Feb 21, 2018

Helping Kids Stay Active Indoors with Yoga

Indoor play seems to be one of the most popular topics I'm asked to talk year after year. Whether it's for rainy days, too-hot summer days, long weekends, or these winters that just don't seem to end.

I've shared lots of my favorite toys and games for indoor play, without breaking everything in the house, as well as DIY's that will keep kids active indoors. But today I wanted to share something I don't touch on too often, which is how to get your kids exercising in a more traditional sense, like through yoga.

My friend Jenny Silverstone shared this great piece on Mom Loves Best about all the benefits yoga can have for our young ones. I love this infographic she put together addressing some of them:



Jenny also has a few tips for introducing your kids to yoga, including:

Be a leader.

I think this is so important. Jenny notes that kids mimic your behavior, which is totally try. Even if you've never done a Sun Salutation in your life, try out yoga with your kids, and be willing to laugh at yourself when you have trouble balancing. 


Keep it fun and easy. 

Don't worry about the technical aspects of yoga. Focus on the simple concepts like breathing and being mindful of your own body. One great idea Jenny has is to try out poses that mimic your child's favorite animal, which I love!


Don't chase perfection.

When you're new at yoga, or any new hobby, it can be hard not to compare yourself to the professionals. Remind kids to listen to their bodies and do their best, and the more they practice, the more they'll see progress.  


Add in songs and dances.

Playing your child's favorite music will make this so much more fun for them and YOU. I love when my local yoga studio has theme nights like 90's music, or all Beatles hits.


Let your child be the leader.

Kids love to play pretend and be the "adult" in the room. Once you've practiced yoga a few times, let them choose the poses and sequences for you to follow along with. 



DIY Yoga Mat Idea


As with any exercise, sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in the more material side of the activity like buying the coolest yoga pants or the hippest gym bag. Finding a fun outfit to wear that makes you feel good and a mat in your favorite color is great, but don't worry about looking "Instagram ready". It's important to teach this to your kids as well.

But if your kids like practicing yoga, and want to get more into it, try having them create their own yoga mat and style for their practice. I love this activity from my friends at Hallmark Channel for making a DIY kids yoga mat. Check out the video below:




Just like yoga isn't a favorite for all adults, it won't be a favorite for all kids, but it might be a great fit for yours and worth giving a try. Jenny also shares some precautionary instructions, which are important to review before getting started.

You can read her full article over at Mom Love Best, which breaks down all the benefits of yoga for kids and has some great ideas for beginner poses they can try out.

Thanks for sharing all these amazing ideas, Jenny!

Feb 9, 2018

Olympic Ring Protein Pancakes

I've been counting down to the official kick-off of the Winter Olympics, tonight's Opening Ceremony, for what feels like foreverrrrr, and tonight we finally get to watch! I recommend playing this Bingo game to add the competitive edge.

Tonight we'll be watching the broadcast version on NBC, since the Opening Ceremony is actually already in the books. There's quite a time difference between the States and South Korea, where the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic games are being held. In case you weren't sure they're almost a day ahead of us:

Eastern time: 14 hours
Central time: 15 hours
Mountain time: 16 hours
Pacific time: 17 hours

Of course there are special broadcasts on our TV stations to accommodate, you know, those of us with normal sleep schedules. But I'm sure there are some diehards that love to stream the events live.




No matter what time you're watching the Olympic Athletes compete their hearts out, these Krusteaz Protein Pancakes make a great breakfast or snack. If you have kids, it's a good way to have a conversation about the lifestyle and diets of these athletes.

They're also just super delicious.





I made this batch with an extra protein punch, combining the mix with milk and eggs instead of water. Once the batter was made, I divided it into five smaller bowls to do the separate coloring.




They were super fluffy and had that perfect golden color... or at least they would have if I hadn't used food dye... 




It was a little difficult to get those really solid tones of the Olympic Rings, but these were a lot of fun to make, and I never promised you a food blog. In case you want to avoid food coloring, I'd recommend finding toppings that work to make the colors of the rings. Strawberry jam for red, maybe some Oreo crumble for black... get creative and let everyone create their own plate. A few weeks ago I used this protein pancake mix with blueberries I had frozen last summer and they were deeeelicious, and a great way to start the weekend.


This morning I sent out an email to my PlayList with a wrap-up of all my Winter Olympic content, and a few bonus goodies. If you're not on the list yet, you can sign up here!


Feb 7, 2018

Ideas for Celebrating Galentine's Day

I absolutely love the February holiday Galentine's Day.

Born from "Parks and Rec", Galentine's Day let's us celebrate the love we find in our female friendships.

One section of my book, "Well Played", is dedicated to playing with your friends. Keeping those relationships strong, and fun!, and this is the perfect excuse to get together or send love to long-distance pals.

It's also a great excuse to reclaim a bunch of Valentine's Day traditions. Take those ideas and turn them into celebrations of friendship. Here are a few ideas I love "borrowing" from Valentine's Day for Galentine's Day:

Classroom Valentines


Classroom Valentines are so dang cute, and usually filled with awesome puns (that often go over kids heads). Minted has some amazing designs this year and I'm tempted to drop them in all my neighbor's mailboxes (would that be super weird?).You'll need a larger envelope if you chose to send them off to friends since these are too small to mail.



I really love the Social Media and Food & Drink themes at Minted right now, but they're truly all great. You can even grab matching stickers, and have printing done right on them to save the time signing them all. I think they'd be great to sneak into a friend's purse during your next brunch date at any time of the year.



