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Easter Game for young children

15 Apr


Here’s a fun game to play with your kids while you’re waiting for the eggs to boil!


  • Two players
  • One game sheet (Download PDF here: Fill In Game_easter)
  • Two different colored markers/crayons/pencils
  • One die


DIRECTIONS: Each player picks a colored marker. The youngest player rolls the die first. Fill in the number of squares that corresponds to the number rolled. The next player rolls the die. Continue play until all of the squares are filled in. The player with the most squares wins. Alternative play: Use two dice. Players add or subtract one die from/to the other to reach the number of squares to fill in.


Seize the drive and talk with your kids

12 Sep

I don’t know about your public school parking lot, but many of them in our area were built decades ago when children walked or rode their bike or a bus to school. In 2013, the pick up and drop off processes can feel like a shopping mall parking lot experience on December 23.


When you are your kid’s bus driver, you need a few tricks up your sleeve.

Transportation to school has taken a turn since we were kids and many children are driven by parents or older siblings, cramming our lots and circular “pick up” stations. Although arguments for improved safety, health, environment and traffic by sending kids on foot, bicycle or bus are reasonable and true, it just isn’t a possibility for some parents.

So, for those of us who act as a bus driver every morning and afternoon, let’s get off the telephone, turn off the video player and seize the opportunity to have a conversation with our kids. Let’s use our drive to school for thoughtful and fun conversation.

September 11

On the drive to school yesterday (September 11), the kids and I saw several people waving our country’s flag along the road and on overpasses. This prompted a discussion about patriotism and a variety of issues. Due to the ages of my children,  we tend to avoid lengthy, deep philosophical conversations, so I began with general information about what happened twelve years ago in New York City. Not wanting to give them an irrational fear of airplane travel, I simply said that one of our enemies attacked and killed thousands of our citizens, which launched us into a study of “Who is the enemy?” Again, not certain how to keep it uncomplicated while hoping to encourage critical thinking, my simple response was, “It depends which side you’re on.” As we arrived in the school parking lot, we were wrapping it up with an understanding that sometimes the two of them get angry with each other and each thinks the other is the enemy.

The take away for me? The warning we’re all given is true. My kids are growing up fast, and the sooner we start talking about anything and everything, the more hope I have that future conversations…especially the tough ones won’t be avoided.

Pick a new topic to explore during drive time (or at a restaurant, doctor’s office, anywhere you find yourselves waiting):

    • Talk about your family history. Where were your grandparents born? Their grandparents? How did they get to where you are now?
    • Create fictional scenarios to discuss behavior expectations (What would you do if…? How would you feel if…?)
    • Expand on your child’s current classroom curriculum (Today we talked about each of the continents and tried to remember all of the oceans.)
    • Play “Tell Me Everything You Know About _________” (Each person gets to say one thing they know about a topic you select. Everyone gets to share until you run out of information on the topic. Get started with: Narwhals, caterpillars, giraffes, pianos, swimming pools, skyscrapers, yogurt, cookies, berries, crystals, seashells, stalagmites, tornadoes, earthquakes, lightening…get it?)
    • Create a story. In a round, each person gets to develop the tale by adding a part. OR, one person guides the story and the others fill in the blanks. (Rosie woke up to find a __________ in her bedroom. When she discovered that it could talk and cook breakfast, she ______________. Etc…)

Cyber Monday and Holiday Deals

26 Nov

The online store for Tuck Me In Cards is offering super deals for your holiday shopping.

Tuck Me In Cards for Christmas

Unique Holiday Gift & Stocking Stuffers

Good only on FRIDAY November 23, 2012. Free Shipping on ENTIRE order. Cannot be used with any other coupon.

Good only on MONDAY November 26, 2012. 30% off ENTIRE order. Cannot be used with any other coupon.

Good November 1 – December 17, 2012. Free Shipping on orders over $15.00. Cannot be used with any other coupon.

Holiday Coupon Codes

1 Nov

The online store for Tuck Me In Cards is offering super deals for your holiday shopping.

Tuck Me In Cards for Christmas

Unique Holiday Gift & Stocking Stuffers

Good only on FRIDAY November 23, 2012. Free Shipping on ENTIRE order. Cannot be used with any other coupon.

Good only on MONDAY November 26, 2012. 30% off ENTIRE order. Cannot be used with any other coupon.

Good November 1 – December 17, 2012. Free Shipping on orders over $15.00. Cannot be used with any other coupon.

