Handmade Gifts Kids Can Give For the Holidays

Buying the perfect gifts for your loved ones is one of the best parts of the holiday season. But children who are too young to drive or earn enough money for presents want to feel the same sense of ownership and pride when giving holiday gifts. Homemade presents are an excellent  remedy. Here are three handmade gifts kids can give for the holidays.     

1. Annual Ornament

The annual ornament is a hit with sentimental family members who enjoy keepsakes. Not only do handmade ornaments allow your children to flex their creative skills, they also display their artistic growth year after year. There are many ways to approach creating an ornament (with an adult’s help). Here are a few ideas, with links:

*Don’t forget to write the year on the ornament  

2. Mason Jar Mixes

Mason jar mixes are as simple as they sound. All you need is a mason jar, a few decorations to spruce up the outside of the jar, and something yummy to put on the inside. You can let your children have the creative freedom to choose which treats to give. Here are some options of ingredients to mix in:

  • Nuts
  • Chex
  • Pretzels
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Any Small Candy
  • Oreo or Brownie Chunks 

*Be mindful of allergies and adjust your mason jar mix based on food sensitivities for each recipient

3. Custom Picture Frame

In a digital word, many people store photos on their phones and online albums, making picture frames a dying art. But for those who still enjoy displaying traditional prints, this gift idea is perfect. Picture frames can be made from anything: ranging from items found in nature (leaves, shells, sticks) to popular art mediums (clay, wood, wire). As long as you have a sturdy base, your children can make the front of the frame as colorful or textures as they’d like. Add a personal picture to complete the gift.

Handmade presents are a labor of love. The recipients will feel honored that someone wanted to take the time to create a gift with them in mind. In return, your children will feel gratified when watching just how meaningful it is to give a heartfelt present. What a wonderful way to celebrate the true spirit of the season!  

Theron and Darlene NelsonHandmade Gifts Kids Can Give For the Holidays
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Is Your Child A Pessimist? Four Things You Can Do To Help

For responsible parents, raising a child with a sunny disposition is a great achievement. You want them to be positive and eager about what life has to offer. Instilling a “can do” mindset in your little ones will give them the strength to withstand any trials that come their way. But what if your child shakes his or her head whenever you suggest a new activity? It can understandably be cause for concern when you see your child hesitate to try something new because of fear of failure or embarrassment. A pessimistic child, though, does not necessarily grow up to become a pessimistic adult. As parents, you have the power to influence your child’s behavior and attitude by the things you do and say. While they are still young, take advantage of the opportunity to turn your child’s behavior around. Make it a goal to teach your child to banish self-doubt and face any task with confidence. The following are five things you can do to raise an optimist.

Practice positivity yourself.
Numerous studies reveal that children learn best by imitation. One research from the University of Washington reveals that babies learn just by watching their parents. It would therefore be difficult to raise a child who notices the possibilities more than the obstacles if you do not practice it yourself. So keep on seeing your cup as half-full even in the midst of challenges. Go through your daily life with as much positive energy as you can muster so you don’t allow small setbacks to crush you or your children’s hope. You can also motivate your child to stay cheerful despite odds by sharing inspiring stories of positive people. Being a living example of all the wonderful benefits that positive thinking brings is the best way to encourage your child to do the same.

Be a good listener.
You want to understand where your child’s negative behavior is coming from. Why is your kid fearful or anxious? What are the things that are keeping your child from looking at the bright side of things? Most of the time, problems appear bigger when we keep them in our own head. Take time to discuss these concerns  without resorting to blaming or judging. Listening with empathetic and understanding ears will greatly lessen your child’s worries. They might even realized that there is nothing to be fearful of.

Offer practical solutions.
Once you know the reasons for your child’s worries, it is important to help him or her realize that walking away or avoiding their fears will not not solve anything. Help them deal with their problems by offering advice and tangible solutions. For example, you can introduce affirmation methods to help them cope with anxiety or search for classes that can help with what they are struggling with. Doing everything you can to help a child overcome a weakness is an effective way to prove that every problem has a corresponding solution.

