Tag Archives: kids

A kind Walmart employee helps load a minivan full of turkeys headed to New Hope Services.

ENCOURAGING GRATITUDE THAT LASTS BEYOND THANKSGIVING

By Farrah Alexander

 

When I was pregnant with my first, Daniel, I craved Thanksgiving food the entire duration. No pickles and ice cream for me; I wanted mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole. Pumpkin pie visited me in my dreams.

 

I love Thanksgiving. The decadent food, the time spent with my wonderful family, the pre-meal mimosas, the browsing Black Friday ads – what’s not to love? Hop into your stretchiest stretchy pants and enjoy this beautiful, gluttonous holiday.

 

But I’ll admit, I often get caught up in the chaos of the holiday and sometimes lose sight of the theme of gratitude. The word “thanks” is in the name of the holiday, after all. It should be easy to remember to remain grateful and express your blessings, but it’s so easy for those ideas to slip away.

 

It’s hard enough for a grown adult to maintain a sense of gratitude, it’s certainly a challenge for little ones. But teaching your kids to be thankful and express gratitude at Thanksgiving and beyond is a truly worthwhile goal. Grateful kids are happier and even more of a joy to others. (Watch an adult’s face light up when a small child thanks them. It’s impossible not to smile.)

 

Teaching your children to say, “thank you” when appropriate is a great lesson of course. But it’s really just good manners. Teaching your child to regularly practice gratitude is a philosophy that they can adopt and will serve them well their entire lives.

Farrah’s son Daniel’s first Thanksgiving.

Farrah’s son Daniel’s first Thanksgiving.

Farrah’s daughter Penelope’s first Thanksgiving.

Farrah’s daughter Penelope’s first Thanksgiving.

A kind Walmart employee helps load a minivan full of turkeys headed to New Hope Services.

A kind Walmart employee helps load a minivan full of turkeys headed to New Hope Services.

So, here’s some simple ways to do it:

 

  • Expand on your “thank yous.” When you thank someone, add a little something genuine and personal that shows why you’re grateful. For example, say after you cook dinner, your kid says, “thank you.” It’s a nice gesture and you’re glad your kid is being polite. But, what if your kid instead says, “Thank you for making dinner. I know spaghetti’s not your favorite, but it’s my favorite and you make the best spaghetti.” See how genuine that sounds? It’s a great way not only to make the person being thanked feel fantastic, it’s a great way to reflect on gratitude and express why you’re sincerely grateful.
  • Call out your blessings. If you feel grateful for something, say it out loud in front of your kids. It doesn’t have to be anything huge; any ordinary, seemingly insufficient thing is perfect. If you feel grateful, just say it. Saying things like, “I just love having the opportunity to spend time with you when you get home from school” or “I love when we have dinner together as a family” are simple but meaningful.
  • Regularly ask your child what they’re grateful for or what their blessings are. It’s a good opportunity for them to reflect on their days and remember how blessed they are. If they’re stumped at first, you can share a few things you’re grateful for and then challenge them to come up with three of their own. It doesn’t have to be profound. If they name three friends at school they have or three of their favorite toys, that’s fine. No wrong answers.
  • Get into the habit of charitable giving or volunteering if you’re able. You don’t have to give a detailed account of all the ways people across the world suffer, but you don’t have to sugar-coat that people do suffer either. There are countless ways to help and many people in need of help. So, find a way your family can help others. You can make a holiday tradition of volunteering at a local homeless shelter, donating food to a local charity or forgoing some gifts of your own to give to others instead. Get creative!
  • Turn your gratitude into a festive display for Thanksgiving. I’ve seen some really adorable seasonal crafts perfect for this. You can get a large pumpkin and ask your children what they’re grateful for each day and write it on the pumpkin. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you have a pumpkin filled with all the many blessings your children are grateful for. You can even have a pumpkin for each child. Then, on Thanksgiving, you can review all the blessings. It could be a meaningful tradition for your family to reflect on the many things you’re thankful for instead of being asked on the spot.
  • Consistently thank others and encourage your kids to do the same. If anyone does any kind of service for you – holding a door open, serving food at a restaurant, loading your garbage away – be sure to sincerely thank them. You’re not just being polite, you’re showing others respect and dignity. By taking the time to sincerely thank everyone, you’re showing your child that everyone is worthy of your respect.

