kids · parenting

15 Fun Indoor Ideas for Kids in the Winter: Screen-Free!

In the past year, just like most families, we find ourselves home more, especially in the winter months. We watch movies, learn virtually, and spend lots of time on zooms. My youngest daughter loves her tablet, and my oldest loves her phone. But it is so important to time aside each week and even daily where they need to find something to do, off screen.

I have tried to become intentional about setting time aside and asking them to put all devices away so that they are giving their eyes and minds a break. In the spring, summer and fall we spend lots of time outdoors and we go on lots of adventures outside the house. It has been more challenging as the weather has turned much colder and the wind can make it downright unbearable to go outside. Despite the weather, it is important to me as a parent that our children don’t grow up addicted to screens and that their hearts find delight in the simple pleasures in life. I thought I would share a list of indoor activities we have enjoyed that bring joy with no screen involved. I hope these help and inspire your family and I would love to know if you have suggestions to add in the comments. We are always looking for new ideas.

  1. Reading: We are regulars at our local library! We check out new books every few weeks so they are always options around that are new and enticing.
  2. Blocks: Wooden blocks (we have these), legos, Magformers, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs.
  3. Art: Coloring, painting, cutting and pasting, jewelry making, knitting
  4. Writing: journaling, making lists, goal setting, bucket lists, making cards, writing letters, crossword puzzles, word searches
  5. Board games: Scrabble, Pictionary, Sorry, Connect Four, Guess Who, Checkers, and Yahtzee are some of our favorites.
  6. Music: Play piano (or take up another instrument), play records on the record player, read and learn song lyrics, create a music center (we have harmonicas, kazoos, tambourine, drum, recorder, xylophone and more)
  7. Puzzles: large floor puzzles or consider investing in a puzzle board or table for more complex puzzles.
  8. Build a fort: include blankets, pillows, sheets and flashlights.
  9. Cooking: our kiddos especially enjoy baking and making pizzas.
  10. Chores: there are some they actually like. Both like folding laundry and bringing in and putting away groceries.
  11. Indoor trampoline. One of the best investments we’ve made. It lets them get out energy even when the temp outside is freezing.
  12. Decluttering: Both of my children will take on decluttering willingly. They love the free feeling of getting rid of unwanted things and making space. They also like knowing some other families in need may receive the items they are letting go of.
  13. Make-believe games: Playing house, school or doctor
  14. Tactile fun: kinetic sand, play dough and modeling clay are always a hit.
  15. Bring on the classic toys: Lite Brite, dolls, cars, rubix cube

I hope you and your kids are inspired by this list. Once you are armed with fun ideas, you may find hours go by without anyone wanting to look at a screen. Raising kids who aren’t addicted to screens is really important, and it starts when they are young. The habits you instill in them now will stick with them for years to come.

kids · parenting · wisdom

You are good.

Last school year, when my youngest daughter was in kindergarten, she had homework to write three “I am” sentences. Three sentences that began with “I am” that were true about herself. As I was going through some of her old papers this week, I came across this homework paper again.

Her first sentence brought tears to my eyes:

I AM A GOOD PERSON.

I echoed back to her, “You sure are a good person.”

Don’t we all need to hear that? And to know that is powerful.

But the truth is we all have times in our life when we question our goodness. We feel less than. We allow the words or perspectives of others taint our self-image, or we let our disappointment in our own thoughts, words or actions affect how we view ourselves. The Eleanor Roosevelt quote comes to mind, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

But why did her words cause me to tear up? I think it was for two reasons:

1. I questioned if I ever made her feel she is not good somehow? As a parent, am I affirming her enough? Does she really know she is good? What can I do to make sure this precious child never questions that statement and maintains her self-worth?

2. Am I good? I want to be good – a good person, a good mom, a good friend, a good teacher. I want to be seen as good, perhaps more than anything.

A few of years ago, I picked “good” as my word for that year and thought I would share some words that brought me comfort then and even still as I reflect on them now.

In a world where we see evil at every turn, I want a constant reminder to combat it with GOOD.

