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How to Host Your Own Olympics at Home

After getting postponed last year due to the pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics kick off on July 23 in Tokyo, Japan. Inspired by the ancient Olympic Games held in Olympia, Greece from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD, the modern Olympic Games brings together the world’s best athletes from more than 200 countries. This year, the youngest athlete (Hend Zaza) is a 12-year-old table tennis player from Syria. Even considering her, your own kids are probably still too young to even think of competing in the real Olympics. But that doesn’t mean they can’t join in on the festivities. There is no better way to get into the Olympic spirit than by holding your own at home Olympics. Here’s how to do it: 


Designate teams and decorate

Once you know how many participants you will have, divide them up into teams as evenly as possible in terms of skill level. There is no need to go out and spend money on matching outfits for this one-day event. Have each Olympic wear a different country’s colors. Have the kids make decorations—country flags or posters with Olympic rings on them—to hang around the “stadium” where the games will take place. You can also create a schedule of events for the day and hang it up.


Host an opening ceremony

Don’t forget to bring in an Olympic torch to symbolize the start of the games. Here is one great way to create your own torch at home. Begin by playing the “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” by John Williams. Get in a large circle and pass the torch around from country to country until it completes the circle. Designate an area to place the torch for all to see while the games begin.


Compete in your own games

Depending on how many teams there are, you can plan events that require multiple participants like a relay race or a baseball game or single participant events like a 100-meter dash. Want to try water events? Plan those for the end of the games as a perfect cool down. Some suggested events are 

• Meter dashes: Choose various lengths from 50 to 200 meters and let runners go all out in a sprint. 

• Relay races: This can be anything from passing a baton-like object in a running race to filling a bucket with a sponge and water

• Tosses: Toss water balloons while taking a step back for each successful toss until the last team is standing without a broken object.

• Javelin throw: Create your own Olympic rings for a javelin throw with a pool noodle.

• Disc throw. Measure how far each Olympian can throw a frisbee

• Bean bag toss: Set up buckets and see who can get the bean bags into the buckets. Or create Olympic rings with pool noodles for participants to toss the bags into.

• Water balloon shot put: Use water balloons for a shot put and see who can throw the farthest. Bonus points if you do competition shot put technique!

• Ball games. Play a game of kickball, baseball or see who can hit a golf ball the farthest.

• Hoop it up. Use pool noodles as hoops (aka hurdles) or see who can hula hoop the longest.

• Jumping. See who can jump rope the longest or use a jump rope to measure how far someone can jump. You can also use a yardstick or tape measurer to see who can jump the highest.RELATED: 10 Outdoor Family Adventures to Take This Summer

Set the Rules

Before the first event, lay the ground rules for the day. Emphasize the importance of fun and sportsmanship. Post some inspirational quotes and read a few before the first event. Some favorites are:

• “Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.”—Mary Lou Retton, gymnastics

• “Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle!”—Sanya Richards Ross, track and field

• “Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.”—Michael Phelps, swimming


Cool Down

With all the heated competition, your athletes will appreciate a cool down. Lead some exercises post-games—think calf stretches, lunge stretches, and chest and shoulder stretches. Treat every Olympian to cold orange slices, a popsicle and a cool drink. This would be a good time to have water balloon fights, too!


Make Olympic-themed snacks

Your kids will be hungry after all that competing so you’re going to want to make some tasty snacks. Use cake cones to represent the base of a torch and put cheddar popcorn or Cheetos into the cups to resemble flames. Bagels can represent the Olympic rings. Use colored spreads like strawberry, blueberry and green chives to add color. You can also create Olympic rings with colored fruits from kiwis/grapes and strawberries to blueberries, blackberries, and banana slices. Donuts or cookies with sprinkles can also be made to look like rings. Golden Oreos and fruit by the foot can create a gold medal treat.


Hold a closing ceremony

After the snacks have been eaten and the games played, it’s time to hold closing ceremonies. Line up three milk crates, wood boxes or whatever you can find to make a proper awards podium. Play the anthem for the designated country that placed first in each event. If you prefer, you can just have one overall medal in gold, silver and bronze based on the teams with the most points. Another idea: create special awards for sportsmanship, best comeback and other categories. Bring your fun-filled Olympic day to a close with a big congrats to everyone who participated with a certificate or other remembrance of the day. 

