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DIY Christmas Gifts for Your Friends and Family!

Finding the perfect gift can be daunting!  Creating something with your own two hands can be much more meaningful.  Take a look at these DIY Christmas Gifts that Liz has compiled for you!

DIY Christmas gifts

DIY Christmas Gifts for Your Friends and Family!

Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift idea to knock off that Christmas wish for a loved one?  I have some fun ideas for DIY Christmas gifts and present ideas to make your holiday season easier!  DIY or Do It Yourself gifts are fun to do alone, with your kids or as an entire family. These gifts are inexpensive and because they are homemade are filled with heart and thoughtfulness.

diy christmas gifts

DIY Kids Ideas: Scrap Ribbon Tree Ornaments 

Are you overwhelmed with the thought of homemade Christmas gifts from your kids to grandparents and family? If your parents are like mine they are excited about any Christmas gift that is homemade. Each year I feel a little pressure to find new and creative ideas in DIY gift-giving.  Scrap Ribbon Tree Ornaments are beautifully rustic and simple. They look especially cute dangling from the Christmas tree or from a peppermint cookie in a jar, which you will learn in a bit when you keep scrolling.

Supplies:

  • Straight sticks (6” in length) found outside or use cinnamon sticks
  • Ribbons (cut into 5-6 inch strips) in a variety of Christmas tree greens
  • Hot glue gun
  • Twine
  • Scissors

Directions:

  1. After gathering supplies, show your child how to tie the scraps of ribbon down the twig or cinnamon stick. Wide ribbons, tied into single loose knots, give the best coverage down the stick
  2. For best results, bunch the ribbons close together. The ribbons will bend and slightly overlap. Gently tug them into place until you are satisfied with their placement. You will probably use between 13-16 strips of ribbon for each ornament.
  3. Use sharp scissors to trim the ribbon scraps into the shape of a Christmas tree. The little fray of the ribbon gives the ornament a rustic look. Get creative and go beyond ribbon and try using cotton and wool fabric scraps, cinnamon sticks and flannel to create your Christmas tree.
  4. Hot glue or tie a loop of twine to the top of the tree. If desired, top the tree with a wooden star, yellow button, or any embellishment your child chooses.

DIY Christmas Gifts

DIY Gifts for Family: 

Tied up with red and green plaid ribbon, this DIY Christmas breakfast gift basket is very festive. This is a super simple little hostess, neighbor or family gift. You simply take a few breakfast items and place them all in an inexpensive cute box or breakfast. Ideas are pancake mix, a sweet syrup, jelly, tea bags, coffee, red frying pan, whisk, spatula and festive holiday napkins.

I would use a little brown paper bag tied with some pretty red yarn and a simple tag to put in some pre-made pancake mix. You can add a little instruction or recipe card if you wish.

diy stock photos

DIY Small Gift Idea:  Christmas Cookie in a Jar 

These Christmas cookies in a jar gifts are so cute! Such an easy gift to put together and will be so appreciated and loved by friends and neighbor!

Grab a quart size mason jar and begin layering the following ingredients. Kind of tap the bottom of the jar on the counter as you go to get everything to lay down into the jar nice and flat.

Layer the following in this order:

  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 C flour
  • 2/3 C chocolate chips
  • 2/3 C peppermint or mint chocolate chips

This gift is so cute you don’t even need to wrap it! Just tie a big red ribbon around the lid. Finish off by sticking on a cookie label and also baking instructions. You can write out the directions yourself or use the computer and print off on to stickable paper.  Make a front label that says “CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT COOKIES”. 

On your back label: List off the ingredients that are already in the jar.

And then write:

  • Now Add: ½ C (one stick) butter (softened)
  • 1 egg
  • Mix & Roll into 1 Inch Balls & Bake
  • Cook at 375 for 8-10 minutes

Share with those loved ones who love to bake especially during the Christmas season!

Fun Gift Ideas for Friends and Teachers: Fleece Blanket 

I am so excited to give this cool Christmas gift to my close mom friends this season!  You can find festive and inexpensive fleece throws in every store around the holiday season. Simply find your fleece blanket, wrap in large ribbon and finish it off with a tag that says “ Fleece Navidad.  We want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of our hearts.” How fun is this gift-idea?!  I know this would also be a great gift for your children’s teachers, neighbors or girlfriends!

Consider jazzing up your gift a bit!  Pair this fleece idea with popcorn, a box of hot chocolate, marshmallows and perhaps a DVD or movie gift card! No matter what DIY gift you choose to give this year, it is sure to be loved by all!  Happy giving and happy holiday season!

