DIY Cleaning Products Safe For Kids

April 14, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS


DIY cleaning recipes

Kid-friendly recipes for DIY cleaning products

By Sylvia Marks

Household cleaning is an important part in maintaining a good level of hygiene in your home. Almost everyone prefers to buy a chemical cleaning product from the nearest supermarket and then use it when carrying out a variety of cleaning procedures in their homes. However, what many people do not understand is that a great part of the house cleaning products tend to be very dangerous not only for nature but also for those who live in these premises.

If you have children you must be particularly careful, because they are often predisposed to certain types of allergies and diseases caused by the toxic substances in detergents. Do It Yourself (DIY) cleaning products are a safe and cheap way in which you could make your home look welcoming and tidy.

Provide your family and pets with an immaculate and safe living environment by following these innovative recipes that are not only easy to prepare, but also absolutely safe for the health of your family members:

Oven cleaning detergent 

If you are trying to prepare a perfect and effective oven cleaning product, you should combine 1 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and ¼ cup of washing soda (sodium carbonate) with enough water in order to make a paste. Then apply to oven surfaces and let it stay for the night. Wipe and rinse with a clean cloth. If you do not want to use the washing soda you can try to make a paste with baking soda only.

Glass and window cleaning detergent 

For bright and shiny windows and glass surfaces you need to combine equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. To remove effectively the greasy stains or the waxy built-up left by the conventional glass cleaning detergents, you may add ½ teaspoon of liquid soap to the solution of water and white vinegar.

Floor cleaning product

If you want your flooring look immaculate, use ¼ cup of washing soda, a tablespoon of liquid soap, 6 tablespoons of cornstarch and a few cups of white vinegar. As far as wooden floors are concerned, you can use a cup of vinegar in a bowl of hot water.

Disinfecting home cleaning detergent

Disinfection is an integral part of cleaning process, especially if you have children. An easy DIY solution is to mix 2 teaspoons of borax, ¼ teaspoon of liquid soap, 4 tablespoons of white vinegar and 3 cups of hot water in a spray bottle. This natural cleaning product has proven itself as a suitable solution for disinfection of all kinds of domestic cleaning purposes. If you don’t have borax at home, you can look for an alternative recipe with hydrogen peroxide-based DIY cleaner.

Tub and Tile Scrubber

To create a DIY cleaning product that is suitable for tubs and tiles, mix 2/3 cups of baking soda, ½ cup of liquid soap and ½ cup of water. When you make an appropriate solution, add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, apply immediately and wipe thoroughly with a clean cloth.

Furniture Polish 

For a perfect polishing of furniture surfaces, without using chemical and expensive cleaning products, simply create 1:1 blend of olive oil and white vinegar and then polish them with a soft cloth. This combination works every time.

Silvia Marks worked as a move out cleaner in the U.K. for many years and has her requirements when it comes to the cleanliness of her own house. During the time she learned how to make her own DIY cleaning products that are safe for her children to use while doing household chores.

Autism Misconceptions for Smarties

April 9, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

 Autism Awareness

Autism Misconceptions for Smarties

by Ellen Notbohm

What’s the difference between a smarty and a dummy? defines a smarty as “a person who thinks and behaves as if s/he knows everything,” while a dummy is “a stupid person.” As an autism parent, the smarties vex me more than the so-called dummies. In my mind, the dummy wins the smarts contest over the smarty, because the dummy likely knows he’s not the brightest bulb on the porch, while the smarty thinks he’s the klieg light. Lack of knowledge doesn’t make a person a dummy but, to paraphrase the poet Alexander Pope, a know-it-all lack of willingness to learn is a dangerous thing.

As we head toward Autism Awareness Month, I reflect on the eighteen years since Bryce’s diagnosis. At that time, the incidence of autism was 1 in 750; now it’s one in 88. There were misconceptions about autism back then, but ironically, so few people even knew the word that as awareness and understanding grew over the next two decades, so did the array of misconceptions. Today, despite notable advances in education, therapy and medicine, we still joust daily with autism myths and fallacies.

