Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Enjoy Life's Small Moments

I feel like life is passing by so quickly.  One of my goals for the upcoming year is to slow down.  As a working mother with 6 children I am feeling like that is not a possibility so I plan on trying to at least slow each day down by taking the time to appreciate the small moments in life.  Each week I will try and reflect on 5 small moments.  So let's get started here are my first 5 small moments from today:

1.  Hanging out outdoors with my toddler.  Being outdoors following a toddler around for some reason brings me peace and quiet.  He is entertained and I follow along in case he finds he needs me. He doesn't need me to play with him but just to be by him.  I know this time will pass and soon enough I will be able to watch him play from the kitchen window.  For now, I am enjoying this small moment for sure!

2.  Playing pretend with my 5 year old.  It may mean nothing to anyone else but the two of us.  She gets so into role playing and again I just follow along.  I am not allowed to change the plot of the pretend tale (the current theme is that she has no parents and she is an orphan - I guess I should take it personally haha).  We play it repeatedly and I just have to do what she tells me or basically listen to what she is doing.  I love that kind of play.

3.  Chatting with the older girls.  Once the 4 younger children head up to bed, my oldest two daughters and I tend to have quick but fun conversations about the day.  It is simple chatting but I do cherish it since they are both in high school.

4.  Reading to the children.  I will never grow tired of reading picture books to my children.  Tonight it was the Polar Express.  So cozy!

5.  Night time talks with my husband and a glass of wine.  Aaaahhhhh!  I think the title says it all.  I always enjoy when we have the time to sit in the kitchen and chat about our day over a glass of wine.  Adult conversation with someone who gets me!

Sure I had some bad moments today (ie closed my finger in the van door OUCH!) or moments of complete chaos but in general I had some great small moments that may soon be forgotten.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Quiz Question Road Trip Game

My children of all ages love this game and it is super simple.  Give them quiz questions based on their lives.  Here are some example questions:
1.  What is Grandma's middle name?
2.  How old was your mother when you were born?
3.  What day of the week were you born on?
4.  Name all of your cousins in under 30 seconds.
5.  What country was your mother's grandmother born in?
6.  What job does or did your grandfather do?
7.  What time of day were you born at?
8.  What high school did your parent(s) go to?
9.  Name your teachers from preschool.
10.  What is your mother's favorite food?
11.  What is your father's favorite food?
12.  What is Grandma's maiden name?
13.  How old were you when you learned how to walk?
14.  What was your first word that you ever said?
15.  What was the first vacation you ever went on?
16.  Who is your father named after or how did he get his name?
17.  What is your mother's favorite book?
18.  What is your sister's or brother's favorite color?
19.  What is your sister's or brother's favorite book?
20.  What is the middle name of your teacher?

The list is endless that you can create regarding specific details of your own family.  We just take turns asking each kid different questions.

Safe travels!

Need more ideas?  Check out Waiting Games.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Color Car Road Trip Game

We have been playing different variations of this game for years.  

Here is how you play Yellow Car: Everyone looks for yellow cars. The game scores as follows: regular yellow car - 1 point, any yellow pick up truck - 5 points, yellow Mustang - 5 points and yellow Hummer - automatic win!  We keep score until someone finds a yellow Hummer but you could just do it for a certain amount of time.  We also play this game over multiple car rides. We just remember our score and pick up where we left off.

Then over time we mixed it up and play a cooperative version called Rainbow Car.  Here is how you play rainbow car: Work together to find cars in the color of the rainbow.  You must do it in order.  Therefore, first you look for a red car, then orange, yellow, green, blue and finally purple.  When you are done you start back over at red again.  

Happy car hunting!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why Do Children Get Motion Sickness in the Car?

With six children, we have had our fair share of kids that get car sick (myself included).  If you understand why children and adults get car sick it may help to prevent it.  Car sickness results when the brain receives conflicting information from the inner ears, the tactile system, the eyes and your internal expectations.  The best example of this is when someone reads in the car.  You look down at the words in the book and your eyes are fixed on a stable object.  Your inner ear senses motion.   Your joints may sense motion if you go over bumps and around curves.  This confusion in information to the brain may result in feeling nausea, cold sweats or even vomiting.  

