December 11, 2018familyComments Off on Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Family: Why It Matters
Your family’s health is a top priority, so make sure you choose a doctor that’s right for you and your loved ones. Trust equals better care, resulting in early detection, more thorough diagnosis, and better follow through. Learn more about why choosing the right doctor for your family matters, plus how to get the help you need to navigate through the open enrollment process and make sure your plan includes your trusted physician.
Disclosure: Thank you to Dignity Health for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Family: Why It Matters
Trust = Better Care
1. Early Detection
When you trust your doctor, you’re more likely to open up about health concerns, leading to earlier detection of problems – and less worry for you.
We know how true this is for us as adults, how much more so for our children! They often are shy to talk to doctors, especially about problems that may be embarrassing for them. Choosing the right doctor means you and your family are more comfortable during your appointments.
2. More Comprehensive Diagnosis
A doctor with whom you’ve built a relationship has a better understanding of you as a complete person, such as your history, your habits, and what type of treatment you prefer. They also know if there is a family tendency towards certain illnesses or similar environmental circumstances. A new symptom isn’t treated in isolation but rather as part of a complex combination of factors, resulting in a more thorough diagnosis.
3. Better Follow Through
Choosing the right doctor for your family means you are more likely to trust and follow their advice and so have better follow through in your treatment. You are also more likely to contact them with subsequent questions about the same condition.
Your family’s health matters, so make sure it matters to your doctor, too!
So why aren’t more people choosing the right doctor for their family? Often it is because they are confused and overwhelmed by the process of enrolling in an insurance plan. 1 out of 2 people find the process of choosing the best insurance plan for them very stressful – most would rather wash dishes (46%), go to the DMV (22%), or even get a root canal (7%)! Yet more than half (55%) of Californians wish they had made a more well-informed decision. Source: Dignity Health
Most of us choose our health plan then check to see which doctors are in-network. Why not take the opposite approach? If you have a preferred doctor, find a health plan that includes them.
Get your questions about open enrollment answered with Dignity Health. Dignity Health is a provider network of more than 60,000 caregivers and staff in 21 states. Headquartered in San Francisco, Dignity Health is the fifth largest health system in the nation and the largest hospital provider in California. Whether you are a senior, a member of CalPERS, get insurance through work, or on your own, they can help you during open enrollment.
Take action now to get the best healthcare for your family! You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Get help from Dignity Health today.
The wedding season is upon us, highlighted by the recent royal wedding. But if you are invited to a wedding from a culture other than your own, it can be difficult knowing what to expect – especially if you have children. Are children included in the invitation, and if so, how are they expected to behave and dress? I’ve asked parents from around the world to share their tips for wedding etiquette for families from their own cultures, and it’s a fascinating view!
Many thanks to those that graciously shared their experiences with me for this article! Share your tips on wedding etiquette for families in the comments, and don’t miss my review at the end of the post of a new children’s book about Indian weddings!
Multicultural Guide to Wedding Etiquette for Families
What to Expect
India: Sumiti: “I grew up in a big Punjabi family. And weddings were a big affair. It was minimum 4 days affair (could go up to a week) and the relatives and friends from across the world would stay at our house. The meals (breakfast/lunch/supper/dinner) were catered for all or women of the house would take turns making meals.There is one big evening only for Henna Ceremony, where men are at the bar and women are getting henna done and it’s an evening of dance and fun. All the neighbors are invited for the functions and are treated as family.”
India: Puneeta of Maple and Marigold: “Indian wedding celebrations traditionally carry on for many days. Close family and friends will often travel far distances to attend…Mid-morning naps, dinner before you leave home and comfortable shoes, all work for kids. And parents too. There’s usually loud music so carry headphones for the little ones.”
China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “A Chinese wedding is like marrying two families. It is a huge event, and it often starts from the engagement ceremony and the delivery of engagement cookies with fancy packaging to relatives and close friends. A Chinese wedding can be extravagant, and it can easily have several hundred guests in a hotel ballroom, a restaurant, or a huge block wedding feast with live music entertainment.”
Mexico: Becky of Kid World Citizen: “There is a lot of dancing, and the party goes on very late.”
Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “There is a mass or wedding vows at a town hall and then a wedding party at a ball room/hotel,etc. Loads, loads of food. Traditionally people had a band playing live music instead of a DJ. Many still do. Tons of food and vodka during the whole night. Hot food is served all the time. It’s not a single dinner. There is often a brunch on the next day also involving alcohol.”
