Tag Archives: entertainment

Putting the Fun Back in Family Road Trips!

On family road trips, do you spend the entire drive listening to the music your kids prefer, playing their favorite games and generally doing everything you can to keep them content – and peaceful – in the car?

It happens with the best intentions, but too often parents sacrifice their own enjoyment to keep the kids happy, thinking they can’t please everyone. Fortunately, with some creativity and the right travel “tools,” it’s possible for everyone to enjoy the drive.

Here are some ways parents can reclaim their fun on the family road trip:

* Expand musical horizons. Sure, you want everyone to connect with each other in the car and enjoy all the sights they’ll see. But it’s also okay to set aside some non-talk time. Pop in music they’ve never heard of and introduce the kids to different musical genres. There are a variety of songs out there that are kid-friendly. Do some research before your trip– you may even find a few new songs to enjoy yourself!

* Find an audio book that appeals to all. Bestsellers, non-fiction, self-help and children’s titles – audio books offer a great way for everyone to participate in the fun, including the driver. Look for material with age-appropriate content if you’ll all be listening together. “Borrowing” books through an exchange service is a great way to access a variety of titles. Cracker Barrel offers a service that allows you to get an audio book at one  location and return it at any other Cracker Barrel in the country. When you return the audio book, you’ll receive a full refund less an exchange fee of $3.49 for every week you kept the book. Visit www.crackerbarrel.com to learn more.

* Introduce kids to games from your childhood. Playing games is a great way to pass time in the car, but if you dread the thought of playing one more princess- or shape-shifting-robot-themed game, why not introduce the kids to games you loved as a child? Many require nothing more than your imagination, like group storytelling or license-plate bingo. Others like the low-tech classic peg game or Simon, the original electronic memory game you played as a kid, travel well in the car and provide challenging fun for all ages.

* Pack a snack bag with everyone in mind. Everyone will get hungry on the road, so if it’s not yet time for a stop, a snack bag can save the day. Pack with balanced nutrition and broad appeal in mind. Travel-friendly options like fruit and whole-grain snacks can be appetizing and satisfying. Be sure to toss in a few sweet treats for some extra fun. Look for nostalgic options that will appeal to kids while reminding adults of their own childhood, like Moon Pies or Cracker Jacks. 

Whether you are packing up to go visit a family member over the weekend this fall, or preparing early for a holiday getaway, these tips are sure to help your trip be a little less stressful for everyone involved!

Top Ten Kid-Friendly Apps

It’s unavoidable, we live in an age of technology. Our children seem almost glued to anything with a screen. There are many ways that you can use your child’s love of smartphones and tablets to your advantage. One way is to foster continuous learning, even during summer break. There are an abundance of apps designed specifically for learning.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Unknown-2Duolingo is a free language learning app. You can choose from ten different languages to learn. It is a great app for all ages, so you can learn alongside your child.

Lumosity is a fun brain-training website that helps you increase your attention span and increase memory retention. The app is free and was designed for all ages.

Star Chart by Escapist Games Limited allows kids to learn all about the universe. You can hold it up to the sky and find out exactly what stars or planets you are looking at. The app is free, but there are some in-app purchases.

THE aMAZEing Labyrinth has puzzles and mazes that will challenge your kids to think and problem solve. It costs $3.99.

toca lab logoToca Lab allows your children to learn about chemistry, magnetism, and electricity in a safe and fun way. The app costs $2.99.

Kids Numbers and Math by Intellijoy focuses on helping pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade children learn numbers and early math skills. There is a free version, but the full package costs $2.99.

Unknown-1Endless Alphabet by Originator Inc. teaches youngsters the alphabet and basic vocabulary with fun and engaging games. A smaller version of the app is free, but the full package must be unlocked by an in-app purchase.

Dr. Panda & Toto’s Treehouse is a fun app where kids can play with and take care of Toto the Turtle. The app includes many activities, so there’s endless replay value. The app costs $2.99.

UnknownFarFaria Free Children’s Books includes hundreds of choices so your child isn’t stuck reading the same story over and over again. It is best for ages 1-9. The app is free, but there are some in-app purchases.

The NASA App allows you to view video hundreds of photos and videos to learn more about different ongoing projects. It is free and is a great resource for young rocket scientists and astronauts.


Written by Krista Knauer

Those That Mourn Must Not Give Up

As we remember and celebrate the life and accomplishments of Robin Williams, it is important to take a few things away from his tragic death.

Suicide. Depression. When did these words become so taboo that those being crushed under the weight of such thoughts felt forced to deny them? To be so ashamed of their illness that they could not reach out for help?

In reality, those who ignore their cries or expect them to “be strong” are the ones who should be ashamed for creating a culture where it is expected of everyone to wear their socially accepted mask in public and face their demons alone—behind closed doors.

We must re-examine our expectations of everyone we interact with on a daily basis. Do you want to make a difference in this world? Stop judging people based on their appearance, sexual preferences, past addictions and life circumstances. Stop making them feel weak when they ask for help.

Sit down and LISTEN to them. Sometimes, all someone needs is for another human being to see their struggle without sitting in judgment.

A lot of celebrities and news outlets are expressing that they are “heartbroken” in the wake of this announcement. Although they have every right to feel this emotion, we must remember that Mr. Williams, and the millions of people suffering from depression around the world, are often so well acquainted with that feeling that it does not even shock them anymore. In fact, it lives behind every smile, every laugh and every mask they wear.

If you take anything away from the death of Robin Williams, perhaps it should be that we are all facing struggles—even those who appear to have everything. Remember that we are all human, and sometimes we all need a helping hand. Be a friend.

Finally, if you are battling depression, the most courageous thing you can do is tell someone. There is nothing shameful about reaching out for help. If you are uncomfortable speaking with someone you know, I encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).