Blog Posts by Yahoo! Contributor Network

  • How to Juggle Your Kids' Multiple Extracurricular Activities

    There's no doubt about it. Our children are busier than ever. I have three children so I know this firsthand. Their schedules rival that of a busy executive. From soccer practice to music lessons there's barely a chance to grab a family dinner together. What can your child's busy sports activities teach your family about juggling a busy schedule?

    Who's on First?

    First, make a list of all of the activities your family has each day of the week. Do this faithfully the first of the month and then every Sunday to update any changes. Be sure to include all of your doctor appointments, playdates, school, sports, and church activities. Leave nothing behind. And most importantly do this with your children. When they see the list of activities and what's involved to keep everyone on time, it helps them understand how their day flows and what is needed to run a tight ship. They are part of the family team, after all.

    Time it Right

    In football terminology it's the end of the fourth

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  • Red, White and Blue Decorating Ideas for July 4th

    For me, it has always been important for my children to understand why we celebrate the 4th of July. Yes, we love the fireworks, the festivities and the food. However, we equally enjoy celebrating our independence, freedom and patriotism. These five red, white and blue decorating ideas help kids get excited about celebrating our independence. After decorating, have a good time with your friends and family.

    Flag Centerpiece

    Jazz up your dining room table with a flag centerpiece. First, cover your table with a red or dark blue tablecloth. In the center of the table place a tall vase. Fill the vase with red or blue glass beads. Then, place five small American flags in the vase. After you are done with the centerpiece, children can make placemats from construction paper. Their placemats should have 4th of July themes like freedom. Finally, serve up some blueberries and strawberries with whipped cream for a delicious, kid-friendly treat.

    Stars and stripes forever

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  • Fun Themes for Your Fourth of July BBQ

    If you're in charge of organizing the Fourth of July BBQ this year, start a new tradition with a fun theme! While most of the neighbors will be hosting the traditional patriotic party, you can show off your creative side with a few variations. Plan ahead so you can make most of your menu items at least a day in advance, and start gathering props and decorations now to create an unforgettable event! Whether you're having everyone over to enjoy the pool or just inviting the crew for a backyard extravaganza, surprise your guests with something that's anything but ordinary.

    Here are some fun themes and ideas for your Fourth of July BBQ:

    Lady Liberty Theme

    Have fun at the dessert table by making up some "Lady Liberty Cupcakes" during the festivities. This can be a fun activity for young kids and will keep everyone busy for at least an hour. Look for Statue of Liberty-shaped confetti or a stand-up party decoration as a centerpiece. Use other props with a patriotic theme to create

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  • 10 Ideas for Family Time with Busy Schedules

    A typical day for my family includes full-time work for dad, part-time work for mom, gymnastics classes for all three girls, moms morning out for my toddler, elementary school for my older daughters, Girl Scout meetings, homework, cooking, cleaning and (very occasionally) sleep. Whew. So where can we make time for our family with busy schedules all around?

    1. Family breakfasts are a great alternative to a family dinner when school events and activities seem to get in the way. Don't just grab a banana and run out the door. Set everyone's alarm clock ten minutes earlier and sit down at the table and start the day as a family.

    2. Game nights are popular choice for busy families. Don't restrict yours to night or weekends. Select a weekday afternoon when everyone can clear their schedules, for instance, and order pizza as a special early dinner treat.

    3. Do your homework together. Don't let the kids walk in the door and head their separate ways-eat a snack together and make

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  • 4th of July Outfit Ideas for Children

    Independence Day is just around the corner! Though I often resist the urge to dress my family in matching attire, striving for complementary colors and prints instead, I love putting my three daughters in identical pieces for the 4 th of July. Maybe it's the desire to show off our patriotic spirit or the fact that I can spot them easier in a crowd if they're all dressed alike. Whatever the reason, I'm already planning my daughters' 4th of July outfits!

    Basic: Red, White & Blue

    Go basic with red, white, and blue attire for the entire family. Put mom, dad and the kids in red t-shirts, blue jean shorts/ capris /jeans, and white tennis shoes. This basic outfit won't require a lot of hunting and shopping, but can make your family easily identifiable in a crowd while you're watching the fireworks or walking along the beach.

