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Happy New Year from Handstand Kids

With the New Year quickly approaching, it’s time to look back at 2012, pick out and savor precious family memories and promise yourself to be better in the new year.  This is how we grow as people.

Instead of the old stand-by resolutions we often make, such as to lose weight or save money, we look at the travesty that happened earlier this month in Connecticut and challenge all of the parents out there to make this year’s resolutions about the thing that matters most – our families.

Here are some ideas for New Years resolutions that we promise will bring your family closer!

-        Resolve to have “dates” with the kids: Kids and adults crave one-on-one time, but the hustle and bustle of everyday life often gets in the way, plus kids usually have to share the spotlight with siblings. Set aside time for each child to have “dates with mommy” or “dates with daddy.” You can get manicures or even wake up before everyone else in the house for a secret, private breakfast on the porch; just spend time with each child individually and give them your undivided attention.

-        Resolve to have a regular family game night: Whether it’s once a week or once every other month, make the effort to turn off all the electronics and gadgets, and play Monopoly, Scrabble or your family’s favorite old-school board game. The friendly competition is a wonderful opportunity for bonding as a family.

-        Resolve to eat dinner as a family: Instead of grabbing something quick and rushing off to each child’s various activities, put the extra effort into gathering the entire family around the kitchen table for dinner for at least 30 minutes once a week with no TV. It is a great opportunity to hear about everyone’s day and have meaningful conversations with your kids.

-        Resolve to say “yes” more: We certainly don’t mean to imply that you should spoil your kids rotten, but there is something to be said for picking your battles and indulging your kids’ simple wishes occasionally. It’s tempting to say no when we’re busy, have had long days, or are ready to climb into bed. But promise yourself you’ll say yes to the little things more often, and the payoff will be huge. Say “yes” to making cookies on Saturday. Say “yes” to the third bedtime story even though it’s too late. The quality time with your kids and the genuine happiness the “yes” elicits will be well worth it.

Please share your families’ New Years resolutions with us via Facebook or Twitter. Happy New Year from our Handstand Kids family to yours! We hope 2013 fills your home with much love and laughter.

Festive Craft Ideas

The holiday season is finally in full swing! This time of year is special for so many reasons, but one of our very favorite things about the holidays is having the kids home from school for a while. To make the most of this quality family time, it’s important to keep the kids entertained and happy, otherwise they may start driving you nuts! Cooler temperatures can mean fewer outdoor adventures, which is why arts and crafts, such as these, are a perfect way to entertain and delight the kids.

COTTON BALL SNOWMAN (perfect for kids ages 2-6)

This cotton ball snowman is a fun-filled craft that children of all ages can enjoy. All you will need is blue construction paper, cotton balls, glue, scissors, pipe cleaner and felt.  Simply draw three circles on the blue construction paper to make the snowman’s body and fill with tons of cotton balls, then use the felt and pipe cleaner to add facial features and accessorize your snowman. Younger children will love gluing all of the cotton balls down, while older kids will delight in adding their own creative and elaborate touches – from scarves to mittens to hats and more, the possibilities are endless!

 

NEW YEARS EVE DISCO BALL (perfect for kids ages 6-12)

Since the kids may already be tucked into bed when the ball is dropped in Times Square, let them create their own sparkly and festive ball drop! Simply use straight pins to pin sparkly sequins to a Styrofoam craft ball, letting the kids pick the color and patterns of their sequins. Glue a ribbon to the ball so that you can hang their piece of art from the ceiling and have your own New Year’s celebration, any time!

Kids on the Run

According to this article from US News and World Report, if a child shows an interest in running it is important as a parent to encourage them to partake in this activity. Running is a great inexpensive way to help keep kids fit and in shape. Take a look at these tips to help your little runner from the American Council on Exercise:

Let us know how you help out your little runner via Facebook or Twitter!

Get Your Kids Off Of The Couch And Out Of The House!

