Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

June 12th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Homemade Snack Alternatives

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As a child, I went food shopping with my mom every Sunday. She always had a list of meal ingredients and such, and as we walked down each aisle there was always something I wanted that wasn’t good for me. Fruit rollups, cookies, potato chips, sugary cereals etc. filled with tons of high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and additives. You can give your kids what they want with these healthier alternatives, and save money at the same time!

Cheesy Goldfish Crackers

Apple Chips

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Homemade Fruit Rollups

Homemade Fruit Snacks

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Hummus

Healthy Oreos

Peanut Butter Cookies

 

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June 6th, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Bad Weather Safety

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Weather can be very scary for children this time of year.  It is important to prepare your children for bad weather such as thunderstorms, tornados, and hurricanes, depending on where you live.

One thing that is great to do is to create an emergency kit with your children. Purchase a plastic tote to keep under your stairs or another safe place in case of a disaster. In it you can include water (a gallon per person for a few days is recommended), canned foods and an opener, a first aid kit, emergency medications, blankets, towels, a flashlight with extra batteries, and a whistle or horn to signal for help.

Thunderstorms with Lightening
These can be very scary for children. A neat way to ease a child’s fear is to count from the flash of lightening until you see the BOOM of thunder. Once you have your number of seconds, divide that number by five. For instance if you count 30 seconds divided by five, the thunderstorm is six miles away.

Safety Tips 

  • If they see or hear a thunderstorm, they should come inside right away.
  • Stay away from metal objects when a thunderstorm is going on.
  • If they cannot get inside, they should stay away from anything tall and crouch down on their knees, protecting their head with their arms.

Tornadoes
Tornadoes are very dangerous for communities. It is good to discuss with your children things to look out for when a large thunderstorm is approaching. This would include coming inside before a thunderstorm hits, the sights and sounds of a tornado, what the warnings mean on the news, and ways to safely secure themselves should a tornado hit.

Tornadoes often sound like a train or airplane. If they hear a siren or these sounds, they should take cover right away. When bad weather is approaching the news or a radio should be monitored constantly.

Safety Tips 

  • Go to a basement, or if there is no basement go under something sturdy, such as a staircase, or in a closet in the center of the house. This should be the lowest lying area in your home as well.
  • Stay away from windows or doors.
  • If you are in a car, get out and go to a sturdy building or the lowest lying area of ground you can find, such as a ditch.
  • Keep your face covered with your arms protecting your head.

Hurricanes
Talk to your children how hurricanes are formed. These storms are able to be tracked and form over the ocean so there is typically more time to prepare for these than other storms. Talk about the different effects of hurricane on coastlines and watch for warning alerts that occur with hurricanes.

Safety Tips 

  • If you live in a mobile home, near the water, or in a high-rise building, seek shelter in a safer area.
  • If you must stay in your home, go to a basement, safety shelter or the most secure area.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.

Floods 
If you live in an area where flooding can occur, go over safety information. Be sure to stress that playing with water is fun, but floods are dangerous and can be harmful.

Safety Tips 

  • Get to the highest point in your home.
  • Do not drive through rushing waters during a flood.
  • If you are caught in flooding waters get to a tree, higher ground, or grab ahold of anything that is floating in the water to climb on.
  • If you are in a car, get out ASAP.

Here are some fun resources to explore the weather:

NOAA’s Play time for kids – http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/reachout/kidspage.shtml

Interactive Weather Maker – http://www.scholastic.com/kids/weather/

Weather Wiz Kids - http://www.weatherwizkids.com/index.htm

 

Most importantly, make sure your kids know that you will do everything in your power to keep them safe!!

 

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June 5th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Unique Father’s Day Gifts From Etsy

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Father’s day is right around the corner, and my sisters and I were just discussing what we’re going to get our father this year. It seems that, over the years, it has gotten harder and harder to find gifts for our closest family members. Last month, Kim did a blog post about great mother’s day gifts from Etsy, so I decided to check it out. The great thing about this website is that there really is something for everyone…and you find tons of handmade and unique items you won’t find anywhere else. Here are my top 10 Father’s Day gift ideas from Etsy.

Dad and Baby Dinosaur Matching Tees from Zoey’s Attic

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Personalized Toiletry/Travel Bag from Designs By Daffy

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Custom Photo Keychain from Too Too Posh

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Personalized Leather Wallet and Money Clip Combo from My Personal Memories

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Charging Stand and Valet from Improve Results

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Personalized Grilling Apron Set from Monogram Envy Boutique

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Personalized “Daddy” Picture Frame from Custom Wood Engravings

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Father’s Day Hot Sauce Gift Set from In Nonna’s Kitchen

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Personalized Postcard Pillow from Olive Handmade

(Great for military dads!)

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Guinness Truffles and Dark Chocolate Covered Bacon from Champagne Chocolate

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May 30th, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Encouraging Learning During Summer Vacation

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Just because school has ended doesn’t mean that kids should stop  learning. Summer is a great time to incorporate learning into your everyday plans, and work on skills for the next year.

