Liahona Academy – A Therapeutic Boarding School for Boys

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Make A Difference: Parenting Tips

Get Back to Nature in a Cabin

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Want to introduce the kids to nature for a few days without having to sleep in a tent?  Before you think of the cost and hassle of renting an RV consider another option, staying in a cabin. Believe it or not, you can enjoy the wild outdoors from the comfort of a cabin for less than you might think. Besides, what kid wouldn’t enjoy (despite what they may say) the experience of staying in a cabin at least once? Unfortunately, this experience is an often overlooked option for family vacations.

When it comes to staying in a cabin, you have a wide variety of options to choose from. You can go from rustic huts along trails to fire towers to nicer cabins located near vacation destinations.

Get Cozy in a Cabin

You can’t beat this price. Some rustic cabins available for rent through the U.S. Forest Service are available for as little as $20 a night.  You can’t expect plush accommodations, but you can expect a clean stay in a well maintained shelter. Many of these cabins are former guard stations. So while you take in nature you get a history lesson to boot. Rates vary depending on the national forest, size of the cabin, and amenities such as electricity and indoor plumbing. But don’t consider yourself roughing it too much, as some are located near hot springs or great swimming areas. To find out what’s available near you, visit the web page of the national forest you’d like to visit and search for cabin rentals.

Some like the idea of staying in a cabin away from it all but still want to enjoy a vacation destination. This is becoming a popular alternative to the typical hotel or condo choices. The typical cabin near a vacation destination will offer more space and privacy than a hotel room plus you’ll have a kitchen to prepare your own meals in as opposed to eating out in restaurants. Factoring in the savings from preparing your own meals makes the cost of a nicely appointed cabin comparable to other alternatives. As an example of cabins near vacation areas, take a look at this site for cabin rentals in Branson, MO.

Reach New Heights in a Tower

Sunrise or sunset. Decide for yourself which is more impressive while you stay in a former fire tower. But don’t worry about the climb up a steep set of stairs. Many fire towers are available that sit on terra firma, although they are on top of a mountain.  These structures provide unimpeded views of nature as far as the eye can see. At night sit around the campfire and try to count all the stars. For a listing of towers available in the western U.S., visit the site of the Forest Fire Lookout Association.

Hang Out in a Hut

Here’s a novel idea. Why not hike a mile into the woods and stay in a kid friendly bunkhouse complete with a kitchen? In the White Mountains of Hew Hampshire you can do just that. Although pillows and blankets are provided, pack in your own gear a short distance to enjoy a nature experience everyone will enjoy. Lonesome Lake Hut is designed with the family in mind. Guests stay in separate bunkhouses, use a common kitchen, and enjoy special programs designed for the children. Depending on the time of year, food will be provided and meals cooked for you. Visit the site of the Appalachian Mountain Club for more details.

David Bryce is a travel writer who enjoys writing about everything to do with cabins. When he’s not writing, David is often roughhousing with his kids or taking his shepherd Daisy on long hikes.

 

How to Bond with Your Child Over Cars

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Image courtesy of blackstock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Think of good friends.  What makes their presence enjoyable?  Yes, there must be an emotional bond (especially if a longtime friend), but what (exactly) draws you to them?  It’s likely you have commonalities, whether a similar sense of humor, a shared profession, or like, avid interest, like car collecting.

While parents set boundaries and rules for children, it’s important to have an agreeable relationship with kids, like a friendship in many regards.  How can a father bond with his son, using a common hobby or interest such as cars?

Give and Take

While friends have common bonds, they can’t agree about everything all the time.  When spending time with friends and family members, it’s helpful to the relationship to exhibit reciprocity, allowing for a give-and-take interchange.

“What variety of model car would you like to work on next?  You choose this time, and I’ll choose next.”  Such discourse allows the son to understand and respect the give-and-take in a relationship with his father.  We often need to give to get in life and with people; it’s important for kids to realize such insights.

Patience

Working on model cars takes patience.  The process warrants precision and skillful attention.  Kids carefully address tasks while enjoying the fruits of labor, using the final product as a racer or model.

A tactful father may direct attention to how the child can use that level of patience to help in a number of practical situations, such as in taking a test at school or dealing with another person amid disagreement.  Patience is a learned virtue, and working on models, such as carrera slot cars, facilitates the process.

