BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Here’s a great, almost no-cook dinner option – and the first way I’ve gotten my preschooler to enjoy spicy barbecue sauce! A summer win for all.


  • 1 package Gardein chick’n strips
  • 2 tablespoons bbq sauce (such as Organicville)
  • 1 avocado
  • Bibb lettuce leaves
  • 2 tablespoons ranch dressing (such as Organicville)
  1. Cook the chick’n in a skillet according to package directions, omitting the sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the barbecue sauce.
  2. Thinly slice 1 avocado and set aside.
  3. Place the lettuce leaves on plates, and fill each lettuce cup with 1 avocado slice and 2 to 3 strips of chick’n. Drizzle evenly with the ranch dressing before serving.

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Water Balloon Yo-yo

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Here’s the perfect water balloon activity for smaller kids who aren’t ready for a good old-fashioned water balloon fight!

Something I didn’t know until now: in order to fill water balloons, you need a special nozzle that attaches only to an outside spigot – our indoor sink didn’t work for this one! That meant we had to wait until a day at the relatives’ house to have fun.

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Fill up water balloons and tie off.

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Cut long rubber bands open, and tie one to each balloon. Now they bounce up and down like yo-yos for endless enjoyment.

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These were Travis’s first water balloons, and he loved how squishy they are.

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And of course, pelting daddy with a surprise handful is still fun, once the elastics slip off!

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Green Time: Camp in Your Backyard

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I’ve given our Ranger Rick Jr. subscription credit before for getting us outside and inspired, but this time the magazine really hit a home run. Never in a million years would I have taken Travis backyard camping, until it was the magazine’s summer Green Time suggestion. We pledged to join the Great American Campout at National Wildlife’s Federation’s website, originally aiming for the start day of June 23. Rain delayed us by one week, but we’re so glad we got out there!

Let’s start by saying I’m not a camper. Luckily we were able to borrow a tent from a friend, leading to instant excitement once it was up in the backyard.

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Folks, I’m here to say backyard camping is the way to go! Easy access to bathrooms if needed, popping inside to cook vegan s’mores over a cast-iron pan, and a cozy bed if kids decide they can’t make it a full night outside.

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We headed out at bedtime (8 pm) with the sun still setting. Travis popped up with his flashlight for every sound, enamored with nature.

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“I heard something! Let’s check it out!” We loved seeing birds and the setting sun in the clouds.

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And fireflies! Can you spot the pinprick of light in this picture?

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Stories by flashlight once it as completely dark were especially fun.

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Around 10 o’clock, Travis decided he was unable to get comfortable so we headed inside. But this was easily the most magical night of the summer so far. I asked Travis what his favorite part was, and he said playing with the zippers on the tent flaps – ha! Thanks NWF!

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