Keeping the Santa Spirit Real

The magic of Christmas is unique, especially for our little ones. So, we understand that you might want to delay the answer when the time comes that they start asking you ‘is Santa real?’ The magical memories of Santa will stay with them forever, so it’s helpful for parents to know what you can do to keep up the belief and excitement for a little longer. Santa is the perfect way to get the kids excited about the holiday season. Here are some of the ways we keep the Santa magic alive in our house:

 

  1. Catch Santa on video

Set up a camera with your kids on Christmas Eve, then, when they’ve gone to bed, film Dad dressed as Santa delivering gifts. In the morning your kids will be amazed to discover they caught photographic evidence of Santa!

  1. Make sure Santa’s handwriting is different than yours
    A common way kids stop believing is by realizing the handwriting on Santa’s gift tags is the same as yours. Switch up the handwriting on the presents and letters from Santa to keep them wondering.

 

  1. Visit Norad’s Santa Tracker

Norad has been tracking Santa’s journey around the globe on Christmas Eve since 1955, and now its immersive website does so with videos, maps, and a behind-the-scenes peek at Santa’s village.

 

  1. Be enthusiastic about Santa

The moment many kids realized Santa wasn’t real was when parents acted bored when they went to meet Santa at the mall. If Santa were such a fantastic person, wouldn’t everyone be excited to see him?

 

  1. Have Santa give your kids a gift they’d never imagine you’d give them

If a gift from Santa turns out to be school clothes, kids might figure out it was mom and dad doing the gifting. A truly unexpected gift, however, could only have come from Santa.

BONUS: Leave half-eaten carrots outside to be found on Christmas morning

Who else but Santa’s trusty reindeers could have eaten them? Clearly, Santa is legit.


Holiday Cheer in Utah County

The holiday cheer has been kicked up a notch. We are ready to welcome the snow, curl up by the fire, and appreciate our loved ones near and far. Year after year, our Utah County community is full of holiday events and activities for the whole family. Whether your holiday spirit needs a little boost or it’s in full-fledged Ruldoph mode, we highly recommend checking out what our local community has to offer. ‘Tis the season!

 

1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world–so when they crash Sunday school and demand parts in the Christmas pageant, the whole town panics.

 

When: November 30 – December 15, 2018

Cost: Adult – $14, child (ages 3-11) – $12, senior (ages 65+) – $12

Where: SCERA Center for the Arts

 

For more information and tickets, visit the SCERA website.

2. A Christmas Carol

The Orem Hale Center Theatre’s musical version of A Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition for many families in Utah County.  See it performed by one of the best theatre companies in the state.

 

When: November 24 – December 22

Where: Hale Center Theater Orem

For tickets and showtimes, click here.



2. Spanish Fork Festival of Lights

Spanish Fork’s fantastic drive-through light display has been delighting families for more than 25 years! Find it at Canyon View Park each night from Thanksgiving through the New Year.

 

When: November 22 – January 1

Where: Canyon View Park
Cost: $8 per car; $22 per commercial van or any vehicle towing a trailer ($22 per trailer); $30 per bus.

For more information, visit the website.

 

3. Luminaria

This captivating mile-long walk in Lehi’s Ashton Gardens features programmable luminaries including moving pictures of blooming poinsettias, reindeer, and a 40-foot tree at the top of the hill.

 

When: November 19 – January 5

Where: Thanksgiving Point

 

Learn more at the Luminaria website.


Ways To Give Back To The Community

 

The holiday season is always a mad dash. Out of nowhere, your to-do list is inundated with hosting guests, shopping, and helping kids finish the school semester. With cooking, shopping, parties, and fun, it can be easy to overlook that there are people in our community who are far less fortunate or a little down on their luck this holiday season. Whether it’s donating your services or making a small contribution, we encourage everyone to see if they can chip in to help those needing a little extra love. Here are four great organizations we wholeheartedly support.

 

Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. For 30 years, Best Friends has been running the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals and building effective programs all across the country that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes. Join us. Together, we can Save Them All®.

Learn more about the Best Friends Animal Society and how you can help here.

