Best FAMILY Movie Night!

ImageGood Family Movies

Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.  -Walt Disney

I remember as a kid sleeping out under the stars, but the few times we did, we usually had an outdoor movie.  I am sure with six kids my parents felt getting everything ready was quite an event–dragging the heavy television into the backyard, finding something that would hold its weight, connecting the (then VHS player) with the many extension cords that would extend into the house, making popcorn, finding enough blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and then trying to pick a movie that everyone would like.  [A little exhausting]  Thanks Mom and Dad. Your efforts were well worth the good memories.

I now do the same thing for my daughter Kate and her ten cousins. We try and make it a fun event because we know the memories will last even longer. Summer is short, childhood goes by so quickly, but the memories will always remain. 

Well, backyard, outdoor movies are one of my favorite memories for summer fun, so I thought I would compile some top family movies to make your  movie night fabulous!!! 

According to IMDb “Highest Rated Family Feature Films with at least 1,000 votes”

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)  2. Spirited Away  3. Toy Story 3   4. Wall-E    5. The Lion King   6. The Kid   7. Up   8. Toy Story   9. The Gold Rush   10. My Neighbor Totoro   11. The Wizard of Oz   12. How to train your dragon   13. Finding Nemo   14. Children of Heaven   15. Howl’s Moving Castle   16. The Princess Bride   17. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale   18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:Part 2   19. A Wednesday   20. Castle in the Sky

Here is the link to the rest of this list:  http://www.imdb.com/search/title?genres=family&title_type=feature&num_votes=1000,&sort=user_rating,desc

According to Parents.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics

1 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) 2 Ella Enchanted (2004) 3 E.T. (1982) 4 Freaky Fiday (2003)

5 Harry Potter 6 The Sound of Music (1965) 7 Spy Kids (2001)

8 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) 9 Whale Rider (2003) 10 Wizard of Oz (1939)

I found this list awhile ago, but they also just listed the 50 best movies for kids and here is the link:  http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/movies/50-best-videos-for-kids/#page=1

According to TopTenReviews.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics

1 E.T.   2 Wizard of Oz   3 Toy Story   4 Oliver (1968)   5 The Sound of Music   6 Up 7 Finding Nemo   8 The Incredibles   9 Time Bandits (1981)  10 A Christmas Story (1983)

They also have lists for Best Movies of each year and genre, from the 1930’s on up.

An article from Belief.net lists Family Movies that Teach Values

This article lists: It’s A Wonderful Life (teaches responsibility), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (teaches Integrity), A Man for All Seasons (teaches Courage), Babe (teaches Courtesy), Remember the Titans (teaches tolerance), Toy Story 2 (teaches loyalty), Akeelah and the Bee (teaches learning), War Games (teaches Peace), A Little Princess (teaches Helping Others), Holes (teaches Fairness)

Here is the link to the complete article:  http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/2009/Family-Movies-That-Teach-Values.aspx

A few of my personal family favorites:

The Family Man (2000) is a great movie that is about a man who truly learns what is most important .

The Princess Protection Program (Disney 2009) is a great movie that teaches many good morales–kindness, believing in yourself, helping others, being princess like.

I like all the National Treasure movies—they put a fun spin on adventure, but you can also learn something within the twists and turns. I think it makes kids want to learn more about history. Plus, there is suppose to be a third out sometime in 2014. Fun for the whole family.

This also reminds me of the Night at the Museum movies–they seem to be a doorway to a child’s imagination, with a hint of history, nostalgia and lots of fun characters.

Other fun family movies that would be perfect for an outdoor movie, a family movie night or just some plain, summer FUN: The Game Plan, Nancy Drew, Dreamer, Bedtime Stories, Ever After, The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie (adventure), Nim’s Island, Return to Nim’s Island, both Nanny McPhee, The Parent Trap (old and new versions), Ella Enchanted, I could go on and on…The Kid, Freaky Friday, Tangled, Hotel for dogs…and thats not even touching on some of the great animated films like The Lorax, Despicable Me, Wreck-it Ralph, Rise of the Guardians, How to win your Dragon…and on and on…lots of fun, family movies to enjoy this summer!!

Well, as summer gets going, get outside and watch a fun, family movie!! [Or watch one inside] Make it a memorable experience with a fun show, big pillows or comfy mats, maybe some new summer pj’s, yummy food & snacks, smiles and family. Those are the ingredients to some of the best summer memories.

