Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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The Santa Tracker Awakens

December 24, 2015

By Jessica Vician

The Santa Tracker Awakens | Grab your children, sit them on your lap, and find out where the reindeer are flying him right now with Google’s Santa Tracker. | A globe sits with a Santa hat on.

It might be daylight where you are reading this message, but somewhere in the world it’s nighttime and Santa Claus is delivering gifts to good girls and boys!

Grab your children, sit them on your lap, and find out where the reindeer are flying him right now with Google’s Santa Tracker.

Show your kids how big the world truly is and throw in a quick lesson on time zones.

Keep the Learning Going
This tool is Google’s version of an advent calendar, where kids can unlock a new game, video, or lesson each day before Christmas Eve, when the Santa Tracker really takes flight.

Even if your family hasn’t visited the site every day, you can still go back to Santa’s Village and try the activities from the days leading up to today.

Check it out with your children and awaken that Christmas magic and wonder.

Merry Christmas from all of us at YOU Parent, and to all a good night!

Tags :  holidaysactivitiesfamily fun
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Our 7 Favorite Christmas Articles

December 22, 2015

By Jessica Vician

We’ve wrapped up seven of our favorite Christmas articles and put them under the proverbial tree to gift you with helpful tips and inspirational stories.

Merry Christmas!

Sometimes when families get together, conflict can arise, so how do you avoid it between blended families during the holidays?

The Holiday Brady Bunch: Blending Families by Sunny P. Chico
Holidays are about spending time together as a family and celebrating. When my husband and I married, I was blessed with three daughters from my husband’s first marriage while I brought with me my two children from my first marriage.

Even though my stepdaughters were raised Jewish and my children are Catholic, we celebrate holidays through our cultures and the uniqueness of our religions. 

Sometimes when families get together, conflict can arise, so how do you avoid it between blended families during the holidays?

Read on for Sunny’s three tips to avoid conflict with a blended family.

Change is good even around the holidays. If you have a grown son or daughter who is now married, consider what this means as you merge families and holiday traditions.

Grown Kids and Changing Traditions by Amelia Orozco
Change is good even around the holidays. If you have a grown son or daughter who is now married, consider what this means as you merge families and holiday traditions.

Keep reading for Amelia’s advice on how to embrace new traditions with your expanding family.

Holidays are full of social gatherings where alcohol is often a staple. Through my work as a family counselor, I’ve seen the effects that irresponsible drinking can have on a family. We need to be conscious of what image of social and holiday drinking we give our middle and high school children.

Enjoy Alcohol Responsibly This Holiday by Noralba Martinez
Holidays are full of social gatherings where alcohol is often a staple. Through my work as a family counselor, I’ve seen the effects that irresponsible drinking can have on a family. We need to be conscious of what image of social and holiday drinking we give our middle and high school children.

Click to read Noralba’s tips for responsible social drinking that doesn’t send your teen a misleading message.

The true meaning of Christmas for Christians is about celebrating the gift God gave us through the birth of his son. It’s a time to reflect on how blessed we are despite the bad moments we faced throughout the year.

True Meaning of Christmas by Sunny P. Chico
The true meaning of Christmas for Christians is about celebrating the gift God gave us through the birth of his son. It’s a time to reflect on how blessed we are despite the bad moments we faced throughout the year.

Read more about what Christmas means to Sunny and her family and how to reconnect your kids to the true meaning of Christmas.

The holidays are a time of giving, and what better way for your child to show love and appreciation than with a homemade card? We created these holiday card templates for you to download and print for a DIY family activity.

DIY Activity: Holiday Cards - Free Download!
The holidays are a time of giving, and what better way for your child to show love and appreciation than with a homemade card? We created these holiday card templates for you to download and print for a DIY family activity. 

Click for the free download, grab the crayons, and start coloring!

Try this easy DIY activity with your children to make heartfelt, homemade ornaments and jewelry from plastic take-out containers.

DIY Shrinky Dink: Repurposed Plastic Ornaments and Jewelry by Judy Razo
Here’s another fun DIY activity for the kids to try.

Creating gifts together is a great way to teach your children the concept of giving—they create something they’re proud of and then give it away for the sake of someone else’s joy.

Try this easy DIY activity with your children to make heartfelt, homemade ornaments and jewelry from plastic take-out containers.

Spark your family’s joy and wonderment with these 5 holiday activities. From being awed by zoo lights to “transporting” to Germany for a Christkindlmarket, create magical holiday memories with your family this season.

5 Must-Do Holiday Activities by Jessica Vician
Spark your family’s joy and wonderment with these 5 holiday activities. From being awed by zoo lights to “transporting” to Germany for a Christkindlmarket, create magical holiday memories with your family this season.

Read through my top 5 holiday activities and share yours in the comments.

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Celebrate Las Posadas with These 3 Activities

December 17, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Celebrate Las Posadas with These 3 Activities | get in the spirit and teach your children about Las Posadas, try one (or all) of these Las Posadas activities. | The star piñata being hit on Las Posadas.

