Family Bonding on a Budget
You’re stressed out from work and looking for a little family R and R but the wallet looks pretty slim these days. Beyond the normal freebies – going for a walk, picnic in the park, trip to the beach – what kind of fun can a family have on a limited budget? Plenty.
1. Our family has recently scored with bowling. On a Saturday afternoon, a couple of games at the local bowling alley can cost upwards of $50 for a family of four, but many locations offer special rates at off peak times like Sunday mornings and after 9pm on weekdays. One place near us charges just $1.50 a game on Sundays from 9am – 12pm, plus they have lightweight bowling balls and bumpers so kids of any age can join the fun.
2. Many museums offer a free day once a month and some are just plain free. You can check http://www.freemuseumday.org/ for free days in major cities or call local museums to see if they have a free day or offer any discounts on admission. Our favorite freebie in the LA area is Travel Town at Griffith Park. Chock full of massive steam engines from the glory days of railroading it is a train lover’s dream! See www.traveltown.org for details.
3. We are fortunate to live in a city with a large Park and Recreation department featuring an Activity Center and gymnasium for public use. The Activity Center features ping pong, pool, Wii, air hockey and various board games free for anyone to use. The gym charges a $2 fee for access to two indoor basketball courts. Check with your local Park and Recreation to see what’s available in your area and get your game on!
4. You can go green for cheap with a trip to a state park. Admission fees vary but are seldom more than $10 and get you a whole day of fun taking in the natural wonders your state has to offer. For not much more, you can enjoy an entire year of fun with an annual permit. National parks are also reasonably priced or even free. Many parks also offer special programs about the park, it’s inhabitants and it’s history. Visit www.nps.gov for national park information and your state Department of Natural Resources website for state parks in your area.
Family bonding doesn’t have to break the bank. Sometimes the best memories don’t cost a dime.
Top 10 Family Outdoor Activities for Great Outdoors Month 2020
The summer solstice marks the astronomical beginning of Summer. With the changing of the season to warmer temperatures, the sizzling heat gives people a reason to escape the stale indoor air and enjoy healthy fresh air. Finding outdoor activities for the entire family that everyone will enjoy can be cumbersome. There are many outdoor activities that can be fun and fit for everyone.
1. Picnics have always been the traditional form of outdoor hobby. For those that would prefer a more laid back activity, a picnic might be your best choice. Picnics are generally centered around your food choice. To even make the picnic extra fun, try having a themed picnic. Choose your theme around your food choice. You can even incorporate entertaining lessons into the themed picnic. For example, if you chose to have Italian food, then come up with topics surrounding Italian lifestyle or history and have discussions or games centered around Italian. You could maybe even discover new words in that foreign language and use them while you talk about the topics. Also, not only can picnics be surrounded by food selection, but perhaps also by activity. For example, you can have a nature trail picnic. Select picnic areas that have natural trails. But make sure it is somewhere were you can leave your picnic items because it would not be enjoyable if you had to lug around your picnic basket.
2. Camping is a great outdoor activity. Camping usually demands a lot of preplanning. To go camping you would need to choose whether on sleeping in a tent or if you will be renting a cabin. Also, depending on the length of the camping trip, you will need to decide what things you will need to bring for food preparation. Building a camp fire can allow fun activities such as weenie roasts and smores. Camping can incorporate many other activities. One popular camping activity is fishing. So, don’t forget your fishing rods and worms.
3. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hand, but would like an outdoor activity that fits your time budget; visiting your local park might be your choice. Many towns and cities have a least one park. If you are fortunate enough to have a choice of parks, it is good to visit the park briefly to determine if it is the park for you. If you have children, you may want a park with lots of outdoor play equipment. If you are a pet owner and want to take your pet, it is important that you know what the pet policy is for that park. A popular park activity is Frisbee tossing. This is fun for both children and dogs. Also, kite flying is fun, but only if the park has a good open area with no trees or power lines.
4. Swimming is an activity that is generally popular with most kids. When the temperatures rise, cooling off in a big swimming pool can be ideal. There are many options when it comes to swimming. If you don’t mind spending money, you can visit a water theme park. Also, most cities have public pools that you can visit. If money is tight, you can always purchase above a ground pool and enjoy swimming all summer long.
