Inspiration

Fun St. Patrick’s Day Games

If you’re planning to have a kids’ party to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, you might want to keep your little guests immensely entertained. This means setting up fun activities like games that will prevent them from getting bored. Don’t forget to hand out awesome prizes to the winners!

Here are some ideas to try:

  • St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt. Youngsters can go searching for the leprechaun’s gold with this exciting backyard adventure. Simply hide chocolate coins in strategic places, write down clever clues that will get them thinking and working together, and send them on a treasure hunting frenzy on a rainbow path.
  • Let Go of the Gold Challenge. This simple game only requires children’s hands and a coin. Kids will have to put their palms together, their middle fingers bent, while a coin is slipped in between their ring fingers. The child who lets go of the coin successfully wins.
  • Solve a Shamrock Maze. Mazes are fun activities to get kids thinking. Simply print out a maze in the shape of a shamrock. Guests can even have a solving contest where the first one to accomplish his or her maze will be able to win (chocolate) gold coins.
 

Paying it forward during the Holidays

In this season of sharing, I think there is no better way to teach our kids the importance of giving without expecting in return through paying it forward. With all the gifts and blessings we all get 365 days a year, a few act of kindness during the holidays can be enough to show our gratitude for the multitude of good things that come our way regularly.

Through giving to others, we can help our children realize that sometimes, the best way to appreciate the good things in life is through helping others experience it too. Here are some ways in which you and your kids can pay it forward this Christmas:

  • Donate your time. This can be anything from serving meals at the soup kitchen, helping the elderly get to their destinations, helping neighbors with holiday chores such as putting up their decorations, or participating in the work of local organizations for the season.
  • Help someone who is struggling. As a random act of kindness, help somebody who is having a hard time with something he or she is doing. It can be as small as helping reach an item at the top of the shelf at the grocery, helping a neighbor shovel his or her lawn, or helping somebody fix a flat tire.
  • Donate toys. Christmas is the best time of the year for kids because of all the new things that they receive from the family. Inspire them to donate new toys to groups like Toys for Tots or at local hospitals to help spread smiles to youngsters who will get a new thing to play with this holiday season.
  • Make a conscious effort to help save the environment. Donate a tree to help re-populate our forests or encourage kids to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • Spread joy and cheer. The thing about giving is that it sometimes doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. More often than not, something as simple as a smile, a ‘thank you’, or a hug can mean more than any monetary gift you can give.

I hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas this year!

Happy Holidays!

XO

Tara

 

Fab Fall Decorating

Autumn is one of the best times of the year to decorate the house and to make it feel all cozy and warm. While the garden winds down to warmer shades of red, yellow, purple, and brown, us moms can take this as a great opportunity to make our living space enchanting.

One of the easiest ways to decorate this fall is to keep seasonal flowers around the house. Sprays of Goldenrod, bunches of Colchicums and Heleniums, bunches of Sedums, and Red Spider Lilies will definitely warm up any home. You can also add some new candles and light them and then add in a few new faux fox throws for your sofa and bedroom to add to the feeling of fall. Don’t forget new sexy PJ’s that you can wear with your honey!

Of course the kids and I Love to decorate the house for Halloween. We also make lots of crafts to get those creative juices flowing. I just love getting them into the season because it’s so much fun!

Aside from that, my kids also enjoy helping pick out new flowers that we will add outside of the home to represent the changing season. It’s one of those simple ways to get them interested in gardening.

The season also presents the best opportunity to warm up the oven and to bake our favorite fall desserts like warm apple crisp as well as fun sugar cookies shaped like pumpkins and other spookiest characters. There are very few things that can compete with the fuzzy and warm feeling brought about by baking these delectable treats.

You can also go online and find some new great recipes for dinner that include all the yummy seasonal veggies. Learn some new soup recipes as well so you can make it in advance and freeze them.

Another great idea is to stock up on fresh cinnamon sticks, organic honey, and lemons for yummy teas as well as organic cocoa for those cold days and evenings.

This is truly one of my favorite times of the year. Whether it’s going to the pumpkin patch and carving up the pumpkins or teaching my kids a new cookie recipe this season is incredible and full of so many things that the entire family can enjoy.

