Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Traditions For Your Family

By: Angie @ Kids Matter

As the holiday season gets into full swing, lets discuss traditions that families have. I personally feel it is important to have traditions, not just for holidays but throughout the year. Kids will not always remember the gifts they received each year, but they will carry your family traditions with them forever.

1) Christmas Books: Many people collect 24 different Christmas themed books and wrap them individually. Each evening, a child opens one of the books to be read together as a family.

2) Baking cookies for Santa. We love to decorate special cookies for Santa and he even has a special plate at our house.

3) Special foods served each year at the big meal. For our house, it is always scalloped oysters on one side of the family and dumplings on the other. Delicious!

4) Gingerbread houses. You can bake it from scratch, but in our house we just buy the kits. It makes my life easier and the fun is in the decorations, not the baking for this.

5) Visiting Santa. We actually see Santa twice each year. We go to see him at the mall and have a great picture taken, but our church also has Santa come to a big breakfast that they have at the beginning of December.

6) A new ornament for each child, each year. We always do this with the intention of when the kids move out, they will already have ornaments for their own tree. I try to make it personal by selecting something reflective of the past year and I prefer the ornament to be home made, whether by us or someone else.

7) Writing a letter to Santa. In our house, you can't ask Santa for more than three things. It can be hard to narrow it down, but somehow he manages to do it each year.

8) Angel Tree. Each year we select a kid to buy for. The kid is either my son's age or has the same interests as him, then we go shopping and my son picks out a gift or two for the Angel.

9) Salvation Army. Each year we participate in the red kettle campaign by spending a few hours ringing the bell with some friends. In addition, I have to keep lots of cash on me for my son to donate in each and every red kettle he sees.

10) North Pole Breakfast. The morning after we decorate the tree, we eat breakfast under the tree. It is always festive, but we just eat donuts and drink hot chocolate. Our Elf usually shows up that morning also.

11) Elf on the shelf. We participate in the Elf on the shelf, but our elf (Buddy) knows that there are some rules he has to follow too. He is not allowed to make big messes or be bad. Buddy can be silly without making a big mess and we expect him to boost spirits by pointing out nice things we do and leaving little notes to parents about some nice things.

12) Birthday party for Jesus. Our church has a birthday party with snacks and storytelling and each family brings books to be donated to foster children. In addition to this, my parents always have a cake for Jesus and the grandchildren get a lit candle to blow out in each of their slices of cake.

13) A personal Christmas tree. We replace the nightlight in my son's room with a small tabletop Christmas tree that he decorates and we keep it lit for him each evening.

14) Drive around to see Christmas lights. If it is not too cold, bonus points for the kids being in pajamas for the ride.

15) Drive Through Bethlehem. Our church puts on a live action Bethlehem and includes real animals and actors portraying scenes. We always attend this event and it is a highlight of the season for us.

16) Stockings. Each year the stocking has a piece of fruit and 4 toothbrushes, in addition to small gifts. That is because my stocking always contained those things when I was growing up and I carried the tradition over.

What are some of the traditions that your family carries with you every single year?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

16 Natural Treatments for Colds and Flu

Angie @ Kids Matter

We have officially moved into cold weather and with the cold, comes the season of germs and being stuck inside. Winter has its attributes, like snowmen, hot chocolate and snuggling with the kids to watch movies, but it also has its downside. With the onset of winter, comes germs and with the family spending more time inside, those germs can spread quickly!

Full disclosure: I am not a medical professional (I don't even play one on TV), but these are some suggestions for keeping healthy. Please check with your health care provider about your personal case.

1) Always get a good night of sleep. Sleep keeps your immune system healthy.
2) Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Try to get most of your vitamins through foods.
3) Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. If there ever was a time to sing the Happy Birthday song to be sure you are washing your hands long enough, winter is that time! Be sure the kids are using enough soap and they are washing between the fingers, on the back and the front of the hands.
4) Wash the items we touch on a daily basis. These items include door knobs, phones, light switches and sink handles.
5) Cough into your arm or sleeve, not into your hands.
6) Run a humidifier.
7) Drink hot liquids like teas or hot chocolates to soothe a throat. You can also add honey to your hot tea to soothe your throat even further.
8) Be sure you are getting enough Vitamin C.

