You’re Going to Want to Remember This: Tips for Preserving Family Lore

Our families – made up of generations of stories – are like a treasure trove of golden moments just waiting to be heard.

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]S[/su_dropcap]tories have been told since the dawn of time. Under a starry sky. Beside a crackling fire. Snuggled in blankets, heads on pillows. Around a dinner table, silverware softly clinking on plates.

Stories are the glue that fastens the past to the present with meaningful purpose. Sometimes we don’t even know how powerful a story is until we hear it released from our own lips or those of a family member. Whispered in a secret hush, hollered aloud like a gust of wind, excitement, and energy bestowed on every word, stories are magic. Telling a story is like opening up a plain old tin can without a label. No one knows what’s inside, but everyone is dying to find out.
I have always loved hearing the stories of my grandparents. One of my favorites is about my Grandpa as a teenager. He worked in a bakery and, to woo my grandma, he made a giant heart out of bread dough. He delivered it to her hot from the oven early one morning and left it on her doorstep.bread baked into heart shape
I imagine younger versions of them – my jolly grandpa nervously delivering his heart-bread to my bold and sassy grandma. I picture her smiling and laughing when she opened her door that day.
Storytelling not only remembers the consequential history of our grandparents, and their grandparents, but it also connects us to each other in the present. Stories weave us into a place of sharing in ways that we otherwise might never experience together – laughter, joy, fear, sorrow, excitement, silliness, love, hope.
We are all storytellers. Anyone who has taken a walk, gone to school, kissed a girl, gotten a job, taken a trip, lost a tooth, lost a friend, or played a sport, has a story to tell. Children want to hear it all. They want to know deeply the people they love the most.

mother telling daughter bedtime storyDocument and pass down your family stories

There are many ways to document or record your family stories. Spend a long winter or spare evening sifting through devices and albums and create a photo book that incorporates family lore and history. For even more nostalgia, record stories and preserve the sounds of family across multiple generations. The Voiceshare App by Wavhello is a great way to record songs, stories, and messages from loved ones. The audio clips can be stored, organized, and played remotely for your child using the cuddly Soundbub Bluetooth speaker. Tell stories together at your next family gathering to create long-lasting audio mementos.

Audio Memento prompt

Ask everyone the same question about another member of the family: What is the funniest thing grandma has ever done? What do all the cousins claim as their favorite memory with Auntie Jane? What are your hopes and dreams for new little Baby? 

 
Wavhello Soundbub and Voiceshare app voice recording

Parent Co. partnered with WavHello because they believe in the bonding power of storytelling.

[su_spacer size=”40″][/su_spacer]

Need help getting started?

Story Prompts

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

Stories about family history
[smartslider3 slider=33]

[su_spacer size=”30″][/su_spacer]

Stories about Experiences
[smartslider3 slider=34]
[su_spacer size=”30″][/su_spacer]
Stories about people
[smartslider3 slider=35]
[su_spacer size=”30″][/su_spacer]

Stories about “how?” and “why?”
[smartslider3 slider=37]
[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

family and pets celebrating stories and lore

How to tell a story

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

[su_service title=”Start with a question and answer it.” icon=”icon: arrow-right” icon_color=”#2eb370″ size=”22″][/su_service]
[su_service title=”Feed all the senses” icon=”icon: arrow-right” icon_color=”#2eb370″ size=”22″]Explain sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste with details. [/su_service]
[su_service title=”Make it funny.” icon=”icon: arrow-right” icon_color=”#2eb370″ size=”22″]Kids love silliness! Anything gross will get their attention.[/su_service]
[su_service title=”Tell kids stories about them.” icon=”icon: arrow-right” icon_color=”#2eb370″ size=”22″][/su_service]
[su_service title=”Remember your childhood.” icon=”icon: arrow-right” icon_color=”#2eb370″ size=”22″]Your kids only know you and your parents as adults. A two-minute description of the time you went down a giant waterslide and lost your bathing suit is just as good as a long love story. [/su_service]
[su_service title=”Triumphs and failures make for great stories. ” icon=”icon: arrow-right” icon_color=”#2eb370″ size=”22″]Tell about when you were the same age as your kids. How did you see the world? What kinds of things did you do (e.g. set traps for the tooth fairy, bury treasure in your backyard)? [/su_service]
Memories are stories. The more you start sharing them, the more you remember, and the more stories you’ll want to share!

Everyone has a story

We might not think our own stories are exciting or interesting. But the truth is that they are each uniquely and meticulously created over time and with fascinating detail. Each experience and emotion, each interaction we have ever known, is important.
Our families – made up of generations of stories – are like a treasure trove of golden moments just waiting to be heard. Loves and losses, triumphs and falls, trips of adventure and times of sticking around and holding on tight. Relationships close and far, deep and distant, short and long lasting. How amazing to hear them all!

[su_slider source=”media: 321684,321682,321681,326559″ limit=”80″ link=”custom” target=”blank” width=”400″ height=”200″  title=”no” arrows=”no” pages=”no” autoplay=”6000″ speed=”200″]

Parent Co. partnered with WavHello because they believe in the bonding power of storytelling.

 
[su_spacer size=”40″][/su_spacer]

How to Encourage Failure With a Cheap At-Home Science Lab

Your kids don’t have to have their own Menlo Park to practice in. You can set up their first scientific failures with just one trip to a big box store.

