Are You Getting the Most Out Of Your Time?

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There never seems to be enough hours in the days! That’s what a lot of people think anyway. There’s always other things we should be doing, and more time we should be spending with family. But there are ways to get the most out of your day, and avoid feeling like you’ve wasted anything. With our lives slipping by, it’s important to live each day to the fullest!

Plan Your Day

Sitting down in the morning and planning what you need to do and when it needs to be done for can have a huge impact on your productivity levels. That way, you can work through the list and get onto each job straight away, rather than having to pause and work out what needs doing next.

Prioritize Jobs

Task management is a key tool, and is an excellent way of getting things done quicker. If you work out what jobs are most important, and tackle them first, then at least they’re out of the way in case you do run out of time later. Try not to leave bigger jobs for the end of the day as you may end up rushing them, or simply forgetting all about them.

Be More Organized

Organizing yourself and your family will save a lot of time and hassle. Pre-plan outfits and pack bags the day before to avoid the morning rush. And writing meal plans for the week means that grocery shopping is much easier, quicker, and more cost effective.

Stay Focused

Once you get going, try not to get distracted from the task in hand. Social media, magazines and television programmes can all turn us towards procrastination. Finish a job, then have a five minute break if you need to. But make sure those five minutes don’t drag out too long!

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Take Time Out

This may sound counter-productive, but without having breaks and pauses throughout the day, you will eventually burn out. Lunch and coffee breaks are important at home and in the office, giving you a moment to pause and relax. You’ll feel refreshed and much more productive after them, and they will be worth the few minutes of delay.

Delegate

If there is too much work to do, leave to delegate and outsource. Enlist the help of a work colleague, ask a family member to collect the children from school, or speak to a housekeeping company if there is too much housework to cope with. You can’t be expected to deal with everything, and learning to delegate is a vital tool in all aspects of life.

Look After Yourself

Most importantly, look after your mental and physical health. If you run yourself into the ground, you won’t be able to do anything. Ensuring you live a healthy lifestyle, with nutritious meals and regular exercise will keep your energy and productivity levels up. Make sure you get enough sleep as well, as tiredness and fatigue can have a huge impact on how you feel and how well you can focus.

Creative Ways To Teach Your Kid How To Make A Sand Castle

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Kids love to learn new things but a sand castle may prove a bit difficult to learn how to build. If your kids are having a hard time building sand castles and you want to know the secret to building sensational sand structures, you are in the right place. You can take your families sand castle creation to the next level with some simple tips. Going to the beach, down the river or even in your own backyard in a sandpit, is a great way to play and bond. Keep reading if you want to know the secret to building an amazing sand castle.

Why play in the sand?

As children begin to fully understand the physical properties of sand, they have the opportunity to expand their creativity and imaginations through the designs of a variety of buildings, towns, and castles. Once they realize the buildability of the sand, many children investigate the possibility of constructing whole cities and other areas of play. Provide a variety of common and household objects for children to use in combination with their sand creations. Exchange these objects for new ones frequently, and watch as children adapt their creations and become inspired to construct new ones. Many children find working with sand to be relaxing and non-threatening, allowing these children the freedom to express their imaginations in safety and without consequence.

Gather Your Tools

Whether you are down the beach or playing in kids & childrens sandpits, you are going to need the right tools. Tools can make your life so much easier once you start to build your sand castle. Sandpits are great for kids to get creative whenever the feel the need. Having a sandpit out the back encourages creativity and play. When it comes to tools, the most important tool is definitely the shovel. A lightweight shovel is good idea. Shovels with a wooden handle are also great because that are less likely to crack or break under strain. Kids can tend to get excited so you want to ensure their tools are going to last.

However, for your littler kids you probably want to go with a plastic spade. When building sand castles ensure there is enough tools to go around, you don’t want any fights. In addition, don’t forget the buckets! You’ll need at least two, one for carrying water and one for mixing the water and sand together.

