The Best Christmas Gift I Ever Got from My Child

Written on December 15, 2014 at 11:18 am , by

Attention moms: This is a post you’re going to want to share, forward, copy and paste.

You see, right about now, plenty of little kids are wondering: What’s in Mom’s letter to Santa? And, well, bigger ones are pondering which treasured item Mom secretly hopes to find wrapped under the tree, too.

Contrary to all the commercials on endless repeat for the rest of December, you told us it’s not really diamond earrings or a luxury car. (Although we must admit those would make pretty fabulous holiday gifts. And if anyone out there has already put in an order for the VERY BIG BOW, don’t cancel it on our account.)

So what does Mom really want? Hundreds of them wrote in to tell us about the best present they ever received from their kid. The overwhelming majority of these gifts didn’t come in a box. The presence of loved ones was especially treasured, as were things like having an argument-free day. There were also a few items created, coordinated or purchased by their kids that were big hits. So without further ado, here are the gifts that were a huge hit:

1. HANDCRAFTED MASTERPIECES

“My daughter made a heart on canvas with pictures of our family.” —Annette S.

“Twelve handmade coupons from my adult son promising one day/afternoon together each month, just the two of us.” —Linda S.

“A hand-painted Santa egg by my son who is 28 and has been creating one each year for 12 years. I treasure each one.” —Janice W.

“The rocking chair I rocked all my kids in—refurbished. Such a special gift!” —Millie U.

“Our son passed away in April 2008 at the age of 16, and my daughter had a memory book made for us by having different family members and friends email her a memory of him. Priceless!” —Michelle T.

2. A HELPING HAND

“They decorated my tree, put up my lights and cleaned my home for Christmas.” —Pearl M.

“An IOU for keeping his room clean for a year!” —Sharon K.

“I was sick for the week leading up to Christmas, and my two daughters planned and prepared the whole Christmas meal. My sons cleaned up afterward. All I had to do was come to the table and then go back to my room. I was never so grateful for their help. I didn’t even know they knew how to do it. They even baked the pies!” —Ginny S.

3. TREASURED ITEMS

“Nail polish in my favorite colors.” —Linda M.

“Some of my favorite perfume.” —Petra M.

“A really soft throw blanket with a tiger on it. Tigers are my favorite animal.” —Robin N.

4. A LATE START

“Waiting until 8:30 a.m. before coming out [of the bedroom]. Yay!” —Heidi C.

“She slept in. First time in 11 years I’ve gotten a shower in before opening gifts” —Leeann A.

“A sleep-in. Our five kids all decided to sleep in Christmas day and we had to wake them up.” —Kylie B.

5. A SHOW OF SUPPORT

“My eyesight. They paid for me to have cataracts removed.” —Donna C.

“I’m going through chemo for breast cancer, and when I walked into my daughter’s house for Christmas dinner, everyone had on pink kerchiefs!” —Anita K.

“I was crying because I couldn’t afford to get them a whole lot. My 10-year-old son was in the room and asked me why I was crying. I told him I was afraid he and his sister would be disappointed with their gifts. He said, ‘It’s okay, Mom. That’s not what Christmas is about! Anything you got we’ll be happy with!’ That made me so happy and relieved! It was the best gift I could have ever been given!” —Allison B.

 

 

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Six Ways to Fight Holiday Weight Gain

Written on December 12, 2014 at 11:51 am , by

Dessert trays, cocktail parties, big family meals—it’s the perfect combo for a happy holiday, but for a trim waistline? Not so much. Of course, occasional indulging is okay, but to stop you from overdoing it, we pinged Amanda Butler, a trainer at NYC’s BFX studio, a boutique gym that offers classes like barre, group cycling and circuit workouts. She gave her top exercising and eating tips for keeping the number on the scale steady throughout the season.

Amanda doing the squat for a burpee

1. Take Four for Fitness
Making time to break a sweat will torch some of those calories from pie and cake. To quickly maximize the burn, try a Tabata routine—a type of high-intensity interval training that requires you to push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds and repeat for eight rounds. That’s just four minutes of work!

The move Amanda says works best to sculpt from head to toe: burpees. To tackle this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, then jump your feet behind you so you’re in a push-up position. Perform one push-up. Next, jump your feet forward toward your arms, then stand and jump straight up, clapping your hands over your head. You’ll burn approximately 75 calories in just four minutes with this move—that’s about one chocolate chip cookie. For similar results without the full-on burpee, alternate jump squats and push-ups (you can put your knees on the floor to modify it) for your 20-second intervals.