Fiji (Indian): Ashi: “Indian weddings in Fiji are traditionally multi-day affairs which encompasses many elaborate ceremonies such as putting hardi (turmeric) on the bride and grooms body, henna (mehndi) which is painting beautiful designs on the hands and feet of the bride, prayer ceremonies and etc. I would say, the weddings are divided into three segments, pre-wedding, main-wedding celebration and post-wedding celebrations. For each daily festivity, they expect close to 100 people to show without any RSVP. In Fiji, people do not believe in the concept of RSVP. My grandma always said to us guests is like gods. They’re okay having extra food prepared but no one should leave the wedding functions hungry.”
Mexican-American: Chantilly of ChantillyPatino.com: “People stay forever, eat, drink, dance, visit, etc. A wedding is an opportunity for community and reuniting family you might not have seen in a while. There’s usually recuerdos, candies, cake or centerpieces to bring home. Nobody goes home empty handed.”
Russia: Varya of Creative World of Varya: “In Russia the wedding is celebrated 2 days – first day at the bride’s home where her parents give her away, second day – at her new home, where the groom’s parents receive her into the family. Lots of food, dancing, some love inviting entertainment.”
Across the board, the safest bet is to not wear white – no matter what the bride is wearing! Rita of Multilingual Parenting shares, “I once wore a cream dress when the bride had chosen dark red and felt a bit awkward.”
USA: Even within the US, there is some debate about what is appropriate to wear. Diana of Ladydeelg in NYC thought wearing black was very chic, while Mary-Helen, who grew up in New Orleans, said that “In the South, wearing black to a wedding is a passive aggressive way of saying that you REALLY are unhappy with this particular union” and are treating it “as if there has been a death in the family.” Instead, one should wear something “floral or happy looking.”
India (Punjabi): Sumiti: “Wearing black and white outfits to the wedding or reception is a total No No. The outfits should have bold colors and ladies were expected to wear heavy jewelry.”
India: Puneeta of Maple and Marigold: “Since Indian wedding usually involve dancing until late in the night, comfortable shoes are great for kids and adults. Wear leggings underneath the lehenga (Indian skirt) in case a quick change of attire is needed on the dance floor.”
India: Charu of Ketchup Moms: “In India kids are expected to be dressed in Indian attire for weddings mostly. And interestingly a young boy from the immediate family of the groom’s side is dressed just like the groom and then he ride on the horse with the groom (another custom) to the house of the Bride to marry her. He is called ‘Sarwala’.”
Mexico: Becky of Kid World Citizen: “People get VERY dressed up. Here in the Yucatan, men always wear a guayabera, but everywhere else it would be a suit or tux.”
China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “You will see children dress in new clothing to attend a wedding. Red is always a good color but any bright happy colors are good choices. No black clothing for children or adults.”
Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “You should not wear white to the wedding. Or black (brings bad luck).”
Read about the tradition of a “cake pull” in the US South!
Should Kids Attend?
One of the most hotly debates aspects of wedding etiquette for families in the US is about including children. As we saw at the recent royal wedding, children are often included in the wedding party at British weddings, while in the US they are often not even invited! So how do you know whether or not to bring your kids when you receive an invitation? It depends on where you are:
India: Sumiti: “Children are expected to attend, and it is a fun event for all ages.”
India: Vandana: “Kids are a part of the celebrations and very welcome. When we give the invitation, it’s implied that it is for the whole family, unless specified, which is very very rare.”
China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “Children are always welcome to the wedding. You will see children dress in new clothing to attend a wedding. Children are an important part of a Chinese wedding because they bring happy spirit to the bride and the groom. They are also a reminder for the bride and groom of having a family. There is a Chinese tradition that one healthy happy little boy of a close relative of friends will be chosen by the bride’s or the groom’s family and this child will jump on the bed of the newlyweds prior to the weeding banquet to symbolize the couple will have happy healthy kids.”
Latvia: Ilze of Let the Journey Begin: “In Latvia kids are welcome to all weddings, have never heard of asking people to not bring their children to the wedding (or a part of it) as it sometimes happens, e.g. in the US. Most commonly, the wedding takes place in one location and then the party at another with accommodation included (hostel-style and free of charge for the guests). So many parents just let the kids stay up until they drop, put them to bed, and continue celebrating. On the second day of the wedding, as the guests are slowly getting up, having breakfast and getting ready to leave (noon-ish) you’d usually see children running around and playing.”
Fiji (Indian): Ashi: “When people give out wedding invitation cards, they generally expect everyone from the family to attend most of the festive activities. They’ll invite everyone they know (the whole village). Kids are the blessings of the family and they’re included in all the wedding festivities.”
Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “Kids used to take part in the wedding, but many parents including us do not bring them. Preferably I prefer to have fun on that night, drink, dance and not to chase after my kids. Only took them to one wedding when they were small and didn’t enjoy it at all.”