Of course not all people get car sick.  It is very rare for infants or toddlers under the age of 2 to get motion sickness.  Women are more prone to motion sickness than men.  From my own personal experience, when I was pregnant I would get motion sickness very easily,  In addition, the older I get the worse it is.  I get nauseous just from riding on a swing!

So since the car sickness comes from confusing information being sent to the brain the easiest thing to do is to try to send clear signals to the brain that you are moving.  Therefore, keep your eye gaze out the window.  This tells your eyes that you are moving which matches your inner ear information.  Roll down the windows and let the body know that you are moving by feeling the wind.  If the car sickness persists, pull over where you can safely walk around, and let the child get out of the car.

To prevent children from getting car sick eat plain foods before and during the ride. 

We are planning a long car ride for next week so I plan on doing a quick blogpost series on games to play in the car.  With all the tablets, video players and smart phone use, some good old fashioned games while looking out the window will help pass the time and prevent motion sickness. 

Do you have any tips to offer to prevent motion sickness in the car?  

Monday, December 14, 2015

5 Ways to Make Time for the Family

I started to write this post since our life has been so chaotic recently with everyone going in different directions. The amount of time that our family of 8 is all together seems to be dwindling. Partially it is because the kids are getting older and have more obligations and partially it is just that we have a lot of kids! I wanted to write a list of 5 ways to make more family time for us. I am hoping I am able to follow the suggestions. Even as I was writing them I realize that some will be easier than others.

1.  Put aside a certain time during the week or write on the Calendar FAMILY TIME. In today's fast paced, over worked, over scheduled life sometimes hours turn into days turn into weeks, etc. before you know it so much time has gone by without anyone ever taking time out to enjoy the family.  We did this last weekend and it was quite successful.  We had to cut down the Christmas tree and decorate in within a small window of time.  All of us made sure to not schedule anything Saturday morning.  It worked!  We were all together cutting down the tree and decorating the tree before noon. Family time completed and Christmas tree up and decorated - woohoo! We frequently get together for family game nights.  We gather around the dining room table or the table in the camper and play games or card games.  When my husband and I are old and gray (oh wait a minute we already are haha) so maybe older and grayer, I know we will look back so fondly on our game nights.

2.  To create uninterrupted family time occasionally turn off all electronics including the phone. Even better, toss them in a basket so no one even is tempted from the vibration. Take time just to socialize and enjoy each other's company.

3.  Don't over schedule the kids. Sometimes we spend so much time running everyone around and never just all staying home together. We have a one sport rule per season in our house. The only problem is this doesn't eliminate other activities such as school play, church activities, odyssey of the mind teams, etc. so with six kids there are certainly days where we are over scheduled.

4.  Say no sometimes. We definitely need this suggestion. We say yes to way too many things. On one hand it is great to help out with coaching, cooking, rides, babysitting, etc I truly get so much satisfaction in life by helping others. But that being said at times our life is chaotic because of it. We all go in different directions to this meeting or that game. We do try and volunteer together as a family a few times a year.  This will probably be the hardest one for my to follow.

5.  Family time can come in all shapes and sizes by making every day routines more special. It can be really nice to drive to a game with only one child in the car. Whether it be my husband or myself, we frequently stop for a special treat - coffee for the adult and candy for the child.  I love these moments and really look forward to them. Very simple yes but special family bonding that works for us. As my children get older I realize that family time doesn't have to mean all of us doing something together. We just need to make time to enjoy each other and live in the moment.

Need ideas for family time?  Check out the instant downloads for family game nights here.

 Family Game Night

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Category Games for Family Game Night

Click on image to enlarge sample pages from Category Games
Are you looking for a fun, quick game for family game night? Check out Category Games.  This digital download will be sent to you via email right after payment so you are ready to play.  The packet includes four (4) different category games:

Game #1: Top 10 and A to Z Recording Sheets with 100 Category Punch Cards.  Recording sheets are available in different styles to use based on a child's handwriting abilities.  List 10 words for each category card for Top 10.  List one word for each letter of the alphabet based on the category for A to Z.