This article can be viewed at: https://www.mommynearest.com/article/how-to-host-your-own-olympics-at-home.

10 Best Staycation Ideas for Families

You don’t have to travel far to feel like you explored new territory or made lasting memories this summer. Create your own vacation at home with these 10 staycation ideas for families. 


1. Have an alphabet-theme day

Try to do something for every letter of the alphabet! Use online resources to help you complete your goal (for example, visit a virtual zoo for “z”). If that seems too complicated, pick one letter (maybe your last name) and try that for the day. Make jam wearing jeans while jumping and playing Jenga anyone? Bonus points if you complete the challenge in alphabetical order.


2. Host a family game night

Spend the day in your comfiest PJs playing your favorite games. Introduce your littles to classic games you enjoyed as a child while they teach you a thing or two about Fortnite! You can find many games including even time-honored ones such as The Game of Life and Monopoly as apps, so you don’t need to splurge on buying physical game boards if you don’t want to.


3. Go on a tropical “vacation”

You can easily bring the tropics to your backyard by laying down beach towels, setting up a hammock, making fruit drinks and playing some Jimmy Buffet tunes. Get some Vitamin D while you read the latest pick from Reese Witherspoon’s book club, while your kids devour a new Dog Man title. Littles will love creating an island breeze fans and a spray bottle of water. After taking an afternoon siesta, dine alfresco under the patio lights on fish tacos, jerk chicken or other tropical dishes.


4. Plan a backyard camping adventure

Work together to set up camp including a tent, hammock, chairs and other camping gear, then play favorite yard games including Hide & Seek and Cornhole. For dinner (and dessert!), build a campfire to roast hot dogs and S’mores over. Sing campfire songs like “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and “A Camping We Will Go (sang to the tune of the “The Farmer in the Dell”), or maybe your own favorite family tunes. End the night by telling campfire or ghost stories and using a night sky app like SkyView Lite to identify planets and constellations. If you prefer to be closer to creature comforts like the bathroom, consider setting up a tent or fort indoors!RELATED: 25 Fun Backyard Activities for Families

5. Create a DIY carnival

Begin this staycation by playing carnival games from ring toss to sack races (pillowcases work great for this). This is the perfect time to use up those leftover birthday balloons and create game boards with the endless Amazon delivery boxes. Search DIY backyard carnival games on Pinterest for a great place to start! Print out your own prize tickets and have the kids trade them in for things like movie nights, choose their own dinner and more. Download fair music (search county fair/carnival on Pandora, Spotify or other streaming services), and spend the day eating your favorite fair food from cotton candy and corn dogs.


6. Make a drive-in movie theater

Portable projectors are fairly reasonable these days—purchase your own, borrow one from a friend or find one at a rental location. Use large boxes to create and decorate cars for your little ones to sit it (that’ll give it a real drive-in feel!). Bean bag chairs, camp chairs or patio furniture also make for perfect seating. Grab blankets or sleeping bags to maximize the coziness. Choose movies with a classic summer theme—we’re fans of The Sandlot or Jaws—or go for a Disney marathon. Dine and snack on treats that fit the movie theme like gummy sharks for Jaws, hot dogs for The Sandlot and Dole Whip for your Disney favorites.


7. Hold your own Olympics

Get ready for the Tokyo Summer Olympics at home. Begin by creating an Olympic mascot (think your child’s prized stuffed animal), country uniforms and a list of events. Don’t skip the opening ceremonies where each country will be represented by marching with their designated homemade flag! Some easy events to hold are relay races, the 50-yard dash and the long jump. Pool noodles turned into Olympic rings can be used for a number of events like a javelin throw, bean bag toss and obstacle course. With a little creativity, you can make a friendly day of competition complete with handmade (or store-bought) medals and a closing ceremony.


8. Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes for a day of mystery

Grab the magnifying glasses and go on a backyard scavenger hunt (search backyard scavenger hunt on Pinterest for some great pre-made printable ones!). Another option: Download the Clue game app or get out the board game if you have it. Clue Jr. and Outfoxed are great for younger players. If you are feeling extra creative, consider holding a mystery party at home. A simple search of children’s mystery party games on Pinterest will give you lots of ideas. Turn off the lights and end the day watching Scooby-DooHoles or The Goonies.


9. Play tourist in your town

How much do you really know about the history of your own town? Begin with a Google search to learn more. What is the town’s motto? When people say your town’s name, what do they think of? Walk around town to look for significant monuments or statues. You can also spend time at your area’s history museum or go online to learn more. Snap photos at various locations to commemorate your trip. You can also take a family vote about who has the best pizza in town by ordering some from each restaurant! 


10. Go on a virtual vacation

Spin a globe or use a blindfold and place a pushpin randomly on a map to see where you should travel to. After you’ve selected a location, make a travel plan of where you’d like to go, what you’d like to see and what you’d need to pack. Then, take a virtual visit to your location with the power of technology! Watch a Broadway show (we vote Hamilton or Newsies on Disney+), and dine on some NY-style pizza for a “trip” to New York City. If Africa is where you land, head to The Great Courses to experience an African safari at home. Or throw on your hiking boots and take a virtual tour of the Grand Canyon. The sky’s the limit on where you can visit. 

This article can be read in its entirety at: https://www.mommynearest.com/article/10-best-staycation-ideas-for-families

10 Fun Backyard Water Games to Play This Summer

10 Fun Backyard Water Games to Play This Summer

by Courtney Johnson

June 22, 2021

Let’s face it, friends: the dog days of summer are upon us, and if you are anything like us, sitting in the air conditioning sounds more appealing than heading outside in the hot, humid heat. But, if your kids are getting bored inside, we get it. That’s why we’ve pulled together 10 fun backyard water games to play this summer. These ideas will keep little ones active and get them that much needed daily dose of Vitamin D. A win-win, indeed. 

1. Use a bucket

Take a piece of wood (such as a 2×4) and put smaller pieces on the end for stability and height. Then, try to balance a full bucket of water on your head as you navigate from one end of the board to the other without spilling. Some additional ideas: make a course with large rocks or create a balance line with chalk or a rope.

2. Create your own slip ‘n slide

Don’t own a slip ‘n slide? No worries—you can design your own at home. All you need is some heavy-duty plastic sheeting, shampoo or dish soap, and a hose. Use landscape anchor pins to anchor the sheets down to make a super long slide.

3. Make a DIY sprinkler

Use pool noodles to create a fun sprinkler that can cool you off from all sides. Take four noodles and join them together with duct tape to create a good seal. Use a nail (or another object with a sharp end) to make holes on the inside of the pool noodles about four inches apart. Be sure to not poke through the other side! Cut a small opening that is smaller than the end of the hose at the top of your sprinkler. If the hole is bigger than the end of the hose, the hose won’t stay inside the noodle.

4. Try a take on Duck, Duck, Goose

This game adds an element of fun on the classic by using a wet sponge for tagging the players. The player that is “it” goes around the circle tapping the other players on the shoulder with a sponge saying “drip” until it comes to the player they want to “dunk.” When they choose that player, “it” squeezes the sponge over that player’s head and then takes off for a lap around the circle without being caught. If “it” is caught, they continue to be “it.” If they make it around the circle and sit down in the empty spot, the player they “dunked” is it.

5. Play limbo

Nothing says a fun time like a game of limbo. Grab a hose and turn it on as high as it will flow. The water stream replaces the use of the stick. Who can get the lowest without getting wet? You can also see who can jump the highest over the stream without getting wet. RELATED: 25 Ways to Kick Off Your Family’s Best Summer Ever

6. Freeze toys

Take small plastic objects (animals, jewels, toys) and freeze them in water overnight in a bowl, ice cube tray or molds. When it’s time to excavate, start by spraying the ice with a water bottle to loosen the ice and make the start of excavation easier. Use kid-safe digging tools and safety goggles, too! 

