The Afterschool Special Snack

fruit wrap

One of the greatest challenges of my years of parenting has been keeping up with my kids’ everchanging interests and moods. Their likes and dislikes seem to vary from week to week.

Especially when it comes to snacks.

Once upon a time, when my son was a toddler, a simple bag of baby carrots would keep him happy in between meals. As he grew older, his tastes became more complicated. And then simple. And then complicated. Continue reading

Let Your Kids Get Dirty

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Maytag. All opinions are 100% mine.

Muddy miles

Kids are filthy.

There’s just no getting around that fact. From toddlers to teens, your kids are going to find all sorts of different ways to dirty themselves up. Parents should be patient and remember that a little bit of dirt, or maybe a lot of it, isn’t going to hurt. In fact, getting dirty can be quite fun. Continue reading

Family Vacation to Spokane


When you tell people you’re visiting Washington State, they usually conjure up images of majestic mountains, rugged coastlines, or the urban beauty of Seattle. Most people forget there’s an entire eastern half of the state that has a number of cool and unique places to visit.

On the far eastern edge of Washington is the city of Spokane, which is well worth exploring for a few days if you find yourself traveling on Interstate 90, and especially if you have kids, because Spokane (the “e” is silent, by the way) is a very kid-friendly town.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog.

Heat and Kindness


Everybody told me I would die out there.

A horrible, painful, melting death.

We here in North Idaho are not accustomed to day after day of 100+ degree temperatures, especially in June, when a freak snow flurry wouldn’t surprise most people.

There was no denying that it was unusually, blisteringly hot. But my family didn’t let the fear of spontaneous combustion stop us from going outside, because we had a promise to keep.

And miles to go to keep that promise. Continue reading

Family Vacation to Maui

Snorkeling in Maui

On our recent family vacation to Maui, I knew there was one thing I had to do for the very first time: Snorkel.

I had promised my kids, and myself, that this would be the year I finally get over my irrational fear of the ocean (thanks to repeated viewings of “Jaws”) by donning a mask, fins and a snorkel, and swimming right out into that deep blue water.

First thing I had to do, however, was find a good place for beginner snorkelers, where the water would be calm, clear and filled with ocean life.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog.

Minions Giveaway!


Minions are here!

The silly little yellow sidekicks from the two Despicable Me movies are starring in their very own hilarious adventure, and it hits theaters today.

The Minions movie imagines their quest to serve the most horrible villains in history, starting back in prehistoric times and moving up to the 20th century. Eventually, the minions arrive in 1960s London, where their latest master uses them in a crazy attempt to overthrow the Queen of England. Continue reading

Family Vacation to the Moon

craters of the moon

Inspired by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, one of my dreams of childhood was to walk on the moon. I didn’t want to be an astronaut. Rather, I wanted to romp around in low gravity as a tourist.

It wasn’t an unreasonable fantasy. I mean, not if you were a regular viewer of “The Jetsons.” We all thought there would be flying cars and robot maids in our future.

Vacations on the moon aren’t about to happen anytime soon, so I’ll just have to settle for a little imagination, and a road trip to Craters of the Moon National Monument, in southern Idaho.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog

Family Vacation to the Olympic Beaches


Washington’s Olympic National Park is an amazingly diverse place, with snowcapped mountain peaks, sandy ocean beaches, and a temperate rain forest all within easy driving distance of each other. One particular part of the park has twice been our base of operations for the ideal family vacation.

The Olympic Beaches stretch along the Pacific Coast for 73 miles. They range from the wide and sandy Kalaloch Beach to the rugged and rocky Rialto Beach. They all have their own unique characteristics, some with awesome tide pools and others with weird rock formations, and they are all close enough to each other to be explored in just a day or two.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog

Jellyfish Attack

When I was a kid, probably 7 or 8, my family spent a day at a Southern California beach, building sand castles, playing in the surf, and eating slightly sandy hot dogs.

I remember that day because I was viciously attacked by a jellyfish!

Okay, so it was a mild sting. Very mild, in fact. But I was at that age where everything is amplified tenfold because it’s new and strange. In my mind, the ocean was suddenly filled with millions of horrible little jellyfish reaching out with their long, poisonous tentacles.

If only I had known that jellyfish are beautiful creatures. They’re even kind of cute and cuddly. Most of all, they are quite useful. Continue reading