 

The Younique Foundation

The Younique Foundation inspires hope in women who were abused as children or adolescents by hosting them at a retreat, where they are uplifted by each other and learn skills that can help them find individual healing. They educate parents and empower them to protect their children from abuse while leading a public dialogue to bring the epidemic of abuse to light.

Find out what you can do to help here.

 

Youthlinc

The mission of Youthlinc is to create lifetime humanitarians. Our core programs (Local & International Service Year, Utah Local Service Directory, Young Humanitarian Award, Real Life: Teen Refugee Mentoring, and Global Community Leadership) are based in principles from educational and service learning research: student leadership, hands-on sustained service which creates an emotional bond, mentoring, project-based and cooperative learning.

Find out more about the programs and opportunities here.

 

Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry South County

Did you know that over 78,000 people in Utah County live at or below the Federal Poverty Line? 1 in 5 children in Utah County is food insecure. Tabitha’s Way aims to alleviate food insecurity in Utah County and provides food and supplies to an average of 5,000 individuals monthly. To help, you can donate money, host a food drive or volunteer.

Learn more about how Tabitha’s way is helping fight hunger and how you can help.

 


Tips for safe Trick-Or-Treating

For many kids in Utah County, Halloween is just as exciting as Christmas! Children love getting elaborately decked out as their favorite superheroes, creatures or any spooky creation of choice. However, for any parent or guardian, trick-or-treating can be a little nerve-wracking to think about. You want your kids and their friends to stay safe while showing off their ghastly apparel and storming the neighborhood in the dark.

We’ve gathered top tips for you, to make sure everyone stays safe and has a blast this Halloween:

  1. Go during appropriate trick-or-treating hours

Don’t wait to go until it is pitch-black outside. The best time to go is just before dusk. It is still light enough outside that you are able to keep track of your children and see other you are passing/encountering with on the street (and you get first picking of the candy).

  1. Visibility is key

It is always better if you can incorporate lighter colors or reflective tape into your costumes so that they are easier to see in the dark. Another great option is to have them wear glow necklaces and carry glow sticks and/or flashlights.

  1. Never go alone

No one should be out there alone. Kids that are elementary age or younger should be with a parent or guardian at all times, but those who are middle school-aged and want to explore unaccompanied by parents should stay in groups at all time. Make sure everyone knows all important phone numbers and addresses and set the curfew times and route beforehand.

  1. Walking Tips

Be sure that everyone understands simple traffic rules, such as stopping and looking both ways before crossing the street, and staying in a crosswalk if one is available. If you have to cross at a light, make sure you have the proper “walk” signal before you proceed. Double check to make sure dresses or capes don’t drag on the ground. And finally, make sure that everyone is wearing comfy shoes and to double knot any tennis shoes.

  1. Stay on track

Trick-or-treating can span several blocks for multiple hours, so make sure you and your entourage of trick-or-treaters know the route you have planned. Stay in a well-lit neighborhood you’re familiar with. It might be tempting to take a shortcut through an alley or cut through someone’s yard, but that can sometimes pose a danger.

  1. Inspect candy first

Enforce an “inspection rule” before kids dig into their treats. All candy should be wrapped in its original wrapper and should not be tampered with. While it’s at the parent’s’ discretion whether or not to let kids eat homemade treats, make sure those are also wrapped and protected.

  1. Say no!

Even if it’s late and offered, make sure your kids know not to accept rides from anyone they don’t know. Do not accept any kind of candy or bribery and kindly thank them and move on. If you or your kid feels unsafe or uneasy at any time, don’t be afraid to report it or contact your local police.


School is Back in Session!

Summer vacation is over, and I’m sure your little ones aren’t too happy about it. While the new school year brings new sets of homework, and less time playing outside or hanging out with friends, it also brings a lot of opportunities for growth, both academically and emotionally, which should be what you focus on highlighting. Here are a few of our favorite tips on tackling their next academic step!

