Saturday, January 3, 2015

FREE Life Science Curriculum For Kids

Here is a terrific science curriculum for elementary-aged children. The life science course is FREE to download. It covers everything from biomes, life cycles, senses to body organs, classifications and health. It is written in a very engaging format and my kids have really enjoyed the course. I download and print out the pages and put them into a binder so it makes a handy science textbook. Whether you homeschool or not, this curriculum as well as the paid science courses are well worth the time. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FREE Disney Autographs

A fun surprise for your child is a Disney photo and autograph. All you have to do is send a request to one of the addresses below asking for a certain character's autographed photo and maybe a line or two about why you like that particular character (it makes them feel good)! At this time, the requests must be made by old-fashioned snail mail. I would definitely plan ahead if you are wanting the autograph by a certain date. The turn around time is weeks to months.

Walt Disney Company
Attn: Fan Mail Department
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

Attn: Character Name
Walt Disney World Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL  32820

I would send it to both addresses and see which one responds faster. It is also a good idea to include the child's name as they might even personalize it for them! A great treat for your little Disney fan!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Crockpot Italian Beef Hoagies

Italian Beef Hoagies are an easy crockpot recipe that are fabulous as a winter/fall dinner idea and wonderful reheated as leftovers. Add a salad and a simple meal is complete.I highly recommend using a sirloin tip roast as some other cuts of beef may be too fatty.

14-16 servings
1 boneless sirloin tip roast (about 3-4 pounds)
2 envelopes Italian salad dressing mix
2 cups of water
Sub or hoagie buns

1. Cut roast in half and place in a 5-quart crockpot.
2. Combine the salad dressing mix and water and pour over the roast.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until the meat is tender and can be easily shredded with a fork.
4. Spoon onto buns with condiments of your choice.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

5 Steps To Organizing A Closet Purge

What do you think when you take a peek in your closet? Is it pristine with everything in its place? Or do the organization fairies need to pay a visit? I know for myself when I am trying to get ready in the morning, it is much less stressful with everything in its logical place. Not knowing where a certain piece of clothing might be located or scrounging around on the floor looking for that missing shoe would not be the way I enjoy starting my day. Make the start of a new year the beginning of a  renewed organization in your home. The closet is a good place to start because it often becomes quite the dumping ground for many things we can no longer use or wear. I have narrowed the organization of a closet purge into 5 easy steps that will take you an afternoon to complete.

1) Before taking anything out of the closet, take a close look at how you might want to go about re-organizing. Will you need a new method of storing shoes? How much shelf space do you think you might have after purging? Are winter and summer clothes stuffed into the same space? Take a few moments to consider how things are arranged now and what changes you might want to make.

2) Start removing everything from the clothing rods. Make three piles- definitely keep, definitely get rid of, need to check fit/style. Once you have finished, go through the need to check pile while you are motivated and just really look those items over. Are they out of style? Are they no longer the right size with little chance of being the right size anytime soon? If you haven't worn it for a year, the chances that you will start to wear it are slim. Put it in the definitely get rid of pile.
Now you should have the "keep" clothes and "get rid of" clothes. Here is where things can get dicey. Don't put the "get rid of" clothes back in the closet thinking you will take care of them later. This rarely happens. Somehow, they just start cluttering up the closet once again. Box them up and either put them in the car for a trip to Goodwill, donate them to a clothing bank or remove them into the garage/attic for the next garage sale.

3)  Now tackle the floor and upper shelving. Take all of the shoes and items off the floor. Repeat the clothing purge with the shoes. Have a box, empty laundry basket or trash can on hand to remove miscellaneous items that have made their way onto your closet floor. Pack up those items that really don't belong in your closet for distribution to their rightful homes throughout your house. Or, take the easy way and throw things away. If it is broken or missing pieces that have little chance of being found, pitch it!

4) Everything should be out of the closet and divided into piles based on what you plan to do with it. Take this opportunity to thoroughly sweep out the area, wipe down the clothing rods, get new hangars, bins or shoe racks and change the lightbulbs in your closet area. Improving the lighting can make a huge difference!

5) Start organizing the shelving and floors with shoes, scarves, belts etc. Make a concerted effort to make these items as manageable as possible. Decide how you would like your clothes organized- by season, function (work, casual, sports), or color. Try to stick with the organizational method you have decided upon as you put the clothes back. It will really make putting outfits together so much easier.

