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More Christmas Elf Ideas

December 11, 2014

Christmas Elf Ideas, Add your Christmas elf ideas, Elf hanging in treeThere are the families who Elf and the families who Don’t. I’m staying out of the strange new fray between the two camps, though we fall into the “those-who-elf” group. Our elves have brought so much magic and joy and a whole new layer of fun to our Christmas celebration and preparation. Click here for my last post on Christmas elves.

So if you’re an elf family, enjoy this round up of Christmas elf ideas. If not, go ahead, click on another post in my side bar – enjoy – it’s okay to not want to get involved in the “Elf thing.” I’ve had to apologize more than once when moms have called me in desperation after one of my kids shared that all you have to do is put out crackers and water and – shazam! – You get an elf! Oops – sorry – and here’s the website. (I think these elves are cuter than the Elf-on-the-Shelf and you can get different genders and hair colors to make them more personal to your family).

We started happily with one elf for our whole family which lasted for years. Then, after my son saw that a friend’s family had an elf for each child, he came home and wrote a secret letter to Santa asking for two more girl elves for his sisters. What a Elves in dishwasher, elf on shelf ideas, creative ideas with elvesgenerous, loving request. He was acting selflessly and thoughtfully at 7 years old.

Since this was two days before Christmas, Santa responded that he was too busy and needed the elves. He told Michael that he would consider his request after Christmas. Just before the new year, Zibby and Jilly showed up to join Crispin and have been a part of our family ever since. Since they’ve arrived, the mischief has escalated!

Though I love our elves, after years of their Decembers with us, I need more ideas!

They’ve made terrible messes of the very things I needed to clean out – the pantry, the spice cabinet, under the sink – so I got a job done as I picked up after them.

They’ve done creative things like a floor-full of snowflakes, “decorating” our bathroom with toilet paper, and carving messages into bananas so that by morning they show up to be read by the kids. And they’ve hid. And hid and hid.

So as one elf family to another, here are some photo Christmas elf ideas and some links to others. Happy Elfing!

Here’s my round up of Christmas elf ideas:

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle

November 26, 2014

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle | MotherCircle.net Do you live in the Gratitude Circle?

It can be tough sometimes but it’s so worth it when I get there. I find that the more I give thanks, the more I have to be thankful for. The Gratitude Circle builds gratefulness from gratefulness. The more you count your blessings, the more blessings you have to count.

Looking actively for things to be thankful for multiplies those very things. By seeing them, we automatically increase them. I have a 5-year gratitude journal that I love, it’s a quick way to remind myself every day of all I have in my life and it helps to make gratitude a habit. Create a structure for yourself that builds thankfulness into your day.

Introducing Stempaks

November 10, 2014

introducing stempaks, what is STEM, what is stempaks, STEM projects for kidsI’m thrilled to introduce you to Stempaks. Just in time for Christmas, Hanukah and winter birthday gift giving comes Stempaks, “sparking curiosity through discovery and creativity.”

When you subscribe, your kids will receive a package each month ready-made with projects for them to explore. It’s easy for parents to get as engaged in the topic as they want, or let kids dive in on their own.

Stempaks is targeted to kids aged 5 – 10 and each month will feature a different theme or topic. This November is focusing on paleontology.

As a blogger, I receive an influx of email requests to review items and I delete the great majority of them, but something stempaks package, science for kids, math projects for kidsin the email from the founders of Stempaks made me reach out to them. Not only are these young entrepreneurs innovative and creating a product that encourages family learning, but one of the founders also served in the military. From the first phone call, I had a great impression and love the concept of this product, I immediately agreed to not only be a beta tester but also to serve as an adviser because I believe in what they’re doing.

When our package arrived, the kids couldn’t wait to open it. Our dinosaur kit came with eye goggles and a face mask which went right on as the kids read through the materials to see what they needed to do.

stempaks, excited kids, engineering for kids, STEM curriculum

stempaks, science projects, dinosaur activities, paleontology

Decked out in their protective gear, they transformed into archeologists and little by little excavated dinosaur bones. They took it very seriously, brushing away the dust and being cautious not to harm a fossilized bone.

goggles and mask, STEM projects

5 Ways to Create Happy Memories With Your Kids

October 8, 2014

Thank you to Deborah Shelby for this guest post on ways to create happy memories with our kids. I love her ideas and nodded reading this as they reinforce so many of the principles I write about in Naked Parenting. Enjoy the read, and your kiddos!