Simple Birthday Traditions

19 Sep

Create your own family birthday traditions that your children will never outgrow. 

The focus of any birthday should be on appreciating the birthday person. Celebrate who they are by showing them you are delighted they are here. The focus does not have to be on spending money to show them with an extravagant gift, but spending thoughtful time acknowledging and honoring their life. And, the more simple and consistent we are with our annual traditions, the more likely they are to be continued and remembered.

As your family repeats these special moments, you’ll find that the memories multiply, get passed on to your children’s families and become more precious than any bought gift.

Here are a few ideas to consider. Pick one and adjust it for your family’s celebration, then let us know how it worked for you. Or, add your own experiences in a comment below.

Simple first birthday traditions

For the first birthday, we wait in anticipation, not a week goes by that we don’t see the changes in our child.

At the first birthday of a child, it’s time for parents to allow themselves a chance to feel relief. The transition into parenthood is not an easy road and parents should acknowledge the challenges they faced in the first year and mark the memorable occasions. A simple chat with your partner at bedtime to remember the sleepless nights, the diapers, the agonizingly slow movement of time, the amazingly rapid movement of time is a simple act that parents can repeat year after year.

For the child, a first birthday party can be overwhelming. They often become scared or over-stimulated by the sounds, the attention, the candles, the balloons, etc. Our advice is to keep it simple, keep it at home, keep it small. Ignore the idea that you MUST throw a party in a restaurant or at an event center that “takes care of everything.”

Select a celebration style that fits with your family values and remember that a simple birthday at home is often the best choice.

The birthday wish

Most often, the birthday person is the one making the wish after blowing out the cake candles. Instead, ask everyone to bring his or her wish for the birthday person on a wish slip. Include it in the invitation or email a copy to everyone. Collect them in a special box or envelope each year. They simple joy of reading them in the years to come is a gift of its own.

The birthday letter

Write a letter to your child on their birthday. Give yourself time to remember the accomplishments he or she has made in the past year and what they have to look forward to in the coming one. Be thoughtful and sincere about how you see them growing and what the future might hold.

The birthday library

Give your child a hardbound book each year as a special gift to grow their personal library. You can adhere a photo of the child from that year, write a note (or your letter from the previous suggestion) in the front cover. By the time they leave home, they’ll have a wonderful library of books given with thought.

Some of our favorites:

  • Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  • Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
  • Bears in the Night by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

The birthday dinner

Allow your child to select the meal for their birthday. (The last one we prepared in our house was simple: fruit kebabs, rice, chicken, and orange soda.) Decorate the dining table with a special tablecloth used only for birthdays. Hang a birthday banner or balloons. One or two of these will help your child identify this day as a special one.

MORE IDEAS? Please post a comment below:

Celebrate Spring with Bird Nest Cookies

5 Apr
Bird Nest Cookies

Bird Nest Cookies

Bird Nest Cookies (AKA Speed Cookies, Haystacks, and in some circles: Bear Poop Cookies) are an easy way to let your little ones create something special for Spring.

My Mom and I used to make these every year just before Easter, and I started the annual family ritual with my little ones this year. I think they enjoyed sharing them with teachers and classmates more than I enjoyed watching them create the nests.


  • 1 c. butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 6 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. shredded coconut (sweetened)
  • 3 c. Quick Oats
  • 1/4 c. milled flax seed
  1. Lay two strips of wax paper
  2. Melt butter in large sauce pan.
  3. Add sugar, milk, and cocoa.
  4. Cook to dissolve sugar. (1-2 mins)
  5. Add vanilla, coconut, oats, and flax seed.
  6. Stir well.
  7. Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper.
  8. Place three jelly beans in the center and press down slightly. (Let your little ones help during this step. They LOVE the freedom of selecting the colors and watching a tiny bird nest take shape. And, if they press a little too firmly, simply push it all back together into the a nest shape.)
  9. Let cool. (The cookies harden as they cool.)

*Makes approx. 36 cookies



Single-serving hot cocoa recipe

11 Feb

Here’s a simple (and tasty) way to create a weekly ritual for yourself (or for the family).

We thought about writing a paragraph or two on the importance of finding time to spend with yourself, but decided to offer you this recipe and let you decide if you want to be alone or share the goodness. (But, because we REALLY value the benefits of solitude, check the links below for great resources on the subject.)