When I hear complaining and gossip around me and feel tempted to join in, instead I need to remember to look for the GOOD.

When I have a conversation, interaction, Facebook post, or decision to make, I want to make sure I’m adding GOOD to the world with my words and choices.

When I feel envious, angry, hurt or resentful, I can choose to act on my emotions or I can choose to see it as an opportunity to do rise above and model what is right and good.

When those around me feel less than or unworthy, I will make sure they know that they are good, that there is much more right about them than wrong.

You are good.

 

art · kids · parenting

Sisters Inspire

I am mom to two daughters, ages 11 and 6. They are the sweet faces and creative minds behind their new YouTube Channel, Sisters Inspire.

The girls wanted to start a YouTube Channel that would positively inspire other kids the way so many of their favorite YouTubers have inspired them.

Their influences include Rosanna Pansino, Justine Ezariak, Molly Burke, Jesslyn Grace, Sand.Tagious and Come Play with Me.

The girls have a lot to offer and really balance each other out. They bring skills, fun ideas, and laughter to their viewers. Together they love to do games, challenges, food tasting, try products, and do art, DIYs and demos.

YouTube is a viable creative outlet for them and with the potential to not only bring joy to the girls as they create, but to those who view their content.

They have such a genuine passion for inspiring and uplifting others through their videos. Through Sisters Inspire, they want to share good with the world and bring smiles to people’s faces.

Their channel is a dedicated kids’ content channel, so other kids and parents can be sure that anything created on their channel is safe to view.

Please show some love, support and encouragement by checking out their channel, Sisters Inspire. ❤️

health · kids · parenting · Uncategorized

10 Aldi Upgrades for Picky Eaters

Picky eaters are not only tough customers, but it seems like the foods they will eat aren’t always the healthiest. This has been true of my six-year-old little girl.

There is a short list of foods she is willing to eat, and we have tried all kinds of strategies to encourage her to lengthen that list and try new things, often to no avail.

What has been successful is taking a look at the foods she will eat, and trying “upgrade” her the highest quality we can of those foods.

What I’m finding, and I really believe this, is that as we ramp up the nutritional value of the foods she will eat, and we have found a good pre/probiotic for her, she is now more open to trying new foods because our body craves what we feed it. When we feed it junk it craves junk. Now that she is taking in more nutrition she is craving more nutrition!

Here are 10 of our Aldi favorites that meet her seal of approval for taste, and mine for nutrition:

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  1. Whole pineapple. This is a big-time upgrade from canned pineapple since there are no preservatives and it’s not stored in an aluminum can, which is a concern in and of itself. Fresh pineapple tastes better and it will save you money. Pro-tip: You can test to see if a pineapple is ripe by pulling one of the inner-most leaves. If it comes out easily, it’s ripe. And don’t be intimidated by its spiny exterior. Watch a video or two on youtube of how to break down a pineapple. It’s easier than you think!
  2. String cheese. This is a step-up from American “cheese” which actually isn’t a cheese at all. My kiddo loves the mozzarella and Colby spiral.
  3. Ancient Grain bread. This is real bread with actual nutrition! Did you know the most popular brands of bread on the market, aka white bread, are white because the flour has been bleached? Bread should be brown, through and through. Also our wheat supply has been tampered with so even whole wheat sandwich bread can upset your tummy. They are processed to remove bran and natural oils so they will have a longer shelf life. I will be honest that we did use whole wheat sandwich bread as a transition bread and eased her into the Ancient Grain.
  4. Mandies. My daughter loves these little mandarin oranges. There are an upgrade from the fruit cups that are often packed in syrup and definitely have preservatives added. Pro-tip: When shopping for healthier food for your family, a good rule of thumb is to shop the perimeter. The greater majority of junk food and foods containing preservatives are found on the aisles. By avoiding the aisles and shopping the outermost parts of the store (dairy, meat, breads, fruits, vegetables) you are much more likely to be putting healthy items in your shopping cart.
  5. Simply Nature Unsweetened Apple Squeezes. These applesauce squeezes are not only missing the added sugar of the name brand Go-Go Squeeze, my kiddos prefer them.
  6. Rainier cherries. This is a new fruit for our picky eater. There is only a short window that you can find them available (typically June-July). She loves these as well as any other raw cherry. These are an upgrade from the bright red cherries that come in a jar and no doubt have sugar and food coloring added – two things that will ramp her hyperactivity up at lightning speed. If your child is hyperactive, try cutting back food coloring (especially red) and sugar for one week and watch the difference it makes.
  7. Edamame.  My little girl likes very few vegetables. I could definitely count on my fingers how many she will eat. Edamame is one she loves, maybe just for the novelty of shelling them. I mean really, eating them is a fun experience. Aldi doesn’t always carry them, but when they do, they are going in the cart.
  8. Simply Nature Lemonade. No GMOs and Organic. We add her prebiotic/probiotic to this lemonade, and it is delicious when combined. If your child doesn’t take one, Young Living makes an amazing one. It will help him/her to digest sugars and junk foods the body doesn’t normally or quickly break down. You can find them here and my referral number is 2183425 if you are asked for one. You’re welcome!
  9. Simply Nature White Cheddar Puffs. Not only are these non-GMO and organic, but they also are an upgrade from their bright orange name brand counterpart.
  10. Oven Roasted Turkey. This a premium one-pound pack and a step up from the name brand pack we bought previously. She loves a wrap with this turkey. In fact, she discovered today that she likes them with her mozzarella string cheese added.