  1. If you can, visit the school one week before, to help them learn the layout of the building.
  2. Get your kid’s class schedule ahead of time and walk through it with them. You can decrease a lot of uncertainty and help them get familiar with all of the new components they’re facing.
  3. Practice opening their lockers, especially if it’s a combination lock. Furthermore, help them to decorate it. It’s a great way to spend time together and get your child excited for their upcoming classes.
  4. Meet the teacher, especially if your child is just starting at the school. Make sure the teacher knows that your child is new to the school or the neighborhood. Writing a letter to the teacher with basic tips and easy requests is a big help. For instance, let the teacher know that you just moved there or that your child has never been to a school this size.
  5. Make a special purchase. Whether that be the more expensive backpack, taking them shopping for new clothes, or even just splurging on some cool notebooks, allowing your kids to create their identity for the year will ease their anxieties about fitting in.

Talking about the positives of the upcoming year and staying involved will get your child more excited about their education, which will make them more likely to succeed. Not every gesture that you make needs to be grand, just letting your child know that you’re there will be enough for them to tackle their grades!

 


Level Up Your Summer Cookouts

Barbecue season is the best season! Getting together with friends and family, eating great food, playing fun outdoor games, and most importantly, creating memories with your loved ones. If you’re looking to liven the party up even more, we’ve got some awesome ideas to help you make the most of it!

Invitations
You could send out a text through the groupchat, of course. Or, you can personalize the occasion by making cute invitation cards, and mailing, hand-delivering them, or emailing them using sites like Paperless Post. If your party is themed, make sure to tie the scheme of the invitations in with it!

Turn the Wheelbarrow Into a Cooler
When it comes to barbecues, the quirkier the decorations, the better. Wash out the wheelbarrow, fill it with ice, and throw your refreshments in with it. It adds a unique touch and keeps your drinks cold! Use Pinterest as a creative hub for crafty touches like this all summer long!

Infuse Your Water
Such a simple trick, but it really will make all the difference to your guests! Adding different fruits will give the water a more refreshing twist, that’ll leave your party feeling refreshed. Try one of these for starters, but the possibilities are endless.

The Food
You can never go wrong with the classic hamburger, but why not kick it up a notch and add a few unique ingredients to the mix like pastrami, mushrooms, etc. Add to the variety by offering menu items like pork chops, wings, Portabello mushrooms, kabobs, the traditional all-american hot dog, and pulled pork. My favorite pulled pork recipe? Here you go: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/92462/slow-cooker-texas-pulled-pork/

Desserts
Slushies make a great dessert during the summertime, and they’ll have guests of all ages smiling. Jell-O parfaits, watermelon, and various flavors of cakes are easy and affordable options, that allow everyone to satisfy their sweet tooth!

Activities
Including things like slip-n-slides, firepits, ring toss, etc. are great ways to start and keep conversations and laughs flowing. Whether it’s an all-adults party or an all-ages bash, the entertainment will be the talk of your group for weeks to come.

If money is limited, just remember that the fun doesn’t have to be. These tips will perk up your summer tradition while saving you time, energy, and money. All you have to do is put the party together- keeping it going is up to the guests, which will be easy to do with these ideas! What are some of your favorite ideas? Let us know, we’d love to hear them!


The Best Camping in Utah

Summer is almost here, which means the kids will be on vacation for the next 2-3 months, the weather will be wonderful, and it’s time to take advantage of that vacation time that you’ve been saving up all year. Whether you’re going for the weekend for a full 7 days, these spots are perfect for an outing for your friends and/or family!

 

American Fork Canyon-

Wasatch Mountains

$6-$45   

You’ll find two campgrounds in American Fork Canyon: Little Mill, with 66 campsites; and Granite Flat with 64 sites. Both are very scenic spots, but the Granite Flat sites are more spacious.

 

Antelope Island

Davis County

$3-$75

There are three campgrounds on Antelope Island with 52 campsites total. The scenery is amazing, but the sites are pretty primitive with just pit toilets. If you want to shower, you can always head over to the day use area.

 

Bear Lake State Park

Rocky Mountains, at the Utah-Idaho border

$15-$25

Camp in one of two areas at Bear Lake State Park. Rendezvous Beach, on the south shore, has three campgrounds with modern restrooms and showers. Reserve these well in advance. Eastside campgrounds are primitive, and most are first-come, first-served.

