10 Summer Activities for Families & Kids

Here in Georgia, the kids go back to school the first week of August, which means that there are only 2.5 weeks left of summer break for Lucas. I can’t believe it’s coming to an end so soon. So as Lucas’ summer break is soon coming to a close, we are grasping on to these last couple of weeks and trying to soak in as much sun, laughter, cuddles, and quality time together as possible. I put together a list of some of the things that we are hoping to do and thought I’d share in case it inspires you too!

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1. Head to the park with a blanket, yummy snacks, and a pile of books to read together. While you’re there, make sure to feed the ducks and play on the playground together!

2. Go to Starbucks on a (coffee-free/decaf) “coffee date”. Lucas loves doing this with me! I order him one of the crema coffee-free Frapuccinos and a small treat and we just sit and talk. LOVE.

3. Put on your swimsuit (yes – YOU too!) and head to the local splash park.

4. Make your own ice cream and then make ice cream sandwiches or sundaes!

5. Have a backyard campfire and of course – this means roasting marshmallows and making s’mores!

6. Have an epic water balloon fight.

7. Catch fireflies in a jar and of course – let them go at the end of the night.

8. Visit the beach and go shelling.

9. Go to an outdoor movie in your community.

10. Enjoy those in between, quiet moments with lots of hugs and kisses. Connect with one another.

 

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For additional parenting tips and tricks, make sure to visit Playtex Baby Mom Trust!

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Rainy Day Indoor Activity Ideas for Kids

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With all of this snow blanketing the country lately (even in Atlanta), it’s always good to have a few indoor activity ideas to cure the cabin fever. Things that you can do whether you are snowed in, it’s rainy or even if your little ones are taking a sick day. Today, I want to share some of our favorites!

Rainy Day Indoor Activity Ideas for Kids

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  • Make flubber! This oozy gooey stuff is always a hit with kids. They can help make it, but the fun comes in playing with it!
  • Play a board game.
  • Read a book!
  • Get in the kitchen and bake together. We love doing this! This Banana Bread is a perfect recipe for kids to make.
  • Make a fort out of sheets and blankets. We like to gather flashlights and books and get into our fort for story time.
  • Have a tea party. Gather up all of the stuffed animals and dolls, set out the nice china, and have a little tea party.
  • Curl up with a cozy blanket together and watch a movie. Sometimes this is just what the doctor ordered!

If your little one has a cough or congestion, you should try PediaCare® Children’s Cough & Congestion. We used this on Lucas’ cold over the holidays and it helped him so much!

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What are your family’s favorite rainy day activities?

 

Ideas for Creating New Family Memories in 2014 #LifeIsASpecialOccasion

One of our main New Year’s resolutions in 2014 is to slow down and enjoy each other more. That means disconnecting from the electronics and being in the moment. No iPads, iPods, video games, camera phones, etc. Just us. We have gotten this year started right by incorporating weekly walks into our schedule, reading together as a family, and incorporating one family game night every week.

On our weekly walk

On our weekly walk

 

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Amelia’s first time on a swing

Today I wanted to share some fun activity ideas that will hopefully inspire your family to create new memories in 2014!

Ideas for Creating New Family Memories in 2014

  1. Ice cream night
  2. Family movie night
  3. Family video game night
  4. Board game night
  5. Visit a museum
  6. Read a book together
  7. Take weekly walks in the park
  8. Volunteer as a family
  9. Camping (in your own backyard or at a campsite)
  10. Enjoy a family cookout
  11. Cook or bake together
  12. Visit the zoo
  13. Bowling
  14. Miniature golf
  15. Work on and complete a puzzle
  16. Roller or ice skating
  17. Dance together
  18. Go on a bike ride
  19. Put on a play or show
  20. Take a class together
  21. Do a craft project
  22. Do a science experiment
  23. Paint pottery
  24. Go for a hike
  25. Visit the library
  26. Write a story together
  27. Do conversation starters at the dinner table
  28. Start a family collection
  29. Plant a vegetable/fruit garden
  30. Have a picnic and fly a kit

 

Happy New Year from Hallmark! Share how you’ll create memories with your family in the new year. Visit Hallmark.com/explore for their full product line and special offers. Life is a special occasion so celebrate!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hallmark. The opinions and text are all mine.

