Puzzles for the Whole Family – A New Family Favorite

You know those hobbies from your childhood that you introduce to your kids and they aren’t interested? That’s how it went introducing my children to puzzles above 50 pieces. While they enjoyed the 24-48 piece puzzles as preschoolers, they did not have any sort of patience for larger puzzles. They had outgrown the smaller puzzles, so they were shelved.

I have several of those little puzzles that are still used because I still have a preschooler, but the larger ones remained largely untouched. Then on a whim the other day, I ordered this for myself:

It was a total impulse buy and one that was purely for fun. Just for me. It came Sunday afternoon and I couldn’t wait so I got right to work:

The puzzle is coming along nicely.

A photo posted by Vicki Arnold (@vicki_arnold) on

I spent the rest of my day working that puzzle and then the kids helped me finish it the next morning:

We finished it!!

A photo posted by Vicki Arnold (@vicki_arnold) on

MY KIDS ARE HOOKED! They wanted to do all the puzzles and were sad when we couldn’t keep going. They also all put 1000 piece puzzles on their wishlists for this Christmas. This is one request I am more than happy to oblige.

I spent hours putting together puzzles as a teenager. I know, wild child, right? There was a favorite 750 piece one that I am hoping we can find at my parents’ house in storage. It was a picture of craft supplies. Yes, glitter, pom poms, pipe cleaners, etc. I put that together many, many times. I got pretty fast at it, too.

But enough about my wild teenage years…

When I started looking through Amazon, I found thousands of options. I was thrilled by this because, well, I love to shop. Since I’m also a blogger who also enjoys writing blog posts, you get a post. Yay!

Beginner Puzzles

We have these first four puzzles and my preschooler loves to put them together. He can’t do these all on his own, but that’s a fun part of preschool, making memories. Right?

And these are the ones I added to the list of potential gifts for my preschooler:

Intermediate Puzzles

These puzzles are slightly harder than above. They have smaller pieces and/or more of them.


Advanced Puzzles

Looking for a bigger challenge for the cold winter months or something to do with a loved one? These monsters are just what you are looking for.

If you are up for a REAL challenge, give this BEAST a try!

Ravensburger Disney Puzzle – 40,320 PIECES! The puzzle is over 22 feet long by over 6 feet wide! I’d love to see it actually put together, wouldn’t you?

You Might Like These Puzzles Too!

Puzzles - A great family tradition to start today.

Talking to Kids About Sex – Awkward Parenting Moments

I promise this isn’t going to be as awkward as it sounds. Or maybe it is, but that is kind of the point here. What am I blathering on about? Let me get straight to it.

For many parents, talking to their kids about sex is one of those uncomfortable subjects that fall into a “necessary evil” category sort of thing. For others, it is no big deal. I am somewhere in the middle of those two options. It is just not a natural conversation topic for me, but I know that I want to pass along a healthy, biblical view of sex to my kids. This mean I have to talk about it and with four kids, I guess I should get used to it sooner rather than later.

We have always been open with our children when it comes to talking about our bodies. We gave them the actual terms for their body parts, but also the general terms of private parts and bottom, and used those for the most part. They knew that those parts were private and we did have discussions about what they should do if someone tried to touch and/or talk to them about those parts.

With one exception, our youngest was given the term peepee for his penis because he is a very verbal boy and has been from a young age. This meant that his filter was utterly non-existent and he would randomly shout out words that he knew would make someone laugh because he is also a ham. With preteen kids, body parts were a sure success at this. Peepee made it a little less inappropriate (in my eyes) when this happened in public places.

And then someone gave him the right word and all bets were off. Now that novelty has worn off (thank heavens) and he only refers to it in matter-of-fact ways. Ironically, this cracks the preteens up even more. I can’t win.

Enough about us, I actually have a resource I want to talk to you about today.

Talk to Your Kids About Sex - It doesn't have to be awkward. There is a great resource available to help walk parents through a biblical way to tackle the subject with their kids.