 

You’ve probably caught on by now that you are directly involved in all of these suggestions. Kids learn by your example. If they see their parents doing or saying something, they’ll take notice and try to mimic your behavior. (Trust me, I let a minor swear word slip three years ago and my son still brings it up. Kids are sponges.) Plus, let’s be honest, can’t we use a little gratitude in our lives?

 

Be thankful this Thanksgiving, but be grateful your entire life.

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A THANK YOU NOTE TO TEACHERS

screen-shot-2018-08-20-at-12-31-04-pmBy Farrah Alexander

MY SON, DANIEL, IS STARTING KINDERGARTEN THIS YEAR. LIKE THE HOPELESSLY NEUROTIC MOM I AM, I FIND THIS IMPOSSIBLE AND AM MYSTIFIED BY COMPLETELY ROUTINE ASPECTS OF SCHOOL.

Do they really expect me to put my precious child on a SCHOOL BUS? Is he really going to be gone ALL DAY? And he’s going to school EVERY DAY? How is this possible? How can he possibly go seven hours without his mama smooching his little cheeks?

What has really calmed my irrational fears and given me comfort before this transition has been every interaction I’ve had with the teachers and staff at my son’s new school. The only time I felt my eyes actually welling up with tears at the thought of my oldest child entering kindergarten was when I heard the school’s principal tell the parents about her morning routine of telling all the kids she loves them.

I’m not the only one nervous about kindergarten. Although he mostly talks about kindergarten with excitement, Daniel also has brought up aspects that make him nervous. He’s nervous about going to a new school he’s not familiar with and having a new teacher and new students and not returning to the school, teachers and friends he loved and knew so well in preschool. His previous teachers and school were amazing, so I understand his hesitation.

Like most kids, Daniel LOVES getting mail and was excited to get a letter addressed to him. When I read it to him, his eyes became wide and bright. There was no hint of nervousness on his smiling face. It was a letter from his new teacher. She introduced herself and talked a little about her family and how they’ve enjoyed the summer. She wrote that she’s so excited about the upcoming year and how fantastic it will be.

I was amazed that a busy teacher would use the precious time she has away from school to personally write every student a letter. As a parent, getting that letter was getting reassurance yet again that everything is going to be OK and that even when I’m not with my child, he’s still going to be with someone who cares.

In the letter, the teacher included her address so Daniel could send a letter or picture back if he’d like. Although this was all intended for my son, the incoming kindergarten student, and not myself, the nervous and neurotic mother, I’d like to send a message to all the teachers heading back to their classrooms this year.

To our teachers:

Thank you. Thank you for reassuring us and calming our unfounded fears by reminding us that you’re not only fully capable of keeping our kids safe and providing them with a quality education, you do all of this because you truly care.

You care about our children before you even know them. You’re teaching them and preparing them before you even enter the classroom for the first time. We see how hard you work both inside and outside of the classroom. We see you go far beyond the basic duties of teaching all the time. We see you and appreciate you.

It’s hard to see the babies we once held in our arms grow into big kids entering school. It’s hard to let go of the control we once had in their daily lives. It’s hard to kiss our babies goodbye in the morning knowing we won’t see them until the afternoon. It’s hard to realize that this time is fleeting and our babies aren’t actually babies at all.

During this time, thank you for recognizing that it’s a little hard and showing us kindness and empathy instead of saying, “My god, woman. He’s not a baby. He’s almost as tall as you and can eat an 8 ounce steak.”

Thank you for not verbally acknowledging that we followed the school bus in our minivans on the first day.

Thank you for being especially understanding when we forget things, even though you reminded us using several different forms of communication.

Thank you for helping our children learn what they need to excel and prepare for the next grade. I know you have a classroom full of children with vastly different learning styles, abilities, and challenges. I can imagine that in itself is an incredible challenge that changes every year. The fact that you conquer those challenges and make it look so effortless is amazing.