 

Devils Garden in Arches National Park

Moab, Utah

$10-$25

You’ll find plenty of desert flora at this campground, along with natural arches and fins. Reserve one of the 51 campsites in advance.

 

Mirror Lake

Uinta Mountains

$23-$70

The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway has numerous campgrounds, many with little lakes. The snow melts pretty late this high up, so plan your trip for later this summer. No matter what time of year you head up there, make sure you packed plenty of jackets, flannel, and maybe even a winter coat as this area is known for June snow showers.

 

Utah has an abundance of camping spots, no matter what area you’re looking in, which is one of the many reasons why we love this state as much as we do. Where are your favorite spots to pitch a tent? Let us know!

 


Summer in Utah Done Right

Even though Utah is known for having the greatest snow on Earth, it’s also full of amazing sights and fun activities to take advantage of during the warmer seasons! From family fun to experiencing everything the great outdoors has to offer, both locals and visitors will be enthralled with our great state’s ability to have it all!

Lagoon

Location: Farmington, UT

Renamed and relocated from The Great Salt Lake in 1899, Lagoon has become a staple for summer fun in Utah, home to one of the oldest operating roller coasters in the world, and the Cannibal—the roller coaster with the steepest drop in North America, fourth steepest in the world, and holds the world record for the tallest beyond-vertical drop on a roller coaster. The prices range from $41.95 to $58.95 for all-day family fun.

Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point

Location: Lehi, Utah

Canopy tours, treehouses, trading posts, and unique activities make this an awesome spot to take the kids for an afternoon of fun and learning. Bring the family in on the third Saturday of each month to spark their inner engineer with the Design Challenge! The second Saturday of every month is dedicated to Curious Critters, an interactive experience that allows your little ones to get up close and personal with exotic animals from all over the world. Admission varies, with the highest-priced ticket coming to $34.95.

Boondocks

Location(s): Draper and Kaysville, UT

There are two locations in Utah making it accessible for people spread across Utah’s metro hubs. They offer many specials, but one of my favorites is $12 Buck Tuesday. For that small price, you get unlimited XD theater, laser tag, rollerball, nowling, kiddie cove and video games until close! And for an extra $8 a person, you can upgrade to go-karts, batting cages, mini golf, and more. What a fun way to spend a Tuesday!

Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

This wonderfully hidden-away garden contains 12 original sculptures and over 70 stones engraved with scriptures, poems, and literary texts. As a whole, Gilgal Sculpture Garden is significant as the only identified “visionary art environment” in Utah. While adults are more likely to appreciate the free garden, this is a great way to expose the little ones to Utah’s art scene.

Dave & Buster’s

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Utah recently acquired their first D&B location jam-packed with fun for adults 21+ or the whole family. While this location is different from the rest in the way that the bar will be kept separate from the rest of the activities, the brand still promises endless amounts of fun! Bowling, arcade games, Dance Dance Revolution and more make this the perfect hangout spot for friends and family to spend some quality time together! If you go, I suggest the Eat and Play Combo, starting at $17.99 a person.

Brewvies

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

A unique, local business, Brewvies makes for an awesome date night for anyone of legal age to take part in. Have a drink and catch a flick at the only cinema pub in Utah with your significant other, your friends, or even flying solo (nothing beats treating yourself). Hit this awesome spot on Tuesdays for their $6 movie deal.

There are so many new things to go out and experience, why are you spending your time doing the same old thing every weekend? Get out and make some memories with your family and friends this summer, and if you have any more suggestions, comment and let us know!

 


May Activities in Utah County

 

Springtime in Utah is a magical thing to experience, no matter how long you’ve lived here. The flowers are in bloom, the trees become green, the temperature is in its very-rare sweet spot, and the long-awaited sunshine is no longer hidden behind grey clouds. Staying inside on days like the ones we’ve had recently is pointless. Here are a few things you can do to celebrate the perfect month of May!

Now Through – May 31, Woodland Fairies at Gardner Village: Visit the Village with your kids to try to spot these magical fairies. Various events throughout the month will include face painting, fairy parades and fairy house tours. There is also a Fantasy Run on Saturday, May 7.