If you have a Galentine's Day get together, try copying another classroom idea and have everyone craft their own "mailbox" to drop valentine's in for one another. Grab your craft bin, or run to the dollar store to stock up on some pom poms and hot glue, then decorate a small box.


Wine and Chocolate Tasting 


Take a friend to a wine or chocolate bar, or create one at your home. Print off your own wine label to celebrate the occasion, and crack it open or save it for your Galentine's celebration next year making it a tradition.

I've found some really cute custom labels over on Etsy in the past, and wanted to share my own this year. Use sticker paper, or just normal paper and some fun washi tape, to make the bottle your own. This printable is 3 1/2" x 4" and should fit any wine bottle.

Download Free Printable Galentine's Day Wine Label




Dinner and a Movie

Reclaim classic date night for you and your friends. Host a binge-watching party or movie marathon at home, or if you can, make a reservation at your favorite restaurant and movie theater.

Write A Love Story

Giving your mate a list or book of reasons you love them can be pretty romantic. But it can also be a great way to show your playmates how much you appreciate their friendship. If you're feeling creative, DIY a booklet, but if that's not your thing there are some great books you can buy and fill out with custom sentiments.

Knock Knock has a great "Fill in the Love" series that I've gifted a few times to different family members, and they make such a great present for friends too. They're the perfect size to keep around for when your friend needs to feel a little bit of love.




I hope this inspired a few ideas for you to share with your girlfriends how important they are to you. If you can't get together for Galentine's Day, pick another day this month and block out time just for you.

Cheers!

* Minted did not sponsor this post, but they did send me some super cute valentines that I plan to share with friends and family.




Jan 23, 2018

How to Host a Fun Adult Game Night

Today my first ever segment on the Harry show aired, and I have to say, it was an absolute BLAST to film. If you told me even a month ago I'd be playing drinking games with Harry Connick Jr I would have laughed REAL hard. But 2018 is turning out to be full of surprises.





Games

Utter Nonsense: Naughty Edition

Utter Nonsense is one of my family's favorite games, but when it's just adults around, we like to break out this version of it. Utter Nonsense: Naughty Edition will have you laughing for hours, with friends old and new. Using silly accents to deliver lines that are just plain ridiculous, even the most shy person in the room will love joining in.




PongBot

Listen, drinking games can be fun even if you're no longer college-age. And PongBot has quickly become a favorite for me. Compete individually, or on a team, to throw ping-pong balls into cups held by the little robot. Each round, have someone different man the remote control, or set it to auto-pilot and all compete at once! 

Snacks

Popcorn Bar

I love a good popcorn bar because everyone wins. It's an easy set-up and clean-up for the host, and everyone gets to make their own custom snack that's easy to eat in-between turns during whatever game you're playing.



An absolute MUST for your popcorn bar is pre-popped popcorn. I love G.H. Cretors because it makes it impossible to fill your home with a burnt-popcorn smell, and their bags of popcorn are just delicious. I recommend grabbing a few bags of their more traditional flavors, like Extra Virgin Olive Oil and The Mix (Caramel Corn and Cheddar Cheese Corn!), and one kind of crazy flavor like Organic Dill Pickle.

Then stock up on mix-ins. We like to have a few bowls of treats like chocolate chips, mini-pretzels, crunchy cereals, nuts, sprinkles, fancy salts, and gummy candies.


Sweet and Salty Snack Board

Any classy adult party has a cheese board, right? Take it up a notch and create a full snack board. I promise this is actually going to feel like less work. Less pressure on making a restaurant-worthy cheese board, and more focus on making a platter full of grab-able treats. Pro-tip, fill your plate or platter to the edge and use some fun snack picks to make things festive. A crowded platter always looks more appetizing than a few bits and pieces scattered around a wood board.

For the salty: Crackers, cheeses, mixed nuts, potato chips, chip dip, pita chips, hummus, salami, beef jerky, bite-size pickled or fresh veggies

For the sweet: Cookies, yogurt pretzels, fresh and dried fruits, your favorite candy, really good chocolates, honey or jam

Some of the mix-ins from your popcorn bar can work great here as well.


Sparkling Sangria Lemonade

Instead of mixing everyone individual cocktails throughout the night, make refills easy with a pre-made mixed drink for the group. This recipe for Sparkling Ginger and Sangria Lemonade is refreshing and simple enough to put your own twist on. All you need to get started is a few ingredients: lemons, white wine, honey, and ginger ale.


Keep the punch bowl in the cupboard and instead serve your sangria or other mixed beverage in a tall, clear dispenser. This acrylic drink dispenser has a well for ice in the bottom to keep your mixed drink chilled without watering it down. Or if you want to serve a few options, this pack of two glass mason jar drink dispensers is perfect.



Decorations

You don't have to pull out the full party box and go crazy, but having a few decorations can make game night feel extra special. I love these little things that pack a big punch.

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This Neon Party Sign is so fun, and generic enough to use for any occasion.



You know I love a good PaperSource find, and these party decorations are my latest obsession. Mix and match these Gold, Black, and White Tassel Banners with a Gold Letter Pennant Banner spelling out a phrase from your favorite game, or something short like "Good Luck".



La La Land is definitely starting to feel like home, but there are still some adjustments, and a big part of that is making new friends. Jon and I are hoping to host many adult game nights in our future, and will definitely be using lots of the ideas included in this segment.

Have your own twist on grown-up game night? Share on social and make sure to tag me @meredithplays!
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