Easter traditions for family celebrations

Ten Easter Traditions for Your Family Celebration

Easter is a very important holiday to many. It is based on the Christian belief of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, it can be celebrated and enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike. Having family Easter traditions is the best way to celebrate.

The Importance of Traditions

A tradition is something you do repeatedly that holds importance to you. They are passed down between generations. A family tradition can be as simple as putting up a Christmas tree every year, going to church every sunday, or having a weekly family night.

We have several family traditions, some that we have started with our kids and others that were passed down from generations before us. Growing up we sat down for a family dinner almost every night. It was important. Having an evening family dinner is something my husband and I have continued. I can’t say we manage it every night, but we try to most nights. I don’t like when we have to eat in shifts even. It just isn’t the same.

On the other hand, there are traditions we have started in the last several years. For example, a few years back I saw an advent calendar activity for Christmas where a children’s book is wrapped up for each night of December leading up to Christmas. Beginning December 1st, the kids get to unwrap one book every night and we read that book. I began doing this every year and my kids love it. It’s a new family tradition that they would miss if we stopped it.

So traditions can be what you make them to be. Continuing past traditions is important. Making new traditions is equally important. It shows your family your values and the value they hold. It’s not just about doing something over and over. It’s the quality time spent doing it.

Ideas for New Easter Traditions

Easter is all about the gift on the cross and spending time with family. Here are ideas for spending time together and starting new family Easter traditions.

Have an Easter Egg hunt

Plastic eggs in a yard

Having an Easter Egg hunt is a great Easter tradition to start.  Many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, celebrate with Easter Egg hunts. Egg hunts are comprised of plastic eggs filled with candy and sometimes real, hard-boiled eggs that have been colored.  It just depends on your preference.

Once you have the eggs you plan to use gathered up, it’s time to hide them.  This can be simply scattering them around a grassy area or hiding them to be found like a seek and find game. Then gather the kids.  Make sure they have a basket, bucket or sack and let them have at it. Generally, starting them at the same time is the best. Wouldn’t want to hear “that’s not fair” would you?

Boy on Easter Egg hunt

If you don’t want to host an Easter egg hunt yourself be sure to check your area. Usually, several places put on public Easter egg hunts that you can take your kids to. Some even separate by age group so you don’t have to worry about your 2-year-old getting run over by a 10-year-old.

Easter egg hunts have been a huge tradition in my family since I was little. Every year my parents would hide Easter eggs for us to find. Even as a teen there would be an annual egg hunt. Now my children get that joy. On Easter morning I get up really early to beat them awake and head outside to hide eggs for them. When they wake up the hunt is on.

Color Easter Eggs

Colored eggs

Dying or coloring Easter eggs is a yearly tradition in our family. Every year our family gets together a couple of days before Easter and dyes eggs. I have done this since I was little. It was always one of the highlights of the holiday.

Dying Easter eggs is simple really. You need to have hard boiled eggs or blown out eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are easy as they just need to be boiled and cooled so they aren’t as fragile as a raw egg. Once the eggs have been boiled its a matter of getting them colored. Hard-boiled eggs will last you through the holiday but not much longer.

Blown out eggs are more difficult but they can last for years. If you have never heard of this technique, you poke a hole at each end of the egg with a darning needle. The smaller the hole the better so it’s not conspicuous. Then “stir” the egg up inside the shell to break the yolk up.

After that, you literally blow in one hole so the egg comes out the other, being careful not to break the shell. Once all the egg white and yolk have been blown out, rinse it with water. Blown out eggs can keep for years.

Dyed eggs
Dyed Easter Eggs

After getting your eggs prepped, get the dye ready and go for it. There are many different dye kits on the market. So get a creative as you want.

As I kid I didn’t have the patience to sit with an egg for an hour. I would rip through a dozen faster than you could say “Bob’s your uncle”. Now I will use one egg and sit for half an hour. It’s almost therapeutic. There is nothing better than sitting spinning an egg in a cup of yellow dye while watching your kids have a blast using their imaginations.

Egg Houses for a Community Service Project

Filling Easter eggs for a community service project
Filling eggs to “egg” a local homeless shelter

“Egging” houses is fun. This isn’t the house egging you might think though. Don’t buy eggs and go throw them at your neighbor’s house, please. House egging consists of surprising another family or organization with an Easter egg hunt. Get permission first of course.

You could reach out to a local homeless shelter that houses kids. Ask them for permission to egg their building. If they give the go ahead, find out roughly how many kids are at the shelter currently. Then fill eggs with candy. The night before Easter sneak to their location and hide the Easter eggs. On Easter morning all those kids will wake up to find a special surprise.

Last year my Girl Scout troop did a fundraiser “egging” people’s houses. We recently had a speaker from a local homeless shelter for families come to a meeting. The girls decided during our fundraiser to also give back by “egging” that particular shelter. We received permission to hide eggs on their property the night before Easter. We snuck over there after dark and the girls put eggs filled with candy all over their backyard. From there we continued on and did the houses that paid to be “egged”

After the event, all the girls could talk about was how fun it was to “egg” the homeless shelter. Immediately they said they wanted to do it again. They loved doing something for all those kids who may not get to wake up to a yard full of Easter eggs otherwise. So this year the girls are filling eggs to deliver once again. Egging the homeless shelter quickly became one of our troop’s Easter traditions.

Go to an Easter Church Service

Bible and Flowers: Go to Easter service

Easter Sunday is all about what Jesus did on the cross and the gift of salvation he has given to every person that believes in him. Easter is the celebration of his death and resurrection. So going to church is one of the obvious Easter traditions to start with your family.

Many churches offer multiple services on Easter Sunday. The various times allow for families to celebrate at church while still holding family celebrations at home. You don’t have to pick between the two.

Every year we attend Easter services as a family. It’s one of our family Easter traditions. We will get up Easter morning and see what the Easter bunny left overnight. Then the kids will go on their annual Easter egg hunt left by that silly rabbit. Following the egg hunt, we all get in our nice clothes and head for church.

Have a Nice Family Dinner

Family dinner

Having a nice family dinner is one of the best Easter traditions. Pick out a family favorite or find a new Easter food online and prepare it for your family dinner. You don’t have to cook a ham just because it’s Easter. Ham is a traditional Easter food that families eat, but make what you like.

If you like grilled foods, make some hamburgers for this family dinner. Do you prefer Chinese food? Then make egg rolls with beef and broccoli. Here are a few family dinner favorites you might want to try:

  • Smoked Pork Butt
  • Smoked BBQ Ribs
  • Hamburgers
  • Turkey
  • Ham

Sides for each of these ranges from traditional deviled eggs and potato salad to fancy au gratin potatoes. Here again, make what you and your family like.

This year for our Easter family dinner we are having my in-laws, my brother and his family, and my mom over. We had a request for ribs so that is what is on the agenda. My husband has a Traeger we love to use so he’s going to smoke some ribs. With it, I’m planning my famous au gratin potatoes in the crockpot, some fruit and veggies, and an Easter dessert.

Make a Special Easter Dessert

Fancy Easter cupcakes or dessert makes great Easter traditions

Easter dinner wouldn’t be complete without a special Easter dessert. Picking out what dessert to have is fun for the whole family. Get the kids involved in making Easter egg cake balls, a Jello poke cake, or anything your heart desires.

Making an Easter dessert shows love. Desserts are the culmination of a family dinner. Yes, sugar isn’t healthy but there are healthy desserts out there. So if you rarely make desserts, Easter is a great time to make one. It makes a family dinner feel more elegant and complete.

One of my favorite Easter desserts is Easter egg cake balls. They take a little extra time to put together than other desserts but are super cute and fun. Plus they taste amazing. They can be made in so many different flavor combinations, the sky is the limit. But that is just my favorite.

Celebrate with the Easter Bunny

Easter bunny left a basket full of goodies.

The Easter bunny is an icon. Most people recognize the Easter bunny the same way as Santa Claus. It’s one of the biggest Easter traditions for those who recognize the holiday.

The Easter bunny visits a house overnight between Easter Eve and Easter Sunday. He leaves an Easter basket filled with goodies for the child and hides Easter eggs. Then on Easter morning, the kids wake to see what is in their baskets.

When I was little the Easter bunny generally left lots of candy with a couple little toys. I have many fond memories of waking up to my favorite goodies. Once we had finished going through our baskets we would have to hunt all the eggs left strewn about by him. He would hide some plastic eggs filled with more goodies and he would hide the eggs that we dyed.

Nowadays, he seems to leave my kids a few more toys and a little less candy. The Easter bunny still fills the basket with plenty of goodies. Some things he likes to leave my kids:

Kids love waking up to a basket full of goodies, no matter what is in it. The Easter bunny is one of the many Easter traditions you won’t regret starting!

Use Resurrection Eggs to Tell the Easter Story

Resurrection Eggs

Resurrection Eggs are a set of plastic Easter eggs that contain a small item in each to help tell the Easter story. They can be hidden around the yard as part of an Easter egg hunt. Then when the kids go to open their eggs have them open each of the Resurrection Eggs in order. As they do, read out of the booklet that comes with them.

We invested in Resurrection Eggs a few years ago. They have become one of our family Easter traditions. Generally, we will have a couple of Egg hunts on Easter. At least one of them will have the Resurrection Eggs. Usually, we try and do it when we have my niece and nephew here as well. That way we can share the true meaning with all the kids. They love it because it’s a fun way to hear the story and they are a part of it.

Play Some Family Games

Family game: Monopoly Gamer
Monopoly Gamer

Family games are common around our house, whether it’s Easter or not. But what better way to spend Easter is there than playing games. You could take the game you like to play on Family Game Night and turn them into an Easter game marathon.  Playing games allows everyone to have fun together.

My kids love playing games like Monopoly Gamer, Pit, and even Monopoly Cheater’s Edition. Lately, I’ve fallen in love with Villainous. I love the strategy behind it. Another fun way to spend Easter playing games is having a rousing game of kickball or basketball. Get outside and get active.

Put Up an Easter Tree and Other Decorations

Easter traditions Easter tree

Putting up an Easter tree and decorating is fun and creates lasting memories. You can find various decorations at the store, everything from crosses to Easter eggs to Easter bunnies. Decorating for Easter sets the tone for the holiday and puts everyone in the mood.

How often do celebrate Christmas without a single decoration up, especially a Christmas tree? So why not celebrate Easter with an Easter tree? An Easter tree can be store bought or homemade depending on which you prefer.  When I was a kid my mom made her Easter tree. It was a stick from the yard that had a few branches on it. She painted it white and hung cute egg ornaments on it. It was one of our Easter traditions.

Just the other day my kids weren’t getting along the best. So I sent them on a mission to find a branch for an Easter tree. Their squabbling stopped and all of a sudden they were happy and having fun. Kids love an adventure and mine were no different. It didn’t take long and they were back home with a big beautiful stick. Now we just have to paint it, put it into a base, and hang ornaments on it.

If you aren’t into DIY decorating you can always buy an Easter tree. They can be just as cute as one you make and a bit simpler.  They will still be somewhat twig shaped, a tree without green. But you can go straight to the ornament hanging once you put your tree up.

Evergreen Easter bears Easter tree
My dad’s bear tree decorated for Easter

My other favorite type of Easter tree is one my dad does every year. It doesn’t fit the traditional twig style tree though. He uses one of the small artificial evergreen trees. On it, he has two black bears. The bears are never taken off the tree but he switches the theme of it for each coming holiday. So every Easter it becomes his Easter tree. The bears get bunny ears and Easter eggs are placed around it.

Implement New Easter Traditions…

So whether you already have a bunch of Easter traditions or plan to start new ones, they are a great way to show your family their value. Having a nice family dinner, enjoying a favorite Easter food, hiding Easter eggs, or just visiting are all great things to do.

Of all the holidays through the year, Easter is my second favorite, second only to Christmas. I love celebrating what Jesus did on the cross and enjoying my family. Watching my kids light up on Easter morning at the little things the Easter bunny brought is comparable to the way they are on Christmas morning.

Family is such an important part of everyone’s lives, whether you are a single parent, dating, married, have kids, or it’s an adoptive family. So start a new tradition or follow through with an old one this year.

Why is Easter celebrated

Why is Easter Celebrated: The Reason for Starting New Easter Traditions

Every year one of the most important holidays celebrated is Easter, at least to those observing the Christian faith. Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate it. So why is Easter celebrated and what makes it so important?

Those that don’t believe in the bible may still observe the holiday with Easter Egg hunts and family get-togethers. Those that believe in Christ and his gift on the cross might celebrate by going to Easter Sunday services as well as Good Friday services and other services churches offer over the weekend. But Easter is about more than the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg hunts. It’s about what happened on the cross.

Holy Week: The Lead Up to Easter

Before discussing what Easter is in more detail, you should know and understand what holy week is. Holy week occurs in Christianity and begins one week prior to Easter Sunday. It starts with Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday.