-Happy Summer,  Heather

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Summer Bucket List to do with your Family

ImageWith less than a month before the kids get out of school I thought it would be fun to compile a giant bucket list of fun summer things to do. Summer inspires FUN!! Everyone needs SUMMER FUN no matter where you are or where you are going…so here are some fun ideas I created, came across, thought would be fun, thought you may enjoy!!!

Make smoothies with fresh, summer fruit . fly kites—even homemade ones . play card games outside on a blanket . take a paddle boat ride . have a outdoor movie (always fun) . make old fashioned frozen pops (with punch & toothpicks) . have a day where you have a family read-a-thon and read books all day . go on a nature hike . have a chalk art day where you invite friends and family to do a chalk art sidewalk show & have the best art win fun prizes . make smores over an open fire . have a picnic under the stars & learn about constellations . make tin foil meals over a fire . make a hopscotch with duct tape or chalk & play . Have a day of old school games like jacks, dice, marbles, jump rope, pick up sticks . Make a fun fort outside or inside (forts are always fun!) . make homemade sno-cones . Visit a zoo, but turn it into a scavenger hunt where you look for different objects & animals . go on a family bike ride & take along a picnic . play night games like flash light tag . go to the river & find skipping rocks, come home & paint them with funny faces, patterns or inspiring words . Get family & friends together and have a giant hide & seek game at a local park . make home made ice cream . Find a local waterfall to hike to . girls pick out a cute sundress & then paint your nails . Plant something–have every member of the family pick out their own flower & plant it, water & take care of it (family flower garden) . Have a family pizza night & make everything from scratch . Go on an overnight camp out . Have a day (preferably bad weather) & have a movie or series marathon–veg out & watch the shows (non-stop) for the entire day (i.e.: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, etc) . Have a pillow fight night- but first make the pillows (buy fleece & make knot pillows for each person in the fam) then have a fun fight . Make something and share it with someone . Leave the windows open & feel the breeze (plus it helps the planet cut down on energy use) . Have a creative ice cream night where everyone mixes all their favorite mix ins & shares their one-of-a-kind flavor . Find a pool & go night swimming . See the sun set over a lake . Find a special spot to see the sun rise . Have a fun yard sale & get rid of old toys & things you don’t need & then give the money to a charity or someone in need . Play in the sprinklers . Buy cheap cameras for everyone & visit a local garden, have them take personal pictures, create a fun gallery, assign family ‘best’ awards . Have a storytelling contest–get friends & family together to share stories & give fun awards for ‘the most creative’ ‘the funniest’ ‘the best characters’ ‘the shortest’, etc . Make pinwheels & put them in your yard . Have a fun ice age day, freeze toys in ice cubes & chip them out while you watch the movie Ice Age . Have an all day Pajama day . Have a squirt gun fight . Make summer journals . Make & decorate wood cars & have a fun, family race . Make & mail summer cards to friends from school or relatives who live far away . Visit a local nature center & learn something new . Make bird feeders, get your binoculars out & do some bird watching . Visit a local flea market & give each family member $5 to spend & see who comes up with the greatest find . Have a fun foreign word or phrase for each week–see who can remember it at the weeks end . Have a specific day each week where you unplug (no television, games, electronics, etc) . Have special Art days where you create special works of art inspired by master artists . Go take photo booth family pics . Do a 500/1000 piece puzzle together over the summer months . Take a specific number of pictures over the whole summer (i.e. 300-1,000) . Try something new like canoeing, rafting, rollerblading, kayaking, paddleboarding, etc . Go to a community fair . Find a local scenic route you have never taken the family on & make it a fun family drive together . Have a weekly cooking class where you teach the kids a special meal to make (they cook it) . Have a fondue night . Have a crepe night where you make sweet & savory crepes . Have a paper airplane contest . Go to a parade . Visit a local farm . Go to a pottery place & make a fun summer piece that is personalized . Plant giant sunflowers . Go see and outdoor concert or play . Ride a train .  Camp in the backyard . Make ribs on the bbq . Do yoga in the backyard . Make play dough . Visit a museum . Finger paint  . Take a tram or gondola ride . Ten acts of random kindness .

Well, I hope these ideas get you thinking about all the FUN you can have with your family this summer. Summer is a great place to create memories, make the days enjoyable by learning something new, being together and having great moments together!!