From iFamily to Yours,


Holiday Giving 2017: Help International Military Families

The holidays are a great time to do good things for others and, when it comes to supporting military families, there are lots of options to support our troops. Ruth, from our iFamilyKC Mom Squad team, shares her experience in helping International military families today on the blog. Take a look…

military families

Holiday Giving 2017: Help International Military Families

Living close to a military base, I have been exposed to a lot of different cultures, religions, and traditions. I have made military friends from all over the world, sponsored officers from a variety of countries, and shared my holidays with them. In turn we learn a little bit about them too! For the last several years our family has participated in the International Military Sponsorship Program. It is a program designed to give foreign officers some companions to make their year at Fort Leavenworth a little bit easier. Each officer involved in the program is provided with a Kansas City Area Sponsor, a Leavenworth Area Sponsor and a Fort Leavenworth Sponsor.

What does the program entail?

As a sponsor, your role is to help them get acquainted with your sponsor area, socialize with them and assist them with important services and needs if they have not set it up already. They may need assistance setting up a bank account, obtaining a cell phone, obtaining furniture for housing, getting a car, choosing a school for their child and so on. Other services you can provide to them can include introducing them to area events, fun activities, joining them at military social engagements, sharing holidays and traditions and helping them to make new contacts.

Each officer that comes to Fort Leavenworth arrives with a new class of officers in the spring or summer semester to attend twelve-month training program at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Many officers have their families join them for their time here. The sponsorship webpage states that “Sponsorship” does not involve financial support, but does include the commitment to develop and nurture a personal relationship with officers and their families. Simply put, sponsorship is spending time with officers as their time allows and extending hospitality to their families.

What’s in it for you?

I have found sponsorship to be very rewarding and I have made many life-long friends over the last several years. My own kids have gained new friendships and though each family is only here for a year we always have a great time getting to know each new family. As a sponsor you have the opportunity to make a request for countries that you are interested in sponsoring. There are 120 countries to choose from and some are more popular than others. Our family has sponsored those from Bulgaria, Morocco, Pakistan, Ukraine, Mexico to name a few.  If you are not particular, those from the Middle East sometimes have a more difficult time getting sponsorship due to the stigma associated with them. I encourage you to help sponsor this coming Spring or Summer. Be sure to get your application in early if you have a preference for a particular country. Applications and requests are first come, first serve.

How can you get involved?

Go online to learn more information on becoming an International Sponsor. Becoming a member of the Greater Kansas City People to People Program is free and only takes a bit of your time to get started. Once you have become a sponsor and assigned to an officer or a few if you choose, then you will have an orientation meeting to discuss your responsibilities based upon your role and during the year there are a few events that you can attend with your officer. It is a great program!

From iFamily to Yours,


KC Holiday Activities Guide for Your Child with Special Needs

For many special needs families, the holiday’s can be stressful and overwhelming.  If you’re looking for help planning some holiday fun, Ruth from our iFamily Mom & Dad Squad has created a list of holiday activities the whole family can enjoy!  Take a look…KC Holiday Activities Guide for Your Child with Special Needs

KC Holiday Activities Guide for Your Child with Special Needs

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner – They’ll be here quickly and, for parents who have special needs kids, that can mean more opportunities for melt downs and anxiety. Fortunately, the metro area has an amazing Special Need community that is gaining steam with more activities for kids with exceptionalities in Kansas City. I’ve been digging around to put together a list of Holiday 2017 activities that special needs parents can bring the kiddos to this holiday season. Whether you’re wanting to attend a holiday movie or just enjoy the holidays around town in general, this guide is for you!

#1 FREE Autism Friendly Santa Event

When: Saturday, December 9th 10am-1pm

Where: ACI Learning Centers in Overland Park

Parenting a child with special needs on the spectrum? This event is for you. ACI is offering free photos with Santa and family friendly activities designed for children that find the traditional mall Santa to be too overwhelming. They’ll have snacks, craft activities, and a play area open during the free event.

#2 AMC Theaters Sensory Friendly Holiday Movie Showings

When: 2nd & 4th Saturday of each month

Where: AMC in Olathe, in the Northland, and in Independence

AMC opens their doors to special needs kids on the 2nd and 4th Saturday each month to offer current releases in a sensory friendly atmosphere where kids are allowed to get up, dance, walk, and sing during the show. Their partnership with the Autism Society enables them to provide these unique showings where the lights are turned up and the volume is turned down.

#3 Special Needs Kids Winter Camps 

When: December 21-22, December 26-29, and January 2nd

Where: We Rock the Spectrum Kansas City

The location in our area have daily open play, birthday party packages, special events, holiday camps and special activities. Their sensory friendly play environment is open to families of kids with special needs and without. They offer an additional quiet calming space for those that need it.

