Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Let's Go Fly A Kite...NOT!

More wintery weather is on the way...so we won't be flying a kite anytime soon! The good news is we are expecting snow this time rather than ice, so that means we'll be able to go outside and play in the fluffy white snow. We've previously discussed fun indoor activities for those icy days and now here are 5 suggestions for outside fun on those cold snowy days:

1.) The #1 snow day activity on any wintertime list of course would be building a snowman. In fact, our family likes to build a snowman (or snowlady) for each member of the family. The kiddos then get to accessorize their very own snowkid with their own scarves, hats, mittens, sweaters, or whatever they choose. We like to be creative when adding the snowperson's eyes, nose, and mouth. Some ideas include using buttons, rocks, or pinecones for the eyes. Of course a carrot is the traditional snowman nose, but we've also used a charcoal briquette, a cookie, and even a sugar ice cream cone for a nose. A stick of licorice (red or black, whatever you have available) works nicely for the snowman's mouth. Also a line of raisins or gummy bears curved in a smiling arc make a super sweet mouth too. You can even choose to add sunglasses or a pipe for a different look for the snowman's face. Twigs or small limbs from a nearby tree or a broom stick are used for the snowman's arms. Be sure to take a selfie of the snowman you've created of yourself! What are some of the items you would use to decorate your snowman?




2.) Sleigh riding on a favorite hill is a must! We have a steep hill in our neighborhood where just about everyone meets for a day of sledding or tubing, and it's so much fun. However, the St. Louis tradition since I was a little girl is for families to meet at Art Hill. The Palace of Fine Arts was built for the 1904 World's Fair Exposition in St. Louis' Forest Park and is the current home of the Saint Louis Art Museum. Art Hill is the large hill located in front of the Art Museum. Warm bonfires glow and provide warmth for the cold hands and feet of the sledders. At the bottom of the hill is the Grand Basin with its elegantly flowing water fountains. Art Hill is beautiful any season of the year and a site filled with fond memories for many St. Louis families. The experience of sleigh riding on Art Hill is definitely a highlight for any youngster or adult alike. Do you have a special location for sledding near you?

St. Louis Art Hill
Courtesy of Explorestlouis.com


3.) In our neighborhood the kiddos play tag all summer long! And in the winter it's a special treat to make tracks in the snow and play snow tag. On a bed of freshly fallen snow you create a special inner circle which is the "free" zone in the game of tag. From the central zone tracks are made in a spoke like fashion creating a circular wheel pattern. Once the tracks have been made the person who is "it" stands in the "free" zone and counts to 10. The other players then disburse along the tracks and after the counting has reached 10, the "it"person then begins pursuing the other players in the hopes of tagging someone whom will then become "it." And then the game starts again with the new "it" counting in the central "free" zone.  If a player runs out of the tracks he or she automatically becomes "it." It's a fun game played until everyone is exhausted, and then it's time for hot chocolate!

Snow Tag
Courtesy of activekidsclub.com


4.) Almost every child has at one time or another created a snow angel. It's the easiest (and may be the coldest!) snow activity ever! Just lay on the ground and swing your arms up and down and your legs from side to side in a jumping jack motion. Be careful getting up so as not to disturb the freshly made snow angel design.

Snow Angel
Courtesy of Wikihow.com


5.) Lastly, another fun activity on those snowy days is to make snow ice cream. Be sure to put out a clean bowl or pot on the patio or in the yard at the beginning of the snowfall to catch a clean batch of freshly fallen snow. There is an easy recipe from Allrecipes.com which adds milk, vanilla extract, and white sugar to the fresh and clean snow to make a yummy snow ice cream. Variations include using chocolate milk or sprinkling in dry koolaid mix to create other flavors such as lime or orange snow ice cream. It really is a lot of fun to make with the kids!


Snow Ice Cream
Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

Lots of schools will be called off in the days ahead so please take some time to make special memories playing in the snow with the kiddos! You won't regret it!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Indoor Fun On Icy Days

Freezing rain, ice, snow, oh my! The family loves to play in the snow, but definitely won't venture out in the ice! Quick, I need to think of lots of indoor activities to keep everyone happy this weekend! So one of my tasks has been to scour the internet to find suggestions and of course I have some of my own. So here is a list of 5 fun things to do around the house on these icy days:

1.) With the nasty weather come thoughts of summer vacation! So gather the family and ask everyone what they would like to do or see after school lets out for summer vacation. Ask the older kiddos to look for books or check out vacation spots on the internet and report back with their ideas for the best summer vacation ever. Then have a family meeting to discuss the best vacation options and start making plans.