Talking to Kids About Sex

I’ve written about, reviewed, and given away resources from Luke and Trisha Gilkerson of Intoxicated on Life here before. Heck, I even wrote for them for a while. I love their resources and blog. This series is no different. They have written quite a lot about sex education on their blog, and now they have a trilogy of books to put resources in your hands to help you navigate this anxiety-inducing topic from a biblical perspective. Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief…whew.

I purchased their book called The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality earlier this year to use in our homeschool. When Trisha was looking to put together a team to launch the second book in the series called Changes: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty, I jumped at the chance to get this one for free. 😉

The third book in the series is called Relationships: 7 Lessons to Give Kids a Greater Understanding of Biblical Sexuality and it will be available early 2016.

Let’s go over a bit of what is actually in these two books.

The Talk - Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality

The Talk

The seven lesson titles:

  1. God Made Them Male and Female
  2. Go Forth and Multiply
  3. Wonderfully Made
  4. The Two Shall Become One Flesh
  5. You Shall Not Commit Adultery
  6. Do Not Violate Me
  7. Bought With a Price

Each lesson gives you an opening thought, a section of scripture to read with an explanation of why it is relevant, a series of talking points to go over with your child, questions for your child, and concludes with a prayer. There are illustrations for things as well.

The ages recommended for this book are 6-10 years old. This may seem young to start this conversation, but if you take a while to look at our culture, you will see why parents need to start this conversation earlier these days. Our culture is more than willing to talk to kids about sex at any time.

Parents, if you want to be the first one to talk to your children about these topics, you need to be paying close attention and realize that this might need to happen sooner than you’d like. A bit more on my thoughts on this later.

Changes 735x1102

Changes

The second book contains these lessons:

  1. Just Like Jesus: Growing in Wisdom and Stature
  2. Puberty: Just One of Many Changes
  3. Hormones: The Catalyst of Change
  4. Girls and Boys: Changes We Can Both Expect
  5. Girl Changes: Becoming a Woman
  6. Boy Changes: Becoming a Man
  7. Changes in Desire: The Goodness of Sexual Attraction

The book follows the same format for each lesson as The Talk. The recommended ages are 8-12.

A Few Final Thoughts

These are fantastic resources for starting an ongoing conversation about sex with your kids. Each book also contains a section on what happens next. It gives you ideas for ways to continue the conversation you started.

When you get these books, pre-read them before diving in with your kids. This way you will not be caught off-guard about any of the subjects covered and it will give you a better idea of when you actually need to approach these subjects with your kids.

Luke and Trisha do a great job introducing parents to the material. A good chunk of the book covers some common questions and concerns a parent may have about starting this conversation so early with your children.

I’ll end this with a bit of advice, if you have both genders of children, you may want to consider going through these separately. Talking to preteen girls and boys at the same time may result in unnecessary awkwardness. Ask me how I know…

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Coupon Code! The Gilkerson’s have generously offered a coupon code for my lovely readers who decide to purchase these resources. You can save 10% on either Changes or the Sex Ed Series (which already gives you a $2 discount on the two books) with code – SV10. The code is only good through November 11, 2015. So hurry!

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Baby Wipes Aren’t Just For Babies

Growing up, my Mom always carried a package of baby wipes in our vehicles. This was LONG after any of us kids were in diapers, though she obviously carried them with her when we were in diapers, too. When I was approached about a sponsored post for the Huggies “Because Kids Outgrow Diapers, Not Messes*” campaign, it felt like a good fit. Huggies wipes have been a part of my life for a very long time.

Baby Wipes Are Not Just for Babies!

My own children are out of diapers. Even my baby is now potty trained. He decided at 2 1/2 years that he was going to use the potty and that was that. Easiest of the 4, which was a bit bittersweet, but mostly awesome. I thoroughly enjoy not toting a diaper bag around with us anymore, but that often means we are without the ever handy baby wipes.

Then I had the ingenious idea to put one of the Huggies baby wipes packages right next to our toddler’s car seat. This works for a couple reasons:

  • The package actually fits nicely between the armrest of the car seat and the seat bottom (which we keep covered with a towel to protect it from wear from the bottom of the car seat).
  • The biggest need we have for wipes in the car sits in that seat. Ahem.