7. Do a sponge relay

For this activity, you will need four buckets, two sponges (we recommend large ones) and at least two players. Break everyone that is playing into two even teams. Fill two buckets with water. These buckets will be the start line. Choose how far the players will run and place the other two empty buckets at that point. One player from each team will fill their sponge with water, run down to their empty bucket, and squeeze the water out of the sponge and run back. If there is more than one player per team, players will then pass the sponge to their teammate. The relay will continue until one team’s bucket is full of water.

8. Make a water balloon piñata

Fill up five to 10 water balloons, then tie them to a pole or tree to suspend them. Take turns safely hitting the balloons to drench everyone.

9. Enjoy water tag

This classic game of tag takes on a new and “cool” twist by adding the element of water. Taggers can use water balloons or water-soaked sponges to tag the other players. If the tagger hits a player with water, they are now “it.”

10. Teach the kids “Cool Potato”

We all know the game “hot potato.” Shift the objective of the game from not being caught with the potato in your hands to not being caught with the water balloon in your hands when the music stops. If you’re caught with the balloon, you must break the balloon over your head!

This article was originally published at: https://www.mommynearest.com/article/10-fun-backyard-water-games-to-play-this-summer

10 Must-Try Winter Science Experiments

When the gray skies are endless and the temperature makes you just want to stay inside, it is the perfect time to stimulate the mind with winter-themed science experiments. Our ideas use common household items but bring lots of fun. Here are ten must-try winter science experiments to help beat the winter blues.


Build a crystal snowman

With some pompoms, pipe cleaners and other craft items, you can build your own crystal snowman guaranteed to not melt. Borax is the key ingredient in this fun and frosty experiment. Your crystal snowman is the perfect winter decoration to keep you in a jolly mood. Alternatives to a snowman are crystal snowflakes made from pipe cleaners or salt crystal snowflakes as sometimes borax can be hard to find in stores.


Catch some rays

Save up those clear take-out container tops and make them into beautiful works of art by creating crystal ice sun catchers. Check the weather forecast and pick a sunny day to make your sun catchers for best results. Note: suncatchers are very fragile, so an adult may want to be in charge of the hanging.


Create your own avalanche

There are a few ways to simulate a mini avalanche from the safety of your own home. This hands-on experiment lets kids get a clear picture of science and nature combined. For a great visual of just what happens when an avalanche occurs, try this experiment using little figurines and rocks.


Don’t let that snowball bounce away

With just three ingredients, you can have a bouncing good time this winter. Snowball bouncy balls are fun to create and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face no matter your age. Plus, it’s easy to reshape the balls if they start to look more like pancakes than balls.


Exploding snowman

A fun alternative to baking soda volcanoes is an exploding snowman. Using most of the same ingredients plus a Ziploc bag, kids will love having Frosty explode over and over again. We recommend doing this one outside or even in the bathtub for quick clean-up. Don’t be shy with the baking soda!RELATED: 5 STEAM Activities to Do with Your Kids at Home

Frozen bubbles

Using a pre-made bubble mix, or a homemade mix of your own, this simple experiment is sure to delight every young scientist. Head outside in the morning or on a calm but frigid day when the temperature is well below freezing (think single digit). Blow bubbles and enjoy how they freeze as they touch the ground.


Hot chocolate surprise

Hot cocoa and winter go hand and hand. Why not have a little chocolate experiment fun by creating a hot chocolate surprise (think a hot cocoa volcano) using vinegar, baking soda and cocoa mix. If you have a meat thermometer, you can do experiments with water, milk, hot cocoa and marshmallows to see what liquid gets hottest and what marshmallows melt the fastest.


Make an ice lantern

Light the night with a beautiful ice lantern made from nature. With some containers, water, food coloring if desired, and natural materials like berries and twigs and tea lights, you can create a beautiful work of art that adds a soft glow


Snowstorm in a jar

While the weather outside might be frightful, kids will love creating their own snowstorm inside. Put aside the gloves and snow pants and gather common household items like a jar, oil, and alka seltzer to brew your own storm. The instructions from Little Bins for Little Hands will tell you all you need to know to concoct the perfect storm.


