The Perfect Road Trip Accessory Every Family Needs This Summer

The summer looms ahead, and with it we find families everywhere preparing for that American tradition: the summer road trip.

I remember road trips from my childhood. I spent many hours in the backseat, reading a book while out the window I could see towering redwood trees, canyon walls, or the reflection of the ocean in the windows. The first hour of a trip can be exciting, but we all know that soon boredom kicks in and the whining begins.

If you are looking for a way to entertain your entire family this summer on that long road trip, check out Radio Theatre’s Chronicles of Narnia from Focus on the Family.

Radio Theatre Chronicles of Narnia Set

Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre has been entertaining and enriching the lives of both young and old for decades. From timeless classics like The Christmas Carol to C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, Radio Theatre makes the stories come alive and real to a whole new generation of listeners. Radio Theatre isn’t just storytelling or a recorded book. It’s an audio movie that plays on the biggest screen of all: your imagination. Enjoying world-class actors, cinema-quality sound, and an orchestral score, your entire family will be enthralled and your car ride will pass in no time.

The entire set of the Chronicles of Narnia is available now on CD in a beautiful package perfect to keep in your car for hours of fun.

Want to win a set from Tyndale House and ParentLife? Enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

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Friday Links

I hope you’ll take the time to read some of these wonderful posts! Have a great weekend, and as always, leave us a link if you’ve read or written something great this week.

Staying Active During the Summer

Exercising as a family
source: Aikawa Ke via Flickr Creative Commons

Recently on my personal blog’s Facebook page, I expressed some worry about keeping up my exercise routine this summer. You see, for the first time in my life, I actually have one. I’ve consistently gone to the Y 2-3 times a week at least since September, right after school got into full swing. I love my water aerobics and Zumba classes. And I’m a little worried that summer is going to throw this routine right out the window.

I got some great suggestions from my friends over there. One person mentioned that if the kids are biking, running, etc, she was also biking or walking. I’m trying to put that in practice immediately; when my kids are playing around on tricycles or bikes, I am walking small laps around the circle area. (And chasing a 2-year-old. Always!)

Another friend said to have a gym where the childcare was so awesome she couldn’t bribe her daughter with doughnuts NOT to go was essential. Two out of three of my children loooove the YMCA childcare. The center where I go has an awesome climbing area with slides, mazes, the works. My introverted 4-year-old, however, hates the place. He would rather be coloring or playing with cars. But once he gets there, he will generally at least wander around. So while I am exercising, they are getting exercise, too. And their love for the center motivates me to stick to my workout.

Even if you don’t belong to a gym, your family can stay active together this summer. Here are a few more suggestions.

  • Take a nightly walk after dinner, when the weather is slightly cooler.
  • Swim. A lot! Swimming burns a ton of calories, builds muscles, and strengthens the core. Plus you stay cool and have fun.
  • Train for a 5K together.
  • Make a list of all of the playgrounds in your city. Make it a goal to visit all of them during the summer. The kids will be more active as they explore a new area. You can chase kids, push swings, walk laps, or do push-ups on the equipment.
  • Limit technology – yours and theirs – until you’ve had 30 minutes of physical activity that day.
  • Do an exercise DVD or find something on YouTube. My young kids love to join me when I do this!
  • Find more ideas about local activities, camping, hiking, and more on Active.com/kids.

Let’s make a commitment together to stay active this summer. Do you have any great tips?

Friday Links

I hope you’ll take some time to read these wonderful articles over the weekend. Have a blessed one! As always, leave us a link in the comments if you’ve written or read something great this week.

Family Shares Success Story and Practical Advice in Conquering Childhood Obesity {WIN IT}

In Who’s the New Kid, releasing from Tyndale House Publishers this May, ordinary mom Heidi Bond details the healthy regimen that rescued her daughter from childhood obesity and benefited her entire family.

