Blog Posts by Charlene Prince Birkeland, Senior Editor

  • Get Crafty for the Holidays: DIY Snow Globe

    No matter how elaborate and colorful the holiday decorations, there's one simple item that always fascinates kids: the snow globe. Guess what? Snow globes are super easy (and inexpensive!) to make at home with the kids. No craftiness required!

    Share your holiday photos and any other fun, embarrassing or incredible moments that you have captured on the Moments of Motherhood Flickr Group. While you are here take part in discussions with other moms.

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  • Are the Holidays Already Stressing You Out? Survey Says.

    With Christmas decorations appearing two months before December and the onslaught of stores hyping up Black Friday shopping, it's easy to feel stressed out about the winter holidays long before they've even arrived.

    You may not see it right away, but the holiday season can make dents in your life that go far beyond your bank account. What about your relationships, eating habits and even how you plan to change yourself in the year ahead?

    It's no shock that relationships can definitely be strained over the holidays. According to a recent Yahoo! holiday survey, 51% of respondents said that money is the leading cause of conflict with their spouses during the holidays.

    And as your extended family members plan their visits to see you over the winter break, you might want to keep these thoughts in mind:

    -One-in-five respondents report having their sex life negatively affected by visiting relatives during the holidays.
    -Fifty-one percent of respondents said they have lied to avoid

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  • 6 Thanksgiving crafts to make with your kids

    Halloween wasn't even 24 hours behind us when my youngest son started asking about Thanksgiving. His excitement for the day stems from knowing we'll be celebrating with two of his favorite people, his grandparents. That, and the fact that the day will involve assembling a train set.

    But me? I'm using his newfound love of Thanksgiving as an opportunity to teach him about gratitude.

    And make crafts.

    If you're kids are in a crafty mood and want to create art for Thanksgiving Day, check out these adorable -- and easy -- projects for kids (some adult assistance required).

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  • Right Now: What are your kids collecting?

    photo credit: lego.comphoto credit: lego.comSo I'm sifting through the boxes my parents periodically leave me and finding all things cute and odd from my childhood. Along with a thick Hello Kitty collection, I also found my childhood stash of character pencils and erasers. And a binder filled with unused stickers. Also? Strawberry Shortcake and her aromatic pals (yes, they still smell!) cruising in a Snail Cart.

    I'm so grateful my parents saved these collections for me. I'd forgotten how many phases I went through as a kid.

    And now with two little guys of my own, I'm fascinated by what they choose to amass. For my littlest guy (he's six), it's all things LEGO, but specifically? LEGO minifigures. Star Wars minifigures get bonus points. He manages to incorporate the little yellow-headed dudes (and some dudettes) into any type of play. They'll be in a wooden block tower, in a cardboard box, on a toy ship, in the car, on the couch, and just about anywhere an adventure is to be had in the mind of a six-year-old boy.

    I think his

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  • Do you write notes to your kids?

    My parents are in the process of cleaning out their basement and they've found a way to include their kids in the process. Every few weeks, I find a box in my house.

    Sometimes it's a box filled with old clothes I'd worn when I was little and my mom wanted to save them for me for when I had my own kids. (Sound familiar?)

    One box was filled with my favorite childhood books, like the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. And the Anastasia Krupnik series by Lois Lowry.

    Most recently, I found a box filled with my Hello Kitty collection. I was ecstatic; some of these items were now vintage and I could even put them to use. (Yes, I'm wearing my Hello Kitty watch!).

    But the best discovery was finding a Hello Kitty wallet that contained notes my dad had written. He'd sometimes leave the notes for me on the kitchen counter before he went off to work in the morning. They were simple: "Be good in school today! Don't talk too much in class! Love you." I didn't find notes every day, but when I did,

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  • Dear Diary: I bought a Christmas October

    We have a family rule in casa crazedparent: No talking about Christmas until after Halloween. No questions about what behavior Santa is watching. No official list making (the boys have notebooks where they do keep track on their own). We could try to push it until after Thanksgiving, but it would be near impossible since everywhere you look in November, it's Christmas-a-go-go.

