Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Countdown....

December has descended upon us so fast this year! But I know for kids it can never come fast enough! The countdown until Christmas morning. A couple of years ago I started an advent calendar for my nieces. I found one that had little boxes and I stuff those boxes with chocolates kisses, mini-ornaments, red & green hair scrunchies etc. My nieces love it. I know my sister uses it as a reward sometimes....clean you room, then you can open today's box. Advent calendars are easy to or even on just search for Advent calendar. If you don't have time to "stuff" your own, many come prestuffed. It is not too late to get one today....they still get 15 days to open goodies, or look for one on sale at the end of the month and save it until next year! Have fun. Ciao. Ciao.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Enjoyment...

Thanksgiving at my sister's house is a wonderful time to see and dote on the nieces. I'm simply amazed at how fast they are growing. Kids love traditions. They not only have favorite foods at Thanksgiving but one of our family traditions is to make Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving as well as decorate a gingerbread house. Yes, the sugar is flying! But it only comes once a year, and we have even started to call it Thanks-mas weekend. Thanksgiving and Christmas in one weekend. Works for me, since I don't get to see my nieces on Christmas day, but I'm happy just to help them kick off the season. And you can't forget the advent calendar. Leaving them a little something to remind them Christmas is coming. My younger niece even asked my sister in July, when she got to the the calendar countdown again?! They remember. What are you favorite holiday traditions?? We can all learn from each other. Enjoy. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back to School....

For most kids back to school is a fun time. They get to see there friends again, and have more things to do. Times do change, but that is how I remember it anyway. To make it even more fun for them, send them on a treasure hunt for their new school clothes or supplies. If you don't have the creative side or energy to do this yourself get a little help with giftventure. You hide the stuff and they mail the clues. Check it out. Plus it gets the kids some extra snail mail, and you know how kids love snail mail! Have fun. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Birthday Gift. idea....

Not for a child but for you! As a grandparent, aunt, uncle etc we all naturally cherish something handmade by a child. But every year? And then what? We'll as someone who likes to dabble in the garden, and I believe all gardens need to have a path, even if that path goes now place. So I have started the tradition of having my nieces make me a stepping stone every year for my birthday. Eventually, I'll have a full path. I just love how the stones change over the years. Not to mention, my sister likes the idea as it is low cost and she doesn't have to rack her brain every year as to what to get someone who can be impossible to shop for. Here is a link for you to pass on, and make gift giving easy. I think it is something handmade that you'll really enjoy. Have fun. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Don't you just love the new vocabulary words? Having all the vacation fun, and none of the airfare, or gas! So now what to do with the kids, especially when going to the pool can be pretty standard fare for the summer. Here's my idea and my nieces approve. We pretend for a week we are in Italy and what I love most about Italy is the food....gelato in particular. So everyday for a week, (remember you are in Italy) you have to try out a new place for gelato. Search the Internet as I'm sure there is more than one in your area. At the end of the week, you can decide who has the best gelato. If for some reason, one does not like gelato, try searching for the best pizza or pretend you are in Texas and go for ribs. Get creative and have fun. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Play Date....

It's Wednesday, my blog day, but I'm away from my desk right now enjoying play time with my nieces. Doing some research for more fun ideas to share with you as well. Stay tuned! Until next week..... Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lemonade Stand with a twist

Nothing says summer time like the site of a young entrepreneur standing behind a lemonade stand. I remember those days so clearly. I had a stand on one side of the street with my girlfriends and my brother had claim to the order side of the street with his friends. Oh the friendly competition! Well I think now I'd have the I saw happen small town America. They were selling the lemonade out of mason jars, you know the stuff people can peaches/jams with. So cute, as the ice chest was filled with them. Not only did you get extra cold lemonade, you got the jar! A great way to have several flavors, in small batches and who doesn't love drinking out of a mason jar?! Great idea to share with your little loved ones and even help them to get it set up. I still can't resist stopping when I see a young entrepreneur trying to sell something. Just the other day, I stopped for just a glass of water and let me tell you that kid was raking it in! Happy Summer. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sand Castles

