The Boxtrolls on Netflix: Inspired Play for Summer Fun

Disclosure: This post is part of a yearly series in partnership with Netflix. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I’ll be sharing ideas throughout the year on some of the best Netflix titles to stream with your family. The content, as always, is whatever streams through my own mind! In addition, this post contains affiliate links. Hope you enjoy!

Last fall I told you about how we’re slowly bringing the tradition of family movie night back. Thanks to the myriad of choices available to stream on Netflix, our list of movies to watch is growing. With the arrival of summer, we’re happy to find ourselves with more time as a family to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

I was thrilled to see The Boxtrolls pop up in our choices of new releases available to stream. Eli and I caught this movie in the theater last fall and we both loved it. The story was fantastic, and the stop-motion animation was incredible. It has a dark and slightly creepy feel to it (perfect to watch snuggled up on the couch with the lights off), but not so much so as to be scary. Leaving the theater, Eli and I both talked about how we couldn’t wait for the rest of our family to see the movie.

I’ve come up with a few ways your family can get the most out of this fantastic movie and make the Boxtroll fun last all summer long.

Read the book

Here Be Monsters! (The Ratbridge Chronicles) by Alan Snow is the book that started it all, inspiring the movie. Whenever possible, I read the book before the movie. For younger kids, this would make a great read-aloud. Kids in grades 3 and up can enjoy the book on their own.

Watch the movie

Stream it from the comfort of your own couch or invite the neighbors for an outdoor movie night!

Serve up a special snack

How fun (and tasty) is this buggy snack idea from Atta Girl Says?

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Act it out

As mischievous and fun as the characters are, the kids will love designing their own costumes and play-acting long after the movie is done. I love these paper bag costumes from Poofy Cheeks.

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Learn a new game

For older kids who are too cool for dress up, take the box theme to the next level and teach them the classic Dots and Boxes game. Once you have this game under your belt, they’ll never be bored at a restaurant or in the car again.

Play with boxes

I saved the best and easiest for last – the good old-fashioned cardboard box! Those resourceful Boxtrolls knew what was up when they chose the humble box as their favorite thing to reuse, repurpose and recycle. Grab boxes of all sizes, along with tape, markers, and cardboard tubes. Indoors or out, a few simple recycled boxes can inspire hours of creative, open-ended play.

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What movies are you watching this summer, and how have they inspired play beyond the couch?

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It’s (Still) Hard Out Here For the Dads

Appreciating modern dads and the struggle they feel to be the perfect father, partner, and breadwinner in a way their dads never worried about.<br />
Father’s Day | Fathering | Parenting | Father’s Day Appreciation

In honor of Father’s Day, I’m bringing back an oldie but a goodie (at least in my mind). I wrote this post about the struggle I imagine this generation of dads who are in the thick of parenting must feel 3 years ago. I had no intentions of republishing it, and in fact had quite forgotten about it. And then a few weeks ago, while reading the excellent book by Jennifer Senior on the paradox of modern parenting, All Joy and No Fun, I came across this thought from the author:

“This is a strange moment for fatherdom. There’s increasing pressure for men to be actively involved in the affairs of the home, but there’s no precise standard for how much involvement is enough. And if the standard is to do as much as their wives do … Lord, that bar is as high as a bird’s nest.”

That’s exactly what I had on my mind when I wrote this post. I re-read it, hoping that my words were outdated. Sadly, the only things that are outdated are the photos. (My babies!) The sentiment, and the struggle, still ring true.  I know that I can be just as guilty for heaping the pressure and high expectations on to my husband as anyone, so I’m re-posting this as a reminder to myself to be kinder, gentler, and more appreciative of my husband and all he does. The dads that are always reaching for that bird’s nest need encouragement every day, of course, but Father’s Day is the perfect place to start.

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I’m not sure why, but this Father’s Day has me reflecting on fatherhood for more than just the fleeting moment when I’m thinking of something profound to write in Mike or my dad’s cards.  The holiday can seem like an afterthought in our house with the slew of celebrations that come before it and Mike’s general laid-back attitude about the day.  In general, Father’s Day takes a back seat to Mother’s Day.  Does it bother dads?  I don’t know.  But I have to wonder if their silence on the subject doesn’t reflect a larger issue:

It must be tough to be a father these days.

