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Planting Seeds for Grownup Dreams

Post Date: 4/19/17 | Blog author: A. is a huge sports fan, art and design enthusiast, and mom to yellow Labs, Ames and Lucy.

I can remember from an early age being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” While the answers were sometimes fantasy-driven, “I want to be a tooth fairy,” for the most part I had a pretty consistent reply, “I want to be an artist.” And when I stood to have my degree in design bestowed up me by Iowa State University I had followed through on that dream. I think the reason I stayed steadfast in my goal was the fact that my parents made every effort to expose me to the things that interested me, and of course art was consistently one of them.

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photo credit: Tom Ezzatkhah - unsplash.com

There are a multitude of everyday things adults can do with their children provide a variety of quality childhood experiences and perhaps potential career choices:

  • Take your kids to the nursery with you to choose landscaping materials, flowers for decorative pots and plants for vegetable gardens.Give them a plot of soil to plant and care for. You may be literally planting seeds for a career in farming, horticulture, botany or landscape architecture.
  • Cook or bake with your child on a regular basis.The very least they can take away from time in the kitchen are enhanced life skills for adulthood, but they could also choose to become a chef, baker, food critic, or restaurant owner.
  • Take your children to book readings at your local library or book store.Allow them to speak to the author and to ask questions. Work on an original story with them at home—and publish it on your desktop printer. You may just be inspiring the future author of a best seller.
  • Enjoy live performances, concerts, plays, musicals, puppet shows and sing-a-longs.You never know when they will experience a character or storyline that touches their heart and mind in such a way that they ask for acting, singing and dancing lessons. A career on stage might not be far behind if you have a little performer who enjoys the spotlight!
  • If you pet is due for a check-up—take your child to the vet for the appointment so they can see what being a veterinarian is all about. Let them ask the doctor and lab technicians questions—having those answers may just inspire a career in pet care, or scientific research.
  • Take your children to home improvement stores for Kids Work Shop Days.Here kids wear a pint-sized carpenter aprons and make a wood projects from kits. Under your supervision (and that of seasoned volunteers) they can pound, glue and paint to their heart’s content. It’s great for bonding, and you never know, after all this fun, a future architect, carpenter or builder could be born.
  • Listen to your child for clues about where to go and what to do in order to support their interests.That means trying things you’re not so sure about—or pushing you out of your own comfort zone. It’s worth every moment when you see them respond to an experience with enthusiasm and joy!

Now more than ever, there are options for parents to engage in career inspiring activities or to enroll their children in programs created to provide a spark that could light a career path. Check community education, summer school and church schedules for an assortment of kid-friendly lessons and workshops. Be open-minded about your child’s interests and be sure to be supportive as they explore the world and make choices.

At Kids Quest, every play event is designed to encourage creativity and activity. Play is vital to child development on all levels. Exposure to a multitude of play options provides an opportunity to develop confidence; confidence builds stronger skills, and those skills become the seeds for grown up dreams.

Until next month, Ann

Kids Quest—Playtime for Kids, Free Time for You!

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Film for Thought!

Post Date: 03/18/17 | Blog author: A. is a huge sports fan, art and design enthusiast, and mom to yellow Labs, Ames and Lucy.

Movie time together as a family is a favorite activity in most households. Popping some popcorn, snuggling in, and having the ability to hit pause for food runs and bathroom breaks is an ideal way for moms, dads and children to enjoy a show. This month as we stop to observe Earth Day, I thought it would be fun to suggest some films that raise awareness about protecting the planet, and may even spark some quality conversation about the environment.

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photo credit: Jacklyn R.

The Lorax

this slightly amended Dr. Seuss story is a cautionary tale about the planet. The quest to see a “real Truffala tree” bonds characters Ted and Audrey, takes them from their completely artificial home Thneedville, and pushes them to the unknown outskirts of town where all that was once green and beautiful, is now barren and polluted. The journey also introduces Ted to The Onceler, a greedy businessman who exploited and destroyed nature, and the Lorax—who has taken on the task to protect the last of the precious Truffala trees from extinction.

Free Willy

The story centers on a captured whale named Willy, who is separated from his family and held in a tank at an aquarium to be a part of an aquatic show. Lonely and out of place, Willy is both unhappy and unruly with no interest in becoming a performer. Then along comes foster child Jesse, who because of his part creating vandalism at the theme park, is sentenced to cleaning up the graffiti he left behind. Because of their time spent together, the two create a special bond, and it becomes Jesse’s mission to free Willy and to return him to the sea…and his family.