On any given car trip, these are the mess “emergencies” that I hear about from the back seat:

  • His hands are sticky because he’s been playing with his gum.
  • His hands are messy because squishing crackers surprisingly makes crumbs.
  • Some kind sibling gave him a piece of candy, which ended up all over his hands and face.
  • His hands are “berry, berry” sticky for some mysterious reason and he is reaching out to touch a sibling. This is usually a loud emergency that comes in the form of “DON’T touch me, Oliver!” and squeals of laughter as Oliver reaches as far as he possibly can.
  • HIS CUP CONDENSATED AND HE GOT HIS HANDS WET! (Yes, this constitutes an all-caps emergency to our resident threenager.)
  • Occasionally, there is actual dirt that ends up on his hands, that usually gets wiped on his shirt because, you know, no big deal…

So, yes, we are now keeping a package of baby wipes right by his seat. I’m realizing now that we are also going to need to put a trash bag by his seat or I’m going to have baby wipes all over the floor. If it’s not one thing, it is another, isn’t it?

Have Baby Wipes, Will Travel...With Kids!

Huggies Wipes – Because Kids Outgrow Diapers, Not Messes*

You can find a variety of sizes and decorative packages at Walmart. Huggies brand is the only wipes brand with Triple Clean layers. We have found Huggies fragrance free wipes to be gentle enough for all four of our children’s skin.

For more ways to use Huggies Wipes, be sure to check out the 101 Uses of Huggies Wipes video on the Walmart website.

Do you keep a package of baby wipes with you in the car?

5 Holiday Activities for the Whole Family

Holiday Activities for the Whole Family

When it comes to the holidays, spending time with family starts to take center stage. Sure, we love spending time with our kids year-round, but it seems this time of the year is when people really focus on making memories. And that is a great thing!

I am a part of several blogging networks that are full of wonderful bloggers, one of the most active and generous networks is Kid Blogger Network. It truly is a community of bloggers, where “big” and “small” bloggers share what they know and work together to build each other up.

Today I am happy to be working with a group of these bloggers to bring you a super giveaway, but first, I want to talk to you about holiday activities. Specifically, holiday activities for the whole family. Let’s do this!

Holiday Activities for the Whole Family

You can choose one or do them all. Invite grandparents to get involved or stick to those in your household. Memories will be made. Memories can be messy, so you might want to brace yourself for that if you are like me.

Bake Cookies & Other Goodies

Baking cookies is a great way to spend a cozy afternoon at home. It can be a quiet affair or you can crank up the Christmas music and dance it out. It’s all up to you. Here are some helpful resources for baking with the whole family to check out:

Read Themed Books Together

Reading together is a great activity for the whole family all year long. It promotes literacy and can have a life-long impact on your kids. If you have trouble fitting it in, just remember 15 minutes is enough to make a difference and you can fit that in to your day in a variety of ways.

Serve Others Together

Any time you can take the focus off of self and focus on others, do it. We are naturally self-centered and it is really easy to get wrapped up in that. This time of year is hard for a lot of people. Consider looking into some ways you can serve others as a family this holiday season to make it a little brighter for someone else.

Make Ornaments Or Other Decorations

Decorate your tree with homemade ornaments. Or if that makes your OCD a little crazy, create a special display on the mantel or somewhere similar.

Take In The Sites Together

Does your town have a special Christmas display? Take the time to go see that or simply drive around your neighborhood and hunt for Christmas light displays. You can also take part in this by making sure to decorate your house outside this holiday season. These lights spread joy to kids, a great thing to do!

More Holiday Activities for the Whole Family

KBN bloggers have some of the best activities out there. You can check out what other great resources were put together for this by checking out the links below!

25 Free Activities to Do With Kids

25 Free Activities to Do With Kids | Simply Vicki - Vicki-Arnold.com

Entertaining kids does not have to be expensive, nor does it have to involve a screen or loads of planning time. Here is a list of 25 activities to do with kids that cost zero dollars.

