Travel Advice

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If you're thinking about planning your own family train trip, take some advice from the Evans family

Set the tone. Attitude is everything. You the parents set the tone for the trip.

Study up. We spent weeks reading books about American History so that what we saw on our trip would mean more. We also watched National Treasure since it visits each of the main cities we were planning to visit. This helped the boys appreciate the importance of the museums and artifacts we visited. Lastly, and probably the most helpful and by complete accident, we had been watching The Amazing Race leading up to our trip. The boys not only gained an appreciation of travel, but they also observed what works well when traveling together and what doesn't. I really believe that this had a tremendous effect on their attitudes throughout the trip.

Scenario plan. Talk through potential situations with your kids beforehand so they know what to do in different circumstances.

Empower your kids. Whenever possible, let them make choices and allow them to handle their own ticket. The more you allow them to feel grown up on a trip like this, the more mature and easy-going the trip will be.

Keep something up your sleeve. Don't show your whole hand at once. Introduce new activities (and snacks) throughout the trip.

Feed them. Often!

Laugh a lot. Be able to laugh at the bumps in the road (or on the train) that are bound to happen.

Praise. Tell them frequently that you are so glad you have kids that can travel like this. Remind them that you can take a trip like this because you have kids that can handle it. Set the bar realistically high and they will reach it.


Pick up a magzine to read the full article.


Summer time in the blueberry patch

One of the sure signs of summer in the Northwest is blueberries. They're delicious all on their own, or try mixing things up with some of these blueberry-inspired recipes.

 

When mom needs a cocktail, this refreshing spritzer is just the thing.
Or forego the alcohol and make it a mocktail everyone can enjoy.

 

Ingredients:

3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup simple syrup:

½ cup lime juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 cup mint leaves, torn

4 cups club soda

8 fluid ounces vodka (optional)

1 cup blueberries, fresh

Directions:

To make the blueberry base combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, remove from the heat and add the mint leaves, then stir with a wooden spoon to release the mint aromas. Chill completely and strain out solids into a container by pushing on the blueberries to extract as much juice as possible.

For each drink combine 3 ounces of the chilled blueberry base in a shaker with ½ cup ice cubes; 1 fluid ounce vodka, if using, and shake to muddle and strain into a chilled glass. Add 4 ounces club soda and garnish with a few blueberries and a mint leaf.

 

 

Blueberry_slice

 

 

As if blueberries weren't good enough, this cheesecake recipe pairs the sweet-tart flavor of fresh blueberries with savory cream cheese for a decadent-tasting dessert.

Ingredients:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons honey, divided

1 container (8 ounces) nonfat orange or tangerine yogurt

4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, from an 8-ounce package

¾ cup nonfat cottage cheese

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 eggs

2 cups fresh blueberries

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and 2 tablespoons of the honey, then transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. With the back of a spoon, press mixture onto bottom and halfway up sides of plate.

In a food processor container, place yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese and cornstarch. Whirl until smooth, about 1 minute. Add eggs, whirl until blended.

Pour about half of the cheese mixture onto the crust. Top with ½ cup of the blueberries, then cover with remaining cheese mixture.

Bake until firm, about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a microwaveable dish, microwave the remaining 1 tablespoon honey just until liquefied, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining 1 ½ cups blueberries and toss to coat. Top pie with berries.

Loosely cover pie and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

No Foolin'

 

Did you know that April Fools' Day was started by an exhausted mom who wanted to play a trick on her family by resetting all of the clocks in the house so that she could stay in bed? Just fooling!
The actual origins of April Fools' Day are unknown, but History.com tells us that historians speculate the holiday dates back to 1582. That's when France switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. People who failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as poisson d'avril (April fish), said to symbolize a young, "easily hooked" fish and a gullible person.
Kid-friendly April Fools' Day pranks
Don't be an April fish. If you want to get in on the joke, think Elf-on-the-Shelf meets a mischievous leprechaun and you'll be in the right mindset for some fun April Fools' Day pranks. Here are a few ideas to fool your family.
* Set the clocks forward an hour, then wake the kids up by frantically announcing that you're late. After they scramble to get ready, surprise them with a breakfast treat.
* Tell your kids you're having cupcakes for dinner. Then serve meatloaf "cupcakes" topped with mashed potatoes colored to look like frosting.
* Surprise your kids with a bowl of frozen cereal. The night before, pour cereal in a bowl and about half the milk, then freeze. In the morning top up with a little fresh milk before serving.
* Stuff the inside tips of your children's shoes with tissue or cotton balls. They'll be confused as to why their shoes suddenly don't fit. Throw in some casual comments about how their feet look like they've grown.
* Put a small drop of food coloring inside the bristles of your children's toothbrushes. If the drops are little, they won't even realize they're there until they begin brushing their teeth and discover a yuck mouth.
* Pour some baking soda in the toilet. Then, when your little ones go potty in the morning, it will fizz up and surprise them.
Keep it fun
April Fool's Day is a time for jokes and pranks, but kids sometimes lack the maturity to distinguish between a fun-loving joke and a hurtful one. Teach your child about "laughing with, not at someone." Emphasize that a good joke includes everyone laughing together, not picking on someone or leaving them out.

