Friday, February 26, 2016

5 St. Patrick’s Day Traditions to Start With Your Kids

Kids love any excuse to make a day extra special, so why not March 17 of every year? You certainly don’t need to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day with your kids and to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. On this day, everyone has a little Irish in them! Here are some ideas for traditions to start this year!

1.      Wear green so you don’t get pinched! If your kids don’t have much green clothing in their closet, head to a consignment or thrift store so you can go green for the planet while also wearing green. I have to admit sometimes I cheat and hit the local department store because they carry green T-shirts with cute St. Patrick’s Day sayings like, “Everybody loves an Irish girl.”

2.      Go to a parade. Many cities, large and small, have a St. Patrick’s Day parade every year, and many have the parade the weekend before St Patrick’s Day so more people can attend (it happens to fall on a Saturday this year). Check out for all kinds of cool stuff like Irish music, Irish dancing and even parades and fun runs/walks. The parade list is by no means complete, so Google “St. Patrick’s Day parade [your city]” to find one near you.

3.      Go to McDonald’s for a green Shamrock Shake, a mint-flavored, green-dyed vanilla milkshake. My kids get excited when these come out and we have to hit the drive-through for one every year. You can find dairy-free versions online that you can make at home, and if you’re concerned about food dyes, you can pick up some natural green food dye online or at a health food store.

4.      Tell St. Patrick’s story. Legend says he used a three-leaf clover (also known as a shamrock) to teach about the Holy Trinity. There are a ton of great books about St. Patrick, including The Night Before St. Patrick's Day (Reading Railroad) by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer, St. Patrick’s Day by Gail Gibbons, and a board book called The Story of St. Patrick’s by Patricia A. Pingry and Pamela R. Levy. You can also get a made-for-TV family movie called St. Patrick: The Irish Legend through and Netflix.

5.      Have a small party. Penny Warner, author of The Best Party Book, offers some great suggestions for having a fun St. Patrick’s Day party:
·         For invitations, paint a stone green, write party information on the stone and leave the stone at the invitee’s front porch.
·         Give a prize to the guest wearing the most green.
·         Hang construction paper shamrocks everywhere, hang green balloons, put posters of Ireland on the walls and, of course, play some Irish music.
·         Set out a gold pot filled with chocolate coins.
·         Play games like Hot Potato and make sure to set out a Mr. Potato Head set.
·         Make a shamrock cake using three heart-shaped cakes joined together and frost with green icing.
·         For food, have a potato bar with fun toppings like broccoli, chili, cheese and bacon bits.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Teaching Kids to Respect Different Religions

Teaching Kids to Respect Different Religions

Religion is as diverse as it is personal to individuals, and in order to respect different faiths and religions it is important to have a good understanding of them. Whether you class your family as being religious or not, it’s important to teach your children the importance of respecting people of all different faiths and beliefs.  Whether you have a firm belief in a religion yourself or don’t hold to any particular religious belief, educating your children about the different religions and faiths which people follow can help to instill a deeper respect for diversity in them.

Understanding Your Own Spiritual Values

Before you can start to explain the different belief systems and values of other religions it’s important to have a good understanding of your own spiritual values and that of your family. If your family has a religious background, it’s important that you realize that this is a vital part of your family history and should be explained as such to your kids, regardless of whether you yourself still practice the religion personally. Children should be encouraged to learn about and compare other religions in a respectful way. Different theologies lead to various practices and celebrations, and it’s important that these differences be approached in a respectful and courteous manner rather than saying that ‘our way is right and theirs is wrong’.

Encourage Learning

Don’t leave it to your kids to figure out different religions for themselves; instead bring up conversation and encourage your children to ask questions and learn more about diversity of religion. For example, if your child has Muslim friends at school, you could bring this up in conversation and get them talking about the religion of Islam and its different practices and traditions. It’s important to help your child to understand that no matter which religion you follow personally, all religions have good things about them and moral standards which are useful in life. Teach your child to celebrate different religions as they are part of what makes individuals who they are. This website is an excellent resource for information about all different religions and can be a great tool to help you answer any questions that your kids might have.

