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CertifiKID Field Report: The Fun Side of Parenting... Parties with Oriental Trading Company!

06.20.16

Sure, this whole parenting thing can be tough. What with the crazy schedules and endless obligations. The thing is, it also can be lots of fun -- especially when we get to throw parties for our kiddos! 

We love Oriental Trading Company because the variety of products they offer helps make the celebrating and creating a snap. They're our party 'partner' and go-to place for supplies, special touches, DIY projects, activities and more. Oriental Trading Company is a one-stop shop where just about anything you need for fun can be found - and won’t break the bank.

Today’s CertifiKID Field Report is here to give you some inspiration for celebration, and a recipe too. Party on, parents!

Whooping It Up for Fourth of July

Any good party has got to have some sweet surprises. Watermelon (on a stick) or Grown-Up Popcicles (cocktails on a stick) and even putting your own twist on Grammy’s famed potato salad can put some pop and spark into your 4th of July. How about wowing them with a Patriotic Whoopie Pie?

Wait … how are Whoopie Pies patriotic? Well, when you dress them up in red, white and blue, of course. Our recipe includes summer-fresh berries for a fun twist. The best part? It’s super-easy because you start with boxed mixes. Easy is always more fun. 

Ingredients

1 Box Yellow or White Cake Mix
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs
½ Cup Blueberries
½ Cup Strawberries
¼ Cup Water

  • Heat your oven to 350°F. Grab two cookie sheets (one for each color) and line them with silicone baking liners or spray them lightly with cooking spray if you don’t have liners.

  • Puree berries (separately) until smooth.

  • In a large bowl combine cake mix, eggs and oil mixing on low speed until moistened.

  • Divide mix into two smaller bowls and mix in the berries. Add water as needed until the mixture is about the consistency of sour cream. Smooth but not too runny.

  • Pour batter into a 1 gallon resealable plastic bag or a pastry bag. Seal top and cut a hole about the size of a nickel into the bottom of the bag.

  • 5 Pipe batter into 36 small circles onto cookie sheets about 1-inch apart to allow for spreading.

  • 6 Bake 10 to 12 minutes until set being careful to not over bake. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets and cool completely on a rack.

Filling

1 Cups Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 Stick Butter

Allow cream cheese and butter to come to room temperature. Combine in a medium mixing bowl then slowly add sugar by the ¼ cup until fully combined. DO NOT refrigerate before filling cookies.

Spread filling onto the flat side on one (cooled) cookie half. Top withe the second half and press down to spread the filling. A pastry bag is a big help here too. Serve and ENJOY!

Let these sweet treats take a place of honor next to your red, white and blue decor on a table. Oriental Trading Company can help with that! They’ve got plates, tablecovers, cups, crazy straws, and sparkly touches to make the whole thing sing.

TIP: scatter bead necklaces, patriotic leis, silly sunglasses and hats around the table. Double duty decor and party favors!

Add a craft to the day’s festivities to keep the kids entertained until the sun goes down and the fireworks go up. Oriental Trading Company has fun DIY ideas for all ages. Make 4th-themed “firefly” magnets, patriotic bling, a custom photo frame to remember the day, and more.

You don’t have to wait for our Nation’s big birthday soiree to start the fun. Oriental Trading Company has some seriously fun and FUNction stuff for a beach bash - hello DIY beach bags, flip-flops and kites! A day at the pool goes Old School with some Tiki Bar awesome. Mocktails in coconut cups for the kiddos and cocktails with tiny umbrellas for the mamas and the fellas.

One of the things that makes shopping for party supplies and DIYs at Oriental Trading Company so great is you won’t break the bank. Spend the big bucks on the big stuff then add a few touches from Oriental Trading Company and you’ll have a swanky soiree and budget left to start planning the next one.

It's summer party season... enjoy the FUN!

Tags: CertifiKID field reports, Just for Fun, Recipes

Road Trip Sanity Savers

06.16.16

Since even before the days of Griswold, the family road trip has been a right of passage. Whether it's over the river and through the woods at the holidays or down to the shore for summer, the biggest challenge in any road trip is saving your sanity. After all you can only hear, "are we there yet?!" so many times before you go loopy. And honesty, keeping the kids engaged and entertained makes the trip more fun for everyone.

Road trips are something that my family really enjoys. We've trekked coast-to-coast, up into Canada and down through the Baja peninsula. Some of our best memories didn't come once we got to where we were going, but rather on the trip getting there. Like that one time we spotted a miniature horse riding in the backseat of a Subaru. <---True story.

Any great road trip takes some planning. Put a little work in ahead of time and it can have major payoffs. Here are some of my personal favorite tips for road trip survival... and FUN!

