Clinging to Summer

The days may be getting shorter and the nights a little cooler, but we’re not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet. Here are some great activities that can help your family make the most of every minute between now and the day school starts.

Disc-MasterDisc Master (Ideal)
Combine a friendly game of Frisbee (aka disc) with the more precision-oriented golf, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Disc Master is all about. You start by designing your own nine “hole” course using the goal (which looks a little like a basketball basket mounted on a short tripod). Just like with golf, you make a series of shots that bring you closer and closer to the target. The player with the lowest number of throws wins. The package includes one very sturdily built target, two discs, nine flags, and a storage bag. All you need is a couple of acres of open space. Ages 8 and up. Retails for around $75 on Amazon.

pro gold flag footballPro Gold Flag Football Set (POOF-Slinky)
Golf is a pretty laid-back kind of game, so if you’re looking for something a little more energetic, this flag football set is for you. The rules are the same as regular football (the American kind), but instead of bone-crushing, concussion-inducing tackles, the defense stops the player with the ball by yanking one of the flags clipped to his or her waist. It’s a really fun way for everyone in the family—boys and girls—to work up a sweat, work as a team, and develop throwing and catching skills. Comes with everything you need for a 4-on-4 game (one foam football and two different-colored sets of eight flags (two per player)).  For ages 5 and up. Retails for around $20.

bizainy lemonade standLemonade Stand Start-Up Kit (Bizainy)
The vast majority of people who play sports will never make it to the pros. So you’ve got to have a backup plan. And what could be better than running your own business—especially one that can cash in on all those sweaty athletes? The Bizainy (a combination of “business” and “brainy”) Lemonade Stand Kit is a smart, creative way of teaching kids about business and money management in the most effective way possible: by putting them in charge of their own enterprise. Kids can learn about budgeting, marketing strategy, attracting customers, negotiating rates, closing the sale, and calculating profits. Those are all skills that will come in handy as they move toward independence. If this one isn’t your cup of, well, lemonade, Bizainy also has Charity Bake Sale and Babysitting kits. For kids 5 and up (adult supervision suggested). $30.

zoku-slush-maker-+-art-of-slush-bookZoku Slush and Shake Maker (Zoku)
Make your own slushies, milkshakes, and smoothies without leaving home. Put the core of the Slush Maker into your freezer at least eight hours in advance. Then, just whip up your ingredients, pour them into the frozen core, and you and the kids can be drinking virgin daiquiris on the porch in about 10 minutes. The Zoku is sleek, colorful, and BPA/phthalate free. Zoku also publishes a beautifully photographed, 96-page book, The Art of Slush, which is packed with dozens of delicious sounding recipes, including blood orange mojito and purple antioxidant berry slushes, pistachio cardamom milkshake, and espresso vodka dark chocolate smoothie (to enjoy after the kids go to bed). Kids of any age can pour the liquid into the core, but an adult should be involved in the actual blending phase. The Zoku and the book each retail for about $20 at

Activities That Create Lasting Family Memories

When we are young we do everything within our power to get away from our parents. Those teenage years are full of angst and raging with hormones so, naturally, we rebel against what our parents have to say. By doing so, we skip over great years of relationship building.

Eventually, with age, we start to settle down and realize how important and valuable those relationships we build with our family truly are. We look fondly back on those times we spend together, which brings a smile to our face and a flutter to our hearts. For this article, I’d like to share some of the activities you and your parents (or you and your children) can do that will create these lasting family memories.

1. Family trips
Family trips are a great way to create bonds with everyone participating. The trip doesn’t necessarily need to be a big excursion; spending time over the weekend on the open road is often enough to create a few, great memories from the activities you all take part in during the trip.

2. Hobbies
Hobbies, too, are a great way to bring people together. Activities like working together sewing a quilt, doing puzzles, or building something neat like a picnic table makes for a great afternoon/weekend. The upside, as well, is that the things you create can be great talking points in later years which will always bring up a great conversation and reflections of that time.

3. Camping
Similar to a road trip is going out doing a family camping trip. Sometimes it’s a good thing that everyone breaks away from technology. Sure there may be some complaints at first since people can’t get online but eventually, with enough activities while camping, everyone will enjoy themselves and the time they spend together. Going out for a swim, sitting next to a roaring fire, or hiking the trails can be quite the fun adventure that won’t be forgotten.

4. Portraits and albums
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I say each of those words can spur a memory. Getting together to take family portraits is a great activity for creating a tangible memory for the future. It’s hard getting everyone together so these types of pictures are really something special. Once you get them processed get a copy for everyone. Your kids will certainly appreciate a great family portrait for their new place and you’ll definitely love it, too, sitting by your bedside.

5. Concerts
I can bet that everyone remembers their favorite concert down to the smallest details. Music is a very big part of all our lives and so what better way to create memories than to go to a concert together with the family? Everyone could agree on a musician or band they all like, pick up tickets, and make a whole day surrounding the event such as tailgating before the show, seeing it, and then hanging out and talking about the experiences afterward!

6. New traditions
Traditions that are common are a family movie night, eating together on Sunday afternoon, or maybe getting together once a year to visit a favorite destination. Why not put in some extra effort and create a new tradition with the family? It can be anything as long as it’s something you feel you all would do once a year. Over time, these events become very sentimental to everyone and each will provide a unique experience that will create endless memories with the family.

Everyone likes to talk about how we’re all drifting apart because we’re too hooked to our phones and computers. They act like the family unit is totally failing, but this isn’t the case for those who actually try. When you do activities like the ones in this post, you are guaranteed to create memories that will keep the family close. Go ahead and try one this week!

Over to you – what activities do you do with the family to create great memories? Share your suggestions with a comment.


You’re About to Be Schooled

Dear Mr. Dad: I can hardly believe that summer is almost over. It’s been a tough year, financially for our family, and I’ve been putting off doing the back-to-school shopping for my three kids (14, 10, and 5). But at this point I don’t really have a choice. Any tips on how to get it done efficiently and, hopefully, save a little money?

A: Wow, summer did fly by especially quickly this year—I can tell because I find myself muttering under my breath about how much I hate shopping and how expensive things are. But, as you say, it’s got to be done. So here are a few ideas that should make the experience a little less painful.

Check under the bed. Before you go to the store, take a walk through your house. Chances are your child didn’t use up all of last year’s paper and pencils, and you can probably reuse some of last-year’s (or the year before’s) binders. You’ll find that there are a lot of things you can buy less of or skip altogether.
[Read more…]

A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens

Joani Geltman, author of A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens.
Talking to your kids about sexting, drinking, drugs,and other things that freak you out.
Issues: What you need to understand about what your teen child is going through psychologically and physically; mistakes and assumptions parents often make about their teens; what parents of boys need to watch out for vs. parenting teen girls.

Raising Teens to Succeed + Talking to Teens about Tough Issues

Dennis Trittin, coauthor of Parenting for the Launch.
Raising teens to succeed in the real world.
Issues: How to prepare teens to make key life decisions; communicating effectively to build an enduring relationship with your emerging young adult; valuing your child’s uniqueness, potential, and intrinsic worth; moving confidently from the driver’s to the passenger seat.

Joani Geltman, author of A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens.
Talking to your kids about sexting, drinking, drugs,and other things that freak you out.
Issues: What you need to understand about what your teen child is going through psychologically and physically; mistakes and assumptions parents often make about their teens; what parents of boys need to watch out for vs. parenting teen girls.