Using Your Phone as a Source of Entertainment for Your Kids

We tend to associate smartphones with adults. The majority of over eighteens own one of their own and chances are that you are either reading this article on one right now, or have one in your pocket or nearby. While we may use our phones for professional purposes (responding to emails), social purposes (catching up with friends), or sheer procrastination (scrolling through the explore page of our Instagram feeds), it’s important to remember that smartphones can prove extremely beneficial for little ones too! While you might not want to purchase one of these expensive devices for your little ones to use independently quite yet,

Ensuring It Is Always Connected

Phones aren’t much use if they constantly lose signal or are unable to make use of mobile data. So make sure that you sign up to a reliable provider like Freedompop phones, who will be able to ensure that your little ones can engage with any of the following recommendations as and when they grow bored throughout the day!

Online Videos

The web is awash with media that is appropriate for your little ones. Whether they want to watch their favourite cartoons, sing along to the latest kids’ chart song, or – you will be able to find the content online through some sort of video streaming service. Perhaps the most popular is Youtube. This can be accessed easily through your web browser, but you’re generally better off downloading the app, so that everything can be accessed more readily and easily. If you’re willing to pay a small sum of money monthly, you can even skip its notorious pre-video ads. Just remember to make use of parental controls, which can prevent your little ones from accessing unsuitable or age inappropriate content.

Photographs

Once kids can recognise themselves in the mirror, they are likely to become increasingly interested in taking pictures of themselves with you, siblings, pets, and pretty much anyone or anything else they adore. They’re growing up as part of the selfie generation! They’re bound to find hours of fun using your phone’s camera. Consider allowing them to use fun apps like snapchat to take and save pictures too! They’re bound to enjoy the different novelty filters they can try out. Just make sure they don’t send pictures around to your whole contact list!

Games

Phones have had games for a long time. But we have come a long way from simple classics like Tetris and Snake. Nowadays, there are seemingly endless different games down there that can be downloaded for your little ones to try out and play. Again, be a little cautious. Some will allow you to carry out in-app purchases and may charge your card directly. Ensure that protective settings are on or that your card is not connected to your account when letting your kids play games on your phone.

As you can see, your smartphone can provide your children with a whole lot of entertainment!

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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5 Tips for Tailgating with the Family

The reasons people show up at ballgames early are not so that they can enjoy getting at the venue in good time for a seating area and a parking lot. Tailgating gives people the opportunity to socialize, eat, and get the energy to cheer and enjoy before heading for the stadium to watch their best teams. If you are new to tailgating, here are the five most essential tips you need to familiarize yourself with.

1. Pick A Prime Location

For your party to rock and tick every one of you, you need to pick a family-friendly spot. Whether it’s in the field, at the stadium, or a parking lot, the area has to be friendly and cozy. Be sure to watch out for loud music spots and kegs if your kids will be around.

The trick is to get there early so you can have the chance to stake out your family territory. The area should have low traffic and away from the student section. When parking, think about your exit strategy in case you will have to jump out of the party early.

A tent or canopy would be a great landmark for members to easily locate it in the sea of others. You could also choose to fly a flag on your spot if you don’t have a tent or canopy.

2. Dress for the Party

You get to pick your tailgate note right from your wardrobe. Be sure that every member of your family attending the party is dressed in a way that supports your team. You are not just leaving for the tailgate to grill but to show your absolute support.

You are there to celebrate your favorite team. Everyone attending a tailgating party expects to stand out. They expect to be the best fan in the crowd and so will be careful to choose the right gear. From crazy wings to costumes and face painting, everything should spell “best fan”.

If some members would like to dress in cheerleading outfits or a nice jersey, have them outfitted in their tailgating ensemble. Remember to carry warm clothes too. If you are not into jerseys or sports outfits, you could at least wear the right colors.

3. Be In The Know

It is vital to have some basic knowledge before setting out for your tailgating party. First, find out what the weather will be like to ensure you are dressed appropriately for the day. If there is a downpour, for instance, there definitely won’t be grilling. You also need to find out when the gates open. Of course, you don’t want to get there early and idle around.