Thank you for protecting our children while they’re not under our supervision. Keeping an entire classroom of children safe is an incredible feat that comes with impeccable diligence. I know among all your other many responsibilities, teachers look for signs of trouble to ensure children are safe both inside and outside of school. When our children see your face, they feel safe and comforted.

Thank you for working so incredibly hard. I know your work day doesn’t only start and end with the ringing of the school bell. I know teachers are under a tremendous amount of pressure and the daily demands of your job are intense. Balancing the overwhelming load all teachers carry and managing to still be patient and kind to your students is remarkable.

Just as you make your students feel comforted and safe, I feel confident in your incredible abilities and fully trust you to take care of the most precious and loved part of myself. I can never say thank you enough. It truly takes a special person to shape little minds, and I feel very grateful my child has you.

Please enter the year knowing that what you do every day matters. You change little lives and the impact lasts a lifetime. Thank you, teachers. Have a great year!


THANK YOU FOR RECOGNIZING THAT IT’S A LITTLE HARD AND SHOWING US KINDNESS AND EMPATHY INSTEAD OF SAYING, “MY GOD, WOMAN. HE’S NOT A BABY. HE’S ALMOST AS TALL AS YOU AND CAN EAT AN 8 OUNCE STEAK.”

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BACK TO BASICS

By Morgan Sprigler

It’s finally summertime, Extol Readers! Warmer weather is here and our kids are out of school. You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with the fact that you have become the sole source of entertainment for your kids (and with the second fact that they will need a bath every. single. night). Do not fear. This is your time to shine!screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-4-35-41-pm

Instead of offering an intricate DIY project this month, I am going to suggest a few fun things to do with your kiddos over the course of these summer months. These sweet little crafts may keep your monsters distracted long enough for you to enjoy a glass of wine while deciding whether you hear Laurel or Yanny. (I’m Laurel, by the way).

I found all of these crafts at Ben Franklin in New Albany. Everything you need is packaged neatly together with instructions and will only set you back $1.49! Ben Franklin offers a large variety of ready-to-make crafts for all ages and interests.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-4-35-48-pm

My girls had a blast shopping for their “cwaft” of choice. They settled on suncatchers, melty beads, a pom-pom kit and clothespin kit! The only items we needed to use from home were my glue gun, an iron and an ironing board.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-4-35-54-pm

We enjoyed painting the suncatchers outside and the others craft indoors, once it began raining. (I highly recommend stocking up on these projects for a rainy day.)

Wishing everyone a happy summer full of joy and laughter.

HAPPY SPRING, Y’ALL!

MORGAN

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SWEET SKILLS

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By Angie Fenton

Photos by Danny Alexander

BAKING DYNAMO WINS MESA’S FIRST-EVER KIDS BAKING COMPETITION

Lydia Sprigler rushed into MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen in downtown New Albany, her face flushed, hair pulled back into a tight ponytail, carrying the now-cold sweet bread she’d baked to audition for the venue’s inaugural Kids Baking Competition.

The Highland Hills Middle School student had just come from volleyball practice, recalled her mother Adrienne Sprigler, and was surrounded by budding chefs 8- to 13 years old carrying their own freshly-baked versions of delectable breads, eager to impress the judges.

Then, the auditions began – and Lydia was selected to go first.

Despite serving up a cold version of her sweet bread and arriving straight from her athletic practice, the judges were impressed with her knowledge and passion. When they whittled down the group of 30 hopefuls, Lydia soon learned she had been selected to compete in the first round along with five other competitors.

In the initial round, the 13-year-old and her peers created cookies by scratch in front of a live audience. Judges, attendees and online voters picked Lydia and three others the best bakers of the evening.

In round two, the four creative cooks each baked 24 donuts from their favorite recipe in 1.5 hours. At the end of the night, Lydia – along with her peers Jayla and Sierra – advanced to the finale.

Round three, the final leg of the competition, required each baker to produce 24 cupcakes and once again wow the judges, those voting online and the live audience at MESA, 216 Pearl St., where the contest had been hosted. Hundreds of people watched the finale via Facebook Live, many sending comments of support for their favorite competitor. (This writer observed the girls in person and was impressed by all three.)