Nurture a happy home and show unconditional love.
Parents who want their kids to grow up confident about overcoming weaknesses should be ready to offer constant support and encouragement. By staying on their side even during times of defeat and failure, you will make them feel safe and protected. This will build up their inner strength as they know that they can count on you no matter what. Showing children unconditional love will be easier if you foster a home where people respect and uplift each other. Positivity will bloom in an environment where your child feels safe, loved and protected.

Being a parent is a wonderful opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in the world. Moreover, not everyone is given this chance. So cherish this privilege by making a conscious effort to raise children who are happy, confident, and positive. Strive to be a good parent and do humanity a great favor.

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How to Peacefully Work Through Disagreements with Your Child

Children go through phases of parental opposition. Toddlers learn the word no, which quickly becomes the go-to response for even the simplest of requests. At kindergarten age, kids learn to voice their opinions. “I don’t want to eat vegetables mom!” Maybe even, “Dad, that’s not how my teacher said to do my math.” As preteens they question how in touch you are with today’s world, and as teenagers, they blatantly disregard your guidance. Every parent has endured these stages and every child has participated in at least a few of the scenarios above. All of them are developmentally normal. But normal doesn’t equal easy. Disagreements get more difficult to handle the older your child gets, but there are helpful approaches to diffusing, instead of escalating, arguments.

Listen and Validate

The first step is simply to listen. No matter how you personally feel about what your children or teens have to say, the least you can do is listen. Listening requires an open mind, positive body language and responses of acknowledgement. We give our spouses, colleagues and friends the respect of feeling heard, even in moments of discord, so we owe our children nothing less. After allowing them to voice their thoughts it’s important to validate their feelings. Remember that validation isn’t synonymous with agreement. It’s possible to let your children know that their feelings are valid without agreeing with their method of expression or the thought process that led them to their conclusion.

Explain Your Perspective

Now that you’ve taken the time to listen, the next step is to explain your perspective. You may have very strong opinions about how your children are acting or the things they’ve said, but try your best to take a deep breath before sharing your opposition. Explosive anger will only breed an equally volatile response. The goal is to bring peace and offer the most reasonable solution. Be concise. No one enjoys hearing a long drawn out explanation of why they are wrong. Instead of belaboring the point, try using phrases that provide clarity in the most tolerable form. If your children attempt to interrupt you while you are sharing your thoughts, now is the time to nip that habit in the bud. Just as you gave them a chance to speak without interruption, they now need to do the same. If they are doing it to you, they are accustomed doing it to other people as well. Remember that these moments of opposition provide wonderful teaching opportunities to model healthy communication skills.

Extend Love

The last step is to extend an olive branch of love. Whether that be a hug, kind word or a trip for ice cream. Whatever best fits your family dynamic will suffice. After heated exchanges, both parties’ feathers may be a little ruffled. As the parent it’s your responsibility to take the high road and spearhead efforts to soothe any remaining animosity. At the end of the day you both love each other and desire a harmonious coexistence. You won’t always walk away in agreement, but you will always have love to fallback on.

Raising children is tough. As they age, they begin to form opinions that are just as strong as yours. Fortunately, if you rely on the techniques above, your family will learn that disagreements don’t need to lead to heated debates that end in hurt feelings. Embrace your role as the best example your children have and be the change you wish to see.

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3 Ways to Support Military Families

Patriotism is a term used to describe fierce support or loyalty to a country. While patriotism can be displayed in many different meaningful ways, joining the military is one of the most honorable. Behind every military hero is a military family trying their best to function despite the absence. Fortunately, there are ways to help. Show your patriotism by serving the families of those who serve. Here’s how:

  1. Take Action

Whether a spouse is deployed, a family has been reassigned to a base in your city, or a newly enlisted cadet is away in boot camp, a helping hand goes a long way.

