Dad Breaks Rule on First Day of Spring

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The first day of spring is Wednesday. How are you planning to celebrating it?

Wait…you weren’t?

A woman at a recent speaking gig shared with me a neat family tradition that I had to pass along. She grew up in Connecticut, and every year, on the first day of spring, her father would “kidnap” his kids and play hooky. They’d all load into the car as usual, but he’d eventually take a “wrong turn,” and they’d never quite make it to school. One time, he took them sledding to take advantage of a new blanket of snow on the ground. Another time they ended up at the Statue of Liberty. Since it was a weekday (and a rainy one at that), the crowds were light and they were able to ascend to the top without any waiting.

It reminds me of the dad who took his kids to the circus instead of taking them to school.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that a parent’s first job is to model consistency and instill responsibility in their children. That there is a need for people like the Supernanny is a crying shame.

But I also think it’s important to create scenes with your kids. And one of the best ways to do that is by breaking a rule, starting a small rebellion, and just playing hooky once in a while.

Of course, one needn’t have kids, or even grandkids for that matter, in order to break a rule and create a scene. We ALL need a day to play hooky once in a while.

You can call it a mental health day or a “sick of it” day, if that helps.

This Wednesday is the first day of spring. How will you celebrate it?

P.S. Like the Statue of Liberty art above? You can get it as a print, available in vanilla or chocolate. :)

23 Super Snowman Building Tips

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I put on my snow pants, boots and mittens and scoured the vast wastelands of the Internet to uncover a whole bunch of neat tips for making your next snowman the envy of the neighborhood. Please keep in mind that these tips are for building a traditional snowman, which is typically three snow balls placed on top of each other. If you want to get all crazy and create some elaborate snow sculptures, this is not the post you’re looking for.

These tips are for those times when you want to roll old school. [Read more…]

A Post About The Winter Blues (and Ben’s Favorite Ornaments)

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For the last week I have felt this unsaid pressure to take down the Christmas tree. It’s January 15th, we “should probably” get it all put away. (Hmm, is this a “rule that doesn’t exist“?) Here’s the dealio… when the tree comes down, I’m afraid that the reality of January floods the house. It’s cold. Spring is a LONG ways away. Like, not even in sight. January has the potential to be quite BLAH without the twinkling lights on our beautiful tree.

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But if I think about it even more honestly, the real reason is not the winter blues. It’s this… [Read more…]

Making Memories Stick: One Sentence Daily Journal

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My memory stinks. And I’m not even forty. Perhaps that is why I am so interested in simple ways to record the cool stuff that happens in my life. Then when I’m old I can actually have some idea of what I spent my life doing. [Read more…]

Messages in a Bottle: Make Your Own Memory Jar

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At the end of every year, Kim and I sit down and review the year that was. We talk about what went well, what didn’t go well, and reminisce about the adventures we had and the things we accomplished. The hardest part is remembering it all! We review our calendar and archived to-do lists, and even though I’m amazed at how much you can accomplish in a year, I always feel like we’re missing stuff.

Which is what makes this idea pure genius.

Find a neat jar and put it in your kitchen with a pen and a stack of tiny paper nearby. Throughout the year, write down any cool adventures, funny stories, or happy things that occur and put them in the jar. Then on New Years Eve, read all the notes and bask in gratitude at the cool stuff that happened during the year.

Since everyone in the household can contribute, a highlight is reading the notes other people added over the course of the year. Even neater: a shelf in your house that features your memory jars through the years!

Looking for some fun ideas to make sure your memory jar is filled with awesome? Try this.

Hat tip to Jill Bodwin and Jaden Hair.

Superhero Fort Kit

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Ok, so how awesome is this…a Superhero Fort Kit! Complete with sheets! Clamps! Glow sticks! The best thing is that you can make it yourself and then make the MONTH of a kid. (If you can dare to part with it, that is. Better make two.)

The ideas and photos come from the fun and awesome Meg + Andy, as does this handy list of what you need to make your own Superhero Fort Kit:

  • 2 Twin sheets: ARC for about $2 each
  • Ties on the Sheet: old XL T-shirt
  • Rope: Hobby lobby for about $2
  • Flash Light: Dollar Store $1
  • Clamps: Dollar Store $1
  • Glow Sticks: Dollar Store $1
  • Clothes Pins: Dollar Store $1
  • Suction Cups: Dollar Store $1
  • Lightning Bolt bag: Some cheap gray fabric, yellow felt $2

Add this sweet DIY superhero cape and you’ll have to start calling yourself Lucius.

The Minivan Express

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If you’ve been around here for awhile, you’ve probably heard of a Pajama Run. The Minivan Express is similar, but with a holiday twist. First, print up some golden tickets (templates here) and hide them under your kids’ pillows. While the normal bedtime routine is underway, prep some popcorn and hot chocolate in coffee mugs (with lids).

When the kids discover the golden tickets under their pillows, it’s time to grab some slippers and head for the family vehicle (doesn’t have to be a minivan :) to get their ticket punched. Then, with a soundtrack of Christmas music playing in the background, go for a ride around town looking at neighborhood light displays. You could also plan on stopping by the mall to get pictures taken with Santa or go ice skating if you have a rink nearby.