When the finale was finished, each baker received comments from the judges, including constructive criticism and helpful advice. “Lydia, you’ve been smashing it every single week – I’ve ever had.”


“YOUR OATMEAL COOKIES – THOSE WERE THE MOST WONDERFUL COOKIES I’VE EVER HAD.–CHEF LIZ MARTINO TO 13-YEAR-OLD BAKER LYDIA SPRIGLER, WINNER OF MESA, A COLLABORATIVE KITCHEN’S FIRST-EVER KIDS BAKING COMPETITION


“This entire competition, you’ve just been consistently in the top,” added Adrienne Holland of Adrienne & Co. Bakery and Café at the finale. “You’ve really been knocking it out of the park. I love your no-nonsense approach.”

Lydia listened intently, her face serious, as the judges then suggested she slightly lessen her use of bold flavors with a whipped cream filling to stave off overpowering tastes and use the most of her time since she was first to finish.

Anxiously, the three girls lined up against the counter as Liz and Adrienne prepared to announce the champion: “And the winner of MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen’s first annual Kids Baking Competition is Lydia!” said Adrienne, as guests applauded.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-4-44-17-pm

“Waiting for the results, that was nerve-wracking,” admitted Lydia, though there was another moment during the contest that was a bit stressful, too. “In the donut round and my oven wasn’t working. But then (the judges) decided to give everyone an extra 20 minutes. That was probably real nerve-wracking.”

In addition to winning a feature in these pages of Extol, a $100 gift card to MESA KIDS and a tote with baking goodies, Lydia will be the guest of honor at the Extol Magazine launch party hosted by MESA 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 21. She’ll debut her winning cupcake at the free, family-friendly event, which will also include appetizers by a local chef and plenty of giveaways.

The best part, said Lydia, was “having my friends and family there and also practicing it and letting the judges taste what I was making.” But, she added, “winning the competition was fun too.”

Photo courtesy Jose Morones Vergara

Photo courtesy Jose Morones Vergara

For mom, though, it was more than fun. “I ways knew she’s had a creative outlet in her,” said Adrienne Sprigler. “Along the way, she always wanted to help in the kitchen. She’s always wanted to bake and decorate cupcakes and cookies. So, what (this competition) has done is its fueled a fire. It’s highlighted something she has a knack for. Who knows what’s coming next because she’s just started.”


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LIFE WITH LYDIA

• The 13-year-old Floyds Knobs resident is the daughter of Adrienne and Chris Sprigler, has a brother, Harrison, 16, a black lab named Mae, a mini schnauzer named Junie and a dwarf hamster named pipsqueak. • Lydia will enter the 8th grade when school starts and is an all A student. She enjoys art classes but could “do without health and PE.”

• When it comes to eating out, Lydia enjoys Bella Roma, Israel’s Delicias De Mexico Gourmet, Come Back Inn, Olive Garden and Berry Twist and Adrienne & Co. Bakery and Café for desserts.

• Lydia is a gifted athlete who enjoys volleyball. But her other interests include all things craft. “I’m pretty crafty. I have a craft room. I’m pretty much crafty, sporty and I like to bake. I like snuggling with my dogs. And I have a trampoline too. That’s what I like to do.”

• Lydia’s love of baking began with her grandma, Terri Sprigler. “I bake with her all the time. It was kind of like ‘Karate Kid’ where she was training me.”

• “Go out and try it. If I didn’t win this competition, I would probably keep baking. If you like (some thing), try it. Keep practicing and go after your dreams. Just do what makes you happy. You have one life and just live it to the fullest.”


screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-4-50-10-pmMESA KIDS COMING SOON

MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen will soon have a kid-friendly counterpart. MESA KIDS, 154 E. Main St. in New Albany, opens this summer and is specifically designed just for kids who want to learn how to bake and cook (or better their current skills). Features include classes and summer camps taught by culinary experts, as well as birthday parties and a unique Black Coat Program geared toward young chefs who are super serious about developing their culinary techniques and talents. Learn more about MESA KIDS at mesakidscookingschool. com and @mesakidscookingschool on Facebook.