WOW the summer time can sure but hot! Particularly in my neighborhood today. If you are lucky enough to live on one of the coasts, I say it is time to hit the beach and have a sand castle building contest. This can keep the kids busy and active for hours. If you don't live on the coasts, do you have a sandbox in your backyard? Just add a little water and you can build castles too. Who lives in those castles? Get their imaginations going. I like to have my nieces build me a house, a really big one of course. If you have absolutely no clue how to build a sand castle, check out they have some great tips for the beginner and expert. Plus they have some pictures that will blow your mind. At the beach, I also have fun burying my nieces from the waist down and turning them into mermaids, or giving them an extra fancy skirts etc. Have fun in the sun!! Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fourth of July fun for kids

In my book, Fouth of July is all about BBQ's, fireworks and family time! But why is it that kids are always asking what next, what next.... Never living in the moment. So best be prepared with something up your sleeve. Check out the ideas from Kaboose If it is hot where you are, you can make flag fans. Print off some of their coloring sheets, and have a coloring contest, where everyone is a winner. Pick up some beads to have the kids make their own red, white and blue jewelry. My personal favorite, simple ice cream recipes. Lots of things that will keep the kids busy until it's time for the fireworks. Happy 4th of July. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Send mail to Grandparents

Most kids like to color, and if they are anything like my nieces, they can go through a pad of paper in a day! But what do you do with all those drawings? A refrigerator is only so big. Well, how many of those drawings are you sending to the grandparents? They were raised without e-mail and I think snail mail holds a high value with them and something they look forward to receiving. It is just not the same to scan it and e-mail it over. A friend who has a grandmother in an retirement home, say drawings and pictures from the grand kids are like every one's trophy wall. The more you have the bigger your smile. If your kids are older, and not as into drawing anymore you can still send mail to your parents. Trudy Triner provides you a fun list of easy things to send on her site Old or young, make someone smile today with the gift of mail. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cooking with Toddlers

One of my favorite things to do with my nieces is cook. I find it to be interactive, bring out a creative side in them and perhaps even giving them skills for the future. I can't believe I have friends (at my age) who barely know how to boil water. Ahhhh the age of dining out. I am also somewhat of a health nut and prefer things that are homemade, even if it is as simple as making a smoothie and pouring it into and ice cube tray for a mini frozen treat later. There are many books out there to help you out, should your cooking skills be rusty, but if you have toddlers in your mix be sure to check out The Toddler Cafe. Many of the ideas don't even require any "cooking", just mixing of a few fun ingredients and freezing, which is perfect for summer time. Happy cooking! Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Family Golf Open

With Father's Day right around the corner, how can one not think of a golf outing. While it is true not all guys are golfers....I'm talking about miniature golf here! You know, pee wee golf. How much fun would it be to have the whole family out for the first ever "Smith" Masters or the Olson Open. Time to get T-shirts printed up for everyone? Even those that don't golf would have fun and it is all about getting the family together! The best part is everyone has a really, really good chance at getting a hole in one! Find the nearest miniature golf course to you at Watch out, this is liable to become an annual event! Have fun. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pretend Mailbox

A reminder that kids love mail, and also like to play postman. I'm in love with this pretend mailbox and all the letters that go with it. It is all about imagination, and this brings it out. For me, I'd much prefer my little nieces play postman verses doctor. Also send them mail on a regular basis too. The real stuff can help build your connection with them and make them feel extra special. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dress Ups

Last week we discussed 'Fancy Nancy' and she is all about the dress ups. I wanted to expand on that idea with something I did for my nieces who love to play dress ups. The first time I showed up with dress ups (aka old "fun & frilly" clothes, hats etc) I brought them a big storage box too. This was to start the collection of dress ups that I knew that would grow, plus keep my sister happy. She is one of those that everything needs to have a proper place of storage, aka neat freak. Which still perplexes do you do that with 2 kids?! Anyway, now when I show up I have something fun to add to the box. Since I have pretty much cleaned out my closet, I'm working my way around the thrift stores etc. You can find some fun boxes at the container store or just cover a old 2 piece box with some fun wrapping paper. The dress up box is such a fun thing to collect for little girls. Sorry not sure about what the nephews like to collect at this age, as I don't have any.....yet. Don't forget to play dress up with them! Have fun. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fancy Nancy

