Family New Year Resolutions for 2018

Another New Year, yet another chance for us to make the wrongs right and be more awesome than the year that went by. Less junk food and more real green leafy food; less late nights and more early to bed and early to rise; less frowning and complaining with more smiling and forgiving; less talking and more listening; less sitting and more walking… and the list goes on. But yes, like always – easier said than done, of course.

Instead of making the same old promises to yourself at the beginning of the year, why not take this opportunity to make some New Year resolutions as a family, which you can all work on together in the coming year? This way someone will always have your back to give you that extra nudge or a word of encouragement when you wander off your set path.

Here are three New Year resolutions we have decided to adopt as a family this 2018.

Sweat, Smile, Repeat

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Kids on a Jungle Gym” by j4p4n is licensed under CC by 2.0

Exercising together as a family is resolution number one. It is no myth that happy healthy parents make happy healthy children. Let’s lead the way and become examples for our kids, making our exercise time a fun activity rather than just sitting indoors and playing all sorts of virtual games on your tablet every evening. No, going to the gym is a big no here. Go for a short jog with your kids early in the morning and hear the birds chirping. Cycle together with your kids as a weekly ritual to the neighborhood grocery market. Learn a sport together and get really good at it. It’s a win-win situation all around – you keep fit, you spend quality time together and you have fun together as a family while doing it.

Collect Moments, Not Things

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Old Man Teaches Boy” by j4p4n is licensed under CC by 2.0

Mark Victor Hansen, the successful book author, trainer and inspirational speaker puts it like this: “Give your children family pictures. Create family memories and leave a pictorial family history. Keep a journal so that your kids can really know you… Maintain a library. The books you keep will give your children an idea of what you read, what was important to you and what you found influential. Kids can see where you have dog-eared a corner or underlined a sentence.” He said it all in those few words. Collecting moments and not things will always prove to be your life’s greatest treasure.

Spend what is Left after Saving

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Coins (Money)” by mystica is licensed under CC by 2.0

It is never too early to teach your kids how to save money. Giving them a monthly allowance from their early years and helping them how to manage it can go a long way in developing healthy monetary habits for them in their later years. Gift them a transparent glass jar instead of a piggy bank so they can actually see their money grow. After a couple of months, let them buy something of their choice with their own money; and then begin by saving up again for something else they would like to purchase at a later date. Spending what is left after saving and not the other way around is what must be inculcated into the children’s minds from a very young age.

The key to keeping any kind of resolutions is this: If it makes you happy, you’ll end up doing it anyhow. If it doesn’t, then it’s just a matter of time before you’ll give it up. But since family is all about laughter, love and happiness, these family resolutions will definitely be yours to keep. Happy New Year!

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Cartoon of the Month – Johnny Bravo

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Image courtesy: BuzzFeed

Hey baby, I can tell we both love the same things: Me!

Well baby, what’s it like looking at the man of your dreams?

Man, it must be great being you watching me.

No points for guessing whose flattering lines these are – the king of pick-up lines, Johnny Bravo. Our hero is sinewy, broad-shouldered, fakes a stylish demeanor when he speaks which actually ends up being too gruff, and drives women away in spite of trying very hard to get them to date him. A highly entertaining specimen of sorts – there’s Johnny Bravo for you.

  • The name Johnny Bravo has its origins in its creator’s full name – Efram Giovanni Bravo Partible, more popularly known as Van Partible.
  • Joe Barbera (half of the namesake Hanna-Barbera) was a part of some goofy jokes in the writing part of the series. He also had a brief presence in the Bravo Dooby Doo episode wherein Scooby with his gang and our Bravo come together to unmask the ghoul.
  • Jeff Bennett, the signature voice of Johnny Bravo, was asked by its creator to sound like Elvis for the series.

