Vacations – Unplugged?

     We’ve talked about family vacations, road trips, and tourist traps already, so now here are some suggestions for you about how to enhance the family flavor of any vacation!!

     With these little darlin’s here, do you really need electronics sticking in your ears or fingers playing with buttons…or is all you need a camera and some fun?
    When you’re on the road try for an electronics embargo! No matter the age of the child, you need some conversation, play time, and family interaction. So let the kids know that they have a certain amount of time allowed for tech stuff…1 hour, 2 hours, hopefully not too much more than that. That includes all forms of technology: phones, music, DVDs, texts…if it involves a screen or ear buds, it’s a part of the embargo. That also includes you!!! If you are texting or scrolling you are excluding your children from interacting with you. Whether they know it or not, that is painful!! Find fun, silly ways to spend this enforced family time.   And remember, the driver gets to choose the music…that was always our rule:)  But the driver should compromise by including everyone’s wishes occasionally. Listening to each other’s music can be enlightening..sometimes even scary!! Sharing with each other can lead to appreciating each other more.

     When you have arrived at your destination, TURN OFF your stuff!! Do you really need it? Nope!! Try to believe that you’re actually allowed time away from everything and everyone! As you go out and about, leave that phone turned off and leave all other tech items in the car or room. Try to keep it off and only check it when you return to your room, or campsite, at the end of the day.
    Now’s the time to engage in all the sights with your family. Have fun!! Ask questions, give them cheap cameras of their own, let them keep a journal to take notes to help them remember what they see.  Help them collect tourist maps and brochures, stickers, magnets…whatever reminds them of this fantastic family vacation. Possibly give them $1 a day to either save or spend for some silly little toy or candy. Don’t decide to give them more if they whine or beg though…make rules up front and stick with them. It will make the trip a more enjoyable one.

     Coming up next will be ideas for visiting our National Parks! I hope you’ll come back:)

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Happiness Tuesdays #13

Happiness Counts!!!
I am beginning Happiness Tuesdays to tell you some things that make me happy and to share with you quotes, websites, and photos to make you happy!

Happiness Tuesdays #13

Here are three things that make me happy:

1) Sanders Bump Cake – I know it’s supposed to be Bumpy…but we’ve always called it our Bump Cake…used only for birthdays. DEE-licious!
2) Mexican food…let’s have a fiesta with burritos, fajitas, Torch Lake dip, and margaritas…hurray:)    Or OLE!!
3) People who can laugh at themselves – the whole Torch Lake Group (TLG) does it constantly!!

we giggle in the winter
we giggle in the summer
our kids giggle with, and at, us
we giggle at our Mash party
we giggle at ourselves with our ‘boxers’ themed spring vacation

Being able to love people enough to let them make fun of you is such a great gift…we have so much fun, never having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings! Feel free to make fun of us…but be ready for us to reciprocate :)

Teach your kids to lighten up and enjoy themselves…while having fun with you!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Stay Positive!

No, really!!! Stay Positive!!! Put a fake smile on your face until you feel as if the weather really will get better!!
We had 68 degree temp one day, and 2 days later, this:

This would be very pretty if it were December….

Two days later and we have 14 degrees this AM with a high of 31…lovely, huh?
So paste that smile on your face, giggle at the weatherman, and make your own Spring…

Even if you have to buy it at the store  :))

Have a great weekend and
Happy Parenting!
D and C

Are You Ready for the Follow-Through?

Everyone knows how important follow-through is for tennis, golf, baseball, and bowling, right?  Well, what about the follow-through for parenting?  Do you follow through with consequences? How about promises?  Does your “No” always mean “No”?
Your children, as they grow older, will find it easier to believe you and to trust you if you have been one who follows through in your relationship with them. I know that it’s so very hard not to cave in when you see a quivering lip or a big, fat tear…or when they’re bugging you to pieces with “Why not, Mommy?”….or when the darlings are throwing that proverbial tantrum in the grocery store!  BUT – stop to think what will be most helpful to them for their futures – then harden your resolve, stick to your guns, and follow through with whatever you said!

someone! wants to go back in the pool :)

Your excuses:  I get to change my mind if I want to…It’s not that big a thing…They’ll hate me!  Using excuses like these makes the parenting all about you, but the idea of parenting is to PARENT in ways that lead to responsible, independent, productive young people. Your children will appreciate the boundaries you give them when they are older and those boundaries finally make sense to them (honest); but, in the meantime, you need to be their guide and protector and teach them that you mean each and every thing you say to them.

Are you sure this guy’s safe??

Setting and keeping boundaries doesn’t have to feel stern and angry, but it does need to feel definite. When kids know what to expect and know when you’re being serious, it lets them feel secure and  happier in your everyday family relationships.

happy and secure guys!!