You thought it would be a parenting moment worthy of Instagram Stories. But after you and your kids bought all the ingredients and mixed them together … nothing.
You didn’t do anything wrong. You’re just not done with your experiment yet.
One of the problems of Pinnable science project “recipes” is that parents and kids have all forgotten that experiments take time and careful repetition. Although there’s no formal record of how many attempts Edison needed to perfect a commercially-viable light bulb, there are plenty of false quotes attributed to him, nearly all of which emphasize the following: every new attempt of an experiment shouldn’t be viewed as a failure, but as one step in the long process of discovery.
Your kids don’t have to have their own Menlo Park to practice in. You can help set up their first scientific failures with just one trip to your preferred big box store. A well-stocked workbench will give you sufficiently large amounts of supplies so that you can test variants of each activity – what explodes, what flops, and what truly surprises you.

Equipping your lab

All conscientious scientists need a clean and organized workspace, so you’ll want to stock up on paper towels and bleach wipes. If you prefer an easier post-experiment clean-up, you may also want to buy disposable plastic cups and plates to use as your lab’s “glassware.”
The baking aisle offers lots of cheap ingredients for experiments, including the classic baking soda and vinegar. But there’s plenty to find in the produce, cleaning, and pharmacy sections, too. Scroll to the bottom for a good starter list.
Many science projects are masquerading as “experiments”: they tell you how much of each ingredient to use and then walk you through how to use them. But to have a true experiment, you need variables. That’s why you’ll only find rough proportions below. It’s your job to experiment and find which amount works best.

1 | Sandwich bombs

Requires:

  • baking soda
  • white vinegar
  • plastic snack bag
  • plastic sandwich bag

Forget volcanos. These sandwich bombs will give your kids a little more agency in designing and testing their own experiments. Pour baking soda into the sandwich bag and leave open. Pour vinegar into the snack bag and seal to close. Place the sealed snack bag inside the sandwich bag and close the sandwich bag. Then hit the snack bag to pop it open. As the baking soda and vinegar mix, the sandwich bag will begin to expand.

Variables

Change the amount of baking soda and/or vinegar to develop your best sandwich bomb recipe. You can also experiment with the size of the bags, using gallon and sandwich bags to make bigger sandwich bombs.

2 | Elephant toothpaste

Requires:

  • an empty plastic bottle
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • liquid dish soap
  • a small paper cup
  • warm water
  • yeast

In the empty plastic bottle, mix the hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap. In the small paper cup, mix the warm water and yeast. The next part is a bit easier to do if you have a funnel, but if not you can always pinch your small paper cup to form a spout. Add the yeast solution to the plastic bottle and stand back!

Variables

Change the amount of yeast, soap, and hydrogen peroxide to see what combination will give you the foamiest results. The hydrogen peroxide you can buy at big box stores is likely to be 3 percent, but if you stop at a beauty store you may be able to find 6 percent. Check out Science Bob to see what happens if you get the lab-quality stuff.

3 | Expanding soap

Requires:

  • bars of soap
  • paper or plastic plates

This is the simplest experiment on the list. Unwrap a bar of soap, put it on a plate, put the plate in the microwave, turn on the microwave, and see what happens!

Variables

Although the experiment is simple, it offers a valuable lesson about trusting what you read on the internet. If you google around for this one, you’ll see that Ivory soap is the only acceptable bar for this experiment. A budding young scientist might buy every other brand and publish a thorough review debunking those claims.

4 | Bouncy egg

Requires:

  • egg
  • vinegar
  • mason jar

This experiment is a great lesson in patience, because it takes seconds to set up but days to complete. Add the egg to a mason jar and pour in enough vinegar to cover it. Seal the jar and leave it on the counter. Check in every day to see what happens. After a few days, you’ll note that the egg has increased in size and “lost” its shell (which has been dissolved by the vinegar).

Variables

Make multiple eggs and leave some to sit longer than others. Which bouncy eggs are the hardest to explode? Also add food colorings to the vinegar to change the color of the bouncy eggs. If you’re buying eggs in bulk-store volume, consider hard boiling some and doing this egg-in-a-bottle experiment. Unlike the bouncy eggs, these will still be safe to eat … if you can get them out of the bottle.

5 | Crystals

Requires:

  • pipe cleaner
  • string
  • chopstick
  • mason jar
  • boiling water
  • borax

Kitchen-grown crystals are all over Pinterest, and for good reason: they’re awesome. But they’re also a frequent subject of science fails, because they require even more patience than vinegar eggs. Use your pipe cleaners to create a nest shape. Tie one end of the string around your pipe cleaner nest and the other end around a chopstick. Pour boiling hot water into a heat-safe container. Mix in borax until you can’t dissolve any more without leftover borax sitting at the bottom of the container. Place the chopstick over the container and leave to sit for a while. Some crystals may grow overnight. Others may take over a week. And sometimes no crystals will grow, because your solution isn’t saturated enough.

Variables

Many crystal recipes make it seem as though you need a particular ingredient, but all you need is any household product with a crystalline structure. Your science lab is equipped with crystals already. Many salts (epsom salts, plain old table salt, baking soda, even driveway salt) all have crystalline structures, as does sugar. Experiment by dissolving different salts and sugars in water and trying to grow crystals. Just make sure they’re carefully labeled so you know which ones you can eat (rock candy!). You can also experiment with what to grow the crystals on. Different materials (a hair tie, a piece of yarn, a metal washer, eggshells) will grow crystals at different rates.