Decorations

This part of the building process is an adventure in itself. Ensure you gather plenty of decorations and start gathering decorations before you start building and can continue once you have started building your sand castle. When you have your sand castle, discuss what sorts of things you want to include in, on and around your sand castle. Make a list, for example, if you want a flag for the castle, what materials do you need to construct it?

Kids have a natural longing to play in the sand. It can be a peaceful and therapeutic way for them to relax and play alone or with friends. Sand play is great for skill building and it is important that you invite children to make sand castles and get creative. Provide them with the location and the right tools and watch them explore creative ways of building sand castles.

Reboot And Recharge: 4 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Free Time

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Free time is precious, whether it’s a quick coffee before a meeting or Sunday afternoon with the family.  Time spent away from work and household chores allows us to relax and recharge.  But if we spend that time worrying about the things we’re not doing, it defeats the purpose. Follow our quick tips to make the most of your time and enjoy every minute.

  1. Plan, Schedule, Organize

We’re used to keeping a diary for work, but we don’t always do this for our free time.  The problem with this is that work and housework tend to take over.  If there’s nothing in the diary, it’s tempting to keep on going to get everything finished.  Unfortunately, it will never be finished.  There will always be something to do.  Your to-do list will never be empty.  And you know what?  That’s okay because that’s just life.  So forget about getting everything done and schedule downtime and family time in the same way you would a work event.  

Being organized and planning ahead also helps.  This includes everything from parties at the weekend to vacations.  If you’re organized, things will run smoothly.  

  1. Delegate

To create time in your schedule in the first place, you need to delegate.  This not only refers to your work life but your home life too.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure the smooth running of the house.  It shouldn’t all fall to you.  So ask for help when it’s needed.  If there are larger jobs that need completing, consider handyman services. They can do everything from building an IKEA bookcase to working with electricals.  This will clear your repair list and free up your time to spend with family.

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  1. Get Up Early At Weekends

After a busy week of early get-ups, it’s tempting to stay in bed at the weekend.  The problem with this is that you will sleep away your free time.  While it’s fine to set the clock a littler later, try not to sleep in.  Give your free time the same consideration as your work.   Of course, to do this, you need to ensure that you get enough sleep.  So avoid too many late nights.

  1. Be Present

To eek out every drop of enjoyment from your downtime, you need to be fully present.  Try to forget about the stresses of the week.  Don’t spend your time thinking about what needs to be done.  And don’t dwell on things you can’t change.  Instead, immerse yourself fully in what you’re doing.  Give it your full attention.  

One important way to be present is to switch off your mobile devices.  This means no checking emails and voicemails.  

Being present is not always an easy skill.  But it gets easier over time.  So stay with it. Practicing mindfulness can help with this. It’s all about appreciating the ‘now.’  Look at what is right here in the room with you and forget the past and future.

The next time you have some time off, think about how to make the most of it.  Clear your schedule and plan if necessary.  Above all, have fun and live in the moment.

Going To London? Take Time Out To See These Spots

When you’re visiting the UK, it makes sense to have a central base. London is the perfect place to focus that. Situated in the south-east of England, not only is it a destination in itself, but it’s also a hub for further travel.

While it’s unlikely that one holiday would give you the chance to see everything that London has got to offer, you might want to take a break from the city. Get out into the famous English countryside amidst the rolling green hills. England is a country with a long, storied history and there are plenty of exciting sites to visit within a day of London. They can make a fantastic break from the hustle and bustle of the city, and offer their unique charms at the same time.

Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle was the childhood home of one of Henry VIII’s most famous Queens, Anne Boleyn. It houses two famous portraits of the doomed Anne, as well as stunning Tudor architecture. If you enjoy gardens, the offerings at Hever will not disappoint. It is an easy day’s travel from central London, situated in the beautiful Kent countryside.

Stonehenge

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Stonehenge was already ancient when the Romans invaded Britain 2,000 years ago. It remains one of the most enduring mysteries, with theories but no conclusions as to the reasons for its construction. Situated on Salisbury Plain, you can wander close to the stones and ponder for yourself the reasonings for its existence. While a little further out than Hever, you can compare london to stonehenge tours to make sure you take in the sights you want to see.

