Archive for the ‘summer fun’ Category


Zipzicles allow for customizable, DIY ice pops

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Jace Evans, McClatchy-Tribune

Popsicles are a great treat to kick back and enjoy on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, not all children, or even adults, can consume the vast array of popsicles due to food allergies.

In comes Zipzicles, the portable, do-it-yourself ice-pop bag. Zipzicles are not a food product; they are resealable bags that hold one-third cup of liquid. The result is a highly customizable frozen treat experience that is great for both children with allergies and parents who are health-conscious.

In fact, food allergies are where WizCo LLC got the inspiration to make the first Zipzicle. Owner Shawna Palmer’s son Luke was allergic to foods with strong dyes. WizCo is a true family affair, with Palmer’s husband Murray Greenwood and Luke’s brother Trevor Greenwood also involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

A Zipzicle can be filled with your choice of ingredient by using either a funnel or baster. After they are sealed, WizCo suggests that you place them upright in your freezer.

Being resealable, Zipzicles can be reused, but it really depends whether you want to go through the hassle of cleaning them after every use.

Zipzicles are very portable, staying frozen in an iced cooler, in addition to their travel-easy design, making them good for children’s parties and events.

While they are considered safe due to their lack of a stick and are ultra kid-friendly, a Zipzicle can be a lot of fun for adults too. Try filling them with your favorite frozen alcoholic beverages for your next summer get-together. Of course, just be sure to keep the adults-only pops out of reach of little hands.

Zipzicles are $2.99 for 12 bags. Get recipes and find out where to buy them at


Right at Home: Beach towels with snap

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By KIM COOK, Associated Press

Along with the sunscreen, book, toys and snacks we haul to our waterside of choice this summer, we need a beach towel or two.

The big “canvas” of a beach towel lends itself to big ideas, with room to let designs and colors romp.

For instance, the Los Angeles-based, high-end textile house Fresco has a collection of beach towels reminiscent of antique Southwest-inspired rugs. They have a faux-faded quality that’s enhanced by the luminous plushness of the Turkish cotton weave. The Golden Eagle features a dramatic bird image, and Mesa Diamond is another evocation of Native American textile art.

Anthropologie’s carrying a luxe line of beach towels crafted in collaboration with Brazilian fine artist Monica Nador. Her Cocovado towel designs speak to her work with acrylic paints and stencils in the poorer neighborhoods on the edge of Sao Paolo. Vibrant aqua meets hot red in rich motifs on one towel; sapphire and green hues tint a mosaic pattern; a drum motif is rendered in azure or hot pink.

Online retailer One King’s Lane has partnered with a number of well-known designers on a beach towel collection that rolls out through the summer. Proceeds support the designers’ preferred charities, including Alpha Workshops, which helps HIV-AIDS victims, and Baby2Baby, which assists Los Angeles families in need. Celerie Kemble, Tracy Reese, Nanette Lepore, Rebecca Minkoff, Steven Alan and Robert Verdi are among the designers. Reese’s was one of the debut collections, with wave and tropical-plant motifs in Popsicle hues.

Target has some photo-printed beach towels with appeal to both kids and adults: A gentle golden retriever holds a newspaper on one; goldfish swim across the expanse of another. A Ferris wheel, that icon of summer joy, adorns a third.

Find here too Nate Berkus’ collection of Newport-worthy preppy beach towels with designs like labyrinths, diagonal stripes and other geometrics rendered in navy, sunny yellow, aqua and red. For the kids, check out Target’s whimsical array of beach towel capes, part of a superhero collection of summer toys and accessories. There’s a Batman-style cape with hood and ears, a bright red Captain America-esque cape with lightning bolt crest, and a snazzy Wonder Woman-style towel for the fearless little swim gals.

For older kids, Pottery Barn Teen has towels with surfer-cool designs like hibiscus flowers, Tiki prints and tie-dye patterns in summery hues, as well as sporty towels for baseball fans, with team logos.

If you’re the creative type, check out for ideas on how to embellish a towel with a tic tac toe grid to play at the beach, or make a tote bag out of a towel, or add pockets or ripstop nylon to expand the use of a beach towel.

Finally, crafters Sandra Vogt and Jo Dotson of Lexington, Ky., came up with the clever notion of sewing a bunch of towels together to make a true beach blanket.

“Necessity was definitely our inspiration,” says Vogt. “After many trips to the beach with towels that weren’t big enough, we came up with the idea to sew them together to make a giant one. It’s worked marvelously well since then and we’ve used the blankets dozens of times.”