6 | Lava lamp

Requires:

  • bottle or vase
  • oil
  • water
  • Alka-Seltzer

The best reason to equip your workbench using a big box membership is that you’ll need large quantities of oil. For this experiment, get a empty bottle or vase and fill it three-quarters of the way full with whatever oil you’ve bought in bulk. Top off the bottle with water. Add Alka-Seltzer and see your lava lamp in action.

Variables

Play around with the proportions of oil, water, and Alka-Seltzer to see which yields the most mesmerizing lava lamp. If you’re not sure what else to do with all that bulk oil, check out these citrus candles.

7 | Invisible Ink

Requires:

  • water
  • baking soda
  • paint brush or cotton swab
  • grape juice

Mix baking soda and water. Use a paintbrush or cotton-swab to write a message and allow to dry. Paint the paper with the grape juice to reveal the message.

Variables

Try painting your invisible message with lemon juice instead of baking soda and see how the grape juice interacts with it. Why is the lemon juice message a different color from the baking soda message? To answer that, check out one last experiment.

8 | pH Tester

Requires:

  • all of your science lab supplies
  • purple cabbage

If you can find a purple cabbage at your favorite big box store, you’re in luck! The cabbage can work as a pH tester. Mix a few cabbage leaves and water in a blender. Strain out the cabbage pulp so that you have a purple liquid. Pour the liquid into small clear cups. Try adding lemon juice to one cup and baking soda to another. Then test the various supplies in your home science lab to see what happens.

Shopping list

The following list will allow you to complete all of the above experiments:

  • Lemons
  • Eggs
  • Purple cabbage
  • White vinegar
  • Canola oil
  • Active dry yeast
  • Baking soda
  • Grape juice
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Borax
  • Sealable plastic bags
  • snack size sealable plastic bags
  • sandwich size paper cups
  • bathroom size plastic drinking cups
  • Plastic plates
  • Bars of soap
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Alka-seltzer

Food coloring is often added to experiments to make it easier to see. Some big box stores don’t sell food coloring, but don’t let that stop you! Many sell products that can act as stains, such as onions, saffron, turmeric, as well as berries and juices that you can use to create your own dyes.

Tonight's Lights Out Struggle

The light flicked on again. I stop and stare at the shining coming through the bottom of the door. “How can he still be awake?” I ask my husband.

This is a submission in our monthly contest. October’s theme is Determination. Enter your own here!
The light flicked on again. I stop and stare at the shining coming through the bottom of the door.
“How can he still be awake?” I ask my husband.
“He’s going to be exhausted tomorrow,” he says while shaking his head. I take a deep breath.
“Okay. My turn to check this time.” Setting my laptop on the couch, I have a feeling that this won’t be the last moment getting up.
Padding across our dark wood floors, I lean on our three-year-old son’s door and gently push it open. His lamp is on. There are toys strewn across the floor. That’s when I notice him. Our son is sitting on his bed wearing a hard hat and boots with his superhero cape tied around his neck. He’s meticulously lining up his dinosaurs on his pillow. He looks at me. Based on his expression, I think I walked in at a very busy time.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Building.”
Hmmm, a one-word response. This usually means he has no intention of stopping and would like me to leave the room closing the door behind me.
“It’s time for bed. You have to get up for school tomorrow.” Carefully slipping the hard hat off his head and tugging the boots from each foot, my son stops to look at me.
“I don’t want to sleep,” he whimpers.
“How come?” I ask while gathering each brontosaurus and tossing them in the bucket.
“I’m scared. There are monsters in my room, and it gets too dark.” Yawning, he crawls into my lap.
After checking under the bed, in the closet and in his drawers, I confirmed the expected. There are no monsters in his room. Calling dad for backup reassurance, he does a quick sweep of the room and agrees there are no one-eyed furry creatures lurking in the dark.
With another kiss and hug, we flick the light.
“Now go to sleep.”
I find my cozy spot on the couch and park my tired body. What’s on Netflix? Flipping through the channels looking for a new binge series, I hear a car horn. Ignoring it, I keep searching.
WeeOoooWeeOooo
A police siren? I glance back at my son’s door. Sure enough, he’s awake again. This is the third time going into his room. Feelings of frustration are boiling.
Not bothering to knock I walk into his room.
“We just checked for monsters, and there is nothing in here. Lights out. Now.”
He looks at me. A slight smirk is forming on his face. For some reason, I’m starting to think I’m being tricked.
“I have to go to the bathroom.” He’s squirming around in his bed. I send him the Mama Bear stare.
“Hurry up and go. No more playing around.” Picking up his little body and walking to the bathroom he randomly starts sharing a friendship problem from school. This quick trip to the john has suddenly turned into a long drawn out affair of problem-solving.
“I’m sorry those boys were running away from you at the playground. Remember, you want to play with friends that make you feel good. If they always hurt your feelings, then it’s best to find a new friend.”
With a nod of his head and smile on his face, I’m feeling confident we solved the world’s problems for the day, and we can finally get some sleep.
Again, lights out. Eyeing the open spot on the couch, it begins calling my name. Lingering outside his door for another minute, I take a deep breath. Burying myself into the cushions of the couch I close my eyes. It’s late. There’s no time for an episode of anything.
“Looks like we forgot to take that Christmas book out of his room again.” Charlie Brown’s “O Tannenbaum” was playing from down the hall. Such a thoughtful gift from Auntie, but there should be a silent button on musical books.
This boy is determined tonight. Pointing my finger at my husband, he takes the cue and claims it’s his turn.
After he closes the door, it becomes silent again. Angels begin to sing, or maybe that’s in my mind. My eyes start to feel heavy. I drift off to sleep.
Unsure of how long I’d been out, I sit up and look around. Where is my husband? Maybe he went to bed. I clumsily make my way to our bedroom fumbling for the lamp. Click. Staring at a messy bed, with the cat sprawled out at the foot, it’s empty.
Poking my head in our son’s room, there curled up under his covers is my three-year-old. Wedged in next to him is my husband crammed into the toddler bed. I smile and for the last time, turn off the light.

