My 10 favorite family friendly things to do on the big island of Hawaii

I love the big island. It isn’t as crowded as some other places. We stay in Waikoloa (20/30 minutes away from Kona). It is a small little resort area that has beaches, golf, shopping, and peace.

  1. A trip to the volcano. I loved this place as a kid and the kids loved it too. Princess learned a lot.
  2. Waipio Valley This is an absolutely beautiful place. You can ride horses at the bottom which is beautiful. I have also hiked down and up but I would highly recommend bringing lots of water and not doing this with small children.
  3. Akaka falls this is another beautiful place but it is a hike. We did take Bubba and Princess on this hike though and they loved it. I have heard there is also ziplining here
  4. Snorkeling- there are many places to snorkel off the beach or you can take a boat trip
  5. Kona- I love Kona. We usually have one day just walking around, going to the farmers market and eating at Bubba Gumps.
  6. Kings shops the King’s shop has a lot of good shopping as well as kid activities daily like ukulele lessons, hula lessons, and lei making. There is also another mall with more shops (called the queens shops) and a theater across the street.
  7. Luau though there are a bunch of places to go to a luau. This is by far my favorite. P.s. I have been madly in love with fire juggler since I was 12 and he was one of the regular hula dancers.
  8. Hilton Waikoloa Okay yes this is a Hotel. But this is the prettiest hotel ever. It’s beautiful to walk around and see all the art work and sculptures. It also has a boat and tram that takes you around the propriety. It’s got a lot of different animals and a public beach. Their lagoon and pools are for hotel guest only but sometimes you can purchase wristbands.
  9. Dolphin quest this is where Princess swam with the dolphin and loved it. It also happens to be st the Hilton. You get up close and personal and can kiss and hug it. I posted pictures on Instagram when I have a chance.
  10. Have fun and relax with your family!!!

10 favorite things to do with my children at home during the holidays

I posted my favorite Holiday traditions but here are my favorite things to do with my kids at home during the holidays.

  1. Decorate my house together. I don’t care how long it takes. Decorating the house is a family activity.
  2. Decorate ginger bread house. I love decorating gingerbread houses. I enjoy making it look pretty and eating all the candy. However, we are doing pre-put together gingerbread houses this year that the kids just decorate.
  3. Taking lots of pictures. I take pictures of everything to begin with (it’s important for me to have something to look back at when the kids have left my house). However, I go a little obsessive over Christmas. I want lots of pictures.
  4. Having matching outfits/pajamas. Whether it’s to go see Santa or just sit around the house, my kids have an extreme amount of holiday outfits.
  5. Have the elves in the shelf visit us. However, we have pretty lazy elves on the shelf, they mostly just move to different spots in our house and possibly do a couple funny things. The elves do go all out for the elf on the shelf breakfast . My parents come over and we eat a big breakfast.
  6. Watch Christmas movies with popcorn and hot chocolate. This is always a fun time and it’s good family time.
  7. Drinking hot chocolate. Drinking hot chocolate is an activity alone in my house. We have marshmallows, sprinkles, whip cream, etc.
  8. Read stories together. We love to read together every night. However, there is something special about reading those special Christmas books.
  9. Play in the snow. I love the first snow and I love to go out with my kids and see their joy.
  10. Making Christmas cookies. We love baking and eating Christmas cookies. Sometimes we have a baking party. But other time we just make a mess in the kitchen and have fun.

My 10 favorite kids friendly Christmas decorations

I love Christmas! I always have enjoyed Christmas and decorating my whole house after Thanksgiving. Having two young children though I’m trying to keep all of the Christmas decorations to things they can easily play with and enjoy.

  1. Melissa and Doug count down to Christmas I have had this since Princess was little. It is so simple and I love it.
  2. Hot wheels advent calendar I am not a fan of the chocolate advent calendars. So I try to find one that relates to what the kids like. This is Bubba’s this year. Princess has a Lego one (she gets one of those every year). Bubba got a little people one last year. There are so many cool ones out there.
  3. Felt Christmas tree I know you can make these your self. However I don’t have time for that. I also got the boys a felt snow man.
  4. Christmas window clings We decorate with window clings for every season. Bubba puts them up and then moves them around where ever he wants.
  5. Little People Nativity Bubba loves this. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a nativity and here is one that I don’t mind the kids touching and playing with.
  6. Christmas Train Set This year I decided that every little boy needs a train to go around their Christmas tree.
  7. Christmas boxes What do kids love more than playing in boxes? Absolutely nothing. And now I have something to put next to my door.
  8. Christmas light projector As a single mom I don’t have time to hang lights. This makes my house look pretty and it only takes a couple minutes to put together.
  9. Live tree for outside I can’t have a live tree inside the house because of my allergies. So the kids and I got one outside and burlap ornaments to decorate. It’s nice to have something that smells like Christmas but isn’t making a mess in my house.
  10. Step2 My First Christmas Tree I don’t have this because they are sold out. But I want this for this boys. Maybe next year.