Holy Week: Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem. He was hailed as a King. He remained there for the week to celebrate the Jewish Passover. Following Palm Sunday Christian’s recognize Maundy Thursday. Which recognizes the big feast during Passover, also known as The Last Supper. Then we come to Good Friday. Good Friday was the day Christ was crucified on the cross. Some Christians also hold a Saturday night vigil during Holy Week. The next day is Easter Sunday.

I’m talking fondly of Easter and I really do love this holiday. I want to continue teaching my kids why Easter is celebrated and making new Easter traditions with them. But I also love all the festivities of Holy Week. Palm Sunday was really neat because our church would buy actual palm leaves and we would get to keep them. I’m now seeing my kids get to experience similar things and it’s cool. Church is not about us getting those things but it is a great way to remember the events of that week in history.

Why Good Friday Is Celebrated

Why Good Friday is Celebrated. Jesus death on the cross

Good Friday is the celebration of Jesus’ crucifixion. This might seem odd to say celebration. Observation might be a better word for it. So then why is Good Friday celebrated? Christians celebrate it as part of the Easter holiday.  Jesus was arrested. Then put on trial. He was innocent but declared guilty. Then sentenced to death by crucifixion. When Christ died on the cross he descended into Hell. There he defeated Satan.

I love Easter Sunday but Good Friday is equally important to me. My mom taught me why Good Friday is celebrated from a young age. When I was little she would take us to Good Friday services for our home church and we would also go to Good Friday services for the Orthodox Church. You might be wondering how this is possible but it is. Most years the Orthodox Easter fell on a different weekend than Easter for everyone else. So I celebrated Good Friday and Easter twice every year.

Good Friday services were always a somber celebration. One left with more of a remembrance feel than anything in their heart. Remembering Christ’s horrific and sacrificial death on the cross is why Good Friday is celebrated.

When is Good Friday

If you are not familiar with Easter and it’s traditions you may be wondering when is Good Friday. It’s always the Friday before Easter Sunday. For 2019, Good Friday will be on Friday, April, 19.

Why is Easter Celebrated

The cross and Jesus dying on it the answer to why is Easter celebrated

The reason why Easter is celebrated is simple. Easter is the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everyone is a sinner, no matter how hard we try to do good. So God became man. This was Jesus.

Jesus lived without sin and in his early 30s began his ministry. He ministered throughout Israel for 3 years. At the end of this time, he knew his work was about to be complete. On Maundy Thursday, the last supper is celebrated. This was a meal Jesus shared with his disciples. He told them the bread and wine they shared that night were symbols of his body and blood and to remember him every time they ate it. Later that night Jesus was arrested.

After his trial and death, Christ was buried. On the third day, he rose from the dead. He walked among man again and then ascended into heaven and now sits next to God. Now when we need forgiveness all we have to do is ask. I know I have had to ask many times. I’m not perfect but will be made perfect someday at the completion of my life.

So the answer to why is Easter celebrated is this. To celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the defeat of Hell.

Orthodox Easter 2019

Orthodox Easter and Easter for the other denominations generally fall on different days. Easter 2019 is on April 21. Orthodox Easter 2019 is on April 28th.

Orthodox Easter 2019

The Orthodox church follows a slightly different calendar for Easter due to the Jewish Passover commemorating the freeing of the slaves from Egyptian control. The Jewish Passover takes place every spring in the northern hemisphere.

During Jesus’ time, he celebrated the Passover with his disciples. The last supper took place during the Jewish Passover. It was during this time he was arrested and the events of Easter occurred.

Thus, the Orthodox Church doesn’t celebrate Easter until after the Jewish Passover. To bring unity to the denomination they now celebrate Easter the Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. But it also must be after the Jewish Passover has occurred. The Jewish Passover 2019 will take place from Friday, April 19 through Saturday, April 27 with Orthodox Easter 2019 following on the 28th.

This was common when I was a kid. Sometimes the two Easter celebrations were up to a month apart. And we celebrated both. We would celebrate Easter as a family when everyone else did: Going to church, having family time, and other Easter traditions. Then when the Orthodox Easter occurred we would spend the weekend doing it all again. Only this time we were with the extended family on my mom’s side.

Whichever Easter weekend you celebrate, though, can be a great one and one of Easter traditions.

How is Easter Celebrated

Now that you know the answer to why is Easter celebrated you might be wondering how is Easter Celebrated. And the answer varies. Many people celebrate in a variety of ways. People who may not follow the Christian religion still may celebrate Easter as a family holiday with the Easter bunny visiting overnight and Easter Egg hunts.

How is Easter celebrated: attending church services

Christians generally celebrate by attending a variety of services to remember the meaning of the holiday. Beginning with Maundy Thursday and culminating with Easter Sunday. Then it’s time to celebrate with family.

My family celebrates by doing a variety of things. We will attend Easter weekend services, sometimes Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Other times just Easter Sunday. Before we go to church generally the kids see if the Easter Bunny has found them. And then they go on the annual Egg hunt that silly bunny leaves every year in our backyard.

Family Easter Traditions: Easter Egg Hunts

Following the egg hunt, we head off to church to celebrate the resurrection. After church, it’s onto a nice family dinner with my mom, brother and his family, and sometimes my in-laws. Delicious food, more Easter baskets, and more egg hunts.

So however you celebrate you can keep the reason for the season and create some great family Easter traditions.

Starting Family Easter Traditions

Celebrating Easter as a family is very meaningful and a great way of starting family Easter traditions. These can range from a simple family dinner to a full day of festivities. Whether you believe in Jesus’ gift on the cross or not you can still plan a great day to celebrate with your family.

Family Easter traditions: Coloring Easter eggs

Here are a few ways to celebrate and start new Easter traditions

  1. Have an Easter Egg hunt
  2. Color Easter Eggs
  3. “Egg” houses for a Girl Scout project or family community service project.
  4. Go to an Easter church service
  5. Have a nice family dinner
  6. Make a special Easter dessert
  7. Celebrate with the Easter Bunny
  8. Use Resurrection Eggs to tell kids the Easter Story
  9. Play some Family Games
  10. Put up an Easter Tree and other decorations

For more information on each of these read about them here on my post about starting Easter traditions.

Growing up we had several family Easter traditions and I have fond memories of those times. Every Easter morning I remember getting up and seeing our Easter baskets in the living room filled with candy and a few toys. Then we’d have to hunt for the eggs the Easter bunny left. Followed by a celebration at church and back home for a nice Easter dinner.

The Importance of Why Easter is Celebrated

Lily branch with Happy Easter sign

Easter’s important because it is the foundation of Christianity. It is the celebration of forgiveness by the death of Jesus on the cross. It is a great time to make new Easter traditions with your family. Family time is so important anyway. Combine it with the most important holiday of the year and it is one of the best family days ever spent.

~Melissa

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How to help after a natural disaster. Flood photo with road out.

How to Help After a Natural Disaster: A Parent’s Guide

I never dreamed or thought I’d be writing this post.  A couple of weeks ago devastation hit my home state. All around me the effects of natural disasters could be seen.  Thankfully my town and home were spared, but some only a short distance away weren’t so fortunate. Never in my lifetime had I been through a major natural disaster til now.  But when it happened I wanted nothing more than to jump in and try to help fill the disaster victims needs and teach my kids to do the same. So how do you show your kids creative ways to give back and how to help after a natural disaster?

Natural Disasters List

Before I jump into how to help after a natural disaster, let’s talk a little bit about natural disasters, how the flooding in my area happened, and how to prepare kids for natural disasters.  

Natural disasters list: Earthquake, flood, hurricane, fire, tornado, tsunami

First off, there are many different things on the natural disasters list.  

  • Hurricane
  • Floods
  • Tornado
  • Fire
  • Tsunami
  • Epidemics
  • Earthquakes

This may not be a complete natural disasters list, but many of the main ones are on here.  

I have lived my entire life in what is known as Tornado Alley.  Tornado Alley is an area of the United States that is more common for tornadoes.  It’s a path up the midwest ranging from Texas north to South Dakota. I’ve always known I lived in tornado alley and that we needed to keep an eye out every spring for tornadoes.  In all honesty, they have always fascinated me so I kind of look forward to tornado season. But I can’t say I have ever been directly affected by one. Just spent time in the basement when the sirens went off.

I have seen the devastation first hand caused by an EF3 tornado though. One June evening, a home about 30 minutes from where I live was hit by this particular tornado. At the time I was working as a home inspector. Following the storm, I had to go out and inspect this particular property.  I had never seen anything like it. The house was destroyed.

Natural Disasters List. House Damaged by EF3 tornado
House Damaged By EF3 Tornado

I bring up the fact that of all the disasters on the natural disasters list, I am used to keeping an eye out for tornadoes, but I’m not used to major flash flooding.  And flooding we had.

A Bomb Cyclone Hits

Ice jam on the river
Ice Jams on the River

The term bomb cyclone was a new one to me.  And I’m sad to say I scoffed when I first saw the warnings of what was coming.  There had been several times when a major storm was forecast and doomsday people on Facebook were calling for 2 feet of snow and we got maybe 3 or 4 inches.  So when this so called bomb cyclone was supposed to hit, the first thought I had was “ya, right.” But it did hit and brought devastation along with it.

You might be wondering what a bomb cyclone is.  And rightfully so. I did too. A bomb cyclone happens when a strong low pressure system drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.  The system that hit the midwest went from 994 millibars to 970 millibars in 13 hours (Winter Storm Ulmer ‘Bombs’ Out, Becomes ‘Bomb Cyclone’, Smashing Pressure Records, The Weather Channel).  According to the Hurricane Glossary by SECOORA this is an equivalent of a Category 2 Hurricane.  The irony in this whole situation is shortly before this system moved through I wondered what it would be like experiencing a Hurricane.  Now I guess I have an idea.

The bomb cyclone caused blizzard conditions in the western part of our state and heavy rains in the east.  This created the perfect storm for severe flooding. And here’s why…

The Perfect Storm for Historic Floods

Bridge over river washed out do to flooding
Bridge Over River Washed Out

So why would a storm packing a wholloping blizzard cause catastrophic flooding?  It doesn’t make much sense. Until you know some of the preceding conditions. February was a harsh month.  We saw above average amounts of snowfall and bitterly cold days. Even into the first week of March, the week right before the bomb cyclone.  That week felt more like January than March. We had more fresh snow on the ground added to what was already there plus temperatures 40 degrees below normal.  

Land Icebergs
Icebergs on Land

The ground was still frozen solid.  Then, in less than a week, we were getting temperatures above freezing but also decent rains.  The rain added water to all the snow that was quickly melting. But the ground couldn’t soak it up because it was still frozen from the harsh winter.  The water had to go somewhere and that was the many creeks and rivers around. Those riverbeds couldn’t hold all the water, plus there were ice jams that added to the problems.  If you want to see more, check out these amazing pictures of the flooding from Jake Scheideler.

Dams broke, houses washed away, basements flooded, towns filled with water, farmlands were ruined, and lives were lost.  But one thing emerged, heros in plain clothes.

Natural Disasters for Kids

Natural disasters for kids can be a very scary thing.  They can be scary for anyone. Something that is somewhat unpredictable and so destructive can be frightening.  

So the first step in taking the “scary” out of natural disasters for kids is to educate them.  Teach your kids what disasters are common in your area. For us, I won’t likely teach my kids how to be safe in an earthquake or Hurricane because we just don’t experience those things here.  But I will teach them about severe weather including hail, straight line winds, and tornadoes. You could teach them yourself, watch YouTube videos, or visit a local expert that would be willing to help explain things.  If you are a girl scout leader this ties in well with the safety pins. However you decide to do it, teaching your kids about natural disasters in your area is important.

The second step to taking the “scary” out of natural disasters for kids is to help them be prepared.  It’s important to pack an emergency preparedness kit. If you want a great guide to basic things it should contain visit Kimberlee Leonard’s article “Make a Plan: Family Emergency Preparedness” from Safer Family Alliance.  Once you have your items, let your kids help pack the bag. These are the basic necessities for survival.

You could also add things to your pack to make your kids more at ease. Things like decks of cards, coloring books, a stuffed animal.  These may not help you survive but if you do have a natural disaster strike and have to leave home it may help your kids feel a little more secure. So let them help you prepare by packing a bag of necessities plus a few toys and don’t forget to practice where to go if a natural disaster strikes.

During a Disaster

How to help after a natural disaster: sandbagging efforts during a disaster

During a disaster, the first thing to do is to make sure you are safe.  You can’t help anyone else out if you and your family are not OK first. Grab your emergency kit and get to your shelter.

When I was growing up my mom would grab a clothes basket to round up things if there was a chance for tornadoes.  She would pay attention to where storms were and which direction they were headed. If they were bad enough and she knew that they were dropping tornadoes and were heading in our direction she would begin gathering things up.  She’d put her purse, valuables, jewelry and a few other things she didn’t want to have ruined in the basket and take it downstairs with us. A basket or bag either works well.

