Blog Posts by Charlene Prince Birkeland, Senior Editor

  • 5 ways to make paper flowers with the kids

    DIY paper flowers: Simple, easy (mostly), and a good project for a lazy summer afternoon when you can't think of anything else to do! Also? A perfect craft that your kids can turn into a gift for grandparents, aunts or family friends.



    Check out the slide show for five ways to make paper flowers or paper flower art with the kids!



    Share your child's first day of school 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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  • 9 books your kids should read before summer vacation is over

    I was chatting with a mom a few days ago about the struggle to get kids to read over the summer. The challenge for some kids is not that they don't want to read. Sometimes they just can't find a good book to curl up with on a lazy summer afternoon.



    I love children's literature and because my older son is an advanced reader, I like to read books before he does so we can talk about them -- it helps me know that he comprehends what he's reading. (And it helps out when he asks me a complicated question about plot or characters.)



    I promised my friend I'd give her a list of books I think kids would love to read before school starts over the next few weeks. (I know! So soon.) Check out the slide show for my picks (and really, my kids' picks because they love these books, too!).



    I've recommended a few books for kindergarteners and first graders, which can be read alone or out loud by a parent. I've also included several for kids in second/and third grade through middle school. I didn't

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  • Crafty parents help their kids make...enormous bubbles!

    photo credit: tatertotsandjello.blogspot.comphoto credit: tatertotsandjello.blogspot.comI'm going to let you in on a secret: my favorite craft activity ever -- okay, so far -- with my kids is making bubble wands to create ginormous bubbles. We made three wands and spent an entire afternoon in the backyard perfecting our techniques...and we all came up with different ways of making these magical, color-filled works of art. It was neat, plain and simple. It also killed an area of our lawn, but that's another story. Tips to avoid that mess in a second.

    Back to enormous bubbles.

    I first saw this idea on the crafty blog, Tatertots & Jello. After a quick trip to the hardware store for wooden dowels, eye screws, flat washers and cotton string, we spent about 10 minutes making the wands. The instructions and photos on Tattertots & Jello guided us through the process.

    For reference, we used 36" long dowels that were 5/8" in diameter. The eye screws were 1" and the washers were 3/16".

    Homemade bubble mix is easy to make as well, using dish soap, purified water and liquid

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  • Summer crafts that kids can eat

    If you're like me, you're smack dab in the middle of your kid's summer vacation. It's good to let your children work themselves out of inevitable "I'm bored!" moments. But sometimes you're going to need to give them some help. Say hello to the idea of Edible Crafts.



    Check out these fun ideas to help your kids add some creativity and yumminess to their summer days.



    What are your ideas for crafts that kids can eat?




    Share your child's first day of school 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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  • Road Trippin': 5 games for families to play

    photo credit: getty imagesphoto credit: getty imagesContrary to popular belief, not all parents turn on DVD players in the car when the family goes on a road trip. Or have their kids play video games. Or listen to music on an iPod.

    And even if and when the kids do all of the above, chances are high that they'll stop at some point during the road trip. Like when the batteries in their gadgets wear out.

    You'll need to go old school and think of a game to keep them from driving you nutters.

    Check out these tried and true ways to keep the kids busy when you're road tripping. And guess what? We bet you'll have fun playing along.

    • Look for out-of-state license plates. Pack a notebook and pen so the kids can keep track. On a simple two-hour road trip, my boys managed to spot plates from 12 different states. They kept adding to the list on return trip!
    • Create sentences that follow the letter/number sequence of license plates. For example, "MDA4E2" could me "My Dog Ate Four Eggs Tonight." Guaranteed giggles as the sentences get
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  • Kids & Sun Safety: Don't miss these 5 spots!

    photo credit: getty imagesphoto credit: getty imagesA few weeks ago I was with family friends and we were applying sunscreen on our kids as we prepared for a day of outdoor fun.

    "Don't forget the backs of their legs!" one mom said. I realized I'd always forgotten to protect the backs of my boys' legs -- a spot very exposed to sun when they're wearing shorts -- with sunscreen.

    When we cover kids with sunscreen, we always go for the apparent exposed areas like the shoulders, arms, face, nose, and legs. But what are we forgetting to cover?

    I asked Latanya Benjamin, a pediatric dermatologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, for areas that are often forgotten when putting sunscreen on our kids. Next time you're gearing up for a day in the sun, Dr. Benjamin recommends you make sure not to miss these spots:

    • Ears. You've covered your kid's nose and cheeks with sunscreen, but make sure you also get the tops and rims of their ears.
    • Behind the neck. Even if your kid is wearing a cap, slather on the sunscreen. "Baseball caps
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  • 5 plants kids can't destroy (unless they really try!)

    Your kids are showing an interest in gardening and you want to support their curiosity. Also? Who would turn down gardening help! You're also tad bit concerned about throwing down the cash for plants, only to have them die because the kids forget to water them for a few days.



    We asked Sunset magazine associate garden editor, Julie Chai, for her tips on plants that kids can't kill. Check out the slide show to see Julie's recommendations.



    Julie added, "Few plants are totally indestructible, but these can take a lot of wear once they're mature."



    Bottom line? No matter what you let your kids plant in the yard you'll still need to help your kids out by serving as the back up gardener, especially when growing young plants. Consider it a team effort.





    Share your child's summer 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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  • Turning 5 outdoor chores into summer fun with the kids

    photo credit: getty imagesphoto credit: getty imagesWhether it's cleaning the windows or washing the car, you still have chores to do while the kids are on summer break. There's no reason you can't get the family involved in the your outdoor chores. We've five outdoor chores into games that are perfect for the under-8 crowd. Check 'em out!

    • Silly Sweeping: Using outdoor chalk, have your kids draw a circle on the ground. The circle is their target. Each child must sweep leaves, tree droppings, whatever they find on the ground, into their circle. Whoever has the largest pile at the end of a set time limit wins!
    • Plant Showers: Using scissors, poke 5-8 holes in an aluminum pie tin. Fill a container with water (clean plastic milk or juice bottles work well because of the have handles). Let your little ones hold the pie tin over plants or flowers, pour water into the tin and "shower" the plants and flowers.
    • Gold Panning in the Garden: My son came up with this twist on Plant Showers. You'll still need an aluminum plant tin,
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  • Hopscotch 101: Easy outdoor (or indoor!) fun

    What's not to love about playing hopscotch? At home, it's the cost of outdoor chalk (less than five bucks) so your kids can draw a hopscotch pattern on the sidewalk. On a rainy day, they could use painter's tape for indoor hopscotch! If you're at the beach or on a playground, hopscotch is free. Adde

  • 5 plants perfect for little gardeners to tend

    photo credit: getty imagesphoto credit: getty imagesI love gardening but have always faced a serious challenge: I lack a green thumb. Every plant that becomes part of our backyard must be hardy. Based on my track record, delicate flowers don't last long.

    When it comes to gardening with my children, plant choice is critical. Lucky for me, I know all about finding plants that are easy enough for kids to grow.

    If you're looking for a gardening project with your little ones, the best plants are those your kids will look forward to seeing when they bloom. Edible flowers, fruits and vegetables are always a good choice and if you lack space, you can always plant in containers. In fact, I prefer having my kids use containers for gardening because my kids feel a sense of ownership. Also? It's easier for the kids to figure out a watering schedule; containers always have to be watered more frequently.

    Five plants that are ideal for your young kid gardeners include:

    • Strawberries. Instead of growing berries from seed, find a starter pack at
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