We are headed straight into the dark of winter. It is the time after the holidays when the dreaminess of snow and celebration is officially over. We instantly all come down with a wicked cabin fever, especially the kids. If you have small people bouncing off of walls at your house, here are few ideas to burn some of that built up energy.
Run the course. Build an obstacle course out of pillow cushions, dining room chairs, table cloths over tables, etc. Have kids, climb, crawl, cross over at their own pace and then time them to really get them going.
Dance Party. Shake what yo mama gave ya! Clear the furniture in your living room to create an instant dance floor. Turn on some music way too loud and get moving. Dancing is a great way to connect and burn some calories together.
More is more. When it isn't bitterly cold, the right weather wear or an extra layer might be the only thing keeping us from a winter walk or quick game of tag. Break out the gloves and scarves, give your kids a chance to run around in the fresh crisp air even if it is just for a few minutes.
Old school fun. Bring back the simple and fun games of your childhood and play with your kids. Play an indoor game of hide-and-seek, twister or have a tickle fight. Simon Says is great way to have kids doing jumping jacks or jogging in place for crazy amounts of time. It's like your own kid aerobics class.
When all else fails, you can break out the hula hoops in the garage.
Break out. If everyone is about to go looney, head to your local children's museum. They almost always have at least one gross motor skills exhibit. Winter is also the perfect time to enroll your kids in a karate, gymnastics or swimming class at your local community center.
What are your fitness tips for kids surviving until the warmth returns? Give us all your best ideas in the comments.
I'm always torn by New Year resolutions. On the one hand, it seems like the natural time to work on something in your life and on the other they always seem to be some sort of set up for personal failure. I went back and forth in my parenting mind if I should even bring the subject up with the kids who completely live in the moment anyway but Jorge unintentionally decided for me at dinner the other night.
"So guys, do you think our family should have any New Year's resolutions this year?" he said.
"What's a New Year's revolution?" Jack replied.
We both laughed and Jorge went on to explain. Instead of the usual set up for personal development he framed it a little differently by asking the kids if there was anything new they think we should try together, or anything different they wanted to be part of our family life. I was sure someone would insist we should get another dog and I would be toast but surprisingly they got the whole concept.
"I think we should be outside more, that should be our revolution. " Jack said.
"That's perfect because we just ordered the new trampoline today that Marmie and Opa gave you for Christmas." I returned.
"And I want to ride bikes with papa now that his knee is better." Josiah piped in.
So right there at the dinner table, we crafted a plan for our Salgado family outdoor "revolution". Here are few things I learned in the process.
Keep it positive. I think I would have just said, "We should exercise more, don't you think?" Jorge's approach to "enhance" our life instead of "fix" it made the invitation/goal feel more positive and attainable.
Brainstorm together. Letting the kids direct the idea gave them ownership and investment in its success. It also leaves the door open for further development down the road if this plan doesn't really work and we need to come back to the drawing board.
Keep it simple. Being outside together is pretty general, there are about a million things to do outside. This leaves our options wide open and makes it easy to add to our everyday lives.
Create a visual. Get a large roll of paper and markers. Write or draw pictures of all the ideas or things you want to try in creating your revolution. Hang it on the back of a door you open and close a lot in your house to remind you of all that is possible.
We'll see how it works out over here, I promise to let you know if our resolution turns into a totally (as Jack says) revolutionary idea. What do you think about kids and resolutions? Do you do them for yourself? Do you think they are a teaching opportunity or a waste of time?
Let us know in the comments.
Everyone is feeling the pinch this holiday season. The usual time for splurging has become a time for gathering the resources we already have. It's a wonderful opportunity to come together and make things special with whatever you have in your family. Here are a few tips for making your family holiday great.
1. Make your own decorations. There is no extra cash for decorations beyond a tree this year so we decided to make our own with some greens from our front yard. I was surprised how good the kids were with just an old hanger, greens and some floral wire. We made wreaths, garlands and various other pinecone creations.
2. Recycle Christmas. One particular year I noticed that the local thrifts stores and consignment shops had some pretty good toy finds. I asked the kids if they might like to have a recycle christmas. With the exception of one small new present for each person, the entire holiday gifting was repurposed gifts. Lots of the treasures we found were perfect for stocking stuffers and the kids loved the hunt. No one seemed to notice or care the items had been previously loved.
3. Skip the holiday madness. You are allowed to skip the 5,000 tree lightings and grand illuminations that are usually followed by eating out and the $10 glow necklaces. Stay in and make homemade pizza, decorate the tree, have a living room holiday dance party, watch a classic movie together. The best traditions often evolve out of just hanging out. Our latest expert, popular author Katrina Kenison has some great ideas for simplifying your holiday.
