It’s day 10 of the 12 Days of Christmas Gift Guides and we’re channelling Austin Powers and the Fonz. These are gifts that groove.
I had the incredible opportunity to meet Olympic Gold-medallist Cassie Campbell-Pascall in Calgary with my son Ford. Chevrolet Canada sponsors a hockey helmet program, giving helmets to kids involved in organized hockey. We discussed signs and symptoms of concussions and also had the opportunity to join Cassie on the ice for some fun drills. (Shooting rubber chickens into the net is hugely satisfying!)
What I realized through the experience of listening to Cassie is that sport should be fun. If kids aren’t having fun, they won’t love sport. And if kids don’t feel safe while engaging in sport, they won’t have fun. Pretty simple, but I know several parents who need to realize this in order for sport to be a beautiful part of life.
As Cassie Campbell-Pascall sees it, “we need to understand our role, not just within hockey, but in minor sports in general. We need to ask our coaches “what are goals for the team for this year?” Is it about having fun? Is it about teaching our kids about respect and responsibility and hard work and teamwork and discipline and competition and all those things? Or is it about just winning? It’s really really fun to win, but do you remember how many games you won last year? Do you remember the tournaments you went to though, and the fun times you went to with your teammates? That’s what we remember.”
She talks of the experiences the team had at hotels and on trips – bonding, co-operating and growing as human beings. That’s what makes sport transformative.
I was interviewed as part of the evening and it’s obvious that these Olympians touched me deeply. Thanks, Chevrolet for putting safety and fun into sport.
Halloween is my family’s favorite holiday. We go crazy decorating the outside of our house with pumpkins, screaming skeletons, witches and spiders. When we’re done. we love to curl up on the couch together and watch Halloween movies.
Here’s a list (by age group) of some of our favorite Halloween movies. (All of them can be ordered through amazon.com.)
Ages 3 and Older
Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie: It’s Halloween in the Hundred Acre Wood. Roo’s best new pal, Lumpy, is excited to trick-or-treat for the first time … until Tigger warns them about the dreaded “Gobloon.” It’s a tame movie with a great message about the importance of friendship.
Tom and Jerry: Tricks and Treats : I grew up watching Tom and Jerry cartoons and after watching this DVD, I understand why these cartoons are perfect for smaller children: there is a lot of action and the scenes aren’t too scary. Even the frightening looking witch in the Flying Sorceress, who I thought would be a bit too much for younger children, didn’t cause too much commotion or hiding by the littlest ones. Disclosure: I received this DVD for review purposes only. I was not compensated to write a positive or favorable review.
Casper: Three words to describe this movie: Fun, Wholesome & Entertaining (for the whole family). The movie is based on the old “Casper” comic book series about a lonely (but friendly) ghost who lives in an old, abandoned and dilapidated house with three other, less friendly, uncles (who are also ghosts): Stretch”, “Stinky” and “Fatso”. When a ghost psychiatrist and his lonely daughter move in attempt to tame the “Uncles” a fun and great story of friendship unfolds. One word of warning: This movie is rated PG. There is some mild language and elements that could be considered questionable for young children. That said, our family loves this movie & our list won’t be complete if we did not mention it. (Yes, even the 9 year old sits still during MOST of the 1½ hours.).
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: It’s a classic and suitable for the whole family. We never get tired of watching it. Although I do feel bad for Linus, who waits with Sally in a pumpkin patch for the great, mythical creature to arrive as well as for Charlie Brown, whose receives only rocks in his bag, the overall movie is hilarious and deemed a classic for a reason.
The great Debbie Reynolds stars as Grandmother Aggie in this Disney Classic. The premise is based on the concept that witches, ghouls and other “creatures of the night” live in a place called Halloweentown, an alternate world. When Grandmother Aggie visits her grand-daughter, Marnie, she reveals that Marnie’s mother, Gwen, has been hiding a secret: the children all possess supernatural powers. Once Marnie turns thirteen, her grandmother informs her that she must begin her training as a witch or lose her powers forever. Of course, a brewing crisis between good and evil in Halloweentown causes the entire family to be pulled through a portal and into an intense battle against ghouls, goblins and a warlock. This is good Disney Halloween fun with a wholesome message about the power of family, cooperation and perseverance. The ghouls are creepy looking but aren’t likely to cause nightmares in younger family members.
This is a fun, light hearted film about three witches that the whole family can enjoy. The setting and decoration is perfect and has that great Halloweeny feel. The film is a wonderful family treat that will delight and entertain the whole family. (Okay, one word of warning: Part of the premise is the witches need to find a “virgin” to sacrifice. I wasn’t too comfortable going into a complete explanation of the word with my, then, 7 year old. I was afraid it would ruin the flow of the movie if she asked and I just wasn’t up to it.)
Some other “Oldies But Goodies” that we are “dying” to watch this year include:
- The Little Vampire: Get ready to watch it over and over again
- Scary Godmother: Great for 5 to 8 year-olds
- Blackbeard’s Ghost: It’s Disney, rated “G,” made in 1968 and I still hide behind my husband
- Bell Book and Candle: Quirky romantic movie featuring James Stewart.
