Merry Making: 50 Things To Do With Kids In December

Merry Making: 50 Things To Do With Kids In December

Fun Article from Domestic Simplicity. Enjoy.

Link to Full Post.

November 14, 2011

50 Things To Do With Kids in December:

  1. Go out and look at Christmas lights
  2. Bake cookies
  3.  Pick out and put up the Christmas Tree
  4. Decorate the Christmas Tree
  5. Make an Ice Wreath
  6.  Make Cinnamon Applesauce and/or Salt Dough ornaments
  7.  Make and decorate gingerbread houses
  8.  Sing Christmas Songs
  9.  Visit Santa
  10.  Buy and donate toys for Toys For Tots
  11.  Help to wrap presents for friends and family
  12.  Act out the Christmas story
  13.  Make Reindeer Food
  14.  Make homemade Christmas color/glitter play dough (and scent it with peppermint) to give to friends
  15.  Make and decorate gingerbread people
  16.  Make popcorn and cranberry garland
  17.  Go on a sleigh ride
  18.  Make paper chains for the Christmas tree
  19.   Write a letter to Santa
  20.  Watch a holiday movie
  21.   Check out holiday books at the library
  22.  Leave out shoes for St. Nicholas
  23. Eat Candy Canes
  24. Hang stockings on the mantle or banister
  25. Put out the Nativity Scene
  26. Address and Mail holiday cards
  27. Pick a special family ornament for the year
  28. Make a special plate for Santa’s cookies and the reindeer’s carrots
  29. Go to see The Nutcracker
  30. Go to a holiday parade
  31. Go to a candy store for a holiday treat
  32. Tie bells with ribbons and hang them around the house
  33. Make cards and gifts for teachers
  34. Go to the dollar store and pick gifts for family
  35. Make special cards to send to cousins
  36.  Have a Random Acts of Kindness Day(s)
  37. Make cards to send to troops or to bring to a nursing home
  38.  Grocery shop just to take to a food bank or donation boxes
  39. Learn a Christmas song on the guitar or piano
  40.  Make a present for Santa
  41. Celebrate the Winter Solstice
  42. Make Winter Tea
  43. Make/Put out food for birds and squirrels
  44. Make orange and clove pomanders
  45. Look through favorite Christmas Cards from friends and family from years past
  46. Start a garland or photo album with your own family holiday cards from years past
  47. Prep and freeze a special breakfast for Christmas morning
  48. Make hot chocolate balls
  49. Make snow globes
  50. Do research on holiday traditions around the world and choose one to add to family traditions

*Inspired by my friend Maggie, who posted on Facebook that she wanted to think of one activity to do with her boys each day for Advent.

I’d love to hear your favorite holiday activities in the comments! This started as a list planning one thing to do each day with the kids during Advent, but it turned into more as I started to try to compile.  I also realize that this list mostly centers around Christmas-related activities, since that’s what our family celebrates, so I’d especially love to hear about traditions for other special holidays during this season of celebration.

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Laura’s Cheap Trick #81

Oh Yeah – Save that Wrapping Paper!

Yes, I grew up in a family that carefully slit open the tape and took great care to save the wrapping paper and bows.  I swear while my grandmother was alive we all received presents with paper that was around since WW2.  As I grew up and began to watch more television I saw that the real way to open a present (aka: how they do it on TV) was to tear it open as fast a possible and scream delight.  As I age, I see that there is joy in savoring the moment and remembering the gifts past that were wrapped in the paper from Christmas past.  (And yes you can even iron your paper to make it nice and crisp and wrinkle free.)

Check out this fun tip on Re-using wrapping paper.

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Laura’s Cheapt Trick #80

Anything makes a good chew toy.

Yes it is true we have a puppy in the house and just as any item make a good baby toy, (speaking metaphorically here) the same is true to puppies.  Don’t bother spending money on expensive toys when an old paper towel roll is just as fun.  Boxes make great toys, you can get in them, they are loud. and chew on them with no harm to either of you.

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Give me a C student with an A student drive any day

I host many interns at my office.  I feel it is important for me to stay in touch with upcoming technology, techniques and ideas in the field if I work with a cleaner or fresher mindset for a few months of the year.

To select these lucky recipients of a 2-3 month unpaid tour of duty I receive transcripts, resumes, writing samples (one being the reason why they want an internship) and letters of recommendation.  Then there is the interview often on the phone or skype and follow up phone calls to the references.

