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Make sure Mom’s Best Friend is Covered with Apparent Insurance

This post has been sponsored by Apparent Insurance. All opinions are 100% our own.

 

Road trip!

A quick jiggle of the keys and everyone is ready to pile in the car for the next great adventure…or at least the drive to Target. And who is most excited to jump in the car? Mom’s best friend, the family pup, of course!

You’ve done your work to prepare for life’s unfortunate moments to protect your kids in the event of an accident, but have you remembered to protect your petApparent Insurance recently announced pet injury coverage for Texas Families!

Pet Injury Coverage

Apparent Insurance now offers injury coverage for your family’s furry friends to make sure they are cared for after an accident.  Have you made the change to Apparent?  Did you know your family already has coverage for your pets at no extra cost? You already take your dog everywhere.  Now you can have more assurance than ever when your whole family is traveling on the road.

“As an insurance company created by parents for parents, we know how important and loved the fourlegged members of the family are.  And we’re proud to extend pet injury coverage to all our families at no extra cost,” said Colleen Benzin, Head of Apparent Insurance.

Pet Injury Coverage includes up to $1,000 in damages and vet bills and a $1,000 death benefit if a dog or cat dies, as a direct result of a covered car accident. The coverage also extends to injuries if a car is stolen.

When you have insurance through Apparent, you’ll appreciate benefits such as car seat and stroller replacement, at-home mechanic services, teen driver safety monitoring, smart roadside assistance, and rental car match! Apparent wants to put parents’ minds at ease during some of life’s most anxious moments.

Learn more about keeping your teen driver safe!

Apparent Insurance, a company designed by parents, really has thought of everything.  They make sure all members of the family are protected!

 

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Weeknight Meals for the Family :: 5 Easy and Kid-Friendly Dinners

kid-friendly meals

 

“What’s for dinner?” It’s the question that can strike fear in the heart of any parent, especially when your reply is met with groans of disappointment from unenthusiastic offspring. Throw in picky eaters or no time to meal plan, and something as simple as dinner with the family becomes something to be endured rather than enjoyed. But making a kid-friendly dinner that adults can also appreciate doesn’t have to be difficult. I’ve found that you just have to return to some basic family favorites. Add these five easy, kid-friendly dinners to your weeknight lineup, and your kids are sure to be asking for seconds:

Spaghetti with Meatballs. Whether you use sauce from a jar or make your own, this go-to dish is a classic for a reason. Make a big batch of meatballs and then freeze half of them. You’ll thank yourself later when you need a quick dinner idea.

Loaded Baked Potatoes. If you have an Instant Pot, it’s super easy to cook potatoes quickly. Or you can do it the old-fashioned way and bake them in the oven. Once the potatoes are done, let everyone choose their own toppings: butter, cheese, sour cream, chives, bacon, and any leftover cooked meat hanging out in your fridge or freezer are all great options. My husband smokes meat and baked potatoes with leftover brisket or pork is beyond delicious.

Pizza. My kids look forward to pizza night each week. Instead of relying on Red Baron or Domino’s, make your own pizza dough. It’s easy and the dough only takes about 30 minutes to an hour to rise. Once you’re ready to bake the pizza, add sauce, cheese (the real mozzarella from the gourmet cheese section of the grocery store is best but whatever you have on hand will work just fine), and toppings. For a fun twist, use the dough to make individual pizzas. Then let everyone in your family choose their own toppings.

Instant Pot Burrito Bowls. These pressure cooker burrito bowls are easy and delicious. The best part is that you simply dump all the ingredients into your Instant Pot and then let it do its magic. Top with cheese, avocado, and tortilla chips and enjoy!

Chicken Fried Rice. The key to good chicken fried rice is cooking the rice early in the day and letting it cool completely before you use it. If you can refrigerate it beforehand, it’s  even better. Throw some egg or spring rolls into the oven and you’re set.

I hope you and your family enjoy these easy recipes. Leave us a comment and tell us about your family’s favorite kid-friendly meals!

Life in a Pandemic :: Now, It’s Personal

This whole thing is nuts, right? No sports, schools closing indefinitely, the stock market crashing. None of this seemed remotely plausible when 2020 began, yet here we are.

Before I jump in, I need to go ahead and say this – I have not contracted, nor has anyone in my family contracted, COVID-19. We are practicing good hand washing, social distancing, and praying with the rest of the nation that this passes quickly.

But still, we have been affected in big ways (to us) in the midst of all the chaos. I was very cynical through the beginning stages of this, and then it all hit me at once. The world was shutting down, and I was struggling to keep up.

Effected by Pandemic

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to feed my kids.

