I’ve tried really hard to stick to the family goals I created last month and was met with mixed success. One of my goals was to create a family game night to bring my family together and create memories. Surprisingly, game night has been one of the toughest goals to implement in the way I had imagined. Most board games have a clear-cut winner, and my kids are still working on learning how to lose gracefully. And after the school day, it’s difficult for my kids to sit still and wait their turn. I’ve found a mixed play approach, in which we combine physical activity with games, has yielded more family fun and less “are we done?” comments. So we’re renaming Family Game Night in our house to Family Play Night. Here’s what’s worked well for us so far:
1. Lights Out
We’ve had tremendous success turning the lights out and letting the kids get creative with glow sticks. They have great deals on glow sticks in the dollar sections of discount stores and my kids have loved making hats, faces, having sword battles, etc. We also bought a game that projects “ghosts” on the wall and they fire at them using a red laser dot. Great for redirecting their energy when they start to fight with each other!
Mastering right from left? Check. Making silly poses? Check. Burning off before-bed energy? Check. My kids would play this every night if they could. We try to save this one for weekends as it tends to wind them up instead of calming them down.
Puzzles are the equivalent of mental yoga for my kids. Something about concentrating on the pieces seems to calm and center them. We usually have two puzzles going at once so each kid has one appropriate for their skill level.
4. Building Creations
My boys love to build with imagination. Legos, blocks, Magna-Tiles —if you can stack it they’ll come up with an idea. Currently, my four year old’s favorite evening game with daddy is building a “garage” together out of Lincoln Logs and filling it with vehicles from the train set.
For some reason, Sorry! has been a big hit with my kids. We make it silly by making funny noises when we land on each other’s spaces or some one gets sent back to the start. Although someone always wins first, the silliness factor seems to lessen the usual “I wanted to win!” whine.
6. Dance Party
On nights when the energy level is high but the hour is getting late my husband and I YouTube some videos on our phones and let the dance party begin! Usually after dancing their way through two or three songs they start to peter out and we can move on to bedtime books.
What games to do play with your kids? Tell us in the comments.
With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, here’s one more fun and ultra kid-friendly way to share the love this year!
Co-founder Jessica Alba and daughter Honor crafted these handmade DIY Valentines for Honor to give to her teachers and classmates. Honor is in her first year of Kindergarten and absolutely adores school! She loves to share her day-to-day stories with anyone that will listen, but especially with Jessica. To celebrate her first Valentine’s Day in big girl school, Jessica wanted to find a fun project that they could do together and that her classmates would also enjoy.
This DIY paper heart is simple for both moms and kids, while also being personal and totally customizable. Honor’s school advises against passing out candy to the children, so Jessica and Honor opted to fill the hearts with some of Honor’s favorite Honest staples as a fun alternative. Check out the adorable results below!
1. Cut out two heart-shaped pieces of construction paper. To make sure they are both the same size, it may be easiest to cut one then use it to trace out the second prior to cutting.
2. Hold the two heart pieces back-to-back and use your hole punch to punch around the perimeter. Leave about half an inch of space between the edge of the paper and the hole so that it won’t rip when you sew the heart shut.
3. Cut approximately 30-inches of yarn and thread your plastic needle. Tie a knot at the end of the yarn and start sewing the two pieces together, with a looping overcast stitch.
4. Continue sewing around the perimeter, leaving the last 2-3 inches unsewn.
5. Stuff your heart with the contents of your choice (we went with an Honest Hand Sanitizer Spray and a Lip Balm Trio), then sew the remaining section closed. Depending on the look you are going for, you can seal it up with a small knot or by tying a decorative bow.
6. Decorate, decorate, decorate! Let the kids go wild and add their own creative flair to the Valentines. We finished this one by adding a picture of the little artist and having her sign her name. Too cute!
Another fun way to personalize this craft idea is by having the little ones finger paint the construction paper prior to cutting. That way you can make the heart with really unique, customized paper.
What kinds of Valentines are your kids giving this year? Share your ideas in the comments below!
We have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t get excited about the Olympics. The feelings of anticipation, hope, and pride that we share when cheering on the athletes really inspire camaraderie and bonding. So with the games in Sochi beginning, it’s the perfect time to invite the gang over to watch the events and engage in some healthy competition.
But don’t sweat the details! Whether you host an international-themed dinner party or an impromptu game night, there are many easy-to-do ideas for throwing a family friendly Olympics party. We hope you find inspiration below!
Bring your friends together by sending them a festive e-vite featuring iconic symbols, a gold medal, or a downhill skier — it’s fast, free, and eco-friendly. Encourage them to dress in their favorite country’s colors; wear red, yellow, green, blue, or black like the Olympic rings; or bundle up in cozy sweaters and scarves because it’s the winter games. Then have prizes for the three people wearing the most spirited garb!