    My kids are doing a great job sticking to the rules this year. And so am I. I'm not talking about Christmas. But yes, I will admit to buying a Christmas present this week. It was a product I knew would be long gone had I waited until November.

    I'm relieved that I won't have to do a frantic search for this particular LEGO set in a few weeks. It'll be safely tucked away in a certain holiday hiding spot. Yet there's a little piece of me that's disappointed because I fell prey to the trap of Christmas October.

    Are you guilty of Christmas shopping already? When do you start?

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  • Trick or Treat: How do you decide what candy to give out for Halloween?

    It seems so simple.

    You go to the store, pick up a few bags of candy (on sale? even better!) hand out treats on Halloween, and save a few for later.

    But there is some serious thinking involved in picking out Halloween candy.

    Some parents buy mini versions of their favorite candy bar because, heck, if they're going to have leftovers, they might as well be something they love. Other moms and dads get the latest, trendy candy that kids will dig.

    Maybe you try to be somewhat healthy and offer fruit gummies or fruit roll-ups.

    Or? You avoid candy altogether, and hand out Halloween-themed pencils, erasers and/or any other generally ghoulish-looking trinket you can find.

    Decisions, decisions.

    What's your Halloween candy purchasing strategy?

  • Tips for a saner school year?

    Now that we're a few weeks into the school year, routines are fully in effect. Sort of? Okay fine, it's still a work in progress. Things that you thought would make pre- and post-school routines run more smoothly? Well, they don't always make sense for your family. And the trial and error process is a huge pain in the arse.

    In our house, it's the simple things that make a big difference and remarkably, we seem to have developed a nice flow. (See, now I jinxed myself!) We also try as much as I can to make sure the kids are involved.

    So what might work for you?

    • Wake up an hour before the kids. Get yourself ready first, and when the kids are up they can help get breakfast ready.
    • Make sure the kids' backpacks are packed the evening before school. Will they have an activity after school? Have the kids get their soccer gear, piano materials, instruments, etc., ready and set them with their backpacks.
    • Same goes for lunches. Put non-perishables in lunch bags/boxes the evening before.
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  • 5 places to sneak veggies and fruits into your kid's meal

    Even the idea of sneaking a veggie or fruit in your child's meal feels so dishonest, as if you're trying to trick them into eating healthy food. Sure, there are those who kids are downright stubborn: "Veggies? ICK!" But some children have true food aversions, where from a sensory perspective, they can't fathom putting certain foods into their mouth because of a texture or smell.

    So let's put the "sneaking" bit aside and look at this from a different perspective: How can you prepare fruits and veggies in a way that your kids will enjoy them?

    Here are five favorites where you can mix in a fruits or vegetable in a way that it blends into an overall dish, versus serving a stand-alone item:

    • Smoothies. Some kids are hesitant to eat certain fruits, but when you blend them all up with a little coconut milk or orange juice and serve a smoothie in a tall glass with a straw? They're asking for more. You can blend strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, nectarine or peach slices with
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  • 5 fun fall weekend family activities

    I've been seeing lots of Twitter chatter about how the weather is already changing. An early morning chill followed by a warm day. Leaves are falling from trees. It's pitch dark at 6am. And pumpkin spiders are setting up shop with gorgeous webs they spin, seemingly in minutes.

    All telltale signs that fall is approaching.

    I'm on the West Coast, and while the first signs of fall are definitely apparent, I know we still have a heatwave or two coming in a few weeks. But I'm digging the way the seasons blending into each other. And I'm excited about how fall will change our family weekends.

    Add these fall favorites to your to-do list:

    • Stroll the local farmers' markets. In addition to a change in weather, fall brings new fruits and veggies, flowers, and of course gorgeous (and creepy!) gourds to farmers' markets. Take the kids for a leisurely stroll through your farmers' market -- or visit one in a nearby town and sample seasonal favorites. While you're at it, bring home some fresh
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