Using six large towels, you end up with a towel large enough for the whole gang. Lining the back of it with an old shower curtain or vinyl picnic tablecloth provides additional protection on wet pool decks or soggy sand. Instructions are on their website.


Summer is here (almost)

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Robert Nickell, McClatchy-Tribune

The end of the year can be one of the most difficult times for school aged children as they tend to lose motivation as summer and summer break near closer and closer. As parents, it’s our job (one of our jobs, anyways) to keep them motivated straight through to the end. So I’ve compiled a list of tips that have helped my kids throughout the years, and I’m sure they will help yours, too.

  • PLAN WEEKEND FUN: To your kids, summer break may seem within reach, but a month or two can really drag when you’re waiting for summer. One thing that has worked for my children in the past is looking forward to more attainable breaks and activities — and that’s what weekends are for. When possible, plan special outings and activities on the weekends that will motivate your children to get through each remaining week. I suggest beach days, spring skiing, hikes, bike rides, attending a concert or play, etc. Be creative and plan an activity your kids can truly look forward to and enjoy. Additionally give them goals to achieve each week in connection to these weekend activities; this will help keep them focused and driven, because, let’s face it, they’ll do whatever it takes if it means a trip to Disneyland is in store.
  • STICK TO ROUTINE: Just because your kids think they can taste summer break doesn’t mean it is actually here – or even that close. During the school weeks, do your very best to stick to your child’s regular routine to keep them in the swing of things and remind that them it’s not actually summer break quite yet. In our household, in the past, our routines have been variations of the following: my kids come home from school, eat a snack, complete their homework, have dinner with the family, take a bath and head to bed. Of course you can add in some extra fun with a special movie on a Friday night or a fun craft project, but for the most part, sticking to routine will remind your children that school is still in session and help them get through the final remaining months.
  • BE A CHEERLEADER: Be a super motivator and cheer your children through to summer break. Sure they might roll their eyes when you’re hoorahing them out the front door at eight in the morning, but it’ll surely be a brief distraction — at the very least. I suggest sneaking inspirational and motivational notes into their lunchboxes reminding them to “keep their eyes on the prize” (so to speak) and letting them know you believe in them. With a doting and encouraging parent behind them — they’re sure to make it through to summer.
  • LOOK TO THE FUTURE: When in doubt, look to the future. Plan an exciting summer trip and let your child help with the plans. The family trip will give them something to look forward to instead of just summer. Make sure they understand, however, that they’ll need to stay motivated at school during the last couple of months in order to actually go on said trip. Make goals and stick to them. If they achieve their goals then they’ll get to go on the trip — it’s really a win for everyone.
  • CREATE COUNTDOWN ACTIVITIES: And finally, countdown activities are great for the youngsters. They can help put into perspective just how far off — or close for that matter — summer break actually is. Some ideas include printing off calendar pages and letting your child stick a sticker onto each day at its end or making a paper chain and ripping off one link everyday (kids like to watch the chain shrink). Be creative and make the countdown activity something you and your child enjoy doing together.

The last couple months of school may be as exhausting for you as they are for your child, as we all know being a fulltime cheerleader is a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. I hope these tips and ideas will work for you and your family as they’ve worked for me in the past.

Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of seven, offers his five cents-worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of, delivery room duds and daddy gear for dads, and the blog where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a dad’s perspective. Read more at


Pali Adventures camp offers a huge array of specialty activities for your kids

Posted by Lorain County Moms

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Searching for a summer camp that offers a bit more than swimming in a murky lake and s’mores? The Pali Adventures sleepaway camp near Lake Arrowhead, Calif., allow your child to take specialty activities — everything from secret agent training to music lessons to learning Hollywood stunts.

The camp offers more than 50 activities to choose from, including yoga, ziplining, trapeze, stage makeup, ATV riding, waterskiing and more. There are one-week or two-week sessions to choose from — so a camper can try out a new activity or go deeper and become an expert.

The two-week campers get to display their new skills at the end of their sessions in fashion shows, dance performances or theater productions. For those young girls who can use a bit more self-confidence, there’s a special Girl Power Extreme session that is girls only and includes activities such as paintball and self-defense, in addition to spa treatments and learning about powerful women leaders.

Some kids may already have a clear picture of who they will be and what they will do when they are older — for those kids, there are career-oriented programs lead by professionals, such as the broadcast journalism session and the culinary institute.

