Joanna Anastasia

Lifestyle

Benefits of video games for a positive family dynamics

Over a decade ago when I first met my husband I had a very vocal position about video games- and it was a negative one. I used to believe they’re either silly, ugly or violent, and that there’s nothing in them that an intelligent person could like. Oh and if you’d ask me about video games and kids, the twenty something psychology graduate that I was would tell you they are harmful for the child development, Period.

Fast forward 13 years and my opinion is quite contrary! Years of observing my hubby playing harmless and imaginative video games here and there must have helped. That and lots of more recent studies that prove the contrary to what I used to belie – of course assuming you’re not going for the most violent games, and that you’re using them like other screen time- in moderation.

Reasons why video games can be good for you and your family:

  • Video Games can teach problem solving skills
  • They can help kids make friends
  • They can actually encourage playing sports and exercising
  • They can help kids develop leadership skills
  • Video games help with development of visual-spatial skills
  • Some games can spark kids creativity
  • They let kids teach their parents new skills
  • They can help develop rapid processing of sensory information
  • They can teach kids a healthy way to compete with each other
  • Ultimately video games can help with connecting with each other

I must admit I still wasn’t 100% sold on the idea of video games in our home- but then Nintendo Canada have reached out to me asking if I’d like to try their new Nintendo Switch and Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I had no idea what to expect, but I agreed after seeing my hubbys excited face- and I must say, I’m so happy I did!

We had for for two weeks now, and we love it! We play together with kids on weekend evenings, and now I get how games can help with connecting with each other! Basically it feels like playing any other game together- except that this time everyone is really involved, laughing and shouting and jumping up and down- and everyone is learning something together!

The fun thing about The Switch is that we can play it on the big tv in our basement family room, in our bed by the fireplace, on the go in a car while being on the road – and believe me 4 hours in a car with kids does go much faster when they can play Animal Crossing! And hubby can play alone while I read my book in the evening.

So while I won’t call myself a gamer anytime soon, I am definitely adding video game night to our cozy family weekend plans- because a fireplace, a hot tea and a family game is another level of hygge!

And as with everything in life we have established ground rules for kids- video game time is screen time therefore kids can play only on the weekends- and hubby only in the evening after putting kids to bed. But I already learned how to be the first one on the race ( yay princess Peach ) my girls are practicing their second language skills ( as the Animal Crossing is in both French and English) and this mama is happy to say she found a new favourite family activity- playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with her kiddos!

Disclaimer- this post was brought to you by Nintendo Canada, all opinions and enthusiasm remain entirely my own!

10 things to do with kids at home for Halloween

Halloween is only a couple of days away and we still don’t know how we will celebrate. Will the city call it off? If not should we go trick or treating if we can? Should we hand over the candy or not? So many questions and not one right answer.

But even though it’s such a difficult year for traditions, instead of getting sad about it, my friends at Chocolate Pen have challenged me to make the best Halloween treats we can at home – and that have inspired me to plan a list of things that we will be able to do at home with kids if ever we can’t go trick or treating at all!

List of 10 fun things we can do at home for Halloween:

  1. Organize a Halloween fashion show with all the costumes – we did that a couple of days ago ( we’re a week from Halloween now) and it was really fun to see what they came up with! And when my role in an activity consists of sitting still and sipping on my coffee you can always count me in!
  2. Make a cookie graveyard! Now this could be as simple as in getting a ready to assemble kit like we did, or as complicated as baking xmas style gingerbread cookies but cutting them in to graves and ghosts shapes! (We used a ready to assemble kit but we decorated it with the use of our Chocolate Pen! My girls absolutely loved it! )
  3. Painting faces – how about an afternoon of painting faces and making family photos as ghosts, pirates and fairies?
  4. Decorating inside of your home – did you see that social media trend of bats everywhere? It’s probably so popular because it’s really easy and inexpensive too! Simply cut out bat shapes out of black cardstock and hang them EVERYWHERE!
  5. Make more Halloween snacks like dark chocolate bark with candy eyes, brownie ( cake mix!) ghosts ( simply cut your shapes out with cookie cutters and add candy eyes!) or make a halloween popcorn ( mix popcorn with candy corn and mini pretzels and voila!)
  6. Organize a Halloween movie night – now that you have all the snacks time to get cozy while watching your favourite halloween movies!
  7. Make a candy hunt in the backyard or inside the house – Easter meets Halloween, double the fun!
  8. Give kids Boo Baskets – I made my baskets with dollar store halloween toys and craft supplies and I can’t wait to see my kids faces when they get them on Halloween eve!
  9. Make dark chocolate ghost cookies ( tip- you can use sugar cookie mix, just add a teaspoon of cacao to the mix, bake as usual, use regular icing and try using Chocolate Pen for adding fun features !)  
  10. Make Halloween crafts – paint toilet paper rolls black, add googly eyes and paper wings and make bats, paint with fingers, or use my free printable set colouring pages that I made for my kids- and a cute little print for their rooms! ( you can download it here )

I hope my list of activities and these printables can help you to have the best Halloween ever- despite the curve balls 2020 keeps throwing at us!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Disclosure- I received chocolate pen as a gift, all opinions, ideas and enthusiasm remains entirely my own!

