We talk with Lilly Yeh who started Little Loving Hands in hopes to provide an option for parents to start shifting a focus on teaching kids about empathy and giving back. Every month, they spotlight a different charity and send out all the materials needed for a child to learn about who they are helping and create a beautiful gift that is sent back to the charity using a pre-paid envelope. To date, kids all over the country have directly helped support sick children, the homeless, and the elderly.
What costumes do your kids want? How are you going to decorate (or not) for the season? Are you in charge of games at the school party? What about some fun food ideas? We cover these topics and more with some excellent ideas to help you get your Spook On!
Some Decorating Tips
- If you can’t decorate a lot, choose one area to decorate and put it all in that one place.
- Your front door is a great place to decorate because many people come there (see the photo of Nancy’s front door above)
- Choose one Room to decorate (Nancy’s living room gets transformed with a Harry Potter Theme–check out the book titles and the magazines–great printables from online)
- Choose a theme and a style
- The key is to have some cohesive look (cutesy or scary, Harry Potter look or Fall Décor, witches or scarecrows)
- Find a color palate and stick with it. Spray paint can be a life-saver
- Black and Orange are not the only colors. Try using lime green or turquoise to spice it up. Silver and white work too to give a ghostly feel.
- Use what you have—don’t buy new things
- Outside lanterns for summer become spooky lanterns
- Planters/Urns can be used to stage pumpkins or Witches Legs
- Trimmed trees or bushes can become backdrops for both Fall and Halloween scenes
- Vases and jars can become apothecary jars
- Family silver and old photos of relatives add that old feeling
- Candles add ambiance
- Check out a past podcast and photos
- Paper can be your cheap friend for a great impact (Shelly’s silhouette)
- More is More—one bat won’t cut it. You need a swarm for impact.
- Check out the perfect way to cut out a pumpkin for cleaning and lighting http://makezine.com/2009/10/23/a-better-way-to-slice-a-pumpkin/
Ideas for School Games
- Eyeballs—have you played Kerplunk? Do this at school with eyeballs (ping pong balls painted)
- Eyeball relay with eyeballs and spoons where they have to carry the eyeball through a course and drop it in the cup.
- RENAME a game Shrinking Island (like Musical Chairs)
- Witches Stew (kids have to make a stew by picking up pieces of paper with a straw and suction to get them in to their stew—the first one wins) Print pictures of Halloween ingredients for the stew from the Internet and
- Start early
- Think of something easily recognizable but not often repeated
- If on a budget, think of something that uses what you already have (Clothing, etc)
- Use a toothpick to drag out legs from melted chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies http://jensfavoritecookies.com/2013/10/19/spider-cookies-2/ or go to http://iambaker.net/spider-chocolate-chip-cookies/
- Inside out Caramel Apples–slice the apple in half, core out the seeds and a bit more flesh, pour the caramel in the center and let set up before slicing.
- Turn Cuties (small oranges) into pumpkins (with or without the peel). With the peel–draw faces on the peel. Without the peel–stick a green candy coming out the top like a pumpkin stem.
How to Get the Witch Leg Look
Once you get the legs, you can attach them to your pot. I used two dowels (actually two checkered flags on wooden sticks) to give the legs some stability. Then, I attached the shoes to the legs using rubber bands that I covered with cute ribbon (see the photo at the top).
What parents don’t want an island get away? But leaving kids behind to travel across the Pacific ocean might not be in your comfort zone. We found an island in the lower 48 states that is tropical, easily accessible and less expensive than a hula holiday.
If you think of San Diego for Sea World, Legoland and surfing, we found that San Diego has a romantic side to it just right in price and tempo for a quick getaway. Leave the kids and the sippy cups and pack your swim suit and favorite black dress for relaxation on a very tropical island.
