Goldfish Snacks for Growing Tweens #MakeItGoPuff

Goldfish Snacks for Growing Tweens #MakeItGoPuff

Collective Bias Disclosure Statement

I thought I knew what to expect with tween girls. My little sister spent an entire summer with me when she was 12, so I have some prior experience dealing with preteen mood swings and the generally cranky attitudes. My own girls have been handing out attitude and hormonal eye-rolls for a couple of years now, so I’m used to that. I’m even used to having to cajole (and sometimes threaten) them into taking showers and wearing deodorant.

However, I was not prepared for the voracious tween hunger pains. Yes, I know that tween and teen years are the period of most rapid growth, and that for girls, the growth period begins around 10 to 11 and lasts until age 15. Having that knowledge is a completely different thing from seeing the effects of that statement on one’s pantry shelves (and grocery bills)!

Goldfish Puffs for Growing Tweens #makeitgopuff

I buy snacks every week at the grocery store — applesauce, peaches and pears, carrots, bananas, cheese sticks, broccoli florets, Goldfish snacks. These are the same snacks I’ve been buying for years, but now the kids go through them like wildfire and then wander about moping that “they’re starving”. 

When I went shopping at Target last week, I came across Goldfish Puffs. They come in a larger chip-style bag and in several bold flavors — Mega Cheese (my favorite), Cheddar Bacon (the tweens’ favorite), and Buffalo Wing (David’s favorite). The Goldfish Puffs got rave reviews from the girls, and a thought occurred to me.

Goldfish Snacks for Growing Tweens #MakeItGoPuff

It seems that the best kinds of ” teen snacks” are mini-meals in between regular meals, so I’ve done a little experimenting and come up with a few ideas that incorporate the newly-discovered Goldfish Puffs into slightly larger mini-meals that will {hopefully} tide them over until dinnertime.

The girls both love macaroni and cheese, specifically the microwavable kind. When I’m making mac & cheese for family dinners, I make macaroni casserole from scratch, but there’s no accounting for taste, and the tweens love quick and easy mac & cheese. In order to spice it up a little, I crushed up a handful of Goldfish Puffs in “Mega Cheese” flavor and sprinkled them on top of the girls’ mac & cheese. They absolutely loved this… it disappeared in no time and it’s their new favorite snack.

Macaroni and Cheese with Goldfish Puffs #makeitgopuff

Next, I tried adding Goldfish Puffs in “Cheddar Bacon” to mashed potatoes — once again, rave reviews! The girls prefer their Goldfish crushed into their mashed potatoes, while my husband prefers the crunch of the non-crushed Goldfish Puffs in his potatoes. He’s developed a serious love for this particular snack and has been taking it to work for lunch.

Mashed Potatoes with Goldfish Puffs #makeitgopuff

I’ve got all kinds of things in mind now — popcorn with Goldfish Puffs mixed in, chicken breaded in crushed buffalo wing Goldfish Puffs — and they’re delicious to snack on, straight from the package (or bowl) too.

I might be fooling myself by thinking I know what to expect in raising tweens and teens, but I do seem to have solved the growing tweens’ snack cravings… at least until the next growth spurt hits!

Learn more about Goldfish snacks by Pepperidge Farms by following along on Facebook or on Twitter. Pick up your bags of Goldfish Puffs at your local Target store today! You won’t be disappointed!

Goldfish Snacks for Growing Tweens #MakeItGoPuff

A Father’s Day Letter To My Grieving Husband

A Father's Day Letter To My Grieving Husband

Happy Father’s Day to you, my love.

Thank you for being a wonderful and caring dad to our tweens. You would have been the most amazing daddy to our baby girl. In the short time that we knew her, the sound of your voice made her the happiest. She loved you very much, you know. You are truly loved by all of us.

Thank you for loving my girls as your own children, because in every way that matters, they are. Thank you for supporting them as they navigate the fractured relationship with their biological father, and for never making them feel like they have to choose between the two of you.