#4 C.H.A.S.E Sensory Friendly Events & Workshops

When: Ongoing throughout the year.

C.H.A.S.E offers sensory friendly opportunities, workshops and community education for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

#5 Sensory Friendly Jump Time for Special Needs Kids 

When: 2nd Saturday of the Month

Where: Sky Zone Kansas City

Sky Zone Kansas City offers sensory friendly jump time the second Saturday of each month where individuals with special needs and disabilities can jump and to learn new skills in a safe, controlled environment. 60 Minute Jump passes $11.99/jumper (plus one helper allowed).

No matter what you decide to do with your kiddos this holiday season, there are resources available around Kansas City for you. Do you have other ideas for activities we can add to the list? Comment below! Also, be sure to check out our calendar of family events around Kansas City online!

From iFamily to Yours,

 


How to Know if Your Child is at Risk.

We all know that our kids grow up fast, and it seems like childhood flashes by in the blink of an eye. It’s important that we make the most of the time we have with them when they are little and follow their development as they grow. That’s why well check-ups at the doctor and dental appointments are a great resource for making sure our kids are on track and healthy. Despite these appointments, sometimes kids with challenges or exceptionalities get lost in the shuffle because it is hard to catch everything in a short visit. As parents, it’s easy to forget to mention a concern to the doctor or we just aren’t sure what the risk factors are. That’s okay! We are doing the best we can to protect and care for our children.

child at risk

How to Know if Your Child is at Risk

So how do you know if your child is at risk? Maybe you have some concerns, but you aren’t sure if they are valid. Or maybe you just want to make sure that your child is developing normally. Either way, there are some different options, not in any particular order.

  1. Centers for Disease Control

The CDC has a developmental check list that you can look at by your child’s age online and in a printable form. They also have an app and a quick survey to see if your child may be at risk. The survey “Learn the signs. Act early.” materials are not a substitute for standardized, validated developmental screening tools. It is not a true evaluation of your child but it can get you started.

  1. Your Child’s Pediatrician

Make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Put together all of your concerns and discuss them with your child’s doctor. They can refer you to a local early childhood screening program if they agree with your concerns.

  1. You Child’s School

You can refer your child to your local public school special education department or infant and toddler services.

Early childhood special education programs: What can they do?

Each state and county has a screening process through the public-school district as part of a nationwide program called Child Find. Each district/county/state may set it up a little differently or even use a different title but the program is there to identify kids at risk. These screenings are geared for early childhood age children birth through age 5. The screening is free in our area and it helps to identify whether your child is on track or not. Following that screening, your child may be eligible for a developmental evaluation in one or more areas: social-emotional development, speech and language, fine and gross motor, self-help skills or pre-academics.

Alternatively, if your child passes then they may be eligible to be a peer model in a preschool classroom-depending on your district’s policy. For details about this process in your specific area, contact your local public school district’s special education department for kids ages 3-5 or your local Infant and Toddler Services program for age’s birth to three.

If my child qualifies for special education, does that label them for life?

The simple answer is yes, no and maybe. If your child receives special education services, that does not always mean they will require them for life or for the duration of their education. It really depends on your child and their specific needs. Getting your child help at an early age increases the chances that they won’t need services later on. It’s best not to be shy about asking for help, and act early for the benefit of your child! For any further questions contact your local school district or state department of education. You can also find some information online by state or by district.

From iFamily to Yours,


All About Loose Park – Your Guide to Kansas City Outdoor FUN!

Are you on the hunt for a great, fun park in Kansas City? Brigette, from our iFamilyKC Mom Squad team is sharing some details about a large park off of Wornall Road today on the blog. Take a look…

All About Loose Park – Your Guide to Kansas City Outdoor FUN!

Loose Park Guide - Kansas City, Missouri

Welcome to Loose Park!

Just because it’s Fall, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the great outdoors- And one place you should definitely enjoy this Autumn is Jacob L. Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri. Located off of Wornall Road, you’ve probably driven by this gorgeous park dozens of times in Kansas City (I know I see it all the time). While you can only admire certain attributes from afar, you may not know what lies behind the trees and entrance of this grand park. So, before you head out for a family outing or a leisurely walk, here is a little more information about Loose Park that you may have not known!

Loose Park Guide

A bit about Loose Park

First a little history on Loose Park, it is “ a major site for the Battle of Westport where Confederate forces were routed by Union forces in the area in which the park is now located. It is estimated that 29,000 people were involved in the battle. The property at that time was owned by William Bent, a man who led wagon trains and traded with the Indians.” -KCPARKS.ORG

At just about 75 acres, Loose Park is one of the largest and, in my opinion, one of the best parks in Kansas City for all types of ages and lifestyles. If your family is active, you can enjoy a spacious playground, a volleyball court, tennis court and (in the summer months) a spray ground!