I Thought I Hated Halloween, Turns out I Just Hate Adult Halloween

I have no patience for the over-the-top spookiness that grown-ups sometimes get into, but when it comes to trick-or-treating? I’m there.

Some years, the Halloween memes start in September. Other years, my social media feed is filled with “I can’t wait for Halloween season” stuff as early as mid-July.

I am, undeniably, a weirdo. That has always been true. I’m queer, I haven’t had a “normal” haircut in over a decade, and I just generally don’t fit in most places. The thing about weirdos is that they seem to really love Halloween. If you’re sort of nerdy, kind of crafty, and a bit of a social outcast, it seems like Halloween is the holiday for you. No less than three of my close friends throw a yearly “epic Halloween party” that they refer to as “an important tradition.” I’ve heard the phrase “Halloween is my Christmas” more times than I can count.

I mean no disrespect to the many grown-up people who love Halloween, I love people who love Halloween and want them to be happy! It’s just that, all of this excitement over the last day of October never made much sense to me. For the rest of the year, I felt like I had a special bond with my fellow weirdos. But year after year, when October rolled around, I suddenly felt like an outcast amongst outcasts.

I just didn’t like Halloween (or so I thought).

I hated the competitiveness of searching for the perfect cool hipster costume. There were amazingly intricate (and incredibly expensive) perfect fantasy costumes from Game of Thrones. There were obscure comic book costumes that only the most seasoned geeks would get. There were hilarious joke costumes, like the “sexy nurse” who was just wearing regular nurses’ scrubs. One friend told me that she spends at least 300 dollars on her Halloween costume, every single year. I couldn’t keep up.

Then there were the parties, which were always too much for my social anxiety to handle.

Don’t even talk to me about the horror movies and related horror content. I do not do well with blood and gore. I am un-ironically terrified of zombies, so no, I don’t want to come to your zombie walk or whatever. Attempting to participate in Halloween left me exhausted, feeling like a failure, and having weird zombie nightmares for weeks. I wondered vaguely what was wrong with me. Halloween is fun! I loved Halloween as a kid, so why couldn’t I get into it as an adult?

Well, it turns out I actually love Halloween, I just love little-kid Halloween. I have no patience whatsoever for the parties and the drinking and the over-the-top spookiness that grown-ups sometimes get into, but when it comes to trick-or-treating? I’m there. I mean, what’s not to love about candy, silly costumes, and hilarious little kids who get amazingly excited about this weird special day?

I first realized that I was into Halloween last year, when my kid was a little over a year old. We decided to go in a family costume, which is so delightfully cheesy I can’t even stand it, and so the wife, myself, and the toddler dressed up as Peter Pan, Wendy, and Tinkerbell. I had fun finding the perfect blue nightgown at the thrift store.

Then, much to my surprise, I started doing something else. Slowly, over the month of October, I started amassing Halloween decorations. One day my wife came home from work to find me cutting out dozens of felt leaves to hang in our living room window. It was like the lurking crafty mom in me was suddenly awakened.

On Halloween night itself, we took our cheerful child out to collect candy with his neighborhood buddies. Walking around with a gaggle of kids, listening to them chatter about all the chocolate they were going to eat later (if only they could get their moms to let them!) was an absolute blast. In one memorable moment, a three-year-old tripped over the tail of his costume and, when I asked if he was okay, brushed himself off and said “Don’t worry, me didn’t drop any candy.”

I mean, kids are the best.

This year is shaping up to be even more exciting. My kiddo is now two, and we were actually able to explain the holiday to him a bit and even talk to him about costume ideas. As a mother, there are few things as thrilling for me as watching my child decide what he wants, and go for it. He shot down all of my costume ideas, from dinosaur to lion (actually, he laughed at me for even suggesting such things), and then confidently announced that he will be a bunny.

Not just any bunny, the bunny in one of his favorite books, “Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket.”

As I plan out the specifics of how I’ll make such a costume, I find that I’m not annoyed in the slightest. The irony isn’t lost on me that the very thing that bugged me about adult costumes, the hyper-specific attention to detail, is totally thrilling when it comes to making a great costume for my kid. But I am who I am – a woman who’s way more motivated to make a cute and fun costume for her child than she ever was for herself.

As for me? I’ll be dressing up as a witch. Finally freed from the pressure to do something unique and clever year after year, I’m able to admit what I’ve always wanted out of Halloween. That, as it turns out, is to wear the same classic (and boring) costume year after year. My mom always wore the same costume and put up the same decorations, and the tradition was definitely a comfort to my childhood self. Now I’m forming my own Halloween traditions.

I guess I just needed a kid to inspire me.

13 Crafts for Little Artists That Aren’t a Pain to Clean Up

If you’re the one picking up from the latest art explosion, here are 13 crafts that will make your job easier and allow your little artist to be creative.

