Perfect Pop App: Summertime Snacking Made Easy

Pop secret app

 

 

This post is sponsored by Pop Secret Popcorn. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Pop Secret Popcorn

It may be summertime, and the livin’ may very well be easy, but that doesn’t mean that the kids don’t have to lift a finger. No, much to their chagrin, I’ve been requiring a little more responsibility from the kids this summer than they’ve been accustomed to throughout the school year.

It might seem counterintuitive, but I find that summer is the perfect time to introduce kids to new jobs and life skills that they’re capable of doing for themselves. We have more time and our schedules are less packed, so I’m able to spend the time to teach them things like sorting the laundry, loading the dishwasher, and (a big step for the little guy) preparing and cleaning up their own snacks.

I realized this needed to happen (and soon), after I spent the first few days of summer break on nothing but kitchen duty. As soon as I cleaned up from breakfast, they were ready for a mid-morning snack. That was quickly followed by lunch, the late afternoon munchies, and then dinner. Yes, it was summertime and I was livin’ in the kitchen. It was time to arm the kids with some snacks they could easily prepare and clean up on their own.

Popcorn is a perfect choice. They love it, I feel good about them eating it, and it’s a great introduction into using an appliance for younger kids. Of course, there is a downside … the dreaded burned bag of popcorn. Besides the sadness of ruining your snack, reminders of your popping failure stay with you for hours. We like to fry our own taco shells on taco night, and I joke that for the next day our house smells like a taco truck … which isn’t really a terrible thing. But a house that smells like burned popcorn? Not so pleasant. And to add insult to injury, nothing squelches a kid’s desire to take on more independence in the kitchen than immediate failure. The goal in introducing these kinds of tasks is to set them up for success, building their confidence.

Turns out there’s an app for that. No, not for confidence building (Who am I kidding? There’s probably one for that, too). It’s the Pop Secret Perfect Pop app! It’s free, easy to use, and most importantly, it keeps you from burning the popcorn. Everyone can relate to the frustration of burning popcorn, so Pop Secret decided to solve the problem once and for all, so you can spend more time enjoying movies and less time worrying about burned popcorn!

To get started, use your iPhone  to download Perfect Pop for free on the App Store.

Perfect Pop app

1. Put a bag of Pop Secret in the microwave and enter suggested cooking time from the packaging.

2. Turn up the volume on your iPhone. Point the phone’s speaker towards the microwave and keep within 3 feet.

Perfect Pop

3. Start the microwave, and then start the app.

No more relying on the popcorn button (which my microwave doesn’t have) or guessing how many seconds in between pops (not the easiest task for kids … or many adults). Perfect Pop listens to the pops, waiting for the precise moment to let you know when your popcorn is perfect.

popcorn app

Now that the kids have it down, it’s not unusual for my mid-afternoon chores to be interrupted by the buttery smell of popping popcorn! It’s a nice change from, “Mooooom! I’m hungry!” Or worse yet, “Mooooom! I burned the popcorn!”

How have you introduced independence in the kitchen? Now that we have our popcorn skills down, we’d love to hear about other snacks and simple meals the kids can tackle next.

popcorn

You can download the Pop Secret Perfect Pop app for free on the App Store. At this time, the app only works for the iPhone 5+ on iOS7+. The Perfect Pop app is optimized for Pop Secret brand popcorn. 

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3 Cultural Differences In Europe That Would Freak Out American Parents

After a long day of sightseeing in Madrid, we made our way to our apartment on the Metro. Madrid’s public transportation system is excellent and easy to use. So easy, in fact, that kids can do it on their own. Nearly every time we used the Metro, we saw kids traveling either alone or in groups of other kids. I would estimate that the youngest kids we saw without parents were around 10 or 11 years old. It was one of the first of many instances during our trip to Spain that I noticed just how different our cultures view kids. Here are a few other things I observed in Spain that you never (or rarely) see in the States:

Regents Park Playground London

Unique and Challenging Playgrounds: I’ll share some photos soon to show you what I mean, but I was impressed (and envious) at the number and variety of playgrounds in both London and Spain. We rented bikes in Madrid and rode along a paved path next to the river. In just 3 miles I counted 5 playgrounds along the path, and each one was completely different. I noticed lots of opportunities for climbing, balancing, and imaginative play. Most of the playgrounds we saw were in urban settings, meaning kids don’t have to travel far to have a safe and challenging place to play.

Zoorooms Barcelona

Unaccompanied Minors: Beyond the kids traveling without adults on public transportation, we also saw lots of kids wandering around town on their own. Whether they were out with friends or running errands for parents, it was clear this was business as usual. We spent the last week of our trip in a small beach town in southern Spain. Our house was about a 5 minute walk from the town’s main plaza, lined with shops and cafes. Each evening we’d walk to the plaza for tapas. I’d give the kids a few Euros and let them wander around on their own while the adults ate and enjoyed a few drinks. It wasn’t unusual to see kids running around on their own until 10 p.m. Meanwhile, in the US, you can go to jail for letting your 9-year-old go to the park on their own.

Toledo Spain pet store

Stranger Interaction Without Paranoia: I feel as if in the States, any interaction between an adult male and a child is immediately viewed with suspicion. Why would a grown man be interested in a child unless he had nefarious motives? However in Spain it’s not unusual to see adults chatting and interacting with kids they don’t know. I saw one interaction in particular that would probably you arrested in the States. A man was pushing a cart full of snacks for sale along the beach. As kids would approach the cart and buy snacks from him, he’d chat with them, tousling their hair or chucking them lightly on the nose. In general, adults were more touchy with kids than you’d ever see here. It was so refreshing to see adults interacting with kids without the immediate reaction that their behavior was pervy or suspicious.

Of course I realize that a few weeks spent somewhere in no way gives you a clear snapshot of the way things really are. I know that things are not perfect in Europe. They struggle with many of the same issues we do, such as access to play and a dependence on screens and technology.  And of course there were many comforts of home and things about the US that my kids missed and realized they’d taken for granted. They love their large, grassy yards and wide open spaces in which to play.

At the same time, they wished they could enjoy the independence and the ability to roam around town without needing cars or parents. Elena was especially affected by the difference in cultures. She envisioned how different her social life would be in Spain, with the ability to meet friends in town and go places together. Here, even the simplest of plans involves checking parents’ schedules, arranging transportation, and often inconveniencing at least one parent because no one wants to leave the kids alone at the mall, the movies, etc. And so instead of being out, doing kid things, she’s often stuck at home and bored. She said she wished she could bottle up everything she loved about Spain and bring it to our hometown.

One of the great things about travel is that it serves to open your eyes to new ways of living and doing things. Thanks to the things we observed, I’m inspired and confident that we can do things just a little differently in the United States. We can give our kids challenging playgrounds close to where they live and play. We can let them roam and be independent as they grow and mature. And we can let them interact with other adults without assuming the worst.

Have you traveled abroad and been surprised at the cultural differences in play and parenting? I’d love to hear some of your stories about the things you noticed on your travels!

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