april_fish_490px.jpg

Did you know that April Fools' Day was started by an exhausted mom who wanted to play a trick on her family by resetting all of the clocks in the house so that she could stay in bed? Just fooling!

The actual origins of April Fools' Day are unknown, but History.com tells us that historians speculate the holiday dates back to 1582. That's when France switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. People who failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as poisson d'avril (April fish), said to symbolize a young, "easily hooked" fish and a gullible person.

Kid-friendly April Fools' Day pranks

Don't be an April fish. If you want to get in on the joke, think Elf-on-the-Shelf meets a mischievous leprechaun and you'll be in the right mindset for some fun April Fools' Day pranks. Here are a few ideas to fool your family.

  • Set the clocks forward an hour, then wake the kids up by frantically announcing that you're late. After they scramble to get ready, surprise them with a breakfast treat.
  • Tell your kids you're having cupcakes for dinner. Then serve meatloaf "cupcakes" topped with mashed potatoes colored to look like frosting.
  • Surprise your kids with a bowl of frozen cereal. The night before, pour cereal in a bowl and about half the milk, then freeze. In the morning top up with a little fresh milk before serving.
  • Stuff the inside tips of your children's shoes with tissue or cotton balls. They'll be confused as to why their shoes suddenly don't fit. Throw in some casual comments about how their feet look like they've grown.
  • Put a small drop of food coloring inside the bristles of your children's toothbrushes. If the drops are little, they won't even realize they're there until they begin brushing their teeth and discover a yuck mouth.
  • Pour some baking soda in the toilet. Then, when your little ones go potty in the morning, it will fizz up and surprise them.

Keep it fun

April Fool's Day is a time for jokes and pranks, but kids sometimes lack the maturity to distinguish between a fun-loving joke and a hurtful one. Teach your child about "laughing with, not at someone." Emphasize that a good joke includes everyone laughing together, not picking on someone or leaving them out.

 

 

How Sweet It Is

cookie_bars_490px.jpg

HOW SWEET IT IS
For most of us, a birthday just wouldn't be a celebration without a sweet treat. But who wants a dozen toddlers running around their house jacked up on sugar? So try these tasty recipes using natural sweeteners.
Brown rice trail bars
From the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN
Ingredients
2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup brown rice syrup or coconut nectar
? cup almond butter or peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups Erewhon Brown Rice Crispy Cereal (gluten-free)
? cup sesame seeds
? cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
? cup chopped nuts, optional
? cup raisins or dried cranberries
Directions
Grease a 9x13-inch glass baking pan with coconut oil and set aside.
Heat coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown rice syrup and nut butter and heat until tiny bubbles form, stirring constantly, but gently, with a wire whisk. Immediately take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Place remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Pour the hot syrup mixture over it and immediately mix together with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the mixture flat with a rubber spatula.
Almond cookies
From Dr. Virginia Shapiro
Ingredients
1? cups raw almonds (organic are best)
? teaspoon sea salt
? teaspoon baking powder
? cup cocoa powder, optional
? cup maple syrup
Directions
Blend almonds in a food processor into a thick paste (this takes time, so be patient).
Blend in the salt, baking powder and cocoa. Add maple syrup and a ball of dough will form in the processor. Remove the dough and finish mixing by hand, if needed.
Form 1" balls, flatten well and place on a baking sheet that has been greased with coconut oil.
Bake at 350°F about 10-13 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool.
Chocolate banana "ice cream"
From the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN
Ingredients
? cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons water
3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 large frozen bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Directions
Process cashews, water and maple syrup in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Add frozen banana slices and the cacao powder and process until smooth, thick and creamy.
Serve immediately or freeze for later use.
4-6 servings
Let them eat cake!
If you're making a birthday cake, cut calories and reduce fat with these healthy substitutions.
Applesauce instead of oil. Substitute 1/4 cup of the oil in your favorite cake recipe with the same amount of applesauce and you will remove 490 calories without cutting the flavor.
Cream cheese instead of shortening. For a healthier frosting simply substitute cream cheese or whipped cream-based frosting for fattier shortening-based ones. Dairy-based spreads can cut 1,000 calories or more from a recipe while also lowering the fat. And, as a bonus, you'll be getting some protein, which helps balance out the blood sugar. It's like getting a present from your cake!
The hierarchy of sweeteners
When choosing a sweetener, consider these options listed in order from best to worst:
(graphic)
A note about alcohol sugars (xylitol, erythritol): The primary issue with alcohol sugars, often found in "sugar-free" foods, is that they are hard on the gastrointestinal tract. They cause indigestion in most people and can disturb the microbiome. They should be consumed in small amounts intermittently-not in substantial amounts or used daily in any amount.
Recipes and content provided by First Alternative Co-op (https://firstalt.coop).