USA: In the US, it is mixed whether or not children are included in a wedding. Many report that children are often excluded from weddings, while others say that they are usually invited to daytime weddings. Often people assume that children are not invited and so leave them at home. Even Martha Stewart (or at least her organization) weighed in on how to decide whether to include children at a wedding. Your best bet? Unless it is specifically stated on the invitation, be sure to ask.
But keep in mind this is not true for many groups in the US. Chantilly of ChantillyPatino.com shares that for Mexican-American weddings, “Many times it’s expected that you’ll be bringing the little ones, grandma, etc. I’ve heard that in many American weddings (at least those uppercrust ones) that people have to request to bring their kids. In MexAm culture, for most, it’s expected you would bring them…from newborns to teens. This is a family event after all.”
How Are Kids Expected to Act?
If you do take your children, what behavior will be expected of them? Here are tips on wedding etiquette for families from experienced parents!
Mexican American: Elizabeth says, “Kids were always included and expected to act like kids – dance silly, run around, fall asleep.”
China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “Children love going to the wedding as well. They always have fun with the candy and soda provided on each table prior to the beginning of the 10 or more dishes are brought to the table one by one. The tips for bringing kids to a Chinese wedding is to make sure they sit through the wedding ceremony (it can go up to an hour) before the banquet starts.”
Latvia: Ilze of Let the Journey Begin: “On the second day of the wedding, as the guests are slowly getting up, having breakfast and getting ready to leave (noon-ish) you’d usually see children running around and playing.”
Fiji: Ashi: At a wedding in Fiji “you’ll hear screaming, crying, whining, kids running around but we’re all accustomed to all these noises. Children are considered blessing, they’re included in all the functions in Fiji Islands.”
New Children’s Book About Indian Weddings
I received a complimentary copy of Let’s Celebrate an Indian Wedding for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
And now you can share the joy and beauty of an Indian wedding with your children thanks to the new children’s book Let’s Celebrate An Indian Wedding! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 9). This book is a great way to prepare if you are attending an Indian wedding or simply want to learn more about it. This is the latest installment of the adventures of Maya and Neel, and it does not disappoint!
I love the emphasis on the diversity of Indian weddings. While Maya and Neel are attending a wedding in New Delhi, there is also information about weddings in other regions, such as Tamil Nadu, where the bride and groom sit on a beautifully decorated swing!
Maya and Neel get to participate in all stages of the wedding, including of course lots of dancing! Kids will love learning about lovely traditions such as stealing the groom’s shoes in order to get a treat!
This is a wonderful book to share with children if you are attending a wedding this summer, or if you’d like to learn more about Indian culture!
What are your best tips on wedding etiquette for families?
One of my goals is to create a calm, loving environment for my children to grow up in. In the daily struggle to complete chores and schoolwork, this can sometimes get lost, but I try to keep this goal in front of me to remind me to focus on the bigger picture, rather than what has just gotten spilled or broken or who pushed whom. Here are 5 tips that have worked for me to create a peaceful home. Share yours in the comments!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the albums below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commissions at no extra charge to you.
Creating a Peaceful Home: 5 Tips for Families
1. Focus on Yourself
There is no way you can create a peaceful home if you do not have peace within yourself. Find out what helps you keep balance: whether it’s getting up a few minutes earlier than your kids or staying up a little later in the evening to have some time for yourself, practicing meditation or yoga, or making sure to have a coffee date with your best friend once a week. When you have a calm center, you can more easily keep your cool when things go wrong during the day, as they inevitably will.
2. Focus on the Big Picture
Know that things will go wrong, especially if you have young children. I once saw a program for new parents that stated, “If you want to be efficient, don’t have kids.” In other words, children help you focus on the journey rather than on accomplishing tasks quickly and efficiently. This was a big mind-shift for me coming from the workplace, where the emphasis was on achieving concrete goals.
With children you have to look at the big picture – for example, it may take you longer to teach your child to clean up his own mess, but you are helping to raise a responsible adult. If you stop and look at the dandelions and ladybugs with your toddler, chances are you won’t get all of your errands done before dinner, but you are making a heart connection with your child and nurturing her budding interest in the natural world. Often our frustration comes from the clash between reality and our expectations, so if you often find yourself frustrated, it may be time to look at your expectations.
3. Stay Organized – to a Point
While we do have to be realistic about how much we can get done and how well, we can also look at systemic problems that can be corrected to help our day flow more smoothly. If you are constantly rushing to get out the door in the morning, step back and think about how you might organize your household to alleviate this constant stress. Perhaps your children can take on more of the responsibility to make their own lunches, for example, or to pick out their clothes the night before. I have a snack box always stocked that I can just grab as we head out the door rather than having to put something together each time we leave the house.
