Play Outside in the Snow!

Toddler playing outside in the winter

Do you feel that temptation to stay indoors and cozy up in front of a fire for the next week? Don’t do it! Well, not the whole time, anyway. Bundle up and go outside everyday, even if you are anxious to return to your warm house.

What happens when young children aren’t tired enough when bedtime comes? You know the answer, don’t you. They keep tired parents from sleeping. Especially with little kids, outdoor activity can make us tired enough to sleep well during a mostly lazy holiday. Better yet, when you come in from the cold, it is a perfect time to have hot chocolate or wassail.

My family will be spending the rest of today with friends. If there is enough snow, we will go snowshoeing; if not, we will go hiking. Either way, we anticipate windblown cheeks and cold noses as we unwind our scarves when we return to the house and to the sweet smells of lunch. That feeling is one of my favorite parts of the holidays.

8 Outdoor Activities for Your Family Holiday

Go for a Walk. Make it a habit to walk after lunch. My family has two fuzzy dogs, so our walks through the snow mean dogs covered in little snowballs like Christmas treat ornaments. The dogs have a great time romping like puppies, and we have a great time chasing after them. No matter whether you are in town or in the country, a walk is a great way to spend a part of your vacation days.

Build a Snow Fort. If you pack the snow tight enough, your fort can last long after most of the snow is gone. Last year, our whole neighborhood contributed to one snow fort, with adults and dogs included. This can be an ongoing activity.

Make Snow Angels. Drop down onto your back in the deep snow and swim your arms and legs back and forth until you create a wings and skirt. Toddlers love this activity. The first year my husband spent in the heavy winter after growing up without much snow, I convinced him to fall into several feet of powder. I fished him out and told him, “Welcome to Winter!” I’m a bit more careful with my children, but they still do this.

Scavenge for Winter Nature Table Decorations. Are there still evergreens, pinecones, winter berries. Children will tromp from place to place not even realizing that they are actually on a walk.

Sledding. Whether you have an old-fashioned sled, an old tire, or a cardboard box lid, you can probably find something slippery around the house for sledding. We have quite a few steep hills near our house, but we have another version of sledding that involves my husband grabbing tight to the rope on the sled and hauling children around. It worked better when they were little, but everyone still wants to see who can pull the rest of the family. If you celebrate Festivus, this could be one of your feats of strength.

Moon and Stargazing. The moon is past the quarter and will be full next week. If the sky is clear, you should have enough light for a late night walk. During the most recent full moon, my son stared out the window and said, “It’s so light! I wish we could go outside.” I asked, “Why can’t you?” He had no answer, and within minutes we were all bundled up for a midnight walk under the full moon. I was back in quickly, but they just sat in their tree swings, swinging patterns in the snow and talking for nearly an hour. Little children might not be able to take a long walk in the extreme cold, but the adventure of a nighttime walk can awaken the senses.

Bundle up and make sure snow can’t sneak into boots or mittens. Stay out long enough to have fun but not so long that children become miserable. The cold helps you and your children appreciate the warm. The activity helps you appreciate the opportunity to curl up with the family without the stresses of every day.

Happy Holidays and warm fingers and toes to your whole family.

Image © Miniimpressions |

Last-Minute Gift for Yourself?

Natural buckwheat body pillow

Christmas, birthdays, and other big, gift-giving holidays are a perfect time to ask for those very nice gifts you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself every day.

Do you end up buying your own gifts? I do. I ordered mine yesterday, and I don’t mind. I don’t really need much, and I don’t assume my husband can read my mind about what I want. I would be terribly disappointed with jewelry, flowers, chocolates, or any of the gifts I see marketed to men for women. My son wanted to buy the gift himself, but he finally asked me yesterday to help him. He and my husband are both very happy that I’m happy with what I get. Plus, buying for myself makes getting that very nice gift even easier.

So, here is my suggestion for you if you have family members who are still looking around at the last-minute for the right gift for you: a Buckwheat Body Pillow.

Natural buckwheat pregnancy pillow

Buckwheat Body Pillow

If you bought separate pillows for pregnancy comfort, for nursing, and for sleep comfort, you probably wish you could use the same pillow for all three purposes. With the buckwheat body pillow, you can. This pillow is versatile. Lay it out the long way to support your belly during pregnancy; tie the ends together to make the perfect size for nursing; and continue to sleep with the pillow in a variety of shapes long after pregnancy and nursing are over.

This pillow can be used in many ways, and you can keep it clean by removing the buckwheat to wash the cotton cover and even replacing the buckwheat after years of use.

And, this pillow is beautiful! You won’t want to hide these bright cotton prints.

Comes in a child size as well.

Buckwheat pillows made in Canada

A Pillow You Can Feel Good About

There are more reasons to feel good about this pillow.

Your Health. Filled with dust-free, roasted buckwheat hulls which are hypoallergenic & naturally dust mite resistant.

Environmentally Responsible. All the raw materials use in our buckwheat pillows are local, long-lasting, compostable, and renewable.