When the hoarding news started, I scoffed. Why are people rushing to get toilet paper and bottled water? Is water going to stop coming out of the faucet now? Does this virus make you use the restroom uncontrollably? What’s the deal? Fast forward to businesses shutting down and schools closing for the “foreseeable future” and I had zero provisions.

I shopped at several stores for several days and could not find bread or baby food for my two kids. The shelves were empty. I grew increasingly anxious about the coming days. In desperation, I asked for help from family and friends. Thankfully, I have people in my life who live in various communities and we sourced bread from a coworker, baby food from another, sandwich meat from my mom, etc. It was humbling and incredible all at once.

Our community and closest support systems shut down.

We draw great strength from our church family. They made the tough (but appropriate) call to not meet corporately on Sunday mornings for the next little while. My entire family loves to attend our church, so it was a big adjustment for us. Thankfully, we were able to live steam our church service and had a great teachable moment with our kiddos.

Whether you garner your strength from your church, community center, neighborhood, or other social club, losing that source of support and gathering can feel isolating and confusing. I urge you to find ways to stay in contact with friends and give virtual hugs during these trying times.

Traumatic separation from my grandmother.

My grandmother fell recently. After a brief stay in the hospital, she was moved into an assisted living facility to do some rehab. She has lived independently until now, and she understood that this was temporary assuming she would get better and back to full strength to live back at home.

Then COVID-19 hit and everything started shutting down. The federal government banned visitors to nursing homes to protect this high risk group of people, and just like that my grandmother went into what she perceived to be isolation. She started to feel abandoned, scared, and confused on why she was alone all the time with no family members to come see her. This is a traumatic experience for my family that has been extremely difficult to navigate emotionally. One of the biggest hopes we have is that this passes quickly so we can all be with her again.

The biggest impact, one with the most lasting effect on our family, will be seeing our neighbors come together to support one another.

I am not a huge fan of neighborhood Facebook pages because they tend to get catty and full of complaints. But these last couple of weeks have restored my faith in the people living in my neighborhood. We have had people post about having an extra loaf of bread, extra diapers and wipes, extra eggs… anything to share with neighbors in need.

We have stay-at-home moms and teachers in our community who have posted endless learning resources for those of us out of the “kids at home” game. We have had people post about being able to give work-from-home parents some respite time by helping watch kids or take them out on walks during the day. We have even had retired teachers offer help and support with tutoring. The entire community has posted that they are available to help anyone they can, and my heart just bursts with pride at every post.

These coming days will be formidable for me and my family, days I will never forget. I will never forget the hopelessness I felt at the beginning, and I will never ever forget the humans in our city and in our lives who displayed love and kindness without a second thought.

20 Things You Don’t Have To Do During Your Quarantine

I don’t want to quaran-splain you, but moms of small children really got the short end of the stick during this Coronavirus nightmare called “quarantine”. This is not a mandatory vacation. We are not Netflix and chilling, learning another language or just peacefully working on Zoom calls in our pjs. It is a non-stop family adventure filled with diapers, homeschooling and so so so much Disney+ with no sight of grandma on her way to give us a break. None of us have peed alone in weeks.

My goals for this time of mandatory togetherness are simple: Stay home. Stay well. Stay sane. Anything that serves those goals gets to stay. Anything that does not serve those goals has to go. So if you other moms are feeling the pressure of all the lists and advice on all the things that you should be doing during this time, allow me to give you a list of things that you don’t need to feel any pressure whatsoever to do, no matter what the internet tells you.

Do not feel bad if you choose not use this quarantined time to:

  1. Become a chef.
  2. Potty train your toddler.
  3. Do every free program offered on the internet.
  4. Listen to your kids all the time.
  5. Start that project you have been meaning to start.
  6. Organize your garage.
  7. Implement a new chore system.
  8. Make your bed every day.
  9. Start a new fitness routine.
  10. Keep a diary of these days for remembering.
  11. Edit your clothes into a capsule wardrobe.
  12. Bake bread.
  13. Learn a TikTok dance.
  14. Wear real pants.
  15. Put on makeup every day.
  16. Develop a 65 step skincare routine.
  17. Watch Tiger King.
  18. Keep a daily schedule.
  19. Listen to the news.
  20. Try to turn your children into the perfect humans you think they can be.

There is nothing wrong with doing any of these during quarantine. I am, in fact, doing several. We all get to choose our own adventure and if something unessential stresses you out, it needs to go. This is a no roadmap situation. And you don’t have to feel bad or shamed by having the tv on all day, throwing out cereal and mac and cheese and praying you can hang on until bedtime. Reach out to friends. Rotate bedtime duties with your husband. Take a long walk alone. Do anything and everything you need to in order to take care of your family. You are not alone in struggling, and you are not alone in thinking this is hard. We can do this, mamas.

Stay Home. Stay Well. Stay Sane.

