Friday, January 30, 2015

Football: Family-Style!

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Nothing is more all-American than football!  And, assuming there are no "Deflate-Gate" riots, cheering on your team as a family is good, clean fun!  So whether you're having the whole neighborhood over or simply making it a family affair, we have a few tips that'll make your party fun, festive, and family-friendly!


Arrange your viewing area to accommodate all of your guests - and don't forget the little ones!  Bean bag chairs, mats, pillows, or even just clear space on the floor will work for most kids.  Festive decorations also help set the mood, but you don't have to break the bank to create a festive atmosphere; themed plates, napkins, or tablecloths are an inexpensive way to decorate, as are plush (indoor-friendly) footballs.  If your budget doesn't allow splurges on decorations, have your kids make and decorate their own footballs out of paper, felt, or cardboard and display them on the day of the big game!


Let's face it, adults love nachos, hoagies, pizza, spicy chicken wings, chili, and other great "game foods," but for many kids these dishes are too spicy or contain ingredients they don't like.  Problem solved with these great snack and meal ideas for kids: fresh fruit, ants on a log, popcorn, chicken nuggets, pigs in blankets, and tater tots!

Game Time Fun:

Young kids may not last through the whole game, so keeping a few distractions on hand is a wise move. Consider coloring pages, football-themed crafts, plush footballs that can be tossed around indoors, and fun games like Superbowl Bingo.  These fantastic distractions not only keep kids entertained, but they will keep them from becoming bored or disruptive during the game!  Also, if the weather cooperates, consider having an informal touch football game (or even just a game of catch!) before the big event; it'll help run off some of the extra energy the kids have stored up and it's a great way to teach healthy habits!

No matter who you're rooting for or who pulls off the big win, your party will be a big hit if you use these great tips!  Safe and happy memory-making!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor; A Great Safety Tactic!

image courtesy of artur84/
When I was eleven years old, a bunch of my friends and I were running around outside in our neighborhood playing hide and seek on a beautiful summer evening.  Ours was a friendly block with few fences, so it was quite common to tuck into a neighbor's front yard and wait to be found - and then make a bee-line for home base!  I had just settled snugly into our next-door neighbor's hydrangea bush when a shrill, desperate scream issued from inside the house.  I was just a kid, but even then I remember knowing that that sound was borne of sheer terror.

Several of us ran and found our parents and sent them over to our neighbor's house immediately, where they found the woman crying and screaming deliriously, cradling the body of her husband, who had suffered a heart attack. Paramedics were summoned, and he was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was successfully treated and, eventually, released.  He wasn't old, or ill - it was the kind of heart attack that strikes with no warning at all - and fortunately he survived largely unscathed.

My point in sharing this story is that, while it has a happy ending, it could just as easily have ended in tragedy and loss.  It is a great example of how valuable and important it is to have and to be good neighbors, and to model that kind of behavior for our children.  In a world where we spend so much time and money making sure our children are safe and secure, we should not forget to promote the value of community and how it can also be a safety net.

So be a good neighbor: keep an eye out for unusual activity in the neighborhood, drive with caution, be helpful, be kind, be pleasant.  Get involved in your community; make it a place where everyone looks out for one other - it's one of the best ways to help keep your family safe!  It may just save your life or the life of someone you love.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Destination: Loup Loup Ski Bowl!

Renown as a snow-lover's paradise, Loup Loup, situated between Twisp and Okanogan, WA is the perfect family fun spot for those looking to indulge in a myriad of winter sports and activities!  They are dedicated to encouraging outdoor recreation by providing economical, safe and professional activities with a family and broad based approach. The Loup Loup Ski Bowl is operated by the non-profit Loup Loup Ski Education Foundation and depends on tax deductible donations to help defray operating expenses and to make improvements to the Ski Bowl.

Loup Loup features 1,240 vertical feet with 10 cut runs on Little Buck Mountain (about 300 acres), 23k of groomed track set Nordic trails with trailheads right out of our parking lot, and a tube slide area.  They offer 1 fixed grip quad chair lift, 1 platter surface tow, and a rope tow.  Loup Loup also boasts amenities such as the rustic day lodge (with food and beverage), modern administration building with meeting room and restrooms, equipment rental shop, and first aid room (as well as facilities for our fantastic patrol and instructors).