Also get familiar with the parking lot fee and be sure to carry extra cash in case it is a cash only parking lot. If you’re trying to save money, you could even consider buying your tickets from Stubhub and using a coupon.

Be familiar with the party rules. It could be simple things such as not leaving any grill unattended. Also, some do not allow charcoal grills.  You could do a quick search on some of the rules the stadium holds.

Also, remember that not everyone in your team enjoys having meat in their meals, so be sure to also carry some shrimp cocktails, pasta, salads, and veggies. At tailgating parties, don’t expect to get essentials such as plates, cups, and spoons. You have to bring them along, not forgetting to include napkins and trash bags. You may also need to carry beverages, matches, chairs, and tongs, among other things.

4. Pack It Up

When tearing down your site at the end of the game, you need to take out everything you bring along. There could be trash cans around, but then they could be missing. As such, you need to have something to dispose of all your litter.

If the stadium allows charcoal coal and you decide to use it for your grill, you need to have a plan of how to dispose of it at the end of the event. Note that coal has the potential of staying hot for hours, while at the same time you have to dispose of them. Do so using the aluminum pans you use while preparing the meal. You could also opt for melted ice to put off the coals.

5. Make It Fun

Your guests should stay entertained before the game starts. You could include tailgating games or flip cups to set the right mood. Other activities could include listening to music, or you could choose to walk around the rows getting to know a few other tailgaters.

Tagging along with some entertainment keeps the rest of your team distracted as you prepare a meal. However, remember everyone is there to have fun so try and respect other tailgaters regardless of their team affiliation. Even when the neighboring tent is supporting a different team, avoid going overboard.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

 

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The Polar Express Returns to Union Station 2018

Today is the day! The Polar Express Returns to St. Louis Union Station! As usual the folks at The Polar Express have showed that this event is worth checking out year after year. Each character has their own style and entertaining ways of keeping kids AND adults having fun during your entire visit. Whether it’s the Hobo cracking jokes, or the chefs passing out some hot chocolate, there is always something going on that will keep your attention. Check out my social media pages to see some exclusive photos from our ride on The Polar Express this year.

THE POLAR EXPRESS TRAIN RIDE
AT ST. LOUIS UNION STATION
KICKS OFF THE HOLIDAY SEASON TONIGHT
WITH TRAINS TO THE “NORTH POLE”
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2018
3:30 P.M. TO 8:30 P.M.

 

WHAT: The Polar Express Train Ride at St. Louis Union Station begins the 2018 season tonight. Kids and their families — dressed in their Christmas pajamas — meet with Santa and his elves, sing with the Polar Express chefs and learn the story of The Polar Express on their journey to the North Pole.

WHEN: Tonight, Friday, November 16. Riders begin arriving as early as 3:30 p.m. to take part in a variety of holiday activities and pre-boarding fun. The first train departs for the North Pole at 4:30 p.m. Trains also depart at 6, 7:15 and 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: St. Louis Union Station. Enter the parking lot from 18th St. south of Clark.

ABOUT THE POLAR EXPRESS TRAIN RIDE AT ST. LOUIS UNION STATION:

The Polar Express Train Ride at St. Louis Union Station is returning for the 2018 holiday season. Trains begin running from St. Louis Union Station to the North Pole tonight — Friday, November 16 — and continue on selected dates through December 30, 2018.

Tickets are on sale at www.STLPolarExpressRide.com.

The Polar Express Train Ride’s magical story of a boy’s search for the meaning of Christmas comes to life when real trains departs St. Louis Union Station for a round-trip journey to the North Pole.

Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the story as they are whisked away on The Polar Express. Once on board, passengers are served hot chocolate and cookies by the Polar Express chefs as they read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg.

Santa and his helpers greet passengers at the North Pole and then board the train. Santa interacts with each child and gives them the first gift of Christmas — a silver sleigh bell. Chefs and Santa’s elves lead passengers in singing Christmas carols on the ride back to St. Louis Union Station.

Trains depart St. Louis Union Station at 4:30, 6:00, and 7:15 p.m. Trains also will run at 8:30 p.m. on selected dates. Passengers are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before departure to enjoy holiday activities and photo opportunities in the boarding area.

