 cups (1 inch) cubes country style bread (can use a flavored bread, like garlic or rosemary, day old bread is best), crusts discarded

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 cloves crushed garlic

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stems

1 tbsp tomato paste

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp tabasco

tomato bread pudding

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400.

Toss bread cubes with butter in a 13×9 inch baking dish until coated.

Place tomatoes in a saucepan along with brown sugar, garlic, thyme, tomato paste, salt and hot sauce.

Bring mixture just to a simmer, stirring to break up the tomato paste.  Pour mixture over bread, gently stirring to combine.  Bake uncovered, until edges are beginning to caramelize 35-40mins.  Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.

How to Grill Perfect Pork Chops

Because our men LOVE to BBQ we put them in charge of the grilling – careful not to share with our guests what was on the grill.  They probably assumed steak or chicken or burgers. But little did they know we had something special planned for them!

Here is Susanne’s husband Mike at the ‘cue.

grilled pork chop tips

You will want to grill your pork chops over medium heat, turning once, for 4-6 mins per side until they reach an internal temperature of 145-160 degrees F followed by a 3 minute rest.

We pulled them off the grill at 145 degrees, and then let them sit under foil to rest.

A digital meat thermometer is a necessity to ensure proper cooking. Click here for the full guide of pork cooking times and temps.

porktemp

pork1

The Grill Crashers Reveal!

In the meantime, our party guests were hanging out, keeping Baby Shea entertained with no idea we were about to crash the party with pork!

When we shared the menu they were surprised, and also really excited to try Susanne’s recipe.

Doesn’t Teresa look happy at the thought of having pork chops?

teresa

ourbbq
The pork chops were juicy and delicious and the herby sauce made it so flavorful.  And, please do yourself and your party guests a favor and try out Susanne’s tomato bread pudding recipe.  The dish was passed around and around for 2nds and 3rds.

Perhaps the most important feedback however, was from these little girls who can tend to have discriminating tastes when it comes to food (discriminating tastes = picky eaters). However the girls all loved the pork which we cubed for easier eating.

Big thumbs up.

kidslikeit2

Be Inspired to Throw Your Own Grill Crashers Party!

Our party was a huge hit! Everyone had the best time and the pork was the talk of the night.

Are you feeling inspired to throw your own summer BBQ and crash the grill with pork? We want you to be able to have the same experience too!

Come back here tomorrow for a big GIVEAWAY of a Grill Crashers prize back generously offered by the National Pork Board so you can plan your own Grill Crashers Party and crash your grill with pork.

Do you love grilling pork? What’s your favorite recipe? Please do share in the comments below! 

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