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Diaper Bag Essentials For Every New Mom

Perhaps the most overwhelming moment in any new moms life after baby arrives is that first trip out of the house. Whether she is heading to the doctor’s office, the grocery store, or even out to lunch for the first time, she’ll need to know how to pack a diaper bag. For those moms who like to be overly-prepared, there might be a temptation to pack too many baby items, making the diaper bag heavy and cumbersome. Other moms may not bring enough supplies.

This guide will help new moms pack just the right amount of essentials for a successful outing with baby!

Clean Baby Clothes

Between diaper explosions, spit ups, and drool attacks, babies go through many outfits in any given day. Make sure to pack some basic baby essentials like bodysuits, knit pants, or pajamas (if heading out in the evening) in case one of those unexpected moments happen and baby needs a full outfit change. Check which outfits you have in your bag before each outing to make sure they are the right size and that they coordinate. Purchasing mix and match items together will help keep baby from clashing.

Extra socks are always a good idea to have in the diaper bag…especially when baby is old enough to grab them off their feet! Have a couple of knit hats packed in the bag as well in case baby gets cold.

Pro tip: All well-stocked diaper bags include a few bibs and burp cloths!

Head-to-toe newborn and baby clothing bundles sets to pack in your diaper bag

Baby Blankets

Carry two swaddle blankets in your diaper bag. One can be used to put in between baby and any potentially dirty surfaces for playing or for diaper changes. The other should be kept clean. The clean blanket can be used to cover baby in case of bad weather or shield from the glaring sun, especially if baby falls asleep. A clean blanket will also come in handy if baby needs to nurse on the go, and you prefer to use a cover.

Diapers & Wipes

New babies soil their diapers… A LOT. Make sure to pack several disposable (or cloth) diapers and a large pack of wipes.

Pro tip: Wipes are also good for wiping down public changing tables and high chairs.

Toss a couple of waterproof bags in the diaper bag as well; you’ll use these for dirty diapers and any soiled clothing. If you use cloth diapers, make sure to have some extra liners and covers, as well as your wet bag for bringing home the dirty diapers.

Other Supplies

Other miscellaneous items to pack in a diaper bag include pacifiers, formula, fresh water, and bottles if baby is formula fed. When baby is old enough, some small snacks such as cereal or teething biscuits are essentials! For toddlers, a first aid kit with bandages and antibiotic ointment is also a good idea in case of minor scrapes.

While this list seems overwhelming, remember that most of these items are very small and take up little room. Having your diaper bag packed and ready before heading out of the house means you won’t be caught off guard by anything unexpected. With a little planning, an outing with baby will be an enjoyable and stress-free experience!

February 12, 2019
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From the Teachers Desk: Keep Kids Focused When The Excitement Fades

You and the kids have made it–you’re halfway through the school year! Making it to that milestone is a big deal, but it’s tough to keep the momentum and excitement going until the end of the year. Your lunches have gone from heart-shaped sandwiches and fruit on toothpicks to frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bags of chips. Those children who were lovingly opening their new binders to share the work they did, can’t find a thing in their disorganized backpacks.

Sound familiar?

If so, it’s time to shape things up and help everyone learn what organization and stamina can offer. Here are a few key tips to help the whole family get back on track and stay motivated about the rest of the year.

Plan For Seasonal Clothing

Kids seem to grow overnight and constantly need outfit refreshes, don’t they? This is a perfect time to go through their clothing and pack up items that don’t work for the season or don’t fit anymore.

Am I the only person who always forgets to buy snow pants and boots until it’s already freezing?! Get ahead of what you need by marking down what you already have and thinking about what you needed at this time last year.

Pro tip: Keep a hamper in the laundry room for donations. When it gets full, drop off the clothes to a consignment shop or thrift store.

Refresh Backpacks

Together with your child, take every single thing out of their backpack. Sort through the papers and put back any that are still needed. After making sure all items have your child’s name on them, set the binders and books to the side. Wash the backpack and hang it to dry. You won’t believe how much newer it will look! Then, reload it with books, binders, and new, sharpened pencils. Creating outer order can boost your child’s (and your!) inner calm.

Pro tip: Instead of throwing out other papers, put them some place until the end of the year…if it turns out a paper is necessary, you’ll still have it!

Post A Family Calendar

One universal calendar for the whole family is a great modeling tool for staying organized.

  1. Find a wall calendar (or make your calendar plus “to-do” lists) that brings you joy.
  2. Hang it in a well-traveled place, like your kitchen. Choose one color for every person in your house.
  3. Write down vacations, early dismissals, dentist appointments, and anything else you already know.
  4. Share the new calendar with your family and let them know they can add things on their own.