Often we order our selection based upon the paperwork.  And after 10 years I still can’t help myself…When you see that student with the 4.0 excelling in every category and a perfectly written essay is it so tempting to just hire them off the submitted papers.  But again, after 10 years of working and interviewing these kids…you don’t really know until you have spoken with them in person, if they have the drive and ambition to want to learn and be part of the team.  I have found that often the ones who look perfect on paper may not end up being the first choice after the interview. (for many reasons)

That does not mean I look only for C students or that A students some how don’t deserve the grade, what I am looking for is focus and drive and a willingness to try to figure it out and submit on deadline.  A good student does not always make a good worker.  It is different being a student then working in an office as part of a team.  Remember those group projects your professor would assign and some member of the team would fail to submit their part.  Or do a poor job on their section of the project.  Well guess what..that is how it is every day in the working world.  Yes you can try to do it all yourself but at some point a good company looks to hire folks who just intuitively know their responsibility and how to pull their weight.

I saw a tweet someone published that says don’t praise someone for being smart praise them for working hard.  It was linked to this Forbes article called The Trouble with  Bright Kids.  It’s a fascinating look at what we do to our psyche when we praise the smarts not the effort.  Some of us end up attributing the results to something we can’t control….That is a powerful thought.  One is empowering the other stifling.

So what (you are saying to yourself)  does this have to do with a cheap trick?   What I am talking about is application, not the written one but the physical one.  And that is free advise to a student looking for a job, an internship or an opportunity.  You do not need to have graduated from the top expensive school or have a long list of accolades, to do well you only need hard work.  So give me a C student with A student drive and ambition over an A student with C student ambition any day.  Or better yet give me an A student with A student drive!

Those who want to know more:  We take on interns 3 semester a year.  If you read the article you know what needs to be submitted and what kind of person we are looking for.  You can find out more about RedEye at our website.  Job Ops.

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Laura’s Cheap Trick #79

Skype, Oovoo, etc. –  internet calling services.

Our family plays host to many international exchange students.  We also have close family on the other side of the country.  We would love to travel over to them more often and the students want to speak with their parents and friends to share their experiences.  However, a traditional phone call is out of budget when you want to spend 15 minutes or more with your loved one.  And sometimes I just want to see how much my niece and nephew have grown or make sure they know who I am other than the once a year or once every two year crazy lady who pop in and insists on being their closest buddy in an instant.

The answer is internet video calling.  We use Skype but there are many other free services out there.

Drawbacks: Delay, delay, delay….getting cut off or freezing mid-sentence.  Having to arrange the time in advance when we both can be online.  Being tied to set location  (my daughter calls it a string phone- “mommy I can’t go find daddy cause I’m on the string phone”)


NOTE: This service does open you up to spam contacts and allows the sending of photos videos etc – be alert to your privacy settings and block unknown contacts.  Look for the opportunity to set your public ID as “offline” or “away” when you are in-fact there.


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Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Health Insurance

Enjoy this “satirical?” look at heath care from Max and sadly contemplate the truths.

Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Health Insurance.

My experience with Health Insurance companies for the last five years has been mildly benevolent, in that I made sure to pay them X amount a month and they made sure I was covered if my feet fell off. Things went decidedly south about 6 months ago when I decided to, god forbid, move.

I'd Like to Help
“Perhaps you shouldn’t have moved to Oregon, hippie.”

I’ve learned a lot of crappy things about the Health Insurance Industry in the last few months, and I feel like a lot of it was avoidable if I had known just a few key pieces of information before making some health related decisions. I’d like to share those lessons with you now so you can dodge some of these complications and headaches in your future dealings with the Healthcare system.

1. Health Insurance Companies Want to Eat Your Family.

After moving, I called my insurance broker and let her know my new address in Oregon. She went ahead and did her magic, and a month later I received my bill. Surprise (was it though?), my new premium for my wife and I just about doubled from $270 to $499.96 per month. I wanted to make sure my new donations were going to a good cause (like paying for the CEO’s stripper mistresses) so I called their customer service to find out what the deal was.

Turns out I was now out of network, so my premiums went up accordingly.

I’d love to help you, but I’m kind of busy with my modeling career.