Below are a few proactive ideas:

  • For Deployments:

o Babysit

-Many spouses of military members are forced to assume the role of a single parent during deployment. Responsibilities quickly mount and parenthood can become stressful. Offer to babysit while mom or dad catches up on sleep, runs errands, or takes a mental break.

o Be a Friend

-Deployments can be isolating. This is when friendships matter most. Be a sounding board, a stress reliever and a shoulder to cry on. Don’t forget to add some fun into the mix.

o Do Chores

-Yard work, errands, and daily chores are an extra burden on top of the emotional distress that spouses feel during deployments. Schedule a recurring time to stop by and step up. Be consistent, punctual, and helpful.

  • For Reassignments:

o Offer the family a tour of their new city

o Introduce them to your friends to help them feel welcomed and at home in their new surroundings.

o Inform them of “the best”: the best schools, gyms, restaurants, childcare, and other establishments.

  • For Boot Camps:

o Send a care package to the family. Family care packages can include spa treatments to relax, self-help books on how to cope with military life, or gift cards that will help ease the transition.

o Send letters. Write a letter of encouragement to the family. Let them know that you admire all they do to support their service member and their country, because families serve too!

o Help the children (younger siblings, nieces/nephews, daughters/sons). Most service members have children who they regularly spend time with. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) replace their role, you can be a representative for them. Be present at the sporting events, birthday parties, and important moments that their hero is unable attend. Bring a small gift from their soldier to spread extra cheer.

  1. Be Mindful

The emotions and stress levels of military families are understandably elevated during periods of separation. Those who are around them sometimes struggle to find the balance of being supportive, without being intrusive. When dealing with sensitive issues like deployments, it can be difficult to know the right things to do and say. Try following these guidelines:

  1. Avoid equating deployments with business trips. Military members often face danger, uncertainty, and harsh conditions while away. Their families are in a constant state of worry, and are more than likely dealing with a different type of stress than most civilian families experience during short-term business trips. Remember that it is possible to sympathize without comparison.

  2. Be selective about the questions you ask. Keep in mind that some information is personal, some topics are sensitive, and timing is everything.

  3. Give families plenty of space and time to connect before (and after) deployments or assignments. While you may be eager to visit the departing (or returning) service member, his/her family is probably rushing to squeeze in as much quality time as possible. Try to give them a month (before and after) to enjoy the intimate family time that they so desperately need.

  4. Be Charitable

Don’t fret if you don’t personally know a soldier; you can still help. Visit the charities below to help tend to these wonderful military families:

Military men and women courageously put their lives on the line to protect the country, freedoms and citizens that they love. Their patriotism is not only noble, but also sacrificial. Their service puts a strain on their bodies, their mental health, and the family members they are forced to leave at home. The least we can do it show our patriotism by caring for the families who send their heroes off to care for us.

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3 Ways to Make More Time for Your Loved Ones in 2018

We are already a few weeks into 2018, which means our New Year’s resolutions are set, and we are hopefully well on our way to making these next 12 months the best ones yet. There is so much pressure at the beginning of each new calendar year to make the next 365 days the most productive, successful, and healthy ones to date. And while it’s wonderful to be on a constant journey of self-improvement, don’t forget the next year is also an opportunity to improve your relationships with your loved ones. After all, that’s what makes life so worthwhile. So in addition to your personal goals in the new year, make an effort to improve your relationships with the people you love the most. Here are 3 ways to make more time for loved ones in 2018.

How to Make More Time for Loved Ones

Give them your full attention when you’re with them

First and foremost, make an effort to eliminate all distractions when you are spending time with the people who are the most important to you. In a world of smartphones and constant notifications, it can be a challenge to devote 100% of your attention to the people you are with. Set goals this year to spend quality time with your loved ones this year, which means putting down the phone and diving into conversation with the people you are with.

Never underestimate the power of a phone call

Sometimes it can be difficult to stay in touch with loved ones when you don’t live in the same city. Between busy schedules and commitments, it can be a real challenge to find opportunities to spend time together. However, never underestimate the power of a phone call––even if you don’t have anything specific to tell them. Pick up the phone and give them a ring just to check in and see how they are doing. Knowing that someone is thinking of you is one of the best feelings.