Again, keep your expectations realistic, and know that you may still be late – the baby always seems to know to poop just as you are ready to get in the car – but at least you can eliminate some of your stress to have a more peaceful morning as you get ready.
4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation with Your Children
Whatever your religious beliefs, all children benefit from some sort of mindfulness or meditation practice. Whether it’s prayer, yoga, or simply breathing exercises, it is such a gift for children to learn to slow down and clear their minds. In today’s often frenetic world, we can help give them a calm center to return to, to relieve anxiety or simply help them unwind at the end of an exciting day. A mindfulness practice is a wonderful tool in teaching kids to handle big emotions or to deal with difficult subjects like bullying or the loss of a loved one.
In our family, we do some deep breathing exercises and say prayers together in the morning as well as at bedtime. At least once a week we also do yoga together before starting schoolwork. I keep it short as my children are still very young, though I try to push their attention spans a bit to challenge them to work on their lengthening their focus.
5. Create a Relaxing Atmosphere
An easy way to nurture a peaceful home is to play relaxing music. Music is such a great way to set the mood, and I know for myself that it can really help calm my nerves. Which is why I was so happy to receive two incredible new children’s albums that really do create a warm, relaxing atmosphere.
The first is The Land of Yangalele. Yangalele means “happiness” in Kikongo, a language spoken in Congo, the home of one half of the dynamic duo behind this wonderful music collection for children. “Papa Siama” and “Auntie Dallas” wanted to capture the feeling of a family gathering like those from Siama’s childhood, where everyone would sit outside under the stars to share songs and stories together.
And this warm, easygoing atmosphere is exactly what their music creates. As soon as I hit play the very first time we listened to this album, I could feel an instant change in the air. Suddenly I was more relaxed, and the kids were, too. The rhythms are so gentle and fun, and you feel as though you were gathered at the musicians’ feet, creating and enjoying music together. We often find ourselves singing the tunes throughout the day – my personal favorite is Monkey Games! – and it’s impossible to do so without a smile on your face.
Featuring traditional instruments (listen for the mbira on most songs and the shaker on the beautiful lullaby Nalingi Bosembo) and lyrics in English, Swahili, Lingala and Kikongo, these songs are also an opportunity to learn more about the Congo and make a heart connection with what can seem like a very remote place. The liner notes even include a map, a quiz, and a seek-and-find game. Highly recommended.
Who doesn’t love Ladysmith Black Mambazo? I grew up listening to Graceland and so was thrilled to find out that this world-renowned music group has recently put out a children’s album, Songs of Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around the World, which was nominated for a Grammy last year. Just as you’d expect, the music is incredible, and I love the focus on themes important to children, such as the trouble of communicating with parents (Everything’s So Stupid!). They also sing about important social issues, like racism, homelessness, and respecting women. My personal favorite is Old MacDonald – sung in Zulu! Great to put on when you want to relax and enjoy beautiful music together.
As parents, life can get so busy that often we have to stop and catch our breath and wonder, where did the time go? I always look forward to spending time with my kids, but practically speaking I actually spend most of my time running errands and doing household chores. Someone is always tugging on my leg asking to play freeze tag or build a fort in the living room, but I usually put them off because there is always a diaper to change, or a meal to cook, or laundry to fold. Trust me, I would much rather build a pillow fort! If you also find yourself struggling to find time to enjoy your family, here are three simple ways to reconnect with your kids – even when you are really busy!
Disclosure: I received complimentary samples of Mighty Kong Muffins for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
3 Simple Ways to Reconnect with Your Kids – Even When You Are Really Busy!
1. Take Play Breaks
My four year old could play freeze tag all day long. From the moment he wakes up until time to brush his teeth at night, anytime there is a pause in activity (and usually when there isn’t), he asks to play freeze tag. Somehow it always seems like he asks just as I need to change a diaper or when I’m in the middle of cooking. Rather than put him off completely, I try to take short play breaks with him. Be realistic about how much time you have, then set a timer and give your child your focused attention – no checking Facebook, no picking up toys off the floor, or straightening the furniture – just playing with him.
For me, this is usually 10 or 15 minutes at a time on a weekday. (I make sure to do non-timed, longer play times together on the weekends, but these are usually not practical during the week). This seems like a really short amount of time, but it always seems surprisingly long, considering I am really focusing on him and not multi-tasking like I usually do.
It doesn’t stop him from asking to play again 5 minutes later, but he is more understanding when I have to say no, and I feel less guilty about getting my work done.
2. Play a Game after Dinner
Our kids get screen time in the evenings, yet we noticed that this often resulted in a race to leave the dinner table and get back to electronics. So now we have instituted the rule that we play a game (or do a puzzle, etc) after dinner before we all retire to our corners to relax before bedtime. The kids love it, especially since Daddy is home to join in as well, so no one is watching the clock and rushing to leave the table. As much as I love game nights, this abbreviated version works for us during the week, so we can still get in play time together as a family and make sure we really reconnect with our kids in the evenings.