Printable halloween cupcake toppers and my tried & tested fall baking hacks

Before I began on these cupcake toppers and fall baking hacks that I want to share with you today, let me just say that WE HAVE MOVED AND WE’RE ALMOST UNPACKED AND SETTLED! I will share with you our home and all the projects in the future weeks, so stay tuned for that!

Today though, I wanted to chat about fall baking, and a pressure of being a pinterest mom who’s baking a ton and it’s all picture perfect. And yes I know, I am a mom that’s sharing her creations on pinterest, but let’s be clear here, they are never perfect,though they are usually fun and yummy!

If you followed me for a while then you must remember my old blog name, Lazy Mom’s- which was a way of saying that I’m not about perfection at all- but rather about making memories and being good enough.

So with that approach, I wanted to share with you a fun way to make any fall baking a bit less complicated and a bit more fun!

My tried & tested fall baking hacks

  1. So first of all, cake mix is your friend! Embrace it, use it, and don’t ever feel guilty for not baking from scratch! Once life with kids will get less busy, we will be best home bakers out there, I know it. For now though, let’s just hack that cake box mix! By using milk in lace of water, more eggs than asked, and butter in place of eggs your cake box mix will actually taste like your grandmas cake- but will take half the prep time!
  2. Another way to hack a cake is to add spices to your cake mix- like cardamom, cinnamon or a pumpkin spice!
  3. My third hack is is KNOW YOUR APPLES! It took me a long time to understand that not all apples are for baking, but once I learned which sorts are best my fallbaking went to a whole new level of yummy!
  4. And lastly, the presentation! So no it doesn’t need to be complicated to be fun and a bit more out of the ordinary! Adding cupcake toppers even on a regular muffin makes it so much more fun for the kds ( you don’t need to buy them, you can print mine and make them at home with kids!).Drawing with chocolate is another inexpensive and simple way to add that wow factor to everyday desserts! We used our Chocolate Pen to draw on our BOO Cupcakes and my girl told me they felt like fancy bakers !

So, here’s what we baked – BOO sugar cookies and BOO apple cinnamon cupcakes. We didn’t spend a ton of time, and they where not perfect, but boy did we had fun with our Chocolate Pen ( I have another blog post all about it here) and yes it did smelled like fall everywhere!

We also designed Halloween cupcake toppers with my girls ( as in, I was designing and they where telling me what they like and what not) that you can download for yourself HERE. Just print them out, cut, and glue on a toothsticks like we did!

And now, if you too would like to bake our hacked Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes, here’s how!

Apple Cinnamon BOO Cupcakes Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Vanilla cake mix ( replace water with milk, oil with butter and add one egg)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of Gala apples cut in small cubes
  • Vanilla fondant ( bought) to decorate
  • Milk chocolate to decorate

Follow the instructions on the box – just remember to use the replacements! Add apples and cinnamon at the end of mixing all the ingredients. Bake and let your cupcakes cool down. Use fondant to cover the cupcakes with a thin layer, and then using a Chocolate Pen draw the ghost faces and the BOO’s!

I hope that my fall baking hacks and free printable cake toppers will help you have more fun- and less stress during this special fall of 2020!

Disclosure- I received the Chocolate Pen as a gift, however all opinions and enthusiasm are my own!

DIY personalized back to school gear with Cricut

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

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Here in Quebec all kids going to primary classes are coming back to school in person, and to be honest I’m really excited and hopeful about it! After months of spending time together I can see how much they missed school! On top of it all we are finally moving, and so my girls will be starting this new and special school year in an entirely new school!

And while this school year is very different for a lot of us and while I know that a lot of parents will be homeschooling and distance schooling this year, I also believe that we need to everything possible to excite our kids more than ever about learning this year!

So with all that going on I really wanted to make sure they are excited and all ready for September! And I don’t know about you, but for me it means preparing them emotionally and personalizing their school gear!

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And so with the help of my Cricut Explore Air 2 and my Cricut Easy Press I made these DIY personalized back to school gear for my girls and they couldn’t be more excited ! Best part is that I saved lots of money and had so much fun making these!

I started by browsing the Cricut Design Space where I found all of the designs that I used: the cute kawaii faces I used on the pensil cases, the mermaid design, and the unicorn design ( in french since my kids speak french at school) that I used for the water bottle.