We stayed at the the Paradise Point Resort on Vacation Island to celebrate our 20th anniversatry. It is an island oasis in the lower 48 that offers amenities and relaxation without the need to fly across the Pacific. The island has so much to do that it was actually hard to think about leaving–and we didn’t for the first few days. With 5 pools, a marina with boats and other water toys to rent, bikes, segways, tennis courts, mini golf, tennis courts, and white sandy beaches, there really is no reason to leave.
We enjoyed our stay in a Bayside Bungalow on the lagoon side. The bungalow is a wonderful choice for a couple wanting a relaxing and romatic getaway. We had our own beach and lagoon to have evening strolls on and lounge on. The water was even warm enough to swim in (in California–the water can be very cold). We even saw lobsters walking along the bottom.
We enjoyed swimming in the pools and eating in the various restaurants on property. My favorite meal was eating poolside at the Tropics Cantina. The carne asada salad was delicious and the atmosphere was wonderful. We also enjoyed the lagoon-side lunch at the Barefoot Bar and Grill. Barefoot boasts a beautiful view of the marina and a lagoon filled with leopard sharks and rays. For a scuba diver, it was fun to watch them while eating. Dinner at Tidal, Paradise Point’s new restaurant, was a feast for the eye and the palate.
Even though it was hard to leave our island oasis, we did venture in to San Diego where we visited Old Town and ate at Casa Guadalajara. The fajitas were plentiful and delicious. We strolled Old Town looking at the various historic buildings. One that we enjoyed especially was the Mormon Battalion presentation. It is fun and interactive. Arthur even got to dress up as a battalion member and pan for gold.
We took a Harbor Cruise with Hornblower and it was quite interesting and enjoyable and gave us a great view of the San Diego skyline as well as many of the military establishments around San Diego. Located next to the USS Midway, the cruise was quite accessible–just bring quarters for the metered parking or be prepared to pay $10 for all day parking.
Finally, don’t miss out on Coronado island and especially don’t miss Sunday Brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado. It was amazing. The hotel and the meal are a feast for the eyes and the palate. I especially loved the ceviche, crab legs, shrimp, striped bass, and salmon. If you are not a seafood lover, there is a carving station that is incredible. Everything was abundant and delicious. Since I am gluten-free, there was an entire section of sandwiches and paninis that I did not even venture to. There was also a complete breakfast section.
Coronado beach was also incredible. The sand and the sea meet beautifully with a view of Mexico to the south and Point Loma to the North. We met another couple on a romantic getaway strolling the beach like we were. We enjoyed watching a man make a massive sand castle and kids jumping in and out of the waves. If we had more time, we would have taken some lounge chairs in front of the hotel and relaxed while being served by an impeccable staff.
San Diego makes the perfect easy get away since paradise is only 10 minutes away from the airport. We only drove 66 miles in our 4-day trip. Everything is close and easily accessible when and if you decide to leave Paradise. But if you decide not to leave Paradise Point, you could spend your entire vacation there and be perfectly content.
We discuss successful techniques to collect stories from family members this holiday season and every day of the year. Capturing the stories and preserving the for your family is easy. Learn how your phone or other digital recorder can be used and how to ask the right question to start the stories flowing.
Stop Summer Brain Drain with some simple math programs and websites you can use to keep your kids doing math all summer.
Nancy’s favorite is Khan Academy.
Check out math and other school programs at Costco as well.
Summer is a transition out of regular routine. Are you a planner or not? How do you make summer a success for you and your kids? We discuss how we face summer. Some of us are planners and others are “free range.” Learn the benefits of both styles and how to find your own style for success.
Think it is too late to learn an instrument? Lindsay is living proof that it isn’t. She takes lessons from Tricia. Nancy and Shelly learned to play guitar as adults (Shelly much better than Nancy). We discuss what it takes to learn an instrument as an adult and what it can give to your soul to take on the challenge.
Runner Julie Thomas discusses how things change when you are pregnant and if you can keep running. She is the mom of 6 children and trained for marathons while pregnant. Shelly, our Zumba instructor co-hosts asks all her questions about how to run when pregnant.