Breanna Bond talks about changing after obesity

In Who’s the New Kid?, Heidi Bond, a self-described “ordinary mom,” shares her story of how she helped her daughter overcome childhood obesity. She provides helpful insights and practical tips, equipping families to help their children establish healthy habits as well as lose weight. Bond’s hope for her new book is “to shine a light on the truth surrounding childhood obesity, to let other families know that they are not alone, and to show the world that childhood obesity is 100 percent reversible and can be reversed in less time than you might think.”

Childhood obesity is a pervasive problem in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” In 2012, over a third of American children and adolescents were diagnosed as overweight or obese, which is concerning because according to the CDC, “childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.” Despite the alarming rates of childhood obesity and related health risks, the CDC confirms that healthy lifestyle and habits, “including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.”

Who's the New Kid?

These statistics were all too real for Heidi Bond. At nine years old, her daughter, Breanna, weighed a whopping 186 pounds. Just walking up the stairs to her room was a challenge. Her legs chafed to the point of bleeding from rubbing against each other, and her school days were filled with hurtful taunts of “Hey, Fatty!” Watching her daughter suffer like this was devastating for Heidi, prompting her to action. Heidi helped her daughter lose weight without the aid of fad diets, medication, or surgery, and in her new book she details how other parents can do the same for their kids.

To help Breanna, Heidi instituted a daily regimen of healthy eating and family exercise. In just over a year, Heidi’s plan worked! Breanna dropped 40 percent of her body weight and was transformed from a morbidly obese child who spent her days in front of the TV eating chips and chocolate to a vibrant, healthy, energetic little girl.

Filled with helpful diagnostic tools, easy-to-make recipes, eye-opening nutritional information, fun exercise ideas, and practical tips and advice, Who’s the New Kid? will not only show parents how to help their kids lose weight naturally, but will also introduce them to simple and effective lifestyle changes that will benefit the entire family.

When asked why she wrote this book, Heidi Bond responded, “We needed to share our journey to give people hope and inspiration, and to show them that change is possible. My goal in writing this book is to let others know that they are not alone. I know firsthand the fear and hopelessness that surround this epidemic.”

Heidi Bond on mothering an obese child

Heidi Bond has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, and The Biggest Loser. A sought-after speaker, she has helped thousands of parents who are struggling with overweight, underactive children. Heidi lives in Clovis, California, with her husband, Dan, and their children, Breanna and Nathan.

Jenna Glatzer is the author of 23 books, including Unthinkable by Scott Rigsby (Tyndale), Never Ever Give Up: The Jessie Rees Story (Zondervan), and Unbroken: A Memoir (Thomas Nelson). She has written hundreds of articles for magazines and online publications.

Want to win a copy of Who’s the New Kid? We have five to give away. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below.

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Giving My Kids Responsibility for Their Stuff

One of the best choices I’ve made in parenting!

#ds302 - Trail of Tears

I was so tired of asking my kids to clean their rooms.

It gets old, doesn’t it? The fact that my 6-year-old would still throw a giant tantrum any time I asked her didn’t help. Maybe it was because by that time, I was so frustrated I was about to burst. This had been going on for years. Instead of cleaning, she would whine, complain, cry, and then often fall asleep in avoidance of the task at hand.

We don’t have a ton of toys for our kids, either. But we live in an apartment, a small-ish place, no playroom, and the toys seem to overrun it nonetheless.

One day I decided I was just DONE. I talked it over with my husband. What do we do well that the kids respond to?

Bedtime. We do bedtime right. Every night, the kids (6, 4, and 2) know exactly what to expect. We read a Bible story, share what we are thankful for, and sing a song. Then they brush teeth, get tucked in with essential oil diffusers on, and are expected to go to sleep. My sons (the 4 and 2 year old) share a room, and often giggle and chat until it gets dark. But they know to go to sleep. They don’t come out and ask for a million things. It’s BEDTIME.

So I thought about how we could transfer that kind of consistency to cleaning up. After thought (especially reflecting on some of Kevin Leman’s books, like Make Children Mind Without Losing Yours), I posted a few new rules on a chalkboard in the kitchen the next morning.