4. Alternatives to giving gifts. We let our extended family know we will not be sending gifts this year. Instead we suggested a cousin holiday card exchange and a small donation to a local charity.
Choose an experience over a gift, it sends the message there are other ways to express our love than exchanging presents. Go ice skating or go bowling, create a new family tradition outside of the norm.
What are your thrifty ideas for making this holiday great and not breaking the bank? Let us know in the comments.
We had our first fire of the season last week. The kids asked for hot chocolate and marshmallows. The leaves are doing that swirly thing in the air that makes me so happy and we have a daily discussion about Halloween costumes. Fall is in full swing.
Limited finances doesn't have to mean limited family connection. Here are a few low cost ideas for your crew:
1. Acorn Families- Gather acorns or any other round or oval shape things falling from your trees and create a family. We drew faces on ours with sharpies and then hot glued them to sticks we found. It was fun to see the kids different faces and shapes of the acorn variety.
2. Pick apples and pumpkins- Go on an off day to your local produce of picking choice at the end of this harvest season. There are still a few apples and tons of pumpkins. Pack a picnic lunch and take the long way home so you can soak in the beauty of the changing leaves.
3. Turn off the lights. Start a fire or light lots of candles and turn off your lamps for the night. Tell stories and drink apple cider. Make cookies earlier in the day to share. Play charades, twenty questions or even indoor hide and seek, your kids will love the play and will barely miss being unplugged for an evening.
4. Share a meal. Invite a family over for dinner. Pick a neighbor or your child's friend and share the cooking or have a potluck. Have a lego or polly pocket dinner, put a bowl of legos on the table just like the food. Every person can take a few pieces and make something in between bites. Take a picture of each person's creation at the end of the meal. Kids love when something fun ends up in an unexpected place.
5. Go on a moonwalk. Bundle everyone up on a weekend night and take an evening stroll to look at the moon and stars. A full moon is the best but not necessary. Learn about constellations and try to find them together. Buy one pack of glow in the dark star stickers and create your own sky in your kid's bedroom when you return. Moonwalks make for great memories.
Got any other favorite family connections? Please share in the comments.
Alas, summer is almost over. We have been having some cooler weather around here but I fear the 80's are coming back a few more times before the chilly nights settle in. Even so, there are lots of things to help your kids to start making the transition to fall.
1. Let them prune the shrubs. Oh, don't look at me like that. Everyone likes to wield a large pair of scissors. Give them the thrill of the week by letting them cut back those azaleas.
2. Make an apple pie. Sure we are still getting our apples from the big box store, courtesy of last year's harvest because the apples aren't quite ready yet here, but the only thing more fun than pruning is using a marble rolling pin. And bonus points for the mom who has a rolling pin for each boy.
3. Wax the car. I have no idea why this is a good idea but it seems to be a fav in our house. I'll admit the kids are determined to hose each other down at every opportunity so preserving the paint on the car makes this a win-win.
4. Give the kids the camera and let them capture their fancy. I find that Ethan has a fantastic eye for the unexpected. Sure you can have 760 pictures of a leaf but it's digital!!
What special fall activities do you have planned?
Photo courtesy of Kimberly.
I went to the craft store to pick up some things for the trip. It was only when I reached for the glue that I realized I had lost my mind. Glue? In a car? The worst thing that has ever happened to me is getting a minivan. I treat it like it is the living room. Derek freaked out and said, "You can't give the kids a glue project in the car. That is crazy." He is exactly right so I put that glue right back and bought those alphabet stickers in the tub. I think there are about 500 in there and there appears to be an inordinate amount of X's. Whatever. There will be a lot of kisses on paper then.
I also bought those dollar paddles with the ball attached on the stretchy string. I envision getting to the West Virginia border before someone figures out how to bounce the ball so hard that it extends to his brother's seat and most likely on his head.
I proposed an elaborate tubing system between the seats so the boys could send their cars back and forth but then I was reminded of that special on television about people getting impaled in car accidents with things like tissue boxes. I think we'll have to settle for the usual imaginative play instead. When I told Ethan we were going away, the following conversation ensued.
K: Ethan. Did you know we are going on a road trip this week?
E: What do you mean?
K: We are going to drive to Chicago this week.
E: Where is Chicago?
K: About 700 miles away.
E: But we can't, Mom.
K: Why can't we?
E: I'll probably have to go to the bathroom.
K: We can stop if you need to go.
E: Mom. I needed to go to the bathroom for so long today and you wouldn't stop the car.
