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.

Stage a Peep De Resistance

Imagine the look of surprise you’ll see when someone in your home or office, on a mission to secure a cup of coffee, walks into a room entrenched with dozens — hundreds! — of Peeps, poised for an ambush!

The idea of staging a Peep De Resistance, shared with us by K&J Nation member Brit Neyrinck, was not in our 20 Unconventional Things You Can Make with Peeps post, but it should have been.

And if this is not already part of your Easter tradition, it should be.

This article gives you all the tips you need, including these great gems: [Read more...]

What “First” Can You Have Today?


I finally got Lucy to let me paint her toenails. (She was convinced for the longest time that it was going to hurt.) It definitely goes down in the books as one of my favorite “firsts.” Picture the two of us on her bedroom floor with red toes, waiting for them to dry, chatting it up like school girls — a mother’s dream! Of course she thinks it makes her look more like a princess. Maybe that’s secretly why I like to have mine painted, too.

Parenting is chock full of “firsts.

The cool thing is that you don’t have to be a parent to have a “first” with someone you care about.

What “first” can you have today?

Photo credit: Kim Kotecki

An Easy Way To Add Magic To Life

My word for 2012 has been “magic.” No, I have not been learning any card tricks, but rather the goal has been to infuse more magic into the lives of people I touch. One thing that has struck me time and again is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of effort or money. Like many things, whether it’s creating more magic, making more scenes with your family, or spicing up a marriage, all you really need is the desire and a tiny bit of imagination. [Read more...]

The Shocking Meal Miss Manners Doesn’t Want You To Know About

As casual as our culture sometimes seems, we are still quite uptight in many areas. Much of it comes from caring about what other people think of us. [Read more...]

Less Is More; Experiments in Family Minimalism

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Hey guys! I’m trying to mix things up and try my hand at video blogging.

This one is about a question I’ve been pondering: Can I get rid of half of my possessions? [Read more...]

Wisconsin Moms Marshal Most Epic Pajama Run Ever

The school year is winding down and the weather is getting nicer. ’Tis the season for…

…a Pajama Run! [Read more...]

A Year’s Worth of Fun. Memories for a Lifetime.

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We’ve spent the last two years working on it. We’ve spent the last month talking about it, here, here, here, and here.

And now, quite possibly the most important thing Kim and I have ever done is finally ready.

It’s called The Kim & Jason Guide to Cheap Family Fun, and it’s a video a week for a whole year with a fun and easy idea for turning good intentions into family memories.

We invite you to watch our short trailer video above. (I still get goosebumps when I watch it!) Then click here to learn more about how to add more fun to your family’s story.

Mom Enlists an Army to Clean Her Home for Free

It seems like the “spring cleaning” bug has bitten a number of my friends. Clutter can be a big culprit to Adultitis. With the busy pace of life, piles accumulate and before you know it, you are feeling overwhelmed and unenergized by all of the “stuff” in your life — whether at work, at home, or in your mind. That’s quite a winning combination for the Deadly A.

I like the idea of having things all fresh and organized, but I am still waiting for that internal motivation. Once again, one of my sister-in-laws came to the rescue. [Read more...]

Have You Experienced Family Un-Bonding?


Do you have moments in which even when your family is together, they’re not really together?

Like when you’re driving somewhere, and everyone has their headphones in, watching videos, listening to music, or playing games on their miniature iDevice of choice?

Or when the whole gang is home on a weeknight but each person is working, texting, gaming or television watching from a different room in the house? [Read more...]

The Pajama Run: Essential to Your Family’s Mental Health


I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want more memorable experiences with their family. No one ever said, “Nope, we bond so often and laugh so much and do so many fun things together as it is, I don’t think we need any more, thank you very much.”

Actually, it’s quite the opposite. [Read more...]