  1. Dance – Crank up the radio or iTunes and move!
  2. Read – Grab a favorite book and blanket, then head outside to read together.
  3. Create a Treasure Map – Put some fun treasures in a box, hide it, and then draw scratch out a treasure map. Go treasure hunting!
  4. Play Tag – Freeze tag, cartoon tag, shadow tag, or plain old tag…doesn’t matter.
  5. Ride Bikes – Take advantage of nice weather and head out for some fun exercise.
  6. Take a Walk – Walk your neighborhood or head to a local park for different scenery.
  7. Sing – Your kids won’t care if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, just pick a favorite song and sing it together.
  8. Play With Condensation on a Mirror or Window – Rainy days are made for fogging windows and doodling on the window.
  9. Make Up Silly Songs – Kids are usually REALLY good at this.
  10. Make Up Stories – Again, kids are usually REALLY good at this.
  11. Tell Jokes – Kids are usually TERRIBLE at this…and it is HILARIOUS.
  12. Do Tongue Twisters – Try some from your childhood or do a google search. See who can do them the fastest.
  13. Cloud Gazing – You can do this anywhere you can see clouds.
  14. Star Gazing – Grab a blanket and head away from lights, be dazzled by God’s creation.
  15. Catch Lightning Bugs – A classic summer pass time.
  16. Wash Dishes – Fill a sink with some sudsy water and take turns scrubbing, rinsing, and drying. Listen to them talk.
  17. Do the Hokey Pokey – And turn yourself around. Then give Ring Around the Rosy a try.
  18. Jump Rope – See who can jump the highest amount of turns. Try jumping backwards. Try some jump rope songs.
  19. Make a Meal Together – Find a new recipe on Pinterest that you have the ingredients for and cook it together. Listen to them talk.
  20. Weed a Garden Bed – Be productive and eliminate some pesky weeds together. Listen to them talk.
  21. Pick Up Litter on Your Street – Grab a couple garbage bags and some gloves, then head out to better your neighborhood.
  22. Write a Story – Take turns creating characters, settings, and plot twists.
  23. Act Out a Story – Take a well-known nursery rhyme, Bible account, or one that you wrote together and act it out. Play one or lots of parts each.
  24. Do Relay Races – Grab some friends and try relay races or a game of Red Rover.
  25. Silly Olympics – Crab walk races, pool noodle throwing, long jump, and any other crazy fun games you can think of.

See? Not one of those things requires extensive planning or money. You could put some more effort into some like 22, 23, and 25 and make them a fun project or even a party, but that’s not required. Just take the time to have some fun with your kids and make some memories. You won’t regret it.

Meijer Most Likely To Sweepstakes

Most Likely To...photo sweepstakes brought to you by Meijer! Learn more in this post at Vicki-Arnold.com

You probably already guessed that this is a sponsored post, right? Meaning I received some fantastically huge payment in exchange for some space here on the ol’ blog, right? Well, not exactly.

But I am receiving a Meijer gift card in exchange for telling you about this fun sweepstakes they have going on. I get groceries, you get fun sweepstakes. See, win-win!

Most Likely To…Sweepstakes

Meijer is inviting shoppers to post a photo that shows their kids’ unique talents and interests in becoming the next great valedictorian, athlete, humanitarian chef, etc.

Why? Well, for the chance to win a $100 Meijer gift card (25 grand prizes). That would buy a lot of school clothes or supplies (you can never have too many pencils, paper, and tissues!). Or lunch time groceries, in case you have already bought your supplies and don’t need more clothes.

The ‘Most Likely To…’ photo sweepstakes runs until Sept. 8, 2013. So you need to get on it quickly!

How to Enter the Sweepstakes

Simply visit the sweepstakes page and submit a photo showing what your child is most likely to be when he/she grows up.

Our Most Likely To… Photos!

We couldn’t let you have all the fun. I decided to play along and choose a “most likely to…” title for my oldest three children. The 19 month old is pretty much the Most Likely to…Be Spoiled Rotten by All the Attention at this point. We’ll see what else develops as he grows.