I think there’s still glitter on my floor. From five years ago. Arts and crafts have a way of sticking around, and while I want to encourage creativity in my kids, I hate cleaning up the aftermath.
Yes, we can make them clean up. I know. But seriously. Do they ever really clean it all up? If you’re going to be the one picking up from the latest craft session, here are 13 crafts that will make your job easier and allow your little artist to be creative.

1 | Melissa & Doug Deluxe Combo Scratch Art Set



I love this. Still. And kids are drawn to it. Scratch through the black surface to reveal amazing colors. Reveal as much or as little as you want. This favorite comes with 16 boards, two stylus tools, and three frames. Kids love the rainbow and metallic backgrounds.

2 | Boogie Board Jot LCD eWriter


A small notebook sized LCD drawing panel, the Boogie Board Jot is perfect for drawing anywhere, even in the car. No mess and endless possibility. Kids love the erase button and the ability to start fresh. Great for keeping in your purse for kids to play with on the go.

3 | Made By Me Build and Paint Your Own Wooden Cars

 

This one does involve paint, but it’s all pretty self-contained. Spread a piece of newspaper and grab a cup of water. Kids put together small wooden cars and then decorate using the stickers and paints provided. This one is great for keeping boys busy and giving them a chance to create.

4 | Fashion Angels Portfolios & American Girl Doll Fashion Design Portfolio Set

 

Kids design outfits and unique looks on the doll like outlines provided. Tons of great activity books with stencils for those who love to create fun fashion looks. Makeup, fashion and even home decorating books give kids great ways to draw and imagine as they get older.

5 | Melissa & Doug Paint with Water

 

Sometimes the little ones just want to paint. A great compromise that just involves water. Watch images and colors appear magically as your little artists swipes a wet brush across a page.

6 | Alex Toys Craft Color a House Children’s Kit

 

Cardboard box play taken to the next level, kids can easily construct a house and then decorate it with crayons. Toddlers love this and it keeps them busy for hours.

7 | Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush & Drawing Pad

 

Half the fun of this amazing toy is the magic! Kids use the special brush to paint on their paper. It lights up with each color they pick and they create a masterpiece. Plus, it doesn’t leave marks on hands, the table or clothes.

8 | Rainbow Wikki Stix


These bendy, twisty sticks quickly become a favorite of kids and adults. You can link them together, twist and create without making a mess to clean up. Another great toy for the traveling creative.

9 | Sidewalk Chalk

 

Let nature take care of the cleanup! Kids love the ability to leave their mark and draw outdoors. A bucket of sidewalk chalk fits the bill, and all you have to do is wash hands when it’s done.

10 | Creative Hands Foam Kit Beads 2 Lace

 

Fun and great for fine motor development, Beads 2 Lace give kids the chance to string chunky foam beads in different shapes and colors to create one of a kind masterpieces. While there are a lot of pieces, this one is easy to clean up. You can even make a game out of tossing the foam pieces in the bucket when you’re done.

11 | Alex Toys Little Hands Mosaics

 

Using the color coded stickers kids place them on the template and create a beautiful picture. These are great for hanging up when they’re complete. Also offers fantastic color and shape matching and fine motor development.

12 | Crayola Model Magic


Softer and airier than the traditional play-doh, Model Magic is a great way to let kids mold and shape with less mess. It also air dries solid, giving little artists the chance to create forever masterpieces.

13 | Crayola Bathtub Finger paint and Crayons


When you can’t avoid the mess, at least make it in the easiest place to clean up. Finger paints and crayons specifically designed for the tub, give kids the chance to make a mess. And cleaning up when they’re done is contained and fun.
What mess free crafts do your kids love?
We’ve selected these items because we want these great products to be on your radar! Parent Co. is an Amazon Affiliate Partner, and we will earn a small share of revenue if you decide to purchase a product using one of these links. By supporting us through this program you are helping to keep the lights on and the banner ads off.

Beyond "I Spy," Books That Keep Kids Busy for Hours

Kids can get lost for hours in books that provide a full interactive experience like guessing games, search-and-find, or mazes and puzzles.

The bestselling “I Spy” series has sold over 24 million copies worldwide, and for good reason. Kids can get lost for hours in books that provide a full interactive experience like guessing games, search-and-find, or mazes and puzzles. Some books take children beyond the basics while still presenting a wealth of opportunities for education and learning.

I spy with my little eye… more books like “I Spy!” Here are eight books guaranteed to send readers on inquisitive and challenging adventures.

  WhosHiding

Who’s Hiding?”

by Satoru Onishi

Perfect for preschoolers, “Who’s Hiding?” pulls little readers into a world of where is it and what is it. They’ll answer fun yet simple questions like “Who’s hiding?” “Who’s crying?” and “Who’s backwards?” while looking for 18 fun-loving animals spread across the pages.

“This is a clever puzzle book for caregivers and young children to share and to learn animals, colors, concepts. A solid choice for most picture-book collections,” says School Library Journal.


Look! A Book!”

by Bob Staake

Young children will relish this seek-and-find adventure with die-cuts and objects hidden on every page. From underwater worlds to haunted houses to tree-top towns, there are endless details for readers to search for and discover. Poems reveal clues for uncovering dinosaurs, flying saucers, robots, and more. The book ends with a rhyme and a foldout page that ask readers to start all over again.


WhatsDifferent

What’s Different?”

by Fran Newman-D’Amico

This fun book features 27 sets of brain teasers that ask children to identify the differences between two similar pictures. What’s different in the backyard? What’s different about the butterflies? Discovering how the pictures are unlike one another will delight kids for hours. Once they’ve solved the riddle, they can color the pictures too.