Keep them at the top of your priorities list

Perhaps, most importantly, the best thing you can do to improve your relationships with your loved ones is to always keep them at the top of your priorities list no matter what. It can be hard to balance the efforts you devote to improving yourself and reaching your personal goals as well as the efforts to improve your relationships with the people in your life who matter most. But keep your relationships at the top of your priorities list, so that you don’t let anything else get in the way of spending time with your loved ones.

Make 2018 the best year for yourself and your relationships by following these three tips to make more time for loved ones.

Theron and Darlene Nelson3 Ways to Make More Time for Your Loved Ones in 2018
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Make Grand Plans With Your Grandkids This Holiday Season

The holidays mean plenty of time to spend with your family and make memories together. And if you’re a grandparent, you already know that spending time with your grandchildren is one of the most special and memorable ways to celebrate any occasion. The bonds between grandkids and their grandparents is a special one, and your grandkids will remember the time you spend together for a lifetime. So make the most of this holiday season by sharing these special moments with your grandkids.

Tell stories of your childhood during the holidays

Everyone loves a good story––especially when it teaches you a bit about your family tree and what it represents. So sit down with your grandkids this holiday season and tell them a little bit about what the holidays were like when you were growing up. Tell them about how your mom made the butteriest biscuits in the neighborhood on Christmas Day or about your dad always danced to Christmas carols in the kitchen. Your grandkids will cherish these stories for years and years to come.

Teach family traditions

Pass down your family traditions and share your holiday season rituals with your grandkids. Do whatever it is that brings everyone together and spreads a little holiday cheer. Decorate the tree together, bake Christmas cookies with the family cookie recipe, or go caroling through the neighborhood with some gloves and a mug of hot cocoa. Whatever you do, keep the family tradition and the holiday spirit alive and share the importance of what these traditions mean to you and the family tree.

Write Christmas cards to everyone in the family

If you gather the whole family together to celebrate the holidays, writing Christmas cards to everyone is one of the best ways to spread the holiday love and spend quality time with your grandkids. There is something special about giving and receiving a handwritten card, so spread the warm spirit of giving by writing Christmas cards with your grandkids to all of the family members this year. Who knows? You might just start a new holiday tradition.

The holidays bring along some of the most precious moments with your family, so make memories that will last a lifetime this year with these ways to spend quality time with your grandkids.

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Lessons Only a Grandma Can Teach

There is something amazing about the bond between parents and their children. But the relationship between grandchildren and grandparents is equally as special in its own right. Just as there are certain things only a grandpa can teach, there are also things that only a grandma knows as well. Perhaps it’s because grandmas have the unique capability of combining wisdom and experience with a mother’s love. Read on to discover the lessons only a grandma can teach.

Hugs are the best medicine

Sure, moms and dads undoubtedly give great hugs just when they’re children need them, but hugs from Grandma are always extra special. Maybe it’s because a grandma’s hugs aren’t as common, so the familiar squeeze is always coated in extra warmth and goodness. Whatever the reason is, there are few things in life better than a big, warm hug from Grandma. Whether it’s a “welcome back” hug, an “I hope you feel better” hug, or a “have a good day” hug, grandmas give the best ones every single time.

It’s the little things that count

Every grandma has her signature specialty whether it’s homemade cookies, refreshing iced tea, or a handwritten note. Grandmas have a special way of bringing great joys out of the littlest things. And sometimes an old-fashioned reminder of the simple things in life are just what everyone needs to keep themselves grounded in today’s society.

Always be your best self

Grandma’s have a way of always being their best self without showing off. Whether it’s looking your best, feeling your best, or acting your best, grandmas not only seem to have perfected this skill, but they also are more than willing to teach their ways to their grandkids. While parents do a great job at encouraging their children to reach their potential, there is something to be said for the way grandmas can teach their grandchildren to carry themselves through life with poise.