Get Into the Holiday Spirit: Ten Holiday Activity Ideas #BestFeelings

Christmas is only a few days away! So exciting! The Jolly household is always very busy this time of the year. We’re decorating, trimming the tree, baking holiday goodies, and coming up with fun holiday-themed activities for the whole family. Today, I thought I’d share with you some of our favorite holiday activities. They are the perfect way to get your family into the holiday spirit!

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Ten Holiday Activity Ideas

1. Make a gingerbread house. You can either bake the pieces yourself or do what we do and buy a ready-made kit. The fun part is decorating the house with frosting and candy. We do this every year and it is without a doubt one of Lucas’ favorite holiday activities.

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2. Bake Christmas cookies. Get in the kitchen together and bake some cookies! Kids always love to bake and of course – who doesn’t love eating the cookies?! We also take it a step further by hosting a cookie decorating party every year. We invite all of our nieces and nephews over and they have a great time decorating the cookies. Every child gets to take their creations home with them and they are able to save a few to leave out for Santa.

3. Get out and see the lights. Pack up a thermos of hot cocoa, travel mugs, and cookies. Round up the family and head out to see the holiday lights in surrounding neighborhoods. You could even wear PJs!

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4. Sing Christmas carols. I know it sounds silly, but it’s so much fun! We print out the lyrics, make some hot cocoa, and sing our hearts out. Always a hit! Plus, Glade® has partnered with musical artist Jordin Sparks on an original holiday song called “This is My Wish,” and it is available to download for free until December 31st at www.glade.com/thisismywish. Watch the video here – my whole family loves it!

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5. Watch a holiday movie. We do this several times throughout the holiday season! Make sure to include all the fixings – popcorn, candy and hot cocoa of course!

6. Give back. Whether it’s baking cookies for the neighbors, helping out a local shelter, or donating toys to kids in need – this is a great way to honor what the holidays are truly about. In fact, to help spread the best feelings of the season, in addition to the song, “This is My Wish,” Glade® is donating $150,000 to Toys for Tots™, which means 15,000 boys and girls will have something special in their stocking.

7. Eat dinner by the Christmas tree. Set out a blanket or small table, crank up the holiday music, and enjoy dinner by the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.

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8. Make ornaments. You can either bake up a batch of classic salt dough ornaments or get an easy kit at your local craft store.

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9. Make homemade Christmas cards. We do this every year! I make it simple by pre-cutting the card stock and setting out everything we’ll need – stickers, glitter, markers, paint, crayons, envelopes, and stamps.

10. Get your home holiday ready! We decorate our home to the nines every year. It is a sure fire way to get into the holiday spirit. And, don’t forget a holiday scent! We love Glade® Sparkling Spruce™ Premium Room Spray. It has a woodsy and fresh scent that perfectly embodies the holidays! If you have an artificial tree, then this is a great way to bring the outdoors in! We have a fresh tree and it smells lovely, but the scent is only in the family room where the tree is. The Glade® Sparkling Spruce™ fragrance allows us to enjoy the scent in every room of our home!

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11. (Bonus!) Reflect on the best moments of the past year. Before ringing in the New Year and making those resolutions, I love to recall the best, funniest, most memorable moment from the last year. It is fun to see what each person in my family says! Between now and NYE, tweet your best moments from 2013 with the hashtag #bestfeelings and be sure to tag @glade! I’d love to see your responses, and Glade® will be posting select tweets to their Tumblr page every hour on December 31st.

Visit Glade.com for more information and Like on Facebook and Follow on Twitter for all the latest news.

To help get your home ready for the upcoming holidays, Glade® is offering one lucky reader a fun holiday package! Simply watch the “This is My Wish” music video and leave a comment on this post to enter to win a mix of the Glade® products and fragrances, as well as gourmet holiday cookies!

Contest ends on Monday, December 23rd at midnight PST. Winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email. Best of luck! 

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FREE e-book! Be Out There: Cool Outdoor Ideas for Hot Summer Days #BeOutThere

This is part of a sponsored campaign with The Motherhood and the National Wildlife Federation. However, all opinions are 100% my own. Please see this site’s Terms of Use for additional information.

