Easter egg hunts

Saturday’s temperature is supposed to be higher than Sunday’s, but the kiddos can probably work up a sweat running in search of Easter eggs either day — and you won’t freeze watching from the sidelines.

Check out the list of community egg hunts here.

Happy hunting!

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Free admission to Children’s Museum on Valentine’s Day

Do you and your kids heart the Children’s Museum?

Well, the Children’s Museum hearts you too!

On Valentine’s Day – that’s Friday, Feb. 14 – the museum is offering free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to enjoying its regular programs, kiddos can make a valentine while they’re visiting.

Thank the  Plum Creek Foundation for sponsoring this lovely event.

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… And a happy new year!

It’s the first day of a new year!

For 2014, my kids resolved to watch less TV and keep their rooms cleaner. Classic.

Me, I’m going to exercise more, eat less junk food and stop biting my nails once and for all.

I’ll have good company in trying to quit my nail habit. My daughter’s going to stop biting her nails too.

My son says he’s also going to work on not being annoying to his sister.

Worthy goals all. Good luck to you through 2014!

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How to give all of Missoula’s children a merrier Christmas

This editorial ran on the Missoulian’s Opinion page yesterday. It talks about the recent toiletries drive for needy students in Missoula County Public Schools. And it describes the ongoing need for other items – diapers, cleaning supplies and extra athletic clothes in particular – as well as how to provide those items if you’re moved to help.

School buildings will be closed through the break but the Administration Building at 215 S. Sixth St. W. will be open during its regular hours after Christmas Day. That’s Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. After the holidays, give Kennedy a call at 728-2400, ext. 1080 or send her an email at sskennedy@mcps.k12.mt.us to find out which supplies are most needed right now, and where to deliver them.

Something to think about as we enjoy all the riches of the season on this Christmas Day. Merry Christmas,  everyone!

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A Christmas present from the Carousel: free rides!

Theresa Cox, executive director of A Carousel for Missoula, just sent out the news that the Carousel will be offering free rides on Christmas Day – that’s tomorrow, folks! – from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. as its “Christmas gift to the community.”

 

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How to handle bullies at Christmas? Give them gifts

Was the Grinch a bully? You know – that hairy green guy who snuck into people’s houses and tried to steal Christmas? The guest post below argues that indeed he was – and like the Grinch, other bullies can be won over in much the same way.

By reaching their hearts.

Read on:

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Kids Christmas present no-nos: Keys to the car, shot of whiskey or electronic device

I usually don’t enjoy shopping, but I have to say that it is fun to shop for Christmas presents for my kiddos. They’re at an age when they think everything under the sun is marvelous. The wrapping is amazing, the toy is wonderful and the box it came in is super fun, too!

Recently I got an interesting email from the Environmental Health Trust warning parents not to buy electronics for their kids. I’ll refrain from comment and just share the message, below:

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Missoula health expert knows how to keep kids safe during holidays

A Health column in yesterday’s Missoulian by Community Medical Center’s women’s and children’s services director Kim McKearnan included a list of ways for those of us with children underfoot to keep them safe during the holidays. It also provided a link to more safety information and checklists via homesafetycouncil.org.

Here’s a condensed run-down of McKearnan’s list. Check out the column itself for the full version.

• Ensure that all electrical cords are in good condition and out of walking paths around your home (including not placing them under rugs).

• Be mindful of hot drinks.

• Candles should be kept a minimum of 3 feet away from anything that can burn, monitored at all times and out of reach of children and pets. Battery-powered candles can be a safe alternative.

• Hosting a house full of guests can lead to decreased supervision of children. Have adult guests take turns watching children, hire a trusted baby-sitter during holiday parties and make safe play rules clear to the children in your home.

• Exercise caution when cooking holiday meals. Keep children a safe distance from the oven at all times and take time to teach them kitchen safety.

• Provide a designated spot for your guests to stow potentially unsafe items.

• Carefully read the labels of the toys and gifts you purchase for children before wrapping them to be sure that they are age-appropriate and safe. When giving an older sibling a gift that could be harmful to their younger sibling (for example, small parts that a younger child could choke on), be sure to remind the child to keep the toy in a place that is out of reach for their little brother or sister.

• Dress your children warmly head to toe. It is strongly recommended that children wear helmets when sledding, snowmobiling, skiing or snowboarding to prevent head injuries resulting from falls. Adult supervision is also recommended.

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Santa Claus is coming to town – downtown Missoula, that is

It’s that time of year again, when Santas start popping up everywhere you look.

Santa will be at the Florence Hotel in downtown Missoula this Saturday, Dec. 7 starting at 1 p.m., ready and willing to hear children’s gift wishes and pose for photos with them.

But his appearance will be only one of more than 20 family-friendly activities available in downtown Missoula this Saturday, including the 11th annual Parade of Lights. The parade will launch at 6 p.m. from the corner of Fourth and Higgins and head north to the red XXXXs. The Christmas tree lighting is planned for 6:30 p.m. As usual, there will be free coffee, cocoa and cookies! As well as public performances by various groups.

The Missoula Downtown Association sent the following schedule of events and list of sponsors to help you plan a fun winter weekend and express thanks to the appropriate folks for it:

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7 ways to teach children gratitude – from a princess!