Thank you for still standing by my side, supporting me and keeping the weight of our combined sadness and loss from crushing us under its’ weight. I know you have struggled. I know you are heartbroken over the loss of Clara, your only biological child. I wish that I could alleviate that pain and grief, and that I never had to see such sadness in your eyes. I can’t take it away, but I will always be here to help you bear it.

Thank you for being strong enough to cry and share your emotions and fears. Thank you for trusting me with your heart, which I treasure more than I can say.

Thank you for working without complaining, even when it feels like the money is all gone before it even hits the bank account. It has been a long and difficult year for our family, but we are climbing, slowly but surely, and that’s mostly because of you.

Thank you for putting up with me. I know I’m not easy to live with, especially not this past year. I cry at the drop of a hat. I can fly into a rage over nothing (and sometimes everything). I alternate between angry, distraught, guilt-ridden, happy, content, excited, goofy, and then back to angry and terribly sad… every day. You have never stop letting me know that you love me.

You are the strong one, not me, no matter what you say. It’s sounds so cliche to say, but you truly are my rock. I can’t imagine surviving the past year without you by my side. In October, it will be 20 years since we first met. I hope that your hand is still in mine when another 20 years have passed.

Thank you for loving us so well.

We love you, David, always and forever.

Heather, Lakie Bear, Addah Bee & Clara Bunny

Father's Day - It takes a special man to be a dad.

Top 10 Books for Kids Ages 9 to 12

Best Books for Older Kids Ages 9 10 11 12

I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Books for Kids Ages 9 to 12, based on an informal poll of my library-loving tween daughters, their friends, our family, and my own youthful reading habits. If you haven’t read any (all!) of these great books, I encourage you to pick them up and enjoy! You’re never too old for a great kid’s book!

Anything by Rick Riordan:  My girls enjoyed the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, but they really loved the Kane Chronicles series, particularly the first book. Our copy of The Red Pyramid is held together with several layers of clear packing tape and has been read countless times by both girls. The books are cleverly written adventures that explore ancient Egyptian mythology and the world of magic. Every time Lakin or Addah read Riordan books, they become utterly immersed in the world inside the pages, emerging only to laughingly read a particularly witty section out loud to me.

The Chronicles of Narnia: A classic series, and for good reasons. Talking animals, adventures with mythical beasts, magic and mystery and fantasy combined with the fight between good and evil… what’s not to love?

Guardians of Ga’Hoole: My oldest adores this book series, which follows a young barn owl and teaches a message of leadership and friendship.

Island of the Blue Dolphins: What an amazing novel this is! I must have read this a thousand times as a child… couldn’t get enough of this tale of Karana, who survives alone for 18 years on an island in the Pacific Ocean. She is a tenacious heroine who overcomes incredible obstacles, from the constant need to forage for food and water, how to clothe herself and dealing with the death of her little brother. I highly recommend this for kids and adults. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

The Hobbit: Excellent for reading out loud to younger kids, and perfect afternoon reading for tweens, this prequel to the Lord of the Rings books follows Bilbo Baggins on his adventures across the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood forests of Middle Earth. Definitely worth reading (even for adults!) before you see it at the movie theater!

Little House on the Prairie: Oh, how I loved the Little House books when I was a girl! I read the first two books to my girls at a young age, and I was thrilled when they became old enough to read the entire series themselves. I still read these once a year or so, just to get lost in the world of Ma and Pa, Mary, Carrie and Grace, Laura and Almanzo.

Dragon Rider: The Dragon Rider books are long, but an easy read for the 9 to 12 year old crowd. This tale of a young dragon who sets out in search of the legendary ancestral home of the dragons enchants kids and makes for a great read-aloud book for younger kids too.

The Last Dragon Chronicles (series): These are Addah’s absolute favorite books and she’s been working her way through the series for the last couple months. Each book in the series highlights a different clay dragon with unusual powers and the adventures that ensue telepathically. She highly recommends them… in fact, she’s insisting that I need to read them now.