2.) Snuggle with the fam and have a movie day! Turn the lights down and the sound up and add some popcorn and soda pop just as if you were at the movie theater. First give a choice of possible movies to view (you may want or need to watch several films throughout the day and evening to accommodate everyone's wish). My all-time favorite movies include Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, and the Sound of Music produced by 20th Century Fox.

Beauty and the Beast
Courtesy of Disney.com

3.) Make an indoor fort! Absolutely one of my very favorite things to do since I was a little girl myself!  Arrange chairs, sofa pillows, blankets and sheets to create your very own personal space. Then let the kiddos add their personal items to the fort including pillow, special blankie (if old enough for these bedding items), books, toys, and games. You will want to check out realsimple.com for their super suggestions and tutorials on building forts with blankets and pillows!

Blanket Fort
Coutresy of Mark Lund RealSimple.com

4.) Play board games or put puzzles together. As a child my favorite board game was Candy Land and it's still a family favorite today! Other fun board games include Hasbro's Monopoly for the older kids (unless you play with me!). In fact everyone in my family refuses to play Monopoly with me because we don't quit until I own all the properties!  It's always a good idea to keep several decks of family card games on hand. You can pick up a variety of board game cards at your local drug or department stores such as Walgreens, Target or Walmart. Simple card games are such as Old Maid, Crazy Eights, and Go Fish are popular and so much fun too.

Monopoly
Courtesy of Target.com

5.) And my last but not least favorite suggestion is to read the day away! Reading to your child and encouraging an enthusiastic love for learning is one of the greatest gifts shared by both children and parents alike. In addition to bonding with the children, they also learn reading is fun! There are also so many more benefits to daily reading such as increasing communication and verbal skills while adding to your younger children's knowledge bank of colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. The older kiddos will enjoy learning about such educational topics as, for example, the U.S. Presidents, the planets and outer space, or trains and other modes of transportation.  A bonus benefit from regular interactive reading was described in a January 2013 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science. The work concluded that "reading to a child in an interactive style raises his or her IQ by over six points."  When we read as a family, I prefer to choose the first book title for the little ones. Of course my favorite place to read to the youngsters is cuddled in the big rocking chair.  After reading my book selection, the kiddos get to each opt for a personal favorite of their own. Depending on the child's age and current reading ability either I read the story aloud or they read the story to me. It's especially fun to discuss the characters and story line and invite the children to describe their very own alternate ending to the story. My all-time favorite book selection for the little ones is "Go Dog Go" by P.D. Eastman. No matter how often I read this book, it always makes me smile!

Courtesy of Goodreads.com

Whatever your plans are for these freezing cold, teeth chattering days, enjoy your time spent with the family!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Everything Is Better With A Monogram

Monogrammed Shirts from Zoey's Attic Personalized Gifts

Dictionary.com defines the word "monogram" when used as a noun as "a design consisting of two or more alphabetic letters combined or interlaced, commonly one's initials, often printed on stationery, embroidered on clothing, etc." Monograms in times past had been very popular and were often considered a symbol of social status. They have been around since about 350 B.C. when initial monograms were etched in gold coins and used by the Romans and Greeks as royal signatures. It was during the 19th century Victorian Era that socially prominent higher class individuals adapted the monogram for personal use. When I was a teen, any item showcasing your personal monogram was very popular! As a matter of fact, when I graduated from high school my most prized gift was a set of beautiful cut out gold monogrammed earrings with matching necklace. During my high school and college years I also had several additional monogrammed items including a brown leather belt with gold plated monogrammed buckle and matching brown leather handbag with antique gold monogram clasp. Actually, monogrammed anything was all the fad in those days! In the subsequent years, the styles changed to a more causal wear and I sadly moved my treasured monogrammed apparel and accessories to the back of my closet. Today, the monogram once again holds a notable place in the world of fashion. Currently, a resurgence of the monogram was seen on the runways during the Fall 2014 Fashion Week. "W Magazine", a monthly American fashion magazine published by CondeNast Publications says "everything just seems better with a monogram on it."

Zoey's Attic has heard all the buzz on monograms and Zoey has created a plethora of monogrammed designs with everything from glitter monograms on a crew neck or v-neck shirt for mom to an adorable monogrammed canvas Halloween candy bag for the little trick or treaters in the family. At Zoey's Attic you will also find personalized items for your home or gift giving too. You can choose a sweet monogrammed soap/lotion dispenser or a water bottle or acrylic drink tumbler personalized with your very own unique monogram. Or, complement the decor of your family room, bedroom, or baby's nursery theme with a matching monogrammed throw pillow or custom pillowcase to prop on the sofa or bed. Currently, Zoey's Attic offers a sweet new monogrammed clover design shirt so totally perfect for all the upcoming St. Patrick's Day festivities. Monograms are typically printed with the initial of the first name on the left, initial of the middle name on the right, and a larger initial for the last name in the center. And if you are sending a monogrammed gift to a couple the women's first name initial is located to the left, the man's first name initial is placed to the right, and the joint last name initial is larger in size and situated in the center of the monogram. However, the designers at Zoey's Attic will print the monogram any way you would like. It looks like I need to once again move my monogrammed collection to the front of my closet!