 

Fun Thanksgiving Crafts

Thanksgiving has to be one of my most favorite holidays because it reminds us to be grateful of all the blessings we get throughout the year and that there is a higher power that provides for all of our needs whether it is good health, a loving family, a roof under our heads, or the chance to make a difference in the lives of others.

Moreover, it gives me an excuse to spend more time with my kids since they help me prepare the lovely dinner that we share on Thanksgiving Night.

Aside from the cooking, the twins and I also enjoy doing crafts. Nothing beats getting those creative juices flowing through making art. Here are 2 projects I’ve found that you can enjoy doing with your kids:

  • Pilgrim Hat Veggie Holder. Transform a black paper cup and some black and yellow paper into an awesome veggie holder. Simply cut the bottom of the cup, glue the mouth to the center of a black paper circle, and then make a buckle out of a yellow square piece of paper and a smaller black square piece of paper, glue near the brim of the hat, and let dry. When everything is set, cut up some vegetable sticks and place them inside the pilgrim hat and enjoy this healthy and crunchy treat!
  • Gratitude Wreath. Remembering what you are grateful for is fun and easy with this leafy wreath. Simple wrap a Styrofoam wreath with strips of fabric and secure with pins, cut leaf shapes from cardstock in fall colors, get each member of the family to write down what they are thankful for on each leaf, and pin each one on the wreath.

Happy Crafting!

Tara

 

Family Preparedness for Emergencies

Disasters like earthquakes, fires, and storms are best handled through being prepared. While it may be difficult to predict when one of these events will happen, families can still take the wise path and be ready when emergency situations strike. The key thing to remember is that the safety and the survival of the family comes first.

According to 72Hours.org, families should be prepared for at least three days after a major disaster since emergency response services are not likely to cater to everybody’s needs immediately. That being said, it is important to do the following:

  • Designate an out-of-area contact person who is far away from the same emergency. He or she will be the person that you and your family will keep informed regarding your situation.
  • Put together a disaster supply kit. This must contain at least one gallon of water per person per day, ready to eat food, manual can openers and other cooking supplies, plates, utensils, and other feeding supplies, first aid kit with instructions, copies of important documents as well as phone numbers, warm clothes and rain gear, heavy work gloves, unscented household bleach and eyedroppers to purify water, personal hygiene items, duct tape, plastic sheeting, utility knife, blankets or sleeping bags, flash lights, radio, batteries, emergency cash, prescription medication, as well as other special-need items for children, seniors, or people with disabilities.
  • Keep an inventory of your valuables.
  • Have duplicates of important documents like passport, drivers license, social security card, wills, deeds, financial statements, insurance information, marriage license and prescriptions and store them away n a safety deposit box of let someone you trust keep them.
  • Keep the family prepared. Ensure that each member knows where to find the things that they need like the emergency kits as well as whom to contact.
  • Establish a family code word that everyone can remember easily. Using these codes is helpful for families especially because sometimes, emergency situations do not allow us to have long conversations. These code words will allow members of the family to take important messages or instructions during times of disaster.

Be sure to use this codeword only in times of real danger.

For more information, please visit these websites: http://are-you-ready.org, http://72hours.org/, and http://asmdc.org/issues/disaster/.

Stay safe everyone!

God bless,

Tara

 

Fabulous Mom’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Honestly, it is one of my favorite things to celebrate not only because of the shower of love and adoration I get from my family but also because this is the day I get to share my appreciation for all the moms out there.

While a good old breakfast in bed, a few roses, and hugs and kisses from the family is very heartwarming and very much appreciated by all mothers, receiving something fabulous on a day dedicated to celebrating our triumphs and woes for raising our family is always welcome.

Below are some gift ideas that you can give to your own mother or your friends:

Glam Up— Women love bling so for Mother’s Day, why not give the best mom in the world a Stella and Bow Dolly Parton Bangle? This stylish gold and crystal bracelet will definitely steal your mom’s heart. It retails for $63.25 at http://www.stellaandbow.com.

Pamper Me Up Kit— Annmarie Gianni’s luxurious skin care set retails for $179.99 and features a range of elegantly formulated products including an Aloe Facial Cleanser, a Neroli Toning Mist, an Anti-Aging Facial Oil, a Coconut Honey Mask, a Dead Sea Scrub, and a Coconut Body Oil. All of these items will surely leave every mom’s skin supple and soft leaving them feeling super pampered. Purchase this at www.annmariegianni.com.

