Posts Tagged ‘family’

Holiday Family Bingo!

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Happy Holidays! You’ve won the opportunity to spend another chunk of your precious vacation days with family members who make you want to pull your hair out. To help you survive the holidays without drinking yourself into liver failure, play this delightful game of BINGO instead. Because competition makes it fun, even if you’re only competing against the depression that sets in when you realize you cannot escape your family of origin.

Start by creating your 5×5 grid. Pick a FREE space. Then fill in the remaining spaces with the following in any order your please:

holiday family bingo

  • Your kid is fed something you said they couldn’t have.
  • Racist comment.
  • Political comment.
  • Sexist comment.
  • Homophobic comment.
  • Anti-Muslim rant.
  • Anti-Semitic comment.
  • “When I was your age…”
  • Unwanted comment on your appearance.
  • “The Gays.”
  • “All Lives Matter.”
  • Defending the merits of spanking.
  • “I never ____, and look how you turned out!”
  • Relative gets drunk.
  • Your kiddo breaks something.
  • Someone else’s kiddo breaks something.
  • Someone tries to give your kid alcohol.
  • White Elephant gets heated.
  • Someone complains about a gift they received.
  • Physical altercation.
  • Naked kid.
  • Someone wets the bed.
  • Smoke alarm goes off.
  • Dog humps something/someone.

A BINGO wins you a free pass to stress-eat, and a blackout wins you a mandatory phone call to your therapist to schedule an extra appointment when you return. Drink responsibly, and have fun playing the game that no one wins!

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Starting Your Own Holiday Traditions

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

starting your own holiday traditionsWith the holidays approaching, it’s time to think about all of the things I want to go do as a family. This year will be different, as we will have a newborn with us. Traditions are an important part of growing up. I want my children to remember happy traditions that our small family shared each year, as well as other traditions that our extended family celebrates and discovers together.

My husband grew up in a larger family, where he was the youngest of 4 children. He grew up out in the country on a farm where the holidays were full of homemade pumpkin pie and large family gatherings. My family was smaller and I grew up without siblings around, so my holidays were full of activities at church or whatever my grandparents thought was fun that year. I think it’s important to share the stories of your childhood with your children. My daughter is 4 and loves to hear about what we did when I was little.

Now that I have my own family, we have started some of our own holiday traditions.

Christmas Eve Reading
My husband likes to read “T’was the Night Before Christmas” to our children on Christmas Eve. He has an older copy of the book that is special to him and he loves to share it with our two toddlers. I also like to find new Christmas books to share with them. Last year, I enjoyed reading from the Bible with Johanna and sharing the Christmas story with her. Find a book or something that is meaningful to your family or faith tradition and share the gift of reading. Babies love to be read to, as well!

Lights and Pajamas
My husband is a big fan of decorating the outside of our house with as many lights as possible. Last year, we put the kids in their pajamas and went on a long ride looking for Christmas lights. It was fun to discover new houses we hadn’t seen yet in our area and also tour the ones we like the best. I am excited for this tradition this year, since we live in a new state and new area. Of course, our house is on the list of houses to stop by and check out.

Baking Cookies
My daughter loves to bake and eat cookies, no doubt about that. I am not a good baker or cook, so sometimes these are slice-and-bake cookies. I am hoping we can make more cookies this year and take some to our new neighbors to share the holiday spirit.

Visiting Santa
Over the past few years, we have gone to see Santa at a couple different places. Johanna loves to go see Santa and tell him what she is yearning for. This year, it is Shopkins. (Help me! These are a choking hazard to a baby.)

Christmas Movies
We recently purchased new character-themed popcorn bowls for our kids, and I can’t wait to curl up and watch a good Christmas movie and eat some popcorn in them. My kids love the traditional Christmas movies, and my husband and I love to watch some of the classics and of course, the Hallmark Channel movies.

Giving Back
This is a tradition I want to do more of as my children grow. Last year, we bought for two sisters who weren’t going to have much of a Christmas without help. I am hoping to teach Johanna and Levi about how fortunate we are and how we need to give and be a light to others at Christmas. The Salvation Army bell ringer was something that intrigued Johanna last year. I am hoping to adopt a family off of the Angel Tree this year.

So no matter what you do with your own little family, start some new traditions. Your kids will have fun and remember the time you spent together for years to come.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2, almost 3, in Arkansas where she hopes she sees some snow this year!