Made in Canada. Natural buckwheat filling supplied by a Quebecois organic farm.

Socially Responsible. Each buckwheat pillow is handmade by a Montreal-based reintegration company that fights against exclusion and poverty.

Ask for the perfect last-minute gift, or buy it for yourself today. Our store is closed for the holidays, but we are still shipping.

Stocking Stuffers: Animal Puppets

Hand Puppets and Finger Puppets for Kids

Puppets make great small holiday gifts for children. You give not just the character you see but the character the puppet becomes for your child and the stories your child tells through the character.

Puppets inspire creativity, promote hands-on discovery, encourage interaction, teach fine and gross motor skills, help develop early language, and become a child’s lovable companion to be treasured for years.

We carry dozens of small animal hand puppets and finger puppets. You could collect a whole safari, but it usually just takes 1-2 puppets to start the story rolling.

Hand Puppets for Children

Each of our puppets comes with facts about the animal to help your child understand the creature in its own environment.

Little Turtle Hand Puppet

Turtle Puppet for Children

You will want to keep petting the textured shell of the turtle hand puppet. At about 7″ long, the hand puppets fit in a stocking then in your purse or your child’s bag for easy entertainment on the go.

Little Polar Bear Hand Puppet

Polar Bear Puppet for Kids

This soft, furry polar bear comes with interesting facts about this solitary mammal. About 8″ tall.

Add these other hand puppets to your collection: Little Lion Puppet, Little Wolf Puppet, Little Lop Rabbit Puppet, Little Elephant Puppet, and more.

Finger Puppets for Children

Mini Fawn Finger Puppet

Deer Finger Puppet for Children

This soft fawn finger puppet easily fits in a pocket or a diaper bag. About 6″ long.

Mini Cardinal Finger Puppet

Mini Red Bird Finger Puppet

Your child will fly this bright, soft cardinal all over the house. What a great opportunity to learn about wild creatures of the world. About 5″ long.

Need a puppet for each hand? We also have these finger puppets: Mini Penguin Finger Puppet, Mini Black Sheep Finger Puppet, Mini Skunk Finger Puppet, Mini River Otter Finger Puppet, and many more. We have 20+ animal puppets to choose from.

Gifts that encourage open-ended play give your child more than just a morning of delight. They open up a wide, wild world of adventure.

5 Way to Use Natural Decorations This Winter

Mother holds a child wearing an autumn leaf crown

Finding the best natural seasonal decorations is easy because they are in your own backyard. You don’t need to buy the icons of someone else’s place and culture when you are surrounded by your own.

As it gets colder outdoors, we often bring reminders of the season indoors with us. This could be the end of the Autumn leaves—the bitter end if you just can’t face raking them up—or evergreens if the world around you has turned mostly grey.

The tradition of bringing evergreens into the house during midwinter is a reminder that the green spring will return. The persistence of green through the stark winter warms our living spaces. Bringing evergreen boughs into the house is, of course, the origin of having a tree during midwinter then, later, Christmas holiday season.

What surrounds your house? Conifers, perhaps. If you are really lucky, holly or mistletoe. Bay. Palm trees. Whatever you have can work as a holiday decoration. This might also be the time of year that you realize you want to plant evergreens next year so you will have more green around you all winter.

My clever child, who is consulting with me on ideas for winter decorations, points out that not everyone has a yard. He doesn’t think that a Festivus pole is enough to brighten up the urban home, so he suggests that you go to the park. Another way to find abundant evergreen is to go to sellers of trees. When they trim trees to fit tree stands, they often giveaway or sell inexpensively the bottom branches.

5 Way to Use Natural Decorations This Winter

Trim the Tree
If you are surrounded by pine cones, tie ribbons to them and hang them on your tree. Pinecones and acorns can be used as ornaments all over the house. Put them up high if you have very young children.

String a Garland
Sew through individual leaves to create a hanging garland. I like to use thick, red thread sewn through the dark green, teardrop-shaped leaves of the bush outside my front door. It adds a nice touch of color.

Make a Wreath
Gather evergreen boughs into a circle and you have a wreath. You may need to use string or wire to hold them, but it is very easy to do. Many people put wreaths on their front door. In my neighborhood, people put them over the lamps in front of our houses.

Surround the Candle
Midwinter is the time for lights, for festivals of lights in many cultures. If you make candles part of your winter decorations, surround them with evergreens. Be careful of using dried leaves near candles, though.

Wear a Crown
Decorate the people! My family like wearing crowns: birthday crowns, holiday crown, or just because crowns. Gather up the last of the Autumn leaves or a bunch of evergreen leaves into a wreath that you wear. You probably won’t want to use conifers, since they can poke as well as leaving sap in your hair. Getting sap out of a child’s hair is no fun. At my own midwinter wedding, I wore a crown of bay leaves because there was a big bay bush in my in-laws’ yard where we held our reception.

Don’t run out and buy those holiday decorations. Look around you and see what you can do with what you already have. Stay warm and green this winter.

Image © Evgeniya Uvarova |