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DIY: Make a Pampering Coffee Scrub with Your Kids

January 28, 2014

By Jessica Vician

Jessica Vician makes a pampering coffee scrub with her friend, Byrdie Von Hines.

Photos by Josh Hines

What mom doesn’t yearn for a spa day? Juggling schedules, from school to daycare to feedings, is exhausting. Sometimes you just need an hour or two at a spa to relax, unwind, and exfoliate. But let’s not kid ourselves—there’s no time for that!

Don’t worry— I have a solution that will work with your schedule and allows you some bonding and teaching time with your children, regardless of their ages. Make an exfoliating coffee scrub! You likely have all of the ingredients in your kitchen already.

This scrub is easy to make for kids aged two and a half and up. If younger children are helping you, supervise them throughout the process to make sure they don’t eat any ingredients or get the liquids in their eyes. As your kids help you make the scrub, teach them about measurements and fractions.

Once the scrub is ready, turn your shower into a spa! Massage it on your skin to exfoliate the dead skin cells away and moisturize your skin. If you have teenagers or college-age children, they will likely want to use some as well so be sure to include them in this DIY-activity.

Let’s start with the ingredients. They’re pretty simple.

Ingredients include sugar in the raw, coffee grounds, oil, and vanilla extract

1 cup coffee grounds

I like to use a winter-themed blend, like gingerbread, for a delicious added scent.

0.5 cup sugar in the raw

This sugar is courser than other sugars, but if you don’t have that you can use brown sugar.

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of oil

Use any oil you have. I always have a lot of olive oil on hand, but you could use a massage oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, etc.

Jessica Vician helps Byrdie Von Hines measure the coffee grounds.

Have your kids measure out each ingredient, putting them into a medium-sized bowl as they finish measuring. Show them that the ½ cup of sugar is half of the one cup of coffee scrub to help them understand fractions. Then have them stir the ingredients thoroughly, making sure to evenly distribute the wet ingredients throughout the dry ingredients.

Pour the scrub into a plastic container with a lid if you’re using it at home (I use old gelato containers). If you’re giving it as a gift, use a glass mason jar or pretty jam container.

The coffee scrub is ready to use in a Mason jar.

Voila! You now have a coffee scrub to use in the shower for a spa moment no matter how busy you are. And in the process of making a little something to pamper yourself with, you helped your children learn real-world fraction use and how to measure, all while bonding through an activity. Enjoy!

Thanks to Josh Hines for this article's photography and to his daughter, Byrdie Von Hines, for her excellent coffee scrub-making skills. For more of Josh's photography work, visit his website.

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How can I help my son learn my home country’s culture while he grows up in the States?

January 24, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Question: How do I share my home country culture with my seven-year old son while encouraging him to learn and embrace American culture?

Answer: It’s difficult to maintain your culture and identity as an immigrant in the United States. Your family will be influenced by this new culture, but don’t fret. The clue to raising bicultural children relies on instilling a sense of pride in their heritage while letting them experience the new culture openly, without making them feel as if they are betraying your own traditions.

Here are some ideas you can try in order to create a bicultural environment that will help your son thrive in both traditions.

  • Teach the language. Language is one of the main ways you can understand a culture. Besides, bilingual children will have more academic and professional opportunities in the future. At home, speak in both languages.
  • Keep traditions alive. Celebrate your home country’s holidays and make your son part of the celebrations by explaining their meaning to him. Cook traditional foods both during the holidays and throughout the year. If possible, spice up celebrations with music and dance from your home country. Your son will associate his culture with fun times and novelty.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends. If most of your family still lives in your home country, connect through email, Facebook, or Skype. Make a habit of talking to them frequently and include your son in these conversations. Encourage him to ask questions to his relatives about what they eat, their daily routine, their work, etc. This will not only tighten family ties but will help him realize how life is in his other culture.
  • Embrace American life without too much judgment. Let your child live his other culture freely. Don’t judge him for wanting to be part of American celebrations or by conducting himself in a more “American” way. In the meantime, you can make an effort to learn more about your adoptive country, its culture, its language, and the reasons behind all of its traditions.

By doing these things with your son, you will quickly realize that all cultures are valuable and that adding one more to your family will only enrich your life, not subtract from your original beliefs.

For more information about bicultural education, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, specifically page 18 in Through Elementary and Middle School.

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Top 5 Winter Movies and Lessons to Learn from Them

January 23, 2014

By Amanda Gebhardt

Top 5 Winter Movies

Growing up in the Midwest, I’ve learned to look forward to cold, snowy afternoons bundled on the couch under blankets and sweatshirts. Spending time snuggled together as a family, enjoying classic winter movies that promote positive values is a great way to make memories and strengthen family bonds.

While there are plenty of fantastic holiday movies that families can watch together every year, now that the holidays are over, the YOU Parent staff wanted to highlight the movies that are fun all winter long. We took a staff poll, and pulled out five of our favorites and the lessons our kids can learn from them.