Happy SUMMER!!

Lessons learned from another time.

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This week my daughter’s grade has been celebrating ‘Pioneer week’ and has challenged the students to eat home lunches, wear dresses, not watch television, walk home from school, eat oatmeal for breakfast and the list goes on. We have been noticing everything in every detail we do…brushing our teeth we imagined what the pioneers used—horse hair and animal bone handles, we have talked about how they took baths, washed their clothes, how they didn’t have refrigerators or ice to keep things cold, how they didn’t have running water and had to use an outdoor hole to go the bathroom–no toilets.

It has been a week of thanks, even in the tin-foil dinners we prepared by fire last night. I wanted to try and make a memorable meal over coals, so my daughter would have a better idea of what the pioneers ate, how things were prepared, how things were done. It was a great lesson. She looked at the pile of potatoes, carrots, hamburger, onions, garlic, soup and said “yuck.” She was determined not to eat it, but with some loving nudges, she tried it & enjoyed the experience. She even had seconds. It made us truly appreciate the love that went into everything.

Even though we have so many excessities (my own word) it made us appreciate so many things we take for granted. We have music & television in every room, every car, we have running water, warm showers, running toilets, fruits & veggies (groceries) readily available for the taking, numerous pairs of shoes, more than one outfit, phones that call from anywhere, computers that do so much, cars that drive us anywhere we need to be…the list goes on and on, but this week has been a great lesson in remembering where we once were, where we have come and what we truly should and need to be grateful for. We are blessed daily with sooo much.

My mother is a wonderful story teller & has studied pioneers for years & has many amazing stories she can tell, she researched her own pioneer history & has told stories of children freezing, families selecting what little items they could take on the long journey, children making the journey without their parents, families leaving their dead loved ones behind, lots of illness and death.  It truly humbles you to think of the severe winters, the hardships, the small handcarts that held their life treasures & necessities, the sacrifices that every family made to travel so far (some from distant lands like Australia & Europe) and then arrive in a desert land to begin again…to build, to till, to try and create a new life. It’s humbling because we are given so much, so freely & we take it for granted so easily.

Take a moment and think of your rich ancestral heritage. Where did you come from? What stories are held within your family? What sacrifices were made? What can you learn from them? What can you teach your children about their history? Lots to think about.

Here is a beautiful tribute I came across that has amazing images and a gorgeous song. It made me truly imagine the long walk that the pioneers took to find a better place to live.

Life is like this…a beautiful journey to a higher place. Peace & Love to you.

Happy Earth Day!

ImageMy daughter lit up when she got on google this morning and noticed their fabulous, interactive logo. It was a delight of blooming trees, moving moons, jumping fish, swirls and scenery. It was playful and full of wonder…just like our planet…WONDERFUL!  I sang…because it’s Earth Day!! So today I am sharing tips, tricks and fun things to make your day even better, help the planet and make a small difference…wherever you are!

 

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

1. Little things do make a difference: turn the water off while you brush your teeth, fix leaky faucets or running toilets, put cans and bottles in the recycle bins, clean your air filters to help with efficiency, turn down your thermostat when you go to bed, turn off your lights when you are not using them and unplug appliances, washing laundry on cold not hot settings, take shorter showers, even driving within the speed limit cuts down on gas consumption, which helps the planet.

2. Clean out your closet—I am sure you have something to donate. There are plenty of people who could reuse your items and be grateful for them.

3. Plant a tree: One of the challenges on Earthday.org is to plant one billion trees

4. Change out your light bulbs for energy efficient ones. Even if you begin to change one at a time, the investment will pay for itself in the years to come. Compact fluorescent light bulbs last 10 times longer than a standard bulb and use at least two-thirds less energy.*science 

5. Sign up for paperless bills by paying them via the internet.

6. Ride your bike when you can, instead of driving your car. 

7. Spring clean your community. I am sure wherever you are there is some trash to pick up. Grab a bag, some friends or family and make it fun!! Turn it into a race to see who can get the most amount in a certain time. 

8. If the weather is nice open a window or door and let the fresh air in & turn off your air-conditioning. This will help conserve energy & bring in a little breeze.