I’m so proud to announce that the National Wildlife Federation’s e-book, Be Out There: Cool Outdoor Ideas for Hot Summer Days is finally published! I helped co-author this book with fourteen other amazing bloggers!

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As we all know, in this day and age – it can be so difficult to pull children away from their video games and iPads and smartphones. In fact, The Motherhood and NWF conducted a survey of social media moms in June 2012 and had the following findings…

  • 94% of moms think kids are not spending enough time outdoors
  • One-third of moms feel guilty that their kids aren’t spending more time outside
  • The biggest impediments to getting kids outside were: weather (61%), safety concerns (38%) and technology (36%)

I know that I can totally relate to the moms surveyed! Sometimes, life gets in the way of even the best intentions so I am always looking for tips and advice on what works for other families. Be Out There: Cool Outdoor Ideas for Hot Summer Days is chock full of invaluable tips on getting kids outdoors. Check out the chapters below…

  • Balancing Screen Time with Green Time
  • Cool Activities for Hot Summer Days
  • Outdoor Time in Everyday Life
  • Nighttime Activities
  • Celebrating Special Occasions in the Great Outdoors

I contributed to the Celebrating Special Occasions in the Great Outdoors chapter…

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Get to know the rest of the contributing bloggers below. This is one fabulous group of ladies!

Andrea Updyke, Li’l Kid Things

Brett Martin, This Mama Loves…

Caryn Bailey, Rockin’ Mama

Elena Sonnino, Live.Do.Grow.

Fadra Nally, All Things Fadra

Heather Hopson, Diary of a First Time Mom

Holly Ambrose, Tropic Home and Family

Jennifer Matuska, Mommy Instincts

Kimberly Coleman, Mom in the City

Louise Bishop, MomStart

Marianna Nichols, Green Mama’s Pad

Molly Balint, MommyCoddle

Nickida Stephens, Nicki’s Random Musings

Tiffany Merritt, Stuff Parents Need

And, please make sure to download Be Out There: Cool Outdoor Ideas for Hot Summer Days for FREE! 

Prevent Summer Brain Drain with a Fun Science Experiment for Kids!

On our list of summer activities was trying out some fun and easy science experiments at home. First up was blowing up a balloon with a bottle. Lucas loved this experiment so much! Instructions below.

What You’ll Need:

  • Balloon
  • 16 oz. soda or water bottle
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Funnel

Instructions:
Pour 1/2 cup vinegar into the empty bottle. Insert funnel into the mouth of a balloon and add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda into the balloon. Attach the balloon to the bottle – allowing the balloon to hang to side so that the baking soda doesn’t drop into the bottle. When ready, shake the baking soda into the bottle and watch the balloon inflate!

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The science of it: Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) come together to form a new chemical called carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide gas is what inflates the balloon.

FREE Summer Activity for Kids: Kids Bowl Free!

I’m always looking for fun and affordable activities that we can do as a family, which is why I LOVE the annual Kids Bowl Free Summer program!

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Kids Bowl Free (kidsbowlfree.com) is an amazing brand designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer. Families can get two free games for up to six children per day, and family packs for the whole summer start at $24.95.

The family pass is an unbelievable deal for just $24.95 per family. Again the family pass is good for up to 4 adult family members (Mom, Dad, Older Siblings, Grandma, Grandpa or an Adult Babysitter) to bowl 2 games of bowling every day during the promotion all summer long along with the children that have registered in your family.

Kids Bowl Free has big news this year – you no longer need to print out coupons ahead of time! If you have a smartphone or tablet with an internet connection, all you need to do is open up your KBF account on the device and the bowling center can redeem your coupons electronically.

For more info, check out KidsBowlFree.com!

50 Fun Summer Activities for Kids

This Summer is especially special to our family because it is the first Summer after Lucas’ first year in school. We only have 79 days of Summer together before school starts again in August. I want to enjoy every second that I have with my baby boy (he will always be my baby boy!). So, we’ve come with a Summer bucket list that I’m sharing with you today – hopefully it will give your family a few ideas as well!