How to help after a natural disaster: during a disaster sandbagging a small village about to flood during the night

If you are safe during a disaster and won’t be putting yourself in harms way you can help meet other disaster victims needs.  I want to reiterate, only do this if it’s safe to. When the floods hit our area my family wasn’t directly affected. But those around us were.  People had begun sandbagging around 3 pm one afternoon to protect flood waters from entering a nearby village. At 11 pm I saw a friend on Facebook post a call to help.  They were still sandbagging to protect people’s homes and property. So I left home at 11:30 that night to go buy water to donate and headed up to help out. They finally quit sandbagging at 1:20 am.  The next morning I saw reports that the efforts had worked and the water was averted around town.

So if you want to help during a disaster you can, just be sure you are safe doing so.  And you can include the whole family (I just didn’t cause it was so late at night).

Disaster Victims Needs

Disaster victims needs vary greatly depending on the natural disaster that affected them.  People affected by a tornado will likely be displaced from their home and may even need to clean up a destroyed building and rebuild.  On the other hand a flood victim might be trying to dry out their basement and belongings. Whatever the disaster, generally building structures are damaged greatly and possessions are lost.  So disaster victims needs are everything from a place to stay to money to a whole new home.

When the floods affected our area local first responders let everyone know what the disaster victims needs were.  There were lists posted on social media and by businesses. There were funds set up to help meet the disaster victims needs as well.  It didn’t take much and you could find a place to give back to.

How to Help After a Natural Disaster

How to help after a natural disaster: donation location
One of Many Donation Sites in Our State

If you are wondering how to help after a natural disaster, there are a few ways to do so.  You can donate money to relief efforts. In my area, several donation opportunities came up.  So if you just want to donate money this is one way to do it.

Another way of answering the question of how to help after a natural disaster is to donate items.  However, I would caution you to check out what the needs are. Don’t just start dumping things off to people and places.  What you might think is helpful really might not be. Also, know where to take your donations. This will make your life easier.

I saw this first hand.  The outpouring of people around us to the towns affected by the floods was enormous.  One of the nearby towns opened up their high school for all the donations and quickly had many items donated there.  

You can also help with the actual clean up efforts.  The days following the flooding volunteers were needed to help clean up homes that were damaged.  This is another great way of how to help after a natural disaster. Just make sure your kids are able to do it before you go.  You don’t need them getting hurt and being in the way.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas of how to help after a natural disaster.  But if you are looking at more creative ways to give back, here are a few.

Creative Ways to Give Back

If you are looking for more creative ways to give back here are a few.  

  • Organize a supply drive
  • Set up a restaurant night for disaster victims
  • Get your child’s scout troop involved (here is more info about starting a scout troop)
  • Gather your family and go help with relief efforts
  • Make sandwiches or meals for volunteers helping with clean up efforts

The Importance of Finding Out How to Help After a Natural Disaster

Now that you know some of the natural disasters on the natural disasters list, how to take the “scary” out of natural disasters for kids, and some creative ways to give back, I wanted to reiterate how important it is to find out how to help after a natural disaster.  

When you find out how to help after a natural disaster and do so, you will be modeling to your kids the importance of helping a neighbor in need.  Natural disaster victims find themselves suddenly, and often without warning, in a very difficult situation. The least you can do is to give back and teach your kids to do the same.  

When kids learn to give back to the community it will show them how to be empathetic to other, make them a more rounded person, and show them life is more than just “me”.  It give kids the opportunity to take part in something bigger than themselves. When they walk into the devastation or see what others experience it can make them grateful for the things they have.  And don’t we all want our kids to have an attitude of gratitude?

Make natural disasters for kids easier by making relief efforts a family affair

Finally, when you help meet disaster victims needs as a family you are spending valuable time together.  Yes, it’s great to spend time playing games, watching movies, going on vacations, and just enjoying time together.  But if you spend time planning creative ways to give back as a family or just talking about what happened around you and helping in some way, that family quality time becomes even better.  Your kids won’t forget it anytime soon and I bet you won’t either. It will put a positive spin on the devastation around you.

So if you find communities around you in a natural disaster situation, find out how you can help.  You won’t regret it.

~Melissa

Top 10 card games for family night

Top 10 Card Games to Play on Family Game Night

Family game night is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your spouse and kids.  Most people probably think about board games on family game night, but playing card games can be equally fun.  Maybe you are asking, “Which are the best card games for families?” Or, “Are there any easy card games kids can play?”  Keep reading cause here you will find a list of card games for families and kids to play. And more importantly, the top 10 card games for family game night.

The Benefits of Playing Card Games

There are many benefits to playing card games or games in general.  Card games can keep a person mentally keen. I realize bridge may seem like an old lady game, and I don’t recommend it for young kids.  But it will keep you thinking. Many other games such as Villainous or even Exploding Kittens can keep your mind thinking strategically.

Another benefit to card games is their portability and size.  Some card games on my list of card games kids will love even if they are playing by themselves or just with other kids as well as several on my top 10 card games for family night us just standard decks of cards.  These decks take up very little space which makes it handy to take on the road. You could pull the cards out at a hotel or even an airport without having used up much of your valuable luggage space.

Finally playing card games is just plain fun.  They offer a different spin on family time than just the classic board games.  Not that I don’t like family board games cause I do. But it’s nice for a change and they are no less fun.

Why Teaching Kids Card Games to Play is Important

Teaching kids card games.  Grandma playing card games with her granddaughter

Teaching kids card games is important for several reasons.  Card games give them a chance to learn games of their past. Many of their grandparents and great grandparents likely played cards, maybe still do, as a past time.  That was their form of entertainment and “hanging out” with their friends. Some of those are easy card games to play and just as fun as board games. My kids and even my husband don’t care for going to nursing homes.  I understand and yet I don’t mind going. You read that right. I don’t mind going to a nursing home. Why is that you may wonder? Well, when I was little we went to a nursing home quite frequently to visit my great grandma. But when we went we played cards so it was always fun to go visit her.

Besides just learning games of our heritage, there are many other reasons to teach kids card games.  Card games that use traditional decks of playing cards are inexpensive to purchase. A good board game may cost you upwards of $40 or $50 while a deck of cards can cost just a few dollars.

There are many easy card games to play and cards games can also be a way of entertaining your kids without a screen even when you are busy.  Yes, I’m all about spending time with your family, but sometimes you may have to get things done. Some of the easy card games are great ways for kids to entertain themselves.  

Finally, card games can be educational.  Different kids card games can develop their memory skills, counting, and more.  Take Skip-bo for instance. It’s all about placing cards from 1 to 12 over and over again.  For young kids learning to count, they may need help but it’s a great way to work on those skills.  And this is just one example.

So let me give you a list of card games kids will love before I move onto the top 10 card games for family game night.

List of Card Games Kids Will Love

There are several kids card games they will love and they are easy card games to learn.  Here is a list of card games kids can enjoy by themselves or with other kids, and maybe even with you if you decide to play.

  1. Klondike Solitaire
  2. Osmosis Solitaire
  3. Old Maid
  4. Go Fish
  5. Memory
  6. War
  7. Speed
  8. Gas Out
  9. UNO
  10. Exploding Kittens

So now that you have read why card games for families are important and have seen a list of card games kids can play on there own or with you, let’s move onto the main event. The top 10 card games to play on family game night.

Top 10 Card Games for Families to Play on Family Game Night

Top 10 card games for families to play on family game night. Family playing cards around a table.

Now to get onto what you have probably come here to read and are wondering about most.  What are the top 10 card games to play on family game night? Well, here they are as well as a little bit about each one.

Villainous  

Villainous is a great game.  It’s based upon the Disney Villains and is actually a bit of a card game and board game combination.  Each player has their own board which they must use to play the game but all actions and how you win is based upon your decks of cards.  

Villainous takes a bit of strategy to win.  You will select a Disney villain to play as.  The original game comes with 6. You can pick from Maleficent, Queen of Hearts, Prince John, Jafar, Captain Hook, and Ursula.  Each character wins in a different way so they are countless combinations this game can play out which is what makes it so fun.  

I got this game about a week ago for my birthday.  As a family, we have played it several times and I love it.  I wish I could tell you my favorite character to play as but I can’t.  I have liked each one and for different reasons. The one thing about Villainous though is its best for kids who can read if you are playing as a family.  Unless you don’t mind reading and helping your kids out. We have to help read the cards to our 7-year-old. He understands the gameplay but still needs help because of the reading aspect.  The box says ages 10 and up for this one. However, if your child can read kids ages 7 or 8 and up could learn and enjoy Villainous.

If you like Disney or strategy games, this is a must-have for your family card games collection.

Recommended Ages: 7 or 8 and up, when your kids can read and begin to strategize.

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is next on my list of the top 10 card games for families.  It’s all about not drawing the exploding kitten, as the name suggests. You take turns going around and playing cards (if you want to) then drawing.  If you draw an exploding kitten you’re out. The last man standing wins. This is a very simple description of the gameplay but it really is one of the easy card games to learn and play.

We received this game as a family gift at Christmas.  I had seen it in stores but just didn’t know what I thought because of the name.  You know, first impressions. But since it was a gift and came recommended we had to try it.  And it was worth it. Now it’s a family favorite. The only hard part can be reading the cards.  Young kids can figure this one out pretty easily as long as they can read. If they can’t read they will need a little help.

Recommended Ages: 7 or 8 and up.  Only because reading is important to fully be able to play this one.

Sequence

Sequence is another of the best card games.  This is also a card game meets a board game. But it doesn’t make it any less fun.  The game comes with a board that has it’s own deck of playing cards. Yes, it’s similar to a standard deck of cards but the jacks in it are different.  They are wild cards so some have one eye and other’s two. I only mention this as you have to have the sequence deck for the game to play correctly. If you have 4 or more players you can play as teams.  This is the way we like to play. But it can also be played with 2 or 3 players.

The game works in that you play a card and put your colored chip on the corresponding space on the board.  You are trying to get 5 of your chips in a row. In a four-player game, it takes two sequences (5 in a row) to win.

My grandma was a card player.  When she discovered Sequence she had to have it.  We played many card games with her, including this one.  Now I’m passing it down to my kids. And they love it too.  A little piece of my grandma is going to my kids in this one and some of the others on my top 10 card games.

Recommended Ages:  6 and up. The gameplay is fairly simple but does take a little more time than preschoolers may be able to stay engaged.

Pit

If you want to start a tradition of playing card games as a family you need to check out Pit.  This one is fast paced and a blast. You are out to corner the market on a crop in this one to rack up points for the win.  The deck comes with several crops. You pick out the number of crops to match the number of players. Deal all the cards and open the market.  Once the market is open you decide which crop you want to go after. Then quickly start saying how many cards you want to trade. Trade the same number of cards with another player.  Keep trading until you have just one type of crop in your hand. Then ring the bell.

Pit is such a fun game.  We have had it for a while and when I was cleaning out our toy room not long ago I stumbled across it.  So we pulled it out and played it on family game night. The kids loved it. It was one of the easy card games to learn that we have so they took to it quick.  This one is more fun with more people though. That is about the only downfall I see.

Recommended Ages: 5 and up.  The gameplay is fast and kids need to be able to make matches and think quickly.  

Pitch

Pitch is one of the best card games.  This one may seem a bit old fashioned and frankly, it probably is.  But that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. Pitch is played by collecting points through taking tricks.  You can play with 2 to 6 players. The rules vary slightly depending on the number of players there are.  For a 4 player game, you play as 2 teams of 2.

Partners sit across from each other. Cards are dealt out to everyone and then you go around and bid to see who gets to name the suit.  Once a suit is determined hands are refilled and the play begins. You go around playing tricks until all cards in the named suit are played. If you took enough points to make your bid you get to count them.  If you went set then you have to subtract the points from your total.

This is a very basic description but hopefully gives you an idea of how the game works.  The hardest part is learning how to bid. It can be tricky figuring out what is safe to bid on and what’s not.  And even then, each person may be different in how they bid. My grandmother used to always say you could be 10 on an Ace-Duece.  I’m not quite that daring but it’s something we always joke about. We always play 10 point pitch.

Even though this is another of the great card games for families, it can be a little tougher to learn the bidding.  For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend it for young kids.

Recommended Ages: 8 and up.  Kids need to be able to comprehend and begin figuring out the bidding process.

Canasta

Canasta is next on my list of card games.  It is one of the top 10 card games because it is one of the easy card games to learn and very fun.  Canasta is played with 2 decks of cards combined. Then cards are dealt (the number depends on how many players there is).  Play then begins with the player to the left of the dealer. Players either draw a card or take the pile. The object is to make canastas which are at least 7 of one kind of card.  For instance, 7 kings would make a canasta or 4 kings and 3 wild cards. Once you have a canasta the goal is to either gain more points or get rid of all your cards and try to catch your opponents.  The first to 5000 points wins.