3. Do Read Alouds
We all know how important it is to read together, and most of us tend to do this at bedtime, which is such a snuggly, cozy time to share a good story. Yet I noticed that we tend to do this with our kids individually (as they all go to bed at slightly different times), plus the stories tend to be shorter because of the late hour.
I loved that old-fashioned idea of a family sitting around reading a great book together, so I started doing family read alouds during the day. It is wonderful bonding time, plus it is a great way to engage kids with slightly more challenging material or to read stories they might not have considered. For example, a younger child might be more inclined to stick with an easy chapter book because of the excitement of reading with older siblings, and another might be surprised to find that they like a story outside of the genre they tend to favor. (For great reading ideas, see my book reviews!)
I have found that the easiest way to keep everyone’s attention, despite the range of ages and interests, is to involve food. Give the kids something to eat at the table, and they are more likely to be sitting quietly and listening as you read. As homeschoolers, we can often do our read alouds over lunch, but it’s also a great way to relax together over an after school snack. This is especially true if you have a child that doesn’t like to sit and talk when they first come home – here is a great way to reconnect with your kids without forcing conversations they aren’t ready for.
Finding a Great Snack to Share
We have recently discovered a new favorite snack, which is perfect to share during our family read aloud. While we do have the occasional treat, I am rather picky about making sure my kids have healthy snacks. So I was excited to find out about Mighty Kong Muffins, a family-run and locally-owned Sacramento business that makes the most delicious gourmet bran muffins in a staggering 22 varieties. (See their interview on a local news show).
I know what you’re thinking: Gourmet bran muffins? Yes, it’s true! The ingredients are all high-quality and non-GMO, with fresh fruits and nuts and high grade dark chocolate. You won’t find any flour in these muffins – or any preservatives or artificial ingredients, for that matter. These mini-muffins are a great snack you can feel good about sharing with your kids.
We received a variety pack of the Mighty Kong Muffins and so had fun sampling four different flavors: Ape Dates (date walnut), Naner Naner (banana walnut), Wapple Apple (apple raisin), and the seasonal Rumplepumpskin (cranberry pumpkin). (Note: all flavors are available without nuts). My younger son loved the Wapple Apple, which my older son couldn’t decide between the Ape Dates and the Naner Naner. Personally, I loved the Rumplepumpskin. In other words, every single one was a hit!
October 27, 2017family, parentingComments Off on Stop Constant Interruptions from Your Kids: Printable
Do your kids interrupt you constantly? Tug on your sleeve every time you’re on an important phone call? Bang on the door whenever you sit down to nurse the baby? It seems whenever I try to put my youngest down for a nap, suddenly her older brothers have a dire situation that needs immediate attention. Usually the “emergency” is an argument over who gets to play with a toy, or wondering if they can do screen time (“No!”), or letting me know that the other brother just took a cookie out of the pantry even though it’s almost lunchtime. To stop these constant interruptions, I’ve laid out some ground rules for them about what actually constitutes an emergency (scroll down for a printable version).
It usually gets them to laugh as they recognize that what they had been interrupting about really wasn’t an emergency. It has cut way down on the interruptions I get as I try to get my little one to sleep (a more difficult task the older she gets!), but it also gives me reassurance that they will come to me if they truly need it.
One time, for example, the boys really thought there was a fire in the kitchen. It turns out they had just heard the “sizzle sizzle” of lunch cooking in the oven, but I thought it was appropriate that they came to me since they were genuinely concerned and it could have really been an emergency.
If you have trouble with constant interruptions from your kids about things that really can wait then this printable checklist will definitely help!
Stop Constant Interruptions from Your Kids: Printable Checklist
If your important phone call or baby’s bedtime is constantly disturbed by unnecessary interruptions from your kids then print out this easy checklist for them to use! Not only will you eliminate being interrupted for something that can wait, you can have peace of mind that your kids will still come to you if there truly is an emergency!
Please note: This checklist should only be used after reviewing with your children what real emergencies are. Role playing is a great way to help them so that if a real emergency happens they know to come get you (or call 911 if they can’t find a trusted adult).
Click on the image below to save and print your free printable checklist!