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50 Fun Summer Activities for Kids & Families

  1. Go to an outdoor Summer concert.
  2. Go to the beach.
  3. Go bowling.
  4. Visit your local aquarium.
  5. Go to a minor or major league baseball game.
  6. Go fishing.
  7. Check out your local library or bookstore for free story time.
  8. Have a picnic.
  9. Go to an outdoor movie.
  10. Play putt-putt.
  11. Camp out in the backyard.
  12. Go on a nature walk/hike and collect nature items.
  13. Go for a bike ride.
  14. Do some easy science experiments (i.e. potion lab).
  15. Catch and release fireflies.
  16. Fly a kite.
  17. Run in the sprinklers or break out the Slip n Slide.
  18. Cloud watching.
  19. Go to your local zoo.
  20. Make an outdoor obstacle course.
  21. Play with bubbles.
  22. Family game night.
  23. Make homemade play dough.
  24. Keep a Summer journal.
  25. Read together.
  26. Make s’mores.
  27. Make homemade popsicles.
  28. Make homemade ice cream in a bag.
  29. Make homemade snow cones.
  30. Go camping.
  31. Go strawberry picking and make your own jam.
  32. Wash the cars (both the real cars and the ride-on toys!)
  33. Make a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a charity.
  34. Family movie night with popcorn.
  35. Build a fort -inside or outside.
  36. Go to the playground.
  37. Go on a scavenger hunt. We want to try letter boxing or geocaching!
  38. Plant a garden.
  39. Go to your local Farmer’s Market.
  40. Make mud pies.
  41. Go to a museum.
  42. Swim in a lake.
  43. Go to a Home Depot kid’s workshop.
  44. See a fireworks display.
  45. Attend a local festival.
  46. Go to a water park or splash pad.
  47. Have a water balloon fight.
  48. Have a water gun fight or set up a water gun shooting range.
  49. Play in the rain.
  50. Go to a drive-in movie.

Fun & Unique Easter Egg Dyeing Techniques

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It seems that many people are just buying plastic eggs these days rather than dyeing their own Easter eggs. It’s really sad because dyeing Easter eggs is so much fun and easy to do! It’s an activity that both kids and adults can have fun doing and it’s something to look forward to every Easter. If you are looking for a fun and unique way to dye your Easter eggs this year, give these simple but stylish techniques a try.

Rubber Band Technique: Wrap rubber bands around a hard boiled egg and dip into a dye until the egg reaches the desired color. Remove the egg from the dye and carefully remove the rubber bands. You can get really creative with these by dyeing the eggs with a base color and then wrapping it in rubber bands and dyeing again. You can also make crazy patterns or even stylish plaid patterns.

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Masking Technique: Adhere sticker shapes, letters, or designs to the hard boiled egg and then dip into the dye. Wherever you adhere the stickers, the egg will not be dyed. Cut out your own shapes from masking tape or scotch tape. Use stickers, sticky foam shapes and letters, whatever you have. Be careful using regular paper stickers though because they will disintegrate in the dye and leave behind a sticky residue.

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Botanical Print Technique: Lay a leaf on an egg, then cover it with pantyhose to hold it in place. Secure the pantyhose tightly to the egg with a rubber band. Put the pantyhose wrapped egg into the dye and allow to soak until it reaches the desired color. Remove the egg from the dye and very carefully remove the rubber band, nylon, and leaf.

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For instructions on how to hard boil the perfect egg, click HERE.

Easter Craft Idea: Turn Plastic Easter Eggs into Cute Animals

A cute way of repurposing plastic Easter eggs is to make cute little animals out of them. These are adorable filled with treats and tucked into an Easter basket! This is also a fun craft to do with kids.

What You’ll Need:
Plastic Easter Eggs
Glue Sticks and Hot Glue Gun
Felt
Cardboard Circles
Black Sharpie
Scissors
Googly eyes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, buttons, etc.

Making the animals is really pretty simple. You’ll want to use the wider part of the egg as the lower half of the animals body. For the animal to stand upright, you can glue a piece of cardboard to the bottom. I used these cardboard circles.

Then, get creative. Use felt, buttons, cardstock or whatever you have on hand to make the animal parts. Use pipe cleaners and pom poms as tails.

There are lots of animals that can be made using the plastic Easter eggs. Make pigs, chickens, ducks, birds, owls, cows, frogs, bunnies, and more.