Road Trip Sanity Savers

Busy Bags

Nothing is worse than getting 20 minutes into the trip and hearing, "I'm bored." Keep them busy. That's my motto. Busy Bags can be as simple or complicated as you have time for. A two-quart Ziploc bag is the perfect size for holding everything they need to have fun, snacks and more. Typically ours have;

  • Kindle (or whatever tablet or smartphone they can't live without)
  • Coloring Books (or blank paper. Because, creativity keeps 'em busy)
  • Colored Pencils (they won't melt like crayons and can't muck up your upholstery like markers)
  • Stickers (yes, even teens still dig stickers)
  • Playing Cards
  • Printed "Old School" driving games
  • An Easy Craft (that requires no glue or cutting)
  • Travel Journal (start them on these early, they'll become heirlooms one day)
  • Snacks
  • Hand Wipes
  • Tissues

I break each item down into smaller bags, both for organization and excitement. They are allowed to come up with ideas for what they'd like in their bags, but can't see them before we're loaded in the car and on the road. 

Even with all that prep there is still a pretty good chance they'll get bored. I've planned for that too!

This part is my favorite. I put together timed "surprises" in the form of envelopes we open on a schedule. If it's a long trip, like the two days it took to drive to Disney World, I open an envelope every hour - shorter trips it's thirty minutes. They never know what's going to happen and that makes the time fly.

Not into plastic bags? How adorable are these Road Trip pillowcases?! Thanks for the inspiration Amazing Mae.

Road Trip Envelope Ideas

  • Drawing Contest - Think of it like Car Pictionary! Typically the reward is a buck or two to use in the vending machine at the next rest area or control of the tunes for a set amount of time. 
  • License Plate Game - Who can find the most states? Bonus points for cars from Canada or Mexico! Mom's Mini Van blog has a fun (and free) printable
  • Map It - If your kids have WiFi enabled devices this is a fun and educational game. Have them pick a city along your route and look up as much as they can about it. Then they make their case for why that place is interesting. The winner gets a prize. BONUS if they find a really cool place you can stop on your way back through. We've found the neatest places doing this.
  • Out The Window iSpy - This can keep them busy for the whole trip, so maybe start with it? Each kiddo gets a sheet with the alphabet printed in double spaced rows. As they spy something out the window they write it down. I spy an apple orchard (more likely an Applebee's). I spy a big bus... and so on. Whoever gets the most items on their list wins.
  • Treats - Keep some of the best treats upfront with you. Open a treat envelop and everyone is happy.
  • CARaoke  - Hands-down my favorite! I build a playlist on Spotify with our favorite songs to sing along with. Open that envelope up and it's as though James Corden came along for the ride!

See, road trips don't have to be so rough. Save your sanity and have tons of fun too. Catch ya in the carpool lanes.

~Lara of Team CertifiKID (mom of four and seasoned road warrior)

Filed under Just For Fun

Tags: CertifiKID tips, For Parents, Family Time

Summer Boredom Busters

05.25.16

Summer is coming. Along with it come the heady smells of sunscreen and barbeque, sunny days and warm nights, and… The Bored Birds.


How long does it take for your kids to start squawking about being bored? Camp, days at the pool and awesome CertifiKID adventures are great ways to keep the Bored Birds at bay. But, eventually they’ll nest in your house.


We headed out on a hunt to find creative ways to keep the kids happy (without parking them in front of a screen) and shoo away those pesky Bored Birds. What we found was some why-can’t-I-think-of-amazing-like-this stuff from bloggers who corner the market on cool, creative, educational FUN!


Keep it Cool with Water Play

Photo Credit: All For The Boys


Bring a little boardwalk into your backyard with this brilliant idea from All For The Boys. We love that it only takes some string, tape, a couple plastic cups and that super-soaker they just had to have, to create a competitive game.


The humble water balloon may be the best invention of the season. Tie a few up and you’ve got a pinata that makes a big splash. Grab a laundry basket and you’ve got a wet and wonderful way to play catch. Shoot some really cool slow-mo videos. The options are almost endless. This post on BlogLovin’ proves it.


Got Pool Noodles? Turn them into your own water park! Start with this easy DIY Pool Noodle Sprinkler from Bite Sized Biggie. Then check out the post that gives you more cool ways to turn these one-buck toys into summer awesome.


We’re not sure what it is about playing in the water that gets kids so tuckered out, but we’ll take it. When a nap happens you don’t question your good fortune, you just break into your happy dance. Quietly… because, naps.


DIY for Fun and Learning

Photo Credit: PaperVine

Pintsized paleontologist will totally dig this one and you’ll love how easy it is. PaperVine put together a great tutorial on making your own dinosaur dig. Up the learning factor by having the kids create a dossier for each dino they dig up.