Dover Castle

England is full of old castles, and the magnificent cliff top stronghold of Dover Castle is one of the most beautiful. It sits atop the famous White Cliffs and dates back to the Norman Conquest, offering over a thousand years of history. It is also one of the few castles never to have been taken by force; when you see it, you’ll understand why. It’s a good few hours drive from central London, but perfect for any amateur history buff.

Blenheim Palace

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If you prefer your history a little more modern, the Regency splendour of Blenheim is hard to beat. It has been enjoyed by aristocracy throughout the centuries as a home and is now on show to the public. Blenheim was also the birthplace of one of the most famous Brits of all – former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Like Hever, it has magnificent gardens and tea rooms to be enjoyed at your leisure.

The Cotswolds

If you would rather wander through stunning scenery and appreciate nature at its finest, then the Cotswolds are ideal. A designated Area of Natural Beauty, you can travel from village to village or go hill-walking to enjoy the surrounding hills. It will be a long day out so make sure you make allowances for that, but you can be back in London by evening.

This is just the beginning of the list, depending on how long a day you wish to spend out of the capital. Whatever your preference, England will not disappoint.

Check out the Austintown Farmers Market MONDAYS 5-8 PM

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The Austintown Farmer’s Market is a community-service project driven by volunteers. Our goal is to bring fresh produce and unique, handmade items to Austintown and surrounding communities for purchase. The Market is from 5-8 in Austintown Township Park, rain or shine. The park also offers hiking trails, a new playground, volleyball court, splash pad, basketball and tennis courts and baseball fields. There is plenty of room for the kids to run and play.

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When you come to the Market, you will find educational classes, musicians, free kids’ crafts, local artisan goods, grass-fed meats, eggs, honey and of course, produce. The Market provides an excellent opportunity to meet your farmer and maybe try a new food or cooking technique! It definitely is a fun-filled family night out!

I personally am impressed with the variety! There is definitely something for EVERYONE! If you are wondering what kind of vendors you can find at the Austintown Farmer’s Market, here is a list:

Bandana Dogs by Nuclear Janet
Beach Glass by Tracy
Big City Tailgate
Corals & Clover
Faith Seed Farm LLC
Fancy Feet Sandals
GardenView Acres
George’s Produce
Goodness Grows
Grass N Grace Farm
Hilltop Honey Farm
Jackson Maters
JegO Headbands
Legacy Dog Rescue
Maple Leaf Acres
Moe’s Private Reserve
Quiroz Family Farm
Shaved Ice
Traveling Italian Chef
Truffle Laboratory
Vestal Concessions
Young Living Essential Oils
The Zaney Pearl – A Crazy Beautiful Farm
Zimmerman Farms

fresh raspberries

If you bring your own bag, you will get a raffle ticket for a chance to win $10 in market money and a free tote bag!  You will receive one ticket from each booth you purchase from!!  If you love giveaways, be sure to check out the Austintown Farmer’s Market Facebook Page because they also have Facebook drawings once a week for $10 in market money for liking and sharing their posts.

Kid with Shaved Ice

Are you worried you will forget about the Market? Find them on social media, @austintownfm on Twitter and Instagram, and Austintown Farmer’s Market on Facebook.  Keep an eye out, they have weekly drawings for Market Money! They post the goods available weekly and lots of other great information. You can also get text reminders about the Market by sending SUBSCRIBE to 330-439-5686 or by going HERE to sign up online.  To contact the Austintown Township Farmer’s Market with any questions or comments you can send an email to: austintownfarmersmarket@gmail.com

I personally can’t wait until NEXT Monday so we can go check out the Market and see all the goodies they have to offer!

Want A More Energy Efficient Home? Then This Helpful Guide Is For You

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In this day and age, we are always looking for ways we can save on our energy bills. Having a more energy efficient home is one of the ways we can do that. While it doesn’t require you to do too much, there are some changes that you can make to your home to help it be more energy efficient. So with that in mind, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share with you some of the ways you can do that.