Family traditions are important and an easy way to create priceless memories that your entire clan will cherish forever. The Minivan Express might be a good one to start this year.

Credits: Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler for the idea and Miracle Mama for the photo

Hey Parents: What Super Power Would You Most Want to Have?

Our family dressed up like The Avengers this Halloween. It all started a few months ago when Lucy insisted that she wanted to be Captain America. (She has a thing for his shield.) Our son Ben is quite the grunter, so he seemed like a good choice as Hulk, and things snowballed from there.

After the dust settled, Kim and I got into a discussion of what super power we’d most want to have in our role as parents.

Since I have had many moments holding a sleeping kid with the remote control or my phone just out of reach, I would LOVE to possess the “Force-like” ability to levitate objects and draw them into my hand. Kim said she’d love the ability to put the kids to sleep at the wave of her hand.

That led me to wonder what powers other parents might choose. What say you? Leave a comment and let us know!

Show ‘Em How It’s Done

One thing my Dad likes doing with his grandkids is eating Hershey’s chocolate syrup with a spoon, straight from the bottle.

It was a big day in our household when Kim taught Lucy how to dunk cookies in milk.

And then there’s the story a childcare professional I met in Houston shared with me. [Read more…]

Small Rebellion #5: Pajama Run

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It’s time for another official Small Rebellion (a small but mighty act of defiance against Adultitis and the rules that don’t exist)!

Pajama Runs are great, because they fit into busy schedules, allow you to break a few “rules,” and for the price of a few simple ice cream cones, you get to create a memory you will never forget.

The Mission: Put simply, a Pajama Run is when you surprise someone by taking them out for a late-night ice cream treat in their pajamas. In fact, EVERYONE involved needs to be wearing pajamas. Anyone can play — you can “kidnap” your kids, grandkids, parents, or friends — and you can include as many people as you want. Bonus points if the people you surprise are already in bed (feel free to wake them up with pots and pans and wooden spoons or some appropriate music). For best results, maintain the mystery by keeping the destination a secret for as long as possible. If you have kids and you’re feeling extremely rebellious, do it on a school night.

Are you in?

Share your adventures online with the hashtag #smallrebellion5

Here’s a video that goes into a bit more detail:

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And here’s a cool story about a mom who organized one of the most epic Pajama Runs ever.

Quite Possibly the Most Fun Service Project Ever

College students sometimes give up their spring break to go on a service trip.

Boy scouts have to collect service hours to earn certain types of badges.

Lawbreakers must log a set number of community service hours in order to pay their debt to society.

Every year, thousands of brave men and women enlist in the military to serve their country.

According to Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Service is super important. The dictionary defines it as “an act of helpful activity.” But it seems that people have certain pre-conceived notions of what service looks like. Staffing soup kitchens, building homes for the poor, and raking leaves for an elderly widow are common mental snapshots. Sacrifice is a key element of how we think about service. Although serving others makes us feel good, “fun” is not usually a benefit that comes to mind.

But isn’t making someone smile or laugh also an act of helpful activity? [Read more…]

10 Tips for Traveling With Kids (and Without Adultitis)

Many people would rather be gored by an angry bull hopped up on Jolt cola than travel with small children. At times, I think the former may be a less painful option. [Read more…]

Happy Accidents

I’ve learned that when you spend the day with a preschooler, you find yourself knee deep in “teachable moments.” Depending on my energy level and how “teacherly” I feel in the moment, I find that some I jump on and some I let pass. Today was a day I jumped. [Read more…]

10 Ideas for Having Fun During Long Hospital Stays


Nobody typically thinks about having fun at the hospital. In fact, hospitals are a favorite a breeding ground for Adultitis. Which is a bit of a problem, because humor and laughter have been proven to significantly impact the healing process and lift the spirits of patients and their families. Not surprisingly, Adultitis and boredom really set in when hospital stays extend to days, weeks or even months. Blech.

What can be done to pass the time, keep spirits up, and have fun during these long hospital days? [Read more…]

Memory Lists: The Simplest Way to Remember Your Vacation Forever


Kim and I are all about collecting experiences over stuff. The challenge with experiences is that they are fleeting. Which is why we normally try to make them tangible in some way, in order to relive them again and again.

Some common methods for “tangibilizing” memories are taking photos, shooting video, scrapbooking, and journaling. These are each excellent in their own way, but they also have downsides. [Read more…]

The Danger of Modern Productivity


I have a confession to make. I’m often more eager to head downstairs to work than I am to come back upstairs and rejoin the family.

I think it’s because when I’m spending time with my kids, I don’t feel as productive as I do as when I’m working. I still choose family over work more often than not, but sometimes I look at the money and accomplishments my peers are collecting, and I wonder if I’m making the best use of my time, especially when we’re just sitting around doing “nothing.”