Can you stand up and be the parent, not the buddy?  I hope so! Let me know if you have a question or concern I might be able to help answer. Leave a comment or email me…I’d love to help:)

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Happiness Tuesdays #12

Happiness Counts!!!
I am beginning Happiness Tuesdays to tell you some things that make me happy and to share with you quotes, websites, and photos to make you happy!

Happiness Tuesdays #12
Here are three things that make me happy:

1) I love the smell of vanilla…sugar cookies, candles, room fresheners. I am sort of a smellophobe; I can’t stand some odors. If I walk through the cosmetics area in a department store or (yuck) pass by one of those ‘bath’ stores at the mall, I almost gag! So the lovely smell of vanilla is always welcome :)
2) Chicken and dumplings…soup or plain…I love the smell of it cooking and the comfortable memories it brings!
3)Which brings me to happy thoughts of Gramma….dill for pickles, raspberries from the garden, her own chop suey, chicken gravy, frosted brownies….lovely! She’s been gone since 1968, but thoughts of her are never far away :)

Here’s a quote to work with this week:

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
Mother Teresa

Maybe we can all be just a little kinder to each other….

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Tricycles and Training Wheels

Spring, Spring, yes?? no?? In Michigan you can never really be sure. We all need to take advantage of good weather whenever we see it, but I suppose that’s true wherever you live, huh?
Today the temperature might be 45 degrees…

workin’ that trike and ‘wheels’

Have the kids get out into the fresh air anyway…they love it!
Tomorrow the temp may be 60 degrees…

lovin’ riding together

Lighter jackets, but look at those smiles…out of the house, having fun!

riding those bikes to school

When the snow and ice are gone from the streets and sidewalks, off they go to school on their favorite mode of transportation!

riding rental bikes on Mackinac  Island

Riding bikes becomes even more fun when the kids are able to rent bikes while on vacation. They can help plan the route, decide where they would like to go, and have fun as a family.

are you ready?

Are you able to let your kids have messy fun??? Some of our most delightful times with the kids….spring puddles!!!   F2 and I had always loved walking in the rain and, yes, stomping through puddles…so we just naturally encouraged the kids to enjoy the same process. Here’s how it goes….have the kids put on junky (easily cleaned) clothing, get your camera out, and have them speed through any puddles they can find. This is what it looks like:


Does it look like fun??  So many giggles and shrieks! They LOVE it. They also love the ‘skunk stripe’ they get up the back of their shorts and shirts :)  Water and mud…sounds like boys, right? I’ll bet the girls would like it too.  And now, for the teachable moment…

When the kids finish riding through the puddles they have a job to do…every time!! They must hose down their bikes and then completely dry them before putting them away in the garage. This becomes a great lesson in how to take care of your things…explanations of what rust can do and how important it is to take responsibility for their own possessions. No slacking or whining allowed…make it fun, so they’ ll want to do it again!

Have fun with those kids this spring…don’t be afraid of dirt! Hurray for puddles!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Spring?? and St. Patrick’s Day

May your heart be light…and keep looking for that Spring!!!

Here is blue sky, but frozen lake remains…

Can you see the poor ducks trying to walk on the ice?? They’re wondering if they came back a little too soon!

Ice still here…sea wall shedding….spring??

Do you think green things can grow here yet?? But wait…see the sun is actually shining in the background…ah, signs of good things to come:)

The cherubs guarding the spot where the tulips and daffodils will soon grow….maybe a leprechaun is lurking, waiting for spring also:)

Happy St. Patty’s Day to all… find something ‘green’ to do with the munchkins today. They will love it!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Happiness Tuesdays #11

Happiness Counts!!!
I am beginning Happiness Tuesdays to tell you some things that make me happy and to share with you quotes, websites, and photos to make you happy!

Happiness Tuesdays #11
Here are three things that make me happy:

1) when friends of the boys invite me to their weddings….how cool is that??

at J and J’s wedding
at J and S’s wedding
at A and C’s wedding

2) attending colleagues’ weddings…just a couple of examples, but they all were special!

A and T’s wedding…later
at J and A’s wedding

3) When the Torch Lake kids get married…lots of fun!!

at the shower of E and M
at A and D’s wedding

     Weddings of all kinds are fun, but weddings of special people are…well… special!! They make me happy!

Find what makes you happy and jump in with both feet!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Camping with the Kids

F2 and I camped often, including some backpacking before we had the boys, and we camped a lot with our Torch Lake Group friends when they were ‘kidless’ also. So we weren’t new to the game when we started making the camping a family affair. That was definitely helpful.  Taking children camping means putting the focus on them, keeping them involved, and making sure they get enough sleep!!
Some helpful hints??  Make sure your kids can follow your directions without questioning…there are many possibly dangerous situations when you’re out in the woods…so little ones need to do what you say. And…you, as the adult, need to pay even more attention to them than you normally do, to keep them safe and happy.

Can you see them?? Standing with Yogi at Jellystone Park! This is a great kind of ‘starter’ park for camping with kids since it’s planned for families. Lots to do, kids’ movies at night…Chad and Scott loved it!