Let’s knock a few down here:

Autism misconception #1. All children with autism have savant-like abilities.

Some children with autism have savant-like abilities. Most do not. Some people who don’t have autism have savant-like abilities. Most do not. Savants are rare, period. Many parents of children with autism resign themselves to fighting this fallacy with weary humor. When asked yet again about their child’s “special gift,” they reply, “Eating toilet paper” or “Hoarding batteries.”

Autism misconception #2. A child’s meltdowns and anxiety attacks are intentional or manipulative.

Sensory overload, frustration, anger, persecution, fear, sleep deprivation, hunger, pain—for the child with autism, meltdowns always have a physiological or emotional source, and never come “out of the blue.” Not only are there numerous organic reasons why he might melt down, but the notion that he manufactures such distress to “get” the adults around him assumes a level of intent unlikely to be present in a child with autism.

Autism misconception #3. A child who is non-verbal has nothing to say.

If someone taped your mouth shut and took away your communication devices, would that mean you have nothing to say? Or would you have your same thoughts, needs, wants and fears—but no way to express them? All humans need a functional means of communication. We’ve designated speech as our gold standard of interpersonal communication, the emphasis on “using our words” so dominant that when children attempt to communicate nonverbally, we often don’t heed it. Yet words are only a small part of interpersonal communication. We communicate through the nuance , tone, inflection, pitch, speed and volume of our speech, through body language, facial expressions and emotional responses. It’s incumbent on us to listen to all the ways our kids are trying to communicate.

Autism misconception #4. If a child wants to have friends, s/he can’t possibly have autism.

Many parents want their children to have the same rollicking childhood friendship experiences they had. But not wanting a mob of friends isn’t the same as not wanting friends. Every kid with autism I’ve ever met wanted friends, but most are content with just a few. In one of my books, a middle-schooler answers his mother’s anxiety about his having only two friends with, “I don’t want a lot of friends. I can’t handle a lot of friends. More than one at a time stresses me out. I can talk to these two friends about things I’m interested in. They are great for me.”

Autism misconception #5. Children with autism don’t have the ability to empathize.

Whether motor, cognitive or social, not having skills does not equate to not having the ability to learn. Some kids with autism are naturally empathetic, but when they are not, empathy is as teachable as any other social skill. My own sons with autism and ADHD are among the most empathetic people I know, because that’s what they were taught, what we nurtured and valued in them. A child with autism will not absorb social sensibility by simply being around and observing people with social skills. Like all children, there are a great many things kids with autism don’t know how to do until they are taught.

Autism misconception #6. A child must make eye contact in order to comprehend verbal communication from another person.

Do we have to look at a radio to understand a newscast or the lyrics of a song? Sensory multi-tasking is devilishly difficult for some children with autism, especially when it requires a visually-oriented child to process auditory information. Looking away from a voice (shutting out visual distraction) often results in better comprehension.

Autism misconception #7. A child who has difficulty communicating verbally is of low intelligence.

Oh, the arrogance of this misconception. If the child doesn’t communicate in our chosen mode, and if we fail to provide the child with an alternate functional form of communication that is meaningful to him, how does it follow that he is of low intelligence? If we can’t communicate, we will never know how intelligent he is.

Autism misconception #8. If a child consistently scores low on standardized tests, she must be cognitively delayed in addition to having autism.

See. #6. Until tests are adapted to the communication abilities of the child with autism, the only thing being tested is the child’s ability to take a test designed for a brain that operates differently than hers.

Autism misconception #9: Autism is caused by bad parenting.

Bruno Bettelheim’s “refrigerator mother” theory was the original, ironically, Mother of All Autism Misconceptions. Although now soundly discredited, it lingers like stale cigar smoke. So let’s fumigate, now and forever: Parents do not cause autism, and . . .

Autism misconception #10. A child can stop being autistic if he just buckles down and tries harder to behave.