Game #2: Three for Three Recording Sheets with 50 Category, 3 for 3 Punch Cards.  Recording sheets are available in different styles based on a child's handwriting abilities.  List three words for each category.  Three categories per page.  How fast can you complete the 3 for 3 challenge?

Game #3: Vertical Categories with 36 category cards.  Write the vertical word from the category card down the left hand side of the paper with one letter on each line. Write words associated with the theme that start with each letter of the category.

Game #4: Horizontal Categories with 40 category cards.  This is a collaborative game where all players work together to complete the horizontal category. The object is to make the longest list of words possible.

You can play with one player or as a large group.  Just print a recording sheet for each player.  

Want to play the game on the road? Print over 200 category cards and go!  Use a hole punch to record words or color in the circles on the cards.

Perfect activity for family game nights. Younger children can be on a team to help come up with different words in the categories. Older children or adults can record the answers.  These games are fun and challenging for all ages.

This 42 page PDF download includes the 4 category games to play with the family and also includes a FREE 4 page party pack extension with everything you will need to host a Category themed family game night.  Includes an invitation, food menu ideas and to do list.

Download a sample Top 10 Recording Sheet and 6 Category Punch Cards.

The download of Category Games is only $4.99.  Remember this is a digital download. You will receive a link to download the game via email immediately following payment.

Watch the video to view sample pages from Category Games.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Top 5 Family Christmas Traditions

Throughout the years, our large family has participated in different Christmas traditions.  There is something so comforting about family traditions.  They can strengthen a family bond, create stability, provide familiarity and increase emotional ties.  Here are my top 5 family Christmas traditions:

1.  BAKE COOKIES TOGETHER - The taste of the cookie dough, the smells in the house and the tasty final result always make it worthwhile.  Sure you could do without the mess but you will instilling a love of cooking and cookies all at the same time!  Pass some on to friends and extended family and you will certainly bring some holiday cheer to that person.  

My mother bakes so many different kinds of cookies every year and hands out trays of the grand assortment.  Each of us has our favorites that get eaten right away.  Sometimes it is a classic peanut blossom cookie but for others it may be her ginger cookies or my personally favorite the peanut chews.  

2.  HOMEMADE SECRET SANTA - For years, we did not exchange gifts with the extended family (ie nieces and nephews, cousins, etc).  It was just too large of a crowd.  Last year we decided to start a homemade secret santa gift exchange.  If you were interested in participating your name goes into the hat.  Every one then picks a name out of the hat.  The one rule is that the present has to be homemade.  We had all sorts of gifts last year from homemade hot cocoa mix to paper weights to paintings.  It was so fun to see what everyone created for each other and to see some people were much more talented that we thought.

3.  CUTTING DOWN THE CHRISTMAS TREE - This is definitely one of my most favorite activities although each year it becomes harder to find the time (which is sad...).    When I was a child, we would go and shop for a fresh Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  I was the youngest of 7 and money was tight so my dad wanted to get a good deal on a tree.  I think part of the fun was just for him to haggle with the tree guy to knock a few bucks off the cost of the tree.  I have great memories of going with my dad.  For many years it was just him and I who would go together to pick out the perfect tree. 

Now going with my husband and 6 kids I still find it very comforting although we don't go on Christmas Eve.  There is nothing like watching my husband teach the children how to cut the tree down and the youngest ones yelling "timber".  I have many great pictures of the kids helping to carry/drag the tree back to the car.  And lots of funny memories of how bad we tie the tree to the top of the car (hint: don't follow us we seriously stink at tying the tree down).  

4.  CHRISTMAS GAMES/SONGS - When we all get together at my sister's house on Christmas day we try to participate in a group game.  For the last two years we have played the Name Game (the directions for this game will have to be in another blog post so stay tuned).  One year I created a family scavenger hunt for the kids.  There were quiz questions about family members and the kids had to solve who was who.  This year we will try the Christmas Doodle Find game and see who will hold the record for the shortest amount of time to find all the Christmas pictures.  I also plan on making a Christmas time line. Not sure how I will do this yet.