The sessions go from June through August and signup is now underway. Costs range from $1,695 for a single session to $6,295 for four weeks. See more at


Here’s how to keep kids stimulated and safe this summer — while staying sane

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Cari Wira Dineen, contributor

Summertime and the living’s easy. Or at least it will be — once you line up a smorgasbord of your kids’ activities and lock in your childcare. With the kids off from school, you may find yourself stressed-out, scrambling to organize an often complicated and shifting schedule of multiple camps, activities and childcare. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by, over 50 percent of parents say that they need more childcare for their kids during the summer months. And, you are not alone in fretting about whether to send your child to camp all day, hire a nanny or do both. Cobbling together a summer schedule that can change daily or weekly can overwhelm even the most organized mom.

During the school year, Faith Richardson, a writer and mother to two in St. Louis, Mo., only has a babysitter a few hours per week — mainly to ferry her kids from school to gymnastics and other activities. “But during the summer, I need to a sitter for at least 6 hours a day and it stresses me out every spring trying to figure out how to keep my kids occupied,” says Richardson.

Here’s how to keep your cool while making sure your kids are well cared for this summer:

Get local. Check out your library, your community center, your parks or recreation department, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, nearby museums or place of worship for summer-fun child care camps. “Many centers structure the fees on a week-by-week basis, which is great if you only need a few weeks of care,” says Michelle LaRowe, executive director of the International Nanny Association, author of Working Mom’s 411 and mom to two in Cape Cod, Mass. Also consider getting your kids season passes to nearby attractions, such as museums or zoos, which they can visit regularly with their nanny or sitter.

Go to college. That is, consider hiring a college student who is on break for summer. University students are often hungry to make money during the summer, so they can be great to help out with your kids. During the month of August when camp is out, Richardson hires a NYU student who is around for the summer. “We do ‘babysitter camp,’ where I pay the sitter a little extra to take them out on a different adventure each day, such as the zoo or the water park,” says Richardson. And the kids’ activities can often border on the entrepreneurial. “Last summer, my girls set up a lemonade stand in front of our apartment building on a really hot day and made close to $70_almost enough to pay the sitter for the day!” Consider calling the career center at your local college and asking if there is a job board you can post on or check out summer care providers on

Start your own camp. In a recent poll, 61 percent of parents said they have higher expectations of their caregiver over the summer to plan activities and keep their children entertained. But how do you get your caregiver on board? Take a cue from Michael Salort, a dad in Maplewood, N.J.

“My kids didn’t want to get carted off to a big camp every day during the summer, but my wife and I didn’t want them lazing around the house all summer, either.”

His solution: He paid his full-time nanny extra to become a camp counselor to his three kids and a few other neighborhood children. The nanny had a completely scheduled day, with arts and crafts, creative games, pool-time and playing group sports — just like a regular day camp.

“The kids were home, but they weren’t bored. In fact, they loved it,” says Salort.

And because the other families pitched in to pay for the nanny camp, Salort actually saved money on his summer child care.

Consider summer school. Some school districts offer summer camps to utilize their facilities that otherwise would go empty. Tuition usually provides revenue for the school district and the camp staff is comprised of teachers and assistants. Check out half-day summer school classes for older kids which can give them a leg-up academically come September.

Enlist your momtourage. Round up parents of similar-aged children in your neighborhood and alternate care on assigned days.

“Babysitting co-ops are extremely cost effective,” says LaRowe. Instead of paying for child care, everyone equally takes turns to watch the kids. You might need to take some time off of work during your turn, but it should be minimal as other moms and dads are rotating turns, too. Here’s an online resource to start your own babysitting co-op or find one near you.

Take care of your tweens and teens. “Older kids who are just left on their own can get into trouble,” says LaRowe, “but tweens and teens often balk at a having a babysitter.” Instead, consider hiring a college student as a “driver” for your 11- to 15-year-olds to get them to and from various summer activities, such as sports camps or the community pool.

Older teens can also stay busy by becoming babysitters or mothers’ helpers themselves. Encourage your teen to organize neighborhood families at a local field to coach a softball game or take tots to nearby playgrounds to give stay-at-home mothers a much needed break.

Let kids be free to just play. It can be tempting to schedule every minute of your kids’ days, but don’t. “Less can be more,” says LaRowe. The summer provides an ideal opportunity for kids to engage in free play. “Downtime is just as important as uptime. In our fast-paced world, kids need to learn how to relax and do nothing,” she says. And taking the time to savor the lazy, care-free days of summer can go a long way toward making the summer break more fun for your kids — and less stressful for you. is an online service that matches families with great caregivers for children, seniors, pets and more.