June 27, 2017activities, familyComments Off on Favorite Family Games and Activities
I always looked forward to family game night as a kid. It was a break our everyday interactions, where we were often caught up in chores and homework. Instead, we could really all sit down and play together. Family games are a fun screen-free way to spend time together on rainy afternoons or to unwind after a busy day. Here are some of our favorite family games and activities, especially for those with young children.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by AK Media; however, all love of family games is my own! I received complimentary copies of some of the products below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Fun Family Activities
One of the things I love about charades is that you can do it anywhere, with no preparation, so it is great for those times when you find yourself in need of an activity to entertain the kids for a while. It can also be adapted for different ages, so that even very young children can play. I would often use this as a reward at the end of our Spanish lesson as a way to practice vocabulary!
In this activity, someone starts a story then the next person continues it, and so on until the last person brings it to an end. You could have a ball or other object that you pass as you take turns telling the story, or each storyteller chooses the next person to continue the story. You can also have the person act it out as they tell their part of the story!
I’m not sure I ever would have thought about doing a collective drawing except that my son (now 4) got us started on this several years ago. Both of my boys now love to draw with us, often with rather elaborate stories that they invent as we go. They prefer doing battles (where you each pick sides and “battle” each other in the drawing), but it can also be a great way to create inventions, design houses, and tell stories together.
You can also pick a coloring book to work in together. I love the gorgeous A Touch of Asia Coloring Book: Serenely Elegant Designs from the East from Tuttle Publishing. It is an adult coloring book, so I often enjoy working in it by myself, but I’ve also found that it can be fun to do with my kids. At an age when they are usually focused on cartoons and action figures, they are still naturally drawn to beauty, a quality that is often not nurtured in boys especially. But mine love helping me with “my” coloring book and filling in some of the simpler designs, while I save the more intricate ones for solo work.
Creating together is also high on our list of family activities, and what kid doesn’t love paper airplanes? Making paper airplanes is a classic skill that is often passed down from parent to child, so why not up your game with these fantastic looking, high-performance versions that are actually easy to make? Talk about being a hero for your kids!
The High-Performance Paper Airplanes Kit comes with pre-cut models that are easy to put together. The kit also comes with a Catapult Launcher. Need I say more?? And if origami is your thing, try Michael LaFosse’s Origami Airplanes. It includes a DVD and instructions for 28 origami paper airplane projects. (Note: does not include the origami paper).The planes are so realistic looking and really do fly well! I also love having the DVD tutorials to follow.
But my personal favorite is the Flying Dragons Paper Airplane Kit. They are just so cool looking! There are 12 original designs, like the Flame Dragon and the Flying Shark, plus 48 folding sheets, an instruction book, and YouTube tutorials.
We also love building sets like this Plants vs. Zombies Wild West Skirmish Set from K’nex. A must-have if you have a Plants vs. Zombies fan in your house! The characters actually look just like the ones in the game. And best of all, once you’ve had the fun of building it together, you still have unlimited play time left with the assembled scene. Really great for doing pretend play together!
Favorite Family Games
One of my favorite childhood memories was getting together with my cousins during the holidays. I vividly remember all of us kids in the back room of my grandparents’ house, playing favorite family games like Deluxe Pit together and laughing our heads off. Pit is a fun, loud, rowdy game that everyone will enjoy. It is something like Go Fish, in that you have to try to get all the cards of one kind, but everyone is yelling and trading cards at the same time in the race to be the first to make a set. My kids love ringing the bell when they finish!
Guillotine is the game that my 7 year old always shows people when they visit us. Believe it or not, it is a game all about the French Revolution and – yes – people getting their heads chopped off. Sound macabre? Perhaps a little, but it’s so silly and fun (and sneakily educational) that you will soon forget! The premise is that you are a bunch of guillotine operators competing with each other to see who can execute the most valuable nobles. Each noble card is ranked by point value, with, for example, the King being 5 points and a minor functionary being worth only 1. Just don’t accidentally execute a hero of the people, worth -1 point!
I love cooperative games like those from Peaceable Kingdom. If your kids are anything like mine, most games can bring out a competitive streak that can sometimes lead to arguments and hurt feelings. Cooperative games like Feed the Woozle are not only fun, they also encourage teamwork and skill building. In Feed the Woozle, for example, players take turns trying to carry food tokens across the room on a spoon – but they might have to spin or march or bunny hop while doing it!
Everyone works as a team to take 12 tokens to the Woozle before they run out. It is great for both fine motor and gross motor skills, as well as counting. Even my toddler likes to get in on the fun!
Stack Up! is another great team-building game from Peaceable Kingdom, in which players try to stack blocks as high as they can, while doing challenges like matching colors or singing songs as they stack. Hoot Owl Hoot is a simple strategy game that even young children can play, as players work together to help the owls reach the nest before the sun comes up.
Of course, you can’t forget the classics! Hasbro Connect 4 Game is another one of the family games that I grew up on, so it’s especially fun to play it now with my kids! And if there is a younger sibling that doesn’t quite get the game yet, it is also just a fun board to use to make designs and patterns. We even used it to make our own coding game.
