Parents Magazine Names the Best Toys of 2021

Parents Magazine released this year’s list of Best Toys, recognizing the 50 top new playthings for every child in 2021. Selected by the editors following a months-long research process complete with testing by kids, the list of winners is available on and in the December issue of PARENTS. Here is a list of the top three toys in each of the categories: PLAYSETS Lakeshore Learning Treasures Await! Adventure ShipHasbro Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Rising Cake Oven PlaysetPlay, iLearn Dinosaur Train Adventure Set WOW FACTOR Radio Flyer Tumble Town Foam Climbing BlocksJust Play Ryan’s World Chef Ryan’s Fridge SurpriseLEGO Minecraft: The … Continue reading

CDC Recommends Staying Home for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday where people travel long distances so they can spend time with their families. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes it clear that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from catching and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. The CDC has information about Thanksgiving related activities that are “lower risk”, “moderate risk” and “higher risk”. Understanding the risk of certain activities can help you make safer choices. Lower Risk Activities Having a small dinner with only people who live in your neighborhood Preparing traditional family recipes for family and … Continue reading

Sensory-Friendly Santa – At a Mall Near You

One of the fun parts of the holiday season is a trip to visit Santa Claus at the local mall. It can be hard for many little ones to wait in line – but most manage to do it. Children who have autism, or who have difficulties coping with the bright lights, loud sounds, and big crowds that surround Santa can visit a Sensory-Friendly Santa. A Sensory-Friendly Santa might also be called a Sensitive Santa or a Caring Santa. Santa looks the same, but is able to behave differently than typical in order to accommodate for kids who have special … Continue reading

Doing the Christmas Wrap

Yesterday was wrapping day. We don’t give huge gifts, and we’re not getting anything that wriggles. Nonetheless, it was a bit of a project. If you’re into recycling and reusing like I am, Christmas wrapping is a mental stretch. I have a couple of rolls of old wrapping paper in my basement, and I do use them occasionally. However, the fact that they’ve lived with me since we arrived in our house over seven years ago tells me that I don’t tend to use a lot of wrapping paper. What do we do instead? Chocolate boxes, cookie containers, and old … Continue reading

Looking Toward the Light: Centering Spaces and Rituals in Your Home

It is snowing today, and it is quiet. It’s still early in the morning, and everyone else in the house is asleep. This is the time when I can write, and it’s a time when I can be by myself, cultivating my introverted self. This is the busy season, and it is also a season that is dark. This time of the year brings families together, and it is also a sad time for those who have lost friends and family – during this year, during any year. My aunt died suddenly and tragically at Christmas time, and my father’s … Continue reading

Holiday Sanity-Savers Around the House

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, and the crazy is in the air. If you’re trying to figure out how to manage, here are some ideas that I use to calm down. Prioritize You may like a clean toilet bowl or a clutter-free house. You may want to do all of the Christmas activities, and then some. You will likely need to prioritize. What can you slack off on during the Christmas season? What’s really important? Set out some priorities so that you do what you really want to do instead of running around like that proverbial chicken. … Continue reading

Decorating With Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving. This means that around the country, people are sitting with family and friends, sharing food and family time. Perhaps that family is a family of two, or it might be a family of twenty and counting. Perhaps that family is a family of friends and neighbors, of people who are dear to you. It may be that you are alone today, sharing this time with your own thoughts. Sometimes it can be hard to feel thankful. We live in a time of great change, when families are challenged to live within their own means and the means of … Continue reading

Simple Teacher Gifts For Christmas

The carols are blaring and the decorations are out, and I am tempted to put my head under something minty-scented until January. Although I love the giving aspect of the Christmas season, its commercial bent gives me a strong desire to flee. But then there’s the problem of homemade. In this world of busy and this world of “but I don’t know HOW to make things,” how can you create homemade Christmas items for teachers, friends, and family and have them delight in what you have made? Over the next two weeks, I’ll explore some super simple ways to create … Continue reading

What to Do With Old Halloween Costumes

In the toy box, Little Red Riding Hood is having a fight with the Big Bad Wolf, and Superman’s trying to step in and break it up. Halloween is a time when we tend to accumulate a lot of new costumes. What can you do with those old Halloween costumes? Of course, the kids will likely be into them for a while. Choose Halloween costumes that are durable, and they may be a hit in the dress ups for years. But after the attraction wanes, where will your costumes find a home? Choose costumes that are made out of reusable … Continue reading

5 Unusual Uses for Your Halloween Pumpkin

Pumpkins, pumpkins: tis the season for these orange-colored balls of seasonal goopiness. It’s time to carve them and eat them and turn them into everything imaginable. If you like pumpkins, here are some ideas that go a little bit beyond the ordinary. 5 Unusual Uses for Pumpkins Flower Pot There’s something better than flowers: it’s autumn flowers in a pumpkin! Use your carved pumpkin to house a fall arrangement, and it will make your front porch look delightfully festive. Candle holder I’m loving those little gourds-turned-candleholders. Get a wee pumpkin, carve it out, and place a candle in the middle. … Continue reading