Loose Park Guide - Kansas City, Missouri

My kids love the playground! Especially because of the sand pit and mini rock wall. Not to mention, I enjoy the swings as well. We haven’t had the opportunity to play in the spray ground (pictured above) yet, but it looks perfect for smaller kids! My family is pretty active, especially my son, so the open spaces and hills are perfect for him to burn off his arsenal of energy!

Loose Park Guide - Kansas City, Missouri

If you and your family like to enjoy spending time watching birds, taking in the scenery, or enjoying a leisurely stroll there are plenty of ways to do that, too. You can explore the Kansas City Municipal Rose Garden, walk along park wide trails or sit and look over the lake. There are plenty of benches spread throughout the park. During the Fall, the fountains may not always be on, but it still is a sight to see! Just ask the dog that jumped in to get a fish last week!

Loose Park Guide - Kanas City, Missouri

During these Fall months, Loose Park is ideal for family photos and relaxing picnics as well. I am definitely one of those moms that thinks she is a pro photographer lol. I love taking my camera to the park and snapping photos of my kids. Loose Park is the perfect backdrop for that, especially during the Fall when the trees are at their loveliest.

Loose Park Guide - Kansas City, Missouri

So whether you are looking to get out and play or enjoy the scenery, consider heading to Jacob L. Loose Park! The park is open everyday from 5am to midnight, so you can definitely make a day out of it! Happy trails!

Tips for Your Trip from other Parents

  • Loose Park is a fun place for a picnic in Kansas City!
  • Recycling is NOW available at Loose Park – Be sure to protect the environment during your visit.
  • Shelter rentals at the park are available May through October each year. Book early so you don’t miss out!
  • The park opens at 5am, so if you’re on the hunt for an early morning outdoor jog – Check it out!

Loose Park is located at: 5200 Wornall, Kansas City, MO 64112

Do you have tips or questions about the park?!

Drop us a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

From iFamily to Yours,


10 Ways to Balance Life, Work, and Kids’ Activities… Or Atleast How To Fake It

Having a busy schedule is part of life when you’re a mom.  Finding ways to balance life, work, and kids activities will help you keep the chaos to a minimum!  Connie shares a few tips with us on how she balances her crazy busy, wonderful life!

balance life

10 Ways to Balance Life, Work, and Kids’ Activities

…Or At Least How to Fake It

Life is busy.  Crazy busy.  I thought maybe life would slow down once I had kids (nope!). Then I thought it might slow down a little bit once the kids were in school (nope, again!).  The truth of the matter is, as far as my own crazy life, a lot of it is my own fault.  I want my kids to be active and involved in sports and activities if they want to be.  I want to play volleyball.  If my husband wants to bowl, I want my husband to bowl.  I want to be busy.  I want to enjoy life—all of it—time with friends, and family and activities.  Balancing it all—now that’s a challenge.

Currently, I work 5 different part time jobs.  Some are as little as 4-5 hours a week, some are every other week jobs, but all of them are jobs that I enjoy doing.  I do all of these during the day while my children are in school.  I play volleyball one night a week and coach my daughter’s t-ball team as well.

Currently, my son is playing both baseball and soccer.  This means he usually has two games per week of each sport and at least two practices.  Sometimes we miss practice for a game, but we make as much as we can. My daughter is playing t-ball and taking dance and tumbling classes.  Again, this means one night a week at the dance studio and usually two games a week. My husband works full time and bowls one night a week. Most weeks, we have at least one activity per evening, many times, two.  On especially rough weeks, we have three in one night and have to miss something.

So how do I keep it all together?!

Create a visual

In order to keep my life straight, I sit down every Sunday and write out all of the things I have to do that week, starting with Monday.  I make a daily list, and then try to check items off as I get them done every day.  Having this visual helps me keep side tasks in mind as well.  For example, if Monday says Bailey—dance 530-615, Tumbling 615-645 and Mason—Baseball 6pm—this will remind me that I need to find someone to take Bailey to dance class so that we don’t miss Mason’s game and that I need to make sure Mason’s baseball uniform is washed and ready to go.

Get Some Help (When You Need It)

I often enlist the help of my mom if there are more activities going on than I can handle.  She will take my son to practice while I coach a t-ball game or take him to a baseball game while my husband bowls and I coach.  Friends will take my daughter to dance with them so that I can go watch my son’s baseball game.

Have a Plan for the Day 

Even if you don’t always stick to it.  I try to at least know what I have coming up that day and make a mental plan for how I am going to get everything done.  We usually have at least an hour of down time between picking the kids up from school and getting them to their activities.  I use this time to go over any school work they might have, talk about how their day went, get them a snack and just spend some time with them.  We use the time to decompress and just hang out.