These ten products are just a few ways that we have upgraded our picky eater’s diet by increasing the quality. I would love to know any of your favorites in the comments, or to know what products from this list you are excited to try.

If you would like to see more Aldi product recommendations, I have a more extensive list for picky eaters and a post for big kids as well.

kids · parenting · Uncategorized

Keeping Your Child Safe on Their New iPhone

My eleven-year-old daughter just received a new iPhone for her birthday. This was unchartered territory for our family, and I was a little uneasy about how to set it up and make sure we had settings and parameters in place to keep her safe.

I found out through friends and a little bit of trial and error, but I wanted to share the settings we personally use that have given us peace of mind.

1. Family sharing. First of all, add your child as a family member. You can go to Settings>Apple ID>Family Sharing.

2. Purchase sharing. Scroll down a bit and you will see several radio buttons. Find Purchase Sharing and turn this off. We do not want our daughter making any purchases on her phone.

3. iCloud Storage. Directly below Purchase Sharing is iCloud Storage. We do have this and I did turn this on. I always think it’s wise to back up data.

4. Location Sharing. We allowed this. We shared locations with each other. I want to know her location at all times and I am fine with her knowing mine.

5. Screen Time. There is so much to be found in this setting. Turn it on, then click on it to reveal the options pictures below. I also love the visual of the graph that lets us easily monitor the time she is spending online.

6. Downtime. This allows you to choose what time your child can get on their device in the morning, and what time they need to be off in the evening. We are on summer break, so hers will most definitely change once school starts.

7. App Limits. This is what I really wanted to know when I was setting up her phone! How to limit the number of hours she can be on her phone. You’ll find it here.

8. Allowed Communication During Screen Time. I chose contacts only. Then further down you can choose exactly the contacts you wish to allowed. Our daughter has 8.

9. Allowed Communication During Downtime. This is for when she’s used up all her screen time. We only allow my husband and I as contacts. We need to be able to reach her at all times, but don’t want anyone else to.

10. Content & Privacy Restrictions. This is an important section! Be sure to click on each option to select the content, movie ratings, to block explicit lyrics and more.

In addition to these iPhone settings, you may consider the Bark App, Life 360 or Disney Circle.

I want to end by saying our child is a great kid. We really do trust her! We love her to pieces and want to do our best to keep her safe online and protect her innocence, while still letting her have a phone like the rest of her peers.

If you are reading this and have any other suggestions, apps, or settings that we should be using or putting in place, I’d love for you to share. We are all better together!

adventures with kids · parenting · quarantine · Uncategorized

Making the Most of this Quarantine Life

My dad used to say “attitude is everything,” and as a teenager it would annoy me. Now, as an adult, it resonates. We are doing our best to make the most of this stay home time and have the best attitudes we can. I wanted to share some of the things we’ve been doing to make this time special and memorable.