7 Resources for Explaining Coronavirus and Social Distancing to Young Kids

“Where are we going today?” is 2020’s version of “Are we there yet?”. Every day my preschooler is asking, “can we go to the zoo?”, “are the playgrounds open yet?”, etc, etc.

Fortunately, we are still able to get outside for a walk or a scooter ride so we don’t go completely stir-crazy. But I’ve been looking for resources to explain social distancing and why all of our favorite places are closed.

Here are several resources to help kiddos learn about social distancing, hand washing, and more.

KIDS explain Social Distancing

This 3-minute video was posted on March 17th. The kids share 6 tips you and your family can use during social distancing. One note they added in the caption: At the time of filming, 3 feet was the recommended distance for Social Distancing. It has since been updated to 6 feet.

The Wiggles: Social Distancing

The Wiggles are here to help! The importance of staying home and social distancing doesn’t have to be a scary conversation. You can sing and dance along at home and become a handwashing hero!

Time to Come In, Bear

“It isn’t forever bear, just for a time.”

Bubble Guppies Wash ‘Em Off

We’ve all heard the recommendation to wash our hands to the tune of “Happy Birthday”, you’re also welcome to get this song stuck in your head! Hey, whatever works.

Nickelodeon’s #KidsTogether Town Hall with Kristen Bell

#KidsTogether is intended to serve as an additional resource for parents while providing kid-appropriate, kid-directed information through original short-form videos, interstitials, downloadable activities and social content, with elements aggregated for easy access on a central online destination, NickHelps.com.

Kristen Bell interviews a doctor, asks celebrity guests several “Fact or Fiction” questions, and in usual Nickelodeon fashion fun clips are added in to keep the kid’s attention. This is 45 minutes long, so grab a snack and watch as a family.

ABC Life: How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus

This in-depth article on ABC Life by Lawrence Leung touches on several pointers for leading a discussion with young kids about coronavirus. I know I’ve had several of these exact conversations with my curious 4-year-old. I appreciate that Lawrence breaks down the info by children’s ages.

Printable: #COVIBOOK

Mindheart created a printable booklet called #COVIBOOK targeted to kids under age 7. It touches on emotions through questions and activities. I appreciate that it’s available in several languages!

Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen any other helpful kid-friendly videos, printables, or other resources relating to Coronavirus.

Thoughts from other Dallas Moms:

The {Pandemic Birthday} Celebrate Your Child’s Birthday at Home

Remember when the biggest challenge to celebrating your little one’s birthday was a shortage of helium? Wow, nothing like a pandemic to make you re-think your plans to host a birthday during the coronavirus outbreak. My daughter turns four in three weeks and I’m thanking my lucky stars that she has asked to celebrate her birthday at home.

Creative ways to celebrate while social distancing is something many of us are thinking about, as we live in this new normal, and still want to mark important milestones for our children. I’ve seen this question pop up all over social media and wanted to compile a few ideas that seem to be really striking a chord!

birthday at homeOne of my bestie’s had a baby who turned one a few weeks ago and the first thing I thought of to encourage her was birthday caroling in our neighborhood. Each family stands outside her house to sing to the birthday kiddo. Easy peasy, right? It made my friend’s day as she fought to celebrate her boy’s birthday in the midst of a pandemic.

Here are creative ways to make sure your little one has a birthday to remember from the confines of home.

Birthday wishes

  • Missing someone extra special and want them to “stand in” during the party? Check out Party City’s personalized cut outs and have a life-sized cardboard version of your guest or order your little one’s face on a handheld fan with a birthday hat!
  • Sidewalk chalk rocks! Leave out some chalk and have your neighbors do a Happy Birthday design for your kid.
  • Get the whole family (near and far) on a FaceTime, Google Hangout or Zoom call to sing Happy Birthday and watch the birthday kid blow out candles. If you can’t get everyone on the phone at once, request video messages throughout the day.
  • We have had a ton of fun on shamrock and bug hunts in our neighborhood looking for shamrocks and bugs in our neighbors’ windows. Turn it into a birthday scavenger hunt where your friends or neighbors print and color a cake, balloons or other birthday messages.
  • Snail mail for cards, obviously! Put out an APB to friends and family so that the mailbox will be overflowing with greetings or even ask friends and family to send a free evite birthday card!

Birthday meals

Cook your kid’s favorite home cooked meal or pick up a family style meal kit from their favorite restaurant. I’m looking at you, Chuck. E. Cheese and the new family and party packs!

 Birthday desserts

  • Tart Bakery delivers cookie decorating kits with an instructional video to Dallas locals and is now offering nationwide shipping.
  • Want to finally try MilkBar and get it shipped straight to your door? This is the perfect opportunity!
  • If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at baking but didn’t want to have a #pinterestfail in front of a large audience, this might be the time to experiment! At least if it doesn’t look perfect, only your family will know! Your kids might enjoy helping you bake. Add a funfetti cake mix and some icing to your Instacart. Order a cake topper from Amazon and you’ll be all set.