Nominated for 4 Annie Awards, 2 Golden Reel Awards and 1 YoungStar Award, our Bravo is a real hero with a great fan following that he manages to keep thoroughly entertained with his antics. Hardly anyone can match his hairstyle and the way he speaks as well as strikes poses. Also, did you know that the creators of Johnny Bravo, Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory were all roommates in college? Such a lot of creative talent holed up together!

DIY Simple Halloween Costumes for Kids

It’s Halloween season once again! Last year, we talked about how we could celebrate this occasion in an eco-friendly way (read the full post here). This time around, the focus of this article will be on how to get ready creative Halloween costumes for your little ones even if you’re short of time (read: now). I, sadly, belong to this category.

Dragon

Turning your kid into a cute yet ferocious dinosaur-cum-dragon this Halloween can be quite easy. This is because the major part of the costume is just a dangerous-looking tail, plus an added handmade mask for extra effect (this tutorial seems pretty useful for some quick work). All you need is some fabric in vibrant colors – tomato red or sunshine yellow or bright green works best. Lay a rectangular piece of the fabric on the ground and fill it up with cotton (I’m planning to use the filling from an old mattress for the purpose). The slightly tricky part here is to sew it up so make sure the cotton filling is not too much. You could also use empty toilet paper rolls taped together as a filling or even otherwise instead of cotton.

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Halloween” by ArtsyBee is licensed under CC by 2.0

The length of the tail should be such that it drags for a little distance on the ground when fitted at the waist. Using another color of fabric, you need to make small round balls filled with cotton to be roughly sewn onto the length of the tail. A yellow tail with red rounded balls as protuberances sticking out of it looks great. Make little belt loops on either side of one extreme end, insert a belt into the loops and fasten it on your child’s waist. Your roaring dragon is ready with a lethal tail trailing behind!

A Bunch of Grapes

This costume is the absolute go-to if, say, you need to get your kid dressed for trick-or-treating as soon as tonight. Simply head to the nearest store and buy a packet of black or purple or green balloons (at least 30-40 in number). Blow them up using a pump to save on time – it will take less than half the time it would otherwise take if you decided to blow them up manually. You need not worry about the size of the balloons; some could be larger and others smaller. Attach a small safety pin to each knot of the balloon, since you’ll be pinning them up on your kids.

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Ball” by Pexels is licensed under CC by 2.0

A word of caution here: The child needs to be wearing at least two layers of clothing, an inner t-shirt as well as a sweat suit. Carefully pin on the balloons on the front and back, top and bottom and your bunch of grapes is ready to flounce around! To add extra flair, twist a couple of pipe cleaners such that they resemble vines, stick them atop a hat and prop it on your little one’s head. This outfit couldn’t have been easier, could it?

P.S. Though my son is super excited to roar around and behave like a dragon (aka one of the creatures from his favorite dragon games), the daughter isn’t too ecstatic with her bunch of grapes idea of a costume. She wants to be a witch on a broomstick (I guess her neighborhood pals put that idea into her head). And so, with the promise of an elaborately designed wicked witch costume for next year, I’m off to get my two little tykes ready to say boo!

Cartoon of the Month – Bugs Bunny

I’ve always loved the name Looney Tunes for some reason. For those not in the know (though I seriously doubt there will be any), Looney Tunes refers to a series of American animated short comedy films, made in the ‘golden age of American animation’, as it is rightly called. Bugs Bunny is a character that dates back to that era, created in the year 1940 by Warner Bros. cartoons, which was known by a different name back then.

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Image courtesy: Looney Tunes Wiki

The smiling buck-teethed image of a rabbit, sitting or standing with one hand on his hips or chin and another hand directed towards the mouth with a half-chomped carrot in it – there’s Bugs Bunny as we all know the character to be. Here are some more fun facts about him that are not too widely known.

  • Mel Blanc, the American recording artist who voiced Bugs Bunny, actually ate carrots while recording sessions to get into the skin (and tone) of the character.
  • Bugs Bunny (along with Mickey Mouse) holds the distinction of being one of the first two animals to get a star on the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • Who was the first cartoon character to ever appear on a stamp? The cheerful Bugs Bunny!

