Lights! Camera! Action! Movie Night!

Want to have a fun evening with kids and/or grandkids? Try a movie night. And I don’t mean just pop a DVD in and sit back. I mean plan for it, make it special and offer unique treats.

The best plan is to select a movie everyone will enjoy. That will actually be easier to do if the kids are teens. The younger the children, the more likely the movie will be more appealing to the youth than the adults. To make it more fun, write down acceptable movie titles and place them in a jar for a surprise selection. Or take turns choosing movies from a list. Or choose alphabetically.

Whatever way you employ, make your movie choice. Then a day or two before, begin promoting the night with posters announcing the date, time and location of your feature presentation. The kids can be paid in “play” money for any extra good deeds they perform, which can then be redeemed at the snack bar which will be set up on movie night. The snack bar can have popcorn, drinks, candy, hot dogs, anything a regular movie theater would have. You can even go so far as to get tickets at a party store and give one to each person so they can get into the movie “theater” on your special night.

On movie night, have everyone put on their PJs, gather sleeping bags and pillows and set up a cozy spot in front of the TV. Dim all the lights, turn off all cell phones and roll the film!

What about having a special dinner to coordinate with the movie? If you are watching “Mulan,” eat Chinese food (with chopsticks, of course!). For “Ratatouille,” snack on baguettes and a variety of cheeses. Children may even eat new foods because it seems fun!

Let your kids redeem the well earned “pay” for food at the snack bar set up on the kitchen counter. What a choice they will have with granola bars, candy bars, as well as small baggies full of candy, trail mix, Chex mix, pretzels, etc. facing them. You can also offer juice boxes, bottled water or cans of soda. Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie without popcorn, so be sure to have brown paper bags full of that.Try mixing peanuts, raisins and M&M’s with the popcorn for a little variety. Or try the following recipes for flavored popcorn.

CARAMEL CORN

1 1/2 gallons popcorn (popped)              1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups brown sugar                                   1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter                                                 1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup corn syrup                                      1 1/2 cups peanuts

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a medium-sized pan, bring brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil.

Boil gently for 5 minutes without stirring.

Remove the pan from the stove and add the baking soda, salt, vanilla and peanuts.

Pour over the popcorn and mix until popcorn is coated.

Spread the popcorn on greased cookie sheets and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.

ZESTY POPCORN

5 cups popcorn (popped)                           5 teaspoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning                    1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

3 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Put the popcorn in a large serving bowl and set aside.

Stir together the butter, Italian seasoning and garlic salt.

Pour the butter mixture over the popcorn and mix well.

Sprinkle with cheese and mix again.

Want to know some fun facts about the movies that you watch? Go to the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and click on “Trivia” (under the heading “Fun Stuff”). You’ll learn things like: the airplanes used in “Fly Away Home” were the actual aircraft used by the real-life team to help the geese migrate south!

Another interesting area at Internet Movie Database will give you information about movie bloopers. Check out the “Goofs” section under “Fun Stuff” and you might find where a caveman is wearing a wristwatch or a tattoo disappears mid-movie. Sounds like fun to me!

Maybe after the movie, you can have a discussion where everyone becomes a movie “critic” of sorts. Talk about things like: What was the most memorable part of this movie? What surprised you? Is there another ending you could imagine?

And don’t overlook the special commentary or bonus features of the film. It can be very interesting to learn how the movie was made, why some scenes were deleted, how creatures were developed. It can be educational, surprising and amazing!

Wow, what a great night this would be for the whole family, from grandparents to toddlers! It involves preparation, anticipation, comfy clothes, good food, entertainment, the best company, and bloopers – it can’t get any better!

Kids In The Kitchen

Kids in the kitchen? Sounds terrifying doesn’t it? After all, a kitchen is not a playground . . . or is it? A kitchen is not a classroom  . . . or is it? A kitchen is not the best place for a quiet conversation . . . or is it?

Really, my Sweeties, a kitchen can be the best of all that and more. Magic can happen in a kitchen! Just be fearless and watch!

So, you say you can’t play in the kitchen? Try making popcorn the old fashioned way and see the little ones’ faces as they watch corn pop in amazement. Fun! Or make rice krispie balls with a bunch of munchkins. Very fun! Or decorate cupcakes with icing amongst a group of teens. Very, very fun!

And as for being a classroom, well, I can’t think of a better place to teach anyone math, measurement, geometry, portion, ratio, percentage, weight, length, time or maybe most importantly, patience. Hard to believe that cooking and baking involves all these things but everyone is having such a good time, no one realizes they are actually in school! Don’t tell!

Now, about those quiet conversations – talking with kids while you are having fun with them is what makes the memory. Everyone is at ease and therefore more open. Children will definitely be more forthcoming when distracted with an activity and when it is a shared activity, you have front-row seats to their inner thoughts. You and your precious ones can have the most interesting, touching and hysterically funny exchanges while making a mess in the kitchen. Be ever so grateful you are the privileged one allowed into their inner thoughts and selves.

Did I say “MESS”? Oh yes, dear Sweeties, there will be a mess – like no other! But rest assured, it will clean up with a little elbow grease. And it is so worth it. In fact, the moment is worth a thousand times more than the mess it makes. Try it and see. Invite some kids into your kitchen. Cook something. Bake something. Make a mess. Talk. You’ll love it!

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Do you have traditions at your home? I’m sure everyone does. Kids especially love routines and the traditions that they can be involved in make them feel so unique and special. The great thing about traditions is -You can make them up! You can decide to make any activity or food or dress part of a ritual event. That’s what makes it so fun and special to your family.

One tradition at our house is Saturday morning pancakes. Whenever a grandchild stays overnight on the weekend, we ALWAYS have pancakes on Saturday morning. The kids measure, stir, crack eggs, flip, set the table, pour the syrup into individual pitchers, etc. (As one GS always says “I’ll be in the kitchen with Gramps if you need me.”) The kids even have their own aprons to keep the mess off their clothes (because it is certainly going to be on the floor and counters!)

Me? I do nothing but wait to be called to the table. Then we all enjoy big platefuls of Gramps Famous Applesauce Pancakes with syrup. We talk, laugh and admire everyone’s handiwork. This has become so-o-o-o popular, that now double batches are made so we can eat reheated pancakes all weekend. I’m getting stuffed just talking about it!

Creating a ritual with grandchildren gives them something to look forward to, to plan on and to share with you. It becomes part of your family heritage. You are creating memories and that is no small thing for a child.

GRAMPS FAMOUS APPLESAUCE PANCAKES

2 cups Bisquick      2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs                     4 Tbsp applesauce

1 cup milk                1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together. Ladle 1/4 cup at a time on hot griddle. Cook on one side until edges begin to dry. Turn and cook on other side until done. Enjoy!