 

Décor

“Go big or go home” now translates to “go big and stay home”, so why not make this the year you use Sign Gypsies, Card My Yard or Sign Dreamers to bring a whole lot of fun to your yard.

Gifts

Order early because, again, that supply chain is a wild card. For our family, this is probably the year we go with a big gift like a small bounce house because we are likely in for a marathon, not a sprint, in keeping our kids entertained close to home. This feels like killing two birds with one stone.

Enjoy finding creative ways to celebrate your child’s birthday at home! Know that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have in an unprecedented situation. Good luck celebrating!

50 Simple Earth Day Ideas for the 50th Earth Day Celebration

earth dayWe will soon celebrate the 50th annual Earth Day in America. The first earth day, April 22, 1970, was enacted to promote consciousness about the state of our planet. In 1990, the celebration of Earth Day went global with 141 different countries joining the effort in being mindful residents of Planet Earth.

What started out as a “hippy holiday” is now widely acknowledged as the largest observation of being Earth conscious in the world. For the 50th anniversary, we have compiled a list of simple ways to celebrate and teach your family how to love our planet just a little bit more.

Here are 50 activities to celebrate Earth Day:

  1. Read the history of Earth Day with your family.
  2. Go meatless for a day.
  3. Walk the neighborhood with a trash bag and pick up any trash.
  4. Double your dinner recipe and take half to a neighbor. This will save energy with only one house doing the cooking!
  5. Have a fashion show with costumes made out of recyclable materials.
  6. Plant some flowers.
  7. Take a walk as a family and talk about your favorite parts of being outside.
  8. Lay on a blanket and see if you can make out any shapes in the clouds.
  9. Consider turning off the lights and opening up the windows for a couple hours during the day.
  10. Throw out some birdseed in your yard.
  11. Go on an Earth Day scavenger hunt.
  12. Practice letters and numbers in the dirt, instead of using paper.
  13. Learn how to compost.
  14. Visit the Texas A&M Agricultural Research Center, located in Richardson.
  15. Enjoy some Earth Day jokes.
  16. Enjoy yoga outdoors.
  17. Use lower temperature on your water sources at home for the day.
  18. Pack some reusable shopping bags in the car for your next grocery trip.
  19. Have a “NO TV” day. (This one seems impossible!)
  20. Refuse single use straws. When eating out, simply let them know you don’t need a straw today. (I love these reusable straws, by the way.)
  21. Carpool for the day.
  22. Attempt to be zero waste. Is there any trash that can be made into a craft?
  23. Do a book share with neighbors. (Trade those you are done reading with some you may not have already. This cuts down on the purchases of new books and promotes being a friendly neighbor!)
  24. Recycle! (Assuming you aren’t already.)
  25. Consider taking the DART to work instead of driving.
  26. Pass out seed packs to neighbors or friends.
  27. Gather leaves from outside and compare and contrast them together.
  28. Enjoy an Earth Day book with your littles.
  29. Donate books, puzzles, and toys to a local charity.
  30. Ask neighbors if they compost and what you can save at home to add to it. (Usually any scraps from the kitchen except meat, seafood, and dairy.)
  31. Check out official Earth Day activities in your area.
  32. Make bookmarks out of used paper products.
  33. Use old newspaper as wrapping paper.
  34. Eliminate single-use bottled water and get every family member their own reusable water bottle.
  35. Build a nature scene out of LEGO.
  36. Print two-sided if printing is necessary.
  37. When ordering takeout, consider restaurants that use reusable food containers.
  38. Consider not running the dishwasher or washing machine for the day.
  39. Take a recycling quiz.
  40. Make a bug hotel.
  41. Watch the Planet Earth documentary on Netflix. (Assuming you can’t make it a “NO TV” day.)
  42. Take some binoculars outside and be a bird watcher.
  43. Go outside and see how many different colors you can see.
  44. Eat those leftovers in the fridge instead of eating out.
  45. Visit a nature preserve.
  46. Consider shopping small businesses over large chains.
  47. Save water by skipping the nightly bathtime.
  48. Talk to your friends and neighbors about your favorite parts of being earth-conscious.
  49. Cut old t-shirts into rags or have them made into a t-shirt quilt.
  50. Post your efforts on social media to inspire others!

Anxiously Parenting Through COVID-19

anxiety

The world is a mess right now. It is chaotic and unpredictable, even more so than usual. Schools are shut down, our kids’ routines are being disrupted and we are trying to compensate for the learning time they are about to miss. I am a hot mess, as messy as this world.