2. Keep Moving
While you’re waiting to take the ham or casserole out of the oven, do a few quick moves, such as triceps dips or step-ups with the kitchen chair. It always helps to take the stairs and walk more too, so park farther from the mall entrance or grocery store to get more steps.

3. Grab and Go
At the dessert table, put the two treats you love the most on your plate and walk away. Enjoy each bite and then start a conversation with someone at a spot located away from the sweets so you’re not tempted to snag more.

4. Graze at a Slow Pace
When you’re having a group dinner, eat slowly and put your utensils down every now and then to help you do so. Savor the flavors and pay attention to how you feel. If you let out a big sigh from being so full, it’s definitely time to stop nibbling.

5. Plan for Celebrations
Don’t show up to your company’s or friend’s bash on an empty stomach. Have a snack, like an apple, before you go so you’re not feeling ravenous and ready to scarf down whatever you see first. Also, sip water between cocktails and swap the sugar- and fat-filled choices, such as eggnog or a flavored martini, for lighter beverages, like a vodka soda with lime or red wine.

6. Mentally (and Socially) Prepare
Give yourself a little pep talk before a full day of dining so you’re ready to turn down the second (or third) helping. And let others know you’re trying to watch your weight so they don’t peer pressure you into having more food and drinks.

 


You Make It, We Post It!

Written on December 8, 2014 at 1:27 pm , by

This week’s featured chef is Instagram user @evsgarden, who made our Loaded Baked Potato Soup!

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FAMILYCIRCLEFOOD.

 

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Modern Life: A Dual-Faith New York City Family Juggles Christmas and Hanukkah

Written on December 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm , by

CATHERINE COPPOLA, 57, MUSIC HISTORY PROFESSOR, RIC FRANK, 63, LOWER SCHOOL MUSIC TEACHER AND BAND LEADER, AND CELIA FRANK, 15, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT.

 

For this Manhattan family, December means a holiday double-header: Christmas and Hanukkah. Catherine Coppola, a Catholic, her husband Ric Frank, who is Jewish, and 
their daughter, Celia Frank, pull off this dual-religion feat by combining old and new traditions in “roll-with-it” New York City style. They treated us to a glimpse of their particular winter wonderland, where Christmas ornaments and a menorah mix and mingle.

Questions answered by Catherine unless otherwise noted.

What do you like most, and least, about raising a child in New York City?
It’s great to have the incredible opportunities available here, especially for music and arts education. But it can be difficult for a child to be surrounded by high-end stores and all kinds of food and products that may not always be affordable. The flip side of that disparity, though, is the learning experience of growing up among many different kinds of people and levels of wealth, and the awareness that we are lucky to be in the middle, which can give a kid a healthy perspective.

How would you describe your parenting styles?
I try to talk things through, and accept the fact that the talk may go south, in which case tomorrow is another day. Sometimes you just have to leave it for a while and come back fresh.

My style is changing and evolving. The main thing I do is pick and choose my battles, and try to stay supportive. —Ric

What are some of your family’s Christmas and Hanukkah traditions?

For Christmas, tree decorating includes a goofy version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to go along with a set of ornaments that was given to me by some very good friends, and then we’ll drink eggnog, attend church and have dinner with my extended family. For Hanukkah, we light the menorah and sing the blessing, which Celia knows in Hebrew.

Have you found any challenges to living in a dual-religion household? If so, how have you dealt with them?
I was a church organist for many years, and Celia attended many services with me while Ric practiced his music, so it was natural for her to become part of that community. It also allowed Celia to participate comfortably when we attended church on holidays with the larger family.
Ric was not raised with synagogue attendance except on high holidays, but he always reads the services at home on the holidays and has tried to engage Celia in that way. So for us it has always tilted more toward the Christian side, and that can be a challenge for Ric, whose extended family is not on the East Coast. The challenge is that even with the best intentions, exposing Celia to both traditions can leave her confused as to which religion she is.

How did your friends and family react to your marriage?
We were introduced by a friend of Ric’s, and both his and my friends were happy for us. I had been married before, and about my first husband my father had raised the very legitimate question of why was he divorced. With Ric, my dad asked, “At 44, why has he never been married?” Parents will always have some trepidation until their child’s mate proves that they are a good person who will share your essential values. Once it was apparent that that was the case, my parents were fine with Ric. The only objection came from my very traditional Italian uncle. When I visited him in Bensonhurst and told him I had met a good guy, he asked, “What nationality is he?” When I said Jewish, he put his head in his hands and just shook it back and forth. Once he got over the surprise he was fine. With Ric’s family there was really no issue—his parents liked my cooking!