  1. Home Alone, PG 
    Not only does Home Alone promote resourcefulness in the face of adversity, but it also serves as a reminder that help can come from unexpected places—namely a misunderstood neighbor who ends up saving the day.
  2. Harry Potter, PG 
    Much of the Harry Potter series is set in the deep snow of winter, while students warm themselves by the fires of the Gryffindor Common Room. Families can enjoy watching a plucky underdog realize his potential for greatness through loyalty, compassion, and a strong sense of justice, or even read along with the books to find more adventures with Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
  3. Groundhog Day, PG 
    My own personal favorite, Groundhog Day is an annual tradition in my house. We get friends together on February 2nd and sit around with hot chocolate and watch Bill Murray get a second (and third, and fourth, and…. thousandth) chance at being a good person and finding happiness.
  4. About a Boy, PG-13 
    About a Boy follows a man with no close friends or family living his life by wasting money and lying to women. Through an unlikely friendship with a lonely boy, though, his world opens up and his life becomes one of meaning and joy. While it may not be appropriate for young audiences, this movie shows the value of honesty, compassion, and selflessness.
  5. Adventures in Babysitting, PG-13 
    A universal favorite of everyone polled, Adventures in Babysitting is a timeless comedy that still makes us laugh and cheer. Ultimately, this is a story of friendship and the lengths one friend will go to for another in distress. It also is about the push and pull of growing up and of being young but having responsibilities—something even those of us who are all grown up can still remember and appreciate.

As the snow lingers and you want to experience winter vicariously from the warmer states, snuggle close, and happy watching!

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Acclimating to American Culture for Your Children

January 22, 2014

By Lorena Villa Parkman

American flag

Moving to a new country is always a complicated journey, especially when learning a new culture and following a different set of social rules. Families face new values that often conflict with their own beliefs. Suddenly, parents have another difficult task to tackle besides adapting themselves to the recent challenges of their daily life: they are forced to negotiate a balance with their children between their own customs and what they want to adopt from their new culture.

Your child wants to belong and even though you shouldn’t leave behind your own beliefs, you need to understand your new culture in order to help your child adapt to his or her new home.

Here are a couple of things that are considered normal in American culture and that you might want to know beforehand in order to understand and adapt to the circumstances:

  • Dating at a younger age. In this country, children start dating more seriously in high school. Of course, it is your right to decide what sort of rules you set before you let your child go out with a romantic interest. However, just be aware that is generally considered normal to let two teenagers go out to the movies together, to have dinner alone, or to even go as a couple to a school event such as a prom. To feel more comfortable, have your child call to check in during the evening and speak with other parents about what they do to keep their children safe while dating.
  • Sleepovers. Your elementary school child might get invitations from same-sex friends to stay over their house for the night. Usually the host family will prepare activities for the kids to enjoy: movies, board games, or snacks, for example. If you feel a bit uneasy, ask the host family to please explain in detail what are they planning for the night. Leave your phone number and address so you feel at ease that they will have enough information to reach you if your child feels homesick during the night or if something else happens. Tell your child that if he or she is ever uncomfortable at a sleepover, your child can call you to come get him or her. Again, you can also create check-in times with your child and call him or her to know the status of his sleepover experience.
  • Parent engagement in school. In many cultures, talking or questioning teachers or school authorities is seen as disrespectful. In the United States, parents are expected to get involved in school and to talk to teachers about their concerns. Parents are welcome to schedule an appointment with school authorities once in a while to discuss their child’s academic achievements and opportunities for improvement. Don’t feel intimidated—rather, take this opportunity to speak up for your child.
  • Leaving home to live on campus. In some other countries, teenagers still live with their parents when they go to college (if they study in the same city). In the United States, leaving home to go to college is almost seen as a rite of passage. In some universities it’s even mandatory to live on campus at least for the first year of college. See this as a great opportunity for your child to be independent, to learn how to tackle daily life chores, and encounter new experiences and cultures.

It might be difficult for you as a parent to get used to a different "normal" in American culture, but by working with other parents to establish trust and by doing what feels right to you, you will soon feel more at ease in this new environment. By building up your confidence and getting to know more of your adoptive country, you will be able to help your children with any obstacle they encounter in their path towards success in America.

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How can I help my daughter cope with marital arguments?

January 17, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A daughter listens to her parents argue.

Question: Sometimes my husband and I have arguments and my 5-year-old daughter gets very upset. How can I help her cope?

Answer: Arguments and disagreements happen. Between differing opinions or general irritations and annoyances, these heated conversations can happen in front of your child. But they don’t have to be a destructive force in your family.

Use this opportunity to reevaluate how you and your husband argue. Try to work together to achieve the following goals to model positive conflict resolution for your daughter.

  • Stay calm. Avoid arguing from a place of anger and frustration. Set ground rules before the argument, such as limiting the discussion to one topic and taking a time-out if things start getting too heated.
  • Listen. Validate each other’s opinions and feelings by listening to what the other has to say.
  • During the argument, be responsive to your daughter. While you and your spouse are focused on the argument, how is your daughter reacting? Did she run away? Is she hiding or crying? Sometimes it’s best to postpone the argument to check in on her, especially if that argument is getting heated.

Even with the best of intentions, it’s not always possible to control ourselves as we would like to when we get worked up and emotional. After an argument that your daughter witnessed, it’s important to follow up with her.

  • Let her see the resolution. Whether it resulted in an apology, a compromise, or an agreement to disagree, let your daughter see that arguments end and people can move forward happily after them.
  • Assess her feelings. Don’t assume that just because your argument is over, her negative feelings have passed. Talk to her about what she heard, what she felt, and what it all means. Apologize and be willing to admit if you took things too far or said something you didn’t mean. Talk about how you both want to handle things in the future.
  • Explain that you and your husband still love each other. Tell your daughter that even though you and your husband may argue, you still love each other and you both love your daughter. Demonstrate this love by setting aside time to spend together as a family doing a fun, bonding activity. Familiar activities can help reassure young children.

Arguing can be restorative. It can help clear the air and get on the same page with someone else. It can help couples move forward stronger than they were before, but only if it’s engaged consciously. Be aware of what your arguing is teaching your daughter. You’ll reap the benefits when she is a teenager and you have to work through conflicts directly with her.

For more information on modeling positive behavior, see the first book of the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, Through the Early Years, page 38.

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