I want to make sure my children are gaining all the knowledge and maintaining some sort of normalcy during this crazy time. But what can I do when we are literally taking this storm day by day? I have terrible anxiety, if you know me or read my posts, this isn’t new news. I have to say it is absolutely going high speed right now.

My oldest daughter also suffers from anxiety and I know she is looking to me to guide her through this incredibly weird time. She asks me daily if I know what the COVID-19 case count is, how far away it is and if there is a cure. I try to explain to her that we don’t need to be afraid, just very cautious. I say this through my own fear and gritted teeth.

Let me tell ya’ll something, it is not the virus itself I am scared of. No. I know this is serious and we all definitely need to do our best to keep ourselves and those around us healthy. We need to follow the orders that have been given and do them exactly as they have been instructed. Do I like being TOLD where I can and can’t go? Absolutely not. But will I suck it up and deal with it to prevent the spread of this terrible virus? ABSOLUTELY. What I fear is the reaction to the virus and how our world has responded in terror.

We cannot live like this.

We cannot teach our children this is the appropriate reaction to something new and unknown. Hoarding, becoming selfish, trampling over elderly in the store… no. This is not how we were intended to live among each other. Our job is to not let fear override our faith. Our job is stand firm in our beliefs and realize that our country has been through some strenuous times before. While we haven’t seen anything like this in our lifetime, we know we will persevere.

If I, of all people, can stop and take a deep breath and ground myself, I know everyone else can. I have had panic attacks at my new job (where I had to suck it up and stuff it down to make it through) because I have convinced myself that I am going to end up quarantined away from children.

Anxiety on a normal day is horrible, but when you throw in a crazy, unknown virus that the entire world is panicking about, I mean that just makes it a thousand times worse. My brain can come up with a million different scenarios that all end horribly. Medications are always an option and trust me I have them, but I have to remember techniques for assistance for a quick calm down. It isn’t easy and parenting this way sucks, but I just have to continue with the self talk of “you are ok in this moment”.

We all have it bad right now. Who I feel for are the healthcare workers who are exposed to this daily and have to completely isolate themselves from their families. Guys I urge you to do everything you can to sanitize and isolate yourself, practice social distancing and STAY CALM. Do your homeschooling with your kiddos and embrace this odd but precious time they are at home. We miss them while they are at school right? I know my anxiety is awful when my kiddo is in school. I am loving that I know she is safe at home.

I wish I had the magic words and special advice to share with everyone, but the truth is that I am just as nervous as everyone else and we are all clueless as to what each new day brings. What I do know is that for the time being, my kids are safe and healthy, I am safe and healthy and I am doing absolutely everything within my power to keep us that way. That is literally all we can do. Stay calm and focus on the things we can control.

I hope all you parents out there are safe and calm. I hope that your family is healthy and you are sanitizing everything like crazy! Keep moving forward everyone, our country will get though this and everything will be ok after all. Just keep the faith and be the leader in your family! Your kids are looking at you!

For up to date (accurate) info, follow CDC updates here.

For great tips on how to protect yourself and others, click here.

Guide For Keeping Kids Engaged During Social-Distancing

This week was, without question, the strangest, most unexpected, and unpredictable week I can recall in my lifetime. 

Social distancing is mandatory as a way to slow the spread of coronavirus as it was also declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Schools throughout the Metroplex have extended Spring Breaks and many have returned to remote learning. A 14-day or longer period of isolation is no joke for parents who are all too familiar with the challenge of keeping kids engaged.

Here are five ways to keep your kids spirits high, while also learning together as a family.

Follow a Live Cam:

The Dallas Zoo may be temporarily closed as a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, but you can always see your favorite animals via live cam from around the globe. With places like explore.org your family can see gaze at gorillas, manatees, dolphins, penguins, and hummingbirds. Nothing will soothe you quite like watching animals play, explore and eat in their natural habitat. Have your child write down five fun facts, take a quick quiz, or conduct additional research and present it to you over dinner.  Be sure to follow the Dallas zoo’s website for updates on when they’re-open to the public.

 

Assemble a New Puzzle

Our Spring Break included a quick get-a-way for my husband and me. My mother-in-law engaged our son with a puzzle. We decided to keep the streak going and put out another puzzle, this one a little more difficult for the varying ages in our household. We all enjoyed walking past and trying a new section. As a bonus you can stream a podcast via BBC earth where you can listen to 20 minute podcasts focusing on science and nature, or Home of the Brave podcast, taking you on a three part series on grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, while you puzzle over the pieces and learn something new.  

Build an Indoor Reading Nook:

Arranging a few chairs topped with blankets is an easy way to make reading even more fun. Encourage your kids to grab a favorite book, fill the fort with pillows and a few flashlights to make the activity feel special. 