Happy Feet

this film sends a strong message about self-acceptance, and realizing that the very things that make you struggle because you are different, can give you a special purpose in life. Mumble, an often bullied penguin because he cannot sing, must venture out to the “forbidden shores” looking for food to help his family, suffering because commercial overfishing has depleted their resources. In addition, Mumble is looking for help for his friend Lovelace, who has become ensnared in plastic rings tossed into the ocean by humans. In the end, Mumble’s brave and likable personality, as well as his gift for dance draws attention to the plight of his fellow penguins, and there is a “Happy” ending.

Discussing each story before, during, and after watching is an ideal opportunity to talk with your kids about how important it is to preserve the environment and to respect nature’s gifts. The value of family and friendship are evident in each storyline as well

Enjoy, Ann

Kids Quest—Playtime for Kids, Free Time for You!

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Spring Break 101

Post Date: 03/01/17 | Blog author: A. is a huge sports fan, art and design enthusiast, and mom to yellow Labs, Ames and Lucy.

It’s that time of year! These are the days we dream about from January 2nd until the magical day when classes are released. School’s out and adventure’s in! Below are a few simple tips to keep your family happy, healthy and safe as you plan your excursions away from home.

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photo credit: Leo Rivas Micoud - pexels.com

Know your stuff!

Be sure to research your destination and the surrounding area. That means learning everything from the average temperatures so that you may pack properly, to the most affordable and safest options for family-friendly accommodations, dining and activities. Take a look at Yelp, Trip Advisor and other review-based websites for independent feedback and consistent recommendations. If skiing, take a good look at the resort profile to be sure that the destination is a fit for the skill levels in your group. Use the reviews posted as a guide to making your adventure a success. Take into consideration that the best made plans will need to be somewhat flexible—the most memorable vacations often involve a detour or two to satisfy a curiosity, or to follow the sage advice of a local. If you are planning special adventures or activities like water sports, fishing, hiking, parasailing, air transport, etc., be sure to research vendor options to make sure they have a great record for safety and industry compliance.

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photo credit:Josh Sorenson - pexels.com

The Scouts have it right—be prepared!

That means organizing everything from pre-travel vaccinations, to packing prescription medications, inhalers, Epi-pens, allergy meds, pain relievers and a backpack first aid kit to sunscreen and appropriate clothing! Dose up on citrus fruits, vitamin C and use a pre-travel OTC like “Airborne” or organic apple cider vinegar to mix into a juice smoothie for the kids. Make sure the entire family is rested and ready for a plane full of people if air travel is in your plans. Hand sanitizer is also a good idea as you make your way around the country (or world) during cold and flu season.

Don't forget the toys and essentials!

Are you headed for a tropical, warm-weather destination? Make sure that the swim goggles and snorkel gear are packed along with inflatable toys, sunscreen, extra towels and water sandals to protect little feet from hot beach sand. If you plan on air travel, bring along favorite snacks, tablets of paper, colored pencils, markers, puzzles, and books to keep the kids busy on long flights or layovers. It’s true, time flies when you’re having fun, so make sure that getting there is just as enjoyable as being there!

If you’re on your way to the mountains to enjoy cold weather sports, make sure you have packed enough warm clothing and some light layers to peel if necessary. Make a gear check-list and be certain that bindings fit properly, helmets and goggles are ready, gloves are paired and skis set to go. Pack a few little treats in the multiple pockets of your ski clothing to reward good behavior on the slopes. Always ski with a buddy and never venture off-trail, or try a run that is beyond your ability.

Do your homework before you go!

Last, but not least, be acutely aware of your family’s safety en route and upon arrival at your destination. Children (from toddlers to teens) should never venture out without an adult and a cell-phone in hand. Be sure to plan pre-determined check-in times when your family is separated so that any lapse in communication is noticed immediately. Paradise is lovely, but being careful and smart is a must!

Well, you’re all set! Have a wonderful time and be sure to document your memories with photographs and video—your family and friends on social media are going to be curious, happy, and maybe even a little jealous!

Safe travels, Ann

Kids Quest—Playtime for Kids, Free Time for You!

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Share the Love — Little Things Mean A Lot!

Post Date: 01/31/17 | Blog author: A. is a huge sports fan, art and design enthusiast, and mom to yellow Labs, Ames and Lucy.