With a book title like that how can you go wrong?! But then as Aunt Nancy, am I bias? The Fancy Nancy book series by Jane O'Connor is a must for little girls. Here is an excerpt from the book, so you can see for yourself just how sweet they are.... They are simple, sweet, and about all the little things you can do to be fancy,everyday. My niece loves the series so much she just had a fancy Nancy birthday party. Dress ups for little kids is like being a grown up. Wonder if that is why my nieces like wearing my shoes so much? If you save some of your old "fancy" clothes or just fun pieces like a pink frilly nightgown or a hat (that derby hat is just collecting dust anyway), you can show up with dress ups the next time you visit. Then have everyone wear them to breakfast for a fancy breakfast. Your nieces/nephews/grand kids will love it. Have fun! Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Outside Adventure

With the weather warming up, you can't help but want to get outside! Going for a walk/hike gives you time to have quality conversations with your nieces, nephews, grand kids etc, which is impossible to do while they are in front of the TV or computer. Not to mention the fact that everyone is getting some exercise. I discovered a great new twist for a hike or a walk that will engage the kids you love. Make a bingo game out of your hike! You can print a bingo sheet off Lorrie Sullenburger's site Make sure you carry some stickers, so as the kids find the items they can put a sticker on top...get a row of stickers and bingo!! I can't wait to get out and play bingo with my nieces! Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mother's Day Traditions...

Mother's Day is Sunday. To all the mom's out there, enjoy your day!! As an aunt, I always try to send my sister a card, who I happen to think is an amazing mom. Having watched her girls at various ages and for various lengths of time, it has given me a true sense of appreciation for motherhood. It's a ton of work! As a single gal, I get to leave (eventually) and no one asks me "what's next?" 20 times a day. My mother passed away almost 10 years ago now, but I still have fond memories our mother's day traditions. I'm not sure why mother's day and brunch seem to go hand in hand, but they did in our family too. Actually, we gave our mom breakfast in bed. Mostly just cereal at that young age, but it is the thought the counts, right?! What fun traditions do you share in your family for mother's day?! Picinic? A day mom doesn't have to do any cooking? Are you passing on the traditions from generation to generation? I hope so, because that is what kids remember most, things that are consistent year after year. Traditions. Happy Mother's Day! Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Birthday gifts for kids

It is just a few days away from my nieces birthday, she'll be 6. Since I have no kids of my own, how am I suppose to know what to get her?! Even though they like to talk on the phone, it is always short and you have to be the one to constantly ask the questions. So last time I talked to my niece I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She was drawing a blank, so I told her to think about it and mail me a list. This way she can send me mail, have to work on her spelling and practice her penman ship all at the same time. She sent me a nice list, and while the spelling wasn't all correct...I'll give her some slack, since she is only 6...I got few ideas. To help with the ideas (or to fill in the gaps for you) check out Uncle Dan has something that every little one will enjoy, and it even sorts by age for faster shopping. Also a great back up plan in case you don't have time to have a phone conversation, receive a list and run around to find it yourself. You can still be the best aunt/uncle/grandparent etc and get the birthday gift delivered on time! Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Recycled crafts

Going green benefits us all, but mostly the children in our lives as they are in it for the long haul. Thus I can't help but still focus on "green" stuff. Every child likes to make something from nothing...and since we all know they love mail too, how about showing them how to make an envelope out of a magazine page?! Here is the link, so they can learn it from you. Take my advice, as you might want to try a practice one when the kids aren't watching! The site also lead you through quite a few other fun recycled craft ideas as well. Happy to pass along all the great things I find just to help keep you as the "fun" relative. Enjoy. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Free recycled gifts