Nancy and Lindsay discuss how to get the entire family into winter sports like skiing–both downhill and cross country. Don’t stay locked inside the house this winter–get out together and enjoy an amazing, healthy time together.
LaNae Callihan of It’s Written On the Wall shares simple tips to make this holiday season merry and bright. Her ideas are simple to do and her downloads are free and give you the best gifts for neighbors and teachers as well as our favorite Lunchbox Notes. She is an accomplished artist and has a fabulous eye for simple design. Check out her blog and see what you can be doing to make your holidays merry and bright! All you need is a printer, some scissors and a great imagination!
If you have a child in upper elementary grades or jr. high, you have probably faced the dreaded science fair. Listen with us and laugh about this rite of passage. If your kids are not there yet, listen and learn what NOT to do and WHAT WORKS when helping your child with their science fair project.
Santa Cruz offers some unique experiences. For our inter-generational travel in California, we chose to see the Redwoods on the Roaring Camp Railroad and enjoy a quintessential beach boardwalk experience on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
The Roaring Camp Railroad is located just outside Santa Cruz. In the summer, you can take the railroad from the Boardwalk to the mountains. The railroad is magical, set in a mountainous redwood forest. On the day we rode the railroad, it was raining lightly with a fog and it was easy to imagine prehistoric creatures roaming the landscape. When our 1917 Steam Engine appeared, it was like something out of a movie with steam billowing from it like a snorting dragon. For Harry Potter fans, the experience was just like stepping on to Platform 9 3/4.
The ride itself was interesting to all generations. Seeing the Redwoods by train is a great experience for younger children who cannot walk far and for grandparents not up to the hike. The added excitement of experiencing the train made them all the more magical. Watching the engineer switch the tracks and hearing the horn blow brought smiles to my pre-teens face (a rare sighting). Everyone was happy with the experience. The Camp is clean and makes a great place for lunch with many kid-friendly options. The staff was very nice and the entire experience was amazing. Roaring Camp Railroad sponsors fun events on holidays like an Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween Ghost train, Day out With Thomas and much more. As difficult as it is to find something that everyone enjoys, this makes our list of the most fun California activities!
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is truly the quintessential beach boardwalk experience. It brought back childhood memories to Grandma and gave great new experiences to our children. With a roller coaster on the National Registry along with many modern rides, an arcade and midway, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has fun for everyone. Don’t pass up the best lollipops in the nation–created by Kendon’s in San Jose, CA, these lollipops are divine! We were there on a rainy day so we did not get to ride too many rides, but it was still a fun time and my kids only wanted to stay longer.
We had lunch at the Picnic Basket, a local sandwich shop dedicated to simple, delicious food and treats, seasoned with lots of love. Local farmers, foragers, and artisans, including the famous Penny Ice Creamery, are the cornerstone of their seasonal menu. Lunch was a HIT with Mom and Grandma but not as much with the kids since the food is a bit upscale for their taste. However, the ice cream, which is handmade by the owner, was a surefire hit with the kids. We recommend this place for lunch to our friends whose kids’ palate is more developed or to adults wanting a quick delicious bite. Ice Cream for Everyone!
San Francisco: an enchanting city and with a stay at the Mark Hopkins on Nob Hill, who wouldn’t be enchanted. We discuss our inter-generational travel to the city by the Bay and how to make it work for every generation along with our exciting adventures.
You would think that a city without a large amusement park would be the last place to take children. San Francisco is an amazing place because it is the city itself that provides the amusement. There is something about it from the hilly streets, cable cars, winding roads, bridges, fog and rain, and of course Nob Hill and the Mark Hopkins hotel that makes this city enjoyable for all generations. This city holds extra charm for us because it is the city where my mother and I started our journey together–where my mom had lived as a single woman and then taken me as her baby and young daughter to enjoy city life.