Pro tip: Add some countdowns to birthdays, summer vacation, or anything special coming up.

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Make Weekly Visits To The Library

Kids’ reading skills and tastes change significantly in the first few months of school. This is a good time to check in with them to see what they are reading in school now and what they’d like to be reading. Making a weekly visit to the library for a reading taste test supports reading for enjoyment and academics. Talk to local librarians about what’s popular now. Let them know why you’re there. Offering recommendations is what they do best. Let your kids bring home 10-20 books to try out at home. Best part: it’s free!

Pro tip: When your child shows an interest in a particular author or book, call the library to get the books ASAP. The faster your child gets the book, the more likely it will be read.

Stick To A Routine

Your schedule may change throughout the year. Kids do different activities each season or sign up for new classes after school. We know that children who have predictable schedules do better, so find ways to stick to your schedule whenever possible. For example, if you plan to be on the road at dinnertime, pack something easy to transport so their blood sugar is regular. This can help avoid behavior problems. Try to adhere to regular meals and bedtimes. If your child is behaving poorly, remind yourself to stop and reassess how to right the ship.

Pro tip: H.A.L.T. is a great acronym to remember. Ask yourself if your challenging child is hungry, angry, lonely, or tired and solve that need before getting mad at the behavior.

It’s important to keep your goals in perspective: Your child may not be a star student or a top athlete, but growth and consistency are always possible. Make sure to focus on the effort they put in and the commitment they show instead of the outcome. If you expect perfection, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

Choose happiness over perfection to stay strong all year long!

Kimberley Moran is the mom of two children and the step-mom to two young adults. She is a senior digital editor at WeAreTeachers.com where she helps teachers improve the lives of kids everywhere. She was a teacher for 15 years, working to make sure children were both seen and heard. She wrote the book, Hacking Parenthood: Ten Mantras You Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting, to help all parents simplify their lives and love raising children. She lives in Maine with her family.

February 6, 2019
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D.I.Y. Valentine’s Day Cards & Homemade Treats For Kids To Give Out In Class

Tired of store-bought Valentine’s Day cards? Looking for a simple and creative project that you can do together? Want your child to give out the most talked about Valentine’s gifts in the class? We’ve got you covered with cards and treats!

HEARTS OF EVERY SHAPE AND SIZE

First, the good news: Even the creatively-challenged can make great Valentine’s cards. We promise! Your kids can draw, paint, cut and paste, make stamps, or combine any of these to create custom-made cards. And remember, hearts can come in any color, so let your kids choose their favorite colors of paper, crayons, markers, or paint – there’s no need to limit their creativity to just red or pink.

Construction paper is the go-to when it comes to cutting out hearts. For a creative twist, use paper with various patterns/designs or have your child design their own with markers or watercolors on plain white paper. Make sure to cut various sizes and use the larger ones as the card. If the card is a dark color or has a busy design, select a lightly colored heart to glue into the writing space. On the rest of the card, give your child the creative freedom to glue small hearts or draw wherever they’d like.

MAKE YOUR OWN STAMPS

DIY heart stamps are a fun addition to homemade cards, and you can make them with empty toilet paper rolls, clean sponges, or wine corks. You can make a variety of hearts (one for each color of paint) by shaping toilet paper rolls into hearts. Depending on your child’s age and ability, they may be able to help make hearts out of sponges — remember to draw a heart on the sponge before cutting to avoid mistakes. For wine corks, this is an adult task as it involves an X-ACTO knife. First, draw the heart on the top (clean) side of the cork and then carve out the excess cork around the heart, removing a thin layer so the heart sticks out. To use your stamps, pour small amounts of paint into bowls, lightly dip your stamp in the paint, and press it firmly on the paper.

FOR KIDS WHO DON’T WANT TO MAKE HEARTS

If your child isn’t into hearts, especially when it comes to making cards for the opposite gender, tracing their hand onto construction or patterned paper is a great alternative. Fold fingers into a peace sign or the “I love you” sign and let their creativity flow as they create messages that correspond with the sign. You can make stamps with stars, X’s and O’s, or other shapes out of toilet paper rolls, sponges, and wine corks, using the instructions offered above.

ADD A CHOCOLATE-DIPPED TREAT

For a sweet treat to pair with the cards, have a little fun dipping snacks in chocolate! We recommend using melting chocolate in your favorite flavor(s) as regular chocolate is more difficult to melt.

  1. Before you begin melting, add a very small amount of vegetable oil (approximately one teaspoon per one cup of chocolate) to prevent the melted chocolate from hardening before you’ve finished dipping.
  2. Then, melt the chocolate in either a double boiler or the microwave set at 50 percent, stirring frequently. (If using a microwave, check at least every 30 seconds to make sure you do not overcook the chocolate.)
  3. Once your chocolate has fully melted, dip your food into the chocolate, sprinkle on your topping, and set it on wax paper to cool and harden.

