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Archive for the ‘winter’ tag

February 24th, 2014 at 8:31 am

Keeping Your Kids Active When Stuck Inside

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This winter has been an extremely long one for my family.  Living in Wisconsin, most days the temperatures aren’t even hitting zero, so playing outside isn’t always an option and we have had to get inventive to help rid the boys of their never-ending energy.  I want to share some ideas with you to get some physical activity into your children’s day when you are stuck inside.

Do you have a room big enough to blow up that bouncy house inside? We move all our furniture out of the way and on our “cold” days when school was canceled we ran the house inside. The boys had hours of fun jumping up and down.

My parents have a heated sunroom that is covered with tile. When the kids were infants and toddlers we would sometimes blow up a baby pool on a sunny day and fill with some warm water. Stick on the boys swim trunks and its time to go swimming, or at least splash around.

If you have a basement in your house, there are so many great things you can do!  Hang some swings from the ceiling joists and bring outdoor fun inside. Also, if you have a lot of empty room in the basement bring in bikes, scooters, or even roller skates. I used to love roller skating through our basement growing up. The basement is a great place to practice dribbling a basketball and if you have decent ceiling height you may even be able to perfect your jump roping skills! Also, if you have a cement floor and accessible floor drain play with sidewalk chalk or even draw a hopscotch or foursquare area.

As moms, we like to limit our children’s electronics time. I don’t mind a little extra time though when they are playing active games. My kids love to use the WiiFit or play Just Dance. If you don’t have these it is just as easy to find some Just Dance videos on You Tube or run a family exercise class using online exercise videos. One night we had a competition to see who could plank the longest. Needless to say, I did not win.

Get inventive when trying to keep active and wear out some of that energy while the Polar Vortex takes over. We are in the home stretch; Spring is right around the corner.

How do you stay active inside?

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

 

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December 26th, 2013 at 8:37 am

Winter Birthday Party Ideas

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I consider myself a winter baby because my birthday is in December. I was always jealous of my friends with summer birthdays because they were able to have fun warm weather birthday parties at the beach, pool or water parks. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve realized that winter birthday parties can be just as fun! Here are some ideas you can try for your winter babies:

Theme Ideas:

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You can do a general “winter” theme or you can focus on certain ideas. Some options are snowmen, snowflakes, penguins, mittens and hot cocoa, Jack Frost, etc. There are endless possibilities for these themes when it comes to decorations, activities, food, etc. This snowman theme from Setting The Mood brings everything together!

Invitations:

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Get creative and save money with DIY invitations. Use a mix of media (glitter, cotton balls, etc.)…whatever you can find that works with the theme. For inspiration, check out these popsicle stick snowflake invitations from Parenting.com.

Food and Treats:

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The main food element is up to you…it really depends on what you think all the little picky eaters will eat, but winter parties are never short of yummy treats! You can do s’mores (with parental supervision), a hot cocoa bar (like the one above from Heidi’s Recipes), candy canes, marshmallow snowmen, decorated sugar cookies, etc.

Activities:

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This is where it get’s fun! Some great activities for winter parties are:

  • Snowman building contest (above photo from TravelMuse)
  • Snowflake/snowmen crafts
  • Sugar Cookie Decorating
  • Movie time (Jack Frost, Frosty the Snowman, and so many others!)
  • Snowball toss
  • Winter scavenger hunt
  • Pin the nose on the snowman
  • “Freeze” dance

Is your little one a winter baby? Share YOUR party ideas with us on our Facebook Page!

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December 18th, 2013 at 10:19 am

Outfit of the Week

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For those of us dealing with the winter weather, hats, gloves and thick coats have made their appearance! That’s why it’s the perfect time to put your little ones in our winter-themed collection for infant/toddler girls! These adorable sets feature a long-sleeved thermal henley, ribbed-waist pants and a layered graphic tee! Each graphic tee has a winter scene with a cute bear, penguin, owl, or a little girl in their OWN cold-weather gear!

You can find these sets in Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com!

Winter Owl Set 

Winter Penguin Set

Winter Girl Set

Winter Bear Set  

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January 25th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Groundhog Day: February 2

Here in Chicago, we’ve had a relatively mild start to winter. The forecast for February 2 is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 44°F. That’s a far cry from last year, when we celebrated Groundhog Day with the 2011 blizzard, the third largest snowfall in recorded history.

Groundhog Day itself has a longer, more illustrious history than recorded weather. It’s been celebrated in America since 1887. Legend has it that each February 2, Punxsutawney Phil (the official groundhog) comes out of his den, checks out the weather and predicts the future. If he sees his shadow, he heads back into his den and we can expect six more weeks of winter. If not, he stays out and spring is allegedly right around the corner.

This all sounded like a lot of hooey to me, remnants of the 1993 Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. But when I did my research, the origins of looking for shadows in midwinter stretch back to Europe and the Christian celebration of Candlemas.

Churches would hand out candles to parishioners on Candlemas, the midpoint between winter and spring. Many nursery rhymes surround the custom of looking for shadows to predict the length of winter. One version goes like this:

If Candlemas be fair and bright, 
Winter has another flight. 
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, 
Winter will not come again.

These days, Phil and his home town of Punxsutawney, PA, have become a tourist industry. Thousands travel to the town northwest of Pittsburgh to see Phil do his bit at Gobblers Knob. But what about all the other, non-famous groundhogs?