During our 3 days in San Francisco, we took in the city’s sites using our San Francisco City Pass. From other shows, you know we are a fan of checking for City Passes that include multiple attractions and rides on local transport services–this was a great deal since it included museums, cable cars, muni-bus service, and a ride on the Blue and Gold Fleet.
The Escape from the Rock cruise around the bay plus Alcatraz was fabulous and well worth the extra money. Alex, who never stays still, listened to the narration intently. He had read a few books that featured Alcatraz and was surprised to learn that Al Capone was just a short, fat Italian who he never would have recognized as a criminal mastermind. The view of Alcatraz was incredible. We opted not to go to the island because the climb up is very steep and Grandma would not be able to make it. Sometimes, with inter-generational travel, you have to make these decisions.
Another thing we are fans of are hop-on hop-off bus tours because they allow you to see the sites in major cities the way you want to in an efficient manner. The City Sight Seeing San Francisco double decker bus was just perfect for this. We opted for the 4-tour pack but only were able to do two of the tours–the downtown loop and Golden Gate to Sausalito. It was still a bargain and I would do it again (we ran out of time and it was raining in the evening so the night tour would not have been that much fun). The tour guides on both were lively and entertaining with great stories and information to help.
Because the weather can be very unpredictable in San Francisco and we dealt with a great amount of rain while we were there (houses in the city were flooding), we had to plan around it a bit. Remember to bring rain gear and warm clothes even in the summer. The sweat shirt shops do huge business in July when tourists expect summer temps and get rain and cold.
We also enjoyed walking through Chinatown and going to the Chinatown Kite Shop. Alex bought a Dragon Kite that we have since found is impossible for him to fly (the woman at the store was very knowledgeable and tried to help him find a kite that was easy to fly but he chose looks over function and how we have a nice kite hanging in his room). We went to Japantown as well, but it is not comparable to Chinatown in size. We did get some great Bento Lunchbox items and Origami papers there though.
Being in the city itself is the fun. We rode the cable cars up and down California Avenue enjoying the feel of the wind in our faces and the fun of the ride. Our HUGE tip is do not wait in line at Fisherman’s Wharf for the cable car ride–you can wait up to 2 hours to ride a cable car if you do on any of the three lines. Walk, drive or take public transportation to any where down to the middle or other end one of the three lines and you can get right on. At the end of the California line, there were only 10 passengers boarding and we got to take pictures while the gripman took a quick break.
Even though the city itself is the attraction, we did go to two museums: the Cable Car Museum and the Exploratorium. The Cable Car Museum sits on Nob Hill and can be accessed by the California line or the Powell-Mason line. It is the actual working hub of the cable car system and allows you to see how the cables run through the city and what employees need to do to keep the cars running. It is incredibly educational and fun, especially after a few rides on the cable cars. We left Grandma behind for this museum because the trek from the California line was too steep for her. However, we could have taken her on the Powell-Mason line which drops you off right in front of the museum.
The Exploratorium is a uniquely educational and fun museum for kids and parents. It is filled with experiments and displays that, if the time is taken, can teach principles of science, physics, geology, meteorology and more. My kids were less interested in active learning and opted for the “let’s have fun” approach and just played in the Exploratorium. That has its value too. Mom and Grandma got some needed time to relax while the kids entertained themselves. The Exploratorium is included in the San Francisco City Pass and the pass even gets you past the very long line to get in–you go to a separate window and get right in–a real plus for us since we were there on a day where the line had over 100 people waiting in it. If you are taking the Golden Gate to Sausalito hop-on hop-off bus tour, you can stop at the Exploratorium before going to Golden Gate. Even though parking at this museum is free, it is difficult so if you have the tour, use it first as transportation to the museum and then join a tour a few hours later to go across the Golden Gate Bridge. Tip: The food at the Exploratorium is great. Like most food in the Bay area, it is a step up from the common fare at museums. We had the hand-tossed pizza and nachos which used REAL cheese and not sauce. It was very delicious.