Exercises in a Jar

These are stressful times. Why not encourage your family to move and have some laughs at the same time. Write your favorite or funniest exercises on small pieces of paper and place them in a jar. Take turns selecting one and trying it. Some examples for younger ones include: bear walk, lobster crawl, walk like an elephant, and dance like a monkey. Older kiddos will enjoy burpees, push ups, jumping jacks, and sit ups. If you’re looking for something a little calmer, check out YouTube for a free yoga sesh your toddlers our personal fav is yoga for kids for our younger set and Wanderlust for teens to enjoy. 

 

Get out and explore your local running path or hiking trail:

Why not make a list of things to look for and cross them off as you set out on a hike. Encourage your kiddos to look, smell and enjoy but leave things where they are. Challenge them to see how many types of moving creatures they can spy (think bugs, squirrels and birds) types of leaves and flowers. 

A few places to explore: Texas Buckeye Trail, Spring Creek Forest Trail, Cedar Ridge Preserve and Lower Wetland Cells. 

Enjoy the Night Sky

When was the last time you looked through a telescope? Warmer weather and clear nighttime skies offer an opportunity far from your tv screen to learn about the heavens. Don’t own a telescope? No worries! Your phone likely has a free astronomy app such as Heavens-Above, SkyView Lite, Nightshift: Stargazing & Astronomy-many use your smartphone’s gyroscope and compass to determine what you can observe in the night sky. 

Take this adventure one step further and camp in your backyard. Just pitching a tent, roasting marshmallows, and telling stories around the fire will be a happy memory for your kids during what otherwise is a really difficult time.

These past few weeks have been an important reminder for me that I can only control what I can control. Rather than focus on the negatives of social distancing, we can choose to make the best of a bad situation, creating fun family activities, and modeling for our children how we respond when the going gets tough. 

Here is wishing you and yours safety and good health as we navigate this global health crisis.

At-Home Elementary Music Resources and Activities

at home music resources

Every year in March, I get to bring to light something near and dear to my heart. As an elementary music teacher, part of my job is to advocate for my students and for the music program on my campus that does so much for every single one of them, whether they know it or not. March is National Music In Our Schools Month, but since schools are not in session right now, I’ve compiled a short list of activities for kiddos to do at home to keep them singing, dancing, and thinking about music in day-to-day life. Music does so much for each one of us, especially in difficult and stressful times.

Here are musical activities to do while your kids learn from home:

Resources and Activities for Primary Grades

YouTube is a FANTASTIC resource for young kids. At this age, a huge part of what we do is singing and movement. Here are a few YouTube Channels to check out. I recommend encouraging your child to copy the motions, sing along, invent their own dance moves to represent different sections of the music. This is also a great way to get their energy out! 

  • Prodigies Music Lessons – There are lots of great singing and music literacy activities on this channel. Set several up on a playlist and let them go! Some of these do require specific musical instruments, so unless you happen to have access to them, I’d skip those and go for the singing videos.
  • The Learning Station – This is one of my favorites for the littlest ones who love lots of silly movement. My 5-year-old loves the songs! These are also great for setting up a playlist on your SmartTV, Chromecast, or even your table and letting them sing and copy the motions.
  • Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel – Sing, dance, exercise, learn simple math and sight words.

Other simple at home activities for younger students

  • Play 20 minutes of classical music for your children and color or draw what they think the music feels like.
  • Read children’s nursery rhymes. These little rhymes are the building blocks of so many early childhood songs!
  • Have your kids tell you about a song they heard on TV/at the grocery store/in the car. What did it sound like? How did it make you feel?
  • Use random household objects to create your own musical instrument. Paper plates, beans, disposable plastic cups, duck tape, old shoe boxes, rubber bands. Then play some upbeat Disney music and have a family jam session!
  • If you play an instrument or have one tucked in a storage closet at home, this is a great time to pull it out and let them have some hands on time getting to know how it sounds!

Resources and Activities for Upper Elementary Grades

Classics for Kids has lots of composer biographies and printable word searches, coloring sheets and other activities that can be used for a weekly music time.

Listening Adventures is a game that is sponsored by Carnegie Hall. Students go on a virtual adventure to track down and learn about each instrument of the orchestra. This can be done completely online and completely free!

