Thursday, July 31, 2008

Things that have made my summer (and most of them I didn't even plan!)

1. This trampoline:

Okay, this one I planned. When it arrived, I truly think I squealed louder than my kids. And clapped my hands, jumping up and down. I didn't even know then the, literally, hours my kids (and all the neighbors) would spend on this thing. There is NO downside. Exercise, entertainment, sleeping quarters...this trampoline has it all. Best money I've spent all year.

2.This activity (all Emma's idea).

Have your oldest, most responsible kid get all of your bikes, trikes, wagons, and scooters out of the garage. Have her call all of the neighbor kids over. Give her a bottle of dish soap (you'll never see a drop of it again, but it will be worth it.) Give her a hose and allow her to "clean" every piece of your equipment in your garage. Everyone was busy, wet and happy for at least an hour and your stuff looked shiny and new when they were done. Ingenious.

3. This drink

Meghann, my best food friend ever, gave me this mix for my birthday. It was amazing, especially after I figured out how to crush the ice to a molecular consistency. We ate the whole can in 4 days and then I called Meghann and she said it cost $16 at Williams-Sonoma and I really wished I hadn't given any of that liquid gold to my kids.

I have since spent every night perfecting Ilene's frozen hot chocolate recipe, to try to get it the closer to the Serendipity one. (Sorry, Ilene, yours was yummy, but too chocolatety for Ryan). This is what I've come up with:

Jessica's frozen hot chocolate

2.5 T. cocoa powder

3.5 T. good hot chocolate mix (love the LDS Cannery's mix)

1 T. Quik

6 T. sugar

1 T. malted milk powder (I don't even like malt flavoring, but it is essential in this recipe)

1/2 c. cream

1/2 c. milk

3 c. ice

Mix everything but the ice in a blender. Add ice. Blend, stir with spoon, blend again. Get that ice completely and totally pulverized. Serve in two tall glasses.

(But, for a splurge sometime, really....get the Serendipity brand).

4. This vest.

I made Seth put this on this morning, just for your viewing pleasure, beloved blog audience, and he will now ask me ALL DAY LONG when we are going swimming, no matter how many times I tell him we aren't. So I hope you are appreciative.

So I went to Target in California to get a swim vest for Seth. (side note: Ryan is opposed to floaty swim-aids. As a former swim teacher, he thinks it gets in the way of learning to swim...but since I have a million children now, I cannot be on top of Seth-with-no-life-saving-device.) This was the only one they had, so I bought it.

It is the best thing ever. It isn't super-floaty, so they have to do a lot of the work themselves. Seth kicks his legs, uses his arms, and can get anywhere in the pool, but is perfectly safe. I've never seen this type of vest before, but I love it.

So there. You have one month of summer left. Use these ideas and thank me later.


Annie said...

I LOVE Serendipity's frozen hot chocolate! Can't wait to try that.

My thighs aren't thanking you quite as much, however. If it's made with ice, it's healthier, right?

rubberbandgrl said...

I love your lists. Sounds like you've had a lot of stuff making life a little easier. You deserve it!

Bekah said...

Seth cracks me up! That vest is great. I love Emma's idea and getting all the neighborhood kids together to clean. She's like Tom Sawyer. So smart! And the tramp is a great idea, of course. I love those things. I'm glad you got it too!

Audry said...

Well, actually I don't have one month left it's over and I am not happy. But I do want a trampoline. I can't get my husband to agree yet. Any advice on the one? :)

Meg said...

Thanks for the recipe! Looks divine! I think I will try it soon.

I bought the same floaty device and it worked great for Bennett! Way better than water wings.

Christie said...

A month of summer left? Sheesh, my kids go back to school in a week. I'm almost ready to pull out the fall turtlenecks and black boots.

Well, not really. But my mind is.

Lindsey said...

I use Ilene's recipe all of the time... It isn't too chocolatey for ME!!! And, we bought that life vest too! Jaxon used it everyday for about 2 weeks and gave him a swim lesson and now he can swim all over the pool. But I, like you, give all the credit to the vest that made him figure out kicking and that he could get in a forward leaning position with that thing! It is great!