Monogrammed Gifts from Zoey's Attic Personalized Gifts

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy President's Day!

Monday, February 16th is President's Day, a U.S federal holiday. In observance of this day most schools, banks, Federal offices and courts will be closed. Since it's a day away from school, when possible I like to take the kiddos to visit a historical site or museum with exhibits on U.S. Presidential history. It makes for a fun and educational day! There have been forty-four Presidencies throughout the history of the United States. We live in St. Louis, Missouri and located here is the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.  Ulysses S. Grant was a Civil War General and also the 18th President of the United States. The historical site is on 10 acres of land that belonged to the Dent family. The main house is called White Haven and was the family estate of Julia Dent whom was Grant's wife. After serving in the Mexican-American War, General Grant resigned from the Army in 1854 and came to live with his wife and children on her family's estate in South St. Louis County. In 1860 the family moved to Galena, IL where Grant worked in his family's leather goods store. He re-entered the Army in 1861 after the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter. In 1864 he was commissioned by President Lincoln as Lieutenant General of all Union Armies, and then in 1868 he was elected President of the United States.

General Ulysses S. Grant
Courtesy of the Missouri Civil War Museum

Springfield, Illinois is about an hour and a half drive from St. Louis and is home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. If possible, a visit to the museum is well worth the travel time. The tour of the Abraham Lincoln Museum includes several interactive exhibits with information on Mr. Lincoln's life and family as well as his years as the 16th President of the United States. In addition, there is a "Holavision" presentation which uses ghosts that interact with live actors. There are also many artifacts from the Taper Collection which include clothing, jewelry, family photos and letters. Currently, the  museum is home to the "Undying Words" exhibit which explores Lincoln's major speeches and how he helped to end slavery in America. The exhibit showcases several of Mr. Lincoln's speeches in their original handwritten or first printing form. Nearby is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site which is also open for tours. The Lincoln family lived in the home at the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield, Illinois from 1844 - 1861, when Mr. Lincoln left for Washington, D.C. after being elected President of the United States.

Meet The Lincolns Exhibit
Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

Missouri is home to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Mr. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States and his Presidential Library is located approximately 3.5 hours from St. Louis in Independence, MO. The museum hosts two permanent exhibits featuring Truman's Presidential years and another highlighting the personal side of Mr. Truman and his family.

President Harry S. Truman
Courtesy of NYMag.com

There are many Presidential Libraries and Museums, birthplaces and homes located in cities and towns throughout the United States. Why not check out which Presidential historical sites are near your area and make a plan to visit this President's Day. As always, be sure to check ahead of your visit for museum hours, ticket prices, parking and any additional area attractions. Happy President's Day and have lots of fun exploring our Presidential history! 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Easy Valentine's Day Cards

Now that you've created the perfect Valentine's Day card holder we need to start thinking about the "Be Mine" cards for our family and friends! In our home we try to make homemade cards for family and the closest of friends.  Kiddos love stickers, so for the preschoolers it's so easy to simply use a piece of construction paper and stickers and then have them print their name on the their masterpiece.

an original "Erin" from long ago....

The little ones in our family love making a mess with paint! Finger painting a heart shaped cutout is definitely a fun activity and will make the sweetest personal Valentine's Day card for mommy, daddy, grandma or grandpa. Creative Connections for Kids has some great suggestions for Valentine's art for toddlers. 

Valentine Art
Courtesy of Creative Connections for Kids

AboutParenting.com has directions for simple, inexpensive and oh so cute Valentine's Day cards using construction paper and heart and flower paper punches. These Valentines are perfect if you need to make cards for an entire class at school.

Paper Punch Valentine Cards
Courtesy of About Parenting

The adorably cute robot Valentine's Day cards from Lisa Storms are fun to make and are perfect for boys and girls to give their friends on Valentine's Day. They are made using a miniature candy bar for the robot's body.

Valentine's Robot Card
Courtesy of Lisa Storms

These are just a few ideas for homemade Valentine's Day cards. So, if you're running out of time you can always pick up a package of totally awesome cards at your local Target, Walmart, or Dollar General store. Here's a store bought Valentine I received from my Daddy many moons ago...



Popular themes for this year's Valentine's cards of course include Elsa, Anna, and Olaf from Disney's Frozen. Party City offers a package of 28 Frozen Valentine cards for $3.99. Also included are 28 lollipops to slide into a pre-cut slot.