Canasta is another family favorite.  This along with pitch, bridge (yes I learned how to play bridge), Hand and Foot, and sequence were family card games my grandma taught me.  I remember every summer spending a week with her and we always played cards. We might invite my aunt over who lived next door or a friend of my grandma’s who lived in the same town.  However we did it, it was always a good time. Now my kids are learning and playing canasta with their grandparents and us.

Recommended Ages:  7 and up. This is because of the time factor.  Canasta takes a bit longer so you need a little more attention span with this one.  Otherwise its one of the easy card games to learn.

Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot is not the disease.  Ok, not funny, I know. It is similar to Canasta but has some differences.  You still try and make Canastas which are still 7 of a kind, but in this version, you have to have 4 of them: Two with wilds and two without.  Another big difference is you start with 2 hands. One you look at and play from right away. When it runs out you pick up the other, called your foot, and play it.  There are a few other rule differences but those are a couple.

This was a favorite of mine growing up.  I loved Hand and Foot. As I mentioned above this was one I played and learned with my grandma.  We didn’t play it often, but I wish we had. Now it’s time for me to pass it to my own kids.

Recommended Ages: 7 and up.  For the same reasons as Canasta

Gas Out  

Gas Out..well, what to say about this one.  It made the list of the top 10 card games because, despite the crudity of the game, it really is a fun one to play.  This is one of the those “play a card and push the thing in the middle game” until it goes off. Last man standing wins.  However, as you listen to the mounting pressure and try to guess when he might “pass gas” the game becomes quite amusing.  You can figure out when might be your best option for playing high numbers vs. low numbers but overall there is mostly chance involved in this one.  The gameplay also moves quickly so you can play a game or two in little time. These things make it an ideal family game.

Recommended Ages: Kids of all ages will like this one and should be able to play Gas Out.

Skip-Bo

Skip Bo is a great one of the card games for families.  It doesn’t use a standard deck, but a deck that contains the numbers 1-12 and skip bo cards.  The skip bo cards are wild. This is a great game cause it can be used to practice number skills.  The point is to get rid of your pile. Each person starts with a pile of cards. On their first turn, they draw their “hand”.  If they draw a 1 or skip bo they can start a pile in the middle of the table. The point is to play cards to get rid of the top card on your pile.  When you play the last card on your pile, you win.

My family enjoys skip-bo.  I loved that my youngest could practice number order as he played.  It’s a competitive game as you block your opponents and try to play your own cards.  It’s one of the great card games for families.

Recommended Ages:  Preschool and up. This may seem young and preschoolers will likely need help.  You may also have to shorten the game so they don’t lose interest, but it’s a great way to work on numbers with them.  

UNO

Uno, who doesn’t love a good game of Uno.  You probably don’t need a description of how this one works but just in case, here it is.  Uno is played by dealing hands to everyone. A card is turned up. Play begins with the person to the left of the dealer.  That person has to either play a card of the same color or same number that was turned up. The only other option would be to play a wild card.  The object is to get rid of all your cards first. But watch out, if you don’t yell Uno when you get down to one card left before your opponents do, you have to draw cards.  

This is my husbands favorite from the list of card games to play.  From the time we were dating he talked about loving Uno. So, of course, we got it.  Now my kids have come to love it too. When we want to mix things up we will pull it out and play a round.  And if you want to mix it up you can try any of the other versions of Uno: Uno Dare, Uno Attack, DOS, etc. No matter which deck you choose or whether you try one of the variations, you will love this classic.

Recommended Ages:  Preschool and up. Once again be ready to help your kids if you are playing with preschoolers, but even young kids should be able to begin learning and enjoying UNO.

Please note the recommended ages on this list may not match the manufacturers recommended ages. It’s my recommendations after playing these games with my own kids.

Other Family Games to Play At Home

Family game night ideas

I wanted to touch upon a couple of other family games to play at home.  Even though this is all about the best card games to play, playing other family games at home can be just as fun.  Board games are a great way to spend time together, especially when it’s cold outside. If you are needing some board game ideas, check out the post on the best board games.

But if you are looking for other family games to play at home that are a bit different than the classic board games and card games look no further.  Read the post on Family Game Night Ideas. It contains ideas for the top 3 board games, video games, sports games, outdoor games, and card games for families to play on family game night.  

Whatever you decide to play, the quality time with your family will be time well spent.

~Melissa

*This post contains affiliate links.  If you buy something through the link I will receive a small compensation at no additional charge to you which will help keep this site running. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Playing piano: The importance of music and playing piano

Playing Piano: The Importance of Music and Piano Lessons for Kids

Have you ever thought about learning an instrument?  Or maybe getting piano lessons for kids so they can begin playing piano.  If you have, awesome! If not, you should. There are so many benefits of playing piano that the importance of music can’t be denied.

The Importance of Music

The importance of music in everyone’s life is undeniable, whether you just like listening to your favorite artist or performing it yourself.  Music is a way to build bonds within your family and to reap many benefits for those performing it and listening to it. It’s a way to relax when your stressed.  You can expand your creativity and create an environment that isn’t available any other way.

Music is also vital in other creative works.  It is used in TV, movies, and drama productions.  Whether just for the credits and transitions or because the show is a musical, it’s an important part of the show.  Music is used in elevators and at sporting events. What would the national anthem be without music? A poem. Still meaningful but not the same.  So music is vital for our everyday lives just listening to it, but what about performing it? What are the benefits of playing piano?

Here are several benefits of playing piano…

Benefits of Playing Piano

Benefits of playing piano

It’s a Mood Lifter

One of the the benefits of playing piano is that it is a mood lifter.  If you are down in a slump you can sit down at the piano and it can change everything.  Envision taking on a dragon in a great adventure or being part of an animal carnival. Both are possible when you are playing piano or performing a piece of music. There is an experience you can have when playing music on any instrument.  It’s the ultimate mood lifter.

It Instills Responsibility

Playing piano or any instrument gives kids responsibility.  They will have to be good listeners to learn the notes and keys.  At home kids (or adults) will need to practice what they have learned if they want to get good at it and enjoy it.  There are books to keep track of as well. It’s not a lot but it will teach them to be responsible for a few things.

Learning Band Instruments is Easier

When kids learn how to play piano it makes learning to play an instrument later on easier.   This one was one of the biggest benefits of playing piano for me. I like playing piano but love playing the flute.  When I was old enough to start learning the flute I had already been playing piano for about 3 years. So I didn’t have to learn the music part, just how to play the instrument.  It helped me advance so much quicker than others who had to learn everything all at once.

So if your kids think they might want to play an instrument in band they should learn to play the piano first.  And besides, if your school district is anything like ours around here, 2 years of piano is required if kids want to learn to play the drums.

Studies Show Kids Involved in Music Perform Better Academically

There are studies out there that show kids perform better academically when they are involved in music. According to the National Association for Music Education (NAME), “After assigning 144 children to keyboard lessons, voice lessons, drama lessons, or no lessons, researchers found that children in the music groups exhibited greater increases on an IQ test than students in the drama lessons or those without lessons.”

Other studies show links between math improvement because of the numbers used in music. When you read music there is continuous counting and reasoning that has to happen. So music is not only a creative art but also a practical one too.

Improves Muscle Tone and Hand-Eye Coordination

Playing piano uses muscles that most people don’t use.  Yes, you use your fingers to type, write and more. But most people don’t press multiple fingers down at the same time or in different combinations.  It take strength to use your pinky and other fingers you don’t realize until you do it.

The other part of this is the hand-eye coordination.  Just like catching a ball, you have to be able to respond with your hands from what you see on the page.  It take a lot of hand-eye coordination to look at a page and get your fingers working in the right patterns.  So, learning to play the piano through piano lessons is a great way to improve even physically.

It builds a great family bond

One of the best benefits of playing the piano is the family connection it can build.  Music can bring you closer together in many ways. When I was a teen and learning the flute my dad played the piano to accompany me on duets.  It made playing an instrument that much more fun. It wasn’t tedious practice time, but quality time spent with my dad.

Now maybe you aren’t a piano player but you could learn.  Or you can connect by supporting your kids at music concerts, piano recitals, or just taking an interest in what they are doing. I’ve even seen entire families performing together.  Or maybe it will conjure up feelings of your youth. When you took piano lessons or played an instrument your kids wants to play in the school band. Whatever the case may be, it will build the family bond.

And if you want more ways to grow as a family I encourage you to implement family night one or more nights a week.  Here are some great ideas for family movie night or family game nights.

Disadvantages of Playing Piano

There are always disadvantages to things in life. How many times do we find ourselves pondering the good and the bad of a situation? As with anything, there are disadvantages of playing piano. But, if I’m going to be honest, this is a little more difficult task.  As there aren’t very many disadvantages of playing piano. But if I were to name a few, here they are and why they aren’t really all that big of a deal.

The Price of Lessons

The first of the disadvantages of playing piano is it does cost money to learn to play piano.  Playing piano, or any instrument for that matter, isn’t free. You will have to pay for lessons (and yes, I recommend you find a teacher, especially for kids).  You will also need to have an instrument to practice on. Now you can find good used pianos but you will still need to be ready to tune it if its an acoustic one.  Or invest in a decent electric keyboard. But is it worth the cost? Well, read the benefits and you decide if it is worth the price for piano lessons for kids.

Time Commitment

The only other of the disadvantages of playing piano is time.  Getting piano lessons for kids or adults alike takes a time commitment.  How much time depends on how much you want to get out of the lessons. You will have to be committed to your kids lesson time, being prompt and consistent.  But in between lessons you also have to practice or if it’s your kids taking piano lessons, encourage them to practice. You can’t learn to do anything without practicing, especially learn a new instrument.  You might be asking if you have time for one more thing? I would ask, do you have time to teach your kids something that will help them learn to relax in the future? Are you wanting them to improve academically?

So if the the benefits of playing piano outweigh the disadvantages of playing piano, keep reading…

The Best Way to Learn Piano

piano lessons

There are multiple options for piano lessons for kids and adults.  You can watch videos online of how to play the piano, teach your kids piano lessons from home yourself, or hire a piano teacher.  I would highly recommend hiring a piano teacher. This would be the best way to learn piano.

Now if you are a piano teacher or have a great deal of knowledge about playing piano and music you could give your kids piano lessons from home.  It wouldn’t be unreasonable, but it does come with challenges too. I give my kids piano lessons from home and love it but yet find it difficult in other ways too.  

If you aren’t versed in music and piano or even if you are and don’t want to give your kids piano lessons at home, find a good teacher.  There are many teachers out there. Some do online lessons (I have to admit I’m not as familiar with this method). Others do direct teaching.    There are teachers who have a studio where you can take your kids for their lessons. Some also are traveling teachers where they will come and give your kids piano lessons at home.  There’s advantages and disadvantages to both. You just need to do what is right for your family.

The Cost of Piano Lessons

You might be wondering what the cost of piano lessons really is.  This is another tough question but I wanted to address it as best as I could.  The reason it’s difficult is because prices vary depending on the area you live in and the qualifications of the teacher you hire.  Prices can range from $13 per 30 minute lesson in the midwest up to $30 per 30 minute lesson in more metropolitan areas. However, can vary within each city and region so be sure to check with your local teachers if you want a better idea of what piano lessons will cost.

Finding a Piano Teacher Near Me

There are a few ways of finding a piano teacher near me.  The first is google. Just go to the homepage and type in “finding a piano teacher near me”.  A list of local teachers and music stores may come up based on your zip code. You can then contact those that come up for more information.  

For instance, our local music store that sells instruments, books and such have a list of piano teachers in our town.  The list has their addresses and phone numbers so people looking for piano teachers can contact those near them or whomever they want to in town.

The Adventure Awaits

Whether you are a musician or not, the importance of music can’t be denied.  There are so many benefits of playing piano like a lifted mood and better academic performance.  

One of the things I value most is my ability to play instruments.  It’s a way of escaping and entering a whole new world. Letting the imagination grow.  

So let your kids go on the adventure by learning the piano and eventually another instrument if they want to.  The value is beyond one that I can put a number too. You won’t regret getting piano lessons for kids in your house and encouraging others to do so too.

Blessings

~Melissa

St. Patty's Day: Celebrate as a family

St. Patty’s Day: 10 Ways to Celebrate As a Family This Year

Have you been asking yourself when is St. Patrick’s Day? Or how should I celebrate St. Patty’s Day?  Or maybe you want to find a way to tie this traditional Irish Celebration into your next family night.  Because St. Patty’s Day is coming up, on March 17th. So here are 10 ways to make St. Patty’s Day a family day.

When is St. Patrick’s Day and why is it celebrated?

when is St. Patty's day. March 17 circled on calendar

The answer to when is St. Patrick’s Day is simple.  March 17th. It is celebrated around the world every year on that day.  But why do we celebrate it?