Anything goes when it comes to snacks for dipping and toppings for decoration. Chocolate-covered strawberries are always a crowd favorite, and kids will also enjoy chocolate-covered marshmallows on a stick. If your child loves the combination of sweet and salty, dip pretzels or popcorn into chocolate. Baked or store-bought cookies (especially those that are heart-shaped) are also delicious when dipped in chocolate. When it comes to toppings, try crushed candy canes, any sort of sprinkles, or simply drizzle another color of melted chocolate on top.

P.S. – Don’t worry about perfection. Homemade cards and treats are always extra special.

January 29, 2019
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What Do The Stars Say: February 2019 Horoscopes For Kids

AQUARIUS (January 21-February 19)
Don’t be surprised, Mom, if your school-aged water-bearers are already busy forming their own, supportive “communities.” February is, for most little Aquarians, their favorite time of the year; it’s their birthday and their month to shine brightest. With the planet of love, aka Venus, entering Aquarius on the 2nd of February, take a moment to appreciate your kiddo’s singular way of seeing the world. These kids enjoy bettering the quality of everyone else’s lives — it’s one of their innate talents. This month, take some time to get them to focus on their own dreams and wishes. What makes them happy? This will help those little communities you see them building now, grow into something special that can be beneficial for everyone involved.
PISCES (February 20-March 19)
The beginning of this month brings with it a retrograde cycle, thanks to Jupiter’s visit in Pisces on the first of February. Your little fish may feel like retreating a bit from the world, but don’t worry, Mom, they’ll be right as rain once the Sun returns to Pisces on the 18th. There’s lots of planetary activity this month, with the communication planet, Mercury, paying a visit on the 16th, and Venus, the love planet, swinging past on the 26th, which means that your already intuitive kiddo’s sensitivity to how others feel will be heightened. Be there, Mom, to remind your child that it’s OK to feel how others feel, but it’s not on them to try and change it. This month’s mantra: Let it go – it’s healthy to do that and still be a good friend.

ARIES (March 20-April 19)
Hold on to your hat this February, Mom! Your fiery little ram has some big ideas they want to implement, and they’ve got both Mars, their ruling planet, as well as success-driven Capricorn behind them to ensure it pretty much goes down the way they’re thinking. We know, these kiddos are usually pretty “go with the flow” when it comes to planning, but this month, that’s all about to get a snow globe-like shake. Taking time to break down the “plan” for success is on the agenda, step-by-step, with a good dose of Capricorn determination and Aries conviction. This month, your little ram will be virtually unstoppable in a good way. Hang on for the ride!

TAURUS (April 20-May 21)
You know better than anyone, Mom, that your little Ox does not enjoy big (or often little) changes. It upsets their sense of stability and they may fight it, even when they know it’s better for them to take a new path. This month, with your gentle guidance, you’ll show them that it’s time to try something different, and yeah, something new that pretty much equals change. Here’s the upside: once you sell it to them, they’ll be fully on board, and with your support, they’ll take to this new routine like nobody’s business. Bonus: the New Moon in Aquarius is hanging out in your kiddo’s 10th house, which triggers this change and their acceptance of it. It’s go time.

GEMINI (May 22-June 21)
Has your little twin been a little off with family or friends this month, Mom? Have there been a few more disagreements than usual, or has your little one complained of someone not treating them right? This month, it’s time to literally clear the air with your little twin and vice versa. Mars, the planet of action, moves into the relationship area of your kiddo’s chart, and Virgo’s Full Moon moves into the house of family and home on the 23rd. By the end of the month, both your little twin (and you) will gain more clarity into what it will take to reconnect with those they have felt a bit “offish” toward. Give them a little push toward accepting (and giving) love and be supportive at this time. Once this hurdle is surpassed, you’ll all feel so much better!

CANCER (June 22-July 22)
Mars is making its way through various signs this month, including Cancer’s 7th house (aka the “relationship” aspect of this sign) around the 6th of February. Here’s what this means to your sensitive little crab, Mom: Mars is the planet of action, so expect your kiddo to start asking for what they really want this month, especially when it comes to family and friends. You already know your child isn’t prone to confrontation — that just makes them want to retreat into their shells and hide away. But with the added sense of security they feel from you, Mom, and Mars, they’ll be more assertive and empowered to stand up for themselves right around now. And believe us, this is a BIG deal for your child. Hang back and let them do their thing, always trusting that they know you’ve got their back.