Cross-Country Holiday Trip Survival Kit

Friday, November 11th, 2016

holiday road trip survival kitWhether it was in a moment of insanity or bravery, you decided that visiting family this holiday season sounded like a good idea. And after looking at your budget or logistics, you came to the conclusion that driving there would be your best option. “Who wants the hassle of kids in an airport?” you tell yourself. “This way, we can fit all the gifts in the back of the car,” you reason.

Whatever you said to convince yourself this was a good idea, write those things down, and chant them under your breath repeatedly throughout the travelling process, because chances are good your sweet children may cause you to question your life choices at some point during the journey.

Here are some cheap ways to keep their spirits jolly and whole, which is proven to reduce the risk of threats to turn this car around right now, I mean it, as well as outbursts of Santa is watching, goddammit! Keep everyone off the naughty list by incorporating a few of these tricks:

  • Stick to what you know. Now is not the time to try something new. While you may have dreamed of having your children being fully entertained by an audiobook, now is not the time to go rogue. If your kids enjoy a steady repetition of Wreck-it Ralph, rot their brains away. And if/when your parents start to tell you about how “When you were kids, we didn’t have DVD players,” politely affirm their perfect parenting choices while you swallow another Xanax.
  • Raid the dollar store. Fill a gallon sized Ziploc bag for each child full of random trinkets from the dollar store, and hand them something random each hour of the trip. Don’t limit yourself to the standard toy selection: My kids went nuts when I handed them giant calculators. Avoid toys with a lot of pieces, as they will definitely fall down the cracks of the seats immediately, and your child will scream for 37 miles about it. Also avoid objects that could double as swords.
  • Bring snacks for bribing. For every hour they go without fighting, they get a lollipop. While the kids may have a strict no-sweets policy at home, car trips are an appropriate time to deviate from the diet plan. Chocolate protein bars make good bribes as well, and have the bonus of decreasing the opportunities for low-blood-sugar-murderous-rampage.
  • Plan pit stops ahead of time. It’s worth stopping for lunch a little earlier when you see the restaurant with the play-place built in. Anticipate getting to your destination a little later to make time for getting the wiggles out. Exercise your kids ahead of time so you don’t have to exorcise your kids later.
  • If it is about an eight-hour drive, consider taking it at night. Never drive fatigued, but if you can work it out, take advantage of visiting family by driving while the kids sleep, and then getting your sleep in while doting relatives entertain the babes.
  • Take a stretch riding with the kids. If there’s a spare seat in the back, sit with the kiddos. Talk to them about their toys, what they’re excited about with seeing family, and tell them stories about holidays you had when you were young.

Regardless of your strategy, make sure that everyone’s safety comes first, and everyone’s sanity is a close second. Taking the extra care beforehand to increase the potential for comfort and happiness is worth it. Happy travels!

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Meal Planning 101

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

meal planning 101We all plan meals, whether monthly or mere minutes before they hit the table. Purposeful meal planning is all the rage in circles of moms trying to find the time to get it all done while on a budget.

At first, planning meals may feel burdensome, like one more thing to do in your already busy day. The fact is you are already planning meals, but doing so in advance can save you money and time, as well as help you to be more thoughtful about what you want your family to consume overall.

First, take note of what you are already eating. It’s happening whether the meals are planned or not. Try to recall the meals of the last week (or write down your meals for several weeks to get an idea). Assess what you like about your dinners and what changes you’d like to see over time. Perhaps you’d like to add more veggies, eat less take-out, eat fewer fried foods, or just add more variety.

Next, consider what you already have on hand. Planning meals requires buying ahead of time the particular ingredients of each meal, but you also need the basics always in stock at home. This can vary for each family but sugar, flour, basic spices, olive oil, vinegar, beans, tomatoes, pasta, rice, and so on based on your inclinations. You can also prepare your kitchen by having a no-buy week, weeks, or month. This is great incentive to save a few bucks to stock your kitchen with basics for the future.

With all of these things in mind grab a pen. On a calendar (whether fancy or just a sheet of paper with days jotted down) write out a meal plan for one or two weeks. You can also plan breakfasts and lunches. I don’t write these down in advance but rather have about 10 go-to meals that I keep fairly in stock, based on sales.

When I don’t plan meals I can feel frazzled by 5 PM. In reality the dinner hurdle is not as bad as I think. I plan about five meals knowing that we will have one or two leftover nights and possibly a pizza take-out night (or something similar). We also have a night where we eat dinner at the church. Suddenly my week only needs 4 meals to make it through. I also now include a night or two per month where I take random things in my pantry and make magic happen. This helps to keep my pantry and fridge tidy.