We love going for walks in the neighborhood and really love going on hikes. Many activities have been cancelled, but hiking and being outdoors is not cancelled!

Hiking is our favorite. We are so lucky to live near so many different trails and parks.

Flying kites. Most people think of March as the windy kite flying month. But the entire spring season rocks for this. Check out my blog post on my three best kept kite flying secrets. (I just gave you one.)

Flying kites isn’t just something on our spring checklist, it’s a pastime.

Crafts! We love arts and crafts. It’s super fun to get curious and try new things with art. One of my favorites was making our own scented crayons. Check out my post on how to make them.

We made our own scented crayons.

Scavenger hunts. My kindergartener, Madeline, has received quite a few scavenger hunts from her teacher and really liked them. I am a teacher too, so it inspired me to try and find some my middle schoolers would enjoy. Our favorite was without a doubt was the photo scavenger hunt. You can find it as well as photos from ours here.

The photo scavenger hunt was the best!

Sidewalk chalk fun. We have always loved sidewalk chalk, but we were really inspired when our friends started posting their chalk mosaics on social media. So of course we wanted to try it ourselves. You can check out my post on them here.

Sidewalk chalk mosaic!

Acts of kindness. We have had fun trying to think of ways to show kindness during this time. One way was to paint and hide kindness rocks at one of our favorite hiking trails. Another was to go through our books and take some we didn’t want anymore to our Little Free Library so other children can enjoy them.

Madeline found a kindness rock on our curb which inspired us to pay it forward and make our own.
We donated some of our books to this Little Free Library.

Drives. We live near country roads and drives out in the country are the best. Winding roads lined with trees, beautiful fields and farmland, favorite music cranked and sun roof open. This was not canceled. I would like to add the we are so grateful for drive through coffee and curbside pickup. This lets us help support local businesses too.

Supporting one of our favorite local coffee shops.
kids · parenting · Uncategorized

Sidewalk Chalk Mosaics

Have you had a chance to make a sidewalk chalk mosaic yet? We love them. Every aspect of it is satisfying, from planning a design, to putting down the tape, coloring and maybe especially peeling off the tape for the big reveal.

My girls had been begging to do another sidewalk chalk mosaic ever since the rain washed away their last one. Thankfully, the Easter bunny brought them more chalk and tape. 🐇

Anna Claire, our ten-year-old, was very strategic about choosing the day to do it, watching the weather so that they would get the maximum number of days to enjoy it before the next rain.

Last time I did most of the tape work. This time the girls did it without help. We have learned you don’t have to be too perfectionistic about it. It will look good no matter what.

We have also learned it is wise to sweep the area or pick up any debris so the area is clean before you start taping. If you don’t, the tape won’t stick and stay put as well.

It is also worth mentioning that we did not use a template. I have read that others “combed Pinterest” searching for a template. You certainly could! We personally opted not to because we felt like part of the fun is creating your own design.

If you do create your own design, it’s helpful to decide what the outside shape will be, then just be sure to the smaller shapes you create inside are polygons: triangles and trapezoids look best. Lots of angles!

You can put in some additional planning if you want the design to be symmetrical. We opted for more abstract.

We also had better chalk this time, “much more pigmented” (the words of Madeline, my six-year-old) and we loved the names of the colors: Macaroni and Cheese, Mauvelous and Granny Smith Apple, to name a few. We have decided we would like to be hired by Crayola to choose the color names!

A new box of chalk is so satisfying

For this project you will need:

essential oils · kids · parenting · quarantine

DIY Scented Crayons Using Essential Oils

Have you ever made your own crayons? I was looking for some fun homeschool activities to do with my kiddos and stumbled on a recipe for making your own crayons and someone suggested scenting them.

I am personally allergic to artificial fragrance and we don’t use it in our home, but I do have and love essential oils!