9. Get outside and go on a walk, a hike, a bike ride & turn off your television, computers, games. 

10. Begin recycling. There are a lot of people who still don’t recycle. If you are one of them begin with recycling cans or water bottles, paper or sign-up with your community for a recycling service, but do something.  Example: If an office building of 7,000 workers recycled all of its office paper waste for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking almost 400 cars off the road (Source: EPA & Science.howstuffworks.com)

11. Change out any leaky faucets: Slow the flow. A faucet leaking just one drop per second wastes over 1,300 gallons per year! A leak from a hot water source wastes both water and fossil fuel, creating more greenhouse gasses. Please begin to fix this issue. *Rustletheleaf

12. Go to earthday.org and pledge an act of green or just check out some of the things they have going on. Get informed.

13. Cut down on eating meat: I am not against people eating meat, its your personal choice, but cutting down may help the planet. FYI The United Nations have concluded that meat production is responsible for around 18% of global CO2 emissions. 5,214 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of beef, and the EPA estimates that more than 27,000 miles of US rivers have been polluted by livestock waste.  *huffingtonpost

14. Carpool

 

Other ideas:  Fun things to do to teach your family about Earth Day…

Children’s Story: Read this great story to your children to help them understand Earth Day and how one person can make a difference…http://holidays.kaboose.com/earthday-cando.html

Earth day crafts using recycling or reusing materials: http://crafts.kaboose.com/holidays/earth-day/recycling-or-reusing-materials-to-make-new-crafts.html

Another fun link from Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/artsycraftsymom/recycled-earth-day-crafts/

Check out the beautiful nature artist Andy Goldsworthy: Go to Google Images and type in Andy Goldsworthy—amazing. He also has numerous books. Inspiring Natural pieces he creates.

Teaching your children– I just came across this & thought you may enjoy this article (Kids Get Arty: Andy Goldsworthy) http://www.redtedart.com/2012/11/14/kids-get-arty-andy-goldsworthy/

Have a beautiful day. Get outside, enjoy this beautiful world we live in and do something positive to make a small change in your family, your community, your world!  Peace to you.

Put a little LOVE in all you do.

Image“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it.” – Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle

Sticking with the theme of LOVE for the upcoming, grand occasion of Valentines, I have put together some tiny things that we do around our house to show our LOVE. Hope these ideas spark other little ideas to spread love in all you do.

Keep them cuddly: warm up robes and towels when they get out of the bath or shower. Throw a cozy blanket in the dryer when someone just needs to be bundled.

Do something sweet: write a little note (on the napkin or a tiny card) for someone’s lunch–add a fun joke, a sweet treat they will enjoy or a tiny surprise that is unexpected.

Hand writing: When my little girl is nervous about something at school, I draw a heart on her hand to remind her that my love will always be with her.

Hearts & flowers: We are big Dasani bottle drinkers (don’t worry we recycle!) so I write messages on my families water bottles…hearts, flowers, their names, love notes, feel betters, etc.

Dedications: Dedicate a song while you are driving or buy a special song that reminds you of someone you love and share it with them.  (Some good ideas off the top of my head: Bruno Mars “Just the way you are”  Rihanna “We found Love”  Christina Perri “A Thousand Years”   Usher “Without You”   Harry Connick Jr ” We are in Love”   Train “Marry Me”   Colbie Caillat “I do”   Joy Williams “Charmed Life”)

Sign Language: Have a fun personal language that you share with each other. Our family does XO with our fingers or signs I Love You or infiniti hearts, you get the idea. Make your own and make it yours. The love will follow.

Nicknames: Have fun, loving nick names that you call one another.

Make food with love: blow kisses into the meals you make, make heart pancakes, heart shaped brownies, swirl your soup in heart shapes.

Basic Care: make them take their vitamins, drink lots of water and wear their seat belt. It is the funniest thing to watch my parents fight over taking their vitamins, but my Dad simply looks at my mom and says, it’s because I love you. Who can argue with that!

Love Notes: leave little notes of love and appreciation anytime and everywhere. Leave them on the bathroom mirror, the car window, computer screen, under a pillow, etc. A cute text says you care. A fun note taped to their toothbrush that says, you make me smile=LOVE.

Pray and give thanks: pray always with a grateful heart for the little things you receive every day…for running water, for good health, that your child made it home from school, that your husband has a job, that you can run, walk, see the blue sky.

Thank you: Write a nice note on the envelopes of your bills, or on an email to your service providers thanking them for the services you receive. Thank them that you have power, heat, the Disney channel!! smile. smile.