Labyrinth

Labyrinth

by Theo Guignard

This gorgeously designed maze book for children and adults alike asks the reader to trace a way through 14 different mazes while finding a variety of objects in various worlds. Jump to the future, explore an environment made of plants, or wind your way up a skyscraper.

“With seductively colorful and madcap graphics inviting fingers to trace routes along the page, this is a perfect bridge between book and video game,” writes The Guardian.


 LateralThinking

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers

by Paul Sloane

This challenging book proclaims, “Logic is not enough!” To unravel a lateral puzzle, you need to think outside of the box. These classic brain teasers range from easy to extremely difficult, offering a puzzle for every mind and age range. Can your child figure out these problems from only the vaguest details and yes-or-no questions? Can you?


SpottheDifferences

Spot-the-Difference Masterpieces

by Puzzlewright Press

Many famous works of art contain hidden messages, meanings, and pictures. “Spot-the-Difference Masterpieces” lets the reader journey through time to explore some of the greatest artwork ever created as they find the differences between two images. These 40 fine-art puzzles, from Renaissance Florence to Dutch still life paintings to the Paris of the Impressionists, will dazzle the budding historian, painter, or young creative mind.


TheUltimateBookofOpticalIllusions

The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions

by Al Seckel

When they open the pages of “The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions,” kids will be amazed. Inside is a collection of the world’s most powerful optical illusions. They’re stunning in their trickery and beautiful in their depth and deception. Some images pop from the page, appearing to spin, move, rotate, and pulse. Most will leave diehard puzzle solvers impressed beyond belief.


WheresWaldo

Where’s Waldo?

by Martin Handford

This list would not be complete without a mention of the all-time favorite, “Where’s Waldo?” the puzzle book that sparked an entire genre. For more than 25 years, children have been trying to find cultural icon Waldo hidden in the pages of some pretty glorious illustrations. Some of us are still searching and some of us have yet to begin. Either way, this book should be a mainstay on your home library shelves.

Which books like “I Spy” would you add to this list? Share in the comments!

We’ve selected these items because we want these great products to be on your radar! Parent Co. is an Amazon Affiliate Partner and we will earn a small share of revenue if you decide to purchase a product using one of these links. By supporting us through this program you are helping to keep the lights on and the banner ads off.

Raise Your Hand if You Don’t Like Scary Movies

In all honesty, I don’t think it was my age that ruined it for me. I think some people just aren’t cut out for the scary stuff.

The first scary movie I ever saw was “Jaws”. It was a July afternoon in Oklahoma, and I was visiting my cousins.
I don’t ever remember a hotter summer than that one. The heat rose off the roads in waves and the tar that zigzagged over the cracks in the sidewalks grew soft and stuck to our flip flops.
By noon, we retreated indoors, sunburned and tired from running through the sprinklers and hungry for a bologna sandwich. Still in our swimsuits, we ate in front of the television lying on our stomachs.
“Jaws” seemed innocent enough at first – the banana boats, the too short shorts on the guys, and the Farrah Fawcett hair on the girls. It was beachy and perfect for a summer afternoon. And then the music kicked in.
Dunna. Dunna. Dunna dunna dunna duuuuuunnnnnna.
A fin knifes through the water. Somebody gets dragged under. The water bubbles red. Everybody screams. And my cousins, all boys, tickle me until I am crying. I’m not sure where my heart has gone, but it is thumping loudly from somewhere underneath the floor. I am seven.
My scary moving-going has not gone any better since. I caught one scene from “It” on TBS at age 10, which forever ruined clowns for me. Although, does anybody really like clowns? I will not be seeing the remake.
At 11, I watched “People Under the Stairs” in a detached trailer neighboring my grandparent’s lake house with a girl named Chastity, who was one year older than me but looked like she was 30. She, too, was visiting her grandparents for the summer. They had cockatoos that roamed the trailer, freely pooping on the backs of chairs and your hair if you weren’t fast enough. Both the movie and the trailer gave me nightmares for weeks. I still can’t handle cockatoos.
Maybe I was simply too young for blood and terror and creepy slo-mo shots of half open doors. Maybe I should have waited a decade or two. Even now, I steer clear of the “Horror” category on Neflix. I can’t even pause in my scrolling because the movie covers give me the shivers. How do the eyes of the serial killers and demon dolls manage to follow you around the room?
In all honesty, I don’t think it was my age that ruined it for me. I think some people just aren’t cut out for the scary stuff.
According to Glenn Sparks, a professor at Purdue University, who conducted a research study on why certain people are affected by these films more than others, it has a great deal to do with our wiring. Some people get a kick from that adrenaline rush. The quickened heartbeat and prickling at the back of the neck leave them with more energy when the film is over, what he calls the “excitation transfer process.” It leaves you jittery and happy at having gotten to enjoy the thrill. It’s the same reason some people love roller coasters – the fear factor that leads to greater victory when it is done.
There’s also the novelty of the horror film that draws people in, the idea that you’re seeing something you don’t see every day. It’s curiosity that keeps you watching and wondering what could possibly happen next.
But for some of us, the rush and the novelty isn’t worth the emotional price. I don’t want to come out clammy and shaky and headed for sleeplessness just to say I did it. I’m all for novelty, but let it be for the good. Let it bring me a vision of utopia, not the stuff of nightmares. Give me “This is Us” and “Sing” and let me relax.
I think some of us are simply more sensitive to stimulus than others. The magic of story-telling in books and film is that it carries fiction into reality. If done well, the world in the story is all-encompassing and complete. But if you are a super feeler, a highly sensitive person, the reality can be too much to handle.
You can feel that hot sun and choppy water right before the shark appears. You can hear that door creak open from a mile away. You can already see those unblinking eyes looking back from the rain-slashed window and will continue to see them long after the credits roll. If you are anything like me, you need less, not more, stimulus. Life is enough of an adrenaline rush.
If you’re a scary movie lover, more power to you. With Halloween right around the corner, this is your season. But for those of you who aren’t, know that you’re not alone. I’ll be right there with you, with the lights on, watching re-runs of “Parks and Rec” and locking all the doors after dark.