Here is what you will need for this project:

  • Old crayons (broken with paper peeled off)
  • Muffin/cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  • Butter spray or olive oil spray
  • Essential oils

Here are the steps:

1. Preheat oven to 250. If crayons are not already peeled and broken into small pieces you will need to do that.

2. Decide if you want each crayon to be a different color or if you want rainbow crayons. Either way, you may want to divide your broken crayon pieces up into piles by color.

Peel paper, break into pieces and sort by color.

3. Place a liner in each section of the muffin pan. We sprayed lightly with cooking spray so the liner would come off easily. Then add crayons. I recommend placing the pan on a foil lined cookie sheet.

4. Place the pan in the oven and leave in for 15 about minutes.

5. Pull out and add two drops of desired essential oil to each crayon, then return to oven for another 15 minutes. My daughter felt it was important to color code the oil with the crayon color (pictured below).

She color coded the oil with crayon color. 🌈

6. She was eager to use her new crayons so we placed in the freezer for a half hour after we removed from the oven.

If you appreciate nostalgic stories I thought I would also share my first experience making my own crayon. I was about seven or eight: I remember being bored as a kid and taking my old pieces of crayon, and wondering if I could melt them to make a new one like the multicolored ones I had seen at church. I was little so I wasn’t allowed to use the stove or oven, but I could use the sun’s heat. I had an idea. But I would need a container. It just so happened that it was Pillsbury cinnamon roll day at my house, and so I asked my mom to save the cup the icing comes in. That cup would be perfect for my crayon experiment. It was summer, so it was hot enough I thought. I put my broken crayons, paper peeled off, in the icing container, and set it out in a sunny spot. I came back out several hours later, and just as I expected I had lovely melted rainbow wax. I brought it inside and let it cool off and was so proud of that crayon.

**Did you know there was such a thing as National Crayon Day? It is March 31, the day I am writing this. Mark your calendar for next year and this may be the perfect activity for celebrating it. 😊

kids · parenting · quarantine

Photo Scavenger Hunt

We’ve really liked doing scavenger hunts during this stay home time, and one of our favorites has been the Photo Scavenger Hunt.

We had so many laughs, so many do-overs and it forced us to be silly. Best scavenger hunt we’ve done! Here is the hunt list from Craftaholics Anonymous (thank you!) and I also included some of our pics for you to enjoy.

Click on the hunt list for the printable from Craftaholics Anonymous.
Piggy back ride (#15) and yes, the youngest is in her PJs! We have a very relaxed dress code here. 😊
Playing air guitar (#9)
Jumping in the air (#1)
Emojis (#30)
adventures with kids · kids · parenting · quarantine

Three Kite Flying Secrets

I have been posting pics of my kids flying kites for several springs now and have had other parents ask me for tips. “What am I doing wrong?” they will say. “Our kite just won’t fly.”

Secret #1: Cheap kites are the best. They are the lightest which makes them great flyers. My father-in-law is a whiz with kites so we’ve had nicer ones and they really are hard for little kids to get started. When we started getting the cheap Barbie or Elsa or Buzz Lightyear kites, we had way fewer tears and the kids could do it themselves.

Cheap Barbie kite for the win!

Secret #2: Get the kites while you can. You don’t see kites year round. They tend to be available late February and all of March. When you see them it may still be cold outside and flying one may be furthest from your mind, but if you wait til late spring and for a windy day, you may not find these. We get ours at Walmart.

Secret #3: Kite flying can be done anytime of year! We tend to think of March- the windy month. But here in Tennessee, the day before any good rain shower tends to be windy. So watch your wind forecast and if you see rain, the day before tends to be windy!

Based on what I have read, kites will fly well between 8-24 mph, and even as a light of a breeze as 5-12 mph. If you can feel the breeze on your face, you can probably fly a kite. Personally we like our kites to really fly and put on a show, so I look for anywhere between 11-18 mph as our ideal. Less than that isn’t quite enough to get it up and keep it going, and more than that can be too much. I’ve circled the wind speed on the graphic below.

According to this graph the best bet for kite flying would be Sunday at 4pm.