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Kid Talk

PHOTOS AND Q&A BY JENNIFER MCNELLY

SOMETIMES, KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS. OTHER TIMES, WHAT COMES OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS CAN BE ENLIGHTENING, HEARTWARMING AND ENTERTAINING, TOO. WE SENT PHOTOGRAPHER-WRITER JENNIFER MCNELLY OUT ‘N’ ABOUT IN SEARCH OF YOUNG PEOPLE WILLING TO LET US KNOW WHAT’S ON THEIR MINDS.

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KIDS REALLY DIG GARDENING

By Farrah Alexander

WHEN MY HUSBAND ASKED ME WHAT I WANTED FOR MOTHER’S DAY, I WENT THROUGH THE ROUTINE SUGGESTIONS: “OH, NOTHING. JUST THE ADORING LOVE AND ADMIRATION OF MY LOVELY FAMILY.” OR “I DO WANT TO SLEEP IN, THOUGH.” AND, “MAYBE A NAP, TOO. ACTUALLY, JUST 24 HOURS OF SOLID SLEEP SOUNDS NICE.”

In addition to sleep, my husband asked, “What about a garden? The kids and I could build you a garden.” I was elated. I so badly wanted a garden, I had even purchased some weed-block and gardening items that sat unopened in our garage.

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-5-40-59-pmMustering up the energy (see previous pleading for sleep) to do the manual labor part of building a garden hasn’t been in the cards for me this season yet. All the hauling dirt, tilling and building has been too much. But tending to a garden with my two favorite little people was something I really wanted to do this summer. So, my husband offering to do all the hard things involved in building a garden, and letting me stick to the fun stuff was a perfect gift.

I first became interested in gardening with children years before I had my own. I wrote an article about community and school gardens for a local publication. I was so amazed by how the garden changed the children’s perspective on personal responsibility, health and food.

These kids loved getting dirty and taking care of their gardens. They would pick offending weeds and check on the growth of their plants. The pride they took in the work they put into their gardens was obvious. They were incredibly knowledgeable about the entire seed to plate process, speaking with the experience of master gardeners.

After they nurtured their plants for months and it was time to harvest, they couldn’t wait to try their veggies. Most parents go through the daily dinner struggle of trying to convince their kids to try the veggies on their plates while the kids recoil and resist like you just asked them to eat dirt. But a kid who tended to a plant for months and watched the plants sprout colorful, edible veggies? It’s hard to convince them to even wait to wash their veggies before devouring.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-5-41-04-pm

Now we can get any fruits and veggies just about any time of year at our local grocery stores. We don’t have to wait until early summer for strawberries; we can buy strawberries in January! Most of the produce we see in stores aren’t locally farmed, and a lot of it actually traveled a long distance before it arrived here. Some of our most popular household staples, like bananas, weren’t even grown in this country. Instead, bananas and many other items are grown in the Caribbean, Mexico and elsewhere and shipped here.

It’s easy for kids to become disconnected with where food comes from given the complicated nature of how it gets here. Adults don’t typically know exactly where their produce comes from, either. But with a garden, kids can eat food they grew in their own backyard. The disconnect is eliminated.

In fact, there are absolutely remarkable benefits for children who garden. There have been a number of studies showing that children who participate in some type of gardening program either at home or at school

• showed a significant increase in self- understanding and an ability to work with others

• have positive bonding experiences with their parents and other adults

• are more likely to ear fresh fruits and vegetables

• scored higher on science achievement tests

• showed an understanding of ecology, interconnections in nature, and responsibility to care for the environment

• develop an interest in gardening that is likely to be lifelong

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-5-41-10-pmPlus, it’s great for parents to get outside and work on something with their children. It’s fun to be able to involve your kids in cooking dinner and gathering fresh ingredients you grew together. Last year, I just had herbs in small pots outside my door. I loved going outside with my son to clip some and then add those to the dinner we cooked. I found he was much more excited about dinner and more prone to try new things if he was involved in the process.

If you’re interesting in gardening with your kids, it can be incredibly easy and simple. You don’t have to tear up your yard and make a huge garden. Our area is great for growing tomatoes, which can be grown in containers with the cage included. Super easy! No planting even required, just watering. Herbs are always very easy and can be grown in small containers.