September 7-14 is “Exercise With Your Kids” Week! Check out these 12 tips about how to get your child off of the couch and out of the house for some fun exercise!

Kid Fitness Tip #1: Think outside the playing field.

Not everyone is drawn to organized sports such as soccer or baseball. Look for other activities your child will enjoy — like dancing, rock climbing, swimming, or martial arts. And have patience — it may take some trial and error before your kid finds the right fit.

“It’s probably time to explore another option when your child is no longer having fun,” says Eric Small, MD, a specialist in pediatric/adolescent sports medicine and author of Kids & Sports. “Keep trying different ideas until something clicks. It’s important to get non-athletic kids motivated and moving so they can enjoy a lifelong habit of physical activity.”

Kid Fitness Tip #2: Join in the game.

Kids love it when their parents play with them. So encourage children’s fitness by taking a family hike. Have a game of catch. Walk or bike to school together. Play hopscotch. “You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or special classes to encourage your child to exercise,” says Patricia Nixon, PhD, president-elect of the North American Society of Pediatric Exercise Medicine.

Kid Fitness Tip #3: Limit screen time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids get no more than one to two hours of screen time a day, whether that’s watching TV, surfing the Internet, or playing video games. But many children spend four or more hours each day in front of a screen. Encourage active alternatives to these passive pastimes, such as shooting hoops at the local playground, walking the dog, or a game of tag.

To help keep temptation at bay, remove TVs from bedrooms and put the computer in a shared space where you can supervise. If you have teens, set guidelines about other sedentary pursuits like chatting on the phone or text messaging.

Kid Fitness Tip #4: Lead by example.

If you vegetate in front of the TV every night, the remote control in one hand and a bag of chips in the other, you’re not practicing what you preach. And your kids aren’t likely to respect restrictions you set on their screen time either. So check your own viewing behavior and serve as a role model by incorporating physical activity into your everyday life. When you can, walk instead of driving. Climb the stairs rather than wait for the elevator. Regularly participate in active pursuits that you enjoy and let your kids see — and hear about — how much you enjoy them.

Kid Fitness Tip #5: Offer positive feedback.

Praise a child for perfecting that handstand or figuring out how to pump those legs to swing high in the sky. Out-of-shape or uncoordinated children need to hear encouragement for reaching even small goals, such as walking or biking further than last time. Remember, acknowledge the effort — choosing to be active or trying to improve a skill — rather than the outcome to help build your child’s confidence, says Small.

Children who aren’t naturally athletic may be self-conscious about their physical skills (or lack of them). They may also fear public failure, embarrassment, or teasing. A child may just be physically cautious. These kids need all the support and cheerleading you can offer. Nagging or negative comments don’t work and will only serve to make your child feel bad, adds Nixon, who conducts research on physical activity and children at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Kid Fitness Tip #6: Bring a friend along.

Kids love to hang out with their peers, so invite a buddy along for a bike ride, offer to bring a friend ice-skating, or head to the pool with a companion. Young children enjoy going to the playground with friends to chase, climb, swing, slide, and run. If your child is more likely to check out a team sport with a friend in tow, then go ahead and sign her up. Just make sure the focus is on making fitness fun and learning new skills — not competition and winning — as this can dampen your child’s enthusiasm for the game.

Kid Fitness Tip #7: Use exercise as a reward.

Forcing a child to go outside and play may backfire and increase resentment and resistance. “Exercise should never be punitive,” says Small. “Don’t make your child run laps or do push-ups as punishment.” Instead, try using physical activity as a reward. Your child might be happy to play kickball for 20 minutes if it’s a chance to take a break from homework.

Kid Fitness Tip #8: Establish a regular routine.

Make sure that children’s fitness is plugged into the family schedule in the same way that school, work, shopping, chores, family gatherings, birthday parties, and playdates find their way onto the calendar. You and your child are more likely to stick to an exercise plan if you incorporate it into your life on a routine basis. And your child will begin to expect (and accept) that Saturday morning usually means a bike ride, and a couple of nights a week after dinner the family takes a brisk walk through the neighborhood.