Host an around-the-world potluck. Ask guests to bring a dish inspired by the country of the top competitors expected at Sochi. Here’s a little Olympics trivia: Canada brought home the most medals in the 2010 winter games, followed by Germany, USA, Norway, South Korea, and Switzerland. Pair these dishes with beers and wines from similar regions. And set up a hot chocolate bar to keep the little ones warm and happy.
To give you a head start, try out these recipes guaranteed to get a gold medal from your guests:
This Russian classic is super healthy and delicious—even people who don’t like beets will enjoy this soup! Adapted from The Fig Tree Blog.
Peel and slice beets. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes until you can pierce them with a fork. Cool. Once beets are cool enough to touch, finely chop them. Finely chop one yellow onion, too. Heat oil in saucepan, add onions, cook for about 10 minutes until light brown and slightly caramelized. Add beets, washed dill (leaving some for garnish), and stock. Bring to boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar, sea salt, and pepper. Remove dill stems. Serve with Greek yogurt or sour cream and dill for garnish.
We took some healthy staples of Chinese cuisine, such as soybeans (edamame), sesame seeds, ginger, and green onions and created a delicious and healthy dip. This nutritious snack is something an Olympic athlete could definitely eat to fuel-up before the games!
Once edamame is cooked, add soybeans and all ingredients to a high-powered blender or food processor. Puree the mixture until it is well blended, like a creamy dip.
Wash and trim organic bok choy leaves. Pat dry if needed. Stuff leaves with a generous spoonful of edamame mixture. Arrange on a serving tray. Enjoy!
When it comes to food, Canada is known for many things including maple syrup and blueberries. This decadent mousse combines both flavors for a winning appeal! Adapted from A Girl Worth Saving.
This one’s simple: Wash blueberries. Melt coconut oil. Add all ingredients to high-powered blender. Immediately pour into dessert cups and top with blueberries to garnish. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Enjoy!
When throwing a sporty party, encourage team spirit and collaboration by breaking guests into teams. Make sure to have different activities for varying skill levels to truly capture the Olympic spirit of your amateur games. Here’s how to create your own Olympics:
1. Host a track-and-field event where teams compete in three-legged, potato sack, and wheelbarrow races.
2. Play croquet or up the fun-factor by doing it blindfolded where teammates must guide each other through the course to score points.
3. Don’t forget nostalgic games like tug-o-war and basketball’s H.O.R.S.E. (just play using an Olympic-themed word).
4. Stage an obstacle course that can be completed relay-style by the entire team.
5. Take advantage of your locale. Snowy outside? Have a snowman building contest.
If the weather’s not warm enough for long-term outdoor play, move the games inside. Bust out the board games. Go for the gold in Twister. Or play your hand at:
The possibilities are endless!
What do you love most about the Olympics? Tell us about it in the comments.
Ten short months ago, my husband Brian and I got the news that not only were we pregnant with a healthy baby, but we were expecting four healthy babies. It’s certainly not something I ever dreamed could happen. We wanted a sibling for our then one-year-old son, Easton. We knew there was a possibility of having multiples using a fertility drug as we had with Easton, and we excitedly hoped for twins. Later, we found out we were expecting two boys and two girls.
Fast forward through numerous ultrasounds, visits with a high-risk obstetrician, nine weeks of modified bed rest (seven of which were spent in the hospital), and our crew was born. I was lucky enough to carry them for just about 33 weeks. They were born on August 21, 2013 and weighed about four pounds each, which is great for multiples, and excellent for quadruplets. Brody and Emerson came home three short weeks later, while Hayden and Deacon followed one week later. Faster than we thought, we had four newborn babies, plus our rambunctious two-year-old.
What a wake-up call we got! With our toddler Easton, it was pretty smooth sailing other than his second month of life when he was colicky in the evenings. And we thought that was challenging! But he slept through the night almost from the beginning — 12 hours a night from age two months, and he took great naps. Now we had four cute little screaming infants, who took away all but a couple hours sleep. We knew they would eventually sleep through the night, but we didn’t know when that would happen, and it could not come soon enough!
Now the babies are four months old. They are currently sleeping (mostly) from 10 p.m. until about 7 a.m., and are getting better with taking good naps during the day. They are growing so big, and are now caught-up with their same-aged peers on the length vs. weight charts. Sure, we still have 20 bottles to make every day (a mixture of breast milk and formula) and we change about 25 or so diapers a day, but at least now we are doing it with a decent night’s sleep.
Watching them achieve milestones makes all the sleepless nights worth it. Their smiles can brighten up our days!
You can read more Kerry’s life with quads on her blog, Quads Make It Seven.