Lent: Activities and Other Ways to Engage Children All Season Long

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Today begins the season of Lent for Catholics, Christians and others who use the period of reflection, charity and reconciliation. Young children associate Lent with giving up something but it is much more. There are ways to engage kids all through out the season and we’ve curated a few creative resources for parents below:

Easter composition of colorful eggs and sheaf of wheat card

Easter composition of colorful eggs and sheaf of wheat card

How to Celebrate Lent with Kids


In celebrating 13 years of Lent with kids, here’s the things we’ve learned. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you, too.

  1. Be reasonable. You can’t go all drill sergeant on your kids and start making demands of a completely reformed lifestyle during these 40 days. Trust me, I’ve tried. I believe we call that a #parentingfail
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Use the Jellybean Jar to help them along Source

40 Lenten Activities for Kids

  1. Make a Prayer Chain: List 40 intentions or people on 40 slips of paper. Link them together into a chain. Rip one off each morning of Lent and pray for that need.
  2. Bury the Hallelujah: Explain why we don’t proclaim hallelujah during Lent. To symbolize, write out hallelujah on paper and bury it in the yard or put it away in a box.

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Free Lenten Activities for Kids printable

Print out this guide of things children can do during Lent. Source

photo: Cassidy Lancaster

5 Ways to Store Your Daughter’s Hair Accessories

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If you’re sick of finding rubber hair bands, bows and clips all over the place, or fed up with not being able to find them when you need them, it’s time to straighten out your daughter’s hair accessories. With a little creatively and vision, you can create an attractive way to display all of your daughter’s hair care items and keep them easily accessible.

1.Make your own framed hair bow display. Take the glass out of an old 8 by 10 or larger picture frame and recycle it into a piece of hair care art. Hot glue lengths of ¾ to 1-inch wide ribbon about 1 ½ to 2 inches apart across the longer sides of the back of the frame. To create a ribbon hanger, glue the desired lengths of ribbon to each top corner of the frame and tie the pieces into a bow. Add additional ribbon to the bow to fill it out. Store clips, fancy elastics (pull the elastic behind the ribbon and stick the appliquéd piece through the elastic loop in the front), bobby pins and other accessories on the ribbon and hang headbands over the corners of the frame.


2.Store hair accessories in a shoe organizer placed over the door. Clear over the door plastic shoe organizers are full of clear pockets that are just the right size for holding brushes, elastics, bobby pins and all sorts of hair accessories. If you’d like to keep accessories out of reach, simply trim a few rows of pockets off of the bottom.

3.Use beading storage containers for elastics and bobby pins. For a few dollars you can pick up a plastic container broken down into storage squares that will organize rubber bands, bobby pins, small hair clips and other hair emblements. Place different colored bands in each box so you can easily find multiple hairbands of the same color, leaving you never to have to mismatched pigtail hairbands again.
4.Use a small basket, tin bucket or short, square glass vase if it’s out of reach to hold brushes and spray bottles. A short, stout decorative or clear container can be a great place to store brushes, bottles of water, spray in conditioner, combs and other hair care items. You can store a rainbow of rubber bands over the spray bottles for easy storage.

5.Add long, thick ribbons to a coat hanger to hold barrettes and elastics. Hot glue a few strips of ¾ inch to 1 inch wide ribbon along the sides or bottom of a wooden or plastic coat hanger. Clip barrettes, clips and bobby pins onto the strips. Slide elastic bands over the top of the hanger. You can display this on the wall or over the door handle or hang it in the closet.

With a minimal investment of time and money you can say goodbye to digging through a basket of tangled bows and bands and hello to an organized storage area that will make finding the perfect hair accessory a cinch every time.

reprinted with permission

20+ Blogs with Family Friendly Saint Patrick’s Day Crafts & Ideas

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While everyone knows that St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday, it’s unlikely that many know the story behind St. Patrick’s Day.

In a nutshell, a man named Patrick converted a large group of Irish people from Paganism to Christianity and was made a Saint.  Now considered the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick used the shamrock as the symbol of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The color green is used because of the rich green hills that are found all over Ireland.  You may be wondering how St. Patrick’s Day turned into a day for drinking, and there is a reason for that too.  St. Patrick told a bar owner who was cheating his customers by pouring short glasses of liquor that there was a demon in his basement and that the only way to be rid of it was to be generous.  After that, St. Patrick said that everyone should celebrate with some of the hard stuff on St. Patrick’s Day. However, the holiday isn’t solely reserved for those of legal drinking age; there are plenty of family-friendly things to do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day too.