Other simple activities for upper elementary students

  • Play 20 minutes of music from different genres, (jazz tunes, movie soundtracks, Disney songs, piano solos, etc) and have your kids describe what they hear. How does the music make them feel? What instruments or singing voices do they hear? Do they like this style of music? Why or why not? This is not only an opportunity to expose your child (and yourself) to different types of music, but this also gets them writing, thinking critically, and expressing their opinion.
  • In reality, big kids are just little kids in bigger bodies, so go ahead and play some of those fun YouTube videos with silly dance moves for them. Do the Cha Cha slide or follow a Just Dance video online to get them moving and giggling. They’ll think it’s weird until they realize how much fun they’re having. Have family karaoke time in your living room. Tell them about your favorite memories involving music. This is a great opportunity to connect with your kid in a new and memorable way.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas in which you can incorporate simple music activities into your child’s day as they spend time learning at home. I’m sure there are many other resources out there, so if you have a favorite that I left off, feel free to link or share in the comments!

Dallas Moms Need to Know :: A Guide to the Month of April

Without a doubt, this is the most unusual event guide I’ve ever had to put together. I mean, THERE ARE NO EVENTS. So where to begin? Let’s start with gratitude for anyone on the front lines in any capacity. We are incredibly thankful for your efforts, and we salute you. If you aren’t personally out there but are holding things down at home for someone who is, you deserve a huge shout out, too.

And for those of us whose main job right now is to STAY HOME, I know the walls are starting to close in a bit. Lots of avenues for anxiety, especially if you’re reading the news. But we do our best, right? Count your blessings where you find them. Help others, even in small ways, to boost your spirit. We’ll find our new normal. We always do.

I think what I’ll do with this guide is to make a roundup of activities and online happenings that you might not have seen before. And even if you have, it’ll be a handy spot to find a whole bunch of ideas.

things to do at home with kidsAs usual, when you subscribe to our Newsletter, you’ll get this list sent straight to your inbox.

  • Dallas Public Library :: The Dallas libraries are closed for now, but they’ve gathered online resources and downloadable media options, including Tumble which highlights a different kids’ book each day.
  • KERA just launched KERA Learn!, a new lineup of curriculum-based television programs supporting at-home learning for students in more than 120 school districts across North Texas for K-12th grade. All these free programs and resources are aligned with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards.
  • For the month of April you can get a bunch of free shows, docs, and movies on HBO GO, HBO NOW or On Demand. Click the link for a full list of what’s available.
  • Surprise Ferocious Beings Paper Project from Craftwhack has been VERY enjoyable for kids of all ages based on my (extremely small-scale) survey. All you need is a sheet of paper and some drawing materials. Art for Kids Hub also has lots of tutorials on this kind of project. Here’s a cute Easter one.
  • How to Sound like a Dog in 14 Languages :: Illustrator James Chapman covers the way animal sounds differ across languages. Poke around on his site to see different popular character names translated, different expressions from around the world, and more…
  • If you’re leaning in to screen time right now, you will not hear any protest from us. If you’re trying to limit it but still want to throw the kids a bone, how about an animal live stream? Here are my faves: San Diego Zoo (pick your animal); the Jelly Cam, Moon Jelly Cam, and the Sea Otter Cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium; and the “Currently Live” section at Explore.org.
    Note: The Monterey Bay Aquarium also just added a bunch of learning-at-home activities and games that look great.
  • For local zoo action, the Dallas Zoo started a Bring The Zoo To You program with virtual visits, chats with zookeepers, activity ideas, printables, and more. Also cool: The Cincinnati Zoo does a Home Safari Facebook Live at 3pm each day with a different animal visit and activity idea each time. You can see all the past ones at the link.
  • Audible :: Big collection of stories for kids, free to stream on any device for as long as schools are closed!
  • Libby :: Speaking of free books, get the Libby app (by OverDrive) to borrow e-books, audiobooks, and magazines from your public library. You can sort by genre and what’s available, and it tells you how long you can expect to wait if you place an item on hold.
via Amy O’Neill @amymoneill on Twitter
  • Scavenger Hunt Color Wheel :: Really love this idea from Amy O’Neill on Twitter. Look for objects around the house in each shade of the rainbow. Arrange them for a pic! Check out Amy’s, it’s beautiful!
  • Alphabet Scavenger Hunt :: Find something in the house that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Do it together or send older kids around with a device and have them photograph each item.
  • My favorite home videos are from the time I set up a camera and let my kids record their own makeup tutorials. They were age 3 and 5. My son smelled everything before deciding what to apply. Highly recommend this activity, and you can share it with grandparents for a pick-me-up.
  • If you’ve never checked out Gourmet Makes, now’s a perfect time. See Claire attempt to recreate all kinds of snacks from scratch: Doritos, Oreos, Lucky Charms, Sour Patch Kids. It’s a delight.
  • #GadBookClub :: Josh Gad (Olaf from Frozen) has been reading children’s books aloud. He does a livestream each evening but then posts the video to his feed, so don’t worry about missing it.
  • Similary, Voice Actors Read is a new Instagram page dedicated to daily children’s storytimes and music. And children’s book author Oliver Jeffers has a good one going each day, as well.
  • NASA Kids’ Club :: NASA has a bunch of educational games and activities for kids from preK to 4th grade. We’re definitely going to make straw rockets and have a launching contest.
  • Highlights Kids :: This has been a good one for us. They’ve got a bunch of learning-at-home ideas, but we get particular mileage out of Hidden Pictures (and My First Hidden Pictures). You can set it to show just a picture of the hidden item or just the name, so it’s good for a wide age range. Visually scanning for information is a great learning skill to practice!
  • Get old-fashioned with My ’90s TV! We’ve told the kids what tv was like back in the day, but now they can see for themselves. Here’s My ’80s TV! if you want to go even further back.
  • Art Museums :: Google Arts & Culture allows you to virtually visit a ton of art museums around the world. It’s truly an amazing resource. WHY was I not aware of it before??
  • The Laurie Berkner Band is getting involved, posting video performances of children’s music every weekday for Berkner Breakfast (7am) and Berkner Breaks during the day.
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga :: Yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation designed for kids ages 3 and up. You know it, you love it. More than homeschool, right now I’m focusing on my kids’ mental wellness, as they are surely picking up on our heightened stress levels despite my best efforts.
  • Parry Gripp MEGA PARTY dance party playlist. You may not like it, but THE KIDS WILL.
  • Jackbox Games :: In light of recent pandemic events, they’re giving away Drawful 2 for 3 weeks starting March 20. It’s a super fun game, and you can play remotely with family & friends!
  • We’re all well aware of GoNoodle at this point, but if you haven’t checked them out since we’ve been homebound, I recommend it. Their Good Energy at Home section, in particular!
  • Lunchtime Doodles :: Mo Willems (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) leads weekday drawing classes from his home with a nice, chill vibe.
  • Art Lessons :: More art classes!
    Wendy MacNaughton is an art teacher/illustrator who does a daily Instagram Live drawing class M-F at noon.
    – Carson Ellis has a Quarantine Art Club offering daily prompts on IG.
    Draw Everyday with JJK are great daily instructional videos for learning how to illustrate a story or comic. Best for slightly older kids.
    Drawing with Toddlers is a daily Instagram Live series with children’s book illustrator E.B. Goodale on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30am.
  • Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants, Dog Man) just launched Dav Pilkey at Home, featuring creative project ideas and a new drawing lesson video every Friday morning.
  • Harry Potter at Home is another new one! Bringing Hogwarts to you with crafts, puzzles, quizzes, articles, etc. for both first-time readers and longtime stans.
  • If you’re competent in the kitchen, give yourself a challenge and use the oldest thing in your pantry. I was making soup the other day and wanted to thicken it with some cornstarch. Just out of curiosity, checked the expiration date – 2013!!! Thanks to Google, I learned that unless there’s bugs in it, cornstarch basically lasts forever. So yeah, I used it.