5. Volunteer work is a very rewarding activity. Incorporating volunteer work into an outdoor activity is very simple. Cleaning up a park is a great outdoor volunteer activity. If there is not a volunteer group, you can either clean solo or you can form your very own volunteer clean up crew. …
The Duggar Family of Arkansas Has 17 Children – Good Idea or Not?
I admit it; I’m a Duggar-a-holic. I am fascinated with this Arkansas family with 17 children. I first learned about Jim and Michelle Duggar through the TV specials about their family on the Discovery Channel, and I have read eagerly about them ever since. I have been impressed with their wholesomeness and the way they raise so many well-behaved children without government assistance.
But I was recently thinking that however much I admire the Duggars in many ways, I would not want to be one of their children. Why? I cannot imagine that any of the individual children are getting much of Michelle and Jim Bob’s attention. I have a downright puny family of just three children, who are now 10, 8 and 6. However, even these three have challenged me at times. There are many occasions where I feel that I am short-changing one or another of them because I need to give attention to another. When I taught school, I often had about 17 children in my entire classroom. While I tried to give the children somewhat individualized attention, there is no way I was giving the amount of attention a child would need from a parent.
From watching programs about the Duggars, I know that they use a “buddy system” where an older child is paired with a baby, usually when the baby is around 8 months old. The older child is then responsible for much of the baby’s caretaking and raising. I feel sad about this both from the baby’s perspective and also from the caretaker’s. Caring for a baby or a toddler is a lot of responsibility for a child of 10 or so.
Speaking of responsibility, I have been really impressed by the Duggar children’s maturity and behavior, at least as it appears on TV. Perhaps because there are so many of them and because there is an atmosphere of respect in the family, there seem to be no real troublemakers in the bunch. Again though, this makes me sad in a way because I wonder if the kids all have the opportunity to express themselves fully. I am a big believer in responsibility and maturity, but I think kids also need time to just be a kid and make childish mistakes that serve as great learning opportunities. I hope the Duggar children have that.
When I think of having 17 children, one of my first nightmare thoughts is the amount of work: cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. However, I know that the Duggars solve this dilemma by designating various children to tasks (known in the Duggar family as “jurisdictions”). For instance, one girl’s jurisdiction is laundry. As a mom, I love the thought that someone else in the family is doing the laundry. But again, it makes me a little sad to think of a girl, even if she is a teenager, being responsible for the laundry of 17 people.
For the Duggars and other large families, I believe “the proof will be in the pudding” so to speak. I’ll be interested to see how the children turn out in the years to come. Will they want large families themselves, or will they be so tired of children and work that they seek a totally different life? Will some of the Duggar children opt for the single life?
I would be interested in comments, especially from those who either grew up in a large family or who have a large family now. Do you see large families as an overall plus or minus?
Expectatins for Our Children: Childrens Goals Versus Parent’s Goals
When our children are born, we have high expectations for them. Parents have dreams, hopes and wishes for their future. As parents, we want what is best for our children, even at times it may not be what they want.
How do we as parents not push our hopes and dreams onto our children without suffocating them? Simple, do not push what you wanted onto them but rather help them achieve the goals they want for themselves.
Our children are our future and as such, we need to respect the goals they set will be met. As children, they grow and develop minds of their own and in doing so they want to decide their own future.
Children want to live their dreams not their parent’s dreams.
The big question is how do we accept what our children want even when we think it may be the wrong direction?
An example: John wants to go to college to learn more about music because he has a passion for it. His dream is to one day have his own band. John’s parents want him to attend college to get his degree in medicine.
Solution: John’s parents sit down and talk with John about his passion for music. Then John can allow his parents to speak as to why he should attend medical school. Once they have heard both sides. John can explain why he would prefer music to medicine.
Once John’s parents have listened, they can now understand and give the love and support their son needs to chase his dreams of being a musician.
Parents need to learn to listen and understand that children need and want their parent’s approval, but they also want your support in what they choose to do with their life. After all, it is ultimately their choice.
Trust in your child; even if he or she fails let them know as parents you will be there to catch them if they fall.
Another way to look at things is through your child’s eyes. Think back to when you were young and starting out on your own. Did you want to follow the path your parents had laid out for you? If you can say no to this question, then why should you expect your child to say yes?
