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Do you know how every kid has some special talent -- a skill that just makes you go "Wow!  Where did they learn that?!" 

It's that thing about your child that impresses you, makes you proud and causes you to stop and think how it will help them in life.

For my daughter, her amazing talent is meeting new people.

She's always the first one to volunteer to sit next to the new student at school.  And every year she goes to a summer camp, she'll come home on the first day and tell us about her new friend.  Granted, sometimes she doesn't know this 'new friend's' name ;) but she's always knows something about them and is excited to see them the next day.

When we saw the trailer for the NEW Peanuts movie that's out in theaters, I was reminded that meeting new people doesn't come naturally for everyone.  As Charlie Brown finds out (and some of us have experienced), meeting people can be a little awkward whether you're the new person at school or the one who wants to welcome a new neighbor.

But my daughter has shared with me that there are some super easy ways to meet new people and help kids to begin those new friendships that could last a lifetime!

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The holiday season is upon us!  It's time to enjoy counting down the days to Christmas and finding ways to slow down and enjoy the season together.

It's also time to get ready to keep the kids from snooping in the closets or under the tree :)

Do you have a snooper? 

My oldest was great - he never wanted to know what gifts he would get on Christmas morning.  My youngest -- a whole different story!  She's one of those 'I'm going to pretend I'm not snooping while I try to gather clues about both my gifts AND everyone else's'.  She keeps us on our toes during the holidays.

It's hard for kids to contain all that excitement -- wrapped gifts in arms' reach, the promise of a school holiday party, family coming -- I totally understand.  Which is why having some fun activities for them to do each day helps them to enjoy the weeks leading up to Christmas.

These totally fun & free printable Christmas activities will be enjoyed by kids of all ages!  You can even wrap them so the kids have something to unwrap each day.  (and hopefully keeps them busy enough that they won't have time to snoop ;)

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Christmas is a wonderful time to invite nature into the house!

We love creating & crafting with natural items during the holidays -- they're not only free but plentiful.  Not to mention, some of them have such a wonderful scent!

And then there's the research that shows having a connection to nature helps to reduce stress during the holidays :) 

Oh yea, we all need that!

It's easy to incorporate natural items into crafts, play and holiday decorating!  Plus, the kids will get some much needed outdoor time while they search for twigs, acorns, pinecones and stones.  So send them outside to gather up a few items and enjoy a few of these activities that connect nature & the holidays!

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The art of the filling a stocking --- it's a fine balance to be one of Santa's helpers, isn't it?! 

The goal is to turn an empty Christmas stocking into a magical memory for the kids AND not just include a bunch of junk that will break or be tossed aside after a few hours.

Add to that the kids' interests change every year plus there's always that holiday budget to consider ;)

Not to mention, I know we'd all rather be enjoying the holidays with our kids instead of racking our brains for what to tuck in a stocking.

So let's look at some fun but practical stocking stuffers that the kids will LOVE!  We've searched lists and polled kids to find items that are sure to please on Christmas morning!


stocking stuffers for kids and teens

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When I think back to holiday celebrations, there are 3 things that I loved about Thanksgiving:

1. Having family come to visit

2. PIE! 

3. Helping to get the table ready for the meal

I always felt so grown up when my Mom would give us 'special jobs' so we could help with the holiday prep.  My sister and I were asked to put together the cookie tray, decorate the centerpiece and (if we were lucky) set out the china and fancy glasses :)

Not only were we helping but we were also learning how to host a big dinner (a skill that's come in quite handy over the years ;)

And truth be told, these are still my favorite things about the holiday.

So this year, think about how the kids can help you to get the table ready while you focus on the food! 


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Talking to kids about unhappy moments can be tough -- BUT it's a necessary thing in life. 

Educating them about Veterans Day, Remembrance Day and war is one of those occasions -- it's not a pleasant topic to discuss but one that needs to be talked about with the next generation.

It's important for our children to honor and appreciate what others have done for all of us and to understand some of the sacrafices that each person makes during wartime.  So today, we're sharing some great resources for introducing kids of all ages to the topic of wartime and service to your country.


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Are you one of the millions of families who head "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house" for the holidays?