10 favorite holiday children’s books

We are big readers in my house. We read between 2-3 books a night. The boys have three bookshelves in their room. We bring out books from the basement for each holiday. Here are our 10 favorite Christmas books

  1. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas This is a classic. I love this book (and movie) and so do my kids.
  2. The First Christmas Tree: A Legend from Long Ago My grandma bought this for my sister and I when we were little. It is an adorable story and I love sharing it with my children.
  3. Ten Tiny Gingerbread Men Even during Christmas time we need to work on our counting. It is an adorable little book as well.
  4. S Is for Santa: A Christmas Alphabet We have to work on our alphabet as well!!!
  5. Little Reindeer Saves Christmas: A festive story to share My kids love this adorable story and I love the message: believe in yourself and anything can happen
  6. Christmas Star (Night Light Books) A cute little story about a Christmas pageant that tells the Christmas story. The light up star is a bonus
  7. The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish Pout Pout fish is very popular in our house so this book is always a hit. It has a good message about the best gifts coming from the heart
  8. Don’t Push the Button! A Christmas Adventure Don’t push the button is a nightly read in our house. This year we bought this book, I can’t wait to read it.
  9. Christmas Songs: Interactive Children’s Sound Book (10 Button Sound) we have a lot of these books and they are always a favorite. This year we decided to try this one as well.
  10. Disney Baby My First Christmas (Disney Touch and Feel) Baby Z gets a touch and feel book for every season. We really like this one because it’s our favorite Disney characters.

My 10 Favorite Family Traditions

These are traditions that I love and that i want to share with my children.

  1. Making gingerbread houses on Thanksgiving. I’m not sure when this tradition started but we love it. It is kind of a competition to see how weird our house me can be.
  2. Making my Grandmas recipe for apple, pumpkin, and cherry pie. Pumpkin is my favorite though
  3. Cutting down our own Christmas tree. Though I can’t have a live tree because of my allergies, we still help my parents cut their tree down every year.
  4. Breakfast with Santa. This is an awesome tradition. The kids love seeing Santa, there is no line since we are called up by table, and I get to eat pancakes I didn’t make.
  5. Sending out Christmas cards. This one was a hard one for me when Princess was little. We always sent out Christmas cards and I wanted to include her even though she wasn’t officially part of the family. These days I just take pictures of me and all the kids and we send out cards to friends and family. Even if the kids won’t be living in my home next year they live with me now.
  6. Going to Zoo lights. We haven’t done this since I was little. We are going to start this up again since I’m a member of the zoo now.
  7. Going to Mass at the Old Church. It is this beautiful chapel where I work. My grandma loved it and I always feel like she is there with me when we are there.
  8. Going to look at Christmas lights. After mass we alway drive around to look at Christmas lights. My dad always finds some to surprise us.
  9. Getting pajamas for Christmas Eve. This is a tradition I love. I started having the kids and I have matching pajamas, it is a lot of fun.
  10. Eating French toast for breakfast Christmas morning. I love this tradition. However, my parents always made us eat before we could open presents and I do it backwards.