Incorporate New and Old Rituals

If your family has a history with a certain religion, there will no doubt be certain religious rituals and traditions which you still partake in as a family unit. Incorporating new and old rituals and traditions can help to encourage your child to respect other religions and have an open mind regarding the traditions and culture of different faiths. Religious rituals create a spiritual framework along with warm family memories, so it’s important that you observe these old traditions as well as create new ones which people of all faiths can participate in. This allows you to accommodate for any friends of your children who follow different religions and demonstrate to your children how people of all religions can respect each other’s beliefs and get along in harmony.

Can you give any more guidance to parents who are looking to encourage their children to respect other religions? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, February 22, 2016

#CatholicHippieCallie the Pillow-Making Queen: How To Make a Neck Pillow

So, below, here is us at JoAnn's Fabric Store after a long day kinda out of town visiting my fan-freaking-tastic grandma and aunts with my mom for my Aunt Pat's birthday, above (like an hour and a half away to me is out of town, folks).

And here is Callie making her first pillow! This one may have been for Sam or Joel.

A pillow for sister Eva!


Michael gets a pillow!

Mommy got her pillow a few weeks later and sleeps with it every night!

So proud of my talented daughter and she is so grateful for her sewing machine she got for Christmas from my grandma and her Great Susie! She just pretty much cuts the fabric however she wants and then sews it inside out, turns it right side in/out and then stuffs it with stuffing we also got at JoAnn's. Then she hand sews the last little bit she left open for stuffing!

Oh, my friend Kay just asked where Callie learned to do this. So here is where she went to sewing camp for a few days end of last summer and learned how to make a skirt from my friend Suzanne. Otherwise, she just did the pillows mostly on her own, with some help from her friend Ana next door. She really like to figure things out on her own and always has!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Top Tips to Help You Pass Your Driving Test the First Time

Learning to drive is an exciting experience, and anyone who is a learner driver is aiming to pass their practical driving test at the first attempt. Although less than half of learner drivers in the UK actually pass their driving test the first time, don’t let these statistics put you off, as it’s perfectly achievable as long as you are willing to put in all of the hard work, dedication and practice needed. Taking the driving test can be a nerve-wracking experience; however, if you prepare correctly, you can help to ease your nerves, build your confidence and ensure that you have all the knowledge and skills necessary to pass.

Practice Makes Perfect

Whether you are practicing for your theory test, practical test, or both, the more effort you put into practicing, the better results you will see. As with any task, the more comfortable you are with it, the better prepared you will be. If you are preparing for your theory test, it’s important to obtain all of the preparation materials which are available, such as mobile applications, books, CD’s and mock tests available for driving theory online. Practicing for the practical test should be done with a qualified and approved driving instructor from a reputable school. Get the most out of your driving lessons by booking them at various times in order to experience a wide range of driving situations, such as driving in bad weather or in the dark.

Study the Rules

Understanding all of the different rules of the road is just as important as actually practicing your driving. Knowing exactly what you should be doing and what the different road signs which you will encounter mean will allow you to drive to the best of your ability and not make any mistakes which could result in a failure on the test. When practicing on your driving lessons, make sure that you are reading the signs and following them accordingly without the instructor needing to prompt you. If you don’t understand any signs, you should ask your instructor to explain them to you straight away so that you know what to do if you encounter them again. Remember that on the test, your examiner won’t be giving you any prompts or reminders when it comes to signs!

Ease Your Nerves

Although it may be easier said than done to try and calm your nerves before taking the driving test, it’s important to try and stay as calm and confident as possible if you want to pass first time. Learner drivers who have suffered from terrible nerves while taking their test often end up making silly mistakes due to the stress, even though they wouldn’t do that when on a normal lesson. Listening to calming music before the test can help to reduce stress levels, and there are some supplements which you might want to consider taking to help ease anxiety.

Passing your driving test first time isn’t difficult to achieve if you get the preparation right!


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