Now moms, I know some of you will roll your eyes at me and launch into a litany of reasons why it’s hard to be a mom, especially a mom to young children.  And I don’t disagree.  Though we’re in the golden years of parenting, some days are drop-dead exhausting.  Mentally and physically exhausting.  I’m always doubting myself, wondering if I’m doing it wrong or screwing them up.  I’m spread thin, trying to be a good wife, mom, friend, daughter, employee, volunteer … and oh yes, take some time for me, too.

Yes, it’s hard for moms.  But this is not only common knowledge, we’re encouraged to share our feelings.  And then we’re encouraged even more to over-share our feelings through blogs, magazines and memoirs.  Yes, it’s hard to be a mother, but we’re not alone.

I think about fathers like Mike and his peers.  I wonder how his generation must struggle with fatherhood.  Their fathers’ lives and expectations were so different.  My dad didn’t change diapers or cook dinner.  He didn’t drive me around or help me with my homework.  He never shuttled me to school or packed my lunches while my mom went to blogging conferences or girls’ trips.  I don’t fault him one bit for it – none of the dads I knew did these things.

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And so these husbands of ours came into fatherhood with a road map that is vastly different from the landscape they find themselves navigating today.  I think about the expectations I place on Mike as a father and husband.  I expect that he will support us while I stay at home.  I expect that he brings home a salary that allows us to live comfortably.  I expect him to work hard, but not so hard that he isn’t home for dinner or to help put the kids to bed.  I expect him to know his way around the kitchen and to help with chores around the house.  I expect him to know our routine, to not play the bumbling fool of a dad when I go out of town.  I expect him to play with the kids, help them with homework (at least math, Lord help me), volunteer at their sporting events, attend their school functions.

I think about the demands that life places on these fathers.  That their careers are number one.  That success means climbing the ladder and having fancy toys.  That they should have man caves and fantasy teams, but dress like Justin Timberlake and know their manscaping from their landscaping (and dutifully tend to both).  They should be totally present in their kids’ lives, woo their wives with creative date nights and handcrafted gifts from Etsy, have their dude time with friends, work out religiously, and work on average 20 hours more a week than our fathers worked.  Yes, do all that and balance it ALL.

Mike on the Gibbon Slackline

Our dads, man.  They missed out on so many bonding experiences with us, but their lives were much less complicated.

I don’t have an answer. (Do I ever?)  But I do know this: I’m here to tell the dads of my generation that I have tremendous respect for you.  You’re doing so much more with much less time, and you do it enthusiastically.  I see you at the swim meets and soccer matches.  I see you in the school carpool line.  I see you in the grocery store.  I see you treading water and never, not once, calling for a life raft or telling the dad next to you that you’re getting tired.  I know you’re exhausted and confused and yet simultaneously thrilled that you’re the kind of dad you are.

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It’s okay to say that this gig is hard.  Your wife won’t hate you or blow you off (wives, please don’t hate your husbands or blow them off).  Your friends will be relieved.  Believe me, it feels so much better to get it off your chest, hairy or not.

I also know this: we have to make fatherhood easier on our sons.  In a way that I feel my generation of mothers has come to realize and accept without feeling defeated, we have to get the message across: that you can’t have it all and something always gives. And that’s okay.  I want my son to enjoy fatherhood the way I enjoy motherhood, without being trapped by it or defined by it.

Happy Father’s Day, guys.  You’ve earned it.

Appreciating modern dads and the struggle they feel to be the perfect father, partner, and breadwinner in a way their dads never worried about. Father’s Day | Fathering | Parenting | Father’s Day Appreciation

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No-Churn Cake Batter Ice Cream

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by American Dairy Association Indiana and the NFL’s Fuel Up To Play 60 Program, and may contain affiliate links. Through a series of posts, I’ll be sharing information about Fuel Up To Play 60 and how you and your kids can get involved. School’s out for summer, so there’s lots of time to play! Since June is Dairy Month, why not cool down and fuel your sweet tooth with an easy ice cream recipe you can churn out in no time?

What’s the quintessential summer food? Ice cream! This recipe for No-Churn Cake Batter Ice Cream is so easy, kids can make it themselves. Fast, fun and delicious! #FuelUpPlayLearn Desserts | Easy Desserts | Dairy Month | Kids in the Kitchen

At any given time, you can find at least 3 cartons of ice cream in our freezer. We love our ice cream, and we’re very particular when it comes to this frozen dairy treat. We have certain brands that we love, and we each have our own signature flavor. Mike’s a vanilla guy. He prefers a simple base so he can add hot fudge and mix-ins like his beloved Malley’s Pretzel Crunch Bars. I love anything coconut, with a chocolate and peanut butter combo a close second. Elena is chocolate chip cookie dough all the way. And Eli? He’d eat all the ice cream, but his go-to flavor is mint chocolate chip.