18 Tattoos That are Perfect for Your Midlife Crisis

It may be the sign of a crisis, but at least it’s not a misrepresentation of the facts.

👆

A bottle of sunscreen with an SPF number matching your age

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo low carb skull and crossbones

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A skull and crossbones with “LOW CARB”

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

a wilted rose tattoo mid life crisis tattoo

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A rose that needs watering, but who has the time?

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo self help on knuckles

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

The letters S E L F H E L P across the knuckles

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

midlife crisis tattoo anchor and demanding kids

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

An anchor with a bunch of kids clinging to it and demanding juice

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]
Midlife crisis tattoo a damaged butterfly
[su_spacer size=”30″][/su_spacer]

A butterfly whose wings could use a little work

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo, mom do you need glasses

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

“Mom? Can you see this or do you need your reading glasses?” in a heart

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]
mid life tattoo tired tiger
[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A tiger who’s fallen asleep at 9 p.m.

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo dandelion devil

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A dandelion labeled “Suburban devil”

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo graduate school gamble

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A pair of dice with a scroll that says “Graduate School”

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo pinup girl with cellulite

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A pinup girl with visible cellulite

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A single drop of urine

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo live for today but save 401k

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

“Live for today; but don’t touch your 401k” on a decorative scroll

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo dream catcher with ambien

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A dreamcatcher with Ambien dangling from the feathers

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo large font name

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

Your spouse’s name in 100-point Garamond font

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo get up early but skip gym

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

An inspirational quote: “Still I rise at 5 a.m., why don’t I go to the gym?”

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo high taxes great schools

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A house with the words “High Taxes But Great School”

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

Midlife crisis tattoo ship in antacids

[su_spacer size=”20″][/su_spacer]

A ship in a bottle of antacids

[su_spacer size=”100″][/su_spacer]

middle age mothers with multiple tattoos

How to Make Storytelling a Fun and Engaging Family Affair

Storytelling is portable and requires no gadgets, batteries, or anything else to weigh down your diaper bag and can bring your family closer, too.

Let me tell you a story…

People across cultures have told stories for centuries. Stories have the power to gather, teach, entertain, and soothe. Human brains are wired for stories. A good story boosts oxytocin levels and can cause brain changes that last for days. Stories make information more memorable. Here’s why storytelling can benefit everyone in your household:

Stories make your kids smarter

Researchers say storytelling is a natural and essential part of linguistic development from early childhood onwards. A new study suggests that when children hear a vocabulary word spoken, they learn to read it more easily later. I don’t tend to often use the words “glisten” or “gleam” in conversation, but I used them both in “Magical Pony” bedtime stories this week. Honing storytelling skills gives kids a leg up in school for tasks like crafting written narratives and demonstrating reading comprehension.

Stories help you rock your professional and personal lives

Contributors to the “Harvard Business Review” hail storytelling as the best tool leaders can use to establish a sense of connection and craft inspiring presentations. They even go so far as to call it an irresistible strategic business tool. Whoa.

Your ability to spin an engaging yarn can make or break your success in social situations. Nothing kills an evening like getting trapped listening to an endless saga, or worse, in the awkward silence of “I Have Nothing To Talk About With This Person.”

Telling stories together fosters family closeness. Storytelling is portable and requires no gadgets, batteries, or anything else to weigh down your diaper bag.

With all these pluses, how do you turn your family into storytellers?

Make it a daily routine

Adults and children can “tell the story of their day” during your commute or family meal. When I frame my request this way, I hear more than “nothing” about what my kids did at school. With mine, I show them how even spotting a goldfinch or finding my lost sunglasses can be narrative-worthy.

Take a cue from preschool teachers

One of my first jobs was a preschool aide. One night a local restaurant burned down and many of the children drove past the wreckage on the way to school. The seasoned teacher started that day by acting out what happened with dolls: they discovered the fire in the block “restaurant,” called the fire department, who bravely put it out and made sure no one was hurt, and made plans to rebuild. Telling the story of a difficult event can be comforting.

Stories can also prepare children for upcoming events. When I took frequent red-eye flights with my toddler to visit family, “We Will Go to Sleep on the Airplane” got a lot of mileage.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

There’s a reason fairy and folk tales have been enjoyed for centuries. In a moment of desperation I once settled my rowdy kids with an impromptu retelling of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” This became a favorite for months. (Full disclosure: it did not inspire my toddler to stop fibbing.) 

Kids can retell, too. Show younger children how to act out familiar stories with toys and add their own twists. How about a house built of wooden play food for the second little pig? Older kids can come up with new story versions or compete for the most dramatic retelling, honing their creativity and performance skills.