Kid Fitness Tip #9: Take a non-negotiable position.

Is going to school, brushing teeth, or wearing a seat belt a subject of debate in your home? No, because these are all activities that promote the health, safety, and well-being of your child. Well, the same approach should apply to children’s fitness, says Nixon. It’s a no-brainer: Getting regular exercise is good for your mental and physical health. Stand firm from the get-go and don’t let your child argue the merits of playing computer games versus playing ball games.

Kid Fitness Tip #10: Instill the idea that exercise is in.

Some kids really respond to the concept of doing something that’s cool. Maybe your child wants to grind on a skateboard like Tony Hawke, deliver a karate kick a la Bruce Lee, learn the latest hip hop routine, or master the moves of capoeira. Older children, in particular, may have strong opinions about what’s hip and what isn’t. If it’s safe and active and encourages your child to get in shape, then allow your kid to pick an activity that appeals to his sense of style.

Kid Fitness Tip #11: Put your child in charge.

Let each kid take a turn choosing an active weekend pursuit or after school activity. The nature lover may vote for a hike, the adventurer may opt for a trip to the nearest jungle gym or climbing wall. More sedentary souls may select an activity — like walking, biking, or scootering — with a destination in mind, such as a visit to the local library. Whether you wind up at a batting cage, bowling alley, or belly dancing class, they all count as children’s fitness activities and your child can feel a sense of control over the situation. For younger kids, however, you may want to limit how many options they have to choose from.

Kid Fitness Tip #12: Make it fun.

Little children don’t need much encouragement to stretch like a cat, run like a tiger, or jump like a kangaroo. And they’ll have a blast doing it. And don’t forget, grade schoolers still enjoy the opportunity for free play — inside or out — after a day spent at the desk. Stuck inside with tweens or teens on a rainy day? Then break out an action-oriented dance video game, to get your youngsters expending some energy. Younger children may enjoy just putting on some music to dance up a storm together. Whatever the activity, you want to keep the fun in kid fitness.

How will you and your family celebrate in “Exercise With Your Kids” Week? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter!

*The tips mentioned in this post were taken from this article on WebMD.com

Pinterest for the little ones

Pinterest is a great resource for recipes, crafts and pretty pictures. but did you also know that it is a great resource for the little ones? These three pages are chock full of tips for parents, but kids can get in on the fun too – see below!

Zina’s boards have over 270,000 followers. We love the creative kids recipes and different ideas for fun seasonal activities.

Zulily maintains 27 boards of clothes, art and accessories for kids and moms. The cute pictures on their boards feature themed clothes so your kiddos can help pick out their threads!

Kathy James’ boards may be some of our all time favorites. Games, crafts, science experiments, ideas for holidays and of course recipes! All geared for little eyes, ears and hands.

Just because we don’t have a board, doesn’t mean we’re not on Pinterest! Check out some of our friends who have found us and pinned us!

Bean here, bean there, beans everywhere!

Beans are a wonderful, useful cooking resource. Although many children do not care for eating them, Handstand Kids know that they are important to healthy cooking! Sometimes it is easier to get kids to eat something if they know more about it. That is why today we will be giving your little ones a short lesson on beans. Why don’t you buy a large mixed bag – many groceries sell them near mixes from soups – and take the lesson below and see if your children can identify the different types of beans? Then take their favorite and make a recipe!


Adzuki- A small, deep red bean. Somewhat sweet with a delicate texture.

Black Beans – A small, oval, black bean. with an earthy flavor and soft texture.

Black-eyed peas – An oval, creamy white bean with a “black eye.” Soft textured and an excellent source of fiber and iron.

Chickpeas – Large, round, cream-colored beans with a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. An excellent source or folate and a good source of fiber and iron.