    Homemade: Fabric Pens/Paint

    Your kids will love getting in on the craft when it comes to decorating their own Independence Day attire. Plain white t-shirts

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  • Post-Game Snacks Kids Will Love

    Fueling kids bodies with healthy and tasty snacks after sports keeps them energized and supports normal growth. My six-year-old son loves to play soccer, baseball, and basketball and he loves his post-game snacks. I love watching him interact with his friends on the field. Watching him play sports and interact with his teammates on the field is one of my favorite things about being a parent. It makes me proud to see how well he listens to the coaches, and to observe how respectful he is of other players.

    My son also loves healthy snacks and has a firm grasp of which foods are nutritious. He'll sometimes ask for "more carbs" when he wants more rice. He knows food is fuel for his body, just like gas for the car. Within the first half hour after a game, young athletes should eat some carbs. They'll also be hungry again two hours later and should consume more carbs recommends the Sports Nutrition and Sports Center of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

    * Bagel bites and sunshine

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  • Mom's Guide to Building Confidence and Winning Smiles

    My daughters' smiles can light up a room-from my toddler's giggling glow to my kindergartener's open-mouthed smile and down the line to my oldest daughter's toothless grin, there's nothing quite as inspiring as a child's smile. When we take care of these winning smiles and nurture the positive attitude and behavior behind them, I know my daughters will have all the components for a happy, healthy, confident life ahead.

    Brush, floss, and gargle.

    There's more to a healthy smile than a cursory brush at morning and night. Teach your children to brush their teeth for the entire length of "Happy Birthday," floss before the rinse, and then gargle with mouthwash (preferably one that's specially-conditioned with fluoride or for children). Don't just make these three things a chore. Teach your children that they are just as important to healthy bodies as eating dinner and drinking water or milk! It's a lifestyle, not a burden.

    Protect your smile.

    An active lifestyle is an absolutely

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  • What to Say If Your Kid Loses a Game

    If your child plays sports, he or she will inevitably lose at least a few games. Even the most skilled and talented of teams will meet their match or have an off day. While losing a game may be common, it is never easy. It is far more difficult, however, when the loss is at a big game like a championship game or one against a big rival.

    My daughter's soccer team had struggled through a rather rough season recently. The team was plagued with illness and injury. Most games of the season, they played a full hour of soccer with no subs or even with less players on the field than an opposing team had. This was in a year of record-breaking heat in Texas, and many games were played in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. The girls persevered and managed to earn a spot in the district championship tournament.

    At the district championship, they played a total of six games over the weekend, thankfully in cooler temperatures. They won the first four game easily. Their fifth game, the

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  • Patriotic-Themed Treats for 4th of July

    My family always has fun in the kitchen in preparation for 4th of July. Every year it's fun to see the different flag cakes and red, white and blue treats on the picnic tables.

    In addition to making patriotic-themed treats with the red, white and blue colors, we also make treats that remind us of the sounds of fireworks. We use popcorn because it "pops" and rice cereal treats that crackle to get all the senses in involved.

    Red, white and blue popcorn treats

    Before heading out to see the fireworks, we fill up clear plastic bags with popcorn. The bottom layer has popcorn that we tint red, the middle layer is the plain popcorn and the top layer is popcorn tinted blue.

    To make the popcorn, we put ¼ cup butter and 3 T light corn syrup in a sauce pan on medium heat. Then I add ½ cup sugar and 1 box (3.5 ounce) of red or blue colored gelatin mix. After stirring, I bring to a boil and reduce heat. I simmer for five minutes. I then mix with 8 cups of popcorn. Finally, I spread

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  • 10 Reasons to Get Your Kids into Youth Sports

    As a child I never had the chance to be involved in sports until I was in high school. Although I wish I would have started playing sports at an earlier age, I know those four short years really helped me become the successful adult I am today. As a parent, I wanted to make sure my children had a chance to try different sports while they were young. So, when my daughter was six years old we signed her up for AYSO soccer . My husband and I knew nothing about soccer so we learned with her. Now, six years later we realize that putting our kids in youth sports was one of the best parenting decision we ever made. Our kids have tried soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, football, and swimming. I have two very responsible, self-confident, and respectful children and I know it is because they are both actively involved in youth sports.

    Here are 10 reasons why you should consider having your children in youth sports.

    Live a healthy lifestyle.
    In youth sports your children are moving and

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