Friday, December 26, 2014

A Family New Year Celebration


By: Angie @ Kids Matter

Once you have kids, your life is full of big decisions. Just one of those decisions is what are we going to do on New Year's Eve now? For many, the nights of going out to clubs and drinking lots of champagne are over. They choose a quieter evening at home with the kids. Just because you aren't getting all dressed up and going out to party, doesn't mean the night has to be a drag. You can still have fun, it's just a fun that the kids can participate in too!

Eat traditional New Year's foods with the kids. Some traditional foods and the beliefs associated with them:
  • Greens - eat your greens as they represent spendable greens of another type
  • Black eyed peas - This is a Southern thing, representing humility and invites good fortune. I believe in other regions, they choose a different type or bean.
  • Noodles - signify long life and you get bonus points if you eat the noodles without breaking them.
  • Rice - signifies abundance
  • Grapes - eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the new year. If a grape tastes bitter, watch out for that month next year.
  • Pomegranates -  with its many seeds representing prosperity.
  • Pork - pigs are considered lucky animals as they root forward and they are rotund/abundant
  • Fish - the scales represent money and when a fish swims in a school it represents abundance.
  •  Circular foods - like a cake or cookie represents coming full circle

Kid friendly activities:
  • Count down bags - get 12 paper lunch type bags and draw a clock face on the front of each bag. Each time that is reached, the child opens the bag to find small trinkets, noise makers, hats, candy and/or games to play. You can do this for each hour up to midnight if your child can stay up. Mine never makes it past 10:00pm, so we start at 10:00am opening bags.
  • Fill out the same printable form each year, covering the basics of the past year. It would be so much fun to look back on these each year and see the changes in your life, your likes and your handwriting.There is a great free printable at Wonderful Joy Ahead. 
  • Toast one another with special drinks. Each year, I melt chocolate and dip the rims of glasses in the chocolate and then into sprinkles. Once the chocolate hardens, I serve the glasses with milk inside alongside homemade cookies.
  • There is nothing more fun than a balloon drop! Besides having to actually blow up the balloons, there is little prep and it is completely mesmerizing for kids. You can order a balloon drop kit on Amazon.
 Whatever you do for New Year's Eve, be sure to include the kids and make it memorable for them. During the time frames of waiting for the next count down bag, we usually play some of our lesser used board games and see if we can find a new favorite family game! If we still don't like it, then it goes in my donate pile and I get an early start on my resolution to get organized. Have a wonderful 2015! 

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.