LEO (July 23-August 22)
There’s a running theme this month for most signs, Mom, and right now, it’s all about relationships. Your little cubs are no exception. The sun, this sign’s guardian angel of sorts, moves into Pisces on the 18th, focusing its energies in Leo’s chart with others on deeply emotional, psychological, and even spiritual levels. If you find your kiddo is more straight-shooting and direct than usual, this is why. They’re asking for what they want/need and hoping those closest to them will help them along this path. You’ve both got this!

VIRGO (August 23-September 22)
You already know your little Virgo is prone to a wee bit of over-analyzing, right, Mom? Around the 26th of February, that tendency gets a little shake-up with the help of Venus, the planet of love, moving through Pisces, Virgo’s relationship area. Pisces is the opposite sign of Virgo, so where Virgo tends to over-think things to an almost infinitesimal degree, Pisces listens to their gut and goes on faith that all will work out. So if you see your kiddo going for it, without the usual hours of inner and outer debate, pay attention to what they’re doing and why. It might be a great lesson in learning to embrace their instincts and accept that, sometimes, going with the flow is really not a bad thing at all!

LIBRA (September 23-October 22)
This is a good time to level set for your little Libra, Mom, as Aquarius, that singularly unique sign, moves through Libra on the 2nd of February. Expect all of your kiddo’s more zany pals to get in on the fun; your kid loves to challenge convention sometimes after all. Jupiter, planet of growth, goes retrograde now, too, meaning that your child may re-evaluate all kinds of relationships. What’s working, what isn’t and how they’d like to change it may come up this month — and that’s a good thing, Mom. Libras are all about creating harmony and they show us that we are all teaching what’s most important for us to learn.

SCORPIO (October 23-November 22)
There’s magic and wonder in your little scorpions this month, Mom. Guardian angel planet Mars moves through hard-working Capricorn on the 6th of February, which means your kiddo is able to tap into the energy of Capricorn as well as the intensity and get-it-doneness of Mars. Whatever your child wishes to build, create, or work on right now will be pretty impressive. If you see your kiddo is a bit introspective this month, that’s OK, too. They may be thinking about things they’d like to see change. Be there to guide them to that place full of light that makes them happy — it’s where these children shine brightest.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23-December 21)
Is your super active little Archer’s energy and natural enthusiasm waning right about now, Mom? You have Jupiter, this sign’s “protector” planet, going into a four-month retrograde cycle starting at the beginning of the month to thank for that. Your usually half-glass-full kind of kiddo may be feeling less than optimistic…but don’t fret. That’s just the planets’ way of getting people, both young and young at heart, to think about what their purpose is — what do they want their life to look and feel like? Big questions for little people, yes, but with you and your family’s help, little Sags will get some important answers that could lead to bigger revelations down the road.

CAPRICORN (December 22-January 20)
Once every two years or so, Mars, the planet of “get it done, now!” steps into Capricorn’s sphere, and that happens again on February 6th this year. What does that mean for your little goat? It means your kiddo, when they choose a project that’s important to them, will be unstoppable. They’ll work hard to reach their goals without much delay or friction, and they may even find ways of doing things that shake up the usual, conventional methods and outcomes they prefer. Learning about innovation and using their talents is top of mind right now. High five those little goats, Mom! You all have a lot to be proud of.
January 21, 2019
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From the Teachers Desk: Helping Your Child Find One Little Word To Guide Them In 2019

This year, as an alternative to making resolutions, try helping your child find “One Little Word” to focus on this year. One Little Word is a simple opportunity to learn how to set intentions for the year to come. Choosing a word like “focus” or “persistent” is less intimidating than creating a long list of resolutions that children may find difficult to understand or remember.

Following this simple 1-2-3 process for choosing One Little Word and making it stick all year long is a great way to teach your children the value of goal-setting.

1. Ask Questions

Asking your child a few simple questions can generate an interesting conversation. Here are some questions to get you started in identifying One Little Word:

  • What do you want to work hard for?
  • What quality do you admire in others?
  • What is a strength you want to grow?
  • What is a challenge you want to work on?
  • What do you wish for?

After you brainstorm words together, help your child search a dictionary, thesaurus, or the Internet for synonyms. It may also help to do an Internet search for adjectives and verbs you may not have brainstormed.

2. Narrow it Down

Now that you have several words that strike a chord in your child’s heart or gut, you’ve got to narrow it down. Using index cards, write the following categories on each of them:

  • Home
  • School
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Hobbies

Then, together with your child, write down how each of the words affect or can help improve each of these areas. For example, if your child’s word is “persistence,” she’ll write sentences on each index card about how persistence can help her focus on each of the categories. She might write sentences like:

“I will be persistent at keeping my room tidy.”

“If I have trouble making friends this year, I will keep trying until I find a friendship that sticks.”

