Archive | mom tips

18 Awesome Summer Activities for Brainerd Lakes Area Moms and Kids!

Welcome to Summer! Fun, frolic, quality family time, chances for adventure, the official start to several months of MOM being head of the Entertainment Committee.

This will be the Flansburg’s 5th year of creating what we call The No Bummer Summer.


It’s our chance as a family to try new things and keep the kiddies busy without the assistance of daycare or baby sitters. It’s also a way to embrace this Season of Parenthood and try to create as many memories and learning experiences as possible.  Here’s some of the ideas and “adventures of interest” I have come across and hope to try this summer:

Backyard Bowling: I love the simplicity of this idea! It’s basically just as it sounds. Fill some water bottles with water and food coloring, arm the kids with a ball and enjoy a couple round of bowling!

DIY Backyard Bowling – Easy to make with kids and a great way to recycle the 2-liter bottles leftover after a summer BBQ. Repin and start saving those soda bottles.:

Rock Picking: As a family, we love rocks and love to go rock picking. It’s entertaining, educational, and a great way to get outside and explore.

Rocking picking for summer fun

I was pretty stoked when I found 30 Playful Ways to Teach Young Kids About Rocks:

Leader Pig Races: We’ve done this before and it is a HOOT. Hosted by The Bear’s Den in Leader Minnesota and every Friday and Saturday evening at 7 p.m. are the pig races. This event is geared towards kids without no only the famous “LA Racing Piggies” but plenty of other fun activities like hula hoop contests, jump rope, bouncy balls races and more.

LA Pig Races


Colorful fabric collars are around the piggie’s necks and a corresponding wooden pig is randomly handed out to kids in the audience. The child who holds the same color of pig as the one that crosses the finish line first wins a little bag of goodies. Totally fun and I highly recommend it. Check out The Bear’s Den Facebook Page HERE.

Geocaching: I don’t know much about this, but it sounds like something fun to try.

Parks: Playgrounds and parks! We are blessed with many good ones in the Brainerd Lakes Area and it’s a great way to get out and hang with other families as well. Some of our personal favorites include Whipple Beach, Loren Thompson Park, and Berrywood. There’s also two play groups for those of you with little tots. Fresh Air Fridays and Nisswa Time to Play can both be found on Facebook.

Game Day! Declare Game Day and play as many board games as you have time for!  Some good ones are:  Candyland, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Sorry Revenge, Farkle, Chutes and Ladders, Don’t Break The Ice, Clue, Monopoly Kids , Monopoly Frozen Edition and Operation.

Nature Walk: Go for a stroll in the woods and just appreciate that you are able to do so. Challenge your kids to a Nature Scavenger Hunt and there are awesome Nature Scavenger Hunt printables  here and here.

Great places for a nature hike is Northland Arboretum , Crow Wing State Forest, and Pillsbury State Forest.

Go Garage Saling: One of our favorite ways to find the best goodies for not a lot of money. Check your local paper or visit a Facebook Garage Sale Group like this one or this one.

If you plan to HAVE a garage sale, check out this handy (and free) how-to guide and checklist


Have a ½ Birthday Party: Our kids are both “winter babies” so they miss out on the element of summer fun when it comes to having their birthday parties. So I thought, why not have a “1/2 Birthday Party?” A 1/2 Birthday would be the halfway mark from their last birthday and the upcoming birthday. To “fun it up” you could have the party on the half hour mark (12:30 or 5:30), cut a cake in half (this way each kids will get a 1/2 of a cake for their Half Birthday) and float balloons that would the number half of the age they are turning (if they will be turning 10, float 5 balloons in the party area). If I do this, I think I will skip the presents and focus more on fun like renting a Bounce House from Party World for a “half day.”

Rollin in The Dough: Make homemade edible play-doh. Here are 10 recipes to try out (and you can decide which one tastes the best!).

Make a Pizza (Party): Everyone loves pizza (well, almost everyone. Our 7 year-old still claims she hates pizza. Really?) but for the most part having a mini DIY Pizza Party is always a crowd-pleaser. We like the Betty Crocker brand of dry pizza crust mix  and the Contadina brand of sauce. Choose 4-5 different toppings, shape out several mini pizzas with the dough, and encourage everyone to tap into their inner Pizza Chef 🙂 Here’s some fun ideas from the Baker Mama.


DIY Pizza Night

**for a Virtual Pizza Making Party check out this Pizza Making app for iPads from iGame Mom

Create a Dirt City: I remember doing this for HOURS as a child (yes I was a tomboy). It works best if you are blessed with a sandy area in your yard, but worse case scenario is have some sand brought in. Hook your kids up with shovels, toy dump trucks, cars, animals, containers, and even dinosaurs. Then it’s time to build mountains, rivers, streets, moats, or castles and then use the toys to play, dig, and create for hours.