The most enchanting part of our entire stay in San Francisco was the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins on Nob Hill. I cannot say enough about this hotel. People may shy away from it because of its prestige and location, but it is a fabulous family destination. The service is incredible and the hotel is enchanting. My kids ask everyday if they can go back to the Mark Hopkins again. When we made our reservations, the staff asked the ages of our party members and if any members of our party had any special needs. When we arrived, there were cookies and milk in our room for our kids and even a plate of gluten free cookies for me (WHOOO HOOOO!) The pastry chef at the Mark Hopkins has to be a cookie fairy. These were the best cookies ever. My kids and Grandma ate cookies day and night.
We had asked for a room that accommodated roll-away beds if possible–a rarity in a city hotel because the rooms are generally quite small. When we arrived and were shown our room, the manager called up and said that he was afraid that our room was too small for a roll-away but that he could move us to a room where one was available. We agreed and the staff moved our luggage while we were at dinner. When we arrived at our new hotel room, we found that we had been moved to a room on the 16th floor that looked exactly the same as our other room with one exception–it had a sun room where the staff had placed a roll-away bed with a teddy bear on it! We had a 3/4 view of San Francisco to enjoy as well. My son thoroughly enjoyed his stay in the sun room and did not want to leave. The magic of older hotels is that there are small gems like this room tucked away in them. We are so lucky we got to experience it. After one of the staff told us that we were staying on one of the floors where the Saudi princes stay when they come, we had fun imagining who might have stayed in the room we were in.
The Mark Hopkins is truly a luxurious hotel but is also very accessible for families. We met a family earlier in our travels (see our show on Monterey) and they were also staying at the Mark Hopkins. The rack room rate is very reasonable and the rooms are quite luxurious. Of course, the hotel has a wonderful set of suites if you need the extra space and have the money to spend. These are very luxurious and include rooms that bring the charm of old San Francisco with a feel of staying in a library to a modern suite that feels like an apartment for a hip DotCom mogul. But, you don’t have to splurge to take advantage of the amazing staff (that is the REAL difference in a good hotel and an amazing hotel). The staff treated us like royalty. They parked our Hundai rental car right next to a Rolls Royce and a Lexus happily and were there to open doors, give advice, and make our stay amazing.
The Mark Hopkins has a famous restaurant called the Top of the Mark. It is a great place to have tea with the kids and enjoy the amazing view of the city. It is one of the highest points in the city and the view cannot be matched. The Top of the Mark has been the sight of many impressive parties and was a true in-spot in the 1960s. In her younger days, my mom met Liberace at the Top of the Mark.
One option the hotel offers that I would suggest is the Club Intercontinental Lounge. If you are not a member, you can purchase a membership while you are staying at the hotel. Located on the Lobby floor, the Club offers 5 food and beverage services a day including a spectacular continental breakfast with smoked salmon, cheese, cold cuts, cereal, yogurt, fruit, pastries and much more. Grandma and the kids LOVED the last service called Sweet Dreams because they served their favorite cookies which we cannot say enough about! The food services are also very convenient if you are dropping in to the hotel during your activities. The kids were able to get a soda and some fruit in between sight seeing and riding the cable car. We were in no rush and did not have to sit with other diners while we just had a quick sip and then were off again. It is a perfect option with kids who need to eat frequently but don’t eat too much each time. As we enjoyed ourselves, we could hear the cable car bell outside which added to the charm. The Club also includes a game area where families can play games in the evening as well as a tv with DVDs and a Office area with computers, internet, printers and so forth needed to make travel plans easily. Members are also enjoy a later check out time–2pm–and a guest relations staff member there to help arrange anything needed.
My heart and the hearts of my children have been left in this beautiful city. They ask daily if we can return to the Mark Hopkins and to the wonderful city of San Francisco. The trip was a magical experience for all generations with my mom and I reliving our past experiences while making new memories with my children. San Francisco is a place we will return to again and again.