Use Extra Time to Your Advantage

Yes, there are days where using time to my advantage means sitting down for 30 minutes and just taking a breather.  But that can also mean using a free moment to switch laundry or read a book to your kids or helping my son with his spelling list while my daughter is in dance class and we’re in the lobby watching.

Take Time for Yourself 

For me this means getting up before my family at 5am and hitting the gym.  I have to have time for myself in order to be a happy and sane mother and wife.  It took a long time for me to adjust to getting up before the sun, but now that I am used to it, I miss it when I sleep in.  I use the gym as my time to focus on me and my mental and physical health.

This also means playing volleyball one night a week.  Volleyball has been my favorite sport since birth I feel like and I love that I can still play it as an adult.  For you, me time might mean getting up early and reading a book and having a cup of coffee before the tiny humans need you to start getting them ready.  It might mean a massage or a manicure or a night out with your friends.  Whatever it means for you, make it a priority.  Schedule it.

Communicate 

I have to keep my husband updated on all of our activities.  We share a calendar so we know what is going on.  We are a team, we help each other out in whatever ways we can.  I don’t add anything to the calendar without making sure there isn’t a conflict.

Know When It’s Too Much 

There are times when I am overwhelmed.  When I feel like I can’t keep it all going or get it all done.  There are times when I am stretched too thin.  Those are the times when I reach out to friends for help or I try to slow things down a bit.  I try to work a little less at some of my more flexible jobs, or I put in some late night time on some baking I’ve committed to and sleep in the next morning instead of hitting the gym.

Plan Ahead 

When I know I have big commitments coming, whether it be an event I am helping host, or a baking gig that requires a lot of time, or a week that I know will be crazy at work, I try to plan ahead and get as much done as I can ahead of time.  I buy the ingredients for the cupcakes the week before I have to bake, I make some of the props/decorations for the Halloween party in September so that I know they are done and I am not rushing through last minute.

Try to Enjoy It 

Yes, being busy means being tired and little to no downtime and stress.  But it usually also means your kids are playing sports they enjoy and getting exercise and making friends, and you are getting to watch them do that.  It means that you have a job that you enjoy, maybe multiple jobs that you enjoy and that are helping provide for your family.  That you are taking care of yourself so that you are able to take care of your family.  It means you are living life.  Enjoy it!

Embrace the Crazy 

While I feel like I have a decent hold on things for the most part, there are days and sometimes weeks where I am just along for the ride.  Know that no one is perfect, no one has it all together, and that everyone messes up sometimes.  Learn to find the funny in the fails and move on.  You’re human, and you’re raising tiny humans who are soaking up everything you do.  Let them see that while you are their superhero parent, you are also a person who gets overwhelmed or who forgets a water bottle for soccer, or who feeds their kids chicken nuggets at 830 because they just now had time for dinner.  They’ll love you for it.

From iFamily to Yours,


Kansas City’s Ultimate Holiday FUN Guide 2017

Kansas City’s 2017 Ultimate Holiday to-do List is here!  Take a look at the fun things that Brigette, from our iFamily Mom & Dad Squad, has found to keep you entertained this holiday season.  Enjoy!

kansas city's ultimate holiday list

Kansas City’s Ultimate Holiday List 2017

The time has officially come! Lights, snow, and fun festive activities for the whole family. In true iFamilyKC style, I have done all the work for you compiled a list of all the must-see holiday attractions for you and your family this season. Pull out your date book and get ready to pencil in these dates for some fine holiday fun!

 

november holiday events

 

November Activities around Kansas City:

 

Now thru the 30th

Saturday, November 11th

Starts on Thursday, November 16th

Saturday, November 18th 11:00am

Saturday, November 18th

Saturday, November 18th

 

december holiday events

December Activities around Kansas City:

 

Friday, December 1st

December 1st-10th

Sunday, December 3rd

Saturday, December 9th

  • Strawberry Swing Holiday Craft Fair at Union Station

Sunday, December 10th

December 15th-19th

December 15th-January 5th

  • Trombone Concert at Union Station

Saturday, December 16th

Sunday, December 31st

 

holiday shopping deals kansas city

Holiday Shopping Deals Around KC:

November 17th-19th

  • US Toy Black Friday Sale (See our special coupon in this month’s issue of iFamilyKC!)

Friday, November 24th

$10 off winter sports (Check out their coupon in this month’s issue of iFamilyKC!)