It will soon become obvious which word is right for your child.

3. Make Your One Little Word Stick

Discovering your One Little Word together will be exciting. The work you both have put into identifying a word that feels just right for guiding the new year will pay off if you come back to it throughout the coming year.

Try some of these great ways to make your One Little Word stick.

Decorate A Notebook With Your One Little Word

First, have your child decorate a notebook with stickers and markers to make it their own. Next, have your child write about the chosen One Little Word and what it means to them. Getting it down on paper can help keep it in focus more clearly.

Make Or buy An Item With The One Little Word On It

Consider buying a blank wooden sign and some paints so your child can paint the One Little Word on it. Be sure to cover the paint with glue or shellac to protect the paint. You can also find lots of customizable items on Etsy.

Use The One Little Word When Making Decisions

When your child wants to sign up for art classes or a hockey team, ask if it coincides with their One Little Word. For example, if your child chose “create” for his One Little Word, you might ask if a class he wants to take will help him create. This can really help keep the valuable One Little Word in focus.

Kimberley Moran is the mom of two children and the step-mom to two young adults. She is a senior digital editor at WeAreTeachers.com where she helps teachers improve the lives of kids everywhere. She was a teacher for 15 years, working to make sure children were both seen and heard. She wrote the book, Hacking Parenthood: Ten Mantras You Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting, to help all parents simplify their lives and love raising children. She lives in Maine with her family.

January 8, 2019
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We Asked, You Shared: 21 New Year’s Resolutions From Your Kids

Another year means another set of New Year resolutions to make and follow…and since your own list is probably the same as always (because we know ours is!), we thought it’d be funny to see what kind of goals your kids have for themselves this year! If you haven’t thought about your kids’ goals, it’s never too late to start. Check out these cute & funny kids resolutions from our parent friends on Instagram, and gear up your #goalgetters for a great 2019!

  1. Be potty trained before their 3rd birthday
  2. To have their own room
  3. To help mom and dad more around the house
  4. Get a glittery purse
  5. To find out where mom hides the candy
  6. More Slime
  7. To reach all her milestones
  8. Get to 10 Instagram followers this year
  9. Make new friends and get more Barbies
  10. To be an ambassador for The Children’s Place
  11. To finally have friends over for her 7th birthday
  12. Plenty of pretty dresses from The Children’s Place
  13. To be happy
  14. To pass kindergarten and work on her gymnastics & dancing
  15. Eat more broccoli!
  16. Focus more in school and talking less
  17. To lose more teeth to get money
  18. To start walking (because she turns one in January!)
  19. To collect as many “tiny toys” as possible (all the YouTube videos she watches has her crazy!)
  20. To create more
  21. To be featured as a baby model!
December 31, 2018
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How To Throw A Budget & Kid-Friendly NYE Party!

Happy (almost) 2019! Time sure does fly, doesn’t it?

While the idea of staying up past midnight is a distant memory (thanks to your adorable little alarm clock who’s up at 6:00 a.m. asking for breakfast) you can still throw a great New Year’s Eve party. But now, it’ll be for the kids.

Luckily, you can create a fancy affair without breaking the bank. Here’s how to plan a budget-friendly, kid-focused NYE party that’s fun for parents, too!

Glitzy Decorations

To create an affordable, yet glamorous look for your New Year’s Eve party, pick your favorite metallic – silver or gold. Purchase balloons, streamers, tablecloths, cups/plates/napkins/utensils, and confetti (if you can handle the mess) in that color. Hang streamers from the ceiling and decorate the walls with balloons to create a simple, yet classy look.

Save some ceiling space for your “midnight” balloon drop. You will need an extra set of hands for this project, along with a plastic tablecloth, balloons, confetti, and painter’s tape. To start, lay your tablecloth on the floor. Then, blow up enough balloons to fill the tablecloth – consider putting confetti inside for extra sparkle. Together, bring the tablecloth up to the ceiling and tape the corners and sides. If you’re using confetti, sprinkle some in. Leave a small gap somewhere so the tablecloth is easy to pull down later.

Sweets & Bubbly

Keep it simple and cost-efficient by throwing a dessert-only event with one impressive treat: a cupcake bar. You’ll need vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, vanilla and chocolate frosting, and cupcake toppings – small candies, cookie pieces, sprinkles, and fruit. Bake the cupcakes ahead of time, but don’t frost them. Place the frosting in separate bowls and fill either a cupcake pan or small cups with your toppings. Allow the kids to spread their own frosting and scoop their own toppings onto their cupcake.

For drinks, serve basics, such as water and lemonade, but have plenty of sparkling apple cider and plastic champagne flutes on hand for your countdown.