Groundhogs (also known as woodchucks) are rodents native to the eastern US and most of Canada. They’re big diggers, burrowing elaborate dens that can have many chambers. Farmer’s consider them pests, as their burrowing and eating habits can harm equipment and devastate crops.

Here in Chicago, we don’t put a lot of stock in predictions from a groundhog, a meteorologist, or even a calendar. Whether or not Phil sees his shadow next week, we’ve got a lot of winter ahead, and we’ll be lucky if it’s over by the first day of spring, March 20—a little more than six weeks after Groundhog Day.

Related Picture Books

Groundhog Day! by Gail Gibbons
Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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January 18th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Winterizing for Pets

Here in Chicago, we went from 57° last week to the low 20s° with 10 inches of snow in less than 24 hours. Some of us were thinking (hoping?) that winter might stay away this year, but no such luck. So we have hauled out the boots, shovels and gloves, and are digging in for a long winter.

Many of the same issues that plague humans during cold winter weather can be troublesome for pets, too. Here are a few tips for winterizing for your animals.

Cold, dry outdoor air and warm, dry indoor air can both cause problems. When the heat is on all day, it can cause dry skin. Invest in a good humidifier, and keep it clean, filled, and running. Reptiles and amphibians will probably need more misting during winter months, so monitor humidity levels with a good gauge.

Protect against dehydration. That same dry air that makes you thirsty all winter can cause dehydration in your pets. Keep water bowls clean and filled.

Space heaters can be dangerous for pets. Don’t leave pets unattended around space heaters. Take care with the placement of space heaters around cages, so they don’t cause dangerous hot spots, and be sure to keep space heaters clear of flammable materials, such as pet bedding.

Take care of your pet’s paws. Cold weather and wet paws can cause chapping. Use salt-free and chloride-free ice melting products on your sidewalks and driveway. Wash and dry your dog’s paws after a walk. Booties can help protect the paw pads on long walks, and you can use petroleum jelly to prevent or ease chapping.

Never leave a pet locked in a car during winter. Temperatures in a car can drop very quickly in cold weather, leaving your pet vulnerable to exposure. An idling car is equally dangerous, allowing toxic carbon monoxide to build up in your vehicle.

Maintain proper cage and tank temperatures. Many of us set back our thermostats at night or when everyone is away during the day to save on heating bills. Some pets, such as lizards, fish, and some small mammals, don’t handle this kind of temperature dip very well. You can still save money dialing down the thermostat if you provide auxiliary heating for your pets, such as an under-tank heater, a ceramic heater or an infrared bulb. Be sure to use a true infrared bulb, not just a red light bulb, and discuss the best auxiliary heater for your pet with your veterinarian or local pet expert.

Limit outside time when temperatures dip below freezing. Talk to your groomer about keeping your pet’s coat a little longer in the winter, or buy a sweater. Keep outdoor activities short, but don’t skimp on exercising your pet just because it’s cold. The ASPCA offers several tips for winter pet exercise.

Keep toxic chemicals out of pet’s reach, including ice-melting agents, anti-freeze, and poisonous house plants.

A little preparation will keep you and your pets warm, safe and dry all winter long.

Related Picture Books

Frederick by Leo Lionni
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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January 4th, 2012 at 10:44 am

Hibernation

After the holidays, I kind of wish I was one of those animals that went into hibernation for the rest of the winter. Sadly, I think my family would protest, but the idea did pique my interest about those lucky creatures who do get to sleep the winter away. Here’s what I found.

Hibernation, a special adaption for surviving cold winters, is a kind of deep sleep, where the animal’s body temperature drops, its metabolism, heartbeat, breathing and brain activity slow, and it burns very few calories. Some animals are true hibernators, dropping their body temperature to match the surrounding air, and lowering their heart rates to just a few beats a minute. Other animals take long naps, lowering their body temp a few degrees, but waking briefly to eat food that they have stored in their burrows or caves.

Some warm-blooded hibernators include: badgers, bats, (some) bears (kind of), chipmunks, dormice, groundhogs, ground squirrels, hamsters, hedgehogs, marmots, prairie dogs, raccoons, skunks, swifts, and woodchucks.

But wait a minute, I can hear you say that your hamster doesn’t hibernate. That’s probably true. Conditions have to be just right for hibernation. A significant drop in temperature is one of the requirements. If you lower the temperature in your home below 65°, pets that are natural hibernators can begin to hibernate, which is not good for them in captivity. Be sure to discuss how to maintain the proper temperature for your pet with your veterinarian or local pet expert.

Animals that hibernate begin preparing by putting on layers of fat during the summer and fall. In seasons where food is scarce, hibernating animals may not store enough fat to survive the winter.

Cold-blooded animals (such as bees, earthworms, frogs and toads, lizards, snails, and snakes) go into a deep sleep-like state both when it is too cold (hibernation) and when it is too hot (estivation). I’m beginning to think my oldest son might be cold blooded, because he has similar sleep habits.

Even if you and your cubs can’t hibernate all winter long, there will be plenty of days when you can snuggle together under the covers and read a book or two. Here are a couple of books that will help you explore the winter habits of animals with your little ones.

Picture Book Recommendations

Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows
Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart

Photo credit: Snowy Red House and Fence by Allen McGregor via a Creative Commons license.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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