Hop on Your Bikes or Strap on Your Blades: We are blessed with miles of safe and wonderfully paved bike and walkways on the Paul Bunyan Trail.

After- Dark Play: See what bugs come out at night, play shadow games, or flashlight tag.  Grab some glow sticks, light up gloves, or a child’s headlamp and light up the night! Don’t forget bug spray. has some great after-dark game ideas for kids as well.

after dark games for kids


Color With Nature: I absolutely ADORE this Color With Nature activity from Wildlife Fun 4 Kids. I cant wait to do this one!


What have I missed? What summer activity is your family looking forward to? What Brainerd Lakes Area attraction did I leave out? Please be sure and share in the comments below, or on our Facebook Page HERE.

Happy Summer!

**some of these links are affiliate links. Lakes Area Mom Squad was not compensated in any way for mention of the above businesses.

Hooked? Fishhook Removal Tips that won’t Spoil your Summer Fun

{Shared with permission from Essentia Health press release}

The lakes draw many to live and vacation in our beautiful area. However, a common injury for those who fish or just hang out near docks and boats is becoming “hooked” when the intended catch was a fish.

Fish hook removal

The medical team at Essentia Health recommends removing the fish hook from your finger using the String Yank Technique:

 Remove hook from lure by cutting at attachment ring.

  1. Tape any additional free hooks to prevent the hooks from also getting embedded.
  2. First, wash your hands with soap and water, or disinfecting solution, and then wash the area surrounding the hook.
  3. Tie off a loop with some fishing line. Place the loop over the hook’s shank and lightly pull it against the bend of the hook.
  4. With your other hand, press down and back on the hook’s eye.
  5. Continue pressing down on the hook’s eye. Quickly and firmly jerk the fishing line backward, ensuring that the line is parallel to the shank. Don’t worry; only a tiny bit of skin is behind the barb.
  6. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and apply a bandage.
  7. Watch the area for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.

fish hook removal

We do not recommend pushing the hook through your skin and cutting the barb as this introduces another potential wound for infection. Also, do not try to remove a fish hook that is deeply embedded in the skin, lodged within a joint or tendon, or located in or near an eye or artery. If you are at all unsure, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.

Essentia offers four convenient locations for walk-in care 7 days-a-week when the unexpected happens:

Convenient Care located at both the Baxter and Brainerd Cub Foods, respectively located at 417 8th Avenue NE in Brainerd and 14133 Edgewood Drive in Baxter. These locations are open 8am-8pm.

 Urgent Care, located at the Essentia Health Baxter Clinic 13060 Isle Drive in Baxter, is open Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and on weekends from 9am-4pm.

Emergency care is available 24 hours a day at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center, located at 523 North Third Street in Brainerd. Wait times for Convenient Care clinics, Urgent Care, and Emergency Department can be viewed at

If fishing is a favorite past time, we recommend your tackle box contain an electrician’s pliers with a wire-cutting blade and disinfecting solution. Additionally, don’t forget to receive a Tetanus immunization every 10 years. If needed, it may be done any time in the 72 hours following the injury.


9 Uber Fun, Colorful and Functional Kitchen Gadgets You Need ASAP

I love colorful trendy things that make my life easier. Especially in the kitchen. I am no Rachael Ray…but I’ve been known to whip up a tasty dish or two in my lifetime (THANK YOU Pinterest).

That being said, I am on a mission to replace much of the ugly, ratty and archaic kitchen utensils that are clogging up my gadget drawer with fun, colorful, efficient and multipurpose items. These goodies will all replace the half-melted, stained and space-hogging stuff that I have been limping along with for far too long. Here’s what’s in my shopping cart on Amazon as we speak:

I’ve been used the same, ratty, huge noodle strainer for as long as I have been married (like freaking forever). It takes up a ton of space in my cupboard, is a pain to use and even bigger pain to wash. THEN, I saw this: The Clip-on kitchen food strainer for spaghetti, pasta, ground beef grease and more.

Kitchen Gadgets

  • 3 PIECE KITCHEN TOOL SET- includes clipon strainer, garlic peeler and basting brush for extra value
  • UNIVERSAL FIT DESIGN- Fits nearly any sized pot, pan, saucepan and bowl
  • USES VERY LITTLE SPACE- Uses much less storage space than traditional strainers, colanders and sieves
  • FINE MESH- allows easy straining and pouring of water and juices from spaghetti pasta, ground beef grease, tuna fish, tomatoes and other foods.
  • EASY & SAFE TO USE- Simply snap on and strain foods; made of food-grade silicone and also dishwasher safe

And it’s under ELEVEN BUCKS!  Grab this space-saving 3 piece set and remember, with Amazon Prime, shipping is FREE.