What song best captures the spirit of your family?
“My Girl.” It was our favorite early in our relationship as a couple, and it captures our love for Celia.

What do you love most about Celia?
I love that she is able to assert herself when necessary but that she seems to know the difference between assertiveness and aggression. I’m actually a little jealous of the way she is able to make her needs and feelings known—and this is true whether they are feelings of anger or of love, with which she is very generous. I also admire the way she can hold her own in conversation, whether with peers or adults, and I am very proud of her honesty and her work ethic.

In addition to Cathy’s thoughts, I really love how Celia stands up for equality across the board whether related to gender, age, race or religion. —Ric

What’s the biggest challenge for your family?
We need to remember how good our life is and keep the trivial things that we argue about in perspective so they don’t weigh us down. And when it’s not so trivial, we need to put a priority on communicating clearly what we feel and need from the other person in the situation. Sometimes that seems even more challenging in a family of three, where the triangle of emotions can be very intense.

Any tricks to keeping sane while trying to do the whole work/life balance juggle?
Yoga and meditation for Ric, Pilates for me and creative work for both of us in performing and writing; it’s also important not to be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself some shortcuts, like a take-out night. Eating together feels good even if you didn’t cook the meal!


When Friends Turn to Foes

Written on December 3, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Two’s company and three can be a crowd when it comes to tween girls and friendships. So how can a mom help her daughter smooth things over when an expanding circle of friendship starts to wreak havoc? Our parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman received an email from a worried mother dealing with just such a dilemma. Here’s Rosalind’s advice for keeping the peace.

Dear Rosalind,
My 8-year-old daughter (I’ll call her Alexa) has known another 8-year-old girl (let’s call her Becky) since they were 4 and they’ve gone to the same school. Last year a new girl (let’s call her Jamie) came in halfway through the year and my daughter befriended her. Jamie has a difficult home situation and lives with her great-grandmother. Sadly, Becky is one of several people—including Becky’s overprotective mom—who don’t like Jamie and are giving my daughter a very hard time over the friendship. They’ve begun excluding Alexa. Becky used to cling to Alexa like glue and Alexa never pushed her away. I can’t understand why this girl has become so unkind to my daughter.

As hard as this is to believe, I’d bet any amount of money that the overprotective mom thinks she’s in the right—that in her mind she has a perfectively justified reason for supporting her daughter (Becky) in excluding your daughter’s (Alexa’s) new friend. So let go of “understanding” this woman’s perspective or why her daughter can’t accept the new friendship and focus on supporting your daughter and her new friend.

The only time I would talk to the nasty mom is if she confronts you or something happens between the girls that necessitates you speak with her. If that does happen, I’d say to her, “My daughter likes this new girl and we support the friendship. Our daughters don’t have to be friends, but I would like your support in allowing the girls to go their separate ways without being hurtful to each other.” Then get ready for this woman to be defensive or tell you the reasons why the new girl is a bad influence. Don’t get sucked in. The most you should say in response is, “That’s not been my or my daughter’s experience with this girl and I hope you would respect that.”

You also need to talk to your daughter. Tell her that you’re disappointed that her old friend isn’t being nice to her or the new girl. Maybe she’ll turn around one day but for right now, ask your daughter to give her some space until she can be a good friend.

If the old friend continues to be mean to her or the new girl, she needs to tell you and/or the person she thinks is the smartest adult at school what’s happening. But at base, this is an opportunity for your daughter to learn an important lesson from you: Sometimes good friends do things that make it impossible to continue the friendship for right now. Maybe later things will change. But in the present, it’s important to have friendships with people you actually like who allow you to be friends with others as well.

How would you handle a girl (and her mom) putting friendship pressure on your child? Post a comment and tell me. 

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Read more of Rosalind’s parenting advice here

Do you have a parenting question? Email askrosalind@familycircle.com.

 


Happy #GivingTuesday

Written on December 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm , by

You’ve made it through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But have you heard of #GivingTuesday, the global day dedicated to giving back? In December 2012, #GivingTuesday was founded by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation to bring families, businesses, community centers and students around the world together in celebrating generosity and giving. Today, December 2, 2014, marks its third annual observance, and it’s not too late to get involved. Helping those less fortunate is a great idea to focus on at the start of a month full of gift giving, family celebrations and winter fun. So today, find a way to do something small for someone else—as a family, with friends or with others in your community. For a list of #GivingTuesday movements in your neighborhood, click here.