Use Your Imagination
Summer is a great time for your kids to use their imagination. Play with Legos, dolls, or even stare at the clouds outside. If your children are at an age when they can write, have them keep a journal (it makes a nice keepsake for them to look back on as well).  Make  time to do some of these things with them.

Visit The Library
The library is a great place to explore regularly during the summer. While this is a great place to get reading materials, you can also investigate and learn about things you may encounter. If you are going on a walk in the woods, you may want to pick up a book about wild flowers or insects. There are children’s book clubs or story time events you can join as well.

Take Field Trips
One of my families favorite summer activities is exploring places during our lazy summer days. Take some time to check out nearby parks, wildlife centers, museums and more. There is so much you can learn plus it is a great way to learn about the area you live in.

Worksheets/Coloring Pages Are Fun and Educational
There are some great workbooks available to help your child. Something as simple as a journal or some coloring pages can help them too.

Study Nature And Science
Summer is a great time to learn about science and nature. How do bubbles work? Can the hot sun fry an egg? How do caterpillars turn into butterflies? The list is endless. Use this time to help your children what’s going on in the world around them. If you have a telescope, you can help your child identify constellations and such.

Sing Songs
My boys love music. Even if we are just outside hanging out, we love to listen and sing to music. Sometimes we even dance around. Look for outdoor concerts to enjoy. There is a summertime lunch concert each week in our town that we like to attend and bring a picnic lunch to. It’s nice to get outside and enjoy some culture!

Play Games
We love play card and board games together! Whether it be puzzles, strategy games, or just games of concentration, they are all fun tools for keeping brains sharp and focused.

How do you incorporate learning into your summer days?

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May 26th, 2014 at 9:00 am

Summer Fun Bucket

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One of my favorite things to surprise the kids with is a summer fun bucket! I take a bucket and stuff it with all the fun items we need for summer vacation. Here is a list of fun things to fill your bucket with:

  • Sandals or flip-flops
  • Inner tube or pool float
  • Goggles
  • Beach towel
  • Water balloons
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Fun craft set
  • Tickets to the zoo, pool, or another local attraction
  • Popsicle sticks and dixie cups
  • Water gun
  • Sparklers
  • Journal to document summer activities
  • Water bottle
  • Sandbox toys
  • Frisbee
  • Cards – to play War, Go Fish or other games
  • New coloring book and crayons
  • Sporting items
  • Glo sticks

What other things would you fill your bucket with?

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May 20th, 2014 at 7:58 am

Saving and Sharing Family Memories

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We love our kids’ art. Somewhere in my attic is an artist’s portfolio folder filled to the brim with all of the preschool and kindergarten artwork of my first child. There isn’t one for my second child. Yep, the novelty had worn off by child number 2. Sorry sweetie pie!

Even so, I still have plenty of creations from both of them from their school years. I just can’t bring myself to throw them away. I finally did throw away my daughter’s dinosaur diorama from third grade. She’s 19….

Here are a few apps that let you archive the memories without having to keep the originals.

ArtKive is an lets you take photos of your artwork (or any other items of interest), tag them, upload them, and print photo memory books. The app is free, but the books run $25 for 20 pages.

ArtMyKidMade (free) is similar but links with Dropbox, Evernote or Facebook for storing and sharing.  Anything you share on the Art My Kid Made blog could be featured in their Artist of the Day pick.

Another option is Keepy. This site lets you upload photos, artwork, and other mementos to the site, make recordings that tell the story, and share it all with friends and loved ones, who can also reply or comment with text, voice recordings or videos.

Keepy is free for the first 31 items but also offers premium and ultimate plan options for $1.99/month for 101 images and $2.99/month for unlimited.

So get out those folders, baskets and boxes of fabulous art and get clicking. You now have permission to throw away the originals without guilt. Well, maybe save a few.

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May 19th, 2014 at 8:36 am

Creating On-The-Go Meals

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If your life is anything like mine, in late spring and summer you are always on the go! My biggest struggle with this is trying to create healthy meals  instead of running through the drive-thru of the nearest fast food restaurant. Here are some of my favorite  ways to make dinner fast or even carry it along while on the run.

Sandwiches
Sandwiches are a great go-to for dinner or lunch! I make up a batch of chicken or tuna salad and fill pocket bread or pitas to eat on the run. You don’t even have to make a sandwich necessarily…skip the bread and eat it alone with a fork, or just put the salads in a container and carry along some pretzels or crackers to scoop it up. Sandwiches can be paired with fruits, veggies, crackers or baked chips. Think of different options that your kids may like. Even some cheese on bread makes a good option for picky eaters.

Sometimes for lunch in between activities, a good option is cheese, crackers, and a simple meat (turkey slices, pepperoni, even sausage pieces). Cut up a bunch at the beginning of the week and this makes a fun snack to have in the car.