This one combines learning, art and getting outdoors. We. Love. It. Teach Mama takes her kids on nature walks that then inspire backyard nature paintings. You’re likely to run into a few birds with this one, but none of them will be Bored Birds.

 

Do your kids love the Marvel Universe? Maybe you’re the comic book nerd (oh, just me… okay then). Either way this DIY Galaxy Playdough inspired from Maryland Momma’s Rambles. It’s inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy!


Science gets even more cool with this a cell model project from Beltway Bargain Mom that gives you a whole new way to use that kiddie pool.

 

Be Prepared


Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the fight to keep the Bored Birds from roosting in your house is having an idea ready before the chirping starts. A little preparation goes a long way. That’s why we love the idea of an activity jar. There are tons of ideas floating around the web for these. Spend some time checking them out, find one that works for you.

 

We sort of love that this one from While He Was Napping does double duty as a craft that keeps them busy and allows them to have a say in what they’d like to do too.

Photo Credit: While He Was Napping


Keep the FUN in summer and the Bored Birds out of your nest. Have any ideas we missed? Let us know, we’d love to add them to this post.


~ Team CertifiKID

Tags: summer fun, just for fun

Digital Parenting: How Do We Keep Our Kids Safe?

05.22.16

Recently our CEO, Jamie came to me with an infographic about apps that posed potential risks to children. Some of them - as the parent of a teen- I knew about. Others I had zero clue about, and honestly I was a bit freaked out. In this world of digital parenting, how we do keep our kids safe?

You may have seen the infographic (or a form of it) yourself on social media or in the kiddo's backpacks.

 

How many of these apps do you use? Do your kids use them? Should you lock down all web-enabled devices and shun technology forever to keep them safe from stuff like this? As appealing as that may sound after seeing the potential danger in apps like this it isn't really an option. So what's a worried parent to do? After all, knowing these things are out there is only a part of the picture.

Turning to experts helps shape both the picture and the solutions. We reached out to some experts - parents themselves- to get guidance and gain understanding, not just about potentially dangerous apps but the ever-changing world of digital parenting.

Monica J. Villa (aka The Online Mom who literally wrote the book on raising 'Generation Smartphone') advises that starting out by knowing when your child is truly ready for a smartphone (where most kids use apps) is the first step. From there establishing rules and a dialog come next.

“If you give your 12-year-old a smartphone and say let’s draft some rules, nine out of 10 times they will add some you’ve never thought of because this is their big chance to show they can be responsible.” ~ Monica J. Villa

Tech Savvy Mama, Leticia Barr illustrates the importance of communication with our kids as a tool to help keep them safe online. Even in a digital world real, honest and frequent conversations with our kids are key. Leticia has put together a great guide to having age-appropriate talks, starting with toddlers and growing with them all the way to the teen years.

While it's not likely your nine-year-old is on Tinder, there are still any number of apps and sites out there where kids interact and where bullies and predators can (and do) lurk. The National PTA advises that we get to know our children’s online friends. "...making “friends” online is fast and easy, but you must help your children learn the difference between a real friend and a friendly stranger. Monitor their virtual friendships with questions you would ask about their friends in the physical world."

Looking for more information on the apps listed above, as well as and some that didn't make that particular list? The article here has in depth information on sixteen apps that kids may be using that can pose dangers. Do you have a go-to resource you use to stay on top of digital parenting? We want to know about it, leave a comment. We're all in this together!

~ Lara

 

 

“If you give your 12-year-old a smartphone and say let’s draft some rules, nine out of 10 times they will add some you’ve never thought of because this is their big chance to show they can be responsible.” - See more at: http://www.theonlinemom.com/be-smart-about-kids-smartphones-tips-to-make-sure-they-enjoy-benefits-without-the-dangers/#sthash.gwMWFU68.dpuf
“If you give your 12-year-old a smartphone and say let’s draft some rules, nine out of 10 times they will add some you’ve never thought of because this is their big chance to show they can be responsible.” - See more at: http://www.theonlinemom.com/be-smart-about-kids-smartphones-tips-to-make-sure-they-enjoy-benefits-without-the-dangers/#sthash.gwMWFU68.dpuf

Tags: Parenting, Tips, Field Reports

May The 4th Be With You!

05.04.16

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, Shark Week, Two Different Colored Shoes Day (yup, actually a thing) it seems there is a day to celebrate just about any kooky, crazy, yummy thing you'd ever want to. So it sort of makes perfect sense that Star Wars gets it's own day too, right. Plus how fun is it to say, "May the 4th Be With You"? Go ahead, say it again. Fun, huh?

Long ago (1979) in place far, far away (somewhere in the UK) an ad was taken out in celebration of Margaret Thatcher's successful campaign to become the first female Prime Minister of England. It read something along the lines of, "May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations." Turns out it was actually May the 4th and whomever the marketing genius behind the ad was, was a big fan of Star Wars.

