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Journal Prompts for December.

Here are some journal prompts for the month of December.  Enjoy!

1. Do a drawing or cut and paste photos of the signs of the Zodiac.  Does you sign suit you?  What is your horoscope.  What are the characteristics of each sign.

2. What are five items you lust after.

3. What does the word honor mean to you?

4. What are your favorite aspects of Winter?

5. Describe the winter scene outside your window.

6.Write out what your holiday menu will be.  Can you add illustrations?  Compare to holidays during other time periods.  What foods would you like to add instead?

7. Describe your favorite cake.

8. What are your favorite Christmas stories and why?

9. Do you like your name? Why?

10. What would you choose as your last meal? Your favorite meal?

Family

Supplies You Need For a Long Car Trip.

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‘Tis the season for long car trips.  You thought they were over when summer ended didn’t you?  Nope, now it’s holidays with the relatives. How long will you be in the car?  How many kids will you have with you?  What are their ages?  Will pets be with you?  Other relatives?

  1. Car charger, lets face it,  I pads and I pods  and everything else in between use up a lot of power. They are the new babysitter whether we like it or not.  For long car trips they are a life saver.
  2. Tissues/Paper Towel.  Kids spill stuff.  Keep your car clean by stocking some paper towel or tissues for spills.
  3. Snacks. Individually packaged of course.  When the kids get upset they are probably hungry.  Throw a few snacks their direction.
  4. Drinks in a cooler. What are snacks without something to wash it down?
  5. Change of Clothes. People spill things on themselves, it gets hot, kids pee themselves, and so on.  A quick change of clothes is never wasted.
  6. Notebook/Pen. You are always thinking of stuff to do, people to contact, chores to do etc.  Write it down!  Let your child draw, exchange info in a traffic accident, draw a map, the possibilities are endless.
  7. Wipes. I keep these in my car year round.  I have two types of wipes.  Once is a wet ones hand wipe.  I use it after I pump gas or go shopping.  Yuck germs. Then I have a windex wipes to keep the car clean as well.
  8. Change. While most places take a credit card, change still is widely used at parking meters, vending machines etc.
  9. Music. If you have ever gone on long car trips before you know where I am going for this.  Certain parts of the country have horrible musical selections!  Satellite Radio is a gift from the gods!  Just remember to print out a channel guide.

Happy Traveling!

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Ideas for Stocking Stuffers.

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Tired of the same old ideas to put into your children’s stockings?  Here is a list of

1. Candy.  Well duh!  Instead of grocery store candy, so to a candy store or family run manufacturer to get unique products.

2. Hair Accessories.  Christmas is a great time to invest in barrettes, ponytail holders and other things as they come in sets!

3. Cards. No, I’m not talking business or credit, but playing cards.  There are still so many games you can play with cards.  Look in your toy section and find a few.

4. Small stuffed animal. So many cute things.

5. Rubik’s Cube. So many cubes are made today with varying degrees of difficulty.

6. Money.  Simple, yet so wanted by all.

7. Cosmetics. Lip balm, lotion, bath bombs, makeup kits, and more make a great stocking stuffer.

8. Small books. A great paperback or a little gift book works great.

9. Coloring books/crayons. You can get very inexpensive ones at the dollar store.

10. Gift cards.  Self-explanatory.

11. Tea or Coco mix.  Good stuff like food or beverage always is welcome.

12. Action figures or Tiny toys. So many things in miniature. Little cars are great!

13. Pens/Pencils. Use for all those books!

Hope these ideas help!  Or you can do the traditional fruit and chocolate coins as well.  What have you gotten in your Christmas Stocking.

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How to Celebrate Saint Nick’s Day.

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Have you ever celebrated Saint Nikolas Day on December 6th?

Growing up in Southeastern Wisconsin in a German family it was celebrated every year. I’d go to school on the 6th and everyone would discuss what Saint Nick had brought them. It was a very big deal.  However, when I moved to another Upper Midwest state no one had ever heard of it.  Here is briefly the story of Saint Nikolas of Myra or jolly old Saint Nick.