Change light bulbs to more energy efficient ones

The light bulbs you use in your home can have a big effect on your energy usage. So switching them to more cost effective and energy saving can have a big impact on the amount of energy you use daily. You could consider a lower voltage or switch from a more energy using halogen bulb to an LED alternative. However, they may cost more from the outset that could save you a lot of money in the long run.

Consider solar panels

Applying solar panels to your roof tops can be a big energy saver in your home. The solar panels provide you with energy to heat your home, heat your water, light your home and cook. Anything that electricity would use. Again they may be a costly investment from the outset, but overall the money saved will far outweigh your initial investment.

Change windows and doors

Many homes can lose heat and energy through the windows and doors they have installed. This is due to them not being efficient enough. So considering charging them can be a big energy saver. Checking online from www.cardinal-homes.com/windows/ could be a great place to start. It could provide you with some valuable information. The more heat you can keep in your home, the less energy you are likely to use.

Insulate your home

On the point of not losing energy in the home, another alternative would be to make sure that your home is insulated. This is another way to keep heat in rather than letting it escape through your roof or the walls.

Replace older appliances

Sometimes older appliances in the home like a washing machine or dishwasher can use more energy than newer models. Also, many new appliances have an energy efficient ranking. This is to ensure to you that the appliance you fit in your home is as energy efficient as it can be. Keeping the costs down. Checking out websites like https://www.energystar.gov/products/energy_star_most_efficient could help.

Collect rainwater

Collecting rain water can be beneficial, rather than letting it go to waste. The water collected can be used for things such as watering your lawn or plants. You could also use it for things like washing your car. It means you are not paying for those simple things where as you would be if you ran the tap to fill a bucket or switched a hose pipe on from an outside tap.

I hope this guide helps you make your home a little more energy efficient.

Adorable & Affordable Ideas to Improve Your Kid’s Playtime

Children do some of the funniest things. They are interactive, innovative, daydreamers and are just fun. We look at them and see so much innocence that it’s so hard to be annoyed at them. Even when there naughty, you just can’t be mad because they are just learning their way through the world. However, what is the most important thing to remember when you have children is the responsibility to keep a safe and positive environment for your children to be productive.

Whilst we love our children to run around and enjoy life as much as they possible can, there has to be restrictions and a safe environment for them to do so. It’s the worst predicament to be in for a parent to see their child hurt, and knowing that the accident could have been prevent. Almost 3 million children were sent to require treatment in an emergency room due to unintentional falls, and a majority of these injuries happen at home.

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When children climb on furniture and are near unsafe pieces in the home, the chances of injury dramatically increased. However, knowing what kids furniture needs to be used within the household and what changes may need to be made to current furniture pieces to create a safe environment for your children.

  1. DIY

Specialized pieces of Kid’s furniture from stores can be incredibly sturdy and well-made products, however sometimes they can be incredibly unsafe for your child. Wood is a great example of a high quality material that is used for kid’s furniture. However, it can be unsafe as the sharp edges of products made from hardwood can be incredibly dangerous if your child unintentional falls. Using your DIY initiative, creating your own piece of kids furniture or adjusting your current piece of furniture is an easy solution.

DIY Kids Furniture

To amend kid’s furniture with sharp edges, using an electric sander or manual sander can help create a different edge to your furniture. Creating a curved edge to your kids furniture piece can help in creating a safer environment for your child. Also, implementing cushioned fabrics onto wooden seating will also create a safeguard for your child, if any accidents happen.

  1. Heavy Furniture

Another issue with kid’s furniture when it comes to their health and safety is the heavy furniture that may be in your home. Kid’s furniture such as drawers and toy boxes are great for children, as they are able the learn the concept of putting your clothes and toys away into a space where they are protected and put away.

However, when using these furniture pieces, it can be incredibly easy for children’s fingers getting jarred and jammed. When buying these items, they should be lightweight and have slow-closing hinges, giving the child ample of time to remove their hands. Another issue that can become apparent with toy boxes is with smaller children becoming stuck inside, causing suffocation. Providing ventilation holes within your child’s toy box can allow your child to breathe whilst stuck and prevent suffocation as a result.