Storm the snowball fortress

Engineering challenges are always a great way to stimulate creativity and problem-solving. With marshmallows, toothpicks, skewers and Popsicle sticks, kids can engineer their own marshmallow fortress. There are many designs to choose from to protect from a snowball catapult attack

To see the full version of this article, head to: https://www.mommynearest.com/article/10-must-try-winter-science-experiments?fbclid=IwAR0yUIdlrb5fYKgHEi8POE9vR7F9nuOGfFLoYqtE3BQcVT2234z38DMNYxI

A Cave Adventure

For years now, I have wanted to visit Rifle Mountain Park and the ice caves. I tried to convince AJ to drive the extra 45 min each way out of the way (plus the time to hike and explore) on the way to Utah to visit his family multiple times. I kept dropping hints here and there this winter, and AJ finally gave in. We decided to take a quick weekend adventure down to the caves the last weekend of January.

We paired the trip with a hotel stay in Glenwood Springs along with a hot springs visit while we were there. Other local towns near the park are Rifle and Carbondale.

Trail conditions changed from snow to mud and even dry in some places.

The caves are naturally formed by freeze and thaw cycles and can typically be seen in various stages between December and mid-March weather dependent. Cave and trail conditions will vary based on recent weather. We experienced areas of dry trail, areas of mud, spots of pure ice and packed snow. Invest in (or borrow) some ice cleats for the trail.

Trail conditions changed from snow to mud and even dry in some places.

You will see a parking lot a bit after the entrance to the park on the left hand side. Park there and head a bit down the road towards the entrance. On the right hand side, you will see a brown wooden sign that says Koper’s Trail Ice Cave. Follow the sign, and you will begin your hike to the ice caves.

The lower cave is known as the Ice Palace- cue “Into the Unknown,” from Frozen 2. The ice gives off a blueish hue and resembles a waterfall of ice. Icicles cascade down from the cave ceiling. The inside of the cave was slippery in spots, but we felt comfortable in our cleats navigating across it.

The ice formations are delicate, so it is best to look but not touch. Also be careful if you walk under any of the icicles. On the backside of this cave is a fun punchy hill you can climb to get another look of the cave from the other side.

The hike to the second cave was a mix of snow, ice and rocks with some incline. You could see more of the mountain park as you went deeper into the canyon. The second cave requires a bit of crawling to get into if you enter it from the front side. This cave is known as The Final Curtain.

An alternative if you aren’t a fan of tight spaces is to continue on the trail past the ice falls (where you may catch some climbers) where you can enter the cave from a wider opening.

This cave is much tighter and was pure ice. Even in spikes, we ended up doing some crawling and sliding. The ice was wet to the touch, so our gloves and snow pants got wet when we were crawling around.

With exploring time, we spent about 1.5 hours at the ice caves. We definitely recommend a stop at the Rifle Mountain Park Ice Caves. We ended up getting stuck in some traffic we didn’t expect on the way there, so we weren’t able to explore Rifle Falls State Park on this trip. It comes highly recommended, so be sure to add that to your itinerary if you can squeeze it in.

Adventure On,

Courtney

On the Geocache Trail

While geocaching really started with the “GPS Stash Hunt” started by Matt Stum on May 30th, 2000, my 7-year- old daughter Emma just started taking interest in it. It started with an outdoor meet up with friends at a local park where a friend of hers showed her a cache. From there, it has escalated to a fun way for us both to get some more outdoor time. An added bonus is that we can ride our bikes to some of the caches or plan a hike or walking route that passes by multiple caches. Our one-year-old pup Roxy has even got in on the fun. Not only do we get in some exercise, but my daughter is learning to read GPS and maps. It also fits in perfectly in the 1,000 hours outdoor challenge we are participating in.