And if you want to add a little do-gooding to your holiday shopping and donating this season, check out our tech-savvy friends getting into the giving spirit today. Microsoft is offering store customers a free $10 donation card to #YouthSpark on GlobalGiving with any purchase (while supplies last). They’ll also match today’s contributions (up to $350,000) to #YouthSpark on GlobalGiving, which supports organizations providing critical technology skills and resources to youth around the world.

Also, starting today and running through December 31, PayPal’s launching a holiday giving campaign to match 1% of each donation made at www.paypal-donations.com. Consumers can choose one of thousands of U.S. 501(c)(3) charities, with 100% of every donation reaching each cause.

How will you give back today? Remember to hashtag all photos and posts with #GivingTuesday.


Blades of Glory: The Only Ice-Skating Tips You’ll Need This Winter

Written on December 1, 2014 at 10:03 am , by

Minnesota Ice Skating

Looking for a fun, active family outing this holiday season? Head to the rink! After a morning on the ice with our friends at Fruit of the Loom, we gathered tips from Wicksie Tu, an instructor at Winter Village in NYC’s Bryant Park, to make it entertaining for everyone, even ice-skating newbies.

Before you get out on the ice, layer up in tight clothes—baggy garments will catch wind and drag you down. Also, tie skates tight enough so the ankle stays steady and can’t sway from side to side as you move.

Once you’re ready to hit the rink, Tu has a few drills for beginners: First, march in place to get comfortable on blades, then begin to move forward while you march. When you feel confident, push off the ground like you would on a scooter. For those more at ease on the ice, move your feet in a diamond shape to go forward a few times, then backward. Next, try driving off your forefoot to glide on both skates for a few seconds. Or if you’re feeling daring, lift a leg and slide on one foot.

Ready to increase your speed? Do as the pros do and cross one foot in front of the other as you continue to push off the ice. To come to a halt, do the snowplow stop (which is best for beginners and similar to the pizza-wedge stop used in skiing): Bend your knees and move your toes toward each other while pushing your feet outward. You’ll form a V or pigeon-toed shape and shave some ice.

Ice Skating

Now that you’re a pro when it comes to technique, follow these dos and don’ts when it comes to form and you’ll stay upright with ease.

DON’T look down. When you gaze down at the ice, your body tends to lean forward, which throws you off balance. Keep your eyes focused in front of you and your hips centered.

DO bend your knees. If you feel yourself tipping, bend your knees a few degrees (they should always be slightly bent, but emphasize it more) and place your hands on them. This will help stabilize you.

DON’T lean back. Tumbling backward can be dangerous, because you risk hitting your head. Counteract that tilt by bending your knees, putting your arms out to the side and keeping your shoulders and hips aligned. 

DO get loose. People tend to think stiffness will make them steady in the rink, but it actually ups your chances of wiping out. Roll your shoulders down and back and just relax.

DON’T use the toe picks. Those little spikes on the front of your skates work well for performing jumps and tricks, but they can get in a newcomer’s way. Avoid dragging your feet and your skates won’t get stuck, causing you to trip.


Is It Okay for a Mom to #BreakTheInternet?

Written on November 25, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Celebrity provocateur Kim Kardashian hoped to create an earth-shattering event when she posed for naked pictures in an attempt to #BreakTheInternet. (Warning: That hot link goes to her Paper Magazine spread, which includes nude photographs.) Her ample derriere was widely posted throughout cyberspace. Reactions seemed to range from disinterest to disbelief and astonishment.

Many people voiced concern about her seeming lack of seriousness related to her role as a mom and the potential long-lasting effects of images like this on her daughter. “Why would a mother want to pose like that?” some asked.

Yes, she is a mother. She is also being mothered by a woman who is her manager and obviously supportive of her recent photo spread.

For me, the underlying issue is not about her being open to displaying herself as a sexual being. She has the right to pose in any way that she chooses. There has not been any suggestion that she is abusive or negligent to her adorable daughter. The exhaustion of motherhood, with its additional responsibilities and time demands, can impact intimacy and sexual desire. Those are two situations that require process and communication—not a photo shoot.

The real issue is the way the media drives our consumption of knowledge around individuals who seemingly do not inject any sense of purpose or additional meaning into our lives. Enough. How great would it be if we could #BreakTheInternet with examples of kindness, generosity and overall goodness?