Now Through – May 7, Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival:

Celebrate the return of spring with over 250,000 tulips in just about every color you can imagine. Garden tours are held daily. Fridays and Saturdays include music, food and vendors. Open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed on Sundays.

May 6, May Day on Main:

Visit floral-themed exhibitions at participating Main Street galleries and the eight artist-designed temporary public parks. The evening’s gallery and garden stroll sets the scene for a plethora of creative activities on Main Street.

May 6- May 7: Utah State University Baby Animal Days:

This event takes place at the USU Botanical Center in Kaysville. FREE activities with each ticket include: one FREE horse ride and one FREE miniature train ride. Reptiles, sheep shearing demos, horse rides, miniature train rides, and food vendors. Tickets are $7 per person for ages 3+ or $35 for families of up to six.

May 7, Holi Festival of Colors Salt Lake City:

Festival goers can enjoy interactive dance shows, live DJs and music, food vendors, yoga, crafts and lots of colors at the Krishna temple in Salt Lake City. Tickets cost $5 for general admission, and kids 12 and under are free. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

May 8-14, Amazing Earthfest in Kanab:

Celebrate the centennial of America’s national parks by connecting with the great outdoors. Various activities include arts and crafts, yoga, documentary films, photography workshop, presentations and guided outdoor adventures.

May 12-16, Great Salt Lake Bird Festival:

Renowned nature artist and writer Julie Zickefoose will be the keynote speaker at this event, and attendees can enjoy field trips to wildlife areas in Utah abundant with hundreds of species of birds. Workshops are free, but tickets are required for field trips. Visit daviscountyutah.gov for daily schedule information.

May 20-through September, Sundance Scenic Lift Ride:

Experience panoramic views of the mountain as you glide to the top of Ray’s Summit on a Scenic Lift Ride. Once you reach the top, take some time to explore the designated hiking trails or just sit, relax, and enjoy the mountain’s serene beauty. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, take Arrowhead lift further up the mountain and enjoy lunch at Bearclaw cabin. Moonlight rides are also available on select dates.

Is there anything that we missed or anything you would add to the list? Make sure to stop by our Facebook or Twitter pages and let us know!


Enjoy the Rest of Your Summer in Utah County

Is it really mid-July? It seems like just yesterday we were picking rambunctious kids up from their last day of school. This time of year always seems like a mad dash to squeeze in as much summer fun as possible. There is still plenty of time to maximize time with your family in Utah County this summer. Here are some of our favorite activities:

1.) Visit the local pool

Visiting a local pool is low-cost and doesn’t take days of planning to execute. Plus, who doesn’t have fond memories of splashing around in their childhood? You can even dive into a new book while laying out when the kids are romping about. Utah County is home to several pools including:

 

SCERA Pool (Orem)

Provo Rec Center (Provo)

Lindon Aquatic Center (Lindon)

Cowabunga Bay

 

And more. And don’t forget to check out our community’s abundance of splash pads, too!

 

2.) Check out a Owlz Game

Very few things say summer like a baseball game with a hot dog in hand. Orem is home to the Owlz, a great minor league team and the games are abundant. You can check their full schedule here.

 

3.) Go Outside

We know a strenuous hike might not be EVERYONE’S idea of family fun, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors and get a little exercise and enjoyment while you’re at it. One of our favorite activities is tubing down the Provo River. Take a nice walk and enjoy the scenery and then max out during your two hour flat down the river. We also recommend Timpanogos Cave, which is a monument that’s barely been open over a year. Enjoy the underground cave and explore the majesty of minerals, water, and beyond.

 

4.) Attend the Utah County Fair

We think the Utah County Fair is one of the best ways to conclude a summer of fun in the sun before the kids head back to school. Festivities in the past have included pig wrestling, monster trucks, a Miss Utah County Pageant, and animal shows. Mark your calendars for August 16-19th at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds!

 

5.) See a Movie

While it’s natural to want to maximize your time outside, sometimes you want to cool down with a good movie with the AC blasting. Cinemark theaters offer $1 G and PG movies as a part of their Summer Movie Clubhouse. There are also a few weeks to enjoy the SCERA Cinema Series that offers matinee films for kids and teens throughout the summer.