Communication and understanding between parent and child will go along way in helping your son or daughter achieve their own goals in life.
Best Fall Movies for Children
It seems that the box office lineup this fall has one theme: to recycle old movies. This is a good thing though and it is better than you think. I say that because these movies are not just reproduced, they are beefed up.
For example, take the re-release of both Toy Story and Toy Story 2. This time around they are going to be shown as a double feature. And the best part is, it is re-rendered into a 3-D film, using only the best state-of-the-art technology. Imagine seeing one of the classics come to life on the screen, and out of the screen. Toy Story 3-D is a limited engagement that begins on October 2, 2020. Also to be made as a 3-D movie, Toy Story 3 will be released at the big screen on June 18, 2010. Can’t wait that long? Catch a sneak peak of the upcoming movie during the trailers at the Toy Story double feature. It will be the perfect time to introduce, or re-introduce your children to Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang. This heart-felt kid’s movie shows the meaning of friendship and how far a group of misfit toys will go to find and bring home their friend. Toy Story and Toy Story 2 feature the voice talents of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
Another remake isn’t that of a movie already made, but it is based on a famous book. Where the Wild Things Are was written in 1963, and is all about creativity and imagination of a child. The adventures are endless when time and travel aren’t an issue. This movie will captivate audiences of young and old alike and will bring the book to life right in front of the viewer’s eyes. This movie will encouragement those who haven’t read the book, to share it with their children. For those who have read the book, this will provide a chance to compare how correct the movie was in comparision to the book. Big names in this movie include James Gandolfini, Forest Whitaker, and Mark Ruffalo. Where the Wild Things Are has a scheduled opening date of October 16, 2020.
This fall promises to feature some new movies worth watching, and to experience some familiar movies in a new three dimensional fashion. These movies should provide you and your family with a pleasant entertainment experience and the notion that all things old can be made new again.
Get Fit This Fall with Outdoor Activities
Once the temperatures start to drop, nature extends an invitation for you to get out and get active. This year, try making some changes to your routine that are both healthy and fun.
Walk Through a Corn Maze
To quote a line from J.R.R. Tolkein, “Not all who wander are lost.” Navigating your way through a corn maze gives you a chance to exercise your body, and your brain benefits from the workout, too. Find mazes at farms or harvest festivals around the country once fall arrives. It’s a wonderful weekend activity, and worth taking the drive to experience. Reward yourself with some fresh apple cider after you’ve made it through.
Help Neighbors by Raking Their Leaves
It’s time to pick up those fall leaves and get your garden ready for cooler weather, which is always a great physical activity. This year, make time to help out a neighbor who might not be physically able to do this herself, or ask at your church or local senior citizens center if there are individuals in need of this service. You’ll be helping out your community, beautifying your neighborhood and getting a good workout at the same time.
No one likes to wash their windows, but everyone has to do it sometime (my own are due for a good scrub, in fact). Why not make it now while the windows are open and you can smell the wonderful crisp fall air? You’ll appreciate the effort your arms have made once you look through your clean windows to catch the incredible view of the changing leaves. Enlist the help of a friend and do her windows next week.
Walk This Way to Better Birdwatching
Grab your camera, a notebook or sketch pad and start a new tradition: take note of the incredible variety of birds in your neck of the woods. While everyone’s busy getting ready for winter, our winged friends are doing the same, and there’s no better way for you to catch them at work than by taking a walk off the beaten path and keeping a sharp eye out. It might even inspire a new hobby!
Ride Your Bike
When was the last time you rode a bicycle? If you haven’t done it in a while, be assured that the adage holds true: you never forget how to ride a bike. Once you’re back in the saddle again, you’ll remember why you had so much fun doing it as a kid. My own red bike even has a wicker basket, perfect for carrying a bottle of water or collecting pretty little leaves and flowers along the way. It’s a great physical activity that also allows you to get to know your neighbors better and take in all the wonderful changes fall brings to your area.
Enjoy those changes, and let the season encourage healthy habits for you.
Think Safety when Spending Time Outdoors
Summer and fall are perfect times to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you enjoy camping, hiking, boating, or hunting, adequate preparations and a little common sense are key to ensuring that your outdoor experience is both safe and enjoyable. Keep the following in mind when planning any outdoor adventure.
• Travel with a companion and leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person.