Whilst it is easy to have affordable and adorable pieces of kid furniture in your home, the main priority of any parent or guardian is to keep your child safe. These techniques are inexpensive to implement, and can be used on any furniture piece, creating a safe and happy environment for your child.

The Most Important Thing Vacationing Moms Need to Consider

When you travel as a mom, you need to consider the differences that traveling with kids brings. It’s important to think ahead and make sure you plan ahead for vacations with children. You have to make sure you consider important things that will make your travel experience much better. Take a look at the ideas and suggestions below, and try to action these things as soon as you can. It’s vital to provide the best vacation experience for the children, and these will help you to achieve that.

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Money

Let’s be honest, vacations are not cheap, and when you’re going with the kids, you need to think about money. You’re going to need to pay for the trip, but you will also need spending money when you get there. It might be an idea to give the children holiday money so they can learn money lessons. This is often a good way of helping them to pick up skills and enjoy the vacation experience that bit more.

In-Date Passports

The worst thing you can do is book a trip away without checking your passports first. You don’t want to get to the day and discover that they are out of date! This will leave you unable to travel and will really put a dampener on your vacation plans. So, before you book anything you need to check everyone’s passport and make sure they are in date. If they aren’t, then you’ve got to apply for a renewal and get this sorted before you can even think about booking a trip.

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Where to Stay

It’s vital that you consider your accommodation when traveling with children. See, space and safety become much more important. You may not want to stay in a cramped hotel room with your kids. You want somewhere that is in a nice area and where you and the children can stay together at all times. That’s why lodging in Park City Utah is often preferable to getting a hotel in Santa Monica. These apartments and condos provide you with much more space as well as additional security features.

Safety

Going on vacation by yourself is very different to going with your children. And because of this, you need to think about the safety aspect much more. You’ve got to keep your kids as safe as you can. And this means making sure you are with them at all times. You need to try to ensure that the area you are visiting is safe and secure. And it might be worth sorting out extensive travel insurance before you go as well.

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As a mom, when you go on vacation you need to be careful and diligent. You have to take care of you and your child as much as possible. So there are more things you’ll need to think about when you try to travel with your kids. It’s important that you are organized and that you choose the right place to stay when you go abroad. You also need to pay close attention to your safety in all aspects of vacationing.

15 Surprising Facts About Adoption

Each year millions of children are rehomed through the adoption process. It’s a social institution that has come down through the centuries. And it’s surprising what we don’t know about it. Here are some facts about adoption.

  1. There are dozens of famous people who were adopted as children. These include Steve Jobs, Jack Nicholson, Faith Hill and Blondie, just to name a few.
  1. Technology has allowed the age of adopted children to go down. Before the invention of formula milk, children had to be weaned by their biological mothers. Children were only put up for adoption, extreme circumstances aside, once they were old enough to eat solid food. But with the advent of formula milk, children of any age could be adopted.

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  1. The adoption process isn’t fast. In the US, about two-thirds of children put up for adoption remain in the care system for between two and five years. And about a fifth of those spending more than five years looking for new, adoptive parents.
  1. In the US, giving a child up for adoption is surprisingly common. Right now, there are around half a million US children in foster care, waiting to be adopted.
  1. Nearly a third of adopted children go to families where the parents don’t share the same race. But here’s where things get interesting. Most of the children who are adopted are non-white. In the US, you are more likely to be an adopted child if you’re black or Hispanic. But although most of the adopted children are non-white, most of the adopting parents are white.
  1. Adopted children tend to live in more complicated family structures. About two-thirds of them will go to households with both adopted and birth children.
  1. American is a place where the majority of people want to do the right thing. About a third of Americans say that they have seriously considered adopting a child. However, the statistics also show that many people just don’t get around to it. Only about 2 percent of Americans have adopted a child.
  1. The foster care system in the US is far from perfect. Even though every effort is made, many children never find the foster parents they need or deserve. Because of this, about 30,000 young people pass through the foster care system to adulthood without being adopted.