Lindsey said...

The only thing I am amazed about is no net on the tramp. I guess you are willing to roll the dice on a broken arm...

Jacki said...

I LOVE Serendipity's frozen hot chocolate. Fun restaurant too. I guess I can try making yours rather than fly up to NYC. Huh, I'll think about the trade offs.

Pineapple Princess said...

I love when unplanned things turn out so well.

We might have to uplan some stuff like that for the fall--it is too blasted hot to do it now.

Fun and yummy stuff Jessica! Thanks.

Erika said...

your blog rocks... seriously, you need some sort of payment for it - it's that good. I love hearing about all you adventures.

Dancin Queen said...

I've never had frozen hot chocolate before.

Can't wait to try your recipe! Thanks for sharing!

Lauren in GA said...

We, your "beloved blog audience", truly thank you for your sacrifice in putting Seth in his little swim vest for, "our viewing pleasure". Thank you...thank you :)

Thanks for the recipe, and OH. MY. I am totally copying your idea to clean all of the garage--type equiptment. Lady, you are brilliant.

Kirbell said...

1. Trampolines are fun until your neighbor's kid breaks their arm on it (because her sister was pulling her off of it) and your neighbor's make you pay for the doctor's bill.
2.I love it when kids find something that's fun and useful and keeps them busy for a long time.
3. That dessert sounds amazing. Yum. I will try it tonight.
4. Swim vests are a MUST. I'm on my third kid in the SAME vest. Love it.

Laurie said...

I just saw that online at Williams-Sonoma. I'm totally going to splurge. And then I'll try your recipe.

Love the vest and so hear you about too many kids at the pool. We really haven't been swimming because my two oldest believe they can swim (and they can't), and my youngest is just a goof, and I'm too slow to be of much good to anyone. No swimming, but no drownings either.

And I'm thinking my summer is over in about 2 weeks.

Anisa said...

Once again, is it not hot where you live? I can't even get my kids to go outside unless they are in the water. I don't think they would want to wash their bikes or jump on the trampoline.

I'm going to try your recipe as soon as I can get to the grocery store.

Ilene said...

Yum, frozen hot chocolate. I need to make some more tonight. We never share with our kids. I use Ghiradelli's ground chocolate instead of cocoa (you find it near the cocoa) and it isn't as rich...

Our neighbors have a trampoline here and I love them for it.

Elizabeth Caldwell said...

Ryan - call me about the trampoline please... sooner rather than later :) Not a big issue - just need to make an adjustment...

J'net said...

I am thinking you are SUCH a FUN summer MOM!
Trampoline is the top of my list...
We wore out many guardian angels with tramp
Especially the couple of years it was RIGHT by the
pool and used as a bouncey INTO the water!!!!
Then, YES I believe in floating "stuffs" for non
swimmers even tho swimming lessons are also a MUST!
Remember the "tubie" vests on ALL our non swimmers over the years? An absolute MUST for pool fun.
It actually helps the kids get strong enough to swim by themselves! Teach him to be a STRONG kicking
swimmer and he's on his way!
Fun summer! The kids started school over here this week. They get 3 weeks off in October to trade for the month of Aug. It's a modified year round program. It seems fine, since 2 months of summer REALLY can wear a creative mom out!!!
Happy August! Aloha

Holly said...

Oh wise woman of summer activities(planned and otherwise)--bless you!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, that sounds really yummy! I'll have to try that recipe. Sounds like a great summer so far. Thanks for the tips.

Paige said...

I must agree about Seth's vest. My child who is 2 months older has spent 100's of dollars and hours in private swimming lessons and Seth swims better than she does. I mean, he actually gets off the step.

Rochelleht said...

Not to be a downer, Jess, but I have serious issues with those types of vests. I pulled a drowning toddler out of a pool last summer in one of those. It had pushed her forward and she couldn't lift her body back up out of the water. It was seriously bad.

On a brighter note, I love the bike cleaning idea. I will so have to get my kids on that!