To make it even easier, you could even go outside your home and get involved in the gardening process. Many area schools have gardens and probably love when parents volunteer to help tend to them. There are small community gardens in both New Albany and Jeffersonville.

Huber’s is a huge, beautiful farm in Starlight. On their website, they have a picking schedule. Depending on the date, you and your children can pick strawberries, zucchini, green beans, apples, peppers and eventually pumpkins. You can ride out to the fields on a tractor, fill a box with freshly-picked produce and then check out at the market when you’re done. My son loves picking strawberries and then making strawberry bread when we get home.

You can even just check out one of the wonderful farmer’s markets in the area and get a chance to speak with the farmers who harvested the food you’re about to eat. Then you get to have delicious, local produce without any of the dirty work.

Whatever works for you and your family, try some locally grown food this summer.


IF IT’S SUNNY, YOU BETTER GET OUT AND TAKE ADVANTAGE BECAUSE THE NEXT DAY VERY WELL COULD BE RAINY, FRIGID, SWAMPY HOT…


kiz

10 Ways to Sneak Learning into Your Child’s Summer Vacation

The end of another school year is in the books and almost immediately your children will want to start the annual rites of summer vacation 

By Toni Konz

Whether it’s hanging out with friends, wanting to hit up local swimming pools or sitting in front of a television or smartphone for hours – odds are the last thing they want to do is anything that has to do with school or classwork.

As a parent of a 15-year-old son, I have been there. And as a reporter who has spent the past 14 years covering nothing but education stories, I know the significance of what many educators call the “summer brain drain.”

I’m here to tell you that there are a number of (fun) things you can do to help keep your kids learning this summer. Some of these things you can do together, others are things they can do on their own. The best part? They may not even know you are challenging them to use their minds.

Summer Camps. Let’s start with the obvious. There are a number of schools, churches and even businesses that are filled with lots of reading, math and problem-solving skills. You can google Southern Indiana or Louisville summer camps and find there are dozens to choose from. Some of my favorites are the FREE ones, like the JCPS “Literacy &” program for kids in grades K-5. It connects literacy instruction to character-building opportunities. Program themes include photography, yoga, robotics and hip-hop. Times, days & locations vary, call 502.485.3506.

Read every day and make it fun. This tip comes from Kenwood Elementary School teacher Tracy Madryga. “Make it so reading is something the kid HAS to do, but WANTS to do. Go to the library. Let them check out the books. Visit the zoo and museums in the area and discuss what they see and do.”

Have your child plan a day trip … to a local park or forest. Whether it’s Clifty Falls, Charlestown, Hoosier National Forest, Iroquois, Seneca or Cherokee parks in Louisville, or Mammoth Cave or Bernheim Forest – have your kids map out the driving distance (or walking route) and plan a schedule. Have them take a notebook and camera and ask them to write down observations and take pictures of flowers, plants, trees and wildlife. When then get home, ask them to write or create a project (even if it’s a photo gallery on social media) based on what they saw. Who says poster board projects are just for school?

Take them fossil hunting. The banks of the Ohio River in Clarksville are home to the 386-million-year-old Devonian fossil beds. Kids of any age will enjoy finding and exploring different fossils. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources suggests having them bring a spray water bottle (to see the fossils better), a magnifying glass (to examine them more closely), a ruler or a coin (to measure for scale) and some Play-Doh or molding clay so they can make casts and molds of small fossils to take home. Have them bring a notebook so they can rub or sketch the fossils and a camera so they can take pictures. In addition, pack a lunch. Picnic tables are scattered around the park. Parking is $2. There is a cost to visit the Interpretive Center, which was recently renovated and offers an exhibit gallery and other fun activities.

Bake a cake or make cookies. Almost every kind of baking recipe requires measurements and some basic math skills. Instead of one recipe, double it up and ask your kid how much flour, sugar and other ingredients are need. Ask them to measure it out and make sure you double check for accuracy. Make it fun. And if you don’t want all the extra cookies or cakes sitting around your house, drop them off to a local police or fire station or a senior citizens home.