My kids also love the lunch packs that can be bought at the store. Recreate them for less expensive on-the-go alternatives.

Crock Pot Meals
When I am busy, making a meal in the crock pot is the best way to make a good meal for the evening. Plus, the crockpot won’t warm up the house as much as regular stovetop or oven cooking! Even something as simple as throwing chicken breasts in the crock pot with some cream of celery soup makes some good filling  on a bun. Try this with beef or pork also. Once it has cooked, pull it apart with a fork and make it into sandwiches or with a pre-made side dish.

Freezer Meals
Grab a meal out of the freezer you can cook without preparation, making dinner a little easier. Sometimes a frozen pizza or other frozen meal from the grocery store is okay. Time can slip away when you have a home, family, a job, etc., so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make a healthy dinner every single night! Consider it a “treat” night for the family.

 

Check out these great ideas to organize eating in the car! I will definitely be trying these out…

Cereal Box Meal Tray

Sectioned Muffin Tin

Basket Meal

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May 16th, 2014 at 6:30 am

Coming To Terms With Kid Mess

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Do you feel like you constantly have a mess somewhere in your house?

Is your furniture all scratched or torn?

Are your walls colored on or covered in dirty handprints?

Do you constantly walk on bits of things and need to sweep ALL. THE. TIME?

Do your windows show little hands, nose prints, or even look like someone licked them?

If they are, I know you are a mom. As soon as you clean something up, a little tornado comes behind you and the mess returns.

Does it drive you crazy? It feels like you could clean all day and it doesn’t stay clean for long. As soon as you buy some new stuff, it gets wrecked… so you figure “why bother?” I feel like I struggle with this every day. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and realize that letting those things go will lead to wonderful memories. There will be a day when we will all long for a window to be covered in handprints, a dirty wall, or even toys all over the floor. Take the time now to treasure this time a little more!

 

 

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May 8th, 2014 at 11:10 am

Mother’s Day Experiences

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Mother's DayExperiences

As we get older, it becomes increasingly harder to choose gifts for our parents (or for our own children and significant others to choose gifts for us!). Earlier this week we talked about some unique, handmade gifts for Mother’s Day from Etsy, but sometimes it’s nice to offer a fun or new experience instead of an item. Here are some ideas for experiences you can give your mom (or your children can give you) this Mother’s Day.

  • Homemade Lunch at the Park – Check out some gourmet-style recipes for things like pasta salad and sandwiches, pack a yummy picnic, a blanket and some portable games and treat your mother to lunch in a nice outdoor setting. She’ll appreciate the time you spent preparing, as well as the time she can spend with you!
  • Day at the Spa – Everyone likes a day of relaxation. You can take her for a day at the spa or nail salon, or save money by doing the treatments yourself! It doesn’t have to be professional to be enjoyed…offer a nice manicure/pedicure with massage, or if you’re feeling ambitious, research how to give a good DIY facial or body treatment.
  • Daycation – No matter where you live, there are usually a few nice places to spend a full day that are within a few hours of travel. Plan out a day of fun, whether it be shopping and a special restaurant, a tourist attraction you know she’d love to see, etc. Consider botanical gardens, beaches, zoos, aquariums, museums, etc., and work around that to create a full day of quality time with her.
  • Tasting Menu – You likely know what type of foods and beverages your mother likes best. Treat her to a unique tasting by offering 3 or 4 mini-portioned variations of her favorite things. Include a drink menu, appetizer menu, main course menu and dessert menu. It sounds like a lot of work but it will excite her to try different things. You can always pay for tastings at wineries, breweries and restaurants if you don’t want to make them yourself.
  • Weekend Getaway – Thanks to deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, weekend getaways are more affordable than ever and often come as packages with activities, meals, or credits. There’s something for everyone and it’s nice to treat yourself too!

What experience would YOU love to get for Mother’s Day?

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April 24th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Children, Clothing, and Confidence

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Children, Clothing and Confidence

Children start undressing themselves as early as 12 months old, usually by pulling off their easy-to-reach socks. After 18 months old, they start to show interest in their clothing and might complain when they’re uncomfortable in something, or show favoritism to certain items of clothing. They learn to dress themselves in stages and form opinions about the comfort and style of their clothes.

In our digital brochure, Children, Clothing, and Confidence: Putting It All Together With Garanimals, we discuss how important clothing is to a child’s confidence, and offer tips on knowing when they are ready, how to encourage them, etc.  Garanimals was founded in 1972 based on the idea that there is a connection between a child’s clothing and self-esteem. Well-known psychologist, Dr. Joyce Brothers, stated, “Garanimals…helps the pre-schooler to handle his/her own wardrobe. That sense of ‘I Can’ fosters the child’s growing sense of independence.” Although we no longer utilize the matching tag system from our early days, our entire collection can be easily mixed and matched, allowing kids to dress themselves and feel confident in their abilities, independence, and personal style.

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