The road rules for navigating trips with your kids

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Marla Jo Fisher, The Orange County Register

The most memorable expressions of travel: “Are we there yet?” “I have to go right now” and “Stop the car, I lost my turtle” were all uttered by people under the age of 18, on road trips with their parents.

The latter phrase was screeched by my own 8-year-old brother in the back seat of our Ford station wagon, when the turtle he insisted on bringing on our trip escaped into the bowels of the trunk.

Buckets of anguished tears later, my brother’s turtle was recovered from under a pile of sleeping bags, after our dad had unloaded everything from the car and piled it by the side of the road.

I’ve seen many miserable families on vacation who suffer from one of two opposite problems: They give in to their kids too much, or they insist on their own adult way of doing things.

Clearly, my parents would have been much happier if they had not given in to my brother’s pleas to bring his turtle on vacation. That is one nice thing about being middle-age: I don’t think my kids have to like me all the time.

On the other hand, I have friends who shudder at the words “road trip,” because they still have post-traumatic stress over being forced to pee in a can because dad wouldn’t stop his maniacal race across Kansas and Nebraska long enough to hit the head.

This is sad, I think, because road trips can be a lot of fun, if you prepare properly and have the right attitude, i.e. that of a benevolent dictator, who rules the car but is willing to take requests from his subjects.

In our car, driver rules. Period. Since that means me, I decide what plays on the radio or CD player. I am, however, willing to consider requests for radio stations, as long as the music doesn’t actually make my teeth ache.

It’s important to leave enough time for whimsy, or serendipity, or both. When I was a girl, my dad was a sergeant in the Air Force and we had no money at all. But my dad did have to go on temporary duty around the country. In the summer, he would cash in his plane ticket and use the money to drive us all to his assignments instead.

These trips were the only times my parents didn’t bicker incessantly, and our dad, who always insisted on driving, was likely to stop when we kids saw the sign for the alligator farm or the petting zoo ahead and begged.

Allowing the kids to feel like they have control over some aspects of the trip turns it into more of a family adventure and less of a Bataan-style death march across the map. Our family always made a point of eating at truck stops, which is probably one reason I’m still large today. But it really carries the road trip theme to a new high.

The most important thing in a truck stop is that the kids have a few bucks to shop in the cheesy gift shop for useful items like signs that read, “Wanted: Woman with fishing boat. Send picture of boat.” This gives you a crucial break from the kids, too. I don’t know how to break it to you, but 24-hour togetherness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So decide in advance how much money they can spend on goofy novelties while you’re at the table reading the Paul Harvey books for sale and eating chicken-fried steak.

Proper preparation is also a key element in how much fun your road trip becomes. Do a little research in advance, and I don’t mean just talking to your neighbor.

A trip to the Auto Club can help you map out your route. Then, thanks to the magic of a little company called Google, you can see possible pitfalls along the way, i.e. how many alligator farms and world’s largest thermometers where you’ll be begged to stop. I also check out any local places to eat that don’t involve the word “Denny’s” along the way.

Then there are the snacks. If you’re a parent, you already know that your mental health revolves around whether or not you have snacks available at any given moment.

“But you just ate a few minutes ago!” is the familiar, pathetic cry of the parent who did not prepare properly for the trip.

You need to always travel with a cooler in the back seat, filled with snacks and drinks for kids. Believe me. This will save you so much time and angst, and you won’t need to stop the car for emergency noshing.

The most important thing you’ll bring on your trip is the back seat DVD player and headphones. I know people who disdain them and say, “Oh, we play the license plate game and listen to books on tape.”

These are the people who arrive back home looking like the zombies in Left4Dead2.

The down side of letting kids watch movies in the back seat is they tend to miss things along the road.

I have to yank the cord out of the socket to get them to raise their eyes from their 87th viewing of “The Simpsons Movie” long enough to see the majestic moose crossing the road in Yellowstone.

“Cool,” they say, then lower their heads again.

I have actually solved this problem by banning DVD watching in any national park. National monuments are a gray area that can be resolved through skillful negotiation.

But the upside is so up, its positively lighter than air.

This was attested to by my friend Kim, who hates TV and doesn’t even own one.

Years ago, when my kids were little, I bought my first portable DVD player for the kids to watch on a road trip 15 hours south into the Baja peninsula.

My friend Stacey, who caravanned with us and her two kids in her own Jeep, did the whole “books on tape” thing.

Kim was so opposed to our backseat DVD player that, before we left, she said testily, “Why don’t you just drug the kids instead?” (Stay tuned, we’ll get into that topic later.)