Check out these 20+ blog entries to find craft projects to make with the kids, decorations for your home, recipes to make for your family and other activities to do as well.

Crafts

Make these simple crafts with your kids as part of your celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  This often overlooked holiday can be really entertaining if you make a point to celebrate it just like you would other holidays with special crafts, decorations and food.  These five blog posts will share some craft projects you can enjoy with your kids.

Decorations

Up your house’s festivity factor this St. Patrick’s Day by decorating in plenty of green and gold. Some of these decorating ideas are appropriate for younger children, while others are better suited for the older kids.  Get together as a family and enjoy some creative time together decorating your home.

Meals

All things green are up for grabs on St. Patrick’s Day.  What, you don’t think your kids will be excited about spinach and kale and other green leafy food?  No problem! Just make regular food green instead and see what the kids think of it.  It doesn’t have to be just for dinner, enjoy these five blogs that have breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas.

Desserts

While green is definitely the star color for St. Patrick’s Day, it isn’t all confined to just that color. After all, you can’t forget about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Make some rainbow inspired desserts instead of just green ones this year.  For some inspiration check out these five blog posts.

Activities

What kind of things can you do as a family or with the kids for St. Patrick’s Day?  Some cities have St. Patty’s Day parades, so you might see if your city is having one.  Or you might decide to have a party for the kids in the neighborhood.  Take a look at these five blog articles for some ideas on activities that your kids or your family might enjoy.

4 Ways to Keep Your Teen Busy This Spring Break

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Although this site focuses mainly on trying to conceive couples, pregnant women and first time parents, we do know some of you have teens and step teens to mind.

Spring Break is quickly approaching, but what do you do when you don’t have the time to go anywhere or if you have other commitments that make taking a trip with the family impossible at this time?


The last thing you want is to find your hands full with teenagers who are losing their minds from boredom! Worse yet, how do you make sure they stay out of trouble while you are at work? If these questions are plaguing you, then it may be a good idea to take a look at these 28 blogs that can give you some inspiration for surviving this Spring Break.

Games
Playing games might seem like an activity reserved for younger kids, but what if you have both older and younger kids? There are a wide range of apps available that are perfect for keeping your tweens and teens busy, as well as a variety of board games that teens will love playing. These seven blog posts are full of answers for curing boredom.

Crafts
If your teen or tween likes to get creative, then encouraging her to start a new project over Spring Break might keep her busy for the whole week. You may need to buy some supplies, but that will be money well spent if she can stay creative and busy all Spring break. Find out what types of crafts she likes or show her something that you like. Teach her to sew and challenge her to make her own quilt. The project can be put together with things that remind her of years past, and by the time she graduates it will be a memory quilt she can take to college. If she doesn’t think she’s the crafty type, you could always try something different, like getting her started on Zentangles.

Activities
Finding activities for your teens and tweens to do during Spring Break can be tricky. Many times area businesses will have activities for teens during their week off of school. There might be a public service project that your teen could do to earn extra credit for school or free movies available to watch at the library. Your teenager can probably walk or ride his bike to the local library or YMCA if there are activities there. This could give your teen a chance to get out of the house for a while and do something with friends in a supervised setting.

Short Outings
If you don’t have to work over Spring Break either, then maybe you could get away on a few local outings that are close to home. You can become a tourist in your own city or surrounding area. Many times, you can live in an area for years and never see the sites that make that area famous. Take this time with your family to explore a little. Some of these outings can even be done after work or on the weekends.

Good luck, parents!!

People Have Been Adopting Leftover Frozen In Vitro Embryos; and Bringing Them to Life

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There are now well over one million embryos frozen in storage in the United States, many left over by people who have completed their families through IVF. Rather than discarding the frozen embryos or donating them to science, many families are now choosing to put their embryos up for adoption to give them a chance at life.

Embryo adoption is the newest nationwide trend in adoption and is gaining a lot of popularity.  In fact, the 500th baby was born last month to a loving and adoptive family as part of the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program. This program allows couple to adopt embryos, some of which have been frozen for more than a decade, to become healthy, happy babies and children!


Couples who have used donated embryos to achieve pregnancy have learned that genetics really don’t matter at all, says Kimberly Tyson, director of the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program.  What matters is they experienced what it was like to be pregnant and give birth to their child, the child they adopted just nine months earlier than ‘normal’.

The babies born this unique and special way to their adoptive parents are known as “Snowflake Babies“.  The Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program is celebrating its 20th anniversary since being first established in 1997 as the first program of its kind in the world.

Since that time, more than 1,400 babies have been born to families following an embryo adoption model. Working with fertility clinics, the program allows couples to place their remaining embryos from their in vitro fertilization treatment with a family of their choice, just like with traditional adoption of a live child.

