Parents: Stop Going Overboard On Birthday Parties!

Birthday Parties Were Once Rare When did it become the new normal for parents to plan big birthday bashes for their kids, costing hundreds of dollars each year?

Growing up in the 1980's, it was a rare thing for someone to have a birthday party.  For those lucky few who did, it was a casually thrown-together affair at their homes, consisting of chips and cake.  Seldom was anything epic like pizza served.  Guests brought small token gifts, never exceeding five dollars.  Extravagant parents hosted parties at McDonald's, long before play equipment was even installed.
We didn't realize how rough we had it--because we didn't.
Birthday Parties Are Now Entitlements Today, parents shower their kids with birthday parties on a yearly basis, starting at age one when the parties won't even be remembered.
Is it about celebrating their children or competing with other parents?
It certainly seems like parents are trying to out-do each other, as if their social media feeds depend on…

4 Soups to Make This Winter

Few people crave soup during the summer months, but a steaming bowl in winter is comforting and warms you from head to toe.

It can be a challenge to find a delicious soup recipe that isn't complicated, requires simple ingredients, and can come together in a snap.  Here are four you will want to try.
1.  Chicken Noodle Soup There have been countless spins on this homemade classic, but it's a soup that tastes best when you take a "less is more" approach.  You won't find any fancy ingredients or spices in this one, and its simplicity is what makes it traditional and delicious! Ingredients Servings: 6 3-4 chicken thighs, boiled, separated from bone, and shredded3 medium carrots, sliced1 stick celery, diced1 small onion, diced3 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth1 teaspoon chicken base1 teaspoon parsley8 oz. uncooked egg noodlesDirectionsPlace chicken thighs in soup pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover pot and boil on low until tender, about 25-30 minutes.  Remove t…

Smart Christmas Gifts for Kids

What do your kids want for Christmas?

The latest smartphone, iPad, tablet, or video game?

Kids love technology, but excessive screen time is damaging their ability to socially engage, deal with delayed gratification, and use their imaginations to create limitless fun.

High tech has its benefits and is here to stay, but that doesn't mean parents have to allow their kids to be consumed by it.  Forget keeping up with the Jones's--stand up to the societal pressure to conform.  Just because other parents are indulging their kids in electronics and devices doesn't mean you should too.

It's your job to look out for your kids' best interests, so invest in gifts they will not only love, but that will boost their creativity and harness their natural curiosity, interests, and strengths.
S.T.E.M. Gifts Science, technology, engineering, and math are the career paths of the future.  You can help your kids prepare for success with toys and interactive gifts that meet their need f…

Pre-Holiday Purging: Time to Make Room

Stores are brimming with irresistibly hot buys.  Toys are flying off the shelf, and you're frantically trying to find time to finish snagging what you've selected from a pile of wish lists.

Maybe you've avoided the crowds and shopped online this year.

What have you been eyeing?  A sparkly sweater?  A new kitchen gadget?  Do you even have room for one more thing?

Do your kids want toys that take up too much space?

Mary and Joseph were turned away from an inn because there was no room for them--maybe if the innkeeper just cleared out a backlogged room, he could have changed the whole story!  If you have family staying with you this Christmas, make room. 

It can take a few hours or an entire weekend (though extra time is scarce this time of year) to perform a much needed pre-holiday purge, but you can enlist the whole family to help.
Select Targets For Your Pre-Holiday Purge Depending on your clutter volume, you might become overwhelmed and short-circuit before you start.  

Are You Carving a Pumpkin This Year?

If your kids are grown, chances are your pumpkin carving days are over.  You've passed the ceremonial carving kit to the next generation.

Maybe your kids are old enough to start carving their own pumpkins so you can at least be done with scooping goop.

If your kids are small, you're still stuck with the job.
Choosing the Perfect Pumpkin Where do you go to choose your perfect pumpkin?
Some take seasonal hay rides that stop by a pumpkin patch brimming with pumpkins of all sizes, colors, shapes, and textures.  Smoother surfaces are ideal for pumpkin painting, but bumpy pumpkins are loaded with character.    
Other families visit a local farmer's market to peruse the pumpkin harvest options.

Avid gardeners might grow their own pumpkins.

Of course, grocery stores and home improvement places like Home Depot carry an ample stock, and it's very convenient to swing in and snag one to save time.

Selecting a Pumpkin Face The Internet is filled with printable stencils to help you…

Family Fall Scavenger Hunt

Enjoy the Great Outdoors
There's no better time than fall to gather the family and head outside for a fun adventure.  It's not too hot, the bugs aren't as bothersome, and the scenery is gorgeous.  God has painted a colorful fall masterpiece once again.

Fall Scavenger Hunt Kids love discovery, and nature provides a captivating classroom.
For a family scavenger hunt, pack up your family and head to a nature park or local pond, or you can simply explore your own back yard or neighborhood to find all the items on your list.
You can make your own scavenger hunt list, including items like acorns, scarecrows, pumpkins, moss, squirrels, and pine cones, or find one online.
Equip your nature hunters with pencils to scratch off items from their list.  For a fun fall craft after the hunt, they will also need a paper or plastic grocery bag to collect materials such as leaves, walnuts, acorns, small sticks, small rocks, pine cones, and other non-poisonous items that catch their eye.


4 Types of Fall Decorators: Which One Are You?

Everyone has their own taste when it comes to decorating in October, but styles typically fall into one of four categories.  Read on to discover your type--you will have a chance to vote at the end.

1.  Fall Festival This type of decorator doesn't like creepy Halloween decorations and sticks with harvest imagery like pumpkins, scarecrows, straw bales, mums, and corn shocks.
For them, it's a celebration of fall--the harvest, colorful changing leaves, and cooler temperatures.  It's about cozy decorations inside and out, wearing long sleeves again, sipping hot cider, and cooking a plethora of foods containing pumpkin.

If you bedeck your front lawn and porch with pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn, you know squirrels and other wildlife can't resist stealing a nibble.  
Here's a tip to keep curious and hungry pests from ruining your pricey ornaments.  Spray your pumpkin and gourds with aerosol hairspray.  Next, pour white vinegar to make a perimeter.  After that, sprinkle…