1) Be sure you are staying hydrated. Drink lots of fluids. In my home, this usually means Sprite. We normally drink lots of water, but I offer Sprite when my son is sick. It is so bubbly that it can make throats feel better and it soothes upset bellies.
2) Eat homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
3) Get lots of rest. This is the perfect time to lay on the couch, snuggled under a blanket. Your body needs time to heal. Do not push yourself too hard.
4) Sleep with an extra pillow to elevate your head. This will assist with any drainage issues.
5) Take a steamy shower. This will not only release kinks and body aches, but it will also help to open your sinuses.
6) Know when to see a Doctor. A cold cannot be treated, but the flu requires treatment.
7) Realize that there are times your body is fighting something and you have to let it fight. Don't be too quick to treat every little symptom. Your body is an efficient machine, allow it to work.
8) Some times you can put a damp wash cloth in the freezer for a short period and then rest it across your eyes. This can relieve your sinus pressure for a short while.

Take care of yourself and try to avoid unnecessary contact with people that you know are sick. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Your Change CAN Change a Life

As we prepare our list for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, let us not forget the less fortunate. You can make a difference in the life of a family!

Thank you for your support and for caring about the health, well-being and education of our youngest members of society. The Child Care Council of Kentucky is on a mission to be sure that all children are ready to start kindergarten and your donation can help! Please give during the Good Giving Challenge.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kentucky State Parks “Get Spooky With It”

Kentucky State Parks “Get Spooky With It”
Belinda @ Kids Matter
What’s a great combination? How about Halloween and Kentucky State Parks? That’s right; Kentucky State Parks are “getting spooky with it”! All over the state, parks are hosting Halloween events. We are invited for hayrides, crafting, reptile presentations, cookouts, trick-or-treating, haunted trail adventures, ghost hunting, and costume contests to give a few examples of what’s in store. Who can resist such great temptations? Spending time with nature and exploring the activities for Halloween. Yes, that’s a great combination!
Why is nature such an important part of our lives? "Nature is fuel for the soul," says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. He says, "Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.” Nature restores the harmony between mind, body, and soul. I think Gautham puts it best, “Everything we as humans have created has been derived from this harmony: anything from simply utilizing it efficiently to downright trying to copy its intricacies. Whenever we see the world around us becoming more and more chaotic we can look to the harmony that is nature to guide us back. The harmony that allows the whales and the sharks to live in the same ocean, the harmony that allows the wind and the trees to roam in the same fields, the harmony that allows the body and mind of all living beings to function as one.” Nature is literally the path to inner peace.
Walk hand in hand with your loved ones, steadfast into the great hope of a beautiful park covered in fall foliage. Inhale the essence that is purity in its simplest form. Disconnect from the technology that has you plugged in the majority of the day. Exhale the anxiety and tensions that have you in a choke hold. Open yourself to the possibility of enrichment and fulfillment through the anticipation of nature. Add in the excitement of celebrating Halloween in such an atmosphere and there you have it… a great combination!
Explore Kentucky; infuse yourself with the harmony found in its state parks through the essence of nature. Visit the Kentucky State Parks website to see information on Halloween events taking place in a state park near you. Have a Happy Halloween and a spooktacular time getting back to nature while you celebrate!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Five Crafty Halloween Ideas for Children

Five Crafty Halloween Ideas for Children
Belinda @ Kids Matter
As I am all about family time, I can’t imagine a better way to kick off the holiday season than by getting “spooky crafty” with the kids. Children absolutely love to do crafts. We will take a look at five crafty Halloween ideas that will put those creative little minds to work. Craft ideas are just that… ideas… add your own little twist to them. You will be surprised what children come up with while creating their crafts. Halloween is a holiday that sticks with you throughout your lifetime. Every Halloween you remember characters you became, the fun of going door to door, haunted houses, candy, and all the decorations. Create memories with your children by participating in as many fun filled activities as possible throughout October.

Creepy spiders
Materials: Styrofoam balls, black spray paint, black pipe cleaners, wiggly eyes, orange felt, glue, scissors, and gum drops. Make different sizes and create families of spiders.
1.     Paint the Styrofoam balls black and allow them to dry thoroughly.
2.     Insert eight pipe cleaners into the ball for the legs.
3.     Cut two small circles of orange felt for the eyes and glue them onto the ball.
4.     Glue two wiggly eyes onto the orange felt.
5.     Stick a gum drop on the end of each leg for the feet.