  • Lipsense with Angie Judy

Call for details (816) 588-7412

  • LuLaRoe with Danelle Gassen

Call for details (816) 777-8704

  • Damsel in Defense with Self Safety Mary

Call for details (816) 309-3348

  • Thirty-One Gifts with Monica Bradford

Call for details (816) 260-6489

  • Young Living Essential Oils with Cara Middleton

Call for details (913) 575-1937

Check out their coupon for $10 off in this month’s issue of iFamilyKC!

meet with santa

 Meet and Greet with Santa in Kansas City:

Friday, November 24th at 10:00am

December 15th-19th

Friday, November 17th

Monday, December 4th, 11am

  • Breakfast with Santa at Keller Williams Realty in Overland Park

Saturday, December 9th

  • Caring Santa (for kids with special needs only) at Independence Center

Sunday, November 19th

holiday lighting ceremonies

Lighting Ceremonies around Kansas City:

 

  • Zona Rosa Northern Lighting Ceremony in the Town Square

November 18th

Saturday, November 18th at 5pm

  • Independence Square Lighting at Hinam Young Park

Friday, December 1st at 6pm

  • Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Thursday, November 23rd at 5pm

  • Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting at Crown Center 
  • Village at Briar Cliff Holiday Lighting Ceremony

Sunday, November 11th 3-6pm

  • Christmas in the Park, Frank White Jr Softball Complex

November 22nd thru 30th 5pm

  • Parkville Christmas on the River

December 1st, and the 6th thru the 10th

holiday movie showings

Holiday Movie Showings:

 

Union Station Holiday Classic Movies: 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Nov 17th-22nd

Elf November 24th-30th

Home Alone December 1st-7th

Polar Express December 8th-14th

Alamo Drafthouse:

Love Actually Movie Party

December 8th at 7pm

 

With so many activities coming up, this list will definitely serve as your go-to guide!


30 Days & 30 Ways to Give Back in November in KC

Autumn weather is upon us here in the metro area and the month of November offers the ideal opportunity to jump start a season of giving back to others. Brigette, from our iFamilyKC Mom Squad team shares 30 ways to give back in 30 days across Kansas City today on the blog. Take a look…

give back in Kansas City

30 Days & 30 Ways to Give Back in November in KC

Hey there KC! Can you believe it’s already November? The last week and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some much-needed time away out here in the beautiful Ozarks with my family! The temperature has been consistently cool, the leaves are in a wide variety of colors and Fall is definitely in the air. Pretty soon we will be waking up to bare trees, rainy days, and chilly air every day. I honestly couldn’t be more thankful to have this time with my family!

If you didn’t already know, November is National “Be Thankful” month and, with practically every day in November being centered around Thanksgiving, I can see why it is! So, in honor of this wonderful fall season and the month that celebrates thankfulness, I wanted to share a different way you can participate in a fun and caring way. So here are 30 ways you can give back in 30 days!

Ways to Help Others:

  1. Volunteer at a shelter
  2. Carry someone’s grocery bags for them
  3. Buy the person behind you coffee/ lunch
  4. Pick up trash in your neighborhood
  5. Volunteer at your child’s school
  6. Bring treats for co-workers
  7. Write a handwritten letter to a friend or family member
  8. Run errands for a busy mom/dad
  9. Spend time with those at a nursing home
  10. Give away blankets or jackets to the homeless
  11. Donate clothes to a shelter or Goodwill
  12. Volunteer to read a the library or your kids classroom
  13. Help a new mom or dad with chores around the house
  14. Send get well cards to the hospital for strangers
  15. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  16. Babysit for a night for free
  17. Leave a bigger than usual tip
  18. Organize a can food drive/ donate to one
  19. Pet sit for a friend or family member
  20. Invite someone new from your church/ neighborhood to your home for dinner
  21. Donate toys your kiddo no longer plays with to a family in need
  22. Volunteer at an animal shelter
  23. Say something nice to someone
  24. Tell a manager about the wonderful service you received from their employee
  25. Compliment a stranger
  26. Send someone an anonymous small gift
  27. Give someone a “thank you for all you do” note
  28. Offer a warm meal to someone homeless
  29. Invite someone to Thanksgiving Dinner
  30. Bring a coworker coffee

There are so many different ways to give back to those around you, or even to simply spread kindness. Giving back is not only limited to November, so you can implement these ideas all year long! Whenever you give back, you naturally feel better! It truly does something to us and in return, it encourages others to do the same. I can’t count how many times an act of kindness from myself or my family has inspired someone else to do the same and vice versa! So, the next time you are about to get that much-needed pumpkin spice latte or you see someone down in the dumps… think to yourself, how can I give back to someone and inspire them to do something kind as well.

From iFamily to Yours,

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All Things Wood-Fired from Our Friends at HearthMasters!