Shelly gets down and dirty about how to garden with kids. She discusses what to plant, when to plant, how much to plant and what NOT to do (and it is exactly what Nancy would do).
Nancy chose this as the winter to challenge herself and learn to ski. She and Shelly discuss taking on a new challenge in life and learning how to do something new and exciting. They discuss the specifics of being successful at skiing but also the general principles of learning anything new or succeeding in life.
Nancy learned to ski at the Sundance Resort Ladies Day.
Here is a video of Nancy skiing–not bad for a true beginner who has only had four lessons.
Shelly suggested the following book: We Can Do, by Moshe Kai Cavalin
Other Post on Skiing
Kathy Irving and Nancy (author of Baby Signing 1, 2, 3) continue their discussion and explain what it takes to sign with your child and the benefits that come from it. With her background working with hearing impaired children, Kathy is uniquely qualified to explain what is going on with her daughter and other kids who are lucky enough to sign with their parents. This is Part 2 of a 2 Part discussion requested by listeners.
How did I do it? I have to thank Sundance Ladies Day and Cody Hale. Sundance has been teaching women to ski for years and they know how to create the right atmosphere. The price is so right and the teachers are so great that it really is the best deal around! The cost of the 4 weeks of lessons is about what it would have cost for lift tickets. How could I pass that up?
Now, if I could just feel comfortable going up alone with my kids . . . So . . . . I think I am going to take another 4 weeks of Ladies Day! I want to feel comfortable with myself on the mountain.
This time at Sundance Ladies Day, I actually did something closer to skiing. Don’t pay too much attention to the flailing arms, but look what I did on my second day actually getting off the lift at the first stop. Can you believe it? I could not. In only three lessons, I am going down the mountain! Even though I fell quite a bit, I am so glad to be up on skis instead of down on the snow. I think I am getting the hang of this skiing thing. I can’t wait to come back next week! Cody has been such a great teacher and it has been so wonderful to get to know him as we have been sitting on the lift.
Such a wonderful experience and now I can ski a bit! I am looking forward to learning more and getting better. I don’t have any illusion that I am done learning, but I am on my way! No more bunny hill for me.
This week’s Sundance Ladies Day lesson was not half as bad as last week’s. My daughter and I had an easier time walking to the lessons in our boots and our angels were there to help again. Thank goodness those lovely ladies are there to help the stranded.
Once we got to the Ski School, my daughter took off happily with her instructor. I met up with Cody with a bit of fear in my heart. He had told me last week that we would be taking the lift up for sure today. I cannot even imagine the idea of getting on the lift, not to mention getting off the lift. It is one of my greatest fears.
Cody and I took off to the bunny hill and after several semi-successful runs (with fewer falls), Cody said I was ready to take the lift. However, I first had to make it down from the bunny hill to the lift–a very daunting task for someone on her first lesson on a day when there is very little snow to soften the fall. Thanks to Cody and his patience, we made it down to the lift. I was so scared. I have been on the lift in the summer with a mountain bike, but that is one thing–no storm trooper boots with sticks strapped to your legs to get in the way of getting off. How was I supposed to get off and not fall off?
Cody promised me that I would be able to get off successfully. He has this ability to make me feel calm and trust him. So, I went with him. We chatted for the few minutes it took to get to the first stop–not long enough for me. When the first stop came, he guided my elbow and somehow, I got off the lift without falling. It was a great achievement for me.
And then I saw it–the mountain! It was the bunny hill on steroids. How was I supposed to get down from there? People were swishing around me with smiles on their faces, enjoying themselves. But I was stunned by the task that was ahead of me.
I really don’t know how I made it down. I fell a few times and it took us about 30 minutes to get down, but I made it. I actually skied down the first stop! My daughter passed me several times while I was trying to get down. She was so happy. Oh, to be small! I am proud that I made it. Even if I never go up again, I made it down!