Tips to Get Started

Cache house hanging from the tree to the right and above Emma’s head
  1. Download an app to help you find local caches. We use the Geocaching app at a basic level since this is a new hobby that may or may not last.
  2. Bring along a trinket on each hunt. Trinkets are often left at the cache site. Be sure to leave a trinket for every trinket you take. My daughter has left small ceramic animals, fun character erasers and a pull back car. She has received a button flower, a cookie cutter and a plastic fish amongst other items.
  3. Take along a pencil or pen as well. Most sites have a spot to include your name and the date you found the cache. We learned from experience that not every cache spot has a pencil or pen to include your info.
  4. We found it was easiest to mark the find right away on the app. That way, you can click on the find on the map right away to log it, and you don’t have to spend time finding it on the map again later.
  5. Leave a note to the person who placed the cache. We do this through the app typically. Tell them thank you for placing the cache. Tell them if you had issues finding it or if there are any changes or improvements they can make (maybe the sheet to log the find is full and needs to be replaced). This will help keep the community going.
  6. Be safe. Be sure to follow safety and traffic laws and be courteous when finding a cache.
  7. Plan an outdoor date with friends to discover some finds together.
  8. Add your own cache to the fun. We are still working on where to place ours, but we look forward to keeping track of who has visited it.
  9. Have fun!

8 Alternatives to New Years Resolutions

The tradition of creating New Year’s resolutions dates back more than 4,000 years to the Babylonians. But, according to a recent Forbes article, 80% of those resolutions are broken. ”Making resolutions can be overwhelming and defeating,” says Nell Osborne, a mental health counselor at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. “Instead, it’s important to think of something that’s attainable to do each day. For example, to be kinder or more present with your family.” 

So, this year, instead of sticking with traditional resolutions (“I want to lose 20 pounds by March”), try one of these eight alternatives. These ideas will help you keep what’s important as individuals and as a family in focus.


Make a 2021 bucket list

Think about what experiences you’d like your family to tackle in the new year—think about specific goals for school, work, relationships and home life. If you’re a tech person, apps like iWish allow you to keep track of what you want to achieve. If you’d like a visual daily reminder you can put up around the house, try this simple bucket list—print out one for each member of the family to fill out as you count down to the start of 2021.


Create a monthly challenge

A monthly challenge can be anything from reading three books to skiing at least five days. It can be about educating oneself on certain topics or learning to only shop sales at the supermarket to save money. Make sure the challenge is achievable in the allotted time. 


Try gratitude exercises

One way to change your life in a positive way for the new year is to incorporate more gratitude into daily practices. Start with gratitude exercises—they help reduce anxiety and depression, make you feel more energized and aid in getting you a better night’s sleep. “I suggest gratitude journaling or having each person in the family share something they are grateful for that day over dinner,” says Dr. Jocelyn Petrella Gallagher, a child and family psychologist based in Denver, CO. 


Put goals in a jar

Write down family goals that aren’t time-sensitive (ie: you can complete them at any point in the year), fold them up and place them into a jar. Family goals could be anything from spending more time outside and volunteering to reading the Harry Potter series together. Once a goal is fulfilled, pick out a new one. 

Similar to the jar activity, Osborne recommends having everyone write down the strengths of other members of the family or things they appreciate about the other members. “For example, a child may say that their mom is a good listener,” she says. “Put the strengths or appreciative words in a jar and choose one each month. Then, everyone focuses on that word—whether it be listening better or helping more with cooking.”

Practice mindfulness

2020 brought on stress—for adults and children alike—in a whole new way. This year, incorporate mindfulness practices into daily life. “Often, our minds are focused on anything but the present moment and regular mindfulness helps with this,” says Gallagher. Some practices she recommends include meditation, going on a mindfulness walk and doing a body scan.


Make realistic lists

If the past year has taught us anything, it was to slow down. One way to kick off 2021 is to reflect on what you want to do more of, less of or stop doing as a whole in the new year. Make a list of them and add the steps you need to achieve those things. Maybe you want to stop staying up late binging Netflix so you get more sleep. Perhaps you want to spend more time volunteering and less time on Facebook.

Be sure to be realistic when it comes to the things you add to the list and be conscious of the process it will take to achieve them. “When working on activities like a list, make sure it’s diverse with different levels of intensity or ability,” says Osborne. “That way it won’t seem as intimidating and you are more likely to follow through. For example, try not to say for an entire month, I won’t watch television. Have smaller increments that are realistic and achievable such as, I’ll cut down to 30 min of television per day.”