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photo credit:Help Ornament My Eden Blog

February is always a month of scrambling—the holidays are over, winter breaks are in the books, and the task at hand is to get back on schedule with your family and career. February is also a month traditionally associated with showing your love for the special people who make your life a happy one! Here are a few fun ways to say I love even when your schedule is jam-packed and the pace of life is hectic!

    Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutters!

  • This one is tried and true and makes family meal prep fun by using a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make each sandwich say “I love you!” It’s easy; make your sammie like you usually do—but use the cookie cutter to punch out the center of the bread to carve out a sweet snack for the kids or your significant other. This also works for pancakes, burgers, mini pizzas, and of course cookie dough! Use your imagination!

  • Lunch Box Love Notes!

  • I have a friend at work who receives little love notes from her husband when he packs her lunch for work each day, how great is that? The same can be done for your kiddos! When putting their lunch together, slip in a note of love or encouragement like, “I love you honey—or good luck on your spelling test!” these are wonderful ways to let your family members know you are thinking of them throughout the day. Love notes can be tucked into backpacks, books, briefcases, or suitcases when your spouse is on the road and away from home!

  • Make Date Night a Play Night!

  • Create alone time for you and your love by scheduling a date night. Time together not only allows you to reconnect as a couple, but the much-needed break helps you manage the day to day stress you experience as busy parents. The kids will enjoy your date night as well if you have a special plan for them too! Kids Quest is a perfect place for that! Check your children in for fun and games while you share a quiet dinner and conversation—this way, everybody feels the love!

  • Kids Quest—Playtime for Kids, Free Time for You!

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Family Resolutions for 2017!

Post Date: 01/03/17 | Blog author: A. is a huge sports fan, art and design enthusiast, and mom to yellow Labs, Ames and Lucy.

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Resolutions aren’t just for adults—the New Year is also an opportunity to plan a fresh start for your family. January is a great time to get your home team together to draft goals and game-changing resolutions for the coming year and beyond!

    So Let’s Get Started!

  • Gather the family! Every member of the household should be a part of determining family goals. Have each person make suggestions and vote. Being a part of the decision making process creates buy-in, and buy-in makes reaching your mutual goals much easier!

  • Be realistic! Determining the feasibility of your goals will go a long way toward achieving them! Avoid “absolutes” as they will only set your family up to fail.

  • Ask the “why” behind ideas! Discussion will lead to some really productive conversation between family members about their suggestions and the reasons motivating them.

  • Be clear on roles and responsibilities of each family member to achieve your goals! Every member of the house needs to understand what they personally need to do to make the resolutions work.

  • Reward good choices and follow through! Feedback is vital to the success of your plans. Let your home team know they are on-track for meeting the goals you set as a family. Praise early and often to keep the momentum going!

  • Remember that flexibility and forgiveness encourage progress! The phrases “I’m sorry” and “Great job” should become a big part of your vocabulary as a family. No one is perfect, so redirect gently and make sure to talk openly about slip-ups—they may even be yours as a parent!

    Now that the ground rules have been covered, here are a few family resolutions to get you thinking!

  • More talk; less arguing! Conflict is never resolved with raised voices or anger. Take a breath, think before speaking and then sit down to have respectful, balanced conversations instead!

  • Listen up! We have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason. Nothing is better for self-esteem than feeling like your thoughts emotions and observations are being heard.

  • Give hugs coming and going! You should make an effort to share the love when saying hello and goodbye!

  • Heads up; devices down! Nothing is more important than eye contact, conversation and uninterrupted family time.

  • Less technology; more play! Internet and TV time has a place in our lives, but the lack of personal engagement and creating family fun does not!

  • Simplify schedules; simplify life! Don’t let activities rule your world or wear your family out! Down time free of commitment is restorative for adults and children.

  • Encourage the truth; choose to forgive mistakes and grant second chances! Fear of punishment can lead to a habit of dishonesty that is hard to break, and fear of making a mistake can cause crippling anxiety. Make sure consequences are understood, but an effort to tell the truth should always be acknowledged as well.

  • Do things together and strengthen your bond! Volunteer for a charity, work as a team on a home project, create a family game night, plan a craft day, cook, bake and eat at the table as a family. Group accomplishment forges strong bonds!

  • Have fun making your list of resolutions, and enjoy the fact that each plan you make will be as unique as your family!

    Happy New Year!

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Visions of Kids Quest Danced in Their Heads

Post Date: 12/16/16 | Blog author: A. is a huge sports fan, art and design enthusiast, and mom to yellow Labs, Ames and Lucy.

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