No role can ever replace the job of a parent, but grandmas have a special talent for teaching their grandchildren certain lessons with unconditional love and grace.

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Things to Teach Your Children Before They Leave Home

As parents, we all want what is best for our children. We want them to be happy and successful. We want them to become a thriving member of their community doing whatever it is they want to do. We want them to be smart and learn lessons, but we don’t want to see them get hurt. And while we should want all of these things for our children, there are certain things we should teach them first in order for everything else to fall into place.

Things to Teach Your Children Before They Leave Home

Teach them to be independent.

Teaching children to be independent is a bit of a slippery slope because it is the parental instinct to do everything and anything we can to help them along the way. Everything from submitting school paperwork and preparing lunches to filing their taxes for their first teenage job and reminding them about college application deadlines. It’s easy to take on far too much of what should be their responsibility. But teaching independence is the first step in leading them to achieve success later in life. So pack their lunches and submit their school paperwork for them, but when they’re old enough show them how to do it. Sit down with them and teach them to file their taxes for their high school job and take a backseat when it comes to college applications. The more responsibilities you give them early in life, the more they’ll be prepared for the road ahead.

Teach them to be opinionated.

Make sure your children understand the importance of discovering and standing behind their own beliefs and opinions. This world needs people who are passionate about what they believe because that is how progress is put into action. Make sure they understand that their opinion does not necessarily have to mirror yours, but it should be well-informed. In encouraging your children to be opinionated on specific issues, you will teach them to be comfortable in taking a stand for what they believe is right.

Teach them to be respectful.

Teaching your children to be respectful should come as no surprise. However, it’s important to make an extra effort to teach your children from a very young age to be respectful towards everyone they meet – not just their elders. This applies to people who are younger, different, and less advantaged than they are. By teaching your children to be respectful towards everyone, your children will likewise become respected by everyone as well.

Teaching these things to your children will help to shape them into the young adults that will make an impact on this world.

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Lessons Only a Grandpa Can Teach

Parenthood is an incredible gift—it can also be incredibly challenging and exhausting, though. That’s where grandparenthood comes in; it’s the perfect blend of all of the joys of parenthood with none of the strife of discipline. Even though parents are the ones imparting most of the lessons in their children’s lives, there are some lessons that only a grandpa can teach.

Lessons Only a Grandpa Can Teach

How to Fish Properly

Sure, fathers can absolutely teach their children how to fish. There’s no rule that states otherwise. But, there is an unspoken rule that says that grandfathers are the best fishing teachers. They’re substantially more patient than fathers, and more than that, they really enjoy that extended time together—just sitting on the boat out in the middle of the lake.

When grandpas cast their lines, they’re not just teaching their grandchildren how to catch fish; they’re teaching them invaluable lessons about life, about patience, about self-reliance, and about catching and releasing (literally and metaphorically).

How to Start a Fire

Again, mothers and fathers alike can impart all of these lessons. Even still, there’s just something about the way grandpas lay these particular life lessons out. Camping with grandpa is a very sacred and special tradition, and it’s made even more momentous by the introduction of fire.

Learning how to start a fire is about so much more than just keeping warm. It’s about learning how to respect nature and its awesome power to create and destroy. It’s about harnessing elements in a useful and productive way. When grandpas teach their grandchildren how to start fires, they’re really teaching them how to fend for themselves in a wild, unpredictable world. They’re lighting the path to happiness and warmth for the rest of their lives.

How to Fix a Car

Cars have changed quite a bit since grandpa was a young man, but there are some constants that never change. Teaching grandchildren how to take care of their cars doesn’t just serve up valuable life lessons; it can also potentially save their lives. When you know what to do the moment your car starts acting out of sorts, you’re better able to handle situations on your own.

That is a gift that grandpas love to give—the gift of independence and self-assurance. Even when cars start self-driving, you can bet that grandpas will still be passing down their lessons on how to change a flat tire. It’s what grandpas do.

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