Affection: ALWAYS give hugs and kisses, special rendezvous and intimate getaways

Surround your family with good things: Having beautiful things around helps your heart sing. Your heart=LOVE. Have pretty music playing, buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers, have inspiring quotes posted throughout the house, allow lots of light in through the windows

Quality time: I can’t stress this enough!! Go on walks, have reading time together, play games and talk.

Connect: Everyone needs to feel connection in their life, so our relationships are key. Take the time to connect. I am going to include some good Q& A topics to discuss with those you love:

Connect Questions for the one you LOVE:

1. What is something that makes you feel good about yourself?

2. What are 5 things you want to do in your life?

3. Has there ever been anything you were afraid to do? How did you handle it?

4. Some of your favorite things?

5. What trait do you feel people like most about you?

6. Do you feel it is easy to make friends? Do you feel you have good friends?

7. Do you feel you like to be social or would rather be home? 

8. What is a truly great memory for you?

9. What does perfect mean to you?

10. What is a favorite gift you have received?

11. What would you like to do more of every day?

12. Answer this…I am happy when…

13. What do you love about your family?

14. What do you love most about your relationship?

15. Think of a tough time in your life…what did you learn from it?

16. Is there anything you worry about?

17. What do you desire most out of our relationship? (good things, things to work on)

18. If you could do anything, what would it be?

19. What is one thing you would change about your life? 

20. What would be your ideal Valentines day?

Connect Questions for you to ask your Kids:

1. What is your happiest memory? 

2. Why do you like being a kid? 

3. One word to describe you would be _______. 

4. What advice would you give your parents? 

5. If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? 

6. What do you like to do for fun? 

7. Tell about a funny time in your life. 

8. What is your favorite thing to do? Why? 

9. What is your favorite thing to do with your friends? 

10. What do you love most about your sibling (or being an only child)? 

11. What was the nicest thing you did for someone? 

12. What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now? 

13. What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? the winter?

14. What would be the ideal allowance? Tell me how you would use it. 

15. What do you think makes a person good-looking? 

16. Name two things we should do as a family on the weekend. 

17. What is the grossest thing you can think of?

18. What is something you love about your mom and dad?

19. What is your favorite vacation we have been on?

20. What are 5 things you would like to do by the time you are married? (or in your life)

Well, I hope these tiny ideas have inspired you to think of little things you can do to spread the love in your world.

Lots of LOVE to you and yours.    -Heather

1 Act of Random Kindness makes a difference

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Hello and hope all is well in your world!! Today I wanted to share one of my favorite weeks in the whole year…RAK (Random Acts of Kindness week). Each year the organization randomactsofkindness.org has a week that inspires people to break away from the norm and share kindness in the world. It is usually a week in February (the month of love–fitting). This year it is FEBRUARY 11th through the 17th!! So I wanted to share some ideas and getting you thinking and planning to do this with those you love. Make it a fun event—plan for it & share it with friends & family, get out and make a difference in your community, your neighborhood, your family, your world!

I was lovingly reminded that this RAK week was coming up as I was watching the sweet movie “Evan Almighty” with my little daughter. It reminded me as Morgan Freeman spelled out the words ARK…1 ACT of RANDOM KINDNESS will make a difference.

So, in the spirit of LOVE, HAPPINESS and making a DIFFERENCE, here are some thought and ideas to enjoy your RAK week…

If you have read my blog you know I have a nine-year-old daughter who is an only child and one of my greatest fears is that she is going to grow up and be selfish!! Especially after reading an article about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who was an only child and personally admitted how selfish he had been. Every red flag went up, Am I doing enough to help this little person think of others??? 

Ever since she was little we have done random acts of kindness…made brownies for the fire department, created hand made valentines for a local old folks home, handed out teddy bears to crossing guards, bought cookies for the McDonald’s employees…

I am always trying to think of ways to get our little family out of ourselves and doing something for someone else. Hopefully we are heading in the right direction, it is an ongoing, loving lesson for our lives. When we think of others, the world is better for it! Our family is better for it!

This last year (during RAK week ) was especially fun because we got others to celebrate RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) with some neighbor girls.  We made a 15 foot banner filled with kindness ideas kids could do & we hung it at their school. In the true spirit of RAK week I made a flyer and sent it to a large local email list in hopes that people would feel the giving spirit & it worked! I received a call from one of my neighbors (that I did not know very well) and she was filled with enthusiasm at the idea of RAK week!