The difference is actually a bonus: the woman who gives birth to this non-genetic child is declared the legal mother of the child on the birth certificate and the man to whom she is married is declared the father.  No court finalizations are necessary to affirm parentage, as with adoption.

There is a higher cost than  simple frozen embryo transfer at a clinic.

“That’s because the adoption agency is providing both families with security of the placement,” Tyson declares.  “The agency is encouraging an open relationship between two families who are both parenting full genetic siblings. The agency is helping the right two families connect with one another.  No secrecy.”

Many embryo adoption organizations have embryos waiting for families to adopt them, she adds.  “Families placing their embryos for adoption are attracted to the fact they can have some control regarding who receives their embryo gift.”

If you are interested in learning more about embryo adoption visit www.embryoadoption.org or www.snowflakes.org.

Editor’s note: In vitro fertilization, surrogacy and other artificial means of impregnating a woman who eventually gives birth to a human child are excellent ways for couples struggling to have a baby achieve their dream.

However, these processes are also controversial for Catholics, pro-lifers, like myself, and others who struggle over the fact that fertilized eggs that would otherwise develop into a human child, but are leftover or unwanted are destroyed every year.

Embryo adoption provides some comfort in knowing that the leftover eggs are saved and donated to other couples who cannot conceive on their own; or women who want a baby but are without a partner. Bravo!

10 Easy Valentine’s Day Activities Your Kids will Love

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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and soon you’ll be scrambling to find activities for your little ones to do while celebrating the day together! Here are a few ideas to get you going.

  1. Make heart shaped pancakes – Make heart shaped pancakes for breakfast! Put pancake batter into a squeeze bottle and draw heart pancakes on the griddle! You can also cut sandwiches, deli meats, and fruits into heart shapes using cookie cutters. Creating heart shaped cupcakes or muffins is simple, just drop a marble or rolled up piece of tinfoil between the baking liner and muffin tin before baking to create an indent in the finished product, it will look just like a heart!
  2. Create a conversation heart wreath – Cut the middle out of a paper plate to create a ring. Have your children help you cut out hearts and write short messages on them such as “I love you” or “You rock” and glue the hearts onto the ring to create a conversation heart wreath. Be creative with your phrases and make them special to your family.
  3. Make your own valentines – Younger children will usually have a party in their classroom to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their classmates, so take some time to help your child create their own cards. They don’t have to be fancy, all you need is some construction paper, glitter glue, stickers, doilies, and adhesive to jump start the creativity in your child. Encourage your child to be creative and let them create whatever they want to, the cards don’t all have to be the same as long as there is one for every child in their class.
  4. Valentine’s Day scramble – Post a piece of paper on the wall that has the words “Valentine’s Day” on it and see how many words you can create from those letters, adjusting to the age of the children around you. How many words can you find? You could also add the traditional candy heart phrases and see what additional words you can make using those letters.
  5. Hold a Valentine’s Day dance party – Invite your neighbors over for a fun, family friendly dance party! Decorate the room with streamers and balloons, choose a few fun songs together, and get ready to dance!
  6. Themed worksheets – A quick search online will turn up dozens of Valentine’s Day themed worksheets, from math sheets to crosswords, so you can easily find something meet your child’s needs.
  7. Love themed books – Hit up the library for books with a Valentine’s Day or love theme; most libraries will have seasonally appropriate books on a separate shelf, which makes finding them easy. Check a few out and read them together!
  8. Create coupon books for family members – Talk about what love is and what it means and then discuss various coupons you could create to show family members that you care about them. Offer to walk the dog for free, give a back rub, have one on one time, play a game together or offer to sweep the floor. The receiver can then choose when to redeem the coupons. Coupon books are a great way for kids to be able to give back to the family without a monetary contribution.
  9. Go pink and red! – Create a pink and red theme! Pink lemonade, strawberry milk, cupcakes with pink frosting, watermelon, beets, strawberries, and apples are all great pink and red foods to offer for snack time.
  10. Make a paper heart chain – Use your cutting and gluing skills to create a chain of hearts to hang up in your house! You can either create a chain by cutting hearts out like you would with paper dolls or cut out hearts together and tape or staple them together to create a chain of unique hearts. Hang them where everyone can enjoy them.

Children love to celebrate holidays and Valentine’s Day is an especially fun holiday to celebrate together. It’s a great time to discuss what love and family means and why it’s so important to recognize it together.


reprinted with permission

This weekend: Stock Up on $2.99 Gymboree Play Clothes: FREE Shipping!