St. Patrick’s Day (also known as St. Patty’s Day) is a celebration of the life of Saint Patrick and his bringing Christianity to Ireland.  The Shamrock became a symbol of St. Patty’s day because St. Patrick was thought to have used it to illustrate the holy trinity to unbelievers in his time. (St. Patrick’s Day, Wikipedia)

Many people worldwide celebrate St. Patty’s day one way or another.  In the United States, it’s a common tradition for people to wear green that day or get pinched.  Although it’s not a national holiday, it might be on the list of school holidays for your family, or at the very least, something you may choose to celebrate personally.  And whether you are a Christian or not, it can be a lot of fun to do.

So now that you know the answer to when is St. Patrick’s Day and why it’s celebrated, let’s look at 10 ways to celebrate it with your family this year.

10 ways to celebrate St. Patty’s Day with your family

Make Key Lime Pie

homemade key lime pie
Homemade Key Lime Pie

I realize Key Lime Pies aren’t exactly Irish, they are more of a Southern dish.  But they sport the green color traditional of St. Patty’s Day and they are delicious.  This would make a wonderful dessert to add to your holiday traditions, and it gives the feel of a refreshing summertime dish which would be a treat as spring is approaching.  It’s also a great way to get kids in the kitchen learning how to cook and bake. This is one of my son’s favorite desserts. He loves eating them and making them right alongside me.  And if it’s not green enough for you just add a few drops of green food coloring. If you want to try a Key Lime Pie this St. Patty’s Day we use this recipe from Favorite Family Recipes.

Make green slime

Slime is all the rage right now.  Kids love it. And you can’t go anywhere without seeing slime making kits, videos on how to make slime, or even just kids talking about slime.  So why not take the plunge and make some slime with your kids? And add a few drops of green food coloring to turn it the right color for St. Patty’s Day.  Your kids will love it and love you for it. Just be careful they put it away when they are done playing with it.

Make and wear t-shirts

Another really fun thing to do this St. Patty’s Day is to make T-shirts with your family to wear.  You could do tie-dyed or even the sharpie tie-dyed shirts. Regular tie-dyed shirts can be a bit messy but they are a blast to make.  Doing the sharpie version is a bit less messy but just as fun. To make sharpie tie-dyed shirts you draw whatever pattern or design you want on the shirt with a sharpie or another permanent marker, you then spray the shirt with isopropyl alcohol.  I will make the color fan out and bleed, leaving you with a cool effect. Might I suggest a green clover?

Make a treat to take to school

This is one to get the kids involved and giving back a little bit.  Even though this isn’t one of the typical school holidays, there isn’t anything that says you can’t let your child celebrate with his/her class.  Make sure you know the rules for your child’s class, but if they can take treats of some kind, let them. And come up with it as a family. I like these rainbow leprechaun treats from Seeing Dandy.  But look through pinterest or come up with ideas yourself if you want. Just do it together and have fun with it.

Make a shamrock craft

shamrocks

St. Patty’s Day is all about shamrocks.  So make a shamrock craft together. It’s a great way to teach your kids about the origins of St. Patty’s Day or just get in the mood.  You could make a plant pressing if you live in an area where shamrocks are growing right now. You could print a picture of one and have your child glue green tissue paper inside it.  Remeber when you use to use the end of a wood pencil and wrap a small piece of tissue paper on it only to dip it into white glue and stick it to a piece of paper? That would be a fun and cute craft with your kids.  But the sky is the limit on this one.

Make a four leaf clover drawing

Similar to the shamrock is the four leaf clover.  So you could also make a four leaf clover drawing. The fourth leaf represents luck which is why they are considered lucky.  Learning to draw can be fun and a great way to bond with your family. Learn together how to make a four leaf clover drawing. And if your school is celebrating St. Patty’s Day as one of its school holidays maybe you could go and help teach the whole class learn to draw them.  Here is a great and simple site that shows how to make a four leaf clover drawing.

Make potato soup

The Irish are known for potatoes.  This one may not be a traditional Irish dish, but you could make a pot of potato soup.  Potato soup is a wonderful comfort food with the potatoes and creamy broth that they rest in.  There are many different recipes for potato soup. Some have bacon, others are simple with just potatoes, milk, butter and some seasonings.  However you like it will be sure to be a winner and will be a great way to celebrate St. Patty’s Day.

Make a coded bracelet or necklace

Another really cool and educational way you could celebrate St. Patty’s Day with your family is by making coded bracelets or necklaces.  This article by Cyntia L. tells how to make a binary code necklace. These are super cute and would be a really neat way to teach your kids some stem concepts.  Whether you do these for school holidays celebrations or for a family celebration, they will be a winner. For St. Patty’s day just use green for one of the 2 main colors.

Play Croquet or another family game

Person playing croquet

Croquet was a game I loved as a kid.  So introduce your kids to this one. According to Wikipedia, the origins of croquet may have been in Ireland.  So you could start a family tradition and play this every year to honor the Irish. Croquet is easy to learn and play.  You will need a croquet set and an outdoor area. To play, set the 2 stakes up and then put the hoops out, then you try and hit your balls through the course and back first.  This is obviously a simplified version of the rules, but it really doesn’t take much to learn. If the thought of playing outside doesn’t sound appealing or it’s too cold you can always play a board game.  For a list of my top 15 board games for family night check out this post.

Have an Irish Themed Family movie night

Whether you are from Ireland or not you can have fun with this one.  Round up your green pajamas and make foods related St. Patty’s Day like Ruben Sandwiches or Potato Skins.  But don’t forget the popcorn (or the Whirley Pop to cook it in). However you decide to decorate, or what foods you decide on, deck your place out in St. Patty’s Day decor and round up the snacks.  Then you just have to pick out a family movie. Find a traditional Irish movie, pick a favorite family movie out, or watch one of these family movies on Netflix.

Celebrate St. Patty’s Day Your Way

However you decide to celebrate St. Patty’s Day, make it fun for the whole family.  It’s about more than just drinking, it can be about making memories. So whether you are helping celebrate it with your kid’s school holidays or just as a family, there are lots of things you can do to make it memorable.  Life is short so spend it with those you love and who love you.

Your kids may not remember the day to day things, but they will remember the little celebrations you put on for them.  Whether that’s St. Patty’s Day parties, a family Valentine’s Day, or just weekly family nights, they will remember those times.

I remember the little family traditions at holidays that my family had like going to some friends every year when I was young for New Year’s Eve.  That year we had fondue and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. It was probably insignificant to the adults. Something they had grown up with. But for me it was magical. A night I’ve never forgotten. So the little things that may seem insignificant to you might mean the world to your kids.

Go get out the glue, paper, movies, games or whatever you enjoy doing with them and make a new memory with them.

What new memory will you make with your family this St. Patty’s Day?

~Melissa


*This post contains affiliate links.  If you buy something through the link I will receive a small compensation at no additional charge to you which will help keep this site running. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Family movies on Netflix

Family Movies on Netflix

Are you looking for another family night idea?  Do you want something that everyone will enjoy but doesn’t cost a lot of money?  Well, a family movie night is just the thing. Here is a list of some of the best family movies on Netflix and animated movies kids and adults will enjoy.

Make a Date: Family Movie Night

If you have spent any time on my site you will realize I’m all about family.  I love spending time with my husband and kids having family game nights or family movie nights.  It is a way to spend quality time together and show each other how we love one another. Value is found in time spent together.

If you want some ideas about family game nights feel free to visit my posts The 15 Best Board Games For Family Night and Family Game Night Ideas.  But if you would rather watch a movie, keep reading.

There are dozens of family movies on Netflix.  It’s a great place to start for family movie night.  So find a day that works and gather up everyone. You could have a designated day of the week or maybe just circle a day on the calendar.  Or if you’re like us take an entire weekend and watch the whole list. It’s gonna be too cold outside to do anything that way so movies it is.

So here is my list of family movies on Netflix followed by animated movies kids and adults will enjoy…

Family Movies on Netflix: Non-Animated

Currently, there are several good Family Movies on Netflix.  Many of those are animated movies kids will love. Others are more action-packed for mom and dad.  But either way you kind find great family movies on Netflix that both kids and adults will love!

So let’s start off with a list of the best non-animated family movies on Netflix.  Here are a few of my favorites. And the ages I think they are appropriate for.

  1. National Treasure, Ages 9 and up
  2. The Indian in the Cupboard, Ages 5 and up
  3. Secretariat, Ages 7 and up
  4. Apollo 13, Ages 10 and up
  5. The Masked Saint, Ages 10 and up
  6. Beauty and the Beast, Ages 7 and up (Update: This one has now left Netflix so unfortunately, you can’t see it there anymore. But if you want to check it out on blu-ray/DVD you can get it here.)
  7. 101 Dalmatians, Ages 7 and up
  8. Peter Rabbit, Ages 5 and up
  9. Woody Woodpecker, Ages 7 and up
  10. Scooby Doo 2, Ages 7 and up

Of all the non-animated movies on this list, my top recommendation for families with kids of all ages is Peter Rabbit.  Peter Rabbit is great and a favorite of ours. It is witty and entertaining. This is one we have watched several times as a family.

If you have older kids, I’d highly recommend National Treasure.  It is one of my all time favorite movies. I’m not a History buff but I love the Historical references and the gripping nature of the movie.  It isn’t violent by any means but has plenty of action. I wouldn’t let really young kids watch it though as there is plenty of action packed, intense scenes.  That being said, it’s well worth watching for family movie night if your kids are a bit older. And if they aren’t I’d prescreen it on adult date night before putting it on your family movie night list.

So there you have it.  My top 10 picks for family movies on Netflix right now.

Kids Choice: Animated Movies Kids Love

Hotel Transylvania 3 Movie Trailer

So now let’s look at the list of animated movies kids and the whole family will love that are on Netflix right now.

  1. Incredibles 2
  2. Despicable Me 3
  3. Coco
  4. Smurf’s: The Lost Village
  5. Cars 3
  6. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  7. Emoji Movie
  8. Hotel Transylvania 3
  9. Boss Baby
  10. Bolt
  11. The Star
  12. A Bee Movie
  13. Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs
  14. Lilo and Stitch
  15. An American Tail

There you have it.  There are plenty of animated movies kids will like or non-animated family movies on Netflix right now.    The hard part will be agreeing on which one to watch.

And it will be tough to pick sometimes.  But all these are very good movies. Recently when I was doing research for this post we watched Hotel Transylvania 3 as a family.  I didn’t know what to expect because we hadn’t seen any of the other Hotel Transylvania movies, but this one was great! It was funny and had a great plot so it entertained both my husband, my kids and myself.  

Now that you have the list of movies to pick from, you better get the snacks ready.  Let’s take a look at the best snacks for movie night.

Best Snacks for Movie Night

Best snacks for movie night

Who doesn’t like snacks on family movie night?  So while one person is picking and getting the family movies on Netflix ready, the others can be getting the snacks.  

We like to do a couple of different things when it comes to food and snacks for family movie night.  We will either do a meal or we will just do snacks. And sometimes both.

If you want to do a meal for family movie night, pizza works really well.  I will make homemade pizza or sometimes will just go out for pizza or make frozen ones.  Then we set them out, set up TV trays and start the family movies on Netflix. We’ve also done this with taco boxes.  You can do the meal with whatever you want, I just recommend you do something easy and towards finger foods.

Now, if you don’t want to do a full-on meal, or if you still want a snack while you watch family movies on Netflix, make popcorn.  This is one of the best snacks for movie night. Another one of the best snacks for movie night is Chex mix. You can either make homemade or buy it from the store.  And who doesn’t like candy and pop? But we don’t always do the latter. We do, however, generally make popcorn.

Popcorn Two Ways: Air Popped and Whirley Popped

We have two different ways we like doing popcorn.  One is with a Whirley pop and the other with the air popper.  

We love using a Whirley Pop because of the flavor it gives the popcorn and it delivers almost a theater-like quality.  You can use a butter oil, shortening or another high heat tolerant oil. We have fallen in love with using Grapeseed oil because it’s a healthier alternative to some of the others.  So even if you are trying to eat clean you can still enjoy this theater quality popcorn. It really is one of the best snacks for movie night. So if you don’t have a Whirley Pop, I’d highly recommend getting one and trying it out.

The second way we like to make popcorn is with an air popper.  These work really slick and uses no oil at all. The popcorn is popped entirely by hot air.  You do lose just a little of that theater feel with the popcorn but it still is delicious. And kids love watching the popcorn pop.

Regardless of which way you choose to make it, after its popped just put it in a bowl and pour some melted butter on top with a little salt.  So it just pop it, add a little butter and salt, and voila! One of the best snacks for movie night while watching all the family movies on Netflix.