I love this SO MUCH! I love pickles, but not “pickle fingers” when I need to go speelunking for a pickle with a too-short-fork. The Chef’n FridgeFork Condiment Fork (Arugula and Meringue) to the perfect solutions that clips right to the jar for pete’s sake!

kitchen gadgets

AND…it’s only $6.99…now I love it even more. Grab your Pickle Fork HERE.

KidsFunwares TriceraTACO Taco Holder-I mean…really. What kid wouldn’t love to eat a taco hanging out the butt-end of a Triceratops? Your kids will BEG for Taco Night with this killer Taco Holders!

Embrace your inner Kitty Lover with this Cats Pattern Embossing Rolling Pin,Wooden Laser Engraved Rolling Pin With Cats For Embossed Cookies (10″ x 2″, Style-1)

Cat Rolling Pin

  • Handmade Item
  • Rolling Pin Cylinder Size 7.8″ x 2″. Total length 15.4 inches. Hand wash only
  • Materials: wood, beech, natural, ecological
  • Rolling-pins can be a really housewarming and pretty gift for your friends, kids and your kitchen. So, you can choose any pattern from our shop or propose your own.
  • The wooden rolling pin for making cookies. The dough can be made of salt-, sugar- or ceramic-mass! Use your imagination. (Seller states that other “breeds” are available…how cool is THAT?!)

Summer time means more corn on the cob! So if you are going to get all messy and buttery, might as well look good doing it, right? Check out these colorful Butter Your Corn Set with Jumbo Corn Cob Holders (For 8) and Norpro Butter Spreader

kitchen gadget

  • 4.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
  • Price: $14.78 Free Shipping for Prime Members
  • Set includes two 4-packs, assorted colors Chef Craft Jumbo Corn Holders and one Norpro 5400 Butter Spreader
  • Corn Holders have interlocking stainless steel pins that are safely concealed when not in use.
  • The colored handles are soft grip, ergonomic and easy to hold.
  • Butter Spreader is BPA-Free! and measures: 3″ by 1-3/4″ by 1-3/4″
  • Dishwasher safe and comes with a cap to seal and store butter without having to remove the stick

Grab a set HERE (FREE shipping if you are a Prime Member!)

I have arthritis in BOTH thumbs. Crazy, right? It’s also a pain (literally) to do simple things like scoop ice cream. BUT, I discovered this super-cool ergonomic ice cream scoop that uses the heat of your own body to make cutting through cold ice cream a BREEZE. The Ice Cream Scoop with Modern Heat-Conducting Aluminum Ergonomic Handle (Purple) also NEVER CORRODES and is made of SOLID ALUMINUM coated in a durable purple enamel that will last a lifetime. #winning

ergonomic ice cream scoop


Another thing that really bugs my sore thumbs is can openers. Since I loathe electric can openers (their ugly and they take up precious counter space) I’ve been on the hunt for one that do the job w/o torturing my poor thumbs. I think I found my True CanOpener Love with this ZYLISS Lock N’ Lift Can Opener with Lid Lifter!

kitchen gadgets

  • Designed for Comfort and Efficiency
  • Comfortable, soft touch grip and handle eliminate hand fatigue, great for arthritis
  • Locking mechanism to safely open cans of all sizes.
  • Smooth turning, stainless-steel cutting mechanism opens cans in seconds
  • Magnet lifts lid off can and lever releases lid for easy disposal.
  • 5 Year Zyliss Guarantee

AND…since I was told that opening bottle tops with my teeth is unacceptable (and un-ladylike) I am scoring one of these bad boys too.  The Jar Opener –Mlife”Easy Open” Bottle and Jar Opener, Arthritis Jar Opener, Helps Tired or Wet Hands, Arthritic Weakness, Stubborn Jar Tops. Yeah, baby.