She expressed how her 38th birthday was this particular week and that she decided she was going to take her family and do 38 random acts of kindness in celebration of her birthday!!.

Outstanding idea!

I saw her the next week at a school function and she lit up!! It was soo wonderful to see someone so excited to share in their experience. She told me how they handed out quarters to kids at a local hamburger restaurant so they could use the candy machines. They bought food for the people behind them in the drive-thru, they took a bunch of water bottles and handed them out at a local rec center…the enthusiasm was infectious. I loved it!! Then she got really quiet and she said, “but the best part of it all was that my son (who I struggle with) truly got in the spirit of giving. He is kinder today, he was writing notes to our family, he was moved more than anyone by this experience.”

That was the best part! She even said that he wanted to do the same thing for his birthday!

What a beautiful thing!!

If we can do one thing for our kids…it is to be an example of love, get out and do something random for someone else. Teach them to write thank you cards, help them each week think of some way to serve someone else. Make a dinner for someone in need, take a batch of brownies to someone you don’t know, say thank you to EVERYONE! It is truly the little things that make a big difference.

Here are some additional ideas from the RAK website and other sources:  Clean up graffiti, Donate used books to a library, Give care packs to the homeless (or a blanket), Share your talent of music with the elderly, Help someone with yard work or snow removal, Let someone go in line in front of you, Write a note of appreciation to a teacher, Mentor a child who needs a friend, Pay for a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks, Return shopping carts, Thank your police or fire department with a fun note or treat, Write a letter or email to someone who made a difference in your life, Visit an animal shelter, Take a bag of dog or cat food to your local shelter, pick up trash at the beach or nearby nature trail or neighborhood, Send a nice note thanking a soldier, Be a designated driver, Give someone flowers, Visit someone who is sick, Collect canned food and give it to your local food bank, Donate $1 to your child’s favorite charity, Start a charity day at your work & give the money to a good cause, Help someone with their groceries, Give hugs, Leave a nice note for your local mail carrier, Thank your child’s bus driver or crossing guard, Plant a tree, Give compliments, Send something inspiring to those you have on your email list, Be a nice driver on the road, Take shorter showers this week, SMILE, Start a piggy bank for a cause, Share something yummy with coworkers, Say thank you to your school principal and office help, Tell your parents (or send a letter or email) how much you appreciate them & everything they’ve done for you, Let your staff leave a little early from work & thank them for all they do, give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs, Make valentine hearts for the elderly home, Give someone a “heart attack” on their door (bunch of paper hearts that say nice things), Invite someone new in the neighborhood over for dinner, Have your child take a bunch of fun stickers or suckers and hand them out when the final bell rings & remind everyone that it is RAK week, genuinely thank your waitress for doing such a good job, make and share kindness bookmarks or give them to the school library to give away, Leave a $20 in an envelope and leave it for someone in need, give freely, spread LOVE everywhere you can…

-Spread Love, Heather

–not sure who to credit the picture, but thank you.

Your Happy Family

ImageFamily is a loving gift to me. It is the people who complete our lives. It is only me, my husband and our nine-year-old daughter, Kate that complete our circle, so we are “the three musketeers.” We have a lot of fun together, but with an only child you also get moments of question.  I have literally had people tell me how cruel it is to only have one child, that she will grow up spoiled and alone, so needless to say, there are times when I wonder if we are doing it right, if we are enough to guide her along to the life she needs.

In Utah, you rarely find anyone who has less than four children, it is truly amazing and I commend every mother and father out there who takes on the challenge and makes it a good ride. Cheers to you!! But there is something fun when you meet someone who has been an only child, you instantly want to get to know them, to hear that their life was good and that your child will turn out great despite the fact that she is the only one.

We met a nurse at our local hospital who had an instant connection with Kate because he was an only child. He talked about how fun it was growing up so close to his family, going on great trips (because they could afford to with less children), he enjoyed being an only child. There was a moment of relief for me as he told us about his childhood experiences. There are always the positives and the negatives in everything, so it made me realize, that it is the quality time together that in the end matters most. I knew that, but seeing a grown, only child who spoke of cherished moments with his parents really hit home. No matter what, it’s the time together with one child or ten. Those are the moments that will stay with them, that will teach them as they grow, that will nurture them into the beautiful people they will become.