- And of course: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Finally, if your kids are like mine and in need of some new scares and thrills, these are a few of our stand-by Halloween favoirites:
- Nightmare Before Christmas (Tim Burton at his best)
- Coraline (Another stop-gap animated movie)
- Beetlejuice (Another Tim Burton classic. But, strangely, my husband refuses to watch this one)
- Addams Family
- Monster House and Monster Squad
Hopefully, you found a few titles that peak your curiosity. Did I miss your favorite Halloween movie? Are there other titles that I should add to my family’s collection? We’re dying to know what we missed!
Renee Keats is the US Content Editor and a writer for UrbanMommies Media. When not checking homework or carpooling to extra-curricular activities, Renee is often found scouring the internet, specifically Pinterest, for the latest in culinary & fashion adventures.
Teaching Kids to Dress Themselves will always be challenging. But we bet you can make it fun too! “Don’t you love Katie’s outfit?” my girlfriend asked, “She dressed herself today.” At three, her daughter had proudly chosen a red shirt, blue pants, and to “match” them, one red sock and one blue one. Genius, I thought – both Katie’s choice and the fact that her mom chose not to “correct” her “out-of-the-box” approach. But what do we do with the child who resists dressing themselves, or for that matter the one who has trouble expressing themselves? Here are a few tips on how to allow your kids a little delight when it comes to self-adornment.
* We hate to ask, but we’re trying to help kids in Africa through the Right to Play organization. If you could just take 2 seconds to vote on Facebook for our Publisher Jill Amery we’d really be grateful! She’s working on ‘We Promote Health’ for kids in Liberia. Thank you thank you!
1) Don’t micro-manage. It doesn’t really matter whether we like their outfit as long as it does the job. If what they choose is inappropriate in some way, offer sensible guidance. It can feel overwhelming for a child to navigate their way through a series of decisions. Simplify their choices for them – okay, blue socks or green ones? Ramones shirt or Star Wars? After you guide them through the process a few times, they’ll know what to start with and how to put together an outfit. Limit their options. Offer one to three ensembles and have them mix and match. Start with velcro and snaps; move gradually to laces and zippers. Let them wear their shirt backwards or their sock inside out. Compliment them! A toddler with a sense of pride? Totally cute.
2) Make their clothing accessible. Hanging a row of hooks along a wall at about four feet up will be an easy way for kids to hang up and retrieve frequently used pants, skirts, sweaters, pyjamas and tees. Shoes and slippers can go underneath. Set up easy-to-reach cubbies with durable storage bins in them for other clothing and footwear. A bench is especially helpful to those who get wobbly while lifting a leg into pants, socks and such. Give each child their own hamper if you can. In a shared closet, a locker room look will be practical and encourage them to respect it as a communal space. Whatever works in your home for your kids!
3) If, like my almost four year-old, your little one CAN dress themselves but prefer not to, try to engage them in other ways. By asking my son to put on his own socks and then his little brother’s, he is given an opportunity to feel helpful, which for him is a motivator. Being the older child, he misses the attention his brother still gets when dressing; I often get down on the floor and have him sit with me while I lead him through the process. He feels supported but is still accomplishing the task himself. If resistance is an issue, figure out the source of it. Is your child afraid of something, or worried about making a “wrong” decision? Did they have a bad experience? Are they frustrated that they don’t know how to use a zipper? Be patient and allow them lots of time – rushing them will likely add to their stress.
4) Play dress-up! Keep a tickle trunk full of hats, tops and bottoms, costumes, socks, accessories and footwear. They can layer things as they like. Character play is loads of fun; each child can invent a personality, dress to develop them and then engage in a pretend tea party, pirate ship invasion or fire rescue mission. Go to the thrift store on a rainy day and have everyone choose a few things for the dress-up collection. Fun!
5) Lead by example. Set up your closet like a personal boutique. Keep the things you love on display or hang whole outfits up as visual cues. Let your kids hang out while you get ready for date night with your partner, but also try to have fun when you’re just heading out to the market. Allow yourself to be enchanted by…yourself. Yes, it’s kind of corny. Do it anyway. Let your kids see it! Encourage and offer ideas for creative expression. Even a simple flower stuck in a barrette or a pair of coloured shoelaces can make a kid feel like a rock star. Remember, too: you are the role model. Grown-ups really shouldn’t wear crotch-grazing skirts, lingerie as clothing or spandex outside of the gym. Equally true: five year-olds never look good in thigh-high boots, heavy makeup or painted-on jeans! There are so many ways to have fun with what we wear…don’t wreck it for your kids by giving clueless council! If you’re not sure about your fashion sense, find an episode or two of TLC’s “What Not To Wear” and pay close attention! Gotta love Stacy & Clinton…
Now, go play dress-up with your kids. Preschoolers with pinache? Heck yeah.
– Samantha Agar has two little boys who love to dress up as dinosaurs.