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  1. Adopting a child can be expensive. In the US the average total cost for adopting a child ranges from around $25,000 all the way up to $50,000. If the child is from overseas, a lot of that cost comes from getting hold of the right visas and permits. But domestic adoptions can be very expensive too. Sometimes, the parents of the adopted child have to pay for the birth mother’s medical expenses or household bills.
  1. The preferences of people adopting children vary by race, gender and age. In the US, adoptive parents prefer young babies to children who are older. They also prefer girls over boys. And many parents will choose a white child over a child who is either black, Hispanic or Asian. Because of these preferences, it’s African American boys who are the least likely to be adopted.
  1. At the moment in the US, there is heated political debate around whether the country is racist or not. Who will win that argument remains to be seen. But many black birth mothers have already made their minds up. Rather than putting their babies up for adoption in the US, many are instead seeking adoptive parents from overseas. Why? Many believe that there is less racial prejudice abroad. And so they believe that their children will have far better life chances.
  1. The problems in the US might be bad, but in Asia, they are far worse. Because health care and sanitation aren’t as good, many parents die before their children grow up. As a result, two children are orphaned in Asia for every child that is born in the US. That translates to about a million new orphans across the continent every year.
  1. The international need for adoptive parents is enormous. Each year, millions of children are made orphan. In fact, there are so many orphans in the world that they could form a country with more people in it than UK and France together.
  1. Adoptions in the US are surprisingly common. Each year, 140,000 children find new homes with new families.

Girl Child

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  1. When it comes to overseas adoptions, China tops the list. It’s followed by Ethiopia, Russia, and South Korea.

Three Amazing Family Friendly Vacations

Proper planning and keeping the kids entertained is the key to a successful family vacation. Choose one of the options below for a fun packed holiday that is sure to be a hit with the kids.

Disney

Of course, number one on the list has got to be Disney. Meet your favorite characters, see the parade and ride the roller coasters. Disney is set up for children of all ages.

Disney Parks

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Disney is a great US based holiday, and you can either stay in one of the park hotels or get a villa near to the park. If you go for a villa, make sure to rent one with a pool so you can cool off in the hot weather. If you decide to go for one of the fabulous themed Disney hotels, take a peek at the free dining packages as they can save you a packet.

If you are looking for a more international adventure, try the Paris or Shanghai locations. If you choose the Paris park, rent a car and make sure you take in the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and the love. Kids will get a kick out of seeing the mummies in the Egypt exhibit.

If you go for the Shanghai location, make time to absorb some Chinese culture. Popular activities include a Huangpu-river-cruise at night, a food led city tour or check out an acrobatic show.

Brilliant for kids and adults alike, there are now Disney themed cruised available.  The grown-ups can relax while the little ones are entertained by their favorite Disney characters.  So it’s definitely a win-win situation.

RV Trip

A good old American road trip is something the kids can get into. Get them involved with planning the journey and picking out the locations that they would like to visit. Take the well-traveled Route 66 or go for a more usual option like a tour of America’s weirdest museums.

If you are consider buying your own RV for the trip, there are plenty of local dealerships with  a wide range of motorhomes for sale. Remember to pick one that has enough space for the whole family as you will spend the majority of the day in there together. Motor homes make an especially good option for families with food allergies or special diets. You can use the kitchens to cook your own food and ensure exactly what goes into it.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

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The 277 mile long and 4000ft deep Grand Canyon, is a brilliant location for a family friendly vacation. Its spectacular beauty is great inspiration for artists, so why not get the kids sketching or taking photos for their journal?  A helicopter ride, down into the canyon will up the excitement level,  and if you want to go all out, why not horseback ride through the canyon itself? Of course, you don’t want to miss the sky walk either! As the Grand Canyon is set in its own national park, there are plenty of other activities to do. Think river rafting and trekking. The kids can even become a junior ranger!