My Books

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

10 Tips on Taking Your Kids to the Ball Park

You're a baseball fan and you'd love to include your kids in your outings to the ball park,.but the thought of corralling your little ones in a confined space for three hours is daunting. Will they be bored? Whiney? Will it be a waste of money?

Your experience at the baseball game will undoubtedly be different with kids than without them. Expect to miss some plays and not be able to tune into the game as much as usual. But it can be an awesome family time that you all enjoy. Here are a few ideas to make your time at the ball park fun and memorable for all of you.
  1. Teach your kids patriotism. Stand, put your hand on your heart, look at the flag, and sing the National Anthem every game. And don't forget to stand, stretch, and sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" or God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch. 
  2. Let your kids take along a toy or two. Our youngest used to take her Fisher Price farm and play with it when she got bored.
  3. Don't worry about dirt. Kids are washable, so if they want to sit on the ground in front of their seat and use it as a table to eat or play, let them. That's where our daughter used to play with her farm and it worked great. Just make sure whatever you put on the seat is heavy enough to hold the seat down so your're not catapulting hot dogs to the row behind you--which, by the way, the kids would want to do over and over.
  4. Listen for the organ music and clap along with the crowd. This keeps the kids involved and active. Whatever fun things are done at the park, participate. Clap, stomp, howl, wave, or do whatever the music calls for. We used to sometimes clap each other's hands in high-five fashion just to switch it up a bit. And don't forget to watch the jumbotron (or whatever your park calls their huge scoreboard) for signals on what's happening. Chase Field in Phoenix where the Arizona Diamondbacks play has a muscle cam where people show off their muscles, a kiss cam when the couple the camera lands on has to kiss, a mustard, ketchup, and relish race where you cheer for your favorite condiment, and lots of other fun stuff.
  5. If your child is getting restless and there's a kid zone or playground in your ball park, visit it. This will give the kids something to look forward to if they're not into the game. And leave the game early if you need to. As your children get older, they'll be able to last longer periods of time if you make this a fun excursion now, rather than a marathon.
  6. Teach the kids how the game is played and where to look for the score.
  7. Let kids make signs to hold up during the game.
  8. Get treats. It's part of the fun of the ball park. Whether it's a hot dog, ice cream, or cotton candy, make it a special outing and splurge a little.
  9. Encourage your kids to yell and cheer. This is really fun for them because they're usually told to quiet down. Now's the time for that outside voice!
  10. Relax. Don't take the game too seriously. Your kids don't need to see you angry at umpires or cussing out players who mess up. Set an example of good sportsmanship.
Above all, have fun with your kids. Laugh. Enjoy the time you spend with them at the ball park because there may come a time they won't want to go with you. Respect their choice. No pressure. No guilt. When they're grown, chances are, they'll remember fondly the times you spent there together and may even take their own kids one day. And if not, so be it. It's just a game. The time you enjoyed together is never wasted.

How about you? Have you taken your kids to sporting events? How did it go? What did you do to make it successful? Any mistakes you hope not to repeat? Let's talk sports!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Favorite Vacation Spots

As I write this, we're on vacation in San Diego, CA. We spent our first evening at Seaport Village, our first day at Sea World, our second at the San Diego Zoo, and today at the Safari Park and Birch Aquarium. Tonight, our last night here, we sat on the beach and watched the sun set while eating ice cream. The sunset wasn't that great because it was a gray day. But we were on Dog Beach and got to watch lots of dogs romp in the sand and surf with their owners. And the ice cream was delicious! It was the perfect ending to a day with our animal loving daughter.

Some of our best vacations have been at the beach. We love the beauty of it, looking for shells, and the versatility it offers. Where else can kids (and Dad!) play in the water or build sand castles while I luxuriate in reading a good book? We also love hitting theme parks and amusement parks. One of my personal favorite vacation activities is visiting lighthouses. I'd love to visit them all some day!

What about you? Where have your favorite family vacations taken place? What do you love to do on vacation? Are there theme parks you'd recommend? Are there some nice, low-key spots your family loves to chill out? Let's talk vacations! 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fun Food!

When my kids were little, they loved to eat food that looked like other things. It made it so much more fun! One of their favorites was hotdog men. They're simple, inexpensive, and are sure to bring a smile!

Cut a hotdog lengthwise about halfway up.

Make lengthwise slices on either side of the uncut half for arms.

Cover and microwave for 30 seconds.Remove. Your hotdog man's arms and legs will be curled out and sometimes the body is a little bent over. Just like real people, no two are alike!

Add a face with mustard or ketchup. Then let your creativity take over. Here are some ideas for decorating your hotdog men--or women!

  • Cut cheese slices for clothes
  • Use a lettuce leaf or a sliced pineapple ring for a skirt
  • Use shredded or canned squirt cheese for hair
  • Cut black olives for shoes
  • Make a hat from chips
  • Add whole cloves, raisins or chocolate chips for buttons.
The possibilities are endless! Kids love to decorate their own hotdogs. Who doesn't like to play with their food? 

How would you decorate your hotdog man? What other fun food ideas have you done with your kids? 


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dealing with Teen Homework Stress

At the end of the school year, high school kids have so many projects due, papers to write, and tests to take, it can become stressful and overwhelming for them--and for parents.This picture pretty much describes how I'm feeling at this time of year. I can't imagine how the students feel!

So how can you support your student as he finishes out the year? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Be available. This doesn't mean you have to be in the same room helping with the homework. But it does mean you're in the house, ready to assist if needed. Or even if your help isn't needed, just having you around makes him feel less alone. I remember my mom staying up late into the night, just lying on my bed as I finished a paper in high school. It made me feel supported, like I wasn't having to go it alone.

2. Provide encouragement. Check in with your child from time to time to see how it's going. Take them a snack or something to drink. Without actually doing the work for them, ask if there's anything you can do to help. Offer praise for her perseverance and tenacity. 

3. Allow breaks. The mind can work only so long before it starts zoning out. Schedule some breaks to avoid those unproductive times. After a couple hours of hard work, give your teen 15-30 minutes to check his Facebook page, take a shower, or get a snack. Then he'll be more refreshed and ready to tackle the books again.

4. Provide rewards. When your teen has finished her paper or is done studying for the test, reward her for her hard work. Take her out for ice cream or to her favorite coffee shop. She'll know that her efforts haven't gone unnoticed.

5. Pray for your child. This one probably should have been at the top of the list! Praying for your child reminds him that he has a higher power at work for him. What to include in your prayers? I pray that my child will remember the things he's studied, that he'll include all the necessary elements in a paper to get a good grade, that he'd do his best, not just the bare minimum, and that God would honor his efforts. For especially hard subjects, I pray that God would give my child a mind that would understand that subject. 

At the end of this week, my girl will be done with another year of school. I can't wait for summer! How about you? Are your kids out of school already? Or are you still slogging through end of the year school projects? What are your summer plans? 

I'd love to hear from you!