K: That's a good point. But I promise that I will stop to let you go to the bathroom on our road trip.
E: After a long time?
I'm really going to work on that. No one wants to be remembered as the parent who wouldn't even let the kids out of the car on gas stops (looking at you, Grandpa). Did your parents stop the car when YOU needed to go?
Jack has been asking to pick cherries for over a year now. Cherries were perfect for him because it was a combination of his love of tree climbing and fruit. Picking is the one activity that proves to be lovely over and over again for our family.
Favorite quotes of the day:
Lucy- "This is love..." (comment about the mountains)
Jack- "You know, I'm thinking we should probably grow our own cherry tree because it would be better for the earth. Then we wouldn't have to come ALL the way out here and use our gas. Gas is bad for the earth you know...so don't spit out those seeds okay? we need them!"
What's happening over there? What are you guys doing this summer?
Josiah has a knack for finding cool crafts from various places. The penny launcher has to be one of my boy's all time favorites and great for boredom blues. Here is what you'll need:
toilet or paper towel rolls
electrical tape or duct tape
a pen (Josiah insisted you need this to write your name on your launcher so you don't lose it)
Cut the balloon in two. Throw away the bottom half.
Place the top part of the cut balloon over one end of the paper towel roll.
Wrap the electrical tape around the tube to secure the balloon. Cover the entire roll.
Here's what it looks like when it is all finished.
Drop your penny in the bottom, pull back and let her fly!
Jack always likes to show me how much hot air he has after.
Pure launching joy!
Pinching the pennies this summer? Wondering how you are going to make it through the summer with kids at home with no cash for camp or a vacation?
Here are a few ideas to make this summer fun on any budget:
1. Take a pool tour- Can't afford the local pool membership? Ask your friends if you might be able to join them as a guest or use their own pool. The trick is, ask a few friends. I know, it's total mooching but I bet your friends would be happy to relieve you from the heat wave that is summer. If this feels horribly presumptious, suggest a trade. Offer to trade for a meal delivered to their door or babysitting. Exchange pool time while picking up the mail, dog sitting/walking while they travel and wouldn't be using the pool anyway.
2. Invest in popsicles- Go straight to your local price club and buy mass amounts of Flav-or-ice or other kid favorite popsicles. Let your kids eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, well, maybe just for snacks. A lot of snacks. A little water, food coloring and sugar never hurt anyone right? These cheap treats will keep everyone happy and kids will say, "Remember the summer mom let us eat all those popsicles? That was awesome!".
3. Take advantage of the free stuff- Most movie theaters offer a free movie once a week before the regular shows. We pack away a tiny ziploc of candy, juice boxes and buy popcorn at the theater. Any bowlers in the family? Check out the cool program where kids can bowl free for the entire summer.
Most local parks and recreation centers have all kinds of great concerts and programming during the summer, look local.
4. Pick something- Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, oh my! Picking fruit and vegetables can be fun and save your grocery bill. There is nothing like being on a farm, grove or patch and picking your food right from the ground, bush or vine. Pick-your-own is a great site to help you find a farm near you.
5. Commune it up- We're all in this together. Gather your friends and gaggle of kids and do the summer together. Create your own at home camp with art activities, slip-n-slide, and afternoon movie showings. Kids will tribe up and parents will delight in the shared company. Prepare a meal together to split and send home for dinner and the day is done. Many hands make light work. It is the village at it's best.
Do you have any ideas for enjoying a thrifty summer? Share them with us in the comments.
Last year five and a half year old Declan decided he wanted to have an art sale in his backyard. He and his friends would make the art, hang it up on the clothesline and then invite all the parents to come over and buy their art. For how much? one parent asked. Just a quarter. Or a penny. Declan the tenderhearted capitalist replied--because he likes to drive a hard bargain like that.
This postmodern twist on the traditional lemon stand caught on in the neighborhood, and then some kind mother suggested they turn the art sale into an online auction AND donate the proceeds to charity. Charity? Why not? Declan and his mom, Aimee Greeble, decided to donate all their proceeds to help the environment and the Annual Kids' Earth Day Auction was born. Declan got to have his art sale and become a tenderhearted capitalist and a kid-philanthropist all on the same day.
This year PBS Supersisters are lending a hand and inviting you to join our kids in submitting art to the auction and bidding on your favorite finds. This year all the proceeds go to The Nature Conservancy and in honor of the auction we'll be giving away a book a day from the delightful Barefoot Book series. All you have to do is follow us on Twitter and help spread the word about the auction. We'll select a new winner everyday for the next nine days.
More information available here.