Kim rode shotgun with me in my car, where we listened to what we liked on the stereo, since the kids were engrossed with headphones and TV in the backseat. They only looked up every two hours to announce they were hungry or had to pee.

Later in the trip, Kim announced she would change cars and ride with Stacey and her kids awhile, to keep them company.

Hours later, Kim emerged from Stacey’s car looking 10 years older. She climbed back into my 4Runner and said, with great passion, “That DVD player is the best invention of all time. You should get a spare one in case it breaks down.”

Told ya.

I’ll never forget the advice several moms gave me before my Baja trip, when I was worrying out loud about being in a car with kids for 15 hours each way.

The unusual aspect of this advice is that it was always whispered in my ear, after the other people around the water cooler had walked away.

What was the word? “Benadryl.”

My friends wanted me to know about the wonders of this antihistamine that makes kids oh-so-very sleepy. But they didn’t want any other moms to know they drug their kids.

Other modern inventions have also made road trips easier, such as air conditioning and Bonine, an over-the-counter motion sickness medicine that makes you less sleepy than Dramamine.

Though potty breaks along the road are standard procedure, try to count heads before you drive away.

I’ll never forget one trip, when I was maybe 5. I’d crawled out of the back seat during a gas stop to use the restroom, apparently without being noticed. When I came out, the car was gone. So I sat down on the curb to wait. Sure enough, many miles later, my mom glanced in the back seat and discovered that her daughter was no longer sleeping there.

I could hear the shrieking five miles away as they raced back toward the gas station, looking for me. At least that’s what I imagine happened.

Maybe my dad had just had enough of listening to us bicker in the back seat. This was, after all, before portable DVD players were invented.

Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at Read her blog at


Easy entertaining: Casual summer cocktail hour

Posted by Lorain County Moms

Hybrid Mom

With such beautiful weather and the garden in full bloom, last Friday evening was the perfect occasion to sit on the porch and catch up with our neighbors. The event: casual, the food: easy and unfussy.

For the two main appetizers we chose to make tomatoes stuffed with pesto or blue cheese with the fresh tomatoes we’d picked up at the farmer’s market. Then, I cooked up my favorite onion dip to serve with carrots and fresh cucumbers, also from the farmer’s market.

To balance out the vegetables, we set out a delicious container of goat cheese with strawberry compote and a nice round of runny Camembert with some buttery crackers. Finally, to include a little salt on the table, we poured two bowls of fancy nuts.

All in all it was a simple and delicious menu for a party of eight, plus one toddler. I should mention that she munched on so many vegetables and crackers that all she actually ate for dinner was a container of yogurt. With all of us in summer mode I didn’t mind one bit. It was the perfect start to a relaxing weekend.

The menu:

  • Stuffed tomatoes: Halve and seed cherry tomatoes. Fill with a scoop of fresh pesto or blue cheese. Serve.
  • Ina Garten’s pan-fried onion dip with cucumbers and carrots.
  • Goat cheese with strawberries.
  • Camembert, runny.
  • Fancy nut assortment.

Ina Garten’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip

Yield: 2 cups, Prep: 40 min, Inactive prep: 30 min, Cook: 30 min, Total: 1 hr 10 min

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup good mayonnaise


Cut the onions in half and then slice them into Ã-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.


Ways to monitor teens at campsite

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Kathy Lauer-Williams, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Q: We are going camping this year with our 14- and 16-year-olds at a campsite with other teens. I remember what I did at their ages and I would like to protect my children from some of the bad decisions I made. I want them to have fun, but am afraid, too. What can I do to protect them?

A: Talk with your kids before you go and talk with the other parents once you get to camp, says the Help for Families panel.

“Have a really broad conversation about values and expectations,” says panelist Rochelle Freedman. “Be very specific. If you haven’t been having conversations all along about smoking, drugs and sex, you’re kind of late. Tell your children, ‘I don’t want to be worried about you,’ and agree to have some rules.”

Once you get to camp, discuss your concerns with other parents.

“Keep the agenda full so there’s not a lot of time for mischief,” says panelist Marcie Lightwood.

Make sure you know where your children are and what they are doing at all times.

“Teens can be together and part of an activity but can still be within the earshot of parents,” says panelist Denise Continenza.

Work together with the other parents to keep an eye on the kids and make sure they are safe, says panelist Bill Vogler.

“All of the parents should be a team, so it’s not just you alone,” he says.

Even teenagers who don’t get in trouble are more likely to try things when they’re out of their element, Lightwood adds.