Make Family Movie Night an Event

Make family movie night an event

One thing I really like to do is have fun with family night.  I don’t do this every time, but occasionally it is nice to change things up.  One way to do that is turn family movie night into an event like making a drive-in theater for your kids like Jadi did here on Homemaking Fun.

But if you don’t want to go for the full drive in effect you can just do the concession stand.  We have done that a few times and the kids really enjoy it. To make a family movie night concession stand just make or find some play money.  Give your kids a set amount of money to “buy” concessions with. Then set up a small table with your items.

Once they have their money and the “concession stand” is set up, all they have to do is visit and buy their goodies. Have a price for each item you are selling and make them give you money for the items.   Just like when you go to the movies.

We did this not too long ago when we had a family Valentine’s Day party.  I did chocolate covered strawberries, little chip bags, dill pickles, theater candy boxes, and some drinks to pick from.  They were given Mario bucks to buy their treats. Each item had a price and they had to spend their bucks to buy the goodies.  We did Mario bucks because we were having a family game night. But you could use anything really. Have fun with it and make it themed for a family movie night or family movies on Netflix.  

Make Tonight a Family Movie Night

So if you are contemplating having a family night go for it.  There are plenty of great family movies on Netflix. Whether you want animated movies kids of all ages can watch or something a little more mature, it’s out there.  

Give your kids and spouse the time they need and show them you care about them by devoting special time to just them.  And make sure you put your phones down during the movie. Nothing takes away from family movie night more than a nose in the phone.  Unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience on this one.

Let me know what your favorite family movies on Netflix are or what animated movies kids at your house recommend.  And what’s your family’s favorite snacks for movie night?

~Melissa

*This post contains affiliate links.  If you buy something through the link I will receive a small compensation at no additional charge to you which will help keep this site running. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Soccer: Lessons in the game and in life from a mother's perspective

Signing Up For Soccer: Lessons From A Mother’s Experiences

Soccer, also known as Football around the world, is growing in popularity. In the United States kids everyday are signing up with either AYSO soccer organizations or US Youth soccer clubs.  It’s a crazy life running kids from one soccer practice to another, traveling to games on the weekend, working kids soccer drills at home in the backyard, signing up for soccer lessons and summer camps.  The list goes on. But the many benefits outweigh the crazy life being a soccer mom can bring. So get ready to load up that “soccer mom car” and come along for the ride.

The Many Benefits of Soccer  

I didn’t know a lot about soccer until my oldest decided to play.  I never watched or followed it. Also, playing it wasn’t something I did as a kid nor was it popular at the time.  But now I love the sport and see that it has many benefits for youth and others who try it.

One of the benefits of playing soccer, taking soccer lessons, attending soccer camps, learning kids soccer drills, or whatever you decide to do is physical activity.  In today’s world, you commonly find youth planted behind some electronic device. So playing and running around is on the decline. But soccer is a sport that changes that.  It gets kids up and running, which is good for them physically and mentally.

Another benefit is learning the art of teamwork.  Kids inherently are self-absorbed. Yes, there are the exceptions and I’m not saying kids are bad.  But who doesn’t remember their toddlers fighting over toys and having to teach them to share? Soccer is a team sport.  As I’ve watched my kids play the game I’ve seen many talented youth players, but none can win the game by themselves. So kids learn how to play as a team.

Some other soccer lessons my kids have learned through the years (and benefits of the game) are different kids soccer drills to make them better players, how to lose and win graciously, and how to make a commitment to something and go after it. It’s also a great way to spend time as a family which is why it is part of my list of Family Game Night Ideas.

So how did this all start for my family and why do I continue turning my van into a “soccer mom car”, encouraging them to learn different kids soccer drills, having them take soccer lessons through camps, and letting them dream about becoming a star player?

The Start to Our Soccer Lives

Soccer: Lessons in the game and in life from a mother's perspective

My oldest who is our one that absolutely loves playing the game of soccer is a 5th grader.  Our crazy soccer lives began, in a sense, when she was going into Kindergarten. She had come to us and asked to sign up to play soccer with a local US Youth Soccer club.  That year we said “no”. She was only 5 and already was playing softball, starting school, in Girl Scouts, and going to church night. It was a lot for that age so we said no more.

Fast forward a year, she asked to try soccer again.  At that point, I began asking some questions. I inquired about why she wanted to play and her answer was, “Because I’m good, mom”.  I was skeptical but we agreed to sign her up for just the fall. Well, she was right. She was good. And the rest is history.

After that 1st fall, she was in love with the sport.  She has played both recreational ball and competitively ever since.  Now we are busy with soccer 12 months of the year with about 2 months off in the winter.  It’s crazy but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Soccer Gear That is Required by the AYSO Soccer and US Youth Soccer Organizations

Once we decided to sign up our kids up for soccer the fun began, as well as the craziness of buying soccer gear, going to practices, loading up my soccer mom car to head to games here and afar.  But let’s start with the required gear.

Whether your child chooses to play soccer with AYSO Soccer or US Youth Soccer there are a couple pieces of equipment that are necessary: A soccer ball and shin guards.

Soccer Balls

This might be the obvious one of the day.  In order to play, they must have a soccer ball.  To get better at soccer they need to have the ball at their feet on and off the field.  They can’t do this if they only have access to them at team practice and games. Also, speaking as a soccer coach (yes, my husband and I coached one year of soccer), it is necessary to run the many kids soccer drills out there. And if your kid decides to take soccer lessons of some sort they will need their own ball.  Soccer balls come in 3 main sizes depending on your child’s age. Microsoccer-U6 use size 3 balls, U8-U12 use size 4 balls, and U13 and up use size 5 balls.

Shin Guards

Shin Guards are a mandated piece of equipment by AYSO soccer, US Youth Soccer, and the International Soccer organizations.  Kids must have proper shin guards or they are not allowed to practice or play the game. Sizes will depend on your child’s size.  

Don’t take this one lightly.  As coaches, we had an issue with this one and I had to turn a kid away from a game.  I hated doing it and he was one of our better players, but he had shown up without shin guards so I couldn’t let him on the field.  So don’t forget the shin guards.

And if you are wondering why AYSO soccer and US Youth Soccer require kids to wear shin guards during practice, soccer lessons, kids soccer drills, games and anytime they are playing to prevent life-threatening injuries.  If a person gets kicked in the shins by a cleat it can cause a blood clot. And blood clots in the legs can be very dangerous.

Mom Recommended Soccer Gear

The two things I listed above, shin guards and balls, are a must in soccer.  However, there are several things I’d recommend you invest in if your child plans to play soccer.  So I wanted to share those with you from the soccer lessons I have learned over the past several years. Get ready to load that new soccer mom car with the gear to make games and outings enjoyable.

Soccer Socks

This one almost could have been listed above, but depending on your club rules and what shin guards you buy, you may be able to get by without these.  But they really are a necessity, even if you are not required to buy them. Soccer socks help keep shin guards in place. And if you have the shin guards that just slip into a sleeve or sock they are even more important.

Soccer Cleats

Another highly recommended item is soccer cleats. Cleats give your kids traction in the grass when they are running. Soccer requires a lot of quick changes and movement so having good footing is vital. Whether your kids are playing in a game, doing one of any number of kids soccer drills, taking soccer lessons, or practicing they will appreciate having a pair of cleats. One word of caution, don’t try and use softball, baseball or football cleats for soccer. They are not allowed unless you cut the toe cleat off.

Foldable Utility Wagon

You may be saying “my kid is only going to play rec ball, so why do I need a wagon?”  But, believe me, they are worth every penny. The first year my daughter played we didn’t have anything like this and every game we were lugging chairs, balls, water, blankets and more by hand.  Then we noticed others pulling wagons and we jumped and got one. It was one of the best pieces of equipment we bought.

Lawn Chairs/Bag Chairs

Most people already have some sort of lawn or bag chair, but if you don’t I’d recommend picking one out.  Most soccer complexes don’t have bleachers so this will give you a place to sit and watch your kid play.

Water Bottle or Jug

Another common sense item but my recommendation here is a little bit larger “water holder” than you are used to.  We would give our daughter the typical water bottles and it would only last her half a game. So we invested in a jug which has worked much better.  Just keep in mind they might be running hard for 30 or 40 minutes.

Cooler

If you decide to do a competitive team and your child makes the team, I would recommend you invest in a nice cooler.  You may find yourself out of town for games and tournaments and probably won’t want to eat out all meals. Plus some games fall right at lunch or dinner time so you will want to pack some healthy snacks.

Summer Gear

Soccer is played in almost every season.  You will want to be ready for hot, sunny days.  Pack the sunscreen, umbrellas for shade, bug spray, and sunglasses.

Winter Gear

On the flip side, you may find yourself watching a soccer game in the freezing cold.  The coldest games I’ve sat through was a tournament my daughter played in. It was like a whopping 10 degrees outside.  Now I’m not trying to scare anyone off. Soccer is a great sport, but round up some blanket, hot hands, hats, and gloves if you live in areas that get cold.

First Aid Kit

Not to sound negative, but I’d recommend having a basic first aid kit with you.  Every now and then I’ve seen kids fall and scrape knees or even roll an ankle when playing.  So having an ACE wrap, bandaids, and even an ice pack along just in case is a good idea. Soccer, like any sport, is not exempt from injuries.

So now that you know what gear to get to load up that soccer mom car, let’s talk a bit about the difference between recreational and competitive soccer.

Recreational or Competitive Soccer?  What’s The Right Choice of Teams

kids soccer drills and soccer lessons: Headers

When we first signed our daughter up to play soccer we signed up with a local club that only played recreational ball.  She played rec soccer only for the first 2 years, after that she also began playing competitive soccer. Both types of teams are all about developing the soccer player, which is key.  They both offer games, practices, practical soccer lessons, kids soccer drills, and team experiences. However, there are several differences between recreational soccer and competitive soccer.

Recreational Soccer

Whether you choose an AYSO soccer club or US Youth soccer club, rec soccer is meant strictly for fun.  Kids on recreational soccer teams should be allowed equal playing time, or as close to it as possible.  One thing to keep in mind, from a coaches perspective, is that it is extremely difficult to have it be 100% even in this sport.  Soccer is so fast paced with continual gameplay and substitutions that even the best coaches may have trouble keeping everyone on the field evenly.  Also, kids tire at different rates which may affect playing time.

If your child chooses to play Rec ball, they will still learn all the soccer lessons, kids soccer drills, and fundamentals taught in competitive ball. And they will be playing in games to keep it fun and interesting.

Rec soccer also stays more local usually.  Our club formed teams for each age division and we just played those teams.  We just had to load up the soccer mom car and travel to fields in our city, not a distant location.  This made it very handy.

Another aspect of Recreational soccer is the price point.  It generally costs less than competitive teams do, just in sign-up fees.

Competitive Soccer

Competitive soccer clubs are your traveling teams.  They still focus a huge amount of time developing youth into soccer players through kids soccer drills, soccer lessons, winter training, games, and tournaments.  

However, competitive teams are meant to be just that, competitive.  Kids are not necessarily guaranteed equal playing time. The best players may be on the field the whole game while those not quite as good may sit the bench most of the time.

Another difference is competitive soccer teams travel.  These teams usually travel to neighboring cities and even states to play games and tournaments.  You may find yourself loading up the “soccer mom car” every week to travel to a game. While it’s well worth it, expect to have more of your weekends and possibly weekdays taken up with the crazy mom soccer life.

Finally, finances are different between the two.  It generally costs substantially more to be on a competitive team.  Depending on the club you could pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for your kid to be on one of these teams.  So it doesn’t come cheap, but being on a more elite team with better players may challenge your son or daughter into becoming a better player themselves.

So whether you sign your kids up for recreational soccer or competitive soccer comes down a little to personal preference, finances, and your child’s skills.  Frankly, we’ve had great experiences on both.

The Battle of Positions

Soccer positions

When my daughter started playing soccer it was like a crash course of learning the sport myself.  Then after watching and learning for a couple years my husband and I coached a year of recreational ball.  So we gained the first-hand experience of teaching girls different postions through various soccer lessons and kids soccer drills, while seeing the disappointment when they didn’t get to play exactly where they wanted.  This included our own daughter too.

Now, mind you, they played hard no matter where we put them but you could tell what positions they liked to play most.  

On a soccer field, you will find forwards, midfielders, defenders, and a goalie.  Then there are different positions of each of those depending on the “area” of the field they should be covering.  

So what happens when your child doesn’t get to play the positions they really want to?  Do you go to the coach demanding they let your child play the position they want? Should you find a different club that will develop your child in the position they love?  No! You should find a club when they are young that will encourage them to try all the different positions on the field. The only one I’ve never asked someone to play without their willingness is goalie.  

Players are better and more rounded if they are good at all positions on the field.  What if your child wants to play in high school or college? They are a star forward but can’t play anything else.  Their school may already have enough forwards so your child wouldn’t have a team to play on without moving schools.