The positive news: According to the Wall Street Journal, the Rosetta spacecraft’s landing on a comet had more tweets then a champagne glass landing on Kim Kardashian’s rear. Score one for the comet and zero for Kim Kardashian. And that is really big, big, big news.

What do you think about Kim Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet? Post a comment below and let us know.
 Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet. Read more of her posts here.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.

 


The Most Important Thing You Can Teach Your Daughter

Written on November 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm , by

Being the parent of a teen girl has never been easy. But being a parent of a teen girl in this gadget-driven, video-vixen, text-versus-talk culture can be monumentally difficult. In this guest post, Sophia A. Nelson, author of The Woman Code: Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life, explains how to rise above pop culture, catty friends and blaring headphones to give your daughter the tools she needs to succeed.

As an aunt of one tween (age 12) and a bona fide teen (age 16), I take some pride in being very in touch with this new generation (Generation Text, Generation Connection or, more fondly, Gen Y) of young ladies. As a speaker, the author of two successful books about women, and a coach for women in corporate America, faith-based communities and universities, I cannot stress enough how important it is for us as moms, aunts, mentors and role models to boldly and honestly take back our girls by teaching them to know their value.

Of all the modern things we struggle with as women of our time, variations on one age-old question still determine how far we will go in life: “Am I good enough?” or “Can I be enough?” or “Am I worth enough?” Our girls struggle with this even more. They are constantly bombarded with images of beauty, overt sensuality and celebrities who make it to the top by way of YouTube—or worse. They experience the world far differently from us. And it’s up to us to be the bridge over turbulent waters to help keep them centered and focused on what matters most: their value.

How? you ask. It’s really simple.

We have got to reengage in old-fashioned conversation (that means speaking and eye-to-eye connecting) with our daughters. Make them put the gadgets down. We have to talk, not text. We have to stop trying to be a friend and start being what our moms and grandmoms were to us: teachers, advisors, protectors and disciplinarians without apology.

Here are five keys I use with my own nieces, and that I write about in The Woman Code. When put into practice, they shift the energy in our relationships as older women connecting with the next generation of young women.

1. Value yourself. Yes, we can tell our girls, daughters and nieces that their value is not defined on a TV set, a YouTube video or social media. We can drill home that it is defined from within. But know that they are also watching how YOU value yourself. So make sure you are teaching and leading by example.

2. Dare to engage in courageous conversations. Don’t duck the hard issues young girls face today. Be open and be willing to listen. You are the adult. Make sure they know you are there to protect and love them, and that you actually were their age once. It’s all about connection and conversation.

3. Teach your daughters to be authentic. Let them know who proper role models are: women like first lady Michelle Obama or singer Carrie Underwood. Teach them to live from their gifts from the inside out, not to be part of a crowd or a follower.

4. Share with your daughters the power of choosing the right friends early in life. I call it “know your front row.” If you see your daughters with the wrong crowd, intervene. Explain why these friends are not going to help them to win in life. Stress the importance of not engaging in gossip, bullying other girls or allowing themselves to be bullied. This is a favorite pastime of girls—tearing down other girls. And it causes great damage for years to come.

5. Prepare them to guard their hearts—not gate them, but protect them so that they will love the right men, surround themselves with the right friends and honor their deepest desires for marriage and family later in life.

 

Sophia A. Nelson is an award-winning author and journalist. She is a noted TV personality and thought leader on all things women. Her new book, The Woman Code: 20 Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life, is now in stores everywhere. You can tweet her @iamsophianelson.


Clean Your Home for the Holidays in Four Steps

Written on November 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm , by

With November upon us, we’re about to enter prime party season—you know, that time of year when guests are coming over and your home needs to look its holiday finest. No worries! Study up on these quick-clean tips, and your space will be on its way to sparkling in no time.

De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. Before you even pick up a mop or vacuum, best to clear off any surfaces that look messy. Grab a basket or bin and go through the rooms where you’ll be entertaining, collect out-of-place items and stash them in a closet for the time being. Target the coffee table in the family room, and get rid of catalogs and old magazines. Wipe down your downstairs bathroom vanity. Clear countertops are a must in the kitchen, and never leave pots or pans in the sink for company to see. Load and run the dishwasher before the party, even if you don’t have the chance to put everything away. The latest machines, including Samsung’s new Chef Collection model, are whisper-quiet and could even be run during the festivities if need be.