Reviewed Process

We often revel in the end product, whether it’s a won race, accrued wage, or acquired diploma, sometimes forgetting all of the hours of hard work spent to get there.  Those hours of hard work deserve retrospective respect.  Kids love the final product, but ensure they admire the work put forth in making it.

Consider making a diary or posting mentions of progress on the house calendar.  It makes kids feel appreciated, but more importantly, it gives them a mirror reflection of their own actions.  Rather than the outcome alone, kids remember to respect themselves for the entire trajectory of progression.

Teamwork

Successful people admit fortunes are not built alone.  We’re reliant on others each day, whether it’s for food service, utility provision, paper delivery, etc.  It’s important kids learn cooperation techniques and the importance of teamwork, especially the notion of giving rather than receiving.

It’s easy to ask for help when in need, but it’s much harder to actively provide it.  Use model cars to teach kids about the importance of working with others on particular projects.  Even the most independent-minded people need others; cooperation is an important skill one can use throughout life.

Model and race cars are fun and attractive to younger men, but more importantly, the hobby affords the occasion of father-son bonding.  Furthermore, dads may leverage particular segments and situations to model good behavior, and discuss proper rationale to kids.

Stephen Carter finds parenting to be like a journey of discovery. He enjoys sharing his ideas and parenting stories by blogging.

Choosing Your Holiday Accommodation

Summer is just about here, and while the organised among us will have had our summer holiday booked long ago, those less so, and those waiting to snap up a last minute bargain, need to get their skates on!

If you’re planning a break, one of the biggest decisions is what type of accommodation to choose. Each family is different, and will have different needs, and as such there is a wide range of different accommodation types to choose from for family holidays, including:

Room Only

This is your typical hotel room, with a bed and a bathroom but no kitchen or dining facilities. Room only accommodation is perfect for families who plan to eat out during their stay. If you’ve opted for a staycation, you might be lucky enough to find that your host has considered the importance of a good cuppa, and supplied you with tea and coffee making facilities in your room. If you’re jetting off abroad, however, don’t hold your breath!

Before you book, check the details – will there be a hairdryer, an iron and toiletries provided, or do you need to pack your own travel versions?

Deluxe Rooms with Lounge

Some hotels offer apartment style rooms with a separate lounge area, but without the kitchen. In posh hotels (lucky you!) it’s a suite. If you’re heading somewhere a little more low key (and family friendly!), Butlins holiday parks for example, have deluxe rooms with a lounge. Similar to apartments, without the kitchen area, the lounge, usually with TV, provides a valuable place to relax. This is especially ideal for those with young children who need a space to unwind while the little ones are tucked up.

Apartments

Apartments are a home away from home, with an option to suit every budget and preference – from basic to luxurious. Comprising of bedrooms, bathroom, lounge, dining area and kitchen facilities, they’re great for those planning on doing some self-catering while away to save precious holiday spends!

Think carefully about your family’s requirements when booking your summer getaway to ensure that your accommodation provides all the facilities that you need (and that you’re not paying for ones that you don’t!). Happy holiday shopping!

 

 

 

Bloodcurdling Fun: York Dungeons

It doesn’t matter whether you’re travelling with kids or not, the York Dungeon is a hit with all ages. That being said, if you’re visiting the city without your brood and you add the Dungeon to your itinerary, be prepared for a lot of whinging when you get home because this fantastic attraction is a hit with kids and grownups alike.

Book a room in York at Travelodge.co.uk and spend a couple of days exploring this ancient city. With a substantial history, from Roman times, through Norse conquests and on to present day, you certainly won’t be short of things to see and appreciate.

As far as city breaks with kids are concerned, you can’t go far wrong with York. Plenty of family rooms are available at the city’s affordable hotels, meaning you and your children will have comfort and convenience at your fingertips. With the summer holidays coming up, now would be a perfect time to book a room and start planning your days in the city for a perfect stint away from home. We all know how arduous the six-week school holidays can be – breaking them up with a jaunt in Jorvik would be a great way to keep the kids entertained.

The York Dungeon offers a little macabre edge to a typical York break. While ghost walks and haunted tours are second nature to this spooky city, this fun-filled (and bloodthirsty) attraction pushes the gore up a notch, which, let’s be fair, will be a huge hit with the kids.

It may not be suitable for very little ones, because it can be a little jumpy and horror inspired, but as soon as they are able to distinguish between reality and theatre, they’ll love it. It’s recommended that children under 10 don’t visit due to the nature of the attraction, and those under 16 should be accompanied by an adult. Far away from the spooky goings on in your average episode of Scooby Doo, the York Dungeon helps its visitors to take a step back in the bloodcurdling history of the city, delving into the macabre stories and bringing them to life for your amusement.