• Learn basic first aid and carry a first aid kit.
• Wear appropriate clothing for weather conditions and the season. Always bring something warm, extra socks and rain gear.
• Keep an eye on current and predicted weather conditions.
• Check your equipment prior to your trip. Do not wait until you are at the trailhead or dock.
• Pack your own water or purify water from streams and lakes through chemical treatment, boiling or filtration before drinking.
• Bring sunscreen no matter the season. Wear sunglasses and a hat or visor to protect your eyes.
• Protect yourself from ticks, mosquitoes and diseases they carry. Wear insect repellant with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing) and wear light colored clothing so you can spot ticks more easily.
• Beware of poisonous plants by knowing what dangerous plants are common to the area and how to identify them.
• Practice good hygiene. Make sure to wash your hands, particularly after using the toilet and before handling food.
• When hunting, don’t forget to wear hearing protection.
Family Friendly Films
You want to watch a movie as a family but want something you will enjoy as well as your children. Those movies can be hard to find at times and it may be difficult to sit through a two hour cartoon that fails to grasp your interest. The following five films sure to capture your attention just as much as your children. You’ll all be looking forward to family fun night and these films will make excellent additions to your DVD collections.
Finding Nemo (2003) Directed by Andrew Stanton
This is a film about a young clown-fish named Nemo who is kidnapped from his first day of school and taken to Australia as a pet of a dentist. Nemo’s father is a paranoid fish constantly in fear for the safety of himself and Nemo and must travel the ocean in search for his one little clown fish.
Why it’s a great choice:
This is a film you will enjoy just as much if you’re 5 years old or 50 years old. Right from the beginning you get pulled into the story and are worried for the safety of this little clown fish. This film teaches several valuable lessons including lessons on friendship and safety. Your child will want to watch this film over and over, and you wont mind.
The Incredibles (2003) Directed by Brad Bird
A retired pair of superheroes settle down and go into retirement and have two children who were born with super powers and a third infant whose powers have not yet revealed themselves. In this film the family must come out of hiding to save the world.
Why it’s a great choice:
This film is absolutely charming. It’s underlying message is that a family can accomplish anything if they work as a team and have compassion for one another. This film will have you laughing at one turn but will also have you thinking through its complex world dominating plot.
Monsters Inc. (2001) Directed by Pete Doctor
Monsters live together in a town that gets its power by the screams of children. Monsters don’t scare to harm children but rather to power their homes. Human children are not allowed in the town but there’s a breach and Mike and Sully (two hilarious unlucky monsters) must deal with the situation.
Why it’s a great choice:
This movie is both funny and entertaining so you will not be bored. This film could help if your child is afraid of the dark or of monsters under the bed or in the closet. The premise of this film is that monsters are not going to hurt you, that they have their own complicated lives and monster children, but have interestingly enough determined how to harness the fear of young children to power their city ; Talk about eco-friendly.
Shrek (2001) Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson
This is the first in a now trilogy of Shrek films. Shrek is an ogre who keeps to himself and lives in a swamp, but is more misunderstood than scary. No one ever took the time to get to know him and his layers except a loud mouth Donkey who he can’t seem to go away. They work together to save a princess for the Prince of the town Far-Far-Away. Their journey is quite an ordeal but it is an excellent movie.
Why it’s a great choice:
This is by far my favorite family film; I have watched this movie just me and my boyfriend because I love it. It brings out the child in me and it’s …
Family and Careers Do Not Mix
“After all I’ve done for you the least you could do is put your family first instead of that miserable medical career first!”
How many times has every one of us heard a line to that effect? If you think about it, family and career, possibly even college, do not mix. Dropping your own life, or “putting it on hold” in lay terms, seems to be the prevalent mentality of a lot of people, especially the lower classes. Using phrases such as “different values” and “hang with your own kind” instead of attempting to cross the tracks which will get you shot down by those on your own side is what keeps you from establishing any individual achievements in life.