Once you have kids, holiday travel takes on a whole new meaning :) 

Not to worry, we have a great group of FREE printables and AWESOME travel tips that will help you have a relaxing and fun holiday road trip!


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I’m always amazed at how much candy we accumulate during the week of Halloween! 

I think my kids must look  extra good in their costumes on some years because we end up with waaayyy more candy than I think we should have -- and more than we will ever eat.

One of our favorite traditions is to dump it all out on Halloween night and sort it into groups -- then Dad takes his share (like as many Reese's as the kids will let him grab :) and the kids do the whole "bleah - I won't eat these" type of thing.

And then I look at what's left -- STILL too much candy.

In fact, when my daughter pulled out the candy container this week, there were still a few pieces of candy in it from Easter.

Some candy is good – but too much of a good thing just takes up space ;) not to mention tempts my peanut-butter-cup-loving-husband a little to much.

So what can you do with all that extra candy? 

We’ve got a few really good ideas for you!


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When I first started to stay home with the kids full-time, I knew that we HAD to get out of the house each week.

While I'll be the first to admit that there are so many fun ways to learn at home, kids quickly expand their understanding of the world if they have opportunities to visit new places.

That was always an easy task during the nice weather, but once lat Fall hit, it was more of a challenge to find fun places we could visit & explore (especially those that were in our budget and didn't involve a fast food location ;)

Then I came across a GEM!  We took a trip to our local nature center -- and we spent 3 hours there!  I know, we only expected it to be a short visit but there was just so much to do that I couldn't get the kids to agree they were done until they explored the whole darn place. 

And then we were hooked -- we found 3 more nature centers to visit that winter.  Since many centers have both indoor and outdoor spaces, they are a wonderful resource for the colder months.


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I recently received an email with a question that caught my eye --

"Worried Your Kid Is Going To Break...Something?"

"Hell Yes!"  was all I could think because we have kids who are prone to injury.

Anyone who knows our family is not surprised to see one of the kids walking around with a cast or brace.  I swear that our family motto should be 'Play hard, get hurt, do it again'.

Let's see, the kids have suffered from a deep bone contusion while playing football, a broken wrist in basketball, a leg fracture with dance and four teeth knocked out during another basketball game (read more about our medical adventures & tips on caring for a child in a cast).

And I only have 2 kids!

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Have I ever told you about the year I handed out pretzels for Halloween?

It's a HUGE family joke so I'm sure I've mentioned it before.

To my defense, they were pumpkin & bat shaped pretzels in these cute little Halloween-themed bags ....

BUT that didn't seem to impress MY kids at all.  All I heard was "What if my friends stop by?  They'll think you don't like Halloween?" 

Well that's totally not true given some of the fun ways we hand out candy and the cool Halloween decorations we have around the house!

I was going with pretzels that year!  Every other house would hand out candy so there would be more than enough of that to go around, right?

Then came Halloween night ...

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Today we're going to talk about how to help your child increase their attention span.

I know, we can all use practice with that, right?  It's the age we live in -- things move so fast and kids don't have the time they need to process their experiences. 

However, that processing time is crucial to their development! 

The article -- What Helps Kids Focus Better & Why They Need Help -- is a must read for any parent or educator!  Research has shown us that kids will learn best when they can focus and maintain attention to a task.  BUT that doesn't just come naturally to children -- we have to give them opportunities to practice and build this skill.

And one of the ways to do this is to inspire kids with a fun outdoor adventure!

There are a number of benefits to getting kids more time outside -- it increases creativity, reduces stress, allows them to build their imagination --

and gives them an opportunity to focus and expand their attention span!

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Every year, we have a family pumpkin carving session for Halloween -- like many families, it's one of those holiday traditions you look forward to (along with toasting those yummy seeds!)

The kids love to find pumpkin stencils for their favorite book or movie character each year.

We know first hand that it can sometimes take longer to FIND the right stencil than actually carve the pumpkin ;)  Last year, we looked for more than an hour to find a really great Ironman stencil. 

Our last 100 FREE Pumpkin Carving Stencils was so popular, I thought we should share some *NEW* ideas so you can quickly find the cool patterns you'll need to carve the most awesome pumpkin ever!

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions & design ideas are mine alone. #TrickOrSweet #CollectiveBias


Every Halloween, we run into the same dilemma -- who will hand out the candy at our house?!