Having opened its doors at the end of March, after having substantial renovations since flooding, York Dungeon is better than ever. With a flurry of professional, costumed actors and more sets, special effects and props than you could shake a stick at, you’re in for a treat here. As you wander through the attraction, you will have the chance to see some of York’s murkiest depths come to life. From Dick Turpin, the infamous highwayman, to Guy Fawkes and the Viking King, Eric Bloodaxe, who is believed to have killed his relatives in cold blood.

Take a walk through an authentic torture room before feeling like you’re in the docks in a replica courtroom. Experience what the Great Plague would have felt like and the listen to ghost stories in a recreation of the Golden Fleece Inn.

A family ticket costs £49, adults pay £15.50 and child tickets are £11.40. Treat your brood to a stint in York this summer and take advantage of this tongue-in-cheek, spine-tingling delight.

Tips On Planning Your Staycation

Spring break is over, and we’re back in school.  I’m going back to work and will once again battle wits with elementary school kids trying to reason with me over the most trivial of things.  Snuggling in bed with my daughter, tickling her to tears wins hands down over the prospect of going back to work.  But vacations don’t last forever.  That’s why whenever we get the chance to take some time off from work, we should make it count.

If your thoughts are starting to already veer towards the next holiday, you might want to think about how to spend quality time with the ones you love.  How about going on a staycation?  You can simply stay home or book a nearby hotel room or one of those cozy Branson cabins and hibernate from the rest of the world for a few days.  Here are some suggestions on how to make the most of your staycation.

Take a hike.  Go on a hiking adventure with the entire family.  You don’t have to go far.  You can simply go out and explore a nearby trail park, or mini zoo.   Visit those places which you normally just breeze past on days when you’re rushing on the way to work or school.  They could prove to be surprisingly exciting too.

Stock up on the multimedia.  This is the best time to have a movie marathon.  Borrow DVDs from your library, and watch to your heart’s content.  In between movies, you can pop in a CD and dance like nobody’s watching.  It’s an excellent workout and family bonding activity in one.

Chill out.  Hardly anyone in his right mind would want to slave away in the kitchen on a staycation.  Keep things simple, if you must cook.  Better yet, order some take out.  Have gourmet food delivered to your doorstep.  If you’re too lazy to do the dishes, use paper plates instead.

Break the rules.  If the kids normally go to bed at 9pm, give them an extra hour to probably watch TV or play another round of Monopoly.  This is the chance for them to do what you sometimes do: stay up late and sleep in.

Times are hard, and we do what we can to maximize whatever resources we have.  A little R&R doesn’t necessarily have to mean breaking the bank.  With a little imagination and creativity, you can have a memorable and relaxing staycation.

Freedom and Popcorn

When Abraham Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation more than a hundred years ago, huge numbers of slaves jumped for joy as they finally enjoyed the freedom they had always longed for.  Without a doubt, freedom is something even we in this day and age continue to value.  There’s probably nothing anybody wouldn’t give to be free.

Right now, I am free.  I’m a single woman who can do as she pleases, without anybody to look after but herself.  But as I sit here and think about eating dinner alone tonight, I realize that there’s nothing more I want than to be with my daughter.  She’s at her dad’s now for Easter break, and I’m once more home alone.

I have the TV all to myself, and can freely watch my favorite soap, but deep down in my heart, I wish my daughter was here, popping corn with me as we get set to watch another Disney flick.  After work, I can go on a night out with friends, but I choose to go home, with my daughter’s imaginary arms waiting to hug me at the door.

Freedom is special and most people would fight tooth and nail just to have it.  I don’t mind freedom, but if it means being away from the one I love most, then to hell with it.  I’d rather have that ball and chain tied to my foot as long as I have my daughter right next to me, pigging out on buttered popcorn for hours on end.

 

How to Celebrate Halloween on a Budget

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Your worst nightmare would probably be the Grim Reaper wreaking havoc on your budget.  Trying to make ends meet is hard enough, but if you have kids who look forward to Halloween with wide-eyed excitement, you may find yourself struggling to stretch your already floss-thin budget to just accommodate their holiday whim.  Giving in to your kids’ trick or treating fantasies doesn’t necessarily have to burn a hole in your wallet.  Here are a few un-ghastly and cheap ways to celebrate Halloween.