Shine surfaces in high-traffic areas. Guests tend to congregate in a few key places during get-togethers: the kitchen, the family room, the dining area. Whatever your cleaning weapon of choice—microfiber cloth and hot soapy water, disposable wipes or all-purpose cleaner and a rag—the process is the same. You want to focus on any visible surface where dust and grime build up. In the kitchen, run a disinfectant over the counters, stove, sink and island. Do the same in the powder room, wiping the sink, faucet and toilet handle. Spend a little time on the toilet, swishing the bowl with a long-handled brush and disinfecting the seat. Dust off the coffee and side tables in the family room, and make sure you wipe down the dinner table before you set it or lay out a spread of food. Be sure to use clean cloths each time you attack a new surface to avoid cross-contamination. Some pro cleaners even designate particular rags or cloths for certain rooms or jobs—a few for the bathroom, a few for the kitchen and so on.

Fake it till you make it. If you have enough time to mop the floors and dust off all your downstairs light fixtures, ceiling fans and baseboards/moldings, by all means do it. But if you can’t, your best recourse is to vacuum area rugs and give the kitchen floor a quick once-over with a wet mop or steamer. Fluff pillows and cushions on the sofa, and buff away fingerprints on stainless-steel appliances and streaky mirrors. Put out fresh hand towels and a candle in the powder room. Empty the trashcans. It’s all about the illusion of tidiness—that is, until you can actually take the time to do a deep clean, post-party.

Make it fun. Cleaning is a chore, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complete drudgery. Bust out that wireless speaker before the party starts, and check out one of the many cleaning playlists on Spotify. Or crank your own. Make it a point to get through all the songs before you stop.

This post was sponsored by Samsung.  Opinions/content are Family Circle editorial. 


Five Top Parks for Family-Friendly Hikes

Written on November 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm , by

In honor of National Take a Hike Day, we’ve rounded up the top five family-friendly (and warmer-weather!) trail destinations with the help of Foursquare. Users rated the best spots across the country for lacing up your boots and having a good time hitting the trail. Our picks from among those top spots promise tons of picturesque views and lots of entertainment for parents and kids alike, thanks to sights that are a history lesson (see #2), vocab booster (find out what a hoodoo is in #3) and solid workout.

 

View of Stone Mountain in Georgia#5: Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, GA

You’ll trek through woods, along lakeshores, past granite slopes, and by wildflowers on various routes in this park. Opt for the 1-mile walk to the top of the mountain and you’ll get a stunning glimpse of downtown Atlanta and the North Georgia mountains, plus there’s a snack bar and souvenir shop at the summit. After taking a stroll, head to The Great Barn, which has slides and trampolines for even more active fun.

 

View of Lake Austin#4: Covert Park at Mount Bonnell, Austin, TX

You’ll have to climb steep stairs to reach the top of this park, at approximately 775 feet above sea level, but the breathtaking sight of Lake Austin (a portion of the Colorado River) makes it totally worth it, as does the view of the city skyline on your way up. Bring a packed lunch as a reward for your (and your teens’) hard work, or head up later in the day for an ideal seat to watch the sunset.

 

View from the trails at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah#3: Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon, UT

Choose between easy, moderate or strenuous trails (for the super-fit family), each of which boasts Douglas fir and spruce forests, mossy overhangs and tall, natural rock columns called hoodoos. Turn your one-day trek into an overnight stay and you can also take a gorgeous moonlight hike, go on a horseback ride or stargaze with telescopes.

 

View on Lands End hike#2: Lands End, San Francisco, CA

You’ll want to start your journey at the Lands End Lookout—the park’s new visitor center, complete with historical background on this prime Bay Area locale. Then, stroll up the shoreline for photo opps of the Golden Gate Bridge, old shipwrecks and the Sutro Baths—ruins of large, privately owned swimming pools built in the 19th century.

 

View of the LA basin#1: Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA

With a whopping 53 miles of trails, you’ll never get bored. But for the best scenic route, start at the Griffith Observatory parking lot and climb to Mount Hollywood, the park’s highest point, where you can see the entire LA basin. You can also wander to the famous Hollywood sign for a frame-worthy family pic or make a pit stop at the LA Zoo.

Can’t get to any of these locales? Just slip into your sneaks and take a long walk in your own neighborhood. You’ll still burn calories and enjoy the mood-boosting benefits.

Got a favorite hiking spot of your own? Post a comment below and tell us what it is.

Photos courtesy of Foursquare


You Make It, We Post It!

Written on November 17, 2014 at 12:57 pm , by

This week’s featured chef is Instagram user @tina1sl who made our Cranberry-Glazed Turkey Breast with Roasted Fingerlings, Parsnips and Baby Carrots!

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FAMILYCIRCLEFOOD.

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