Use a vision board

Also referred to as a dream board, vision boards keep us focused on where we want to go and what we want to achieve in life. The best approach for a board is to cover aspirations in all areas of life. Boards can be created from a variety of materials including cork (bulletin board) or canvas. Words, photos or drawings are the perfect way to express the direction you want life to go. Everyone can create their own boards to place in an office or bedroom or a family one to put in the living room. “Make vision boards appealing to the eye by using colors that you love, then add things that will remind you of the importance of what you envision,” suggests Osborne.


Have a word or mantra of the week/month/year

Encourage everyone to choose one word for the year that defines what their focus will be. Reflect on that word (or mantra!) during dinner or while in the car on the way to the grocery store, and make sure to place it in an important place in the house. Repeat the word or phrase to yourself every morning or when you need to refocus. Remind children of their intentions when a new day starts or if they have a moment of struggle. If one word or mantra for the year seems like too much of a challenge, break it down to a word or mantra for the week or month. 

This article in its entirety can be viewed at: https://www.mommynearest.com/article/8-alternatives-to-new-years-resolutions.


10 Fun Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating in 2020

by Courtney Johnson

October 25, 2020

With the CDC placing trick-or-treating on the high-risk list when it comes to Halloween activities, many of us are re-thinking our holiday plans this year. But that doesn’t mean Halloween is canceled! We rounded up 10 fun alternatives that are a real treat and allow your family to safely celebrate—think drive-thru haunted houses, spooky scavenger hunts, at-home movie marathons and more. 


1. Boo a neighbor (or two!)

Sneak a basket of Halloween goodies onto a friend’s porch to bring some cheer this Halloween. Grab some of their favorite candy—maybe Snickers or Reese’s! You can also include coloring books, fall crafts and spooky decor (think Spot Section at Target). Don’t forget the parents, too. Fall flavored coffee, pumpkin beer, hot cocoa or apple cider are festive drinks to celebrate the season.


2. Try a Halloween science experiment

A quick Pinterest or Google search will help you find all kinds of experiments from creepy to mesmerizing using common household items and fall treats like pumpkins and apples. Your kids will love a pumpkin volcanoghost eggs and a creepy gelatin heart.


3. Drive-thru a haunted house or visit a Haunted forest

Drive-thru haunted houses and haunted forest tours are popping up across the country as a safer alternative to getting spooked than the traditional haunted house. Load the family up in the car in your cozy best or dress for a crisp fall evening of scary fun. The CDC says open-air scaring is a moderate-level risk made safer by wearing masks, following one-way routes and socially distancing. Cities including DenverHonolulu, Albuquerque and Orlando have confirmed drive-thru haunted houses.


4. Go on a spooky scavenger hunt

Go on the hunt for witches in the window, pumpkin blow-ups and spider webs around the neighborhood. Add an element of fun by doing a scavenger hunt for treats in your own backyard or house. Boost up the spookiness and challenge by doing the hunt by glowstick or flashlight. Glow-in-the-dark eggs (you can make them by painting plastic eggs with glow in the dark paint), glowing toys or even glow in the dark candy are recommended for your hunt.


5. Have a neighborhood Halloween parade

Bring out the bikes, scooters, skateboards and wagons to have a festive neighborhood Halloween parade. Begin by designating a sidewalk parade route that is safe and can lend itself to social distancing. Decorate your modes of transportation with streamers, spider webs and other decor. Bring along the speakers to play spooky favorites like “Monster Mash” and “Thriller.” Throw on costumes and get down to the beat as you strut your stuff along the route. Be sure that participants stay six feet apart—bikes, wagons and scooters can help with that. Don’t forget to create an event page on your neighborhood Facebook page to bring out spectators to enjoy the parade from a distance on their driveway or porches.RELATED: 15 Virtual Halloween Events Your Kids Will Love

6. Learn about Halloween traditions

From Dia De Los Muertos to Ognissanti in Italy, learn how other cultures celebrate the holiday. Play the Irish card game where cards are placed face down with a treat underneath them. Whatever card a child picks is a prize to keep. Maybe leave water, bread and a lighted lamp on your kitchen table before going to bed on Halloween night. Austrians believe that magic will bring loved ones back. 