This is one that my 4 year old adores, and now you can get the Candy Land 65th Anniversary Game. It is designed for pre-readers and doesn’t require any strategy, so it’s a great first game for children to play.
If your family likes to do online gaming together, I’ve got some great websites for you to check out! Our family loves puzzles, and it seems like we never have enough. That’s why JSPuzzles is so fun! They have so many puzzles to try, with gameplay and other fun features that are great for group or individual play.
Do you love Sudoku? Then you won’t want to miss LiveSudoku, where you can do free online Sudoku puzzles – including multiplayer mode! A fun way to introduce your kids to Sudoku.
Solitaire is a classic card games that never gets old! And even though this may seem like a strange choice for a list of family games, when kids first learn to play it really is more of a group activity. It is a fun way to teach them the basics and have fun together. Solitaire Bliss has many different versions to try, so you’ll be sure to find something for everyone!
What are your favorite family games and activities?
One of the most special relationships a child has is with his grandparents, whether they live nearby or far away. They can help ground children and teach them patience, but the influence is not just one way. Children also have a special ability to touch the hearts of the grandparents that love them. Here are some wonderful new picture books about grandparents you need to see!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
New Picture Books About Grandparents
Skyfishing: (A Grand Tale with Grandpa) is an wildly imaginative book about a young girl trying to help her grandfather overcome homesickness. When her grandfather moves from his cottage by the lake to live with her family in the city, the girl notices immediately how much her grandfather misses fishing. She tries to interest him in new hobbies, but when that doesn’t work, she comes up with a creative answer – sky fishing! As they “fish” out of their apartment window for creatures like Waste-Munchers (garbage trucks) and Signfish, they discover the power of imagination and companionship to overcome homesickness. Through patience and love, the girl helps her grandfather see the city with new eyes and begin to enjoy his new home. This is such a sweet story and addresses a common situation of when a grandparent moves into a family’s home (similar to Mango, Abuela, and Me) and also the special way that children can touch the hearts of their grandparents.
Ladybug Girl is back, and she’s off on an adventure with her grandpa! In Ladybug Girl’s Day Out with Grandpa, Lulu and her grandpa explore the museum. There is so much to see, that Lulu simply can’t make up her mind, flitting from one exhibit to the next. Ignoring her grandpa’s warning that they won’t be able to see everything in one day, Lulu does her best to prove him wrong – after all, she is Ladybug Girl! She can do anything! But soon she begins to despair. There is just too much to see! Gently, Grandpa explains that if she will learn more if she slows down to appreciate one thing at a time. I love how this book showcases the patience and wisdom with which grandparents guide children and how they can help focus that boundless energy and center them in stillness.
When our oldest son was little, and our bookshelves started to fill with colorful, engaging board books, my husband made an observation that has stuck with me ever since – nearly all of the books focused on the child’s relationship with the mother, but very few included the father. Thankfully this is not universally true, but I was surprised to see how widespread this pattern was. Ever since then, I’ve sought out books that also include the father and especially ones that celebrate their special relationship with their children. And so, in honor of Father’s Day next month, I’m happy to present to you some favorite children’s books that celebrate fathers, plus we have a giveaway for you, so be sure to scroll to the end of the post to enter!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Books that Celebrate Fathers
I love the adorable new book Daddy Honk Honk! Set in the Arctic, it is the tale of Aput the fox, who is thrust into fatherhood when an abandoned goose egg hatches and the little gosling mistakes Aput for its daddy. With each page we see Aput’s transformation as he learns to care for the baby but more importantly as his affection for it steadily grows. This is also a beautiful tale of the importance of community in supporting families, as Aput’s friends all help teach him what a baby needs and help surround them both with love. Very sweet tale to share with your little ones! My preschooler and toddler both really enjoy this story.
Charlie Rides: Planes, Trains, Bikes, and More! is a cute board book that your kids will love! Like so many young children, Charlie loves getting out and seeing the world using any means possible: trains, boats, bikes, soapbox derby cars, and more! While the main focus on the book is on different modes of transportation, a recurrent element is Charlie’s dad, who is with him every step of the way. This colorful book is a tribute to how fathers nurture children’s curiosity about the world and support them in all their adventures.
Be Glad Your Dad…(Is Not an Octopus!) was a lucky find at the library and has stayed in our regular rotation ever since. It is a funny book that not only teaches appreciation for dads (even when they sometimes get mad or are just totally gross!) but also teaches facts about animals in a really fun way. For example, be glad your dad is not an octopus, because he would always win at tag! My favorite, though, is the tortoise dad – who is so slow getting an ice cream cone that the ice cream actually melts before the kid can eat it! I love the illustrations, especially the kids’ reactions to the animal dads. Cute reminder about why human dads are so cool! More details about the animals can be found at the back of the book.