Activities To Ring In The New Year

What’s a New Year’s Eve party without 2019 glasses or headbands? Instead of buying completed ones at the store, let the kids get creative. Purchase inexpensive sunglasses and headbands, pipe cleaners, decorations – such as glitter, rhinestones, and feathers – and glue sticks. Before the party, cut some of the pipe cleaners in half and pop out the glasses’ lenses. Kids can add their own flair to a pair of glasses or a headband before making their numbers out of pipe cleaners. Then, use the pre-cut pipe cleaners to wrap each number around their personalized accessory.

New Year’s resolutions and 2018 reflections aren’t just for adults. Create pages for resolutions and separate ones for reflections. Leave these pages with plenty of white space so kids can use markers to customize them with decorative words and drawings. Resolution topics can include:

  • What I want to do
  • What I want to learn
  • What I’m looking forward
  • How I will help others

Some reflection topics are:

  • I am most proud of…
  • I am grateful for…
  • My 2018 best memories are…
  • My 2018 favorites (books, movies, activities, etc.)

New Year’s Eve Party Favors

For a positive start to the new year, send each kid home with a personalized wish jar. Before the party, cut strips of colored paper and label glass jars with each guest’s name. Ask every guest to write a New Year’s wish for each person and place it in their jar. Then, close the jars so they can read their wishes tomorrow.

The New Year’s Eve Countdown

Thanks to the Internet, you no longer need to wait until midnight for the countdown. Select an appropriate time, pour some sparkling cider into each glass, gather the kids under the balloon drop, and play a countdown video. At “one,” release the balloons and turn on the dance music. When the last kid has gone home, it’s time for the adult party. Put on pajamas, clean up, and get under the covers well before midnight. Your adorable little alarm clock will be at your door at 6:00 a.m. on January 1…probably asking for breakfast.

December 24, 2018
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What Do The Stars Say: January 2019 Horoscopes For Kids

CAPRICORN (December 22-January 20)
This year, your little goats can stand out from the crowd if they want to, Mom. They get to showcase their phenomenal organizational skills, or perhaps it’s their unique sense of creativity that will shine brightest. They even manage a new level of openness in relationships with friends, teachers, coaches, and yes, even family. Here’s the rub, though: Mercury is in retrograde in 2019 so this might make your kiddo a bit more proud than usual. Guide them to stop and think about what they’re doing and why. These are reasonable kids who like logic and structure and, if presented with a clear case, they’ll stop and listen to reason.

AQUARIUS (January 21-February 19)
High five, Mom! Your little water bearer will finally be able to grab that brass ring in 2019, after so much perseverance last year. And better yet, this year looks to be almost relaxing in nature compared to last year. This gives your kiddo a bigger sense of freedom, something they covet in nurturing their imagination and curious minds. Family plays a big part in this child’s life this month, with the Full Moon bringing them joyous moments. Build on that by going to the science center, a movie, or doing something you know your child will appreciate more than they’ll ever express.
PISCES (February 20-March 19)
Hey Mom, is your little fish on the chess club, part of the debating team, or toying with the idea of joining the public speaking club this year? Encourage any intellectual pursuit in your kiddo – they’ll excel at whatever they choose, and they need this to exercise their clever minds. Neptune hangs out in Pisces this year, helping to bring successes while getting these usually introverted kiddos to express their emotions, talent, and creativity. Be there to lend a hand when needed and to watch your child shine bright this year.

ARIES (March 20-April 19)
Talk about starting the new year off with a bang! Uranus, the planet of action, is retrograde in Aries at the beginning of this month. This means that your little Rams are virtually unstoppable right now when it comes to reaching their goal(s), some of which may be lofty, as you already know, Mom. Those obstacles that were standing in your kiddo’s way? This month, they can blow past them with determination and ease, especially when it comes to any former academic struggles. You’ve been their biggest cheerleader, Mom, and now’s the time to get those pom-poms out and celebrate a job well done!

TAURUS (April 20-May 21)
Venus, Taurus’ ruling planet, starts this year off in Scorpio, which means that your little Ox will be more likely to get ahead with honey than vinegar. And these clever kiddos know this, using Venus’ influence to hone their negotiating skills and diplomatic efforts to get what they need or want. Uranus hangs out in Taurus for the next six YEARS, Mom, which will spark a wave of independence in your headstrong child, as well as a reinforced work ethic. If your tiny Taurus decides they’re “going to do it,” even if “it” seems a bit unlikely, don’t be surprised when they succeed. This sign, when they want to, can just about move mountains. But you already knew that, right?