Autism is not a choice. Sensory dysfunction, communication difficulties, social cluelessness, anxiety and fear are not choices. Being judgmental, making uninformed assumptions, declining to approach the child with patience, inquisitiveness, empathy and a problem-solving attitude are choices. In the adult-child equation, the burden of “buckling down and trying harder” belongs to the one with the vastly greater life experience.

The heroic social reformer Frederick Douglass refuted Pope’s “A little learning is a dangerous thing” with the warning that “the want of learning is a calamity to any people.” He also gave us an irrefutable truth we dare not ignore: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” This is our charge, and this we do, every day, every time we reach out to dummies, smarties, and everyone in between, knocking down autism misconceptions, one mind at a time.


© 2014 Ellen Notbohm  

Contact the author for permission to reproduce in any way. 

Ellen Notbohm is author of one of the autism community’s most beloved books, Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, and three other award-winning books on autism. Her work has  informed and delighted millions in more than twenty languages. She is a long-time columnist for Autism Asperger’s Digest and a contributor to numerous publications, classrooms, conferences and websites worldwide.

Ten Ways To Get Outside During Spring Break

March 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Fitness, Hiking, NEWS

Georgia State Parks offer fun ideas!

Just in time for Spring Break, Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites are offering ten ways for families to enjoy the outdoors and have fun without spending a fortune. From hitting the trails and waterways to golfing, campfires and sleeping under the stars, Georgia’s State Parks have programs for all ages and interests.  Many activities are free and parking is just $5 for state parks.  Historic site admission is usually less than $10 and parking is free.  Below are ten ideas for a memorable Spring Break that’s close to home:

Go Glamping – Families who enjoy being in nature but prefer a soft bed at night may want to pay a visit to Cloudland Canyon. The state park recently added ten yurts atop Lookout Mountain. Yurts are a blend between a tent and cabin, with furniture inside and hot showers nearby. Yurts at Cloudland Canyon rent for $70 per night. There are also yurts available at Red Top Mountain, High Falls and Fort Yargo state parks. For more information, call (706) 657-4050 or visit GeorgiaStateParks/yurts.

Go Geocaching – Kids can hunt for treasure and learn about Georgia’s rich history by joining the History Trail GeoChallenge, which takes them to 14 state historic sites. It’s the perfect outing for families who have a passion for the past and enjoy being in the outdoors. Geocaching is the worldwide sport of using handheld GPS units to locate hidden caches. For more information, visit  

Go Golfing – Take the older kids golfing at one of Georgia’s eight state park golf courses. These quality courses offer a family-friendly atmosphere and are surrounded by sparkling lakes and scenic forests. Rates are surprisingly low, starting at $25 for weekdays. Kids programs are also available. For tee times, visit or call (800) 434-0982.  

Go Fishing – Grab your rod and reel and head out for a day of casting at your favorite Georgia State Park. Fishing in lakes, rivers and streams is free, but a fishing license is required for ages 16 and older. For families who would like to take their fishing adventure up a notch, more than 20 parks rent motorized fishing boats by the hour. For more information, visit  

Go Biking – Bicycling is a fun way for the entire family to exercise together. Whether in tow with a toddler or teenager, Georgia State Parks offer miles of paved and off-road trails perfect for every skill and age level. Families with smaller children will especially enjoy the bike paths at Red Top Mountain, Tallulah Gorge and Panola Mountain. For more information, visit

Go Paddling – Families who enjoy exploring the Georgia waterways can choose from a variety of paddling adventures at Georgia’s state parks. From the small mountain lakes of Fort Mountain and Unicoi to the coastal waterways of Fort McAllister and Crooked River, there are paddling opportunities for all skill levels. Families can bring their own equipment or rent a canoe or kayak at more than 20 state parks. For a challenge, join the Park Paddlers Club which takes explorers to six state parks as they earn a members-only t-shirt. For more information, visit

Go Camping – Pack the tent and sleeping bags and build cherished memories while gazing at the stars. Camping encourages the entire family to reconnect and enjoy the simple pleasures of cooking s’mores over a campfire and telling stories. Rates start at just $23 per night. For a complete list of campgrounds, visit