In the nine days before Christmas, many Mexicans and North and Central Americans celebrate Las Posadas, a time to remember Mary and Joseph’s journey to find shelter before bringing Jesus into the world.

During Las Posadas, people reenact that journey by traveling door to door, singing carols to request shelter, just as Mary and Joseph did. Once they reach a home that welcomes them inside, everyone celebrates with food and music while the children take turns hitting the piñata. Once it’s broken, everyone shares the candy and fruit that was inside.

To get in the spirit and teach your children about Las Posadas, try one (or all) of these Las Posadas activities.

1. Act out a Play
Children’s Ministry Magazine wrote a short play that you can share with the children in your family and/or neighborhood. Ask them to rehearse and perform during Las Posadas.

2. Create Poinsettia Art
Let your children get messy with this art project that allows them to make poinsettias and learn the story behind Las Posadas.

3. Light the Way with Luminaries
Make luminaries to light outside your home and welcome the carolers. While traditional luminaries are paper bags with sand and tea lights, this list of DIY luminaries has creative alternatives that your family can make together to impress visitors.

How does your family celebrate Las Posadas? Tell me in the comments below.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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4 Hanukkah Facts for Kids

December 8, 2015

By Jessica Vician

4 Hanukkah Facts for Kids | It's Hanukkah, the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, your children will likely have questions about it. Take this opportunity to educate them during the eight days and nights with these four facts.

Sunday night kicked off the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, your children will likely have questions about it. Take this opportunity to educate them during the eight days and nights with these four facts.

The History
In Hebrew, “Hanukkah” means “dedication,” which honors the Jerusalem holy temple’s rededication after the Jewish victory of the Syrian-Greeks.

Beginning on the 25th of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights. The reason it falls on different days and weeks each year is because the Hebrew calendar is lunar.

The Tradition
The family lights one new candle each night on the menorah, which commemorates the Maccabee miracle, when one day’s worth of oil lasted eight days to rededicate the temple.

The Celebration
Throughout the week, children play with a dreidel toy, which is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. The child with the most gelt, candy coins that represent charity, at the end of the game wins.

The Spelling
Kids often wonder which spelling of Hanukkah is correct and why there are so many options. The truth is that most of the spellings you see in English are correct. There are several spellings (for example, Chanukah or Hanukkah) because the guttural sound of the Hebrew letters is difficult to translate into English.

What questions have your children asked about Hanukkah? How does your family celebrate? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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5 Must-Do Holiday Family Activities

December 3, 2015

By Jessica Vician

5 Must-Do Holiday Family Activities | Try these free or low-cost holiday activities with your family this season to start a new tradition and inspire wonder and holiday magic. | A photo of the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo, courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo.

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo. 

Children make the holidays magical. They open our adult eyes to wonder, hope, faith, and a jolly good spirit while reminding us to take a few moments to really appreciate everything we have.

Spark your family’s joy and wonderment with these holiday activities, which are some of my favorites. Then share yours in the comments below so we can all try something new this year!

Christkindlmarket
Many towns offer a traditional German holiday market, inspired by the one in Nuremberg, Germany that started in 1545. These markets often feature local artisans, shops, and traditional German food, while some, like the one in Chicago, even have vendors visiting from Germany.

Bring the kids for the food, music, culture, and the opportunity to speak a little German. Teach them how to say good day (guten tag), goodbye (auf wiederschen), and thank you (danke).

Zoo Lights
Get several families together, bundle up, and visit your local zoo for Zoo Lights this season. While the animals might be sleeping, many zoos turn on their holiday lights at dusk, which will warm your hearts and give your kids something to dream about that night.

Holiday Windows
Every December, my family would drive to the Marshall Fields (now Macy’s) on State Street in Chicago to take in the holiday windows and music in the brisk winter air. With a different theme every year, I was always excited to see what magic would be dancing around in the windows.

Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if your town decorates holiday windows or head to the nearest city for adorned windows, music, and other special events for kids.

Holiday Giving to Kids and Charities
When I was in elementary school, every year my family would take an angel from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. We would go shopping together for that child’s Christmas gifts. Not only was it fun to shop for someone my age, but it also taught me that the holidays aren’t just about Santa and receiving gifts. They are about giving to those who need help.

Once I was in high school, my student council hosted toy drives. After we organized all of the toys, we would deliver them to the families’ homes. Witnessing the pure joy in the children’s faces was the greatest gift we could ever receive. Ask your middle school or high school student to help organize a toy drive at his or her school this year.

Even if your family can’t afford to sponsor an angel or donate to Toys for Tots, save a little extra change for the Red Kettle program. Before you enter or leave the store, give your child that change to put in the red kettles and explain how that money helps other children. You’re teaching the spirit of giving, which is one of the most important parts of the holiday season.

Snuggle Time
One of the best activities you can do with your family over the holidays is also free! Cuddle up on a cold morning or evening in bed or on the couch. Make some hot chocolate, light a fire, and watch a holiday movie or play a game together. After all, what are the holidays without family and love?

What are your family’s must-do activities and traditions over the holidays? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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