For most of us, a birthday just wouldn't be a celebration without a sweet treat. But who wants a dozen toddlers running around their house jacked up on sugar? So try these tasty recipes using natural sweeteners.

Brown rice trail bars

From the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN

Ingredients

2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan

1 cup brown rice syrup or coconut nectar

3/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 cups Erewhon Brown Rice Crispy Cereal (gluten-free)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds

1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Directions

Grease a 9x13-inch glass baking pan with coconut oil and set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown rice syrup and nut butter and heat until tiny bubbles form, stirring constantly, but gently, with a wire whisk. Immediately take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Place remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Pour the hot syrup mixture over it and immediately mix together with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the mixture flat with a rubber spatula.

 

Almond cookies

From Dr. Virginia Shapiro

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups raw almonds (organic are best)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup cocoa powder, optional

1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions

Blend almonds in a food processor into a thick paste (this takes time, so be patient).

Blend in the salt, baking powder and cocoa. Add maple syrup and a ball of dough will form in the processor. Remove the dough and finish mixing by hand, if needed.

Form 1" balls, flatten well and place on a baking sheet that has been greased with coconut oil.

Bake at 350°F about 10-13 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool.

 

Chocolate banana "ice cream"

From the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw cashews

2 tablespoons water

3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3 large frozen bananas, sliced

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Directions

Process cashews, water and maple syrup in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Add frozen banana slices and the cacao powder and process until smooth, thick and creamy.

Serve immediately or freeze for later use.

4-6 servings

 

Let them eat cake!

If you're making a birthday cake, cut calories and reduce fat with these healthy substitutions.

Applesauce instead of oil. Substitute 1/4 cup of the oil in your favorite cake recipe with the same amount of applesauce and you will remove 490 calories without cutting the flavor.

Cream cheese instead of shortening. For a healthier frosting simply substitute cream cheese or whipped cream-based frosting for fattier shortening-based ones. Dairy-based spreads can cut 1,000 calories or more from a recipe while also lowering the fat. And, as a bonus, you'll be getting some protein, which helps balance out the blood sugar. It's like getting a present from your cake!

 

The hierarchy of sweeteners

When choosing a sweetener, consider these options listed in order from best to worst:

sweeteners_300px.jpg

A note about alcohol sugars (xylitol, erythritol): The primary issue with alcohol sugars, often found in "sugar-free" foods, is that they are hard on the gastrointestinal tract. They cause indigestion in most people and can disturb the microbiome. They should be consumed in small amounts intermittently-not in substantial amounts or used daily in any amount.

Recipes and content provided by First Alternative Co-op (https://firstalt.coop).

 

How Sweet It Is

 