So don’t let your kids battle you on not getting to play where they want to.  Encourage them to embrace playing all the positions on the field. You never know what it could result in.

The Art of Winning and Losing

soccer team celebration

This is probably the most difficult of all soccer lessons, or any sport for that matter.  Teaching a person to win and lose graciously is difficult and takes time.

My own kids and I aren’t exempt from this.  For a competitive person losing isn’t easy. But at some point in life, everyone does.  It’s how you deal with the loss that matters. Will you get bitter, angry, and defeated?  Or will you rise up, learn from your mistakes, and keep trying? One way you will remain a loser and the other you may become a winner.

So for my own daughter losing is difficult.  She is very competitive like me. So when the game isn’t going in her team’s favor you can see it in her attitude.  That is something she is working on. I’m encouraging her to stay in the fight and not give up. To find the positives in her performance and learn from the negatives.

On the flip side, when she comes away with a win I want her to celebrate.  But it needs to be done in a respectful way. Smiles, pictures, hugs, those are all ok.  What I don’t want to see is her gloating or talking down about how good she is and that the other team or teammates just aren’t that good.  Because you never know what can happen in the next game. So teaching her to win and enjoy it, but not gloat is a big goal of my own.

The Lessons of Soccer      

By playing soccer, lessons in life are learned.  As I have talked about all through this article, kids gain valuable physical activity in our ever-increasing digital age, they learn to be a teammate, and they learn how to win and lose graciously.

According to Kimberlee Leonard, Founder of Single Mommy Tribe,
“Sports give kids a way to learn to compete, deal with success and disappointment. It also provides great role models through coaches and team leaders.”

It isn’t just about kicking a ball around the field.  Soccer’s about developing an athlete, and more importantly, a person.

So get out there and sign your kids up for an AYSO soccer club or US Youth Soccer club. Even if they don’t play professionally they will still reap many benefits from their time on the field.

~Melissa

*This post contains affiliate links.  If you buy something through the link I will receive a small compensation at no additional charge to you which will help keep this site running. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Selling girl scout cookies. Junior girl scout pulling wagon with cookies

Selling Girl Scout Cookies: A Leader’s and Girl’s Perspective

Girl Scout cookies are one thing Girl Scouts are known for.  It never ceases to amaze me when people see my daughter or her other troop mates in uniform, they ask if they have cookies.  Little do they know cookies are only available a few weeks out of the year unless a troop orders extras. So let me ask, what do you really know about Girl Scout cookies?  Samoas or Caramel Delites, Tagalongs or Peanut Butter Patties, Lemonades or Savannah Smiles, who doesn’t like a Girl Scout cookie. But did you know that selling Girl Scout cookies is teaching young girls how to set goals, run a business, and develop Girl Scout leadership skills?

Girl Scout Cookies: Samoas Season

Every year girls sell Girl Scout cookies.  Samoas, Lemonades, Thin Mints and others are sold by the thousands.  Girl Scouts sell cookies door to door, online, and at cookie booths. It’s not an easy task for girls or leaders alike.  Selling Girl Scout cookies, Samoas included, raises money for troop trips, meetings, badges and community service projects.

The Troop Leader’s Role in Cookie Sales

The troop leader’s role is varied during cookie sales.  It all depends on if they decide to fill dual roles during this season.  Because of selling Girl Scout cookies, Samoas and all the other varieties are sold by the dozens, and someone has to track all that for the troop.  That role falls on the troop cookie manager. Some troop leaders fill this role (I’m one of those) while others enlist a parent to do this.

Being a troop cookie manager takes time and effort.  They track all the cookies taken by the troop, submit weekly orders for girls, set up cookie booths, and manage money from cookie sales.  If it seems like a lot, it is. But it is completely worth it.

The other role of a troop leader in cookie season is what they always do.  Running the troop, planning meetings, organizing outings, and everything else required in the job description.  It really is a fun thing. Just keeps you hopping.

So if you want to be a jack of all trades and develop Girl Scout leadership while selling Girl Scout cookies Samoas, join the bandwagon of troop leaders.  It is one of the most worthwhile things I do. If you want more info on becoming a troop leader check out my post “Starting a Girl Scout Troop: The Benefits to Moms and Daughters“.

The Truth About Selling Girl Scout Cookies From a Troop Leader

So why is it every year girls go door to door or stand outside pedaling cookies?  It’s not for the joy of freezing their hiney’s off (if you live in a northern climate).  It’s to learn to run a business and fund troop activities.

Each year girls all over take part in cookie sales.  They are worth it but not easy. Think of your local businesses, how many competitors do they have in the local vicinity.  Maybe a ½ dozen. Now think about all the girl scouts in your town. Depending on the size of town you live in there may be a few dozen to a few thousand.  All with the same goal, selling a box of cookies and they only have about 5 weeks to do it.

So the odds are not in their favor.  People may come knocking at the door wanting cookies but more often than not they are working countless hours to sell a few boxes.  But it’s all worth it.

And here’s why…

Why Selling Girl Scout Cookies is Important

The best way for me to show you why it’s worth the effort girls put forth is if I tell you about what part of our cookie money funded last year.  As a troop every year I let the girls decide what fun thing they would like to do with some of the money they earn. My girls picked a trip to Great Wolf Lodge.

Now for anyone that has been to a Great Wolf Lodge knows they aren’t cheap but they are very fun.  So imagine taking a group of 10 girls plus 4 adults and the funds to cover the rooms, food, travel, and extras.  That’s exactly what we were doing. Many thought it couldn’t be done but I didn’t want to discourage the girls and tell them there was no way it would happen.  But it wasn’t an easy undertaking.

The girls worked hard through cookie season.  As a troop, we sold over 3000 boxes of cookies.  That funded about half of our trip. So we then worked hard to do a few extra fundraisers and last July I took 13 people for 2 nights, 3 days to Great Wolf Lodge.  It was a blast! But without the support of people buying cookies and spending on our other fundraisers, it wouldn’t have happened.

Why Not Just Have Girls Pay For the Trips Instead of Selling Cookies?

Great question.  But what many don’t realize is how many girls join girl scouts on financial aid.  These girls are no less important to a troop. But those families more than likely can’t afford hundreds of dollars for their daughter to go on a trip.  And as a troop leader, I won’t leave girls behind or make them feel awkward due to money. So if we are going as a troop then the troop pays or we agree on an affordable amount everyone pays and the troop pays the rest.

Money From Girl Scout Cookie Sales Provide More Than Just Fun Trips

Cookies provide more than just trips and fun things for girls.  Troops also pay for badges, meeting supplies, community service projects and more.  Selling Girl Scout cookies is how troops fund these things.

You may think this isn’t that big of a deal but let me put a little perspective on it.  In our area for me to buy one badge for one girl, it would take a girl selling 6 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies.  Now, I have a troop of 9 girls so take that times 9 plus we generally earn up to 10 badges a year. So if we earn 10 badge times 9 girls that’s 90 badges.  Which means we would have to sell at least 540 boxes of cookies to buy badges.

Now that doesn’t include trips, camping, meeting supplies, and the other things necessary to run a troop.  So hopefully you get the idea that it’s about more than just a box of cookies, but about providing experiences for girls that they may not be able to get any other way.

Selling Girl Scout Cookies Also Develops Girl Scout Leadership

Selling Girl Scout cookies is about more than the money.  Yes, the funds are a huge part of cookie sales, but the other thing girls are getting is the experience of running a business. They also learn how to set goals, interact with customers, count money, and be confident.  All these are part of the Girl Scout leadership experience.

As a Girl Scout, leadership is key.  Troops are supposed to be girl-led. Meaning they make the decisions, not the leaders.  Now this is age dependent. As girls age they take on more roles in Girl Scouts. Leadership develops and they begin running the troop more and more.  Cookies is one of those teaching tools.

These things generally don’t happen overnight, but in the four years I have been a troop leader, I have watched girls grow and gain confidence.  They have learned to be vocal at cookie booths and ask customers for gifts of sharing donations. The girls are becoming more independent and able to count change and track sales without much adult help.  As they have grown in Girl Scouts, leadership abilities within them has grown as well.

The one thing I see cookie sales doing is allowing girls to dream and providing them with a way to make those dreams happen.  

Selling Girl Scout Cookies: A Junior Girl Scout’s Perspective

So that you don’t just have to take my word about why cookie sales are important, I interviewed a junior Girl Scout who has been in Girl Scouts and selling cookies for the past 6 years now.  This is what she had to say about cookie sales.

“I have been selling Girl Scout cookies for the past 6 years.  I have learned a lot of things along the way. I’ve learned that it’s harder than it looks.  You have to get out there and try really hard if you want to reach your goals. But it’s completely worth the work.  I like to earn money for my troop so we can go on big, fun camping trips and also go places like Great Wolf Lodge. This year I’m hoping to sell 700 boxes of cookies and get 400 boxes donated to our local Humane Society and the military.  I’m selling Thin Mints, Caramel Delites, Shortbreads, Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, S’mores, Lemonades, and Thanks-A-Lots. If you’d like to support me or donate boxes of cookies feel free to visit my cookie shop. Thanks to all who support me and my troop!”

Junior Scout

I have led this young lady in Scouts for the past 4 cookie seasons.  Each year I have watched her grow and become more confident in how she approaches customers.  She had gained so much Girl Scout leadership experience it amazes me. She has learned how to set goals and go after them. In addition, she has learned to handle money and count it back to customers, track sales, and adjust as necessary.  And this isn’t exclusive to her, but what I see happen with all girls as they sell cookies year after year.

So, if you are ready for info on the cookie lineups and how to place a Girl Scout cookies order, read on…

The Girl Scout cookie flavors available

This all depends on the area you live in.  In the United States, there are two bakeries, LBB and ABC bakeries, who provides the nation with Girl Scout cookies. Samoas, for instance, are made by LBB bakeries while Caramel Delites are made by ABC Bakeries. In our area, we have ABC cookies. And yes, there are differences in names and flavors.

Below are the cookie flavors for ABC and LBB bakeries:

Thanks-A-Lots

girl scout cookie flavor thanks-a-lots
ABC Thanks-A-Lots

Thanks-A-Lots are sold exclusively by girls selling ABC bakeries girl scout cookie flavors.  It is a shortbread cookie with a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom. These make amazing dunking cookies if you like milk and cookies.  The cookie will soften within the milk while the chocolate keeps it’s crunch. Each cookie also has a thank you message written in various languages.  And if you are looking to make a campfire smores, stick a roasted marshmallow between two of these. They are hugely underestimated but a very good cookie.  

A Junior Scouts thoughts: “Used to be my favorite until S’mores came along.  Has a nice blend of chocolate and cookies.”

S’mores

The next cookie is the S’mores. The S’mores cookies were released just a couple of years ago.  This is one with a definite difference between bakeries. The LBB smores cookie has a cookie layer on the outside with a thin strip of chocolate and a thin strip of marshmallow on the inside.  This is the only LBB cookie I have tried to date and they weren’t bad, but I have to admit I prefer the ABC S’mores.

The ABC S’mores cookie has a graham cookie inside with a very thin layer of marshmallow around the cookie.  Then, the whole thing is dipped in chocolate. When we have been selling Girl Scout cookies we have found that people either love or hate the S’mores. Not a lot of gray area with this one.

A Junior Scouts thoughts:  “This is my favorite. It has that chocolatey graham cracker all in one with a hint of marshmallow.”

Lemonades and Savannah Smiles

Both bakeries have their own version of a lemon flavored cookie.  I have not had a chance to try the Savannah Smiles, but what I have read and heard others say is they are a tart crisp lemony cookie.  I can’t speak for how well-liked they are as my daughter and troop sells the other lemon cookie: Lemonades. ABC bakeries make Lemonades.  They are basically a shortbread cookie with a thin layer of sweet lemon flavor on the bottom. These are more sweet than sour with that little zip lemon brings.  My husband hates lemon desserts but likes Lemonades if that tells you anything.

A Junior Scouts thoughts: ” If you like sour Lemonades are very sweetish, sourish.”

Thin Mints

This is a classic cookie trademarked by Girl Scouts.  They have been around for a long time. Both bakeries make Thin Mints.  However, I have heard there is a slightly different flavor between the 2 bakeries. But regardless, it’s a true minty, melt in your mouth, classic.  And try them in the freezer!

A Junior Scouts thoughts:  “Really good.  Nice minty flavor in them.”

Caramel Delites/Samoas

Other varieties of Girl Scout cookies, Samoas and Caramel Delites, are very closely related.  They are cousins made by the 2 different bakeries with just subtle differences. The Caramel Delites are a crisp cookie made with caramel and coconut.  They have a chocolate drizzle on top and a layer of chocolate on the bottom. It’s counterpart, the Samoas, are made by LBB bakeries and they are very similar with just subtle differences in flavor.  Both are winners if you like coconut. Think Mounds Bar with this one. It’s my 7-year-olds favorite!