Riders may choose from two classes of service on The Polar Express — Coach and First-Class. Coach tickets start at $39. First-class ticket holders will receive a Polar Ex- press mug and will be seated at four-top tables on the train.

Guests can save 20 per- cent on The Polar Express Train Ride when they purchase their tickets along with a hotel package at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, a Curio Collection by Hilton. Hotel rooms decorated with Christmas trees are available for a special holiday treat.

More information about dates, fares and excursion times is available by calling 314-942- 6942, or by visiting www.STLPolarExpressRide.com. Families are encouraged to wear their holiday pajamas for the ride.

In addition to the train ride, St. Louis Union Station will continue its popular holiday fire and light show set to Christmas music on the train shed lake each evening during the holiday season.

St. Louis Union Station also will host a series of Magical Meals — holiday character dinners in the beautiful Grand Hall of the historic train station during the Polar Express season. Featuring 3-D light shows projected on the ceiling and visits with Santa’s elves chefs and The Polar Express Conductor, the dinner sessions are available on selected days when the Polar Express Train Ride is in operation. Dinners are served buffet style with separate adult and children’s selections priced between $20 and $25. Children ages two and under are complimentary. An elaborate holiday dessert buffet accompanies the dinners. Reservations for the 5:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. dinners may be purchased online at www.STLPolarExpressRide.com. Tip: Select dates for the Magical Meal first, then purchase train tickets for the same date.

This year, a Build-A-Bear pop up shop will be located in the activities tent for the first time. An event-themed bear will be available for children to create on site. For more in- formation, visit buildabear.com.

St. Louis Union Station is located at 1820 Market Street in downtown St. Louis. Parking is available in the Union Station lot at 18th and Clark for just $5 for all Polar Express ticket holders.

St. Louis Dad was compensated tickets to ride The Polar Express in exchange for an honest review.

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The Inner Image: Taking The Best Family Pictures

Do you find that family outings are not visually captured as well as you’d like them to be? If you’re an amateur photographer, or you like a selfie or two with your kids, taking a good family photo is a fine art. After all, people have dedicated their entire lives to the endeavor of the perfect photograph. And while you don’t need to be Robert Capa, are there any fundamentals you can take on board to ensure that you don’t, at the very least, have your thumb over the lens?

Get The Focus Locked

Either you need to have the steadiest of arms, or you can go for the simpler option and get a tripod. You might consider this to be a bit bulky, but when you’re looking at capturing the perfect family photo, what have all the great portraits got in common? The camera has focus, and the subjects are still. So, making sure that the focus on the camera is locked, either by using the back button focus or manual focus, it will take a lot of the guesswork out of it.

Getting Action Shots

It all depends on the subject, but it’s much easier when you’ve got kids that are more than willing to mess around for the camera. You can get an abundance of action shots, but don’t feel that you’ve got to be static in these situations. In fact, if you’re looking to get various types of family photos, not just the still portraits, you may want to go a bit left-field and get a drone. On myrctopia.com there is a list of the best selfie drones, which adds another angle to your experience. And, if you want to get those really fantastic aerial shots of you and the family running on a massive beach, a drone is the best way to do it.

Get The Light Right

One of the most difficult tasks for any photographer is to get the light right because we can’t control it. And if you can’t drag piles of lighting equipment around with you, the simplest approach is to choose the right time to take these photos. Lighting is such an expansive topic, but the golden rule when getting a family portrait is that you get light into the subject’s eyes.

Undertake Your Own Education

Who are your favorite photographers? Do you admire anyone at all? For any budding photographer, getting into the work of one specific artist, whether it’s Pulitzer prize winner Kevin Carter or Vivian Maier, finding the right people to inspire your work and to go beyond the usual family portraits means you can create some amazing photographs that remain true to the subject. Your own education can begin right now, and sites like creativelive.com show some of the most common photography terms, so this can get you started.

We can all take a photograph, but the greatest photographs take the subject and show them in an honest and human light. When taking pictures of your family, you may know them inside out, but you can always benefit from learning how to get the camera to reveal their inner self.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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