That cheeky turn of phrase lives with us today and gives millions of Star Wars fans a reason to celebrate. Please with this Yoda would be.

Any number of places tied to the fandom mark the day with special events, readings, screenings of the entire film series (yes, even Phantom Menace. Wesa think that one not so good, good) and sales. Legions more bring the celebration home with parties and all sorts of fun. We've set out upon a quest to find some of the coolest May the 4th celebrations and commemorations out there.

Dogs reenact iconic scenes Star Wars in this side-splitting-ly hilarious slide show featured on Parade.com.

This entire party inspired by Star Wars and created by the talented (and oh so funny) Eve at Geek Chic HQ is packed with fun and tasty ideas. How about turning your everyday gingerbread man into a Wookie Cookie?

Photo Credit: Geek Chic HQ

How cute and easy are these paper bag Yoda puppets we found on A Grand Life? Make them and have a 'Yoda-Off', see who can come up with the best Yoda-speak silliness, you shall. Pop over to get directions on how to make this one.

Photo Credit: A Grand Life

Though we won't be getting the Rebel Alliance tattoo the suggest any time soon (the Vader one will have to do, for now) the idea of donating extra or unwanted Star Wars toys is one of our favorite ideas on this list of the Top 10 Ways to Celebrate May the 4th.

If you're going to hold a marathon screening of the Star Wars movies, cocktails are in order. Drink Lab has rounded up the galaxy's best grown-up libations. The Dark Side is calling...

Filed under Just For Fun

Tags: just for fun

Creative Birthday Cake Ideas

04.20.16

Whether it's a birthday soiree or special day celebration, the star of any party has got to be the cake. Oh, those glorious layers of sweet confection. We recently posted a creative cake idea -a tie-dye surprise cake - on our Facebook pages and judging by the number of likes, comments and shares, you're into the creative birthday cake ideas too.

So, we've gone out and combed the web, drooled, and swooned over some really amazing cakes to put together this list of party-worthy cake ideas.

DIY Rainbow Petal Cake

What does it take to make a Rainbow Petal cake? Some zip-closed plastic bags and a spoon. BOOM! Okay, it may not be all that easy but reading this post on TheCakeBlog that features step-by-step instructions on how to make one from Kate Wagner has us thinking this just might be doable.

DIY rainbow petal cake by Kate Wagner for The Cake Blog

Photo Credit: TheCakeBlog

Hint for Dads:this could really blow mom's socks off as a Mother's Day cake!

Cookie Monster Cake

Hold on to your hat Cookie because this cake will blow your monster mind. Confessions of a Cookbook Queen takes cake over the top with cookies as the theme, decoration and even the surprise filling. Like the rainbow cake above this one doesn't look as though it would be too complicated. With our favorite chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate chip cookies and cookie dough inside, this cake will certainly be the star of the party.

cookie monster cake by confessions of a cookbook queen

Photo Credit: Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

C is for COOL COOKIE CAKE!

Over The Moon

Rocket their next party over the moon with this one. As far as simplicity goes making this cake isn't rocket science. It is however, super cool. Hosting a space-themed birthday party? This is your cake and All For The Boys has even more out-of-this-world ideas for that bash. We're thinking some of those ideas would even be great for a class party or a STEM/STEAM club celebration.

moon landing cake by all for the boys

Photo Credit: All for the Boys

Beautiful Inside & Out

Pretty in pink this rose and ombre cake by BS in The Kitchen is almost to lovely to eat... almost. The recipe and technique are both approachable enough that you don't necessarily need to be a cake wizard or the next contestant on the Food Network.

Once you've gotten the hang of whipping those roses out and mixing just the right about of coloring into the cake you could do all sorts of things with this one. We're seeing beach themes here.

rose and ombre cake by BS in the Kitchen

Photo Credit: BS in The Kitchen

Easy as Pie (or Donuts)

As much as we love cakes (making and eating them) sometimes you just want to avoid the whole baking thing all together. Lucky for us there are lots of folks out there that get up early to make the donuts.

This donut "cake" comes from and adorable children's book themed baby shower by Pizzazzrie

Photo Credit: Pizzazzerie

Stacking up your favorite fried dough confections on a lovely plate and calling it cake. How brilliant is that? This one will be a really crowd pleaser for sure. Take it into the Teacher's lounge as a sweet reminder of how much you appreciate them. Wake the birthday kid up and serve them "cake" for breakfast. Gather the gal pals for book club and carbs. Since you don't really have to cook anything the options are endless.

Or, you could totally toss flour all over your clothes and clamed you made it from scratch.

Seen some great cakes out there? Made a few yourself? Let us know. We'd love to add to this list!

Filed under Just For Fun

Tags: parties, birthdays, roundups

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