  • THE ULTIMATE JAR OPENER. Effortless – Simply Clamp with Opener and Twist. It’s Easy to Open! Jar opener for seniors.
  • OPEN DIFFICULT JARS – Eight sizes of circular openings provide a secure grip for a wider variety of containers than metal tools. Rubber sidings grips tight to slippery surfaces, and it’s lever action gives anyone the strength to open any lid with our jar grippers.
  • LARGER RINGS THAN MOST. Compare to other similar jar openers, the rings are able to open slightly larger bottles.
  • FOUR SIZES OF RINGS TO FIT A VARIETY OF JARS AND BOTTLES. From soda pop bottle tops to small pickle jars or medium mayo even family size peanut butter jars. (Does not open large Mason jars.)
  • SIMPLE TO USE. Easy hold, non-slip, ergonomic handle. It can be so hard to open the lid of a jar. Whether it’s just a hard-to-open jar or tired hands, arthritic hands, weakness caused by any myriad of reasons, this “Easy Open” Bottle and Jar Opener is the solution!

This piece is neither cute or trendy but Oh Momma it is EFFICIENT! The Chef Remi Heavy Duty Kitchen Shears/Multi-Purpose Utility Scissors for Chicken, Poultry, Fish, Meat, Vegetables, Herbs, and BBQ’s is a “must have” for any kitchen. Struggling diced bacon? Screw that! CUT IT! Tired of pulling out the cutting board and hunting for a sharp knife just to chop chicken? Forget Mamasaurus…CUT IT!

kitchen shears

  • LIFETIME GUARANTEE – The Chef Remi Multifunction Kitchen Shears comes with a 100% Money Back Lifetime Guarantee. You won’t get this lifetime guarantee from other big brands. Try It RISK FREE Today!
  • MULTIFUNCTION KITCHEN SHEARS. Heavy duty for easy cutting of meat, poultry, vegetables, trimming fat etc. No need for a knife and board.
  • HIGH QUALITY CORROSION RESISTANT. Sharp stainless steel blades with micro-serrated edge for slip proof cutting. Makes food prep a ‘snip’!
  • BUILT IN BOTTLE OPENER. Serrated section in easy grip handle for opening tough sealed bottles or even cracking nuts! Plus ‘pop top’ bottle opener in the blade for fast & easy opening of bottles and jars
  • COMFORTABLE EASY GRIP HANDLES. Great grip for both right and left-handed chefs, these comfortable and super sharp scissors will make food preparation easier and faster

It also says it comes in “frustration-free packaging”…now wouldn’t THAT be nice. Grab your shear here and don’t forget, with Amazon Prime shipping is FREE.

**Some of these links are affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may get a very small commission at no extra cost to you.
This money goes towards the operating costs of this site so we can continue to bring ideas, tips and reviews to our readers!

Earth Day Science and Sensory Activities for Kids

Earth Day is just around the corner! Is your family, classroom or daycare looking for some Science and Sensory fun to help celebrate this very special day? Lucky for you, I’ve done all the searchig for you! Below is a round up of some wonderful activities from earth-lovin moms just like you. Enjoy!

Earth Day Science and Sensory Activities for Kids


Earth Day Oobleck from Little Bins for Little Hands

Earth Day Sensory Play from Natural Beach Living

Earth Month Scavenger Hunt from Kc Edventures

Coffee Ground Fossils from Crafts by Amanda

Earth Day Discovery Bottles from Little Bins for Little Hands

Making Recycled Paper from You Clever Monkey

Earth Day Play Dough from Natural Beach Living

Model Magic Earth from 3 Dinosaurs

Which Plastic is Which? Recycled Plastic Science and Craft from Left Brain Craft Brain

What is a Carbon Footprint? From Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Creating Earth Art from The Craft Train

Earth Day Tuff Spot from Adventures and Play

Layers of the Atmosphere from Every Star is Different

Homemade Plantable Seed Paper from Views from a Stepstool

Worm Compost Bin from Something 2 Offer

Wormery Journal from Rainy Day Mum

Upcycled Catapult from Go Science Girls

LEGO Soil Layers from Little Bins for Little Hands

Water and Landforms for Kids from My Bright Firefly

Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle A Waste Less Challenge from What We Do All Day

Make a Backyard Water Wheel from iGame Mom

Learn the Water Cycle with LEGOs from KC Edventure

Nature Collection Bottles from Play Learn Everyday

Earth Day Sensory Play with Water Beads from B-Inspired Mama

AND…if you’re looking for some great kid-friendly reading, check out this awesome booklist at Jump Into a Book.

27 Books that Hug the Earth: An Earth Day Booklist for Kids

Earth Day booklist for kids

Check out this nature/earth friendly book from my bestie, Valarie Budayr. It’s a good one!

A Year in the Secret Garden by Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters:A Year in the Secret Garden; a modern spin on a timeless classic. With over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for families to enjoy, learn, discover and play together, A Year In the Secret Garden is an opportunity to introduce a new generations of families to the magic of creating special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and get into the kitchen, craft room and garden.

Earth Day booklist

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