Activities

  • Memorial Day Fun w/ A Special Truffled Mac + Cheese Recipe

    Memorial Day is typically a time for excitement as the unofficial start of summer is marked by the well-anticipated holiday.  Traditionally, it summons the season of graduations, family gatherings, outdoor festivals and the opening of pools, waterparks and beaches across the country.  With novel coronavirus still prevalent and not a viable vaccination in sight,coupled with the emergence of Multi- system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), Memorial Day 2020 will look very different than any other Memorial Day we’ve ever seen.

    Most families have been under stay in place orders for the past two months.  With some states just starting to slowly reopen, many families are very apprehensive about exposing themselves to the potentially deadly viruses. In a time of crisis, psychologists recommend that parents create a sense of normalcy for children if at all possible.  

    If you decide to stay in for Memorial Day weekend, here are some easy ways to create a safe, fun and memorable Memorial Day 2020 for your family.

    If nothing else, being quarantined has provided us with an abundance of time. Being creative this Memorial Day will help distract from the desire to participate in traditional activities.  This can be a great opportunity to create new traditions moving forward. 

     Instead of traditional fruit salads, cut fruits into shapes or if you have some shish kabob sticks laying around the house, make some fun fruit kabobs.  

    I must admit that I make a pretty tasty macaroni and cheese. About a year ago, I patronized a local restaurant and had truffle macaroni and cheese for the first time. It was so yummy!  I’ve since developed a love for truffle oil.  You name it and I’ve experimented with truffled mushrooms, truffled mayo… you get the idea.  However, my truffled macaroni and cheese takes the cake. Even the kids love it. Want to try it for yourself? Our Truffled Mac + Cheese recipe is down below!

    Here are a few recipes that our team will be making with their families this weekend.  

    Weather permitting, it’s possible to safely create some outdoor fun for your family.  If you’re able to get out to your local dollar store or superstore, you can take the fun to the next level.  We’re taking it old school on this one.  Watch out, the adults might just out-fun the kiddies.

    • Fill balloons with water for a friendly balloon fight.
    • Grab the sprinklers or purchase an attachment for hours of sprinkler fun.
    • When was the last time you played slip and slide?  Create your own private waterpark.  
    • Do you have a kiddie pool?  Create water game stations.
    • If you’ve been part of the WFH (work from home) crew, do you have a projector?  Use your laptop or smartphone to create a dine-in or drive-in theater.  Stream your favorite movies from your patio or backyard.  Bring out some refreshing lemonade for the kiddies, cocktails for the adults and you’ve just bought the boardwalk to the backyard. 

    Get the idea?  Need more suggestions? We’ll be posting ideas all weekend on our socials.  #KidCareConcierge

    The best part of the holidays is the ability to be with family and friends. This is the hardest part of quarantine for most of us.  It is possible to safely enjoy our loved ones this holiday.  Again, creativity is key. 

    • Invite family and friends to a joint cook-in.  Agree on a time and set up a zoom or google meeting.  There you have it, a multi-family holiday gathering.
    • If you have enough space in your yard for multiple cars, you could possibly invite family and friends to stop by your self made drive-in theater.  Consider safety recommendations when planning your event.  Instead of showing a 3 hour movie where visitors would have to potentially get out of their car to use your restroom, set up a shorter viewing of a 30 to 60 minute tv show.  
    • Make to-go bags for family and friends of the food you’ve prepared and leave labeled bags at the end of the driveway for a quick pick up, maintaining six feet or more distance between yourself and your guests.  

    Celebrations don’t have to be all or nothing.  Traditions are all about perspective.  If we create new rituals to reflect or now normal, we can safely have a great time with our loved ones without crowded beaches, long lines and tiresome traffic. So, this Memorial Day, bring the best parts of the holiday to your backyard – food, fun and family. 

    Truffle Mac + Cheese

    Enjoy one of our favorite side dishes!