Seeking Solitude: 17 Ways to Find Time for Yourself

The Lost Art of Solitude

Single Recipe:

  • 1 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate (chips work great)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Heat first three ingredients in a small pot over medium heat, stirring constantly
  2. Bring just to a simmer
  3. Add salt and vanilla
  4. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, top with marshmallows, whipped cream, cinnamon, and candy sprinkles.
  5. Enjoy!

Family size recipe

  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 tablespoons semisweet chocolate (chips work great)
  • 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Follow directions above.

10-minute paper heart wreath

19 Jan

This simple paper heart wreath took only 10 minutes for my 5-year old and me to make, start to finish.

Paper heart wreath

Cardboard circle
Paper (colored or decorate yourself)
Glue stick

  1. Cut a circle out of the middle of a round piece of cardboard to create a wreath shape.
    We used a the supportive cardboard piece from a frozen pizza.
  2. Cut a bunch of paper hearts. Using the classic folded heart method.
    We used one heart as a template and then folded paper together and cut two-three at time to save time.
  3. Space your hearts along the wreath to make sure you have the right number, then glue to the cardboard.
    We forgot to leave the first one loose at one end so it could lay on top of (overlap) the last heart, but that was easily fixed by tearing off the old heart and using a new one.

Have fun!

easy paper heart weath

A drink worthy of ANY celebration

30 Dec

Grandma's Chi Chi

Still looking for that perfect cocktail to serve at your New Year’s Eve party?

Mix up a batch of this drink and add a festive flair to any party. The flavor delivers a tropical twist of pineapple and coconut making it impossible to drink just one, but it’s loaded with alcohol so play it safe and sleep where you’re drinking.

Even for the little ones, our Christmas Eve was never complete without a glass of Grandma’s Chi Chi mix. She always had two bowls of frozen yumminess ready for family and friends who stopped by. Kids scraped the bowl like crazy to spoon out their serving, while the adults easily scooped spoonfuls of vodka-softened, slushy, pink goodness into their glasses. Add a small pour of 7Up, stir, and enjoy.

I carry on the tradition in our family and celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve with of one batch. I’ve also shared it at barbecues, birthday parties and summer pool parties.

Grandma Genny’s Chi Chi Recipe

46 oz. can pineapple juice

1 can frozen pink lemonade concentrate

1 can water (pink lemonade can)

1 liter pina colada mixer

1/5 vodka (750 ml)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and freeze, stirring occasionally to keep the vodka from separating.

Serve by mixing 2 ounces of 7Up with 1/4 cup frozen mix. (or mix to taste)

Non-alcoholic version:

Eliminate the vodka in the entire recipe (no need to stir during freezing process)


Pour as much as you need into a separate container and freeze. (Reduce amount of alcohol added to remaining mix in proportion to amount removed.)


  • Add food coloring to the mix for a festive effect or to mark which container is the one with alcohol.
  • Serve the non-alcoholic version in a different glass for easy reference when serving children.
  • Make it two days in advance to allow for enough freezing time.
  • For faster freezing time, pour mix into several small shallow containers and freeze for just a few hours.
  • Freeze non-alcoholic portions in ice cube trays for quick and easy portion control for kids to mix their own.

10 ways to include children in holiday prep work

19 Dec

Including children in preparations for holiday festivities keeps them connected to the traditions and rituals for your family.

These rituals are what glue the family together year after year, and finding ways for the children to participate makes it easier for them to understand and respect the meaning of the tradition later.

  1. Have your preschoolers help with song selection for the road trip to Grandma’s.
  2. Rotate nightly responsibility for the bedtime story selection.
  3. Have them make ornaments for the indoor tree or a popcorn string for the outdoor tree.

    For guests

  4. Put your older child in charge of getting guests drinks upon arrival to your home.
  5. Your 4 or 5-year-old can organize gifts. One area for friends, one for extended family, one for delivering on Christmas Eve, etc.
  6. Decide on a question you want to ask each family member you’ll see and have the kids remember to ask it. (What is your favorite holiday tradition? Who do you miss the most during the holidays? Will you teach me your favorite Christmas carol?)
  7. Give one child the responsibility of taking photos of each guest.

    In the kitchen

  8. Let young children mix, tear salad, measure and pour.
  9. Let older children chop, dice, saute, and bake.
  10. Let them set the table. Little ones can place silverware and napkins. Older ones can arrange plates and stemware.

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