Save the Earth with Her— Support your mother’s nurturing side and give her a VivaTerra Garden Pail Gift. This is perfect for moms who love to work on plants but have very little time left in their hands thanks to their busy schedule. Each set contains an attractive metal pail, soil, seeds, and plant food. This is available at http://www.vivaterra.com.

The items I have mentioned above are just some of the things that moms would love to get. However, at the end of the day, after all the loving and the caring we give to our family, the best gift that any mother can get is the appreciation from her family.

I hope you all have the strength to keep caring for your own families. Happy Mother’s Day and God bless.

Love,

Tara

 

Happiness and Beauty

There is nothing that can make you prettier than when you are happy.

It is true that being happy makes us more beautiful! Have you ever noticed how beautiful people become when they smile or laugh? It lifts up everyone around them and it can become contagious. I think being able to find happiness in life is one of the greatest things you can accomplish.

I know as a parent that I want my children to grow up healthy and happy. Isn’t that what we want for all of our kids? Yet in the world we live in today, there is such a push for materialism, competition, and striving to be the best. I think one has to be mindful not to fall into the traps that can be laid for this type of thinking. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely enjoy living the good life and I would definitely say that I am a driven person who also finds joy in healthy competition.

What I steer clear of are the relationships with people that seem to have these qualities but use them to control their life instead of using them for good. No matter what they gain, buy or accomplish, they are pushed towards the bigger things and as a result, they seem to have lost all sense of enjoyment or personal satisfaction that should come with a goal being accomplished. People can easily fall into the comparison game which can be very dangerous for them.

When you constantly look over the fence playing the comparison game, you are never fully able to enjoy the little things that really matter like good health, your family and friends.

When there is too much focus on material things, it is easy to get lost in it all and you will not feel happy because you never feel like you have arrived at success.

Being optimistic will help you with your self-image. It will also help you to treat your husband, kids, the people you work with, and your friends better. There may be days when everything seems wrong but a healthy optimistic mind will say: “Tomorrow is a new day.” Remember: hope comes in the morning so forget your bad days and wake up with a fresh attitude.

In my life, the things that make me happy are my husband, children, our pets, my closest family and friends, and the things that interest me.

Living in beautiful Orange County, there are stunning people everywhere, huge homes, massive bank accounts; and I could keep going. While I do enjoy seeing all these things and appreciate everything that’s beautiful, it’s important for me on the inside to be thankful, happy, be able to contribute to others, and be able to move forward with my personal goals which are: keeping my body, spiritual life, and soul fed. Sure I have bad days just like everyone else but I end those days thinking about how great the next day will be.

I genuinely want the people in my life to flourish and have their dreams come true. While I have many more places on my list to travel to and see, I can honestly say that an afternoon in the backyard with my family, dogs, and our rose garden is one of the most wonderful places in the world, and still tops it all.

Take the time to congratulate yourself on the great job you do every day as a mother, wife, or friend. Give yourself a much needed pat on the back for hitting the gym regularly. None of us will achieve the physical perfection we set up in our minds but, darn it, we should be able to run around the beach in our bikinis feeling happy without shame and simply enjoying life.

If you have achieved a special goal, please take the time to treat yourself to a special night out with friends and family; allow them to share your joy and excitement. You can even order that well-deserved bottle of wine or champagne.

Does it mean you are done achieving? Certainly not! We never are since it is part of our job here on earth to continue growing, sharing with others what we know, and hopefully allow people that we love to learn from us. We have to keep learning.

Now, we may never be perfect and I, for one, am ok with that. My wish for you is that you may find the joys in small things and that when the big things come, you may be overwhelmed with happiness from them.  If you are still waiting for something wonderful to happen, remember that you are strong and that you will be filled with hope. We all walk through this life with incredible talents; please share them with the world because we do need it. We are all special, talented, and unique!

Remember that just like the butterfly, there is only one of you and that is what makes you GREAT!

God Bless,

Tara

 

Power Mommies and Happy Daddies

We have all heard the phrase “happy wife, happy Life” and, of course, as women we LOVE to hear it—I know I do.