Go Cozy – Families interested in a cozy staycation will find cabins starting at just $85 per night. Cabins come with fully equipped kitchens, comfortable furnishings and screened porches, plus a wide range of outdoor activities. Some allow dogs with advance notice and a pet fee. To book a cabin getaway, visit

Go Hiking – Hit the trails with the kids and discover the wonders of nature through their eyes. Georgia’s diverse landscape offers everything from canyons and waterfalls to salt marshes and streams. There are miles of hiking trails for every ability, plus a calendar of ranger-led hikes that introduce children to Georgia’s native animals. Energetic hikers can join the Canyon Climbers Club and earn a members-only t-shirt. For more information, visit

Go Back in Time – Spend a few days touring Georgia’s 18 historic sites. It’s a great way to teach the kids about history and burn off energy at the same time. Children can enjoy exploring forts and learning about Colonial Georgia at the popular coastal sites of Fort Morris, Fort McAllister and Fort King George. Or, to learn about Georgia’s Native American history, Kolomoki Mounds, New Echota and Etowah Indian Mounds provide ancient Indian mounds, museums and Cherokee buildings. For more information, visit  

Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites are operated by the Department of Natural Resources and offer pristine natural beauty from coastal marshes and midland swamps to piedmont plains and breathtaking mountains. For more information, including a calendar of events and list of accommodations, visit

Staycation Ideas: 30 Fun Things To Do As A Family

March 24, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

Staycation Ideas: 30 Fun Things to Do as a Family

Is your family staying home this Spring Break? It’s called a “staycation.” And it’s the perfect opportunity to re-discover the charms and attractions that the West Georgia and Chattahoochee Valley areas have to offer. Here is a list of 30 fun things you can do together as a family.

  1. Bake cookies
  2. Pop some popcorn and watch a movie
  3. Volunteer as a family at a community agency
  4. Adopt a resident at a nursing home
  5. Collect leaves and make rubbings at home
  6. Explore your local library together
  7. Go whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River
  8. Play hide and seek as a family
  9. Go outside after dark and star gaze
  10. Visit local art and history museums in LaGrange and Columbus
  11. Make a family scrapbook
  12. Go geo-caching at a Georgia State Park
  13. Create a “family night”
  14. Do something nice for another family, but don’t tell them who did it
  15. Visit a new park or playground
  16. Go see an IMAX movie at the National Infantry Museum
  17. Create a family tree
  18. Create a family time capsule
  19. Have an outdoor picnic
  20. Pull out the family picture album and reminisce
  21. Take a walk around downtown LaGrange or on the Chattahoochee Riverwalk/River Rock Island
  22. Plant a small vegetable garden
  23. Go on a bike ride around West Point Lake, at FDR State Park,  or on the Columbus Fall Line Trace
  24. Have a special breakfast on the porch
  25. Play miniature golf
  26. Make a pizza together
  27. Put on a puppet show
  28. Visit local landmarks and learn/discuss the history behind them
  29. Go someplace you’ve never been before as a family
  30. Go hiking together

Published previously by Muscogee Moms, LLC

WGH Affordable Care Act Insurance Exchange Info & Sign-up

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under EVENTS, Health and Wellness, NEWS

West Georgia Health to host two sign-up events for Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Exchanges

LaGrange, GA — West Georgia Health, in partnership with Seedco, will host two upcoming events to provide information and sign-up assistance for individuals wanting to learn more about options under the Health Insurance Marketplace exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The LaGrange event is scheduled for Saturday, March 15, at the LaGrange Memorial Library at 115 Alford St., and the West Point event is scheduled for the following Saturday, March 22, at the West Point Gymnasium located at 1201 Ave. D. Both events, which are free, are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and also will provide health screenings for blood pressure and blood sugar checks.

During these events, general information sessions will be offered and certified navigators will be onsite to assist residents with understanding and accessing the new system. The navigators will help attendees sort through the information available in the Georgia Health Online Marketplace, which offers Georgians a gateway to affordable healthcare.