I cut my design with my Cricut Explore Air , and I used the Everyday Iron On material in black and pink ( my girls favourite colour! ) and it took me not more than an hour to finish it all! And then I have applied my designs on with Cricut Easy Press ( it’s my favourite part!)

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I also decided to personalize the water bottle and the lunch box, and for that I used Premium Vinyl in aqua blue.

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If you’ll ask my daughter she’ll tell you she loves her personalized and unique back to school gear! And I’m just so happy she’s excited about going back to school now!

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Ice Cream Truck Birthday Party

This past weekend we have celebrated Julien’s second birthday- and I still can’t believe that my baby is officially a toddler now! It’s so bittersweet to see them change and grow and lose their babyness in what seems to be a blink of an eye! And while I’m so proud of the little boy he’s becoming I’m also sad that my last baby is not a baby anymore.

To celebrate our sweet boy I wanted something special- he never had a birthday party before since on his first birthday last year we went camping ( third child problems) and then he got sick so we never got to really throw him a party before!

But I was also quite tired these last couple of weeks – the quarantaine at home with kids was pretty exhausting and I guess I’m still not fully back in shape! And because of covid we’re still in social distancing mood here in Montreal- however we are permitted to having people in the backyard! So I needed to find a way to make it fun, easy and appropriate for the social distancing. 

That’s when my friends from Luluthia have contacted me with their new Party Box concept- a Pinterest worthy 100% personalized party in a box shipped to your door! With everything in the box I didn’t have to run around the stores to get things – everything was there!

We decided to go for the Ice Cream Truck theme- since the Party Box is completely personalized – to match my toddlers love for trucks and cars with my own inclination towards everything pastel and cute!

Everything was matching my pastel colour palette and had the cutest Ice Cream Truck theme on it ( plates, cups, cutlery, balloon garland, name garland, picture frame for the sweet table, table decoration, gift boxes etc)

We received the cake and the sweets from the Patisserie Montebello and it was definitely the most beautiful kids birthday cake we ever seen- with the oh so cute and realistic rice krispies Ice Cream Truck on top!

On the sweet table we had the cutest Ice Cream shaped cupcakes , colorful macaroons, rice krispies ice pops, and cake pops- all from Patisserie Montebello.

The flowers where from the Luluthia Designs and let me tell you, they looks and smelled absolutely amazing!

Now, for the social distancing aspect ( in the context of phase 3 and permitted backyard gatherings) here are my tips:


Social Distancing Backyard Birthday Party:

  • Make sure you have enough space in your backyard for your guests
  • Set Picnic blankets with 2 meters of distance around your backyard
  • Set up the disinfectant station at the entrance of your backyard and at the door that leads inside
  • If possible set the sweet table outside and serve guests one by one
  • If you can’t set it outside let in your guests one by one to serve them snacks at home 

So while we had to make sure we are keeping our distances, it was nevertheless the sweetest and most fun birthday celebration we ever had!


Disclosure- while this birthday party was gifted all opinions and our excitement are our own!

Poppy’s popcorn & a printable quote for celebrating Trolls World Tour

Ever since me and my girls watched Trolls a while back we where instantly enchanted with the life philosophy of Poppy, all the songs and the imaginary world of Trolls.

Playroom Printable

Our favorite quote from the first one was definitely this one here, so much that I decoded to make a printable for my kids playroom! And of course you too can print it for your kids! ( download here) :

“Happiness isn’t something you put inside, it’s already there! Sometimes you just need someone to help you find it.” Poppy


So obviously we where over the moon when we learned that there’s a second part, Trolls World Tour , now available on DVD and Blu Ray and that we get to be one of the first ones to enjoy it at home! My girls where spoiled with the cutest Trolls toys and new Lego ( you can find them all at your local Target, Walmart or on Amazon !) and this mama is pretty obsessed too!

Poppy’s Popcorn

To celebrate we made Poppy’s popcorn that I’m sharing the printable recipe with you too, so you too can make a fun movie night with your little ones! You can download it here!

Trolls World Tour Movie Night Celebration

So as you see first my girls got to build up their excitement for the Trolls World Tour with the new lego and some coloring books- they learned about the new character Barb and got all curious about the plot.

Then we have set up the movie night in our family room and the DVD version is so fun because it also has a sing along mode and lots of extras!

Also, next time you’re shopping for makeup make sure to look for limited edition PUR and Trolls makeup! I must say I’m obsessed !

And of course now there’s a Poppy next to my girls bed and apparently she’s “the best!”

We’re all definitely obsessed with Trolls World Tour!

Disclosure- this post was written in collaboration with Trolls , however all opinions and excitement are my own!

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