As the day starts to wind down, we all gather in the living room to sing Christmas carols. The last song is the 12 Days of Christmas where my parents (79 and 80 years old) are the Two Turtle Doves. I have been doing this as long as I can remember and I am 45 years old so that is one long Christmas tradition.  Except for the one year I missed when I was on bedrest when pregnant with our oldest daughter.  

5.  CHRISTMAS PAGEANT - For at least the past 8 years the children have participated in the Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve.  It is so beautiful each year to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas at mass listening to the children sing.  

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Doodle Find for Family Game Night

Christmas Doodle Find:  This 18 page PDF download is a Christmas seek and find game that includes 4 different game boards, 6 recording pages and also includes 5 find and color pages.  This game requires no preparation - just print and play!  In addition, there are directions included to create a travel version of the game.  Liven up the holiday family party or entertain the kids after the feast! Download a sample find and color page.  Regular Price: $2.99 - on sale for $1.99 until 12/31/15.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Superiffic Gift List for Parents

On to my next gift list.... The parents!!! Kids and spouses listen up, this post is for you. Children get to write specific lists each year during the holiday season of what they would like to receive. What about us parents? Sure some will ask what we may want from the mall, online or a big box store. The bottom line is the things I want for Christmas are not available in any store. For a limited time all these gifts are 100% off the retail price. Wait there's more! If you call in the next hour, I will give you 3 offers for the price of 1 at 100% off!  I know, I know you get it... They are all free! But you must act. 

Gift #1 - Time
Please give me some time. Maybe it is just 30 minutes that you give some extra help. Pick up after yourselves. Put your shoes away. Pack your own lunch. All these acts add up to a huge time saver for me. If I don't have to pick up everything before I vacuum I can get it done in half the time. 

Gift #2 - Laundry help.
Could you imagine if one day the kids did all the laundry? I don't mean one load. I mean bring all the dirty laundry to the washer, wash it all, dry it all, fold it all and put it all back away. In my household of 8 that would be the most amazing gift ever!

Gift #3 - Rides.
This might be the best gift of all for me personally. With six children we always have to drive someone somewhere. I LOVE when someone offers to pick up my kids or bring them home. If you really want to rock my world offer a ride during nap time so I don't have to wake my little guy up to pick up another child. 

Gift #4 - Make lunches. 
Some of my children are old enough to make their own lunches. But often times I just do it quickly, well at least the sandwiches and they pack the rest. For me, the best thing about no school is not having to make lunches. If you want to give me gift for my birthday and Christmas make all the lunches for a whole week!

Gift #5 - Menu Plan.
I enjoy cooking dinner every night. I love to eat and always feel a sense of accomplishment after cooking a good meal. The part I don't love is always deciding what to make. This last birthday my kids gave me a list of 30 dinner menu suggestions all typed up. #bestgiftever!

Gift #6 - Clean the whole house while I am gone.

Ok, this one would be impossible in my house but one can dream! The last time my entire house was clean at one time was about 18 months ago for the youngest one's baptism party. And my standards of "clean" are a lot less than other people's ideas of clean. But I would take vacuuming a few rooms while I was gone. 

Gift #7 - Let me watch a movie or read a book in the middle of the day.

This would be so awesome! It has probably been years since I have done this. That is probably my own fault for not taking some time for myself but my to do list is always so long. You know what would be even better? Watching a movie or reading a book between the hours of 3-5:00. This is the toughest time of day between being a chauffeur, baby entertainer and chef.  Wow would it be nice to just go close my bedroom door and read a book. Then after a few hours head to the kitchen for dinner. 

Gift #8 - Organize my photos. 

Better yet organize my life. I have talents but being organized and clean as mentioned previously are not one of them. We have photos falling out of the photo drawer. I have thousands of digital photos disorganized on the computer. Want to make me giggle with delete? Make a slide show with some of the pictures. I would watch it forever. 

Gift # 9 - Don't bicker for one whole day. 

This is really two gifts in one. If you don't bicker I save time because I don't have to keep getting interrupted to break up your fights. Plus it would save on the wine bill because I could drink less. 

Gift #10 - Give me a kiss and hug every day!

I might feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated at times but at the end of the day I know I am loved. Kiss and hug me everyday. There is no better present than this!