Fava Beans – Oval-shaped light brown beans with an earthy flavor and creamy texture.

Kidney Beans – A large, kidney-shaped, deep reddish brown or white bean with a bland taste and a soft texture.

Lima Beans (butter beans) – Flat, oval, creamy white beans. Small and dried with a mild taste.

Mung Beans – A tiny, round dried bean with a thick outer skin that may be green, brown or black in color, originating from India.

Navy Beans (Yankee beans, Boston beans, Fagiloi, Haricot) - A small white bean with a good, strong flavor. An excellent source of folate and fiber and a good source of iron.

Pinto Beans – Medium-size, beige and brown speckles beans. Earthy flavors and mealy textures. Oval shaped and good for making refried beans.

What beans are you cooking up? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter!

Picky Eater Tips

No matter how hard you try, sometimes you will be presented with a pint-sized picky eater. Since it is imperative to get kids to develop healthy eating habits, try some of these tips adapted from VegKitchen.com.
  • Let them get their feet wet with new foods – by introducing them surrounded by old favorites.
  • Introduce new foods slowly – because children can sometimes get overwhelmed by large quantities of food. They may feel more successful if they can finish a small quantity of food provided, so keep portions small.
  • Avoid food rewards – as punishment and enticement will confuse the fact that you can establish and enforce rules.
  • Let your kids cook with you! – Handstand Kids are less picky because they get to help plan meals! The below recipe for Shredded Chicken Tostadas from the Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook is a favorite recipe of all kids – and parents will love the additions of lettuce, tomatoes and beans!

Do you have tips for feeding tricky tots? Send them our way via Facebook and Twitter!

Let Us Celebrate Lettuce!

If you’re looking for something crisp and refreshing to keep those kiddos in shape, try some delicious lettuce. In case you need a refresher on some of the most popular varieties, read below for a quick lesson!

Romaine (center) - grows with a tall head of sturdy leaves with a firm rib down the center, has a fine bitter herb taste

Iceberg (upper right) – has a dense head, and is pale white in its center, Iceberg is the most popular type of lettuce in the US

Lollo Rosso (lower right) -fringed, crinkled leaves tinged deep red at the ends with a tender yet crisp texture

Butterhead (lower left) – also known as Boston or Bibb, this type of head lettuce has a loose arrangement of leaves, with a sweet flavor and tender texture

Gem (upper left) – crisp like Romaine and sweet like Butterhead with a crunchy central stalk and thin, crisp leaves

If you have a favorite lettuce recipe, make sure to post it to our Facebook or Twitter!

Outdoor Partytime!

Summertime means the living’s easy – and it’s the perfect time to bust out the tiki torches for an outdoor shindig. Try these easy entertaining ideas that will be a hit with adults and kids alike!

Try a donut ring eating contest from LiLsugar.com

Summer means s’mores! Try this recipe from Fatgirltrappedinaskinnybody!

This recipe for Italian Soda from our Italian Cookbook is elegant enough for kids but will also provide a fizzy treat for your youngest party goers.

Make sure to post pictures of your summer soiree to our Facebook and Twitter pages!

Outdoor Meals

We’ve talked about getting outdoors and playing outside, but Handstand Kids just can’t stay out of the kitchen! The following recipes can be made and eaten outside – what an awesome day for your kids!

You can’t go wrong with Ants on a Log. The crispy celery in contrast to the smooth peanut butter is always a crowd pleaser but eating it outside sets the mood for a fun day of outdoor play! Kraftrecipes

Salad sticks are yummy and good for you. Make sure you help your kids safely remove the food from the sharp skewers to avoid injuries. via SnackGirl

No outdoor meal is complete without Smore’s. Use a fire that is smoldering, not burning and make sure that you keep a close eye on the little ones as they toast up these tasty treats! via Kidscooking

Do you have a favorite recipe for making outdoors? Be sure to post pics to the Handstand Kids Facebook and Twitter!