Have them volunteer. An important part of life is learning how to give back to others. Visit an animal shelter, drop by a food kitchen and feed the homeless or research a non-profit organization and inquire about volunteering to help them – even if it’s just for a day.

Ask them to write or draw. Where do your kids see themselves in a year? What do they want to be when they get older and why? What would their dream summer vacation be like? Ask them to write (or draw) a response to a simple question. Even if it’s only for 20 to 30 minutes. You might even learn something you didn’t know.

Engage with them, have a conversation. This one seems simple, maybe even a little silly. This idea comes from my cousin, Tasha, who is a teacher in Wisconsin. “Kids of any age need experiences. They also need the language that goes along with those experiences. I predict the biggest deficit in the near future will be that our children will not have enough exposure to language. By this I mean … they need adults to engage in conversation with them. It can be conversations in the kitchen or the zoo or the park or wherever! Adults need to talk to kids. That’s how they learn.”

Give them a long-term project to do. From Kamaria Wesley, a teacher at Schaffner Traditional Elementary: “Give your kids a long-term project or two to complete. It can be something as simple as an extra summer daily chore around the house (taking care of the plants, mowing a neighbor’s grass) or following current events of interest. Engaging in the real world is so important. Kids need to also be able to have fun so they are not burnt out on the learning process.”

Challenge them to create their own game. Meyzeek Middle School teacher Buffy Sexton offers these ideas for pre-teens and teens: “Give them a budget and tell them to create an outing for the family (let them research online) or have them create quizlet.com flash cards about your family or themselves or a favorite pastime of theirs. They can also create a Kahoot game (go to getkahoot.com) for the family to play.” Another fun one: “Go to www.moviemistakes.com and find a movie and see if your kids can find all the mistakes or more.

mmf

DIY Sidewalk Chalk

By Morgan Sprigler

What you will need:

Plaster of paris
Acrylic or tempura paint in bright colors Silicone molds or a cake pop pan Plastic cups
Plastic spoons
Cold water
Sandwich bags (optional)
Scissors (optional)
Lemonade (optional but encouraged)

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Step 1:

Set out plastic cups in a row. Squeeze a quarter size of paint into the bottom of the cup. Repeat this step with each color. I found bottle of bright, acrylic paint at Meijer for 79 cents apiece. My daughters and I selected six different colors. They wanted 27 different bottles, but after a tantrum and a healthy screaming match, we settled on six.

Step 2:

Pour cold water into each cup, filling it approximately one-third of the way full. Using cold water is a very important step. If you are crafting outside (which I highly recommend for this project), bring a pitcher of ice water with you. Now, let your kids stir with their plastic spoons while you check your Insta-stories/email/Facebook.

Step 3:

Slowly add plaster of paris, taking time to stir in between pours. A good rule of thumb would be to use twice as much plaster as water. You want to achieve the consistency of yogurt. Please explain to child that this is not actual yogurt. The label clearly states, “DO NOT INGEST.” So, please, don’t.

Step 4:

Pour your mix into your mold. We used both silicone molds and a steel cake pop pan. The chalk was much easier to remove from the silicone, but both worked. Let your chalk sit out in the sun for as long as your children will allow.

Step 5:

Lemonade break!

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Step 6:

I gave in after 5 hours and being asked, “Ready yet Mommy?!” no less than 1,000 times. Ideally, you want to let your chalk form for 24 hours. If your children will approve, you can pop out a few a bit early and let the rest sit until the next afternoon. Simply remove your chalk from your molds. Your molds can be washed and reused for future baking.

Step 7:

Grab a chair, sit back and relax while your little ones draw pretty flowers and happy faces all over your driveway. Take a moment to walk inside and spike your lemonade (no one is judging here).