My husband says this all the time and I see him really go above and beyond at wanting to make sure I am happy and my needs are met. The reason is because I give it to him first. We know that motherhood can literally take all of our time. It can even push us emotionally both when we are having ups and downs with raising our children. More so, these things take a physical toll on us as well. So when it comes to our marriages, it’s easy to see that the focus on relationships can take a back seat if you let it.

The first thing that I do is remind myself that there will always be a certain amount of chaos when it comes to raising children. The joys, happiness, and love are unparalleled but if we are being honest, it’s hard work and it doesn’t always go smoothly. So allowing yourself to feel your emotions and having an outlet that’s just for you is essential.

For me, it’s that time I take working out. It serves three areas of my life that are essential to me. The first one is that I am honoring myself and giving my body, mind, and spirit what it needs. The second one is that the stress that I release is HUGE and I walk out feeling refreshed, relaxed, and empowered. I take all of the frustration out and I leave a better person even on the days I drag myself there. Lastly, the fact that I can rock a sexy pair of short shorts or skinny jeans is icing on the cake!

Next I spend a lot of time using empowering words in my life around my children and to my husband. Have you ever been around a woman that nags all the time that everyone in the room is uncomfortable at the way she is talking to either her children or her husband? We all have and they are like flashing signs that read “I am miserable and I want you to suffer too!”

Look, kindness is so important it goes back to the Golden Rule, doesn’t it? “Treat others how you want to be treated”—Women, men, and children don’t want to be nagged and mistreated and yet, it seems to happen all the time. If you feel this is something that you are struggling with, you need to ask yourself WHY? Being honest with your self is so important. Don’t push things under the rug that are bothering you because if you don’t work on them, they will destroy your life.

No one is perfect and we all have things we need to work on. It’s just part of life but that doesn’t mean that we can or should get away with mistreating each other especially our loved ones.

If you find that you are suffering from a form of depression that you just can’t seem to kick, you really need to look at the foods you are eating and ask yourself as to whether you are exercising enough, sleeping enough, or if you’ve been to the doctor lately to make sure you are staying on top of your annuals like blood work and cholesterol. All of these things, if they are off balance a little, can make you feel depressed. If you are on top of all these things and are still finding it hard to cope, then you need to take further action and seek the help of a professional.

As for our husbands, ladies, the fastest way for you to get what you need and want from your relationship is to take care of your man. Make time for one another. Many women think that were the ones that need emotional support but so do our husbands. They are soldiers for us and our families but they also need to be cared for. They crave affection and tender moments too. They need to flow with you and they absolutely need to have the “emotional connection” as well as a satisfying sex life with you!

Find ways to let him know that you appreciate what he does for you and the family, that he is sexy to you, and that you still feel like flirting. When you do these things, he will want to give you the world. Nothing makes your man happier than seeing you happy. They feel very responsible for our happiness and the truth is they are not. We are all responsible for our own happiness. Life is about eves and flows. We are not going to be perfect all the time but we can keep our minds focused on how we want to live each day and being a positive person will help you 100%.

Remember the little things like cooking his favorite meal after a long day. Keep track of football games or basketball games that he may want to go to and surprise him with tickets for him and a buddy. If you can’t afford that, consider inviting friends over for drinks and appetizers to watch a great game. You can let the kids watch TV in your room while enjoying a box of pizza.

Find ways to show him that you care. I love to throw a sexy photo into my husband’s overnight bag when he is traveling with a little note saying “after the kids go down make sure you call me.” Then that night you can go back and forth with some major phone flirting. Don’t talk about your problems. Save those for another night when he is away. Give him all the reasons in the world to rush home to you and the kids.

When you put out the effort you will reap the rewards in the same way that working out gets you the body and the clarity of mind you need. Taking care of him will in turn allow him to go above and beyond in taking care of you!

Create your plan today on what you can do to improve your life. Find the ways that can give you more family time and private time that he will love. I promise, this will allow your family to over flow with blessings.

XOXO

Tara Brooke

 

Summer Pool Safety

Summer means being able to splash around cool waters to beat the heat. But just because you and your kids are having fun doesn’t mean that you will not think about staying safe.

I knew the importance of having my children pool safe so my husband and I enrolled our twins at 6 months old and they have been swimming ever since. Now at age 5, they will be snorkeling with us in the Bahamas and Hawaii on our upcoming trips. Pool safety is HUGE!