As colder weather seeps into the metro area, residents are turning to heat sources to stay warm at home. Our friends at Hearth Masters, Inc in Independence have resources to keep your family safe this winter. In addition to their services to clean, restore, and protect your chimneys and fire places, they’re also a tremendous resource for all things wood-fired here in Kansas City. We’ve compiled some of their recent and interesting pieces for you to peek at today. Take a look…

All Things Wood-Fired from Our Friends at HearthMasters!

hearthmasters

The Benefits of Wood-Burning Fires

What is it about a fire in the fireplace that immediately elicits feelings of comfort and ease?  Is it the warmth, the sound of gentle crackle and pop, the rhythmic pattern of undulating flames…? Perhaps all three; along with the added benefit that a fire invites us to slow down, sit down, and enjoy it.

Discover more here…

Energy Efficient Options for Fireplaces this Winter

There’s nothing like the warmth and coziness of a hearth fire for a comfortable evening at home around the holidays. But, the increase in gas prices have many people thinking “energy efficient” first and “ambiance” last. Bottom line: People are turning to alternatives for supplemental (and sometimes emergency) heating. When the energy crisis of the 70’s hit the United States, manufacturing companies answered the call for wood-burning stoves with large, heavy, and not very efficient appliances. Homeowners now have a large selection of heating options and Hearth Masters has some suggestions to help you find more renewable resources to help heat your home this winter.

Discover more here

 

Cut Costs this Winter

A good way to cut utility bills during cold weather is to use a wood-fired heating appliance such as a masonry heater, wood-burning stove, or wood-burning fireplace insert. Now is the time to have such an appliance installed before the busy fall season hits hearth stores and chimney sweeps. Some stove manufacturers such as Regency offer summer purchase incentives and rebates.

Discover more here…

Wood-Fired Food Finds in KC

To the wood-fired connoisseur, there is nothing that can compare to food – any food – cooked in a wood-fired oven. This is because the taste imparted to the food from the wood is something that can’t be obtained from gas or electric ovens. A team of taste testers was sent to Kansas City restaurants specializing in wood-fired food on multiple occasions over the past year in order to sample some of their wonderful dishes. The results were unanimous: Eat wood-fired whenever possible!

Discover more here…

More About HearthMasters

HearthMasters, a specialty chimney and fireplace contracting company serving the greater Kansas City area, is celebrating 35 years in business. HearthMasters is the largest company of its type in the Midwest region. How can Hearth Masters help you?

  • Chimney sweeping: all types of gas and wood-burning flues and chimneys
  • Chimney inspections with state-of-the art internal cameras
  • Dryer vent cleaning
  • Sales and installation of high-efficiency gas and wood stoves and inserts, and class A chimneys
  • Design/build masonry heaters
  • Design/build commercial and residential indoor and outdoor brick ovens
  • Diagnosis of performance problems
  • Leak diagnostic services
  • Restoration of historic chimneys and fireplaces
  • Restoration of modern chimneys and fireplaces
  • Fireplace remodeling
  • Rumford fireplace construction
  • Fire investigations involving chimneys or heating appliances
  • Installation of custom-made and standard chimney covers
  • Installation of decorative clay and copper chimney pots

Curiosity burning?! Discover more about campfire cooking, masonry heaters, recipes, cast iron skillet seasoning, and cooking in a wood-fired oven in the FREE digital issue of Wood-Fired from Hearth Masters. Call today to schedule an appointment for an inspection in the Greater Kansas City area. 816-461-3665

 

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No-Toy Holiday Gift Ideas Your Kids Will Love

Psssst! Look {Inside} for a FUN GIVEAWAY!

We’re now *officially* less than 75 days away from Christmas 2017 (not that we’re counting or anything!) and our team here at iFamilyKC is excited to share some wonderful ideas, tips, and tricks for your family over the next few months. To kick things off, we’ve got some no-toy holiday gift ideas to keep the magic of the holidays alive even after the New Year. And, BONUS, we’ve got a giveaway RIGHT in this post! Take a look…


holiday gift ideas

No-Toy Holiday Gift Ideas Your Kids Will Love

There was a time in my life when I thought my family might want to explore living in a larger house. Why?! Simply put, we thought we needed more space. Life was feeling a little crowded and it wasn’t until we realized we just have too much stuff that we made the decision that more square footage wasn’t going to solve the problem in the long run – it would just make it worse with time. So we went on a mission (a long road that we’re still on, to be honest) to simplify life and get rid of all the excess stuff. Now that the holidays are approaching, we’re exploring new ideas for holiday gift giving that don’t involve toys.