What are your favorite children’s books that celebrate fathers?
Daddy Honk Honk! Giveaway
I am so excited to be hosting a giveaway of Daddy Honk Honk! to one lucky winner! The winner will receive:
1 set of four magnets
4 prints (2×9”)
1 deluxe print (2×9”)
To enter, simply comment on this post, telling us something you appreciate about a special father in your life.The contest goes until midnight PT on Sunday, May 14. US shipping only. Good luck!
Now that the school year is halfway over, it is easy to get in a rut with lunches for the kids. Want something fun to pack for them that you can feel good about? Here are some great healthy and fun lunchbox ideas for you!
As the links above show, “healthy” doesn’t have to mean boring or even complicated to make. There are also a lot of healthy, ready made snack options these days. One recent discovery is Deep River Snacks’ HONCHO Organic Tortilla Chips, which come in fun flavors like Nacho Cheese, Ranch, and (my favorite) Peach Habanero. These tasty chips are gluten-free and use 100% organic ingredients – no GMOs allowed!
I also love supporting businesses that are passionate about giving back to the community, which is why I was so happy to discover that Deep River Snacks helps raise awareness by featuring charities on their snacks, giving in-kind donations, and donating 10% of their net profits to charity.
But enough about why I love them – the real test for the lunchbox is what the kids think! Let me just say this was a difficult photo shoot because, well, we could hardly stop eating long enough to get pictures! We got to try all three varieties, and none of them lasted long in our pantry.
When it’s so good you just want to eat your hand
I asked the boys which was their favorite flavor, and they really couldn’t decide. Try doing a taste test with your kids and see if they have any easier time making up their minds! They are all so flavorful, your kids won’t miss the junk food they could be eating instead!
Taking care of children and household is a rewarding job but can also be draining. Here are some favorite new means of self-care for moms. Inspired by the traditional wisdom and aesthetic of Asian cultures, these books are unique and beautiful ways to treat yourself, body and soul.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below from Tuttle Publishing for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Asian Inspired Self-Care for Moms
I love smoothies and make several a week for the kids and me. So I was excited for a chance to review Healthy Smoothies: Traditional Chinese Medicine Inspired Recipes – Ancient Traditions, Modern Healing. It has more than 30 easy recipes for healthy smoothies, based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is so much more than just a recipe book, though, as it gives an explanation of TCM and its holistic approach to wellness. You learn how to discover your own constitution and the principles of how to choose the best recipes for you. In other words, some super foods may be really helpful for me and others less so, depending on the needs of my constitution and of the climate/season. So if you have particular ailment, you can use these principles to find recipes that can help. So it’s really a wellness book, not just a collection of recipes – perfect for self-care for moms- plus the smoothies are delicious!
A photo posted by Leanna Alldonemonkey (@alldonemonkey) on
And I love that the recipes are so different than ones you’ll find anywhere else. I’m used to smoothies being sweet, for example, not savory, as several of these are, and would you have ever thought to put beans in your smoothie? What’s great is that this is a book that stretches you to try new things (such as goji berries or mung beans) but it’s also very practical: there were no ingredients that I couldn’t find at my grocery store or at a health food store or nearby Asian market. It is a wonderful introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine and how it can help you!
Adult coloring pages are very popular now, and it’s easy to see why. Coloring is so relaxing, but sometimes using your kid’s Winnie-the-Pooh coloring book just doesn’t cut it! The Colors of Asia: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book for Calm and Creativity is a gorgeous collection of more than 90 designs inspired by Asian art. Rather than vegging out in front of the TV during naptime – or frantically trying to clean the house – try getting some self-care by taking some time to color in these elegant works of art. I dare you not to feel yourself transported away from the dirty dishes and dirty diapers into a realm where you are an artist. A wonderful stress reliever and active meditation, important elements in self-care for moms.
Many of us have an admiration for Buddhist thought but only a superficial understanding of it beyond the basics. Dharma Delight: A Visionary Post Pop Comic Guide to Buddhism and Zen is a joyful exploration of Buddhist teachings through the use of graphic novel style illustrations and short stories. It is a feel-good look at the path to enlightenment, making use of gentle humor to explain spiritual concepts. One of my favorites is a drawing of Buddha vacuuming, explaining to the dust that He is helping transport it to a better place where it can be a part of the cycle of life. But this isn’t a “lite” version of Buddhism, though the text is simple. It delves into bigger concepts such as how we can be a light to ourselves and who the Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) were, but in a very engaging, readable way. Wonderful food for any mama’s soul, and would be great to introduce older kids to Buddhism as well.