Certified by the State of Georgia to provide confidential service, these navigators will help people evaluate their eligibility, inform them of available subsidies, compare options and enroll in the health insurance plan that best suits them.

To apply for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace and determine whether they are eligible for additional subsidies, attendees will need to provide information pertaining to themselves and their households relating to income, current insurance coverage and additional items. To complete the application onsite, attendees should bring:

  • Social Security Number (or document numbers for legal immigrants).
  • Employer and income information for every member in the household needing coverage (recent pay stubs or W-2 Forms – Wage and Tax Statements).
  • Policy numbers for any current health insurance plans covering members of the household.

These events will provide last-chance opportunities to understand and sign up for coverage, as Open Enrollment to sign up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act ends on March 31, 2014. Information about the health plans is available at or by calling 1-800-318-2596.

Husband, Father, Grandfather….and Monster Truck Driver, Ed Eckert

February 25, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

Husband, Father, Grandfather….and Monster Truck Driver, Ed Eckert

By Laura Erickson, editor, LaGrange Moms
© 2014 – Muscogee Moms LLC

LaGrange Moms recently had the opportunity to interview Ed Eckert, driver of the truck Fullboar for Monster Jam®. He is a husband, father, grandfather, and certified ASE mechanic when is he isn’t driving his truck in Monster Jam® events. He is also one of Monster Jam’s most ardent fans, even spending his free time watching other drivers when he is not driving.

Ed Eckert became interested in driving monster trucks while living where he spend his childhood:  in Michigan. As a certified ASE mechanic, he knew everything he needed to know about cars and trucks. But he never thought about building or driving a monster truck until he and a friend hosted a car show for restored and collector’s cars. While searching for entertainment to provide during the show, they decided to bring in a monster truck driver to crush a car (not one of the show entries!). The driver offered to let Ed drive the truck, but knowing the high cost of the trucks, he declined. The driver offered again and again, and Ed finally agreed.

Once he hit the gas, the adrenaline rush overtook him. It was all over…..he knew what he wanted to do. So he set out to build his own monster truck. With his mechanical knowledge, skill, and perseverance, he was accepted into the Monster Jam® organization and has been driving for 13 years.

He enjoys warmer weather these days in Knoxville, TN after moving to be closer to his parents. He and his wife miss their grown children and grandchildren, who still live in Michigan, but technology keeps them in touch. And though he travels frequently with Monster Jam during parts of the year, he enjoys spending time at home with his wife of three years who was high high school sweetheart.

“I had a big crush on her in high school” recalls Eckert. “She was shy, and I was a talker with the gift of gab. I could never get close to her. We each went on to marry but neither worked out, and we found each other 24 years after high school. She shares my love of this sport and she supports me completely. She has a day job so she doesn’t always get to travel with me, but fortunately we work out some long weekends where she can join me on the road.”

They keep up with their children and grandchildren through visits and calls, and Eckert loves receiving videos of the grand kids. “At Christmas, I sent my two-year-old grandson a Hot Wheels toy version of my Fullboar truck, and my daughter sent me a video of him seeing it. He was running over all the other toys to get to it! He was so excited….I love watching that video over and over.”

Eckert is by far one of the Monster Jam® organization biggest supporters, and he doesn’t hide his passion for the sport. “It’s just so exhilarating! It’s so much fun that when I’m done driving, I come out and watch my buddies drive,” he says. “And if I’m not driving in an event, I’ll still go watch! Monster Jam® is absolutely the best of the best. Their top priority for everyone is safety, plus a great experience for the fans.”

He’s also a family man whose thoughts are even on the littlest fans. He recommends that when families come to a monster truck event, they bring earmuffs–not ear plugs– to protect sensitive little ears. Monster Jam® events are loud, and the noise can frighten younger fans, but when their ears are completely covered they can enjoy the event without being overwhelmed by the loud sounds.

Eckert’s driving talent was recognized when he received the 2008 Monster Jam Monster Jam Rising Star award. He and his bright yellow truck, Fullboar, are a big favorite among Monster Jam® fans. He will be driving in the competition Friday and Saturday at the Macon Centriplex. He also encourages fans to attend the Pit Party on Saturday for a chance to meet and take photos with drivers and their trucks.