Sometimes being the spoiling auntie/grandparent/uncle can get expensive! Now when it comes to the younger kids, I think they are just happy to get things and don't often notice the "newness" of it. Thus I like to search frequently to see what is available for my nieces. They often have some big stuff like swing sets or simple things like black patten leather shoes. We all know when it comes to kids clothes, they grow so fast that clothes/shoes often only get 1 or 2 wearings. I have the things shipped to me, and then re-package them in colorful tissue with a note and mail them off. I not sure if they get more excited about getting mail or what is inside the box. Just trying to help everyone save a buck, especially if you have a long list of nieces, nephews or grand children. Happy Shopping. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cooking with kids

Always a fun activity to do with kids is cooking! Plus I think it helps that they want to eat (taste) what they make, even if it is healthy. If you have really little ones, they still want "uppy" to watch and be a part of what you are doing. Give them a non-breakable bowl and a wooden spoon so they can pretend, and will feel part of the action. There are many great books out there to help if you aren't a cook yourself. I like the new one, "Cooking It In a Cup" because it comes with bright colorful silicon cups that the kids cook in. These are also a good means of portion control for kids. A fun book to show up with the next time you visit, and an activity to boot! Happy Cooking. Ciao.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Little Mermaids

Spring Break has now come and gone but not without a couple of firsts. With the use of a little bribery, I got my older niece to dive off the diving board for the first time! We had some friends in the pool who had really cool water toys for diving and she wanted a set of the toypedos for herself. So I told her if she dove off the diving board, I'd get her a set. Thanks heavens for web search engines! Check out to find some of the water toys for your little ones. The toys have been ordered and I'll mail them up to her along with a 'great job' swimming note. My younger niece, put her head all the way under the water for the first time and as a result she will getting a set of goggles with a similar 'great job' note. Naturally, the packages have to be mailed separately because the girls each like to get their own mail. What fun it is to be around for a few of the first...even if it does take 'auntie' bribery! Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Break

Traditions are something kids look forward to, and it just has to be consistant. I'm fortunate to live in California and my nieces are in Portland. Last year they came down to California for Spring Break, and are doing so again this week. It is becoming a tradition, and my sister tells me they are counting the hours until they leave the rain. I have had to call to remind them to keep there room clean (per my sister) if they want to go to Legoland. I think Legoland (outside of San Diego) is a tad more suited for younger kids, and like to mix it up. Last year was Disneyland. Lines get crazy, but the joy on the little faces is worth it all. Roller Coasters for the first time are always a thrill....just tell them it is like a really, really fast slide. If you aren't able to get away, perhaps the tradition is a picnic at the beach or park every year. Just something out of the ordinary that they look forward too. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Missing first tooth...

How exciting for my niece to lose her first tooth!! Naturally, she had to send me a picture, via the internet. Gotta love technology today. My sister tells me the tooth fairy leaves a dollar these days, but Aunt Nancy can do anything. For me it is just another occassion to send her some mail and make her feel special. Plus I love the opportunity to spoil. Found a great little purchase at that every little one is sure to love! Plus easy for mom to make sure she can find the tooth....under the pillow can easily get lost. I think this is something my nieces can share too. I'll gamble, and assume they both won't lose a tooth on the same day! I'm a big believer in floss, so I might have to include that in my package as well. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

St. Patrick's Day is coming...

Green, green and more green. Did you get something fun out in the mail to those you love? Everyone loves mail!! Especially when it is not a bill. Temporary tattoos (shamrocks?) are particular fun to and adults love them, and you can never have enough. If you tried the pink milk idea for Valentine's Day, keep the tradition going and add green food coloring to the milk on the 17th. Surprise! This would also be a good day to try "green eggs and ham"....books into reality. Whatever way you celebrate in your family, make it a great day!