Disney's Frozen Candy Card Kit
Courtesy of Party City

And each and every year the superheroes are popular Valentine's cards for the boys. Target has a 16 pack of Spiderman cards that actually punch out and become wearable masks. They also have Valentine's cards featuring a personal favorite, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! This pack of 16 cards also includes a mini poster. How fun is that!

Valentine's Day Cards
Courtesy of Target.com

Whatever your plans are for February 14th,  Zoey's Attic wishes you a Happy Valentine's Day! 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Easy Valentine Card Holders

The Valentine's Day parties at school are always so much fun! When I was a little girl our teacher set aside one art class the week of Valentine's Day to make our Valentine card holders. During our classroom Valentine's Day party we would receive special "Be My Valentine" cards from our teacher as well as all of our classmates and a decorated holder was the perfect place to keep them. Some years, the art teacher would have the class decorate a plain white bakery bag with finger paints, stickers, and hearts cut out of red and pink construction paper. Sometimes we even jazzed it up with glitter! PreK-Pages has a cute idea for a decorative owl themed paper bag Valentine holder using a heart shaped doilie and construction paper.


Owl Paper Bag Valentine Card Holder
Courtesy of PreK-Pages

One year we were instructed to bring a shoe box to make into our card holder. Our art teacher helped each student cut a slit in the lid through which we could stuff our Valentine's Day cards. We then wrapped both the box and its lid in white freezer paper and then decorated them with both foam and felt hearts, stickers, and magic marking pens. Domestically Devon has easy instructions on her blog for making a Valentine storage box.

Valentine Storage Box
Courtesy of Domestically Devon

Plaidonline.com uses a cereal box instead of a shoe box and the results are so cute!

Cereal Box Valentine Holder
Courtesy of Plaid Creative Ideas Made Easy

Yet another year our art teacher had us use paper plates to make our Valentine's Day card holders.  We used the basic white plates and decorated them with paints, markers, crayons, stickers, and construction paper hearts. The girls in the class also glued lace around the borders of the plate. DaycareAnswers.com has directions for several Valentine's crafts including a super sweet paper plate card holder.

Paper Plate Valentine Card Holder
Courtesy of  DaycareAnswers.com

I've never used a round container to make a Valentine's Day Mailbox, but All Kids Network has easy instructions for a round mailbox using a Quaker Oats container. You can link here for easy directions at allkidsnetwork.com.
I'm so happy this Valentine's Day tradition of making a Valentine card holder is still in place at the kiddos' school! Happy Valentine's Day from Zoey's Attic!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

How To Cope With The Nasty Flu Bug

Since we last chatted I sincerely hope you haven't been hit with that awful flu bug! According to the most current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity in the United States is at a high level with an increase in hospitalizations and even deaths. It is projected that the influenza outbreak will continue across most of the U.S. for the next several weeks.  If this year's influenza has unfortunately made a visit to your home and invaded your space, some of the symptoms you may be experiencing may include fever and chills, cough, sore throat, fatigue and body aches. In addition, you may also be suffering with bouts of diarrhea and vomiting.
If you believe you have the flu the CDC recommends you stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Your only outside activity should be going to the doctor or hospital for medical care. The CDC also advises staying home from work, school, travel, or public gatherings for at least 24 hours post fever. Resting and drinking plenty of water, clear liquids or sports drinks such as Gatorade to prevent dehydration is also recommended. Over the counter (OTC) drugs can be taken to treat fever and cough. These medications may relieve your symptoms but will not make you less contagious. In addition, a cool damp cloth placed on the forehead, arms, and legs can help reduce the discomfort associated with fever. If your throat is sore, gargling with salt water will often soothe throat pain. And if at all possible it is a good idea to place  a humidifier in your room. A 2009 study by the National Academy of Sciences suggests humidifiers not only help you breather easier but may also stop the spread of flu germs. If you are very ill with the symptoms of influenza and are at high risk for serious complications you may need to contact your primary care doctor or other heath care provider. Your physician may prescribe an "antiviral" drug such as Tamiflu or Relenza. These "antiviral" drugs will lessen the time you are ill and may also prevent further involvement of serious complications. If you are having difficulty breathing or unable to drink enough fluid to prevent dehydration you may need to seek immediate assistance. The CDC has provided a complete list of emergency warning signs on their website to use as a guideline for seeking emergency help.
Finally, if you are the caregiver you must limit your face to face time and avoid any close contact with the person suffering with influenza. You may ask the person you are caring for to wear a face mask to cover coughs and sneezes. When holding a baby or child rest their chin on your shoulder so they don't cough directly in your face. Also, both the patient and the caregiver should wash their hands often with soap and water after direct contact or handling contaminated clothing, bedding, or used tissues to prevent the spread of influenza. Stay in and feel better soon!