Your closet should look much improved at this point! Having an organized closet area truly does help to reduce an area of stress for many people. Plus, getting rid of things that you will no longer use can be a huge blessing to others when you donate these items.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas Light Extravaganza

Christmas light displays can be so much fun for the whole family to enjoy. What a wonderful time for the family to appreciate Christmas together and make memories for years to come.There are several around the southwestern Ohio area that are great for adults and kids alike.While I have focused on several of these events, you can use the Christmas light finder website to find local displays in your area.

I really enjoy Woodland Lights. The lighted path, rides, reindeer,carriage rides and visits with Santa add to the Christmas spirit, plus it is reasonably priced.

Clifton Mills is another beautiful light display and while a little more expensive, it truly is unique with a dancing light show synchronized to music. They also have a miniature village and Santa museum.

The Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights is always a wonderful and festive display. It is quite beautiful; however, it can also be very crowded, particularly on the weekends. If you can arrive earlier in the afternoon and enjoy the animals while already being in the zoo before it gets dark, your chances of encountering less crowd and stress will be greatly reduced!

The Christmas Ranch near Cincinnati was featured on Good Morning America and HGTV. Visit the website for more details on all they have to offer.

In Sharonville (near Cincinnati), you can enjoy a drive-thru display at The Holiday In Lights at Sharon Woods. There is also a Santaland where you can venture out of your car and enjoy some Christmas festivities.

Monday, December 1, 2014

25 Classic Family Christmas Shows/Movies

Spending the weeks leading up to Christmas with some of our favorite classic yuletide shows and movies is a fun tradition. Many of these shows/movies can be found quite inexpensively online for purchase or watch on YouTube/Netflix/Amazon Prime. Grab some Christmas snacks and a few blankets and cozy up on the sofa with the family for some holiday cheer.
I have included one show/movie for each day leading up to Christmas.

1) Charlie Brown Christmas
2) Elf
3) Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas
4) Frosty the Snowman
5) Muppet Christmas Carol
6) The Polar Express
7) Miracle on 34th Street
8) It's A Wonderful Life
9) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
10) A Christmas Story
11) Mickey's Christmas Carol
12) Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
13) Home Alone
14) The Santa Clause
15) The Little Drummer Boy (animated)
16) White Christmas
17) Twas the Night Before Christmas (animated 1974 show)
18) The Dog That Saved Christmas
19) Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (animated)
20) A Very Brady Christmas
21) Prancer
22) Arthur Christmas
23) Jingle All The Way
24) The Snowman (animated)
25) The Nativity Story

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wild Waterparks: An Indoor Adventure

Today's post includes some options for indoor waterparks, particularly in the Great Lakes area, although most sections of the country now will have an indoor waterpark or two. When the weather turns cold, why not spend a night or two and enjoy some summertime temps.

One of my favorite indoor waterparks is Great Wolf Lodge, with locations scattered throughout the country. I like the multitude of things for the kids to do and it has always been very clean. Of course, it is going to be more crowded and expensive during the school breaks and weekends, but if you can swing going during an off-week or on a weekday night, it becomes much more affordable. We always try to do a Sunday night-Monday day combination right after the spring break rush and it is fairly deserted. The kids ask to go there all the time and there really is something for all ages. If you sign up for their mailing list you will get savings offers in the regular mail or thru email.

Another popular destination in our neck of the woods is CoCoKey Resort, which can be found in many places around the country as well.  While smaller than Great Wolf, it is not quite as expensive and day passes are also offered. The only caveat to the day pass being that it could also be more crowded since people would not have to stay overnight at the hotel. They have plenty to do for younger kids and older kids so it is perfect if you have a large age-range in your family. This link gives a list of most of the Coco Key locations.

Of course, the granddaddy of all indoor waterparks would be Kalahari in Sandusky, Ohio. There are also locations in the Wisconsin Dells and Pennsylvania. I know the Ohio location used to be and might still be the largest indoor waterpark in the country. Beautiful place to stay and lots to keep the kids busy, perhaps even a little extra for the more adventurous kids. My children were in awe of how big it was and they enjoyed the outdoor animal park and safari theme.