My oldest is the quintessential oldest. She is very responsible and bossy, um, I mean take charge… She wants to be a teacher at this point and I can see this fitting her very well. She has always been a nurturer and loves little kids.

Please do not pin photos of my children's faces. There is a graphic for this post above. Thank you!

My oldest son seems to have found his niche in cartooning. He is currently creating his first comic book with an original character that I hope to share with you all sometime. Because he is also an entrepreneur…

Please do not pin photos of my children's faces. There is a graphic for this post above. Thank you!

My youngest daughter is one of those super sweet, silly girls. She has a tender heart that loves to serve. She often gets frustrated when she isn’t allowed to serve when she wants to (see above mentioned sister 😉 ).

Please do not pin photos of my children's faces. There is a graphic for this post above. Thank you!

What is your child most likely to be? Don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes for your chance to win a $100 Meijer gift card!

How to Make a Summer Bucket List With Your Kids

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.

How to make a summer bucket list with your kids. Make the most out of your summer!

How to Make a Summer Bucket List With Your Kids

Bucket lists are popular. I know I personally LOVE a good checklist. I once made a 1,000 things to do in my life because I’m an overachiever like that. Then I realized it was weighing on me so I deleted it. Quite a freeing experience. My kids have inherited this love of checklist making (and checking it off!).

Here are some quick tips on how you can make a summer bucket list with your kids.

Ask Them

First step is easy, just ask them if there is something they have been wanting to do, but haven’t had the time for.

Talk About Money

I know, I know. Not fun, but neither is adding a cruise to your bucket list, only to discover later you only have enough funds to cover a canoe trip. Set a budget for your summer fun. This is an awesome time for you to model financial stewardship for your children.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Anyone know where that cliche came from?! Maybe add some of these to your list:

  • things to do, read, watch, and experience
  • places to go
  • crafts, recipes, and projects to make
  • think of rainy days, touristy things in your area
  • is a day trip or long weekend in your budget?

Put Others First

Add things to your list that include serving others. Summer is a great time for service projects. Use your summer to make a difference. Try a few of these:

  • sew pillowcases to donate to a children’s hospital
  • collect and decorate flip flops for children in Nicaragua
  • collect change to donate
  • collect baby items for your local pregnancy care center (host a baby shower!)
  • do yard work or small home repairs for an elderly homeowner
  • bring a meal to someone who is sick or just to bless them!
  • volunteer at a soup kitchen or other ministry
  • pack a care package for a soldier

If you are crafty, a great resource with lots of projects to make and places to donate them is the book Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause. I read that and was rather inspired by the good people are doing with their God-given gifts. I like to pin ideas for service projects to my Make a Difference Pinterest board, be sure to check that out, too.

Pinterest!

Speaking of Pinterest, be pinspired by Pinterest and all the fabulous things you can find. It is my favorite place on the web (after this blog, OF COURSE!) and it has gobs and gobs of ideas just waiting for you. Gobs, I tell you! See what I mean?

Summer fun ideas Pinterest board!

Now, go talk to your kids and take advantage of whatever time you have this summer!

Everything Summer: The Ultimate Summer Link-Up {Mom Tested, Family Approved}

Everything Summer the ultimate summer link up from Mom Tested, Family Approved

Everything Summer: A Mom Tested, Family Approved Home Link-Up

Our homeschool year has ended and the schools around here let out for the summer this week. What better way to start of summer than with a Mom Tested, Family Approved link-up for Everything Summer?! If you are looking for summer activities to occupy your kids, let us help.

Bloggers, this is the time to link up all those fun summer games, crafts, recipes, and other activity posts. When you do link up with Mom Tested, Family Approved; your post is in the running to be featured in the next month’s link-up in on multiple blogs.

Everything Frugal Features

Last month’s theme was Everything Frugal. We had a lot of AWESOME contributions, so be sure to check out the post for those. Here are the three features for Mom Tested, Family Approved Home link-up’s  Everything Frugal

Mom Tested, Family Approved Home Co-Hosts

Please be sure to see what Dollie at Teachers of Good Things and Jamie at Walking in High Cotton have to say on their Everything Summer posts!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Link Up!