For most of us, a birthday just wouldn't be a celebration without a sweet treat. But who wants a dozen toddlers running around their house jacked up on sugar? So try these tasty recipes using natural sweeteners.
Brown rice trail bars
From the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN
Ingredients
2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup brown rice syrup or coconut nectar
? cup almond butter or peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups Erewhon Brown Rice Crispy Cereal (gluten-free)
? cup sesame seeds
? cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
? cup chopped nuts, optional
? cup raisins or dried cranberries
Directions
Grease a 9x13-inch glass baking pan with coconut oil and set aside.
Heat coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown rice syrup and nut butter and heat until tiny bubbles form, stirring constantly, but gently, with a wire whisk. Immediately take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Place remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Pour the hot syrup mixture over it and immediately mix together with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the mixture flat with a rubber spatula.
Almond cookies
From Dr. Virginia Shapiro
Ingredients
1? cups raw almonds (organic are best)
? teaspoon sea salt
? teaspoon baking powder
? cup cocoa powder, optional
? cup maple syrup
Directions
Blend almonds in a food processor into a thick paste (this takes time, so be patient).
Blend in the salt, baking powder and cocoa. Add maple syrup and a ball of dough will form in the processor. Remove the dough and finish mixing by hand, if needed.
Form 1" balls, flatten well and place on a baking sheet that has been greased with coconut oil.
Bake at 350°F about 10-13 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool.
Chocolate banana "ice cream"
From the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN
Ingredients
? cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons water
3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 large frozen bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Directions
Process cashews, water and maple syrup in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Add frozen banana slices and the cacao powder and process until smooth, thick and creamy.
Serve immediately or freeze for later use.
4-6 servings
Let them eat cake!
If you're making a birthday cake, cut calories and reduce fat with these healthy substitutions.
Applesauce instead of oil. Substitute 1/4 cup of the oil in your favorite cake recipe with the same amount of applesauce and you will remove 490 calories without cutting the flavor.
Cream cheese instead of shortening. For a healthier frosting simply substitute cream cheese or whipped cream-based frosting for fattier shortening-based ones. Dairy-based spreads can cut 1,000 calories or more from a recipe while also lowering the fat. And, as a bonus, you'll be getting some protein, which helps balance out the blood sugar. It's like getting a present from your cake!
The hierarchy of sweeteners
When choosing a sweetener, consider these options listed in order from best to worst:
(graphic)
A note about alcohol sugars (xylitol, erythritol): The primary issue with alcohol sugars, often found in "sugar-free" foods, is that they are hard on the gastrointestinal tract. They cause indigestion in most people and can disturb the microbiome. They should be consumed in small amounts intermittently-not in substantial amounts or used daily in any amount.
Recipes and content provided by First Alternative Co-op (https://firstalt.coop).

cookie_bars_490px

For most of us, a birthday just wouldn't be a celebration without a sweet treat. But who wants a dozen toddlers running around their house jacked up on sugar? So try these tasty recipes using natural sweeteners.

 

Brown rice trail bars

From the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN

Ingredients

2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup brown rice syrup or coconut nectar
3/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups Erewhon Brown Rice Crispy Cereal (gluten-free)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Directions

Grease a 9x13-inch glass baking pan with coconut oil and set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown rice syrup and nut butter and heat until tiny bubbles form, stirring constantly, but gently, with a wire whisk. Immediately take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Place remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Pour the hot syrup mixture over it and immediately mix together with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the mixture flat with a rubber spatula.

 

Almond cookies

From Dr. Virginia Shapiro

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups raw almonds (organic are best)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder, optional
1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions

Blend almonds in a food processor into a thick paste (this takes time, so be patient).

Blend in the salt, baking powder and cocoa. Add maple syrup and a ball of dough will form in the processor. Remove the dough and finish mixing by hand, if needed.

Form 1" balls, flatten well and place on a baking sheet that has been greased with coconut oil.

Bake at 350°F about 10-13 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool.

 

Chocolate banana "ice cream"

From the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons water
3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 large frozen bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Directions

Process cashews, water and maple syrup in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Add frozen banana slices and the cacao powder and process until smooth, thick and creamy.

Serve immediately or freeze for later use.

4-6 servings

 

Recipes and content provided by First Alternative Co-op (https://firstalt.coop).

 

Birthday Party Survival Guide

 