I used to feel pretty guilty about feeling this way, until a book called How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen shed some light on things. [Read more…]

Time For a Mustache Cookout


I got this idea — and the photo — from Lisa Braithwaite, a K&J Nation member and all around person of awesomeness. It all began last Christmas when someone pulled out a mustache on a stick, which was used in photos at a family wedding the year before. Since there was only one mustache on a stick (note to self: always make sure to have plenty of mustaches on a stick on hand), someone else pulled out a pen and started drawing finger mustaches. Within about two minutes, everyone was in line for one and a good time was had by all.

Lisa’s favorite is her mother-in-law, who is in the third row down, third from left. Although not a particularly wild and crazy person, she got into the fun just like everybody else.

Lisa dubbed it “Mustache Christmas.” But this is June, and Christmas is still half a year away (although we’ll probably start seeing Christmas decorations any day now…) So do you see what I did there in the title? I changed “Christmas” to “Cookout” because it’s summer and that would be more timely. Pretty clever, huh?

Ok, ok, not as clever as the idea itself, which of course can be done any time of year. But I can only assume that the more people you have, the more fun it becomes.

Next time you gather for a cookout, a campfire, Christmas, or pretty much anything else, be sure to pack a marker to make finger mustaches for all!

How to Make Your Summer Memorable


What’s a foolproof way to make your summer memorable?

Get a face tattoo.

Kidding.

When we get to the end of our lives, the things that seem to matter most are the scenes. The adventures we shared with our partners in crime. The inside jokes and games we played and memories we made with the people we love. [Read more…]

Two Kids in a Car Singing “Somebody That I Used to Know”

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So a couple of young friends became addicted to the song “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye and began requesting it every time they were in the car together. So their parents rigged up a video camera, filmed them over a few car rides and edited it together to make this.

Fun.

Here’s an idea: why not make a music video with some kids you know? It’ll be just like the days when MTV actually played music videos.

More Cheap Family Fun: The Flour Game


Had I known about this idea two years ago, it probably would have made it into The Kim & Jason Guide to Cheap Family Fun. But I didn’t, so here you go.

It’s called The Flour Game and if you like fun and aren’t afraid of getting messy, this is for you.

Get a teacup or small bowl and pack it tight with flour. Regular, white, flour. Flip the cup over onto a plate, remove it, and carefully place a Lifesaver candy on top. (Some people use a coin of some sort, but candy is better in every way.) Then everyone takes turns cutting the flour with a knife, taking care not to disturb the Lifesaver. The person who makes the Lifesaver fall has to fish it out with their mouth. No hands — or feet — allowed.

I’m not sure who invented this game of awesomeness, but I learned about it here.

It is a game in search of an occasion. It’s perfect for birthdays, Christmas parties, even National Flour Month, which, of course, is March.

Or, if you’re having a case of the Mondays, you could find some flour and go crazy. And have fun!

Photo credit: Lac du Bois

Traveling Potato Head


Humans love surprises. Well, not the “thank you for your 30 years of service, but we have to let you go” or “Luke, I am your father” kinds of surprises, but the fun, magical kinds that make your soul smile.

The cracker jack prizes of life. [Read more…]

Bucket List, Summer Edition


A few months ago, I wrote about the idea of making a list of things you want to do this summer. A summer bucket list, if you will. This is mine.

Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.

Creating a great life story requires living with intention. As the old saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. But if you want to create a life filled with great scenes and happy memories, you need to do your part.

You need to invite those scenes and memories into your story.

One way to do that is with a bucket list. Write it out. Draw it, like I did. Or make a collage with pictures from the internet or magazines. Fill it with big things and little things. Maybe team up with your spouse or family to create one together. Then — and this is the important part — keep it somewhere you’ll see it often. This bad boy is going on my fridge.

Summers get busy and are gone before you know it. Let this become your ever-present reminder to fill it with adventure.

P.S. I’d LOVE to see your lists. Feel free to post them to our Facebook page or email me at jason@kimandjason.com

Area Families Launch “Dirt League” to Battle Summer Busyness


We’re often told that the secret to happiness is to take the road less traveled. Oftentimes, it certainly seems like there must be a better way to do things than our current approach. But the problem is that the “beaten” path is so well-paved, well-marked and well-lit, that frankly, it can be hard to imagine that there could even be another way, let alone a better one.

One small example is the arena of organized sports. My kids are too young to be involved in things like baseball or soccer, but I hear stories of peers who are looking down the barrel of a summer in which the majority of weeknights and weekends will be spent at the ball field. For some families, this is a cause for joy, but for most, it brings a feeling of dread. Apparently, it’s a necessary evil required to make sure our children are well-adjusted, socially competent and attractive to institutions of higher learning.

And besides, everyone’s doing it. [Read more…]

Caine’s Arcade Will Make Your Day

What happens when kids are allowed to be bored, without any organized extracurricular activities and without access to iPods, iPhones or video games?

What happens when parents encourage their kids’ creativity, even if it makes a mess?

What happens when one person is unafraid to let his inner child to come out and play when everyone else is too busy, inhibited, or just too “adult?”

What happens when hundreds of people do something simple to make the day of a child?

Magic, that’s what.

This video is the story of a 9-year-old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade inside his dad’s used auto part store and is about to have the best day of his life. It’s eleven minutes of pure magic.

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