Materials: One large oblong shaped pumpkin, one lime, stapler, black and green paint, white, black, and green felt, two bolts, toothpicks, scissors, glue, and dark green marker.
1.     Paint the pumpkin green and dry thoroughly.
2.     Paint black hair on top of pumpkin and dry thoroughly.
3.     Cut the lime in half and insert two toothpicks into the sides of the pumpkin where the ears will go.
4.     Place the lime halves onto the toothpicks.
5.     Paint a long black eyebrow across the forehead of the pumpkin.
6.     Cut out two oval shaped white pieces of felt for the eyes and glue them onto the pumpkin.
7.     Cut out two circles of black felt for the eyes and glue them onto the white felt.
8.     Cut out two half ovals of green felt for the eye lids and glue them on.
9.     Paint the mouth and nose with black paint and dry thoroughly.
10.  Insert a bolt toward the bottom of each side of the pumpkin.
11.  Using the green marker, draw a line a couple inches long across the forehead of the pumpkin.
12.  Using the stapler, insert several staples across the green line.

Mummy cup
Materials: Plastic cups, medical gauze, wiggly eyes, candy, scissors, and glue.
1.     Coat the plastic cup with glue around the sides leaving the top and bottom uncovered.
2.     Wrap gauze around the cup going several layers deep around the cup.
3.     Cut the gauze and glue with a drop of glue to the back of the cup.
4.     Glue on two wiggly eyes.
5.     Fill cup with your favorite candy.

Spooktacular necklace
Materials: yarn, white glue, parchment paper, scissors, and black marker.
1.     On a sheet of parchment paper, using the glue, draw an outline of several ghosts.
2.     Allow them to dry for one minute.
3.     Fill in the outline with more glue.
4.     Allow the ghosts to dry for two days.
5.     Gently peel the ghosts from the parchment paper.
6.     Using the black marker, draw eyes and a mouth on the ghosts.
7.     Punch a hole at the top of each ghost large enough to insert yarn.
8.     Cut strands of yarn long enough to make a necklace.
9.     String ghosts onto the yarn creating a necklace and tie to appropriate size.

Cup of worms
Materials: One small box of instant chocolate Jell-O pudding,  two cups of milk, one package of Oreo cookies, one package of gummy worms, and four clear plastic cups.
1.     Make the chocolate pudding according to the directions on the box.
2.     Crush Oreo cookies and sprinkle some in the bottom of each cup.
3.     Pour a ½ cup of pudding into each cup.
4.     Sprinkle more Oreo crumbs on top of the pudding.
5.     Insert a couple worms into the Oreo pudding mixture (dirt) burying them about half the length of the worm with the remaining half sticking out the top of the cup.
6.     Chill for an hour in the refrigerator and then eat.

But don’t stop here... keep that Halloween momentum going and search for other creative crafts and projects to do for the holiday. Spend quality time with your children doing things to spark their creative juices while having fun. With all projects, make sure you have a wet cloth and dry towel handy to clean up messes. Prepare the working surface before delving into a project. Make certain that any furniture near the activity is covered for protection. Dress the children in old play clothes in case of accidents. Most importantly… be patient with the children as fun can be very exciting and may lead to distractions and failure to follow instructions. Allow the children to be as hands on as appropriate for their age. During the tasks where the adult must do the work, remember to talk with the children and describe what you are doing so they learn as you work. Explain to them why an adult must do that specific task and why they should not attempt it on their own. Crafts are great teaching tools! Discuss colors, shapes, textures, counting, letters, sounds, and safety rules as you work. Have a great time with your projects and create beautiful smiles and memories as you go!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween: A Night for Treats, Not Tragedies

Halloween: A Night for Treats, Not Tragedies
Robin @ Kids Matter
Twice as many kids are killed, while walking on Halloween, as on any other day of the year.  Kids usually trick-or-treat when it is dark which makes it more difficult for drivers to see them.  Because they’re excited about getting candy, children may not be watching for cars.
Parents and drivers need to do their part to help kids stay out of the emergency room on Halloween.
Top tips to keep Kids safe on Halloween
For parents and children:
·        Emphasize safe pedestrian behaviors to kids before they go trick or treating.
·        Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.  Look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.  And, keep looking as you cross.  Walk; don’t run across the street.
·        Walk on sidewalks or paths.  If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
·        Slow down and stay alert.  Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up, and never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
·        Costumes can be both creative and safe.  Decorate your children’s costumes with reflective materials and, if possible, choose light colors that can be seen in the dark.  Masks can obstruct a child’s vision, so choose nontoxic face paint, makeup and wigs instead.
·        Carry flashlights or glow sticks.  These will help trick-or-treaters see and be seen by drivers.
For drivers:
·        Slow down in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
·        Be sure to turn your full headlights on between 5:30 and 9:30 P.M., the most popular trick-or-treating hours.
·        Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.  Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
·        Slowly and carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
·        Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
·        While pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents and kids should be careful when dealing with candy.  Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.
This information is provided by Safe Kids, Fayette County.  Visit their website to learn more about how to keep our children safe.