Here’s a timely guest post for Thanksgiving Day – from a “princess”! Enjoy!

Giving—and Teaching—Thanks: Seven Ways to Make
Gratitude a Meaningful Part of Your Children’s Lives

By Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes

         
Gratitude — or a lack thereof — is something all parents encounter during the process of raising children. At some point or other, what mother hasn’t looked on with horror as her child blurted out a variant of “I don’t like this! It’s not what I wanted for my birthday!” or worried that her kids took the many blessings and privileges in their lives for granted? While it’s fairly easy to drill polite responses into youngsters, instilling a true sense of gratitude in them can be considerably more difficult.

Here’s the good news: Your children aren’t destined to become entitled, self-centered members of the so-called “Me Generation.” There are concrete things you can do to make gratitude a meaningful part of your children’s lives — and the Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to start.

Gratitude will increase your kids’ personal happiness and perspective, and it will also help them to develop positive, authentic relationships with others. And yes, being truly thankful is one of the best ways to combat selfishness and “the gimmes.” But did you know that a consistent practice of gratitude also encourages better health, sleep, emotional well-being, and improves academic performance? Perhaps most important of all, it helps us appreciate the good things in the world, large and small. It prompts us to stop and remember that we are all interconnected.

While parents can (and should) encourage their kids to live with gratitude all year round, the Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect time to start modeling and teaching an attitude of true thankfulness.

Here, I share seven tactics to help you transform gratitude from an abstract concept to a reality that your children live in and appreciate:

Share your gratitude out loud. Especially for young children, the concept of feeling gratitude (as opposed to simply saying “thank you” when prompted) can be a difficult one to grasp. Youngsters will better connect to thankfulness when you explain what you’re grateful for and why. Look for teachable moments and narrate them as often as possible.

Openly expressing your gratitude and encouraging your children to do the same will grow into a daily habit of focusing on the good things in all of your lives. In turn, seeing the world through a thankful lens will create more positive attitudes and outcomes.

Explain that you can be thankful for people as well as things. Once again, especially if your children are young, they may not instinctively realize that gratitude can be felt for people as well as things. Make sure you model this concept throughout daily life.

You want to get your kids into the habit of valuing other people for who they are and what they do. And don’t forget to express gratitude for your kids themselves! This type of praise helps them develop positive self-esteem for the right reasons.

Make gratitude a daily habit. All habits are formed through repetition. That’s why I recommend that you designate a time each day to name a few things you’re thankful for. Ask your kids to participate, too. Dinner and bedtime are both good opportunities for the family to talk about their day and to name things they were thankful for.

This addition to your family’s routine might spark some interesting conversations. You may be surprised by what your kids are thinking about and appreciative of! Be sure to make room for silliness and fun. Don’t prompt your child to “get serious” if he says he’s thankful for his Spiderman action figure or for the fact that his infant sister’s spit-up landed on the floor instead of on him. Remember, both gratitude and laughter are best expressed out loud!

Say “thank you” as often as possible. Sharing the things you’re grateful for within your family is commendable. But it’s even better to tell others when you’re thankful for something they’ve done. Let your kids see you saying “thank you” to the cashier who rang you up and bagged your groceries, to the sales associate who helped you find the light bulb you were looking for at the hardware store, and to your spouse when he reaches a box of pasta on the top shelf.

Help the thank-you note make a comeback. According to some cynics, the thank-you note is a dying art—but that doesn’t have to be the case in your family. Buy a pack or two of generic thank-you notes or blank cards (they don’t have to be fancy!) and encourage your children to use them when they receive a gift or when they want to express appreciation for something another person has done.

Don’t give in to the “I wannas.” You’ve heard them before: “I want this! I want that!” And you’ve probably also noticed that the more often you give in to the “I wannas,” the more frequently you encounter them.

Yes, it’s fine to buy your kids the latest fashions, top-of-the-line electronics, and the toys they want more than anything in the world…as long as you do it sometimes and not all of the time. Sometimes the best word you can say is “no.” Don’t feel guilty! Remember that you’re teaching your children to truly value and respect the things they do have and to appreciate every blessing in their lives. Whenever possible, tie rewards to effort so your child understands the meaning and pride of a job well done. If things come too easily, he won’t feel or understand true gratitude.

Encourage teamwork and community involvement. Pitch in! Thanksgiving, as well as the subsequent holiday season, offers many opportunities to volunteer on community projects for those in need. Try to find a way your whole family can give back: volunteering at a nursing home, collecting items for food drives, or helping to prepare dinners for the homeless.

When children use their time, energy, and talents to help make the world a better place, they feel more connected to all that is around them. When they see others who are in need of help and receive gratitude from others, they will learn in a profound way about the beautiful daisy chain of give and take.

Yes, encourage your children to enjoy Thanksgiving, as well as the fun, food, and festivities that go with it. But also take time to consider the true meaning of “thanks” and to think about how gratitude might look “in action” for your family. Raising grateful children is truly one of the best ways to create a brighter tomorrow, not only for them but for the world at large.

About Princess Ivana:
Ivana is the author of  “A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year,” which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom.

About the Book:
“A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year” (Don’t Sweat It Media, Inc., April 2013, ISBN: 978-0-9888712-0-5, $15.95,) is available at www.princessivana.com.

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