GEMINI (May 22-June 21)
2019 looks to be a banner year for the little twins, so get ready for a whirlwind ride, Mom! If your kiddo is at all athletic or has any interest in the arts, this year bodes particularly well. Neptune’s transit means creative juices get a supersonic boost, and your sometimes impetuous child makes better-for-them decisions (go ahead and breathe that happy sigh of relief). Support their talent and encourage the “practice makes perfect” mantra this month, Mom. It’ll pay off for your child, big time!

CANCER (June 22-July 22)
Cancer-born children feel more intensely than most. While you already know this, Mom, it’s worth repeating here because 2019 is a good time to level-set for your wee one, especially when it comes to their health – both physical and emotional. How? Give your busy bee a lot of opportunities to recharge their internal batteries (ever tried child-centric yoga? It’s a thing!). Meditate with them to set the tone and get your little crabs to listen to their instincts and intuition (they have strong gut feelings that they should heed). You’ll both be happy you did!

LEO (July 23-August 22)
As the year starts for your little lions, Mom, encourage them to stop sweating the small stuff and take time to have fun, run, and play. Your over-achievers tend to…well, overdo it sometimes, so help them find that balance between getting it done, and just having good, ole’ fashioned play time. Encourage them to stay physically fit, because that helps ground them mentally, too. This is a good year for your kiddo as they learn to communicate with tact and diplomacy. Yep, they have it in them!

VIRGO (August 23-September 22)
If there’s one almost singular trait about little Virgos that’s unique, it’s that most of them really care about eating well and taking care of their growing bodies. Tell a Virgo kid, “this is good for you,” and watch them give it a go. 2019 heightens this trait, with your kiddo asking to know more about different kinds of food and what’s good for them. Spend time explaining ingredients or making a nutritious dinner with your little helpers; this sign likes to be of help, after all. And nothing makes them feel better, more useful or loved than to be given one-on-one time with their parents, and a gentle hug of thanks for lending a hand.

LIBRA (September 23-October 22)
Little Libras like nothing more than to be admired and cared for. The good news is that if they receive this, they give it back in spades, whether with family or friends. 2019 starts off strong for your kiddo, who will be full of enthusiasm and good energy. Build on that enthusiasm by encouraging a healthy diet, both at school and at home, as well as regular exercise. Combined, these two factors will have a lasting effect, giving your child the energy to focus and succeed at school and to avoid needless childhood coughs, fevers, and sniffles.

SCORPIO (October 23-November 22)
Good news, Mom! 2019 brings a year of sweet calm and even serenity for your intense little scorpions. All that introspection of last month gives way to a little levity in January, one that should be full of cheerful moments and extra smiles. This month and the months ahead are also a perfect time to bond with your kiddo; these children love feeling safe and secure with their family members and in the sanctuary of their home. It’s the perfect time for a short weekend getaway to do something together that’s fun and further strengthens that bond.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23-December 21)
The focus is on teamwork, cooperation and communication for your little Archers this year, Mom. This month, Sagittarius children might meet new friends who could become important in their lives down the road. Nurture your kiddo’s ability to be better and do better by helping them grow into a fuller version of themselves. Do this by having dinner every night as a family, ask a lot of questions about things they’re interested in (and actively listen), go out for a day outing together, and provide a nurturing environment where they feel they can tell you anything and everything. You’re their biggest ally, after all.
December 22, 2018
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How To Make The Most Giftable Holiday Treats…From Cookies To Fruit Cake!

Oh baby, it’s cold outside! And that means it’s time to do your best, festive aprons, roll up those sleeves, and get cooking with the kiddos to create some edible memories. From layered hot chocolate jars that make the perfect gift to customizable shortbread cookies and fruitcake truffles, there’s something for every sweet tooth this holiday season.

The hard part will be parting with your treats once they’re done!

Layered Hot Chocolate Jars

These pretty jars are layered and ready to give, with a whole lot of TLC. Just add milk, heat, stir, and serve – simple and delicious!

Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ¾ cup icing sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup milk chocolate mini chips
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk unsweetened cocoa powder with icing sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Pour this mix into a 2 cup preserving jar with a lid.
  3. Top with a layer of mini chips, followed by crushed candy canes.
  4. Tie a festive ribbon around jar lid with a note that reads: Every 2 tablespoons of this mix, combined with 1 cup of warm milk, makes 1 tasty mug of hot chocolate. Garnish with either mini chips and/or crushed candy canes and real whipped cream. Enjoy!