BIRTHDAY PARTY SURVIVAL GUIDE
We love a good party, but birthday party planning can get a little out of hand. Here are some tips for throwing a great party without losing your mind.
Theme:
No theme, no problem. You don't need a clever theme to pull together a great party. Simply ask your child to pick their favorite color, shape or animal and run with it. Whether it's stripes and polka dots, blue and green, or ladybugs, you've got yourself a theme.
The internet is a party-planning mom's best friend. Whatever your theme, you'll find free printables you can use online. You just need to search.
Invitations:
Your friend the internet will likely have some free invitation templates that work with your theme. Or you can purchase a digital design from an online merchant like etsy for $5- $15. Better yet, make your own design using canva.com
Location:
We don't care what it takes, just keep the party out of your house. Even if weather prevents you from hosting the party outside, devote your garage or basement to the cause. Setup and cleanup will be easier and your house won't take a beating. Better yet, get out of your house all together. Often the cost of hosting a party at an outside venue like a pizza parlor or bowling alley is justified when you factor in the cost savings from not decorating your house, planning activities, etc.
Entertainment:
Keeping kids engaged is key to a low stress party. Hire high school students or older cousins to lead kids in games. Professional entertainment like a face painter, balloon artist or character can really make a party. If you don't want to hire a professional, ask a family member to do the job.
Food:
2 P.M. is the magic hour: it's not lunch, it's not dinner, it's perfect. Simply put out a few snacks, serve cake and you're set. All birthday parties should be at 2 P.M.
Cake:
You kids won't spend a fortune on future therapy because they didn't have a homemade birthday cake. There are some great store-bought cakes and they don't have to be expensive. A simple sheet or round cake from the baker can easily be enhanced with the addition of toys, ribbon, candies, flowers or other items that tie in your theme.
Gifts:
If you're concerned about present overload, give your guests some direction like "Small gifts under $5, please." Or provide a theme "Contribute to Johnny's art supply collection." Or ask guests to bring a gently-used copy of their favorite book to help grow your child's library.
Thank yous:
When it comes to birthdays, the one place you don't want to cut corners is the thank you notes. An important part of birthday parties is learning to be a gracious host and appreciative gift recipient. I doesn't matter how you get it done, the important thing is that your child sends a thank you note for every gift, not a text message, not an email, not a voicemail, a note.
We love this idea from MOM reader Kim Duce. She takes a picture of every guest with the birthday girl and their gift, prints out the picture, mounts it to card stock and has her daughter write a thank you message on it. Her guests are appreciated and they get a treasured photo.

birthday_490px.jpg

We love a good party, but birthday party planning can get a little out of hand. Here are some tips for throwing a great party without losing your mind.

Theme:

No theme, no problem. You don't need a clever theme to pull together a great party. Simply ask your child to pick their favorite color, shape or animal and run with it. Whether it's stripes and polka dots, blue and green, or ladybugs, you've got yourself a theme.

The internet is a party-planning mom's best friend. Whatever your theme, you'll find free printables you can use online. You just need to search.

Invitations:

Your friend the internet will likely have some free invitation templates that work with your theme. Or you can purchase a digital design from an online merchant like etsy for $5- $15. Better yet, make your own design using canva.com

Location:

We don't care what it takes, just keep the party out of your house. Even if weather prevents you from hosting the party outside, devote your garage or basement to the cause. Setup and cleanup will be easier and your house won't take a beating. Better yet, get out of your house all together. Often the cost of hosting a party at an outside venue like a pizza parlor or bowling alley is justified when you factor in the cost savings from not decorating your house, planning activities, etc.

Entertainment:

Keeping kids engaged is key to a low stress party. Hire high school students or older cousins to lead kids in games. Professional entertainment like a face painter, balloon artist or character can really make a party. If you don't want to hire a professional, ask a family member to do the job.

Food:

2 P.M. is the magic hour: it's not lunch, it's not dinner, it's perfect. Simply put out a few snacks, serve cake and you're set. All birthday parties should be at 2 P.M.

Cake:

You kids won't spend a fortune on future therapy because they didn't have a homemade birthday cake. There are some great store-bought cakes and they don't have to be expensive. A simple sheet or round cake from the baker can easily be enhanced with the addition of toys, ribbon, candies, flowers or other items that tie in your theme.

Gifts:

If you're concerned about present overload, give your guests some direction like "Small gifts under $5, please." Or provide a theme "Contribute to Johnny's art supply collection." Or ask guests to bring a gently-used copy of their favorite book to help grow your child's library.

Thank yous:

When it comes to birthdays, the one place you don't want to cut corners is the thank you notes. An important part of birthday parties is learning to be a gracious host and appreciative gift recipient. I doesn't matter how you get it done, the important thing is that your child sends a thank you note for every gift, not a text message, not an email, not a voicemail, a note.

We love this idea from MOM reader Kim Duce. She takes a picture of every guest with the birthday girl and their gift, prints out the picture, mounts it to card stock and has her daughter write a thank you message on it. Her guests are appreciated and they get a treasured photo.

 

Birthday Party Ideas!

The secret to a successful children's party is to keep everyone busy. Take some inspiration for your child's next birthday from these clever party ideas.

Get Creative!

get_creative.jpg

Cover your table with paper or plastic, set out a canvas or cardboard mat for each guest and lay out your supplies: paints, brushes, stencils and more. Then, let those little artists get to work. Guests will be excited to go home with their new masterpiece.