Running short on ideas? Pinterest and Google are your best friends. If there is a brand you like (of a condiment or other staple, like Annie’s Organic), roam their boards. Gather ideas and brainstorm. You can also search recipes by main ingredients (vegetable casserole) or ethnic variety (Italian). If you use a crockpot or pressure cooker you can find a treasure trove of appliance-specific meals. Some moms do freezer meals and fix everything at once so they only have to cook one weekend a month!

Ask friends for their favorite recipes and, most important, ask your family for some of their favorites or requests! To keep track create your own Pinterest board with links to recipes, bookmark recipes, write them down, or print them out into a binder. No matter how keep your recipes, if you use Pinterest for specific types of meals regularly, it will start finding them for you—even easier!

If budget matters to you plan your meals by what’s on sale. You may be able to look online at your local grocer’s website or by circulars/mailers that arrive to your home or that can be picked up at the front of the store. Incorporate coupons as you see fit. When you have space, buy sale products for more than just the one meal (in other words in bulk, based on how much space you have at home). Also plan meals that use similar ingredients. Perhaps you only need one cup of mushrooms for Monday night but you can save money by buying the large pack, so plan a meal that uses them again by Wednesday.

Plan for the week and make a list of the ingredients you’ll need to make that happen. By going to the store only one or two times a week I don’t fight traffic or dwell the aisles of the store as often, saving significant time and money (because all time and money is significant these days!). In the beginning you may find planning rather intensive. Take small steps. Don’t try to overhaul everything from the beginning. Start with what is comfortable and incorporate any changes slowly.

At the end of each week, assess what worked well and what didn’t. Keep a list of favorites so you can incorporate them into your rotation. Make a list of any pantry staples you need to replenish so you can purchase them during the next week’s shopping trip.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Hiking with Kids

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

img_7455One of our family’s favorite activities is hiking. When we decided where to locate pre-kids, we decided on Denver since there are so many places to hike in Colorado.  In the summer of 2012, we planned one last backpacking trip before we started to try to have kids.  We saw a family hiking up the trail in the opposite direction on our last day.  Trailing far behind the rest of the family was the miserable looking father, carrying a child, plus what looked like gear and water for the others.  I jokingly said to my husband, “That’s going to be you soon!” once they had passed. We had a good laugh, but we had a lot to learn about hiking with kids. The following tips to make certain no one looks as miserable as that poor father did.

  1. Research and try on a kid carrier before purchasing one. Be prepared to spend some money.  Your hips, shoulders, rest of your body will thank you. While our kids were still little, I carried them using my soft-structured carrier. Some people still use their woven wraps to carry big kids. When they were about 10 months, though, we purchased hiking carriers. Just like a good hiking backpack, make sure you find one that will allow you to adjust the load between your hips and shoulders.

  2. Make sure your kids stay hydrated. Even living in Denver, when we go up to the mountains, the elevation affects us. If we’re feeling the elevation, the kids are too. We encourage Lily to drink water often. To prepare Juniper for the hike, I would nurse her in the car before starting, on any breaks we took, and once we were finished hiking. I didn’t use a nursing cover with my girls, so I made sure to wear a nursing tank under my hiking shirt. Now that Juniper is a year old, we bring her water too. We also bring an extra liter of water on top of what we normally bring to ensure the whole family is properly hydrated. On longer hikes, as an extra precaution, we bring our water pump.  (We split the load.)

  3. Minimize travel time. Gone are the days of waking up at 5:30, driving the two hours to Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking, then driving the two hours back home. We have found many hikes closer to home, within forty-five minutes of our house. Although the views are slightly less spectacular, everyone is much happier with the decreased travel time.

  4. Related to #3, plan your hike length appropriately. Even with frequent breaks and allowing Lily to hike on her own, our kids have about an hour and a half tolerance for hiking. Lily no longer naps, but when she did, we would try to plan to hike during naps so we could go on longer hikes. Be prepared to move slowly if you have a little one hiking on their own. Lily loves finding pine cones, sticks, rocks, and other treasures.  All the exploring greatly decreases the pace we move at.

  5. Expand your first-aid kit. When it was just the two of us, a first aid kit that only included limited bandaids, antibiotic cream, an ace bandage, and ibuprofen was sufficient. We’ve added Children’s Benadryl, extra sunscreen, emergency rain ponchos, additional bandaids, alcohol wipes, and tweezers. In addition to our expanded first aid kit, we also make sure we have a change of clothes for the girls and diapers for the baby.

Although hiking with kids is a little different that hiking pre-kids, it can be just as much fun (if not more).  Now it is not just a hobby that my husband and I share, it a favorite activity of the whole family.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.