Watch a Halloween flick.  There are tons of good Halloween movies for kids.   It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and The Nightmare Before Christmas.are just a few movies which kids young and old are sure to enjoy.

Read bedtime stories.  You can start building the anticipation of Halloween by reading Halloween stories at bedtime.  To add to the horrific effect, you can read them by candlelight or with a flashlight in hand.  Ask your local library for Halloween reading suggestions.  For the older kids, you can read Goosebumps or Bunnicula to them.

DIY and Recycle.  A little creativity does go a long way.  Rummage through your closet to find ordinary wardrobe items which you can transform into nightmarish outfits. You can get a plain, old white shirt, for example, make holes in it, dye it a little bit, and you’ve got a top perfect for a zombie.  Pair a striped t-shirt with a pair of cut-off jeans, fashion a makeshift eye patch with some cloth swatches, and you’re good to go as a pirate.

Join forces with friends.  When it comes to buying treats to hand out to candy-starved kids, you can go to the store with your neighbors and split the cost of buying candies in bulk.  Shopping for wholesale items will definitely cost you a lot less.

Hard times call for penny-pinching measures.  With these budget-friendly Halloween celebration alternatives, you can still afford to enjoy the season without worrying about blowing your entire savings.  Don’t be surprised if your kids give you a mom or dad of the year award, because thanks to you, they’ll sure have a Halloween they won’t soon forget.

 

 

Mother-Daughter Adventures: The African Safari


As a kid, I remember being a huge fan of the Choose Your Own Adventure series.  You know, those chapter books where you get to choose how the story ends.  I would be so wrapped up in it, that I’d pause only for bathroom breaks.

Now that I’m a full-grown, Chaka Khan- inspired- I’m-every-woman kind of girl, I would like to dip my fingers in a different kind of adventure- the real kind!  I’d like to share an extraordinary type of adventure with the love of my life- my daughter.

The first thing that comes to mind is an African safari.  What could be more exciting than witnessing wild animals in their natural habitat?  My daughter loves going to the zoo, so a safari will be an entirely new experience for her.  I can almost imagine the adrenaline rush go through her as she strokes a baby elephant.

I thought that all safaris were the same, but apparently they’re not.  There are all sorts of safaris- guided safaris, walking safaris, river safaris, etc.  What will be perfect for my daughter and me would have to be the family safari.

South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya are the best destinations for a family safari.  The people here are particularly skilled at making sure that safaris are safe and fun for both parents and children.

With a family safari, I wouldn’t have to worry about my daughter’s short attention span, as the people in charge provide for other activities such as crafts, or even biking or canoeing.  There are also crafts for kids to do, if and when they feel like taking a break.  The learning never stops.

Oh, I can feel my fingers tremble with excitement as I search online for family holidays with Mahlatini.com. Life is one huge adventure, and I want to go on it with nobody else but my daughter.  Toto’s song, Africa, is playing in my head now…

My Slinky-Dog Scare: The Near-Death Experience That Never Was

Many a grown adult has confessed to shedding a tear or two while watching Toy Story 3.  Although I am not part of that group, I just have to say that the slinky dog character in the movie nearly made me wet my pants a month ago.

During our recent trip to Hongkong Disneyland, my daughter was relentless in her pursuit to make me go on the Slinky Dog ride with her.  I was never a fan of theme park rides, so you can just imagine how I felt as we were queuing up for the ride.  My stomach was in knots, and I can barely think straight.  That slinky dog must’ve smelled my fear from a mile away.

In her most reassuring voice, my daughter said, “Mama, just hold my hand, close your eyes, and think of happy thoughts, ok?  It’s going to be fun!”  I couldn’t believe hearing those words from a 6-year old.  It was a Freaky Friday- Jaime Lee- Lindsay Lohan type of role reversal.  I felt as if she reattached our umbilical cord.  She made me feel safe beyond words.

As we got on the ride, I just kept my eyes on her and forced a huge grin.  I held her hand and screamed my lungs out.  Seeing her have fun was enough to make my fears drop a notch or two.

That day, I realized that there really are some things we learn from our kids.  My daughter taught me to just let go and be brave, that things don’t turn out as bad as we feared they would.  She is now my bastion of courage.  Whenever I look back on that moment, I feel like crying…

How about you?  What important life lesson have you learned from your kids?