Step 8:

After the girls went to sleep, I was feeling creative and decided the cupcake chalk molds we made needed “icing.” I mixed quite a bit more Plaster of Paris with the same amount of water from step three, making a thick paste almost too hard to stir. I then transferred the paste into a sandwich bag and used my scissors to cut one of the bottom corners. A makeshift icing bag. In a circular motion, I iced my little cupcakes and added some glitter on top. Because, well, #whynot #everythingisbetterwithglitter.

mm4

All jokes aside, we really enjoyed this project. We have plenty of supplies leftover to re-create this all summer long and the girls are already asking to do it again. Have fun experimenting with different shapes, layer your colors or use your creations to give away as party favors for your next cookout! Tag me in your Instagram chalk/spiked lemonade photos this summer @Mrs_Sprigler. Until next time!

So, I am aware you can purchase a 60 count of sidewalk chalk for $5.99 at pretty much any store on Earth. However, aren’t we all looking for a way to keep our precious offspring busy this summer? It’s time to create some memories and you don’t have to be a master crafter for this project (my one-year-old excelled at making her first batch of homemade chalky goodness). 

XO

Morgan

 

hoosier-mama

HOOSIER MAMA | Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

By Farrah Alexander

Four years ago, I was a brand-new mom taking my brand-new son out of the house solo for the first time. I was still recovering from an intense labor and delivery and the newfound state of extreme exhaustion I never knew existed. My husband returned to his demanding routine of balancing grad school, an internship and his full-time job. My baby was adjusting to the world after an early arrival, recovering from jaundice and breastfeeding struggles.

We were tired. All of us, so very tired.

Even the tiny goal of a trip to the post office seemed daunting. What if he cries? How am I going to carry these packages and a baby? What if he’s too cold? What about the germs? Oh my God, the germs. But off we went.

As I struggled with the logistics of getting my newborn out of the car seat, into my carrier and out into the farrah3world, I spotted and locked eyes with another mother. Although she was clearly in another stage of motherhood, she also looked tired as she shuffled her small army of little ones into her minivan. I must have looked desperate and overwhelmed to this veteran mother who had years of experience compared to my mere weeks.

Now that my oldest just turned four, I know this mother could have told me anything. She could have scoffed at my exhaustion and warned me to just wait. Just wait until potty training. Just wait until school bullies. Just wait until sibling fights. She could have turned her experience into pessimism.

Instead, she looked at me without even pausing her shuffle of buckling kids in their seats – a routine she’s clearly done countless times – smiled, let out a half-hearted laugh and said with absolute certainty and conviction, “You’re going to have so much fun!”

farrah2Just as I now know all mothers face different challenges as their kids get older and all mothers face some level of physical or mental exhaustion, I also know she was right. It is so much fun.

Before I became a mother, I thought parents were surely lying when they claimed life was more fun with kids. I thought it was something they said to justify the monotonous realities of parenthood. Choose late nights up with a fussy infant over catching a late movie? Then spending weekend mornings up early watching Curious George rather than sleeping in and relaxing with a hot cup of coffee in your pajamas until noon? No, thanks. I honestly thought much of the fun ended when you began having kids.

The truth is it’s a different kind of fun. “Netflix and chill” is more than just a euphemism. Now, I spend the latter part of my evenings looking forward to putting the kids in bed, snuggling up on the couch with my husband until one of us falls asleep under the warm glow of the television. It is a truly rare occasion that farrahI’m still wearing makeup and actual pants past 8:30. Weekends are spent going to the zoo, attending kids’ birthday parties or something else I wouldn’t have any interest in if I wasn’t a parent. You don’t go to events like Disney on Ice because you want to see if Mickey Mouse has skating skills. You want to see your child’s face light up with the sense of wonder and excitement that only exists when you’re a child.

Suddenly all these silly, goofy things are fun because you have kids and the kids make it fun.

There’s so much fun to be had and there’s no one more eager to have fun than a kid. Although as a parent, you obviously carry all the responsibility and the less fun factors of being an adult, you also get to call all the shots.

So, you remember trick or treating at the house with the full-sized candy bars? You can be that house. You remember wanting to wear your Batman costume for no particular occasion, other than Tuesday? Well, happy Tuesday, kid. You’re the caped crusader overseeing our daily errands.

The days are long, but the years are short. This time in our lives is fleeting and one day will be but a memory. Everyone only gets one shot at childhood and we, as parents, largely shape just what kind of childhood that will be. So, let’s have some fun.