We were all stocked up and everyone’s bellies were happy, and then the ice cream recall hit our freezer hard. Our top two brands of ice cream we like to purchase were hit, and we had to throw all of our supply away. You guys, I pitched six cartons of ice cream. It was like a frozen funeral, with tears of melted ice cream.

Because we’re finicky and stubborn, our freezer has been ice cream-free since that sad day. Now, I know what you’re thinking – if you’re so upset about the state of your ice cream affairs, why not make some? It’s been done before, right? Well, yes. But it’s also the height of busyness for us right now. Birthdays, holidays, baseball, end of school. I can barely get dinner made most nights, let alone multi-step homemade ice cream. And so we’ve suffered. Oh, how we’ve suffered!

What’s the quintessential summer food? Ice cream! This recipe for No-Churn Cake Batter Ice Cream is so easy, kids can make it themselves. Fast, fun and delicious! #FuelUpPlayLearn Desserts | Easy Desserts | Dairy Month | Kids in the Kitchen

And then ice cream karma happened, and I began to see recipes and books pop up everywhere around me for no-churn ice cream. I might not have the time to whip up a complicated batch of salted caramel ice cream, but with a simple recipe and limited equipment, Elena could start stocking up our freezer with family favorites once again. There are many variations of no-churn ice cream recipes on Pinterest and in our new favorite cookbook, No-Churn Ice Cream: Over 100 Simply Delicious No-Machine Frozen Treats. However, Elena opted to try something a little different and fun for her first batch: Cake Batter Ice Cream. We had leftover cake mix, we had sprinkles, why not?

What’s the quintessential summer food? Ice cream! This recipe for No-Churn Cake Batter Ice Cream is so easy, kids can make it themselves. Fast, fun and delicious! #FuelUpPlayLearn Desserts | Easy Desserts | Dairy Month | Kids in the Kitchen

It took her all of 10 minutes to have everything mixed and ready. The hardest part was giving it enough time to freeze before indulging!

Fuel Up To Play 60 Outdoor Play

To me, summer is made for treats. Kids play hard year round, for sure, but summer play is different. It’s riding bikes or roller bladeing for hours, seeing who can hold the neighborhood record for consecutive pogo stick jumps. It’s kickball, tag, and water balloon fights. It’s marathon trampoline sessions.

Fuel Up To Play 60 Outdoor Play

During the school year, especially through the long winter, we have to get creative some days to get in our 60 minutes of play that is vital to good health (both mentally and physically). But during the summer? Pfffft. Sixty minutes and we’re just getting started. While that’s awesome, it also means as a mom that I need to have lots of good food to fuel those bodies to play all day, all summer long. You’ll find my fridge stocked with cheese, milk, cut-up fruit, and yogurt. My pantry is full of healthy snacks, too. But at the end of the day of good, sweaty summer fun with friends, nothing hits the spot like ice cream. And if it’s a recipe the kids can make for you? Well then, there’s just more time for you to get out there and play with them, too!

What’s the quintessential summer food? Ice cream! This recipe for No-Churn Cake Batter Ice Cream is so easy, kids can make it themselves. Fast, fun and delicious! #FuelUpPlayLearn Desserts | Easy Desserts | Dairy Month | Kids in the Kitchen

No-Churn Cake Batter Ice Cream

Inspired by this recipe from Good Housekeeping

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of heavy cream
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of sprinkles
1/2 cup yellow cake mix
1 tsp vanilla or vanilla powder

INSTRUCTIONS

Whip cream until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Fold in condensed milk, sprinkles, cake mix and vanilla.

Pour into a loaf pan or a shallow, freezer-safe container. Freeze at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Scoop and enjoy quickly – because no-churn ice cream doesn’t contain stabilizers, it softens fast.

If you want to get all fancy with your summer dairy treats, try this recipe for ice cream brownie cake. Need ideas to keep the kids moving all summer long? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to games and activities for kids!

Follow Angie Six {just like the number}’s board For the Kids – Games, Activities and Crafts on Pinterest.

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