Travel-Tot's own Amy Savage and her family are frequent visitors to Loup Loup and were kind enough to share their experience with our readers!  She calls Loup Loup their "all time favorite ski spot," and recommends it for its incredible family friendliness, affordability, and fun for all skiing levels. With a family whose children have been skiing since they were 3 (and a husband who has skied since he was a child!), Amy freely admits she was a bit apprehensive when she first took to the slopes as a self-described "nervous learner." But thanks to a staff that was so fun and welcoming, she was not only ready to take to the slopes after a few lessons, but was really excited to let go and fly! 

As a mom, Amy reports, Loup Loup is ideal for families; it's easy to keep track of kids because it's not a huge ski area, and the rustic cabin with its huge fireplace and snack bar provides the perfect spot to warm up and get lunch before you head back out on the slopes! In addition, Amy and her family enjoy day trips to nearby Winthrop and Twisp, which, she says are "both fantastic places to enjoy a trip back to the old west, as well as to explore some great restaurants and other alpine activities!"

So next time your family is looking for an amazing ski vacation, check out Loup Loup - its guaranteed family fun!  And check them out on Facebook and Twitter!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Travel Apps We Love: Waze!

image is the property of Waze Mobile
Ever dreamt of being able to have a sixth sense that could help you steer clear of traffic?  Avoid accidents and speed traps? Find the cheapest gas in the immediate area?  Well, now you can!  Check out Waze, the amazing travel app you won't want to leave home without.  In addition to being able to provide you with real-time traffic and road information, Waze offers users the ability to coordinate and track arrival times with friends through Facebook.  Available for Android and Apple devices, and absolutely FREE!  Download your copy today and check out their Facebook and Twitter feeds!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Explore the World With Your Child: Visit a Museum!

Winter is the perfect time to indulge in some fun indoor activities as a family - and a visit to a museum is not only entertaining, but also educational (shhh... I won't tell if you don't!). Museums can be a great opportunity for children to experience people, places, art, music, history, science, and other aspects of the world that they may not otherwise have had the chance to be exposed to; but discovering all these things in a way that will leave them excited, engaged, and eager to learn more requires some planning and expectation-management!  So if you love museums, but are apprehensive about exploring them with your kids, these few quick tips can help you keep your tour on track!

image of the Louvre courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/

1. Have realistic expectations:  Your children will explore a museum differently than you; don't expect to spend a great amount of time at each exhibit, rather let your children gravitate toward the exhibits which best capture their fancy!

2. Plan and prepare:  Be sure children are well-rested for the adventure and plan your visit around mealtimes (though a quick snack in the museum eatery can be a fun way to break up the exploring if your budget allows!). Before you get to the museum, discuss basic museum etiquette (no touching, no running, no yelling, etc.) and share information with your children about what they will be seeing (i.e. art, music, science, history, etc.).  When you enter the museum, be sure to take a map or make a note of where the restrooms, sitting areas, and eateries are located in case you need a break!

3. Go with the flow: When you enter an exhibit, allow your child to lead the exploring and share with you what they most enjoy.  Ask them simple, age-appropriate questions about what they are seeing (i.e. What do you like best?  What do you think the artist was thinking when he/she created this?  How does it make you feel?  What do you think this was used for?  How do you think this sounds?).  Share with them what you think about the exhibits (i.e. your favorites, why, and what they say to you)!

4. Check into special features for children:  Some museums have special children's programs, hands-on exhibits, areas where kids can sit and explore, child-geared audio tours, etc. that are designed to enhance the experience for families (but don't be afraid to trust your own judgement to decide whether the resource being offered is something you think would be helpful, or just something that would distract them and detract from the experience of interacting with the exhibits, which is why you are there after all!).

Happy and safe exploring!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Do Unto Others!

image courtesy of Tina Phillips/
With temperatures plummeting and icy conditions developing, hazards such as hypothermia, frozen pipes, and slips and falls can be more common, particularly among at-risk populations. Be sure to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water for them to drink.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Silent Killer: Carbon Monoxide and Family Safety