Build a story brick by brick

Jason Boog, author of “Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between,” tells parents to approach storytelling like building a Lego structure: one brick at a time. Start with the simple foundation of a few characters and a setting. Layer on events that build up to a problem or climax and top it off with a satisfying conclusion. Take cues from children’s play: magical elements and the classic good versus evil power struggle are attractive.

Concoct your personal story recipe. When I’m especially exhausted, mine is something like this: Kids take a walk in the forest. Kids find something that imparts special powers. Kids go on a magical adventure. Kids go home. Kids go to sleep so Mom can too.

Create your family’s characters

When my oldest son was potty training, he was afraid to use the real toilet. I took a cue from Schipol airport and stuck a fly decal in the toilet bowl. Soon the fly had a name and even acquired a friend. Zippy and Twirly starred in family stories for years. Recurring characters appeal to kids and give you a go-to story foundation.

Pass on family stories

Hold the magical blueberries and talking insects, some of the best stories are ones from your own family history. Research shows that hearing family stories builds empathy, contributes to positive identity formation, and can even reduce the risks of anxiety and depression.

Play it up

Like many things in parenting, turning storytelling into a game is always a reliable move. Open a magazine in the doctor’s waiting room and tell each other stories inspired by the photos. Resurrect the classic tag-team game of telling alternating sentences.

A family campfire always works to get everyone’s narrative juices flowing, whether it’s an actual backyard s’more-making affair or a rainy afternoon on the couch with a crackling fire playing on your flat screen. (Need more ideas? Check out “Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling” by Emily Neuburger.)

Storytelling brings out the best of what it is to be human – creativity, intellect, emotion, and connection. Find a listener and go tell your story.

Parent Co. is an Amazon Affiliate Partner and we will earn a small share of revenue if you decide to purchase a product using one of these links. By supporting us through this program you are helping to keep the lights on and the banner ads off.

My Toddler Taught Me More About Mindfulness Than Deepak Chopra Ever Could

I could go off into the mountains for a month-long retreat and I still wouldn’t come close to being as present as my daughter is every night at bedtime.

I never used to believe people when they said “my children teach me so much.” It felt like something people thought they were supposed to say – like the way Miss America contestants always bring up “world peace.”
Then I started meditating.
I started meditating because my anxiety, normally a pesky type of background noise that only made things mildly unpleasant, started creeping its way toward the foreground. Sure, having kids – two in 15 months – was a tremendous source of that anxiety. But it’s not fair to put all the blame on my tiny humans. I’m hard-wired to feel at least a bit uncomfortable at all times. Even in my happiest moments, a tiny voice in my head is telling me the feeling won’t last, reminding me about all the things I should be doing and offering me a list of reasons why I shouldn’t be so happy.
According to mindfulness experts like Deepak Chopra, Tara Branch, and Sam Harris, meditation can help with these issues.
I trusted their expertise, downloaded an app called Insights, and began a regimen of five- to 10-minute guided meditations as often possible. In many ways, it helped. In some ways, however, the physical process of meditating actually gave me anxiety.
I’d worry about my wife barging in to find me cross-legged, palms facing upward toward the heavens, breathing deeply and slowly, wondering what the hell was wrong with her husband. I’m honestly less worried about being caught masturbating. At least the latter is something everybody does.
From what I’ve gathered, all meditation is about mindfulness, or the ability to live in the present moment, to some degree. While I’ve had some success with my Insights app, it’s hard to be 100 percent in the present when you’re worried about your wife catching you in the act of spiritually whacking it or constantly thinking about how stupid you look.
For me, the moon works better.
Or, I should say, my 21-month-old daughter Emma’s reaction to the moon works better. See, every night before bed, my daughter and I have an elaborate routine that includes going outside and walking up the driveway to get a clear view of the moon.
On a clear night, the view of the moon is spectacular – but it pales in comparison to the way Emma’s face lights up when she sees that familiar celestial body. It doesn’t matter that we do the same exact thing virtually every night (on cloudy nights, I tell her the moon went to bed early). When Emma catches that initial glimpse, it’s like she’s seeing the moon for the first time. Her eyes widen, she gasps audibly, and she laughs with glee; she’s 100 percent in the moment.
I look forward to seeing Emma see the moon every night. I love Emma’s moon face.
I could go off into the mountains for a month-long retreat where I subsist entirely Om breaths, mindfulness seminars, and chakra massages, and I still wouldn’t come close to being as present as my daughter is every night at bedtime.
I spend a lot of time watching Emma watch things – things that should be so much more interesting to me than the toddler I see every day. When we’re at the zoo, a majestic lion stalking back and forth in his cage just isn’t as captivating as the awestruck little girl who unconsciously mimics the lion’s manic pacing to keep her front-and-center view.
Part of me is jealous of Emma. I can rarely engage in any task without worrying about something else I should be doing. Not Emma. Whatever thing she’s doing at that moment is the most important thing. She gets the moon face for just about everything. For Emma, achieving what Silicon Valley assholes call “the flow state” is effortless. She’s never physically scribbling in her Hello Kitty coloring book but mentally fretting over whether she’ll be able to realistically accomplish her five-year plan by the age of seven.
When they’re not destroying their surroundings or throwing epic temper tantrums, toddlers live in a state of complete wonder.
Age has dulled my sense of wonder, but viewing the world through my daughter’s eyes is starting to sharpen it again. Often, when I’m in the middle of wishing a shit day would hurry up and end, I’ll catch a glance of Emma’s moon face. It’s a good reminder that I shouldn’t simply be trying to get through my limited days in this wonderful place – I should always be striving to experience them one moment at a time.