A Wrinkle in Time (series): This trilogy is a great read for kids who struggle with fitting in, feeling lonely, or who have dealt with loss. Both of my girls checked these books one out of the library enough times that we bought our own copies.

Harry Potter (series): Of course! Lakin has read up through Prisoner of Azkaban and Addah is halfway through the first book. I’ve read all of them many times (my favorite is the last one, and I cry every time). I will encourage the girls to read them all, for the amazing characters and story and the lessons learned within.

The books that stand out the most from when I was this age are books that my kids haven’t yet read, but they’re on our list to be checked out from the library. I loved Bridge to Terabithia, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret,  Misty of Chincoteague, Tuck Everlasting (oh how I loved this one!), The Secret Garden, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Girl Who Owned a City, and Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and so many more. I was one of those kids who spent my free time devouring books like my life depended on it!

What were your favorite books when you were 9-12 years old? Leave a comment and add your top picks!

15 Ideas for Summer Fun with Kids

It’s almost time for summer fun! My kids have Memorial Day off, 3 more full days of school, then 3 half days (if you can call them half, they get out at 10:45am). On June 7th, summer commences!

I’ve been thinking of things I can do with the girls over the summer. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

Arts & Crafts: There’s so much you can do to create and exercise little imaginations, and a lot of these don’t require a super-crafty Mama at all!
  • Build a Fairy House! ~ We did this last year and it’s high on our list of things to do this summer.
  • Tie-Dyed T-shirts ~ I’m planning to be ambitious with this project and have the girls help me dye the muslin for their new bedroom curtains. They’re very excited.
  • Sculpey clay figures & beads ~ my kids love making & baking the beads for their own necklaces. These make great gifts as well!
  • Create collages ~ Got a stack of old magazines or cards that you can’t bear to recycle, but you’re not sure if you’ll ever find a use for them? Give them to your kids and let them make collages. My girls love cutting out pictures to glue on colored paper and poster board. No extra magazines? Let the kids cut out shapes and animals from colored paper and glue those into a jungle or ocean scene.
  • Marble magnets ~ These are a lot of fun… print out small clip art or have the kids draw little pictures, use jewel glue to sandwich the image between a clear cabochon marble and a magnet and voila! Beautiful and original magnets for hanging your kids’ artwork on the fridge! For a fun twist, print your chosen images onto Shrinky Dink paper, bake to shrink them down and then glue those to the magnets. I have a bunch of these and every one is my favorite.

Play Outside: Kids have so much energy and nothing says summer like playing in the sunshine!

  • Turn on the sprinklers and let the kids play to their hearts’ content… you can even water your garden at the same time!
  • Sidewalk chalk is a guaranteed kid-pleaser. My front porch is an ever-changing work of art all summer long and I love that they’re not using up mass quantities of paper with their drawings.
  • Plant a garden! I have been surprised at how much my kids enjoy helping with our garden. They have taken over the weeding and watering, by choice… can’t argue with that!
  • Paint rocks ~ Smooth small to medium rocks are the best. My husband and I did this last summer and placed them near our fairy house as a surprise. The kids are absolutely convinced that our garden fairies created this little works of art. We use ours as garden decorations, hidden amongst the petunias and tomato plants. Use clear acrylic sealer to waterproof yours if you plan to display them outside.
  • Have a picnic ~ Pack a lunch and enjoy your front yard, local park or one of your area’s state parks. Make sure to point out the birds, trees and flowers around you… show your kids the beauty of  nature all around us.
  • Go throw a ball ~ baseball, basketball, wiffle ball. It’s great exercise and kids love playing games with their parents. You can even play a good old-fashioned game of Freeze Tag, Mother-May-I or Hide-and-Seek.
  • Walk or ride bikes! Explore your neighborhood and surrounding community… find a local ice cream parlor or park and make it your destination. Carry a basket with you to collect interesting rocks, acorns, flowers and leaves.

What are you planning for summer fun with your kids?