That would make sense, except that the quality of my plan went in the other direction (down). Since I was out of network, the percentages the insurance company contribute towards my expenses dropped from 80% to 25%. The 75% I was contributing was now going towards a deductible that had also doubled from $1500 to $3000.

In all fairness, all the info’s right there in the 60 page document they gave me when I signed up. I should have chosen to be a bit more curious and it’s all pretty standard operating procedure stuff for health insurance companies.

It was filed alphabetically between “Screw” and “You”.

Fine right? No worries, just switch your insurance to a company that considers Oregon in-network… This leads us to lesson 2:

2. Don’t You Ever, As Long As You Live, Switch Insurance Companies.

Remember that one time you went to the doctor to get that insignificant thing checked out? I know, it wasn’t a big deal, but you’re going to have to include it on the application.

Remember that application for coverage you just sent in? Yeah, it got rejected because of that thing.

Last August, I ruptured my eardrum while Scuba Diving (because I make terrible decisions). I went to the doctor so that he could verify that I was an idiot, and then I was all done because this is an injury that heals all by itself like a cut. While we were there, we decided to check out an issue my wife was having which was some blockage in her salivary duct. I know, way too much info. There’s a reason I’m telling you though. The doctor suggested we get a CT scan to pinpoint exactly what’s going on, and then we went on our merry way.

Like the honest folks we are, we mentioned both events on our application to ODS with some assurance from our broker that he never sees anyone get rejected for such small issues.

We were both promptly rejected for coverage.

What blows me away, is that my wife is 26 and I’m 28, we’re both in good health (we stay fit, we don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t eat fast food, don’t have any chronic conditions), and we’re honest on our applications for coverage. What is the health insurance company looking for? I was rejected for a condition that was completely resolved.

“I think I left my daughter’s tuition payment in there…”

We appealed the decision. I had to go back to the doctor so that he could verify that everything was fine with my ear (4 months after the accident) and I typed a 4 page document attached to the doctor’s chart notes to try and let the insurance company know that my ear was fine, and that my wife’s issue was a minor annoyance that occurred maybe twice a year.

They accepted me and rejected my wife.

We’re now going with the statewide insurance plan for my 26 year old healthy wife because ODS is not willing to cover her. This is the Oregon plan that is the failsafe for residents who cannot otherwise get health insurance.

We’re now in a bad position because we wanted to check out a minor concern with a preventative mindset (and we were already at the ENT Doctor) when we would’ve been better served just ignoring it.

This leads me to point 3…

3. Don’t Ever Tell the Truth About Anything, Ever.

Seriously. If there’s one take away from any of this, remember that everything you tell your doctor will get marked down forever on your chart notes. Some day, if you even get individual health insurance, when you’re arguing with the company about your claim, they’ll point to it and say you never told them, or alternatively, that it was a preexisting condition. So don’t tell anyone, anything, ever.

Just don’t lie to this Dr.

I don’t actually know too much about the current state of the health care system, but I don’t think I ever realized how crippling the system is until I finally had to deal with a different side of it. I’ve always been healthy, employed, and stable, so this was never (selfishly) a concern to me. One of those things changed, so now I’m in a different boat. I’m very lucky that I have a variety of resources and a bit of income and savings to handle the complications, but I can only imagine how difficult this must be for someone in a different situation. How broken is a system when young healthy people can’t even get affordable health insurance?

My wife and I are incredibly lucky to be physically sound and capable, so I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for us. But I have no idea how people are dealing with similar situations who have actual problems that need actual care.

They go see this guy.

Knowing what I know now, I would be much more selective about what I would reveal to the health care system, which seems like a terrible solution to a ridiculous problem. I would rather risk my health by not getting something checked out than risk being denied in the future or seeing my rates jump astronomically.

Does that not sound crazy?

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Laura’s Cheap Trick # 78

Instead of buying books, borrow books from the library.

Whenever possible, borrow your books instead of buying them. The card to your public library is free and the libraries are generally well stocked. In my city, the chain of public libraries is connected and the available books can be checked online. If there is some book that I cannot find in my local branch, I can make a request online for it to be brought in from one of the other branches to mine which is very convenient.

You will find many community events at your local library.  They are not just for books any more.  Need to use the internet?  Looking for a reading group for any age?  Want to buy a book cheap?  Need some early child development?  Some home schooling support?   It’s available at your local library.

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