The story of Saint Nikolas starts with a real person Saint Nikolas of Myra (270-346 AD) in modern day Turkey.  Nikolas was known for many good works, among which was giving gold to families in their stockings or shoes put by the fireplace or front door.

To commemorate Saint Nick’s generous nature, every year, on December 5th (evening) children put their stockings out for a visit from a more jovial form of the Saint.

In addition to cities with a strong German influence like Milwaukee, the holiday is celebrated by the Catholic and Episcopalian religions, and descendants with Polish, German, Dutch, and Ukrainian heritage.

Typical things left in the stockings include fruit, chocolate coins, and a small gift.  For my stockings, I would put my list for Santa inside the night before and Saint Nick would take it to Santa and leave a few presents to tide me over till the holiday.  The good children receive treats and the bad get nothing or coal.

For my own son I have also kept the tradition of St. Nick.  It’s a fun, magical time for little ones.  While you can have the day be a more religious one, a secular one is also acceptable.  I try to incorporate my German heritage into the holiday season when I can.

My husband once accused me of making up the holiday so I could buy my son more presents!  Nope.  It’s real.  I had to print out articles from the internet to prove it.  Even some of my Catholic friends said it wasn’t a real holiday – until their priest presented it!  I remember giving them a hard time that they are now celebrating a “consumer” holiday.  Of course now they just argue that it is religious one.  Do you celebrate Saint Nicks or do you keep your stockings for Santa on Christmas?

 

 

Family

10 Great Children’s Books.

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I love to read!  I mean LOVE to read!  I have always tried to pass on this love of reading to my son.  I’ve always told him I will buy him as much reading material as possible.  Video games, however, are a different story.  He has to pay for those himself!  He either earns the money through chores or uses money he gets from the holidays.  My personal favorite is when he asks me to come up with a chore that is worth $25.00.  I say to him if there is a chore out there for $25.00, I’m going to do it and keep the money!

We have always had books.  Since Christmas is coming up I’m going to start posting lists of books that children would love.  Giving literature is always a great idea!  So let’s start:

  1. Go Dog Go by Eastman. A short but sweet book about a dog that goes!  Great for a toddler.
  2. Galaxy Zach by O’Ryan (series). This is a great series about a young boy who moves to another planet and goes on many adventures.  Great for 3-5th grades.
  3. Mercy Watson by DiCamillo (series).  If you get one series, get this one.  I bought a set for my son’s second grade teacher.  The students all loved this book.  The even stopped reading a different book when I gave them book 5 of the series.  They wanted to read from this series right away.  Even as an adult I love the story.  I wish the writer Kate DiCamillo would write more about this porcine wonder.
  4. The Giving Tree by Shel Silversteen.  Another great classic book.  A simple but beautiful story about giving and taking geared towards all ages.
  5. The Velveteen  Rabbit by Williams.  This classic children’s book tells what it is like to love and be loved. This book made my son cry.  He then asked me to keep it and never get rid of it.  So this one goes in our permanent collection.
  6. Good Boy Fergus! by Shannon.  Another favorite of my son’s.  He loves the hi jinks of a lovable little dog named Fergus.
  7. No David! by Shannon. My son had to have this book read to him every night!  It’s a very short read, but funny.  David is always being told no by adults.  When you read the book, you’ll know why.
  8. Corduroy by Freeman.  Another great classic children’s book.  This is the story of a little teddy bear who is looking for a home. I read this as a child myself.  Still a great story.
  9. Matilda-by R. Dahl.  One of many great books by the famed children’s author Ronald Dahl. I love this one because of the strong female lead.  An inspiration to little girls everywhere.
  10. The Bear Snores On by Wilson/Chapman. (Series) This is a cute series of books about a bear who is trying to hibernate and his woodland friends.