According to Poolsafely.org, there are a few questions that you have to consider to be able to assure that you and your family will be safe while playing in the water this summer:

  • Are there fences that limit access to the pool and spa?
  • Has the pool or spa been inspected to ensure it is compliant with federal and local laws and regulations?
  • Are the new safety drain covers being used in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act?
  • Do pool and spa pumps appear to be running?
  • Is there life-saving equipment such as life rings and reaching poles available for use?
  • Is there a lifeguard at the pool or spa to watch children and adults?
  • Are you watching your own child or children when they’re in or around the water?
  • Are there water safety rules posted in a visible area for adults and children to review?
  • Is there sufficient staff to monitor the pool or spa when it’s in heavy use?
  • Is there a charged phone close by at all times?
  • Do you and your children know how to swim?
  • Is the staff trained and certified in first aid and emergency response?
  • Do you know how to perform CPR on children and adults? Are those skills updated regularly?
  • Do you understand the basics of life-saving, so you can assist in a pool emergency?

A few additional things to remember when in a pool facility like a spa or a resort include staying close with your kids, being alert, and learning as well as practicing water safety skills like CPR.

For more information, you can visit http://www.poolsafely.gov.

Have fun this summer season and stay safe!

God Bless!

Tara

 

Spring Gardening with Kids

I think Spring is the perfect season for kids to spend time outside. With plants blooming everywhere, frolicking under the sun will certainly give your children a chance to make fond memories. Aside from letting kids play under the cool spring air and brightly shining sun, this season is the perfect time to get them involved in gardening, planting spring flowers, and growing a family vegetable garden.

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has some tips when it comes to gardening with kids during Spring. This includes:

1. Visit places where plants thrive, such as nurseries, arboretums or your neighbor’s flower patch. As children explore, talk with them about the different sun, soil, and water requirements of healthy vegetation.

2. Survey the natural treasures in your own backyard—birds, bees, blossoms. Children are notably wide-eyed and open to new discoveries. Cultivate their curiosity.

3. Identify a spot on your property for a children’s garden, inviting kids to take part in its selection. NWF recommends a small plot of land—no wider than a yardstick—that can be easily managed. Other good options include window boxes or containers.

4. Have your soil tested for lead as children are highly susceptible to poisoning. If its presence is confirmed, focus on container gardening or consider building a raised bed and filling it with loam you purchase.

5. Sow fast-germinating seeds or introduce transplants that are quick to flower or fruit. Children are typically eager to see the results of their labor. Be sure to include kids in the plant selection process.

6. Choose plants that will excite the senses. Examples include eye-catching sunflowers and fragrant herbs.

7. Woo wildlife, which will wow your kids, by focusing on perennials that are native to your region. Native plants provide the best overall food sources for backyard birds and other animals, and because they are adapted to your area’s weather, soils and pests, they generally require less maintenance.

8. Add other wildlife-attracting elements to your habitat: water, shelter and places to raise young. NWF suggests building toad homes, brush piles, a pond and a bat house.

9. Provide kid-sized tools and teach young gardeners how to use them safely. Equipment can be found in most garden stores, but don’t overlook at-home options such as spoons and measuring cups.

10. Eliminate use of toxic chemical fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides. When necessary, use natural alternatives instead.

11. Practice good hygiene. When it comes to gardening, getting dirty is half the fun for children. Make sure they wash up well after working in the soil, as it can contain a variety of contaminants, including chemicals and harmful bacteria.

12. Encourage children to do a share of all the garden chores but be mindful of their limits.

13. Visit the garden with your kids every day to make sure you don’t miss its rewards: flowers opening, butterflies sipping nectar, ladybugs eating aphids, and the like.

14. Take advantage of teaching moments. If you uncover a pill bug on the ground, for instance, explain that its roly-poly posture is a means of defense. If your children pose questions you can’t address, seek out the answers together. A visit to the library or Internet might be part of the journey to discovery.

15. Encourage children to share their garden with friends and family. Giving tours reinforces their ownership of it and helps instill a sense of pride.

16. Invite reflections of each day’s gardening experiences: Talk about what went on, what was seen and so on. If time permits, have kids draft notes in a journal, draw a picture or take photographs. All of these actions serve to reinforce what was learned—and enjoyed.

Have fun exploring plant life with your kids this Spring!

Love Lots,

Tara

Image by Matt Luckins via http://www.nwf.org

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