If You Go:
What: Monster Jam®
When: Friday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, February 23 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Pit Party Saturday 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Where: Macon Centriplex Coliseum
Cost: Advance ticket prices start at $10 and go up to $30 per person; $2 more on day of show. Click here for complete details and to purchase tickets.

Duplication and/or publication without permission is strictly prohibited.
Please contact Charlotte Bowman, Muscogee Moms LLC, at
(706) 888-0260 or for duplication/publication use.

To My Son: A Valentine’s Day Love Letter

February 10, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

Guest blog by Monica Cobis

Valentines day love letterLast night, my ten-year-old son and I had an interesting conversation.

He asked me what would happen to him if I died soon. I told him that he would live with his Dad. He wanted to know what would happen with the house. He says he loves this house and does not want to leave. He also asked about if I had a will and if anything would be left to him.

We talked for awhile and then he became quiet. I gently touched his face and wiped his tears away. He said, “Mom, I don’t want you to die.” I began to cry too. He asked me why, and I said that I would miss him very much and that I wanted him to remember how much I loved him. We held each other and he began to pray silently. I let him doze off before leaving his side.

I am not dying, but it made me ponder.

For Valentine’s Day, I have decided to write him, in penmanship, a love letter so that if I were to die suddenly, he would have something to hold onto. Love letters are tangible symbols of what we feel in our heart.

My hope is that my son will hold onto this letter long after I am gone and remember the love that I had for him. What love letter will you write this Valentine’s Day?

Monica CobisMonica Cobis, M.Ed. is an Academic Coach with Academic Life Coaching. She is a speaker, author and educational consultant. Her desire is to assist students and educational systems in creating successful and contributing future global leaders. She can be contacted at


Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

February 10, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

valentines day date ideas

Guest Post by Carmen Overton, M.Ed, Right From the Start

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s that time of year again. Everywhere you turn is pink and red, chocolate, hearts, and candy. This year, instead of the usual box of assorted chocolates, make it a special time of celebration of your significant other and the love that you share.

Here are some Valentines Day date ideas to help keep things new and fresh!

  1. Make a book of all the things you love about your spouse and why you are thankful for him or her.
  2. Create a fun scavenger hunt around town. Let the clues lead to items that you placed somewhere or bought for him or her
  3. Hide love notes in his or her car, coat or pants pocket, or purse so they can find them throughout the day.
  4. Book a Spa day for two. Be relaxed, together.
  5. Let loose and live a little with Karaoke night.
  6. Recreate the first date you ever had together.
  7. Rent your or your partner’s “dream car” and go on an exploring adventure.
  8. Fill balloons with paint and play a unique game of darts
  9. Cook together

Carmen Overton, M.Ed, is the director of Right From the Start, a community initiative dedicated to strengthening marriage and families. Find out more at

More Indoor Games for Kids

February 3, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

Guest blog by Monica Cobis

indoor games for kids

9 Indoor Games for Kids

As the cold weather lingers, I think I am getting lazier and the kids are getting crazier. As the snow begins to melt, make some memories that will stay.

  1. Look at old photo albums together and tell the kids stories of your youth
  2. Make a notebook or photo collage of your child’s special moments
  3. Clean out a closet and the toys that they don’t want to play with put in a box on the upper shelf. Uncover the box in 3 months and they will think they have new toys
  4. Play Monopoly or other board games
  5. Have the kids make a hot meal with you as the supervisor cook
  6. As you clean out the closet, make a donation bag of clothes to give to local charities
  7. Decide on one service activity that your family will participate in this year. The upcoming VIP bed race is a fun one coming up and it supports local homeless families.
  8. Have the kids make a scavenger hunt of five items and have them write out the clues
  9. Test the senses: blindfold the child and have them guess 3 spices/herbs (cinnamon, vanilla, rosemary) and 3 fruits – then make a snack out of the cut up fruit

Whatever you do, make this day special. It is not often that we can spend precious time with our kids. Create some great memories and when the kids look back at the Snow Days of 2014, they will remember more than just the fluffy white stuff on the outside.