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Great news for my planning parents out there who bulk shop for clothes one season ahead! This weekend, Gymbortee.com, one of THE best sources for top quality, long-lasting, fashionable baby and kids’ clothing, are having a big sale!

And the best thing is that shoppers get to This Weekend, something  FREE!

This Weekend, enjoy FREE SHIPPING ON All ORDERS at Gymboree



kids-clothes-baby-clothes-toddler-clothes-at-gymboree3 Shipping on all orders This Weekend, enjoy kids-clothes-baby-clothes-toddler-clothes-at-gymboreeFREE SHIPPING at Gymboree

Pley’s Disney Princess Monthly Subscription Box is Here!

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With the decline of retailers (more than 1,600 stores  set to close this year) and the growth of online shopping, subscription box services are on the rise – offering wine, cosmetics and even beard lotion to your doorstep.

Now, our little princesses can finally get in on the fun! This month, toy subscription box company Pley launched a brand-new limited edition, Disney Princess subscription, mystery box designed to empower girls.


For just $24.99 you’ll get a mystery box containing between 4-8 Disney Princess toys, activities and fashion accessories (all have $50+ retail value).

Each bi-monthly box tells the story of a new princess and, like a rags-to-riches princess story, the shipping box magically transforms into a castle, boat, or tower that can be decorated and played with, both reducing waste and increasing play value.

Little girls everywhere will anxiously await the sound of the doorbell, announcing their Disney Princess Pley Box delivery.

“Instead of throwing the packaging away, our physical shipping boxes become a part of the princesses’ story. Each box has instructions that transform the shipping box into a playable toy such as a castle, boat or a carriage that can be decorated and played with,” said Pley CEO Ranan Lachman. “We call it ‘Pleycycle,” and are proud to be a leader in reducing the environmental footprint of toy packaging.”

The box will be offered at a limited quantity and timed for delivery with the new Beauty and the Beast movie, a live-action retelling of the Disney classic coming to theaters in March!

See the trailer below:

Three Things For Kids I am Really Digging Right Now!

cereal-1444495_960_720-1I was telling a friend today that I am in constant awe of all of the new inventive contraptions and inventions that are available to modern parents

I receive tons of email informing me of all the great new products on shelves and services.

Here are just three I’m digging:

1


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The fact that Epic, the proverbial “Netflix of Children’s Books” is offering two months free of their services to celebrate the month of love & friendship.

For like $5 a month, your kid gets access to thousands of children’s titles they can access on a tablet, computer or some other mobile device.

2

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These slap watches with a variety of fun collectible designs by Watchitude.

Because they go on like a slap bracelet, your little time-teller from age 4 to 12 doesn’t have to worry about buckles and adjusting straps for their tiny wrists. My 9 and 11 year old tried a donut and water-designed watches and loved them!

They are water resistant, splash proof, withstands rain, sweat and splashing and starting around $21, you cannot beat the price!

3

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In these hectic times, helping kids adjust and cope with life and given that 95% of our behavioral patterns are established by age 6, it’s essential that we start molding kids from a young age

Couple this with the fact that we all experience with rudeness, road rage, bullying, angry airplane passengers, and insults to people of differing views – it’s clear we need to start early to regain our nation’s values and civility.

To make changes, we must teach our children, and brain science tells us that the best time to teach children is from birth to age seven — or even in utero, since babies recognize words, sounds and feelings while in the womb.

There’s a new series of cute board books featuring easy-to-remember rhymes for little ones featuring Max, his little sister Molly and other adorable animal characters.

Written by Todd and Jackie Courtney to create a positive belief system and positive self-image, they even call the books “self-help books for toddlers!”

I checked out “Be Responsibile like Max” and am loving it. I plan to gift it to a special little kid I know.

Even Though Dads Are Stepping Up, Moms Still Parent More

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Many believe parenting has improved in recent years as roles, responsibilities and duties between the mother and father have changed. Experts say dads today are more involved in their kids’ lives and doing more parenting than ever but has the pressure lessened among mothers? Does equal parenting really exist?

Psychologist Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan explores the question on equal parenting in The Conversation. She did a research on families with moms and dads who are together and who both juggle jobs and parenting duties.


She acknowledged there is some progress as a dad’s role in the family has shifted based on a Pew Research analysis. It stated the number of stay-at-home fathers is increasing and dads today spend an average of seven hours on child-care compared to two and a half hours among dads in the ’60s.

Even with that promising data, however, the role of moms have not been reduced. In fact, mothers have also taken on the role as family providers like dads. Moms have also been doing more multitasking, managing and organizing than ever before as the children’s swirl of activities increase.

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