Golf Par-tee!

golf_partee.jpg

It seems that every child has a putt-putt golf party at least once in their life. We think this golf-inspired party decor is a hole-in-one. Create giant golf balls on tees using paper lanterns and soccer horns. Pick up some indoor/outdoor turf runner at your local building supply store for a golf-inspired table runner. For the cake, simply add a mini flag and candy ball to store-bought or homemade green cupcakes. Everyone will agree, it's a great par-tee!

Start Your Engines!

start_engines.jpg

This Hot Wheels-inspired party will get your motor running. Set up a race course using plastic racetrack if you have it, or create your own course out of plywood. Then let the engines rev and "On your marks, get set, go!" Create different heats to let everyone have a chance at racing, then it's trophies for the winners.

 

Party concepts and photos courtesy of crafty mom and owner of The Craft House, Jenn Sheffler. For more information about Jenn's DIY craft workshops visit thecrafthouseor.com

Check out the Eugene February/March issue!

Our February/March issue of MOM Magazine is here featuring Cover MOM Julie Nowacki, and including inspiration for kids birthday parties, recipes, and ideas for April Fool's Day. Grab a copy today!  (Click on the image below to view the magazine online)

Check out the Tri Cities February/March issue!

Our February/March issue of MOM Magazine is here featuring Cover MOM Amanda Kuhn, and including inspiration for kids birthday parties, recipes, and ideas for April Fool's Day. Grab a copy today!  (Click on the image below to view the magazine online)

TRI_FebMar19_cover_360px

Play It Safe On Winter Roads

 

 

winter_ddriving-jpg

 

Car trouble is never fun, especially if your car if full of kids. So play it safe this winter by following these tips for safe driving in winter conditions.

 

Maintain Your Car: Check the battery, tire tread and windshield wipers. Keep your windows clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir and check your antifreeze.

 

Have key items on hand: Keep a flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares) and

blankets. For long trips, add food and water, medication and cell phone.

 

Stopped or stalled? Stay in your car, put bright markers on antenna or windows and shine dome light. If you run your car, clear exhaust pipe and run it just enough to stay warm.

 

Plan Your route: Allow plenty of time. Check the forecast and adjust your departure to avoid serious weather, if possible. Be familiar with the directions and let others know your route and arrival time.

 

Practice safe snow driving:

  • Practice. During the daylight, rehearse maneuvers slowly on ice or snow in an empty lot.
  • Drive slowly; accelerate, decelerate and turn slowly.
  • Steer into a skid.
  • Know what your brakes will do: stomp on anti lock brakes, pump on non-anti lock brakes.
  • Increase your stopping distances.
  • Don't stop if you can avoid it.
  • Especially don't stop going up a hill. Get some inertia on a flat road before you take on a hill and don't power up a hill. Applying extra gas will start your wheels spinning.
  • Don't idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.
  • Stay home. If you really don't have to go out, don't.

Sources: OSHA and AAA

 

Car trouble is never fun, especially if
your car is full of kids. So play it safe
this winter by following these tips for
safe driving in winter conditions.
Maintain your car.
Check the battery, tire tread and
windshield wipers. Keep your windows
clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer
reservoir and check your antifreeze.
Have key items on hand.
Keep a flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive
material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats),
shovel, snow brush and ice scraper,
warning devices (like flares) and blankets.
For long trips, add food and water,
medication and cell phone.
Stopped or stalled?
Stay in your car, put bright markers on
antenna or windows and shine dome light.
If you run your car, clear exhaust pipe and
run it just enough to stay warm.
Plan your route.
Allow plenty of time. Check the forecast
and adjust your departure to avoid serious
weather, if possible. Be familiar with the
directions and let others know your route
and arrival time.
Play it safe on winter roads
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Practice safe snow driving:
 Practice. During the daylight, rehearse
maneuvers slowly on ice or snow in an
empty lot.
 Drive slowly; accelerate, decelerate and
turn slowly.
 Steer into a skid.
 Know what your brakes will do: stomp
on anti lock brakes, pump on non-anti
lock brakes.
 Increase your stopping distances.
 Don't stop if you can avoid it.
 Especially don't stop going up a hill.
Get some inertia on a flat road before you
take on a hill and don't power up a hill.
Applying extra gas will start your
wheels spinning.
 Don't idle for a long time with the
windows up or in an enclosed space.
 Stay home. If you really don't have to go
out, don't.
Sources: OSHA and AAA