So here is to our families…here is a compilation of tips, tricks and things to bring your family together to make special memories that will be remembered.

GOOD QUALITY FAMILY TIME

Make memories together out of any occasion: at our house we try to create an occasion out of many things…when we bought our daughter her first pair of roller-skates, we celebrated with a fun movie night of popcorn and ‘Xanadu’—classic rollerskating movie musical!! She loved it! Pulling a tooth may require a special drum roll on our keyboard. We create special made up songs for different holidays and sing them during the special month. We play pretty music and light a candle for a bath or shower to make it a special occasion. We bundle up and go on winter walks during the first snowfall. We pile up fall leaves and make a nest for a special family picture…the ideas are endless, you just need to make the occasions special with your family in mind.

Make sure you take the time to eat together: With crazy schedules and mad dashes to the local market or tennis practice, are you making time to eat together? Whether you plan a special Saturday breakfast or you eat dinner together (at least once a week), make it a priority. We have a special Saturday breakfast where we make muffins, scrambled eggs, hash browns. We sit around the table and ask each person what they are grateful for and it turns into a weekly Thanksgiving. Make your meals memorable. Have the kids help set the table & let them make handwritten place cards (my little girl loves this). Have fun themes for special occasions. Enjoy the time being together.

Plan a fun family weekend getaway: Whether it is to a town two hours away you have always wondered about, a local museum, amusement park, air show, train show, etc. Find out about fun activities going on around you. Try and stay within a few hours of your home and seek out great camp spots, art, music, watermarks, beaches, FUN!! Discuss with everyone where they would like to go and plan a weekend trip. Try to include at least one thing everyone would like to do—get a carmel apple, hike Mt. Timp, have breakfast at Kneaders, etc. Someone may want to sleep in or go on a hike, try to plan something that gets everyone excited for the weekend. Most importantly, have a great time together!!

Create family traditions: See my blog post on that.

Have a family night: Each week or at least once a month have a fun family night–play games, go to your favorite local pizzeria, get chinese take-out, visit the grocery store and buy all the ingredients for a new meal to try together. You can even shake it up and let someone in the family decide the activity and be in charge each week or each month.

Have Quiet time: No matter how old your children are, scheduled quiet time is a good idea.  Set a specific time for everyone to turn off the television, computer, video games and either talk, read, tell a story, share things that were highlights from the day, things you appreciate about one another. Schedule a time that will not interfere with homework, friends or activities–most likely before bed or if you find it too hard—try it once a week on Saturday or Sunday morning. Take the time to tune out noise, to get quiet.  We do a couple of different things…write in a family gratitude journal three things we were grateful for during the day. Then we either tell a story, read a book or a small devotional just before we go to sleep and then say a evening prayer of thanks for the day. We try to also schedule in reading and quiet time.  An interesting fact: The CEO of Disney read for an hour a day when he was a child.

GETTING CREATIVE WITH YOUR FAMILY

Creativity is a celebration of one’s grandeur, one’s sense of making anything possible. ~Joseph Zinker

 

Look for inspiration in all you see and do: To believe and then truly see inspiration in all things is a gift indeed. Whether you notice the pattern of a leaf, see the texture of bark, watch the wind blow across a corn field, see a work of art in a winding stairwell or hear a song within the subway—look, listen and live the inspiration that is all around you. The textures, the colors, the shimmering beads, the torn magazine pages, the sky, the sand at the beach…inspiration is everywhere!

Take time to explore nature: When you step into nature there is a world of inspiration ready to unfold. Take the time to pick up pinecones, acorns, leaves and see their pattern and textures. Feel the grass, pick up feathers, touch the branches of a tree, watch the water glisten, draw in the sand.

Be inspired by all that is around you and begin to understand your smallness in the infinite & know inspiration and creativity are a gift. Embrace the very thought that you are creative and that you are creating with forces that are bigger than you can imagine. You are creating for many, you are giving of your gifts. Teach your family to feel within and take inspiration from all that is around them.

One fun thing about nature is the magic of possibilities. One thing my daughter and I did was collect little acorns, twigs, small pebbles, leaves, etc and made a special fairy house that she loves and adores. We will always have the treasured memory of finding things in nature and then making something magical.

Family drawing and writing time: I love this idea. Make time each week, or every day to sit down with your family and let go creatively. If someone wants to write or color, or paint…have some time around the table to chat, enjoy colors, look at flowers and create. Give opportunities to explore different mediums of chalks, charcoal, watercolors, calligraphy, ink, colored pencils, crayon, etc.