    • 1 lb box of noodles (penne or elbow)
    • 5 tbsp butter
    • 4 tbsp flour
    • 2 cups half & half
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • ¾ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp garlic salt
    • 1 tsp ground pepper
    • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
    • ¾ cup shredded Mexican cheese
    • ¾ cup shredded Colby jack cheese
    • 1 cup shredded mild cheese (Velveeta)
    • 3 tbsp truffle oil
    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Very lightly spray a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. Set aside.
    2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add 2-3 drops of olive oil to the boiling water. Add the macaroni, stir once and cook to al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions.
    3. Drain, rinse pasta and transfer back to pot.  Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in the microwave. Pour over cooked pasta. Stir to incorporate the butter onto the pasta.  Season pasta by adding salt, garlic salt and pepper. Set aside.
    4. In a large saucepan, melt (not brown) remaining butter on medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, stir in flour, one tablespoon at a time.  Stir mixture slowly but constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure the mixture does not have lumps. Reduce heat to low. Carefully add half and half and heavy cream. Stir occasionally, keeping a close eye on the mixture to avoid scorching.  Allow mixture to slightly thicken. Once thickened, pour into the pot with pasta. Stir well until well incorporated.
    5. Add 1 Cup Shredded Mild Cheese, ½ Cup Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, ½  Cup Shredded Mexican Cheese and ½ Cup Shredded Colby Jack Cheese. Add 2 Tbsp truffle oil. Stir well.
    6. Transfer to the prepared dish. Top with remaining cheeses. Drizzle remaining truffle oil on top layer of cheese.
    7. Bake until the top is lightly browned. Start checking at 12 minutes.
    8. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
     

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  • Benefits of Volunteering at Your Kid’s School

    Stay-at-home Mom, work-from-home Mom, work full-time, work part-time, running a business, starting a business, full-time student or any combination of work schedule; we’re all so busy.  How many of us are guilty of finding a week’s worth of old notices from the teacher about upcoming events at the bottom of the child’s backpack days after the event has passed? I’ll raise my hand high for this one.  It seems like the children are having some kind of class event every few weeks. Bake-sales, class trips, pizza parties, and book fairs, oh my! It’s overwhelming and expensive.  

     

    It seems like someone from the school is begging for us to do something for the class, every five minutes, right?  Yes, this is true, but I’ve been on the other side of planning such events and I’ll share some insight about why you’re being contacted so often regarding class events.  Teachers are with our children day-in and day-out. Even if we’re asked to send in the 1,000 boxes of tissues and hand sanitizer at the beginning of the school year, most teachers easily spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket each year.  It adds up quickly too. Most districts provide the basics. Teachers get to know our children’s learning styles and emotional struggles intimately. It’s not unheard of for them to selflessly pick up a game or manipulative that will solidify the concepts that the group has been working on for the past several weeks.  Class parties are likely not calculated into the district’s school budget when discussing finances at board meetings. Here’s where the notices found at the bottom of the backpack asking parents to donate time, money or both come into play.

    I know how busy you are and I understand that it may be nearly impossible to be at all school events.  There are; however, huge benefits for us as parents to volunteer at the kids’ schools. 

     

     A first-hand glimpse of how your child’s teacher engages with students. 

    It still tickles me to think back to when I used to work at schools and would run into a family while shopping in the same community. Students, and oftentimes their parents, would treat me like a local celebrity and be seemingly amazed that I shopped for my own groceries too.  The wide-eyed look, the pregnant pause while they’re deciding whether or not to approach in public. Unless running into the store after work, I’d notoriously be looking my worst as if I were making a quick run to the dumpster to throw out trash, but I digress. After the chance encounter, the dynamic of my relationship with the student would usually experience a slight shift as they realized that I, too, was a human who ran errands in sweatpants and not the usual “teacher clothes”.  

     

    Similarly, volunteering in the classroom enables parents to see the more “human side” of school personnel, the good and the bad.  You’ll learn how compassionate and caring the teacher might be when a student falls or how short-tempered he/she might be when a kindergartener has an accident, how often the other teachers gossip, how much the teacher seems to enjoy or perhaps dislikes their job.  The more regularly the parent comes to volunteer in the classroom, the more comfortable the teacher becomes being themselves. Think the first time a guest comes to your home versus the 50th time. I think it’s important for me to get to know the teacher making a life-long impression upon my children beyond back-to-school night and the last day of school.  I also think it’s equally important for the teacher to know that I will “show up” for my kids and not just when I want to complain. So, when I can, I volunteer. Some years, I was class mom, working side-by-side with their teachers to plan all class events. In other years, I wasn’t able to miss work as much and was only able to volunteer once the school year for an hour or two. Should you feel horrible if your schedule, financial situation or both don’t allow you to volunteer?  Absolutely not! But, I’d encourage you to find another way for you and the teacher to get to know each other as “humans”, as I believe it helps build a foundation for mutual respect between parent and teacher. 