But it is not confined to careers alone in many cases. Some families even prevent their members from having any outside friends such as pen-pals who can surely influence one to betray family and strike out on one’s own, searching for fame and fortune. In drastic cases, some families may even prohibit their children from attending college or reading books, since books can fill all sorts of ideas in those tiny heads which may cause them to stray from the family. Talk about forced dependency! No wonder so many children wind up running away from home. They are being so suffocated they realize what is going on and cannot take it anymore. It is easy to be sympathetic to these young ones who escape, even if their families do the right thing and send the police out to look for them, only to find out their child has entered the army to receive an education and serve their country. Not surprisingly, the offspring usually grows up to be an upright citizen while the concerned parents are parked in front of the television set all day long, drinking beer and watching Jerry Springer. Yes, that is what being held down is all about. But at least quality family time is spent with Jerry Springer. Who else would you want to spend quality family time with? Certainly not Dan Rather.
Wasting your time trying to work on anything that might make a name for yourself is, then, futile when it comes to families like this. Any time you attempt to do so, they will find ways to take it from you, intervene, destroy whatever it is you have been working on, and cause you to take to your bed and start crying. You might even hear the thoughtful words from the next room: “That child is destroying our lives.” “That child has no business spending time with her friends when that time should be spent with us.” “Why oh why does that child of ours cause so much trouble?” “That child is destroying our family.” Of course there are many more possible comments that can be included here, but these get the point across. Keeping a child dependent and disarming its survival instincts is important in family values in order to keep that child obedient at all times. It does not matter if the child starts doing something harmful to himself or herself, which includes the taking of over the counter medications. Parents as such think they are doing their children a favor but in the long run, do extensive damage that can never be undone, no matter how many shrinks the adult child sees.
So if you look forward to valuing family above all else including college, careers, even jobs (because holding a job interferes with Jerry Springer time), make sure your kids have a bedroom that is void of books, …
Outdoor Safety: Snakebite, First Aid Do’s and Don’ts
As a Biology teacher and amateur herpetologist, I have encountered numerous snakes, both in the wild and in captivity, and I always marvel at their beauty and elegant design. The vast majority of the world’s serpents are non-venomous and completely harmless to humans. However, if you live on any continent other than Antarctica, there is a possibility that you may encounter one of the more dangerous species during your outdoor activities. If you follow a few simple rules, you should come away from the encounter with nothing more than a sense of exhilaration at having seen one of nature’s wonders.
If you are bitten, however, your awe-inspiring encounter has now turned into a medical emergency. Snake venom can cause extreme pain, serious tissue damage, and even death, if left untreated. Students and friends frequently ask me what they should do in such a situation. Again, following a few basic guidelines can help ensure that you survive the ordeal, hopefully a little wiser for the experience.
Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, let’s talk about how you can avoid being bitten in the first place.
1. Treat ALL snakes as potentially venomous. This means keep your distance! As a general rule, you should keep at least one body length (the snake’s, not yours) away. This keeps you well out of the “strike zone.” For most of the common venomous species, ten to twelve feet should do it. This rule also means that you should never handle a snake, no matter how pretty it looks or how docile it seems. Content yourself with taking pictures.
2. When hiking, step ON, not over obstacles. As you hike, you may encounter large rocks, fallen trees, etc. in your path, and sometimes it is tempting to jump over them. Resist this temptation! A snake could well be sheltering itself on the far side of the obstacle. Stepping on the rock or log gives both you and the snake some warning of approaching danger. Remember, nine times out of ten, the snake will move away to avoid a confrontation if it knows you are coming.
3. Do not run. The faster you are moving, the less time the snake has to react to the vibrations you are generating and move out of your way, so running through the woods is not a good idea. Some people react to seeing a venomous snake (or hearing a rattle) by running in the opposite direction. This is also dangerous. The sound of a rattlesnake is difficult to localize if you can’t see the snake, and you may end up running right toward it. If you see it and run away, you could well find yourself running into the path of another snake! Walk away in a calm manner.
4. Familiarize yourself with the venomous snakes in your area. Forewarned is forearmed. Be aware of any dangerous wildlife in the location where you will be hiking or camping. Know their usual habitats and use caution when exploring such habitats.
Okay, so you’ve followed all the safety advice, and you got bitten anyway. What should you do? The decisions you make now can literally save life and limb. In any snakebite emergency, you should take the following steps:
1. First, remain calm. I know. This is easier said than done, but it is important nonetheless. The more anxious you become, the faster your heart beats, and the faster the venom spreads throughout your body.
2. Call 911. If you have access to a phone, the first thing you should do …