Family music time: This is fun. Let go. Either turn on some fun tunes and just dance, sing or play funny grooves on the keyboard. Let go!! Shine.

Display your family art pieces: Have a special area to display your art. Whether you pick your best and frame them or you have a special magnetic gallery, a hallway or book. Have a special place to enjoy your art. One thing I love to do is to save up ten of my little ones favorites from the year and then I scan them into my computer and have a special yearly book made with her beautiful art pieces and favorite photos from the year. I write a note of Thanks for her being in my life and for all the beauty and creativity that she shares and I give it to her for Thanksgivig. It is a special tradition with great meaning & it makes giving thanks even more memorable.

Family arts & crafts show: Have a annual or bi-annual family arts and craft show. Have extended family join in the fun and have a show. Make it a occasion with a brunch or goodies. Have all the grandkids share their art and explain the meaning of their piece of art. You could also have a small, personal family show for family night or a special occasion within your home.

Take pictures: This advice is good any time. Taking pictures is good for inspiration, memories, images you want to be creative with, or just want to share with those you love. There is beauty all around and photographs are a good way to capture your inspiration. Just have fun!

FUN FAMILY MOVIES

Movie night is always a classic fun at our house, so I am including some of our favorites and then a list from a few other sources. Enjoy!!  Some of our favorites:

The Family Man (2000) is a great movie that is about a man who truly learns what is most important .

The Princess Protection Program (Disney 2009) is a great movie that teaches many good morales–kindness, believing in yourself, helping others, being princess like.

The Game Plan, Nancy Drew, Dreamer, Ever After, The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie (adventure), Nim’s Island, Nanny McPhee, The Parent Trap (old and new versions), Ella Enchanted, I could go on and on…The Kid, Freaky Friday, Tangled, and National Treasure Series (gets you thinking and kids interested in American history)…

According to Parents.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics

1 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) 2 Ella Enchanted (2004) 3 E.T. (1982) 4 Freaky Fiday (2003)

5 Harry Potter 6 The Sound of Music (1965) 7 Spy Kids (2001)

8 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) 9 Whale Rider (2003) 10 Wizard of Oz (1939)

An article from Belief.net lists Family Movies that Teach Values

This article lists: It’s A Wonderful Life (teaches responsibility), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (teaches Integrity), A Man for All Seasons (teaches Courage), Babe (teaches Courtesy), Remember the Titans (teaches tolerance), Toy Story 2 (teaches loyalty), Akeelah and the Bee (teaches learning), War Games (teaches Peace), A Little Princess (teaches Helping Others), Holes (teaches Fairness)

According to IMDb they listed the top “Family Titles”. I will list their top 10 1. Up (2009) 2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 3. Wall-E (2008) 4. Anand (1971) 5. Some Like it Hot (1959) 6. Safety Last (1923) 7. Vuk (1981) 8. The Cameraman (1928) 9. The Wizard of Oz (1939) 10. The Kid (1921)

FUN FAMILY VACATIONS

Family vacations are a must to create happy family connections and memories. Here is a list according to TravelChannel.com — they listed their top ten family destinations as:

1. Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas    2. Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, Snowbird, Utah (been here & love it!)    3. Tanque Verde Ranch, Tuscon, Arizona    4. Hilton Waikoloa Village in Hawaii    5. Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, Virginia    6. Circus, Circus, Las Vegas, Nevada    7. Out ‘n’ About Treesort, Takilma, Oregon    8. Club Med Ixtapa in Mexico    9. La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA    10. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando, Florida

Would love to hear about any of your family favorites. We just went to the Redwoods this past summer with our daughter and her cousin. They loved staying on the ocean (the cool Oregon coast, which can be sunny & then rainy–they loved it) and then visiting the giant Redwood trees. It was a great trip!!

A funny thing about kids is they just want to be together, having family quality time. We take our daughter to Disneyland each year, but when you ask her what her favorite trip is…she will say going to the Canadian Rockies (which it was fall & freezing) and staying in a tiny cabin on Moraine Lake where we had a fire and made a log cabin out of blocks. It is the quality time that really matters most.

No matter what you are doing, planning, or creating with your family, just take the time to incorporate being present and the moments will last a lifetime.

Cheers to your Happy Family.