A Junior Scouts thoughts:  “You can taste the coconut and it has a nice bit of chocolate in it.”

Shortbreads/Trefoils

The Shortbreads and Trefoils are another classic cookie.  They are the traditional butter cookie that the very first girls selling Girl Scout cookies sold.  They are very simple yet delicious.

A Junior Scouts thoughts:  “A little bland. But still tastes like a cookie.”

Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs

The Peanut Butter Patties and Tagalongs are a cookie with peanut butter on it all dipped in chocolate.  So, if you like chocolate and peanut butter together you will probably like these. They give you the feel of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with a cookie crunch.  They are one of my favorites.

A Junior Scouts thoughts:  “Tastes a lot like Reese’s with a cookie in it.”

Peanut Butter Sandwiches/Dosidos

Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Dosidos are the last of the comparable cookies flavors between LBB and ABC bakeries.  These are a crunchy peanut butter cookie with a peanut butter filling. These are a great coffee pairing and a nice crunchy cookie.  As long as you like peanut butter.

A Junior Scouts thoughts:  “Another one of my favorites. Has a nice blend of peanut butter, salt, and cookie.”

And last is the gluten-free varieties…

Toffee-tastic

LBB TOFFEE-TASTIC

Toffee-tastic cookies are the gluten-free variety made by LBB bakeries.  They have been around for a few years. They are a butter cookie with little toffee bits inside of them.  

Caramel Chocolate Chip

ABC CARAMEL CHOCOLATE CHIP

This is a new gluten-free variety made by ABC bakeries.  They were just released this year so I can’t attest as to how popular they are.  They are a decent cookie but I have to admit I preferred the Trios cookies they replaced.  But if this is your only option due to gluten intolerance they aren’t a bad little cookie. They resemble a small crunchy chocolate chip cookie.

Girl Scout Cookie Season

So, are you hungry for a cookie yet?  If you are great! Well maybe. I say that because Girl Scout cookie season runs different all over the U.S.  For me to tell you the exact dates in your area would be impossible.

However, if you want to place Girl Scout cookie orders from a local scout you can visit the GSUSA website here.  Then enter your zip code. They will send you to your local council depending on your location. Your local council can then connect you with a scout in your area. You will then be able to get your Girl Scout cookies, Samoas, Caramel Delites, or whatever kind you like depending on the area you live in.  You can also place your Girl Scout Cookies order online.

Or, if you would like to try any of the ABC girl scout cookie flavors mentioned above feel free to visit the link in the interview above to support the Junior selling Girl Scout cookies. You won’t be able to get some of the Girl Scout cookies, Samoas included, but can get it’s close cousin the Caramel Delites (which really is basically a Samoa) or some new ones you may not have access to like the Lemonades and Thanks-A-Lots.

Ready, Set, Action!

Now you know why you see girls selling Girl Scout cookies.  They aren’t there to annoy you or break your diet. Get out there and support a Girl Scout, whether online or locally.  Place a Girl Scout cookies order today.

They all are learning the ins and outs of business while chasing a dream of some troop activity they have planned.  So go support the Girl Scout leadership program.

And if you don’t want cookies yourself, all you have to do is donate the price of a box and those “gifts of sharing” will go to an organization the girls have decided to support.  What are your favorite Girl Scout cookies? Samoas? Lemonades? Thin Mints? Share in the comments below!

~Melissa

Family Valentine's Day: Ideas for Starting a New Tradition

Family Valentine’s Day: Ideas for Starting New Traditions

Valentine’s Day is all about love.  Most people either don’t celebrate it or wait in long lines to buy flowers or go out to dinner.  But it can be more. It can be a teaching tool for our kids. Valentine’s Day can be used to show our family love, not just our spouses or boyfriends.  And if you are alone and don’t have a significant other, a family Valentine’s Day can keep meaning in the holiday. So how do you celebrate a family Valentine’s Day? Stay tuned and read on for a list of family Valentine’s Day ideas…

Valentine’s Day is more than just chocolate and roses

Box of Chocolates

How many of you get sucked into the materialism of Valentine’s Day?  Expensive flowers and chocolates. Jewelry. Romantic dinners at high-class restaurants.  

I have to admit these things are all nice but I have two questions if you are in a relationship whether married or dating.  Why do you wait only for Feb 14th every year? And what about those littles all that love created?

Now, I’m a huge proponent of date nights with your spouse or boyfriend.  Without that quality time together it’s hard to grow your relationship. But I will leave that for another post another day…

When I was little my parents would always get us a little gift for Valentine’s Day.  They never forgot they loved us and showed us that on a holiday designed for adults. Or is it?  Is Valentine’s Day just about adults? Or is it about love and showing those around us how much we love them?  

So what about starting some new Valentine’s day traditions.  Have a family Valentine’s Day. Here is how to plan a family Valentine’s Day and some Valentine’s Day ideas to get you going.

How to plan a family Valentine’s Day

How to plan a family Valentine's Day: Notebook and pen

If you want Valentine’s Day to be a different this year, by not being the status quo and celebrating the love you have for the whole family, start with these simple steps.

  1. Plan it out:  This can be done as a surprise or with the whole family.  Do what you think they would like best. If you are uncertain if they would rather play games or watch movies go ahead and ask.  But a surprise may be more romantic even if you are planning a family Valentine’s Day rather than just a night out with your spouse.
  2. Make it unique:  As you are putting your plans in motion you can still make it unique.  Set it apart from your other family nights some way.
  3. Prep your plan:  Once you have a plan get ready to implement it.  If you are having a special meal or restaurant night go buy groceries a day or two before your family Valentine’s Day.  If you are watching movies have them rounded up. Whatever the plan is, get it prepped.
  4. Go Time:  Now that you have a plan and you are prepped for it, it’s go time.  Put your plan in motion.
  5. Be flexible and Enjoy it:  Family Valentine’s Day is underway, so sit back and enjoy it.  Be flexible enough to tweak the plan. I mean, you’re a parent so you should know by now that flexibility is key to sanity.  If your kid really doesn’t want the dinner you made take a deep breath and make them a PB&J. Save this battle for another day. Move on with your plan.

Not sure what to plan for a romantically fun family Valentine’s Day? Keep reading for Valentine’s Day ideas…

Valentine’s Day Ideas for that special Family Valentine’s Day

Teddy bear with heart. Family Valentine's Day ideas
  1. Turn your home into a restaurant. Design menus you pass out to each member of the family and then cook what they “order”.  On your menu have drinks, appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts. You could even design a kid’s menu for the little ones.  For instance, maybe you have steak as an entree option for your spouse so you could put steak bites down for the little ones.  This makes it so you don’t have to do too many different things, just cut the steaks into bites. Get creative.
  2. Get a romantic pizza dinner or take-out.  OK. Maybe not romantic, Lol, but there isn’t anything wrong with planning for the whole family.  If you want to be part of a special dinner and not have to cook it get pizza or Chinese. Whatever your family likes.  I am all about eating healthy but if you choose this option, feel free to splurge a bit. You can eat healthy tomorrow.
  3. Plan a family game night.  I love family game night and if you have spent much time on my blog you may already realize that.  So if game night is a weekly activity at your house maybe get creative with it to make it a little different and more special for family Valentine’s Day.  Have a tournament game night on the Wii. Play a new family game that you have never tried before. Maybe you could buy a new game as a family Valentine’s Day gift.  Or if you usually play board games try a video game or card game. Just have fun with it. And if you need ideas for board games, visit my page, “The Best Board Games for Family Night”.  Or if you want a variety of game ideas, visit my post, “Family Game Night Ideas”.
  4. Go out.  No, I don’t mean to go out for a big fancy dinner.  But you could go do something fun that you don’t normally do.  Go bowling or mini golfing. Pick a movie everyone would like to see and go to the movie theaters.  If your kids are old enough, go try out an escape room. You could take them to the beach, a concert, or go-karting.  Just get out and spend some quality time for family Valentine’s Day.
  5. Family Movie Night.  My next Valentine’s Day idea is to pick a movie to watch.  This might be another thing you find yourself doing regularly with your family.  If it is, change things up a bit. Turn your home into a movie theater. Buy drinks, candy, and make popcorn.  Set up a concession stand your kids can “buy” concessions from. Before dinner give them a Valentine’s Day card with play money in it.  Tell them they can use that later. Then after dinner set up the concession stand. Let them buy their snacks. You could even set your living room or family room up with blankets and pillows so they can get comfy for the movie.  And if you want to go all out you can get them cute Valentine’s pj’s to change into prior to the movie. One of my favorite movies, The Greatest Showman, is good for the whole family.
  6. Get each other gifts.  This may seem a bit cliche and the opposite of what this post is about.  But this is a creative way to have fun with your family for your family Valentine’s Day.  Draw names from a hat and have everyone make or buy a gift. Set a spending limit. Say $5 to buy the perfect gift for that person.  Or have everyone make something. This way the kids can feel independent. They could make a card or a special picture for mom.  A candy bouquet for dad. Coupons for special favors for their siblings like cleaning their bedroom. This doesn’t have to be the traditional box of chocolates but it could be.  Get creative and include your kids in on the gift giving.
  7. Go for a walk or bike ride.  Not the most romantic of Valentine’s Day ideas but would make a great way to spend a family Valentine’s Day.  You could even include fido on this one. This is one where you would be doing your family a favor with a healthy activity.  If it seems too mundane for a family Valentine’s Day celebration jazz it up a bit. Go to a trail you don’t necessarily walk, bike, or hike and try it out.  Print off an outdoor scavenger hunt, grab a paper bag and have your kids find the items. If there are leaves or things that won’t hurt the environment put it in the bag for a craft later. Bringing me to my next Valentine’s Day idea…
  8. Have a craft night.  One thing kids love are crafts.  Get down and dirty and make slime with them, a papercraft, or do some artwork.  Slime is all the rage right now so most kids will love this activity, even tweens.  If you have never made slime it’s simple. Pour out a small bottle of glue into a bowl, add food coloring if desired, then add about a ½ tsp of baking soda.  After all that you add 1 tsp of contact solution or borax (I’ve always used contact solution containing boric acid). If the glue hasn’t turned to slime slowly add a little more but be careful.  If you add too much your slime will turn hard and won’t be fun to play with. And if you don’t want to buy everything separate just get a slime-making kit. Whatever the craft, have fun and let the mess happen.
  9. Stage a Photo Shoot.  Capture the memories of your family’s Valentine’s Day by taking family and candid pictures.  I love taking pics of my family. And my kids like taking pictures and videos. So break out the cameras and update your photo library or shoot a family video.  You will have the memories to last a lifetime and can have a hoot doing it too. Look nice for portraits but grab hats and costumes for the candids. It doesn’t have to be a serious endeavor.  Make it fun.
  10. Have a low key night…without electronics.  My last Valentine’s day idea for a family Valentine’s Day is to just have a low key night.  But make it a quality one. Don’t sit on the couch with your nose buried in your phone. Engage in meaningful conversation with your kids and spouse.  Unwind together. Cuddle and hold your kids. They need your touch and your presence. And guess what…so does your spouse.

But what about my spouse or boyfriend?

Valentine's Day couple

If you have stuck with me thus far you might be thinking, “but what about my spouse/boyfriend?  I thought Valentine’s Day was all about us.” And you’re correct to an extent. Valentine’s day is about the romance between two lovers.  And you need to keep that. It’s a vital aspect to a healthy family as I mentioned earlier.

That being said, who wants to battle the crowds at a restaurant on February 14th just to say you went on a date for Valentine’s Day?  I sure don’t. You should be going on dates much more often than every Valentine’s Day. I have to admit, my husband and I generally wait for a date a few days after the 14th or go before if we are going to celebrate it.

So I am not saying you can’t celebrate Valentine’s day and you are a horrible person if you do.  I have made candy bouquet’s and given my husband other gifts to show my affection. We have gone out to dinner, but we don’t do it just cause we have to.  We do it because we want to and we make more days through the year Valentine’s day by dating each other year round.

By all means, set aside some time for the two of you.  Get away, go on a date (but I’d recommend waiting for a few days or even a week to pass).  It is important.

But, you can also show your kids along with your husband that they matter by starting a new Valentine’s day tradition.  

The beginning of new Valentine’s Day traditions

Beginning new family Valentine's day traditions

A family Valentine’s Day would be the start of some new Valentine’s Day traditions.  Family time is very important to raising happy, healthy kids. Kids need to know they are valued by their parents and are worth our time.  One way to do that is showing them they are loved.

You can do some traditional dating (and I do recommend it) but you can also be unique this year.  I recommend you celebrate a family Valentine’s Day and romance your kids a bit too. You will be teaching them what a loving relationship is all about when they grow into adulthood.

What is your family Valentine’s Day plans or what Valentine’s Day traditions are you going to start this year? Please share them below and/or any Valentine’s Day ideas you have.

~Melissa


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