It's a fact that cannot be over-emphasized: carbon monoxide alarms save lives. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer; an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that can go totally undetected until concentrations have built up to dangerous levels. Inhaling carbon monoxide interferes with your body's ability to properly transport oxygen and, when inhaled over a long period or in high concentrations, can result in carbon monoxide poisoning - which can be fatal. Signs of potential carbon monoxide exposure include (but are not limited to):
  • drowsiness, 
  • dizziness, 
  • headaches, 
  • confusion, 
  • burning eyes, and 
  • loss of consciousness.
Carbon monoxide is a natural by-product of many common home appliances, such as: charcoal/gas grills, hot water heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, stoves, and space heaters. Such appliances should be installed and routinely maintained by professionals to ensure that all carbon monoxide emissions are being routed out of your home to keep your family safe. In addition, every home should be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, which need to be installed about knee level (and be sure to change batteries twice yearly just as you do with smoke detectors!). Note: if you have young children or pets that could reach detectors located at knee-level, try placing them at chest height or in a hard-to-reach area (just be sure the detector is never blocked by furniture, curtains or other obstructions as interrupted airflow may hinder it's performance).

If you have only one, your carbon monoxide detector should be located near your family’s bedrooms. Ideally, however, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed throughout your home, just as your smoke alarms are, particularly in areas where appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, stoves, fireplaces, and grills are located. Likewise, garages that house vehicles should be equipped with a detector. If you live in a multi-story home, place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level.

If you are in the market for a carbon monoxide detector, the following two are among our favorites for ease of use and quality rating:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

4 Resolutions To Help Keep Your Family Safer in 2015!

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Lock Windows And Glass Doors

Unlocked doors are the number one way burglars enter a home, but windows and sliding glass doors are a close second. Make certain to close and lock windows every time you leave home. Likewise, secure sliding glass doors with a simple bar that stretches across to the opposite wall to prevent easy entry.

Be A Good Neighbor

The best defense you can have is more than one set of eyes watching over your home! Be friendly with neighbors, make them aware when you’ll be out of town, and exchange cell phone numbers to report any suspicious activity.

Document Valuables

In the event of a fire or burglary, a list of your most valuable possessions is invaluable. Take a few hours and document all of your valuable possessions, such as: jewelry, silver, clothing, furniture and electronics. Better yet, do it by video camera, even the one on your cell phone will work! Take a quick tour of your home by video; be sure to include brand names, model types, and all known dollar values for important items. Once the video is complete, keep a copy on a password-secured jump-drive at loved one’s house, to ensure it's available if it's ever needed.

Change Batteries In Smoke And CO Detectors

When the battery gets low in a smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) detector, the alarm will beeping incessantly for days until you change the batteries, but if you’re out of town when the warning arises, you could be left with dead batteries and not even know it. This New Year’s, take five minutes and change the batteries in all the smoke and CO detectors in your home.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Closing the Gap: Bringing Generations Together!

image courtesy of phanlop88/
"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."

- Desmond Tutu

Family is our past, present and future - and it is so important to bring the generations together to share the laughter and love that such closeness often evokes. Whether your children's grandparents live close-by or half-way across the world, the relationships they have with your children can be very special!  Grandparents possess a breadth of experience and knowledge (not to mention some great childhood anecdotes about you or your spouse!) that can captivate the minds of children of all ages. 

No matter how often your children visit with their grandparents, try and make their time together as memorable and enjoyable as possible.  It may require a bit of work on your part, and maybe even a little flexibility, but watching your parents or in-laws truly connect with your children is priceless. Below are a few tips for making fond memories for both your children and their grandparents:
  • Play to your parent's (or in-law's) strengths - try to "casually arrange" opportunities for activities both they and your children will enjoy (i.e. games, picnics, fishing with grandpa, crafting with grandma, etc.).
  • Be flexible - while your children's safety must always come first, allow for a few small concessions or departures from your usual routine (extra treats, missed naps, over-the-top silliness, etc.).
  • Wax nostalgic - ask your parents or in-laws to share stories from their youth; share old photos, paper clippings, or letters.
  • Share your heritage - have your children learn about their family's customs and traditions!  Arrange to have your children and their grandparents: make a favorite ethnic dish together, learn a favorite traditional song or dance, share a folk-tale or story.
  • Alone time - if you, your children, and your parents (or in-laws) are comfortable with the idea, consider allowing your children to "sleep-over" at their grandparents.  If a sleep-over is out, try to plan some time when your kids and their grandparents can visit alone (without you hovering over them!) - sometimes it is easier for people to be themselves when they don't feel they have an audience.
Family is precious; and sharing time, experiences, and heritage across the generations is a great way to make memories that will last a lifetime!  If possible, try to capture some of those laughs and interactions on film and video, so you can all enjoy them for years to come!

-Destination Mom