“Even if you trust your own child, you need to also monitor the child’s peers,” Freedman says. “There is the potential that your child may encounter a peer with different values and behaviors than their own.”

The panel agrees teens are at a developmental stage where they are more likely to experiment with risky or questionable behavior.

“Provide an opportunity for healthy exploration through which they can take safer risks,” Continenza says.

You can offer some limited freedoms such as giving them a curfew that is a little later than they have at home, Lightwood suggests. Make it reasonable. Remember kids can stay up all night and parents can’t, she says.

“Lay out your expectations,” Lightwood says. “Explain to them you need to know where they are at all times.”

Talk about safety concerns, review first aid and go over water safety, she says.

Make sure your cell phones work at the campsite, Lightwood says. If they don’t work, consider using walkie talkies and emphasize to your children they have to answer it.

If your cell phones work, use them to keep in touch and be strict about the rules, the panel says.

“Give them 15 minutes to return a call or a text,” Continenza says. “If they don’t, give them a consequence where you go home immediately.”


School is out, let the fun begin

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Marla Jo Fisher, The Orange County Register

It’s summer, that wonderful time of year when the kids are out of school and you can enjoy lots and lots of quality time with them.

Personally, I love being with my kids 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I mostly work at home these days, so I don’t have to miss a single opportunity for sharing family bliss.

It’s fun to listen to the bickering first thing in the morning over who used up all the hot water in the shower.

It’s fun to have them come flop on the couch at 10 a.m., asking to watch TV because “it’s hot outside and we’re tired.”

It’s even more fun to walk into the kitchen after a few hours of work, to discover that it looks like little green men have invaded from Mars and removed everything from the refrigerator, dismantled and ripped it open in their curiosity about what Earthlings consume in mass quantities.

It’s fun to have them up late with me every night, insisting they shouldn’t have a bedtime because they don’t have to go to school.

Every July, all that fun is interrupted at our house when it’s time for summer camp.

Just when I think I can’t really take any more kid-induced fun, I drive them up to the mountains, drop them off for a week, and come home to a blissfully quiet house.
Living in a clean, blissfully quiet house is fun for a few hours.

I have a glass of wine, call all my friends and have the kind of long conversations that I never get nowadays, since my kids think of 82 things they need to ask me urgently every time I get on the phone.

I make a date with a friend to see an R-rated movie for the first time all year. I watch something trashy on TV where people use cuss words and take off their clothes.
Then, invariably, there’s that fatal moment when I start wondering what the kids are doing at camp.

And I notice, for the first time, how extremely quiet my neighborhood is. Even the dogs that normally plague my existence have gone strangely silent.

The house seems eerily empty as I go to bed. No kids arguing in the bathroom over who used whose toothbrush. No demanding that I tuck them in.

The dog appears to be needing some Prozac, since there are no children to play with him. And the bathroom floor is unrecognizable, without being covered with wet towels.

Buddy and I discover as the week goes on how it’s really not fun at all to live in a house without Cheetah Boy or Curly Girl.

By the time I go pick them up six days later, I can’t wait to see them. Boy, oh boy, I think. Now, we’re really going to have some fun.

They climb in the car, vaguely down and monosyllabic about leaving camp and their friends behind.

At home, they just want to watch the TV that they’ve been deprived of for a week, before climbing into bed.

In the morning, they start bickering over who used up all the hot water in the shower.

Ah yes, the sounds of summer. We’re having some fun now.

Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at Read her blog at rla-jo-fisher/.


Popsicles … the quickest way to becoming ‘mom hero’

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Maureen Dempsey, Hybrid Mom

The quickest way to becoming the mom hero in the neighborhood? One word: Popsicles.

Every kid loves them. And if you’re a culinary master (or experimenter), why not try making your own this summer?

I personally have attempted and succeeded at some fab strawberry slushy popsicles. And “kitchen underachiever” is an understatement, so if I can do it, so can you.

Step 1: pick up some fun popsicle molds.

The classic ring pop gets a cool makeover with the Tovolo Freezer Jewels. Each set includes six individual Popsicle molds that come in fun, different gem shapes and a base that helps keep your pops in place, preventing any tips and spills while in the freezer.

Make your own push-up pops with Kinderville Little Bites silicone sleeves. The tapered design allows the popsicle to be pushed to the top to enjoy, and the fluted rim helps liquid go back into the mold and not over little hands. Less mess! (Hopefully … )

Looking for inspiration — or just some dependable pop ideas? Check out recipe book, “Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone.”