     

     

    A view of how your child socializes with peers.

     

    The elementary and middle school years are so challenging.  I’ll be frank with you. SOME kids can be jerks. I don’t fault them because they are children.  They’re learning and growing. Some developing and maturing faster than others. Also, having been a counselor in schools, I’ve been privy to the confidential information shared with me by my students. While I won’t dare share specifics, I will tell you that you have no idea what some children have been through at a young age.  Regardless of zip code or type of school, dysfunction and mental illness are prevalent in the homes of children and the effects oftentimes manifests itself it the only place the child can feel safe, school. Their class bully has likely learned his/her behavior and is either modeling what has been seen, responding to what has been rewarded at home or is coping with the trauma he/she has experienced thus far.  As a parent of a child who has “the bully” as a classmate, there’s very little you can do. However, what you can do is teach your child how to avoid or respond to the other child’s behavior.  

     

    Our children won’t learn how to deal with difficult personalities unless they are taught.  While it’s inappropriate for us as parents to go into the classroom and make another parent’s child feel bad or scold them, even if they are “a bully”, it is very appropriate for us to engage in a dialogue with our own child at home about how they should have responded to an incident that we may have witnessed while volunteering earlier in the day.  One of the best ways to gain a bird’s eye view of how our child socializes in school is to be present. A quick trick from a veteran parent is to multitask.  Kids act differently when you’re there. Be 95% engaged in helping out while the other 5% is discreetly taking note. Work every time.

     

     

    The opportunity to engage with other class parents.

     

    If your child has never been the bully but has been bullied or harassed by a peer, you’ve likely had the thought, “who raised you?”  Here’s your opportunity to engage with the families whose children are helping shape your child’s daily experiences. I don’t know about you but I like to have some insight into their values and perspectives.  Working with other class parents has revealed why the kids might be so darned pushy, as their parents are the same way. Sheesh! 

     

    Likewise, I’ve formed some relationships that have turned into life-long friendships because I’ve learned exactly how much the family has in common with ours.  There comes a point in time where our teens will wake up and believe that we are not wise, we were never children and we know absolutely nothing. Around the same time, they will come to believe that a kid their own age, possessing the same exact amount of minimal life experience as they’ve acquired thus far, knows everything. Parents- let’s roll our eyes in unison. All the more reason to have a clue about how their peers are being raised because like it or not, “those kids” are making an impression.  

     

     

    The chance to steal a few moments with our child during the school day.

     

     

    If you have more than one child or more than one job, you might feel pulled in several directions.  If you’ve ever had to “choose a kid” because your kids have different events in different places, at the same exact time, I feel your pain. Volunteering at my child’s school allowed me to specifically designate uninterrupted time to one child.  It allowed me to be able to steal moments and create precious memories that we’ll hold forever. It sounds cliche, I know, but it is true. I made fruit shish kebabs for my youngest daughter’s kindergarten class trip about seven years ago and it was a hit with the kids and teachers.  My daughter still mentions that trip occasionally. Every time she brings up the event, I recall that I wasn’t going to go but rearranged my schedule at the last minute to accommodate. In the blur of her early years, this stands out to her. I’ve worked a lot and I’ve missed a lot. So stealing the moments that I’ve been able to “figure out”, means so much to both of my girls and me. 

    Being Parent of the Year doesn’t mean that you have to show up every single time.  It’s unrealistic. Do what you can, when you can. That will be enough for your children.  When you are able to show up, being present and actively engaged makes all the difference.  

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  • 4 Tips: Traveling with Children

    Who doesn’t love a vacation?  Vacationing is literally my favorite pastime. Take me to a warm beach and I’m a different kind of calm. Although I love vacationing, traveling to and from paradise can be overwhelming.  Life as a parent is stressful by nature. Traveling with babies and toddlers can be a disaster…if you don’t have a plan.