Also, as per records dated until January 2013, Bugs Bunny has made an appearance in more films than any other cartoon character on record – more than 175 films. Amazing feat, isn’t it?

His catch phrase: “Eh… What’s up, doc?” all the while chewing on a carrot reminds me of fun times gone by, spent in watching this flippant trickster’s antics. Always brought a smile to my face :)

Having Fun with the Summer Slide (Part II)

It’s been two whole months since I did this post (Part I) about having fun with the summer slide. I had originally meant to do a couple of them by and by, but summer just rushed past and now I suddenly realize we’re already at the fag end of the holiday season. Though schools in our area re-open after August 31, my kids are happily having an extended vacation of sorts; their grandparents are visiting in the next fortnight, hence their home/school classes will actually begin after mid-September.

We’ve been making it a point to read every day this summer, the whole family. Evenings are more often than not spent curled up on the couch or bean bag with a book. I personally love those quiet times together.

Now when the summers are about to end, here are some ways to get your kids up and about, ready for schooling, unschooling and homeschooling. Needless to say, there’s fun involved too!

Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

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Explore” by SchoolPRPro is licensed under CC by 2.0

Science experiments are not meant for the school chemistry lab alone. Neither are they only meant for middle or high school kids. Irrespective of how old your kids are, there is bound to be a variety of science experiments like these you can easily carry out at home, the DIY way. Allow bread mold to grow on a slice of bread and explain what mold is all about. Use food coloring and bleach to carry out the ‘appear-disappear’ act for kids. Make it rain with ice cubes and some hot water in the interiors of your home within a jar. Or even write a spooky secret message using invisible ink (read: lemon juice). The possibilities are endless; and so are the learning and fun parts. For some really good ideas, you could go through this post too.

Kid-Friendly Cooking

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Cooking With Kids” by congerdesign is licensed under CC by 2.0

“Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment and creativity,” says Guy Fieri, the renowned American restaurateur, author, TV personality and game show host. And about creating a BIG mess, if I may add (from personal experience). Here’s why it is all worth it.

First and foremost, cooking becomes fun if the family does it together (followed by the cleaning up which is also done together). Right from something as simple as cracking an egg open to meticulously decorating a bunch of cupcakes fresh out of the oven, there is no denying the fact that these skills will hold your kids in good stead later on in their lives. Finding their way about in the kitchen can only be learnt at home; no amount of schooling can teach them that. What’s more, it can be a good way to brush up on the basic math skills of younger kids as well, say fractions or multiplication tables (for instance: how many cookies on a tray, if there are 6 rows of 6 cookies each?).

Sigh. As I get the next meal ready, I can already see a pile of reading worksheets peeking out at me cheekily from the bottom-most drawer in the next room. An indication perhaps that summer is over and soon enough, like it or not, we’ll have to firmly pull up our socks. Alas!

Cartoon of the Month – Popeye

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Graffiti” by 422737 is licensed under CC by 2.0

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

I’m strong to the finich,

Cause I eats me spinach.

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

Ranked #20 in TV Guide’s ’50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time’ list, Popeye the Sailor has been one of the most popular cartoons of all time. Created by Elzie Crisler Segar way back in the year 1929 in the form of a comic strip, the muscular one-eyed sailor eventually found his way into theater, animated TV cartoons, comic books, arcade, video and pinball games in addition to radio and live action films and his own theme park as well.

  • Popeye and his lady love Olive Oyl are based on real people – a pipe-smoking, fond-of-fighting sailor in the creator’s hometown and a tall, slim neighbor of his who wore her hair in a bun.
  • A piece of trivia: Who was the first cartoon character in the world to get its very own statue built? Our beloved Popeye the Sailor it was! Yes, he’s that majestic.
  • The people behind the voices of Popeye and Olive in the film (Jack Mercer and Margie Hynes) actually ended up marrying each other in real life!