I hope this list gives you some great ideas of future books for all the children in your life.  What are your favorite children’s books?  Tell us in the comments.

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My Favorite Podcasts.

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Like listening to podcasts?  I think it is a great way to pass the time. I love podcasts.  I listen them in my car, while waiting for a doctors appointment, walking the dog, trying to sleep (I’m an insomniac), and working on my blog.

What podcasts to listen to?  The possibilities are endless.  You look at all the varieties of categories and the breadth of podcasts in each category the possibilities are endless.  What to listen to?  Here are some of my favorite podcasts.  I hope you enjoy!

True Crime Japan. I must admit, I love a mystery. I don’t like gore.  I avoid many crime television shows for that reason.  I don’t like to see people hurt or the evidence of it.  What interests me is why someone disappears.  What is the motivation of someone?  The psychology of it all.  In True Crime Japan, the hosts cover various crimes all commited in the land of the rising sun.  Because Japan’s culture is so unique from that of America’s it’s crimes also take on a different meaning.  Everything from how or why they happen to how they are investigated is unique to the Japanese culture.  I makes me wonder how different things are in say Nigeria, or Chile?  While True Crime Japan does not broadcast a lot it is definately worth subscribing.  Also, their hosts must put a lot of work into research and then translating.  So be patient.  It is worth it to see the unique quirks of a cluture as well as the dark elements not show in the tourist guides.

The Art of Charm. “The Art of Charm” is a broadcast geared towards men.  However, I think the topics they cover apply to both sexes. It is designed to help men improve their social skills thus improving their life. “The Art of Charm” also has a webpage and physical location to ficilitate more learning.  What I love about this podcast is the experts they have in each episode.  You can always go to that person’s website or get their book to learn more.  Past topics include: How to improve memory, how to gain confidence, how to survive a faster furture, and relationship exit stradgey.

The Minimalists.  The minimalists consist of Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus.  Two childhood friends who starting living the minimalist lifestyle.  They have written books, done a documentary, have a weekly podcast and a blog helping others define and live their own minimalist lifestyle.  I like this broadcast because every week it reminds me to evaluate what I own and if I need it.  You hear questions from other listeners and get and give answers to their particular situation.  So take some time and join the minimalist movement.

Stuff Your Mom Never Told You.  This podcast is a cornucopia of various topics. It’s a great way to spend your time. Topics the podcast has looked into in the past include: The Vegetarian Gender (definition of Vegetarian and Vegan and what gender has to do with it), Women of a Certain Age (about the aging process in women), Is Burlesque the same thing as stripping, and What does a feminist look like.  Podcasts are short and too the point.  A great way to spend your listening time.

Thinking Sideways. Okay, this podcast is my guilty pleasure. I love to listen to this one. This podcast examines everything from crime to cryptozoology, aliens to the atomic bomb and everything in between.  The hosts Devin, Joe, and Steve sit down every week to discuss a new topic.  They try to be skeptical but allow for some crazy theories if they are presented as a solution by others.  The hosts are just ordinary people investigating and learning about extraordinary things in our world.  Past topics have included: McCormack Cypher, The Spanish Flu, Dyatlov Pass, Isdal Woman, The Princes in the Tower, The Wow signal, Maura Murry disappearance, Isabella Art Theft, Lord Lucan and Atlantis.  Interested in the strangeness of the world? Give Thinking Sideways a try.

Unfound.  My final recommendation is the podcast called “Unfound.”  It is a missing persons podcast.  Each episode investigates what happened to a missing person before their disappearance and the investigation afterwards.  The story of the missing person is told by someone with firsthand knowledge of the case such as a relative or friend.  The aim of the podcast is to try and solve the disappearance and keep the disappeared in the spotlight.  I think the host does a good job of presenting the facts while showing those left behind compassion and patience.  He not only presents the disappearance but the personality of the disappeared is also presented.  They (the disappeared) are not just a story but real people which sets this podcast apart from others in the genre.