Pass this one along to a child you know....
What is Irish and stays out all night?
Patty O'Furniture

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Games for the dinner table

Last time I visited my nieces, I was taught a wonderful game at dinner. In the center of the table was a pretty box and inside of it were slips of paper. The girls got to pick out one the folded pieces of paper, which I read. "If I need to get up from the table for any reason, I will asked to be excused first" I learned that other ones include no elbows on the table, talking with your mouthful etc. If anyone was caught doing the "unmentionable" they had to do 5 sit ups or pushups at the end of the meal. Can you tell, my sister is a fitness gal! It was really fun to see how much my nieces (4, and almost 6) love this game. They say the best part is catching mom and dad! My sister found this game on her favorite site, I wish it was a game I got to bring to the table, but perhaps you can! Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

books become reality...

When I visit my nieces, who love to read...or should I say have me read to them...we always end up reading one book in particular. It is a Strawberry Shortcake, Berry Delicious Bake-off book. Angel cake has all her friends over and uses one ingredient from each friend to make the most "berry delicious" cake ever. I got to thinking after reading this book for the upteenth time, what if we tried this recipe to see if it was really as berry delicious as the book said. This turned into a wonderful afternoon activity of going to the grocery store with the book in hand, to make sure we got everything and then headed home for the "bake-off". We used mini angel food cupcakes instead of making and baking an actual that way, everyone got their own. At lunch, all plates were clean, including the greens, since the bake off was next. I didn't think it was the berry best, but the girls loved it!! Another book that is fun to do this with is Dr. Seuss's, Green Eggs and Ham. If you aren't into cooking as much, I happen to love the Fancy Nancy series of books. I bring dress-ups and we have a "fancy" breakfast. All good reads, and a fun way to have the kids think you are "cooooool".... Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Time for a visit...

Happy Wednesday! I'm very excited, as on Friday I'm heading off to visit my nieces. When I visit, I love some of the traditions I have created. For one, they come and wake me up in the morning (usually earlier than I would like...but I remind myself I'm only there for the weekend and can sleep in when I'm home) and we read books in bed and eat goldfish. Sometimes we even play math games with the goldfish, depending on how many I want to eat before coffee. Wonderful learning lessons. Good news is the girls always look forward to this, bad news...big trouble if I should I ever forget the goldfish! Which reminds me, I have to head to the store now! Another thing I do occasionally is ask the flight attendant for the activity books. Not something I do all the time, but since the price is right (aka free) and the girls always have fun coloring and doing the activities, it's a no brainer. They even get a kick out of getting the little bags of peanuts! I'm finding out it is all the little things that make the big impact. Ciao. Ciao

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Count down to Valentine's Day

So what fun things to you have planned for tomorrow, February 14th? It is a great day to remind those people you love just how important they are in your life. Remember it is most often the little things you do that will have the biggest impact and be remembered over time. Some of which might even form a tradition. Personally, I prefer to do the fun putting food coloring in the milk, so *surprise* when they pour it out on their breakfast cereal they have pink milk! If you are lucky enough to have your nieces or nephews near by, how about leaving a fun trail of paper hearts (or heart confetti) to a little surprise. fyi...if you don't want to cut out the hearts yourself, you can certainly buy no excuses. I don't live in the snow, but could you put red food coloring in a water bottle and spray it, so they could find a red heart in the snow when they walk out the door?? If you try that, let me know if it works! If they live far away, I hope you have already sent your Valentine's card...but there is always FedEx! Remember kids love to get mail! Until next week. Ciao. Ciao.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My first post...

So I guess this is how it all starts...blogging. I'm not much into the tech stuff, but I'm learning as I have so much I want to share and "they" say this is the best way to get your info across...blogging, who knew. I'm here to write about what I think are great ways to connect with kids. Maybe what types of gifts are best to send, ideas I find on websites and other little newy tid-bits that can help you become the "fun" aunt/uncle/grandparent/or just plain "fun" the eyes of a child. This is something I will plan to address once a week. Yikes, big goal for help me keep on target. See you next week, if not before. Ciao. Ciao.