The villainous Bluto trying to kidnap Olive Oyl every chance he got, leading to Popeye inevitably eating spinach and defeating his arch-rival is always hilarious, whatever be the storyline around it.

And though it doesn’t work for my kids at least, research studies have shown that Popeye’s spinach considerably impacted a large number of children around the world, leading to them downing veggies much faster! By the way, if greens are cooking for dinner tonight, perhaps you can just try switching on an episode of Popeye and see how it goes?

The Importance of Fitness for Kids

Fitness is not about being better than someone else… It’s about being better than you used to be.

Fitness is not a one-off phenomenon. One fine day you decide to get out of bed early and go running – kudos to your enthusiasm. But the fact of the matter is – did you manage to get up and about the second day? And the third? And the day after that? If yes, hats off. If no, you’ll more likely than not end up with sore knees and calves, groaning your way to the couch. There goes your resolution kaput.

In our family, my husband has always been the active one. He can’t wait for the morning alarm to go off so that he can happily begin his daily exercise on the jogging track, earphones plugged in, oblivious to his surroundings. I’ve been trying to pull myself out of bed the same time as he does lately, and I can proudly say that I’ve managed to do so successfully for one whole week. Yay! Running (or perhaps just walking swiftly) is next on my to-do list.

The other day I was wondering: We as adults tend to try and be conscious about what and when we eat, how much exercise we get, so on and so forth. What about our kids? Do they also need a regular exercise routine that keeps them on their toes? Or is it too early to bring a regular form of physical workout into their daily lives?

Couch Potatoes

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Girl” by andrewicus is licensed under CC by 2.0

Thinking back to our childhood, most of the games we played together had some amount of physical movement involved. Having no video games or mobile phones, we ran a lot, tumbled in mud, rolled off hillsides (yes, I actually remember cutting myself in several places when I landed in a prickly bush of brambles once) and cycled away to glory. Cut to today. More often than not, your kids will probably spend their evenings glued to a screen of some sort, happily whiling away a beautiful sunny day feeding their virtual pets online, or laughing maniacally at some ridiculous animated creatures on the tablet and laptop. Physical exercise? Zero. The traditional definition of a couch potato is: ‘a person who takes little or no exercise and watches a lot of television’. Add to it ‘spends a lot of time on the computer/laptop/tablet/mobile phone’ and you have the modern day versions of couch potatoes, aka our children.

Kids Need To Move

It’s as simple as that. Move as in, not move their eyes across a computer screen. But get out there away from gadgets of any kind and seek out their peers to move with them. We need to make our kids realize that moving about frequently is a fun thing – it could be playing a simple game of tag, jumping about on one leg for hopscotch, racing to the nearest park with their friends or just cycling to the neighborhood grocery store to run a few errands. It just struck me; we adults complain of a whole lot of diseases we are afflicted with today – obesity, hypertension, fatigue and the like. And this was when we had a supposedly ‘active’ childhood. I shudder to think what our couch potato kids have in store for them in the future, with their totally ‘inactive’ childhood. We as parents need to change that and their perspective towards fitness to make things work in their favor in the long run.

We Need To Move With Them

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Girl” by Skitterphoto is licensed under CC by 2.0

That’s what I’ve decided as the easiest way to get them (and myself) up and about (this article proved to be a big source of motivation). We’ll go swimming together regularly as a family. We could cycle to the park every weekend for a picnic together. Their dad would simply jump at the opportunity of playing a game of baseball with them. Why not spend quality time together and have fun at it while keeping fit? For a person like me, it would do a world of good – a genuine reason to pick myself up and move with them out there. For the kids, it’s just inculcating (hopefully) a habit that will hold them in good stead for a lifetime.

And yes, what I need to remember more than anything else is – peanut butter is not the glue holding my body together!