Monica CobisMonica Cobis, M.Ed. is an Academic Coach with Academic Life Coaching. She is a speaker, author and educational consultant. Her desire is to assist students and educational systems in creating successful and contributing future global leaders. She can be contacted

10 Ideas for Cabin Fever

January 30, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

Do your kids have the winter blues?

We can help!

Cures for Cabin Fever
Are your kids bored or bickering? Are they getting restless from being cooped up indoors? Winter is the time of year when cabin fever usually sets in. Don’t despair. Here are 10 ideas to help you keep your kids happy and busy all winter long.

Go camping indoors.

The sky may be grey, and the wind bitter cold, but you can still go camping indoors. Clear off your dining room table and cover it with blankets. Let your kids build their camp site using blankets and sleeping bags. Add a few pillows and flashlights, and you’ve got a sure cure for boredom.

Break the routine.

Change things up by serving dinner outside of the kitchen. Pack a picnic basket with kid-friendly foods — juice boxes, water bottles, packets of raisins, string cheese, sandwiches, paper plates, napkins. Spread a blanket in the family room and put together some sandwiches. Then unpack your picnic and enjoy.

Tour Phenix City and Columbus.

Pretend your family is on vacation in Phenix City and Columbus. Visit the River walk, local historical sites, parks, shops, and indoor play areas. Younger kids will enjoy Transformations (a hands-on gallery for kids) at the Columbus Museum.

Older kids will enjoy watching an IMAX movie and seeing the exhibits at the National Infantry Museum. There are a lot to things for kids to do in Phenix City and Columbus, so get out and explore your hometown.

Read a book.

One of my fondest memories is listening to my mom read a story every afternoon. Reading to your children at least thirty minutes a day has numerous benefits. The nurturing that takes place when you read to a child helps strengthen the child’s sense of security.

The Phenix City-Russell Country Library, the Columbus Public Library, and Barnes & Noble offer free story times and activities for kids of all ages.

Go swimming.

The Columbus Aquatic Center is open to the public year-round. Memberships are available in 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year options for the public (Muscogee County residents receive a discounted rate.) The Columbus Aquatics Center offers its own selection of swimming lessons, including Water Tots. Get a jump start on summer and register your kids today. For more information, call 706.225.3980.

Schedule a play date.

Invite a friend over for a playdate. Fewer things make familiar toys look new again, than having someone over to play.

If you have preschoolers, check out MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) at Wynnbrook Baptist Church in Columbus. This faith-based group meets twice a month and offer many activities for mothers and little ones. For more information, send an email to

Take a day trip.

There are lots of fun destinations within a day’s drive of Phenix City and Columbus. One of our favorites is the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. This family-friendly museum is packed with fun, hands-on activities for kids ages 8 and under. For more information, go to

Another of great destination is Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain. For the past five years, Callaway has offered complimentary admission on weekdays between January 1 and February 28. For more information, go to

Throw dance party.

If your kids like to dance, cue up some classic tunes like “Dancing Queen,” by ABBA, and “I will Survive,” by Gloria Gaynor and rock out. My boys’ favorite dance tunes are “Cupid Shuffle,” by Cupid and “Cha Cha Slide” by DJ Casper. They really love it when my husband and I join in.

Learn a new skill.

Embrace your inner Robin Hood. Every Friday night at 7 p.m. is Kids Night at Archery Connection in Phenix City. Kids ages 5-16 are welcome to bring their bows and shoot in the kids league. The cost is $8. Kids will compete on the 35-lane indoor range at 10 yards. For more information, go to

Write letters.

Haul out the craft supplies and set up a home Hallmark business. Let your children create their card with stickers, glitter, cut-out magazine photos, or whatever else they like. Then you ask them what they want to say to the recipient, and you write it inside. When the weather clears up, let your child stamp the envelope and slide it into a nearby mailbox.

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