This is the tent we most often used when camping. Here, we are camping at a State Park somewhere (no clue where!). Can you see the orange color inside the tent?? That is a sleeping bag! You’ll see 2 of these in many of the photos…well-used, and we still have them 25 years later. The boys loved having their very own sleeping bags, but you shouldn’t spend more than you need to either. These came from KMart, and have paid for themselves over and over as they were used to make forts at home also!!

Kids gain skills by helping to put the campsite together..according to their ages! Our guys liked to hand us parts of the tent to put together and our cots, too. Loved those cots, but they tended to be exasperating to set up…arghhh! You need to find time for naps when the little ones are sleepy, so make sure you have a place where the temperature doesn’t get too warm. I made that mistake once and wound up with a sweaty little boy…scared myself, didn’t do it again!!

Is he cute, or what??  Anyway…be prepared for any kind of weather. Early or late summer can be shaky in many parts of the country…at night or early in the morning temps can be far lower than the rest of the day. Having cold, crabby children does not add to the camping experience!

Good Morning, Sweetie-Pies!!  We continued to camp as the guys got older…we could go farther and do more things…setting up and taking down the tent more often. Sometimes the boys didn’t use the cots, just slept on air mattresses on the floor of the tent…still lovin’ those sleeping bags though!

Taking hikes and exploring with families who camped with us was a way to keep the guys entertained. We could teach them some things about nature at the same time. Be prepared for DIRT!! If you’re a fussy person, camping may not be for you. All your equipment, clothing, car…everything winds up with a coating of sand, dirt, pine sap and needles. That’s if it doesn’t rain…yuck!! BUT, all of it was well worth it…all  members of the family loved it. Everything could be cleaned once we arrived back home…you gotta let loose now and then :)

Here we are camping with part of the TLG…bh and eh and their daddy in this photo. Think they enjoy the campfire??? Oh, yes, this is always one of their favorite parts of camping. Smells good, feels good, and you can make s’mores!! Hurray!

Camping in the ‘piney woods’ is such a great family adventure. You can start when the children are very young by taking one night trips and let your adventures grow as your kids do. If you can remember to take pictures along the way…you can take a memory walk through your albums just like I am.

Road trips that involve camping are a fantastic way to strengthen your family as a unit and to instill the character traits you’d like your kids to have in the future. Have fun whenever you can..they grow up soooo fast:)

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Road Trip, Fun Tourist Traps

a road trip to Hartwick Pines, Michigan

Last week I let you know how we traveled in the car as a family while the boys were young (Planning Family Vacations).  I mentioned giving the guys a chance to stop at some of those “amazing” stops along the roadway. If there are certain stops you know you just can’t handle, then be prepared to cover the eyes of the kids who can read the abundance of road signs that advertise them. Be ready to distract and then be firm about your “No.”  But remember that your trip is a family vacation so the kids need to have some input into what they get to see. When that happens they will be so excited to read every one of those obnoxious road signs (hurray for reading)!
Here are a few of the ones where we’ve stopped over the years!!

We had so much fun visiting different “stories”. Kids loved it!

We camped at Houghton Lake  and Higgins Lake in Michigan often. Zubler’s is an amazing touristy shop in Prudenville outside the camp area where kids can browse for hours and pick up such delightful things as tomahawks, slingshots, carved wooden anythings, moccasins, ….seriously, almost anything you can think of…so be prepared to limit spending and/or number of items allowed :)  More on allowances in the future!

The boys loved visiting the Deer Camp where they could see and feed the deer. Looks like Scott wasn’t sure about that deer licking his fingers!!

Do you have a Mystery Spot in your area? They really are fun…based on gravity and difference in perception. Chad was having fun being almost as tall as Dad!

This was a maze built in the forest…with paths formed by ropes! It was actually a little scarier than we thought it would be. Chad and Scott had to stay together and keep within our sight so that we wouldn’t freak out. Keep in mind that we were the overprotective types…and proud of it :)

While traveling in the West, we went to Four Corners…the spot where four states actually touch. The ‘spot’ is on Native American land, so you pay a fee to enter and then there are several little shops if you want to go to them also. We mostly liked the photo opportunity!

Here is Chad riding the ‘jackalope’ at Wall Drugs…you must have seen the signs for Wall Drugs if you travel anywhere in the western half of the country! It is easy to spend hours here if you do go, so plan on it. There are stores within stores, cafeterias, things for kids to sit on, lots of cool and silly things to purchase…so don’t plan on a quick visit, unless you’re ready for sad faces!

The guys of the family decided they would pan for gold! Is it a tourist trap…oh, yes! But did everyone have fun? Absolutely!

I hope this encourages you to at least think about stopping now and then just to have fun with your kids. Add a day of travel time if you need to, to make sure the stress of travel with your family can be relieved with silliness and giggles!

Happy Parenting!
D and C