Rule #1: The kids would be expected to have clean rooms by 7 p.m. on Sunday evening. If they did, they would receive an age-appropriate allowance. Rule #2: Any toys left in the living room after bedtime might not be there in the morning.

Simple, right? But it was enough to make it click for my 6-year-old, at least.

The first week, my 4-year-old’s room wasn’t clean at 7 p.m. And he didn’t get the allowance. You better believe it was clean the second Sunday night!

There’s more to it, of course, a few more rules we created to help consistency around here. But just putting it in writing has made a huge difference in our household. And the best part is my own freedom: I might remind them that if they pick up during the week, it will make Sunday easier. But it puts all the responsibility on them, not me. And amazingly enough, the rooms have stayed much cleaner the rest of the time, too.

Do you have any great go-to tips for getting kids to pick up and do chores?

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Common from user Sharon Drummond. This post added to Works for Me Wednesday at Giving Up on Perfect

Weekend Links

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Start Crafting Now! Journey Off the Map VBS Preparation

Is your church participating in LifeWay’s Vacation Bible School for 2015, Journey Off the Map? If so, now is a great time to start crafting (with or without your kiddos’ help). These projects will be great for take-home items, decorating classrooms, and getting your own children enthusiastic about their upcoming Journey!

K-Cup Flowers from Moms Saving Money

Paper Bag Palm Trees from Lists I Live By are made with pool noodles!

This incredible sign from Mirrored Creations is made out of Styrofoam, not wood!

Beautiful Cupcake Flower Lights from Oh Happy Day

 Are you participating in Journey Off the Map this summer?

Friday Links

Enjoy the links! As always, if you have a good post to share, leave us a link in the comments.

When Your Kids Are Like Night and Day by Jessie Weaver

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I’ve always been sort of baffled at how very unalike my two older children are.

Exhibit A: This was one of the first times David played on ABCMouse, a learning Web site. When his sister (older by two years) does these coloring pages on the site, she generally does everything one color, wanting to get it done as soon as possible. These days, she enjoys spending all her earned “tickets” to buy clothes for her avatar and decorate her virtual room. She is jealous of her brother’s thousands of tickets, earned because he will do puzzles on the highest level and spends his time detailing the coloring pages.

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Exhibit B: This boy loves to dress up. He never changes after church on Sunday, no matter how dressed up he is. The first Monday after he wore his fancy suit to church on Sunday, he was home alone with my husband. Adam asked him to go get dressed. Adam says he came out dressed in the suit, again, having dug it out of the dirty clothes. Poor David had to learn that we do not wear dirty clothes. Usually.

My daughter, on the other hand, no matter how much she loves to dress up, changes the second she gets home from church into “comfy clothes.” I am never sure whether she is uncomfortable or she just wants the chance to wear another outfit. But she has to get into a new get-up whether Mommy thinks it’s necessary or not.

These two, they are remarkably different, showing that nature can have a funny sense of humor. I’ve never know whether it’s boy/girl, older/younger, or just their personalities. One is an extroverted, wild, active child with gangly limbs and big curls. One is introverted, generally quiet and focused, teensy-tiny and with none of his brother and sister’s curly locks. They are night and day.

I’ve found, though, that my job as a parent is not to identify more with one of them. I see myself and my husband in both of their personalities. I love those little reflections. But I can love every piece of them, as different as those pieces may be. And, most importantly, I learn differently from my children. From Libbie, I learn to live a little more exuberantly, embracing life in its fullest, loving people loudly. From David, I learn patience (did I mention he is SLOWWWWW?) and to take time to stop and smell the roses. I try to delight a little bit more at dandelions and puffy clouds.

God’s given me three very different children. (I’m not even getting into my baby, here!) And they are all blessings. I just have to learn how to delight in their differences!

Jessie Weaver writes regularly about family, faith, and food at jessieweaver.net.