It all started the first Halloween BOTH the kids were old enough to trick or treat.  As we dressed to head out the door, my son asked "But if we all go, who will hand out the candy?"

We told him it would be fine if we were gone for a little while but it wasn't fine for him -- "What if my friends come while we're gone?  They won't think we do Halloween?" certainly is a dilemma.  We love heading out with the kids on Halloween night and visiting with the neighbors.  But I also like all the neighborhood kids to be excited when they stop by our house and not see a dark porch.

So we needed to create a good way to hand out the candy while we were off enjoying ourselves.

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When I was a child, I can remember spending HOURS exploring the woods behind our house.

My brother, sister and I (along with our neighborhood friends) would hike back to this forested area and walk through the creek, play games and hope to encounter all types of woodland animals.

During the summer, we would head out after breakfast and come back tired & hungry for a late lunch.  The woods were a special place -- so colorful in the Fall, mysteriously quiet in the winter, full of life during Spring and a cool respite during those hot Summer days.

We thought we were explorers!

And as a parent, I was reminded this summer that these moments of childhood are experienced by each generation.  During our marathon summer road trip, we spent a few days at Gran & Pop's house which is located on 4.5 acres of wooded property.

Each morning, the kids would say "We're going back to the creek" or "We're taking the path through the woods to explore" -- words that reminded me how every child is drawn to the forest.

So today we're going to kick-off a short series focused on Forest Adventures! 

Over the next few weeks, we'll introduce more than 50 fun activities that will connect kids to the woodland areas near your home.  Some of these activities can be done at home, others are better experienced in the forest --  ALL will inspire the wonder & joy of connecting with nature.


"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." 

~ Albert Einstein

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I want to introduce you to our newest craft project -- we call them Frank, Pete & Mike :)

What else would you call a monster, pumpkin and mummy, right?

We loved making the Halloween Salt-dough Glitter Garland last year so I thought we'd try our hand at another glittery Halloween craft.

But we uped the anty with these -- we wanted something that was not only fun to make but was also interactive and had a sensory component to it.

Not to mention their awesome ability to go from day to night so the kids can enjoy it 24/7 -- they can even be used as a fun nightlight during the Halloween season :)


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Do you know the saying "A picture's worth a thousand words"?

If that's the case, I'm going to tell you that a hands-on science activity answers 1,000 questions :)

Giving kids a way to get up close while learning helps provide the details for all the "why is this happening?" and "what does that mean?" questions that they ask as while exploring the world. 

Today we have both for you -- a few pictures along with an awesome & easy hands-on activity that's worth it's weight in gold!

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Fall is the season for leaves! 

You know me -- I'm all about EASY when it comes to projects and what's easier than walking out your door and rounding up a handful of leaves ;)

And although we adore leaf rubbings and 'match the leaf' games, there's really so much more you can explore & do!

So send the kids out on a quick romp around the yard or park to grab some leafy friends, head back home and enjoy a few of these leaf crafts and science projects.


 leaf crafts & science projects for kids

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Fall is starting this week (yea!) so I wanted to celebrate with a fun seasonal activity!

When the seasons change, it's a wonderful time to introduce kids to the science behind nature.  For example, leaf rubbings are a great way to explore the parts of a leaf in addition to being a timeless seasonal craft.

It's also the perfect time to pull out some seasonal books like these 14 Cozy Fall Books Kids Love!

And with all the colors we experience in the Fall, it's also a great time for some art fun.

Today I want to tie all those together -- book + science + art = Awesome Autumn Activity!

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With the big kids back in school, it’s the perfect time of year to focus on the interests of our younger learners. 

Kids can have very definite likes and desires when it comes to acquiring new knowledge even at a young age.  As many people will say “they are just a sponge waiting to soak up all that learning”!

I love using themed learning with children of all ages but especially with kids ages 3 - 10 years old! 

Truth be told, I still use this technique with my older kids too but allow them to choose many of the resources along with the themes.

The goal of a theme-based learning is to offer your child an in-depth experience that allows them to explore a variety of areas  (science, art, sensory, reading, etc) all focused on a theme they love!

If you haven't tried this yet, you'll be AMAZED at how much your kids will enjoy it!

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