Fun & Festive Shortbread Cookies

Who doesn’t love a good, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie around the holidays (or any time, for that matter)? These are super simple, can be dressed up any way you like, and make the perfect, pretty gift box for anyone on your “nice” list!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional add-ins: white or dark large chocolate chips, food dye, sprinkles, crushed candy canes
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until texture is fluffy.
  3. Add salt, vanilla, and flour in two batches and continue mixing just until the dough comes together. At this point, you can dye half the dough (or all of it) a festive red or green using 3-6 drops of food coloring.
  4. On a flour-dusted workspace, tip out the dough and roll into a three-by-three inch log.
  5. Wrap the dough log in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes until firm.
  6. Slice log into 3/4-inch cookies and place on cookie sheet.
  7. You can press in a chocolate chip or two into each cookie, add your sprinkles on top, or garnish with crushed candy cane pieces.
  8. Bake for 16-18 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool slightly on cookie sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
  10. Box, tie a bow, and gift to whoever is lucky enough to receive this festive treat!

Fruit Cake “Truffles”

These chocolate truffles traditionally include rum- or orange-based liqueur, but to make them kid-friendly, we swap out the hard stuff for vanilla essence and orange juice, and no one’s the wiser. Plus, they taste great and even little hands can get in on this no-bake treat.

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups pre-made fruit cake, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup of good quality chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional coatings: cocoa powder, crushed walnuts, icing sugar, coconut flakes
Directions:
  1. To get fruit cake crumbs, get chunks of fruit cake and pulse in your food processor until you’ve got your crumbs. You’ll need three cups. (Hint: There’s no shame in buying pre-made fruitcake from the grocery store for this step!)
  2. Add chocolate and butter to a small, heat-proof bowl. Put in your microwave on 20-second intervals on high until melted. Stir between each heating. This could take 4-5 intervals.
  3. Add orange juice, vanilla, and chocolate mixture to your cake crumbs. Process until you’ve got a “dough” that comes together.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for one hour until fully chilled.
  5. Shape into bite-sized balls and roll on the coating of your choice: cocoa powder, crushed walnut pieces, icing sugar, or coconut flakes that you’ve set out on to a plate.
  6. Package and refrigerate until ready to gift or gobble down!
December 19, 2018
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New Holiday Traditions To Start With Your Family

No matter what holidays you celebrate, fall and winter celebrations typically involve family gatherings, feasts of holiday-specific food, and reflection, all of which means these times offer perfect opportunities to create fun new traditions with your family. Family traditions give us a sense of belonging and say a lot about the beliefs and customs we value. So get creative and choose something meaningful that reflects your unique family culture.

To get you in the right frame of mind, start by thinking about the holiday traditions you and your spouse loved growing up.

  • Did they involve games or activities?
  • Sweets and storytelling?
  • Holiday dinners at a specific relative’s house?

You may want to incorporate some of those things into your new traditions. Also, consider how you already like to spend time together and the values you live by.

If you’ve never thought about your family values before, now is a great time to figure them out! It helps to begin by imagining what kind of people you hope your kids will become when they’re adults. Here are some common values that are important to cultivate in families: honesty, empathy, generosity, patience, creativity, humor, financial stability, a commitment to social justice, tolerance, curiosity, and perseverance.

Need some concrete ideas for new traditions that help teach values and make great memories? Below are some of our favorite suggestions:

Give Gifts Beyond The Family

Most holidays have some component of gift giving. Instead of (or in addition to) the usual present exchange, wrap some toys and other items to donate to organizations working on issues that you’re passionate about. Or forgo gifts entirely and organize a fundraising party to help support people who need it. Even better, make this a year-round tradition.

Keep A Family Journal

Every year, each person writes down their annual reflections and hopes for the new year in a notebook. And each year, the evening begins with people reading and ruminating on their responses from the year before. Once you have a few years’ worth of responses in there, it’s pretty interesting to see the changes and similarities.

Brainstorm New Traditions

Ask everyone in the family to brainstorm some ideas for a new tradition. Schedule a meeting to discuss and choose one. Then you could do it annually, or every year come up with a whole batch of new ideas and pick one (making the brainstorming and decision making the new tradition).

Celebrate Others’ Traditions

Every culture has its own holiday traditions, with both unique and overlapping themes (after all, many winter holidays originated from Winter Solstice celebrations). There are so many you could learn about (and cook a holiday treat from a different culture every year until the kids are out the house!) and not even come close to covering all of them.

Try anyway! You’ll be rewarded with rich stories, a broader historical and cultural view of the world, and a cornucopia of delicious food–jerk chicken, chicken groundnut stew and sweet potato pie on Kwanzaa; latkes on Hanukkah; baklava and tharid (pieces of bread in a vegetable or meat broth) on Mawlid el-Nabi; chocolate coins and tangerines on St. Nicholas Day; sweet and savory tamales on Las Posadas Navideñas; and Yule pig and wassail on Winter Solstice.

Whatever you choose, holiday traditions are ultimately about spending time together and creating memories with family and friends.

December 14, 2018
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