We’ve got a few go-to ideas that we typically fall back on but were ready for some fresh concepts for Christmas 2017. So, we took to our brand new Community Group on Facebook (shameless plug– have you joined the iFamilyKC Kansas City parent group yet?!) to ask you for your ideas on no-toy gifts you can give the kiddos (or adults!) in your life this year. Here are some of our favorites:

#1 Books

It’s always a good time for learning and I am a huge fan of gifting books for special occasions (and normally give them for kid’s birthdays, too). Reading provides children with the opportunity to use their imagination and dive deep into other worlds.

“A reader lives a thousand lifetimes…” -George R.R. Martin 

With hundreds of thousands of different titles to select from, the possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to gifting stories for the holidays. If the special person in your life has a Kindle, tablet, or other e-reader, you could give them a gift card to purchase books onto their device. Depending on the age and reading level of your recipient, a book series can provide hours and hours of entertainment.

Some of my suggestions include:

  • Classic Children’s Books (all ages)
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama Books (toddler)
  • Pete The Cat Books (preschool)
  • Ivy & Bean Books (school aged)
  • Judy Moody Books (school aged)
  • Harry Potter Series (preteen)

#2 Experience Gifts {We’ve Got a GIVEAWAY!}

Over the last few years, my family has become really big into giving experiences as gifts (mostly to each other) and, in addition to being incredibly fun for both the giver and the receiver, they also help to bring your family closer together in ways that you might not expect (#FamilyBonding).

Each year for my daughter’s birthday, we gift her a membership to somewhere in the Kansas City area and, because KC is so full of amazing options for families, it’s awarded us with the chance to check out some fun spots across the metro over the years. We’ve done memberships to the zoo, the local botanical gardens, and to Union Station in the past and each has given us the chance to spend time together as a family – it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Many places that you can get memberships to here in the greater KC area offer tax deductions along with your purchase so you can consider that a little gift to yourself, too.

{Bonus!} Giveaway! 

We want to give YOU a head start on your gift giving this year and have a family four pack of tickets to the newly remodeled Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium ($28 Value!) AND a family four pack of tickets to Science City ($32 Value!) both at Union Station in downtown Kansas City.

Want to get in on the action?!

We’ll randomly select TWO winners (one getting Science City tickets and the other getting Planetarium tickets) on Wednesday, October 25th!

#3 Gift Cards

I’ll admit, until recently, I’d never been big into gift cards for the holidays but, now that my daughter is getting older, I am starting to see the value in all that they provide. Charlotte, who is six, absolutely LOVES shopping at the little boutique jewelry (and hair accessory, hat, makeup, toy, etc) shop in the mall. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the one I’m talking about, it’s been around since most of us were kids. Ever since I took Charlotte to get her ears pierced over the summer, she’s been obsessed with going into the store. I can understand why, it’s every little girl’s dream to have fun costume jewelry and adorable accessories all in one place.

The joy she gets in shopping for earrings, “makeup” (relax, it’s just lip gloss…we’re not there yet), and other little things that the kids enjoy these days is really special. When you give a child a gift card, you’re giving them the freedom to explore, to discover what they really enjoy, and the entertainment of shopping.

Here are a few places I suggest for gift cards:

  • Claires (they often have ‘Buy 3 Get 3 FREE’ sales so your gift card can go further.)
  • Five Below (with everything in the store UNDER $5, a little bit can go a long way.)
  • The bookstore (See #1 for more details)

#4 Subscriptions

One of the moms on our Community Group offered up a suggestion that I hadn’t thought of before. As adults, many of us enjoy subscription boxes that come once a month or once a quarter. Why not give that as a gift for the kids?! There are several great options for subscription services specifically designed with children in mind and many of them give you the flexibility of deciding how frequently you want to send the boxes (read: how much you’re willing to budget for).

We found some options that you might be interested in exploring as gift for this year (please note that we have not used these ourselves and, as such, do not provide our endorsement for any of the following) online:

  • Little Passports
  • Kiwi Crate
  • Doodle Crate
  • SproutKin

#5 A “Yes” Day

I recently read an article that discussed how utterly exhausted (and beyond happy) actress Jennifer Garner was after successfully completing a “yes day” with her kids. It’s a concept I’ve never heard of but is apparently based on the book with the same name by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

The idea is simple, spend a day with your kids and let them take the reins in planning what they want to do. You set limits (budget, time, etc) and rules for the day and then allow your kids to call the shots. If it sounds as exciting to you as it does to me, check out the book from your local Mid-Continent Public Library branch and consider giving it to your child this Christmas.

We’ll have an in depth listing of resources available to your family this season in our Annual Holiday Guide. You can pick a copy up starting November 1st in any of our 1,000 drop spots across the metro area or access it online. Also, be sure to join the discussion on the iFamilyKC Kansas City Parent Community Group on Facebook!

From iFamily to Yours,

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