Guest post by Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom.

owl, create happy memories, no regrets parenting, have fun with your kids, messy projects, Motherhood is tough. Trying to take care of your family, your home, your work, balancing it all, and making your family’s lives run smoothly are exhausting.

I know you’re busy and tired and at times overwhelmed. But imagine five years from now, or ten years from now, what do you want to remember about this time in your life and your children’s lives? In twenty years, how do you want your children to remember their childhoods? What kinds of memories will they have of their mom and their family life?

As a mother of teenagers, here are a few lessons I’ve learned to create happy memories and bond with my kids:

The best memories and most fun are the messiest activities!

I can’t tell you how many of my kids’ friends loved playing at our house for Play-doh alone. Most of them were not allowed to play with it at home because it’s so messy. There’s real work involved in the cleanup, and it’s time-consuming. It gets ground into the carpet. I get it. Yes, it’s a pain. But 10 years from now, your kids will treasure those fond memories of creativity and squishy, moldable fun! Put an old shower curtain under the table that you can roll up and take outside to clean.

I also gave my children plastic aprons, and I allowed them to paint and have stamp pads and make mess pretty much any time, as long as they followed the rules. They learned quite young how to be respectful of our home and help clean up and how to be responsible with their supplies. They took care of rinsing paint brushes and cleaning their rubber stamps.

Another messy activity you shouldn’t deny your kids is letting them jump in mud puddles! We always kept rubber boots for the kids, and stomping in mud puddles was incredible fun. Yes, you’ll have more laundry. But again, you’re giving your kids wonderful, happy childhood memories.

Nurture your relationship with your kids by giving them your undivided attention.

Make sure your children understand how important they are. If you want them to talk to you about their lives when they are teenagers and young adults, you’ll have to listen to those excited, shrill, little-kid voices first. Listen when they want to tell you something. Whenever possible, stop what you’re doing when they want to show you something. Make time for what is important to your children.

Why Handwriting Helps You Learn

October 3, 2014

Just this past weekend, a group of us were talking about the importance of kids learning handwriting and cursive writing. Even with the continually increasing use of keyboards and index finger typing, kids need to learn to read and write with their hands. Here is a great infographic based on research on this topic and on why handwriting helps you learn.

Why Handwriting Helps You Learn

Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks

September 2, 2014

praising kids, how to praise kids, giving specific praise
Sounds awful, right?

Read my latest post on FamilyShare, Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks to learn why I wouldn’t quite say it that way, but why I won’t give hollow praise, either.

Do you ooh and aah at every scribble and pencil mark? Here are some practical tips on how to best praise children and on organizing their artwork. Children sense insincerity and feel really proud when they know they’ve earned your praise.

Okay, I know. Telling your kids their artwork stinks sounds horrible. I wouldn’t quite say it like that, and I would keep in mind how young the kids are. But if you “ooh” and “aah” at every scribble, pencil mark or blobbed together Play-Doh sculpture, this is for you.

If you find yourself telling your child that every piece of artwork is wonderful, ask yourself if you may be saying, “That is so pretty,” without really thinking or paying attention. Sometimes praising kids, how to praise kids, kids artwork, we say something just to acknowledge a child who’s madly chanting, “Look, Mommy, look! LOOK!” Yes, it is easy to just stop the crazy with a quick compliment, but piling on hollow words is exactly that: hollow. Instead, I believe in being truthful with our children.

I find that when complimenting a child, it’s important to be specific and comment on things they have the control to improve. The details in praise let kids know we’re really paying attention. It gives them a glimpse of themselves from a parent’s point of view. In my work with new parents, I’ve experienced that throwing around the “good jobs” doesn’t work to improve kids’ self-esteem in the way so many parents imagine that it would.

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