     

    The key to successful traveling with your young child lies within anticipating and planning around what might happen while en route. It’s imperative that you consider their typical schedule when booking your flight. Children need naps. Heck, some adults are cranky sans the nap.  It is really asking too much for a tired child to behave while trekking through the airport, standing in line for security checks, waiting for the adults in the party to be scanned, staying still while said adults put back on shoes, belts and collect belongs from the conveyor belt, go through customs, trek through the airport again to find the correct terminal and gate, sit there for an hour with parents who are hoping not to be delayed, stand in line to get on the plane, sit still while the adults maneuver getting their carry on luggage while ushering the kids out of the aisle before being trampled by folks rushing to the back of the plane and patiently wait for the plane to finally take off then sitting for about 4 hours to land, head to baggage claim and take a shuttle to the final destination.

     

    Does sound like a lot? Good, because it is.  Frankly, it’s a lot for everyone involved. This is especially true for a child under the age of 6.  

     

    1. If possible, book the flight around their naptime or bedtime (red-eye flights).

    I don’t care if I was traveling by plane or car, trips were scheduled to minimize bedtime disruption.  When I took my little ones from New York City to the Bahamas for the first time, we took a red-eye. They slept the entire time and my sanity was left intact.  I struggled a little with getting them and those darn rolling backpacks through the airport but considering everything else that could’ve gone wrong, that was a drop in the bucket.  Side note- Why do airports seem 1,000 times bigger when traveling with kids? You really do realize how tiny their little feet are when you’re attempting to rush and they just can’t keep up.   

     

    2. Book a window seat.  Mother nature is entertaining.

    Just trust me on this one.  Throw the shades up on a sunny day and a crying baby will be so amazed by the view that they’ll likely stop in their tracks. I still get mesmerized by the view so I get it.  If the little one isn’t as intrigued as I am, try engaging them by talking to them about what you’re seeing. “Oh Jordan, do you see that cloud? It looks like a doggie. Do you see one that looks like a fishie?”  That game can last for a long while if you’re willing to be creative.

     

     

    3. Book a seat near the front of the plane.

    Location. Location. Location. If the child is facing forward while crying in their seat, the noise will travel forward, disturbing fewer people. Remember life before kids? Looking at “those parents” wondering how on earth can they not control their crying kids at the restaurant or market? Fast forward to now and you not only wish you take back every glare you bestowed upon those poor parents but you will give the stare of death if passengers dare glance at you and your inconsolable child? It’s easy to get frazzled and unfocused if you have an entire plane staring at you.

    If passengers are annoyed, you won’t have to see them constantly looking back or shaking their heads in disbelief that a child is actually crying because his/her routine is thrown while stuck on a plane. Just focus on doing your best to comfort your child. Either they’ll likely join you in the “those parents” club one day too or they’ve forgotten how difficult traveling with small children can be for parents.  At any rate, it’s better to have annoyed passengers throw tantrums literally behind your back where you don’t have to deal with them or feel the need to constantly apologize for something beyond your control.

     

     

    4. Pack distractions.
    I’ve already exhausted you by taking you through a trip through a child’s eye. Pack their carry on bag accordingly.  Keep in mind that you will probably end up holding their carry-ons and yours. You might very well also end up carrying at least one child in addition to all of the bags if things don’t go according to plan. Be intentional about packing. Don’t just throw things into their bag.  

     

    Bring a variety of things to keep them engaged.  Pack the favorite teddy and toys that foster the use of the imagination without relying on technology.  You’ll have lots of time to play with them while in flight. 

     

    Preload your tablet or smartphone with their favorite movies. I never downloaded a movie on my iPad before I traveled with my daughters.  I found 3 very long child-friendly movies that they’ve both enjoyed in the past, 2 just as long movies that they’d never seen and splitter earphones so they could listen simultaneously. That was one of the smartest moves of my entire life! #winning

    Flying is no time to try new foods.  I don’t recall ever feeling satiated upon finishing a meal on an airplane.   Children are very cranky when they’re hungry. Do yourself a favor and pack their favorite foods. Feed them the perishable foods first, keeping in mind temperature and storage requirements.  The absolute last thing you need is a child with an upset stomach 35,000 feet in the air.

     

    The light at the end of the tunnel is that everything will be okay.  You will get through the trip to and from your destination.  You will create memories with your family.  It will be worth it.

    We’ve all been there and we’ve survived.  You will too. Happy travels!

     

     

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