10 favorite stem toys for kids

This week I’m splitting up the lists into 5 stem toys for Bubba’s age group (3-6) and five stem toys for Princess’ age group (7-12)

Ages 3-6

  1. Code-a-pillar Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar
  2. Magnetic building blocks Magnetic Blocks STEM Educational Toys Magnet Building Block Tiles Set for Boys and Girls by Coodoo-24pcs
  3. Dinosaur take apart toys Dinosaur Toys Take Apart Toys With Tools (Pack of 6 Dinosaurs – 218 pieces) – Construction Engineering STEM Learning Toy Building Play Set – Best Toy for Boys & Girls Age 3 – 12 years old. colors very
  4. Design and drill Educational Insights Design & Drill Activity Center
  5. Automobile engineer Kids First Automobile Engineer Kit

Ages 7-12

  1. Mini telescope Meade Instruments Infinity 50mm AZ Refractor Telescope
  2. Kitchen Science 4M Kitchen Science Kit
  3. Osmo Osmo Genius Kit (Newer version available)
  4. Star Wars droid inventors kit Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
  5. Microscope Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope and Activity Journal – Award Winning Science Toys

10 favorite family friendly activities in Chicago

  1. Navy Pier- Such a fun place to walk around in the summer and a festive place to go in the winter. They also have the children’s museum there.
  2. The Aquarium- I love animals and so do my kid. And though some of the other attractions are extra, it is worth just to visit with general admission .
  3. The Planetarium- I haven’t been since I was a kid but Hailee just went on a field trip and loved it.
  4. The Water  Tower Place- I love this mall. They have an American Girl Doll store inside which the girls love and it has an adorable restaurant inside.
  5. Lincoln Park Zoo- This is a free zoo in the middle of the city. It is always a fun place to go when you are in the city.
  6. Brookfield zoo- This zoo costs money and is out of the city. But it is a little bigger and we absolutely adore it.
  7. Legoland- My kids love Legoland and I do too.
  8. Botanic Gardens- If you love flowers and trains this is the place for you. Their holiday trains are awesome.
  9. Riding the train- Whether the “L” or the Metra my kids love to go on the trains
  10. Wrigley Field- Thia is my most favorite place in the world. If you love baseball you have to go to wrigley field.

My 10 Favorite Authors of Children’s Books

Going with the theme from last week here are some of my favorite Authors of Children’s chapter books.

  1. Jeffrey Brown is a cartoonist. He wrote the Jedi Academy series. He also wrote the amazingly funny books Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s little princess.
  2. Dav Pilkey is best known for the Captain Underpants series. However he just came out with the Dogman series which is just as funny.
  3. James Patterson’s middle school series is great. I just read I funny but I have students who read all the books and loved them.
  4. Stephen Pastis is another cartoonist. He writes a series called Timmy Failure about a detective who makes a lot of mistakes.
  5. Aaron Blabey is a picture book author (check out the Pig the Pug books. However he just came out with the series the Bad Guys and I love it.
  6. Raina Telgemeier is another author of graphic novels. She wrote smile, sisters, and adapted the babysitters club series to graphic novels.
  7. Rachel Renee Russell is the author of the dork diaries. One of my students all time favorites.
  8. James Burks is the author of Bird and Squirrel and the Haggis and Tank unleashed series. His books are high interest low level books and my struggling readers love them.
  9. Brian Selznick is an amazing illustrator. He also wrote the books wonderstruck and the Invention is Hugo Cabret.
  10. Tom Watson is the author of Stick dog and Stick Cat which are funny and entertaining.

2 Bonus Series:

DC Universe Rebirth A modern version of DC comics. Comics aren’t my thing but my 7th grade students convinced me to read one and they are pretty good.

Graphic Warfare These books are awesome because they teach about wars in such a fun way.

Our 10 favorite picture books 

Bubba and I love to read before bed (Baby Z enjoys it for a couple minutes before he falls asleep.) It’s our favorite part of the night. Here our some of our favorite picture books for babies and toddlers.

  1. Pout Pout Fish This is a great series of books teaching kids to be positive.
  2. Don’t push the Button This is a hilarious interactive books that makes kids giggle. (Spoiler: they get to press the button and funny things happen)
  3. Giraffes can’t dance An adorable board book about a giraffe who wants to dance
  4. Where the wild things are Bubba loves this book. (Random tidbit: while becoming a foster parent I almost decorated my nursery in this theme)
  5. The very hungry catapillar An oldy but a goody
  6. Brown Bear Brown Bear Another classic. Bubba loves to read this book to me. He has the whole thing memorized.
  7. Bed time math This is an awesome series and I love how they have different levels so you can read  it with different age kiddos at the same time.
  8. The rainbow fish What a great way to reach sharing and it has beautiful pictures.
  9. Hello Airplane Beautiful pictures and a simple story perfect for bedtime. Bubba loves this one since he loves airplanes.
  10. Good night, Cubs A favorite in our house for obvious reasons.