7. Plan a Halloween movie marathon

Snuggle up in PJs, grab the pillows, turn off the lights and pop plenty of popcorn to watch the best Halloween movies. If the weather is nice, consider creating an at-home drive-in experience with movies on an outdoor screen in the backyard or on the garage wall. If you live in a warmer climate, check to see if your local drive-in is hosting Halloween-themed movie nights. Some of our recommendations include Spookley the Square PumpkinGhostbusters, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus and Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow/Ichabod Crane.


8. Read scary stories by flashlight

Request eerie and spine chilling books from the library, look through your own book stashfor chilling tales, or download a book or two on your Kindle. After you pick some books, snuggle in bed or set up a tent with sleeping bags. Grab a flashlight or lantern and get ready for a frightfully good time. In a Dark, Dark RoomBeneath the Bed and At the Old Haunted House are a few suggestions.


9. Take a free Halloween-themed class online with KidPass

Through the end of the month, KidPass, the leading website for finding online kids’ classes, is hosting free virtual Halloween-themed classes. All you need is a computer or phone and Zoom! Whether your little goblin is all about the tricks or gravitates towards the treats, there’s a free spooky (or not-so-spooky!) class that’s perfect for them. Create spooky witch hats with The Craft Studio on October 27 and dance to Halloween tunes on October 28. They also have tons of paid classes, too, for those who want to continue the Halloween theme!


10. Bake pumpkin-themed goodies

If you’re feeling that irresistible pull towards pumpkin spice, you are not alone! You can easily make pumpkin-themed recipes at home with the kiddos. We’re talking everything from pumpkin muffins and pumpkin soup to pumpkin ravioli. See all the recipes here.

This story was originally published on mommynearest.com.

Tips for Being Active With Kids

With the release of Women In Sport’s new campaign to encourage mom’s and daughters to #TimeTogether to get daily exercise, I thought this would be an opportune time to blog about how my family is active together.

According to research in the UK, “currently, only 42% of teenage girls meet physical activity guidelines and just under a third of girls (32%) are inactive, engaging in less than an average of 30 minutes activity per day, while 32% of mums stated that they couldn’t prioritise time for exercise as they were too busy looking after other people,” said the article by Women in Sports. In the United States, numbers of inactivity are also high. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , 28.0% of Americans, or 80.2 million people, aged six and older are physically inactive.

Remember that exercise can take all forms from a dance party to riding bikes to school. Here are some quick tips on how my family is active together.

  • Take Advantage of the Seasons/ Weather- If you love the stars, take an evening hike to a dark spot to catch an annual meteor shower. Take advantage of the extra daylight of summer and play old school childhood games. A snowy day home from school means a date on the sledding hill. Hot Cocoa never tasted so good after some outdoor ice skating. Throw in some exercise during a day at the beach with some paddling. A favorite way for my family to see holiday decorations is by taking a “spooky” or “festive” walk or bike ride to check out the blow ups and lights. We take a hike to the Boulder Star every year during the holidays.
A Hike to the Boulder Star
  • Involve a Pet– If you have a dog, encourage that you take family walks because not only do you need exercise, so does your pup. Get out in the backyard and play with your furry friend as a family too to burn some extra calories.
  • Mix it up– Switching up how you exercise can keep things fun and fresh. Shoot some hoops one day and play some tennis the other. Lift weights together on Monday and go for a hike on Tuesday. There are endless ways to mix it up to keep moving.
  • Take Active Brain Breaks– While many families are learning online and parents are working from home, it is easy to sneak in a little exercise during break/down time. Some of our favorite things to do are a Go Noodle workout, a Kids Bop dance workout on YouTube or taking a bike ride.
Skating at Millennium Park in Chicago

Adventure On,

Courtney

How to Support Diversity in the Outdoors

I recently finished reading The Adventure Gap by James Edward Mills . After reading it, I was encouraged to find ways on how I can help more people of all backgrounds to enjoy the outdoors.

This ABC News story reiterates the fact that there is truly a gap in who enjoys the outdoors. It is important to take steps now, so that future generations will enjoy nature.

If you are looking for organizations you can donate to/ support in bridging the gap, here is a list of some organizations doing great things.

Black Outside, Inc.

Brown People Camping

Brown Girls Climbing

Legacy on the Land

Nols

Sierra Club

Stoked

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

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