If you have any other fun ideas, please share them below!

7 North Texas Shops to Support from the Comfort of Home

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The time is always right to support local makers and business owners but in light of the shelter-in-place orders many of us are under, there has never been a better time to show your local shops some love.

March 29 is National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day. It’s the perfect excuse to celebrate your friends, coworkers, neighbors and community members who own and operate their own businesses. If you aren’t sure where to start, I want to share a few of my favorites with you …

You’ll love the prints, stationery sets and more from Molly’s shop, Tokodots. She’s a local mom and business owner.
SaRatta is a business owner, author, motivational speaker and you’ll love her Expressions Bracelets pieces.
You’ll find CocoAndré Chocolatier near the Bishop Arts District, and they ship so you can order online! The adorable family-owned shop has been here for more than a decade and offers handcrafted chocolate, drinking chocolate and even offers vegan options.
There are so many beautifully scented soaps, candles and more to discover from The Pig and the Peacock. And ordering from this shop means supporting the local sister duo behind it. They take great care in the making of their products, and we are all stocking up on soap these days anyway, right?

Here are a few other local shops worth supporting online while we shelter in place:

For the book lovers

If you’ve never visited Interabang Books in person, add it to your list for places to visit once it is safe to do so. In the mean time, you can order online to support this local bookshop. And check out their social media for more information on book recommendations too.

For a little bit of everything

Did you know you can shop The Vintage House from home? It is so fun to browse the pretty pink shop in Historic Downtown Carrollton but for now let’s just be grateful we can shop their wares while safely at home.

For the candy and soda lovers

If you’ve already eaten through your chocolate rations and all the secret Easter candy, it’s okay. Blooms Candy and Soda Pop Shop offers online shopping of a wide selection from salt water taffy to enormous gummy worms. They even have quarantine soda. Yep, that’s a thing.

Let’s all show some love to our favorite mom and pop shops!

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