Blog Archives

Think Spring!

March 30, 2015

Think Spring! Activities and tips | MothersCircle.netAs much as I love snow days, I’m happy to see the mountains melting. I’m ready to think spring and am enjoying the hints of buds and other harbingers of spring.

Here’s a wrap of of some spring season posts to help you think spring!

How to force forsythia – Bring some spring inside with these yellow blooming branches!

Creative ways to dye Easter eggs – This is our Good Friday tradition. What fun Easter egg traditions does your family do?

What I Love About Snow Days

January 27, 2015

What I love about snow days | MothersCircle.netI love snow days!

I love the disruption in our normal schedule and the community feeling of hunkering down. I even love the preparation and the anticipation of a storm coming.

I love that regular responsibilities and expectations fall away – drifting with the snow. Obligations forgiven.

I love how the snow absorbs the sound and how neighbors come out waving and shoveling walkways after the storm. I love the sounds of the kids laughing and sledding and playing.

I love hot cocoa and marshmallows and remembering my mom having it ready for us when we came in from a snowy day. I love kissing the kids’ rosy, chilled cheeks and noses when they finally drag themselves in from the snow.snowy branch, Juno, blizzard, kids in snow, snow days fun,

I love how snow days slow us down. It’s what I crave and snow days grant us – or force us – time to stay still, to be home with family with nowhere to go or be. Snow days make us live in the moment and be present.

How to Make Clementine Granita

December 23, 2014

How to Make Clementine Granitas | MothersCircle.netMaking clementine granita has become a Christmas tradition in our house. I first made it a few years ago for a fresh, festive, and light Christmas Eve dessert. Served with platters of rich Christmas cookies, clementine granita is the perfect balance.

Everyone loves it and now Anna requests and expects it as part of our Christmas preparations. She’s really the one who has made this a holiday staple, and she does much of the work to make these delicious and pretty desserts.

Here’s how to make clementine granita with pictures to guide you. We use Martha Stewart’s Clementine Granita Recipe.

12 clementines, plus 12 more for juicing
1/2 cup sugar
1 slice (1/2 inch) peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Cut the tops off of twelve clementines, you’ll need to juice the insides of these as well as another twelve. You can use orange juice for the extra if you prefer.

cut oranges tangerines mandarins

#GivingTuesday 2014

December 1, 2014

#GivingTuesday Roundup |MothersCircle.netTo me, #GivingTuesday is one of the best commercialized ways to spot light giving and service over self. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving and the Christmas and holiday season are all about?

In our family, kindness is most important. It makes me far prouder to hear that my child invited a left out child to sit with him at lunch than to have him get a perfect spelling test grade. Seriously, what’s really important?

After a big turkey dinner and time with family, after dabbling in Black Friday weekend sales, I love the idea of kicking off the season with #GivingTuesday.

How do you make giving and service a tradition in your family? What ways do you help your kids prioritize serving? What will you give during this season of giving – time, money, blood, food?

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle

November 26, 2014

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle | MotherCircle.net Do you live in the Gratitude Circle?

It can be tough sometimes but it’s so worth it when I get there. I find that the more I give thanks, the more I have to be thankful for. The Gratitude Circle builds gratefulness from gratefulness. The more you count your blessings, the more blessings you have to count.

Looking actively for things to be thankful for multiplies those very things. By seeing them, we automatically increase them. I have a 5-year gratitude journal that I love, it’s a quick way to remind myself every day of all I have in my life and it helps to make gratitude a habit. Create a structure for yourself that builds thankfulness into your day.

10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism

August 19, 2014

10 tips to teach kids, volunteerism, teaching kids to serve, serving and giving, teaching kids to appreciate what they haveThank you to Prayerful Mom for allowing me to guest post. I love this post and have been wanting to write about service and volunteerism for awhile now. It’s so important to teach our kids perspective, giving, and gratitude in our world of plenty.

Check out my 10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism.

Do you struggle to teach your children about the value of “stuff” and the importance of helping others? Do you search for ways to teach your kids to appreciate what they have and to offer some perspective?

Set the example and volunteer together, locally and globally. Explain to your kids why you give money to whom you do. Use a variety of ways to teach the lessons of serving and gratitude. Multiple experiences and regular volunteerism, or involvement in a cause, will have a greater impact on children than the once-in-a-blue-moon approach.

Here are 10 tips to teach kids about volunteerism

Thank you, Mother’s Circle readers, for your support, your sharing, your votes on Top Mommy Blogs, and your kind emails and comments!

Enjoy volunteering with your kids!

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

What is 20 Years?

July 16, 2014

what is 20 years?, 20 year anniversary, platinum anniversary, china for 20th anniversary, symbol for 20th anniversary20 years is our first home with a deep front porch. It’s tearing out ugly mustard-colored carpet to find pristine hardwood floors beneath, it’s stripping wallpaper in dime-sized pieces. It’s sitting on lawn chairs and eating off stacked crates.

20 years is traveling far and wide, young and carefree, climbing historic church towers and hiking stunning canyons. It’s snorkeling, horseback riding, swimming in waterfalls and driving coastlines. It’s Hawaii, France and the Olympics, Prague, Poland and Germany, it’s islands, mountains and oceans.

20 years is the first plus-sign on the stick, the happy tears, the growing belly, the drive home with our new baby girl realizing she was ours to care for and protect and love. Forevermore. And then we were three.

20 years is first cell phones, cool-looking things with an antennae and no such thing as texting. It’s sleepless nights, dribbling giggles, first steps and ABC’s. It’s time with grandparents and families, time with each other. Time together. A family.

Song Lyrics for the 4th of July

July 4, 2014

4th of July songs, country song lyrics about America, American songs, Independence Day songs, Happy Independence Day!

Last year I posted the meaning of Independence Day including the entirety of the Declaration of Independence. This year, I’m celebrating this great day with song lyrics for the 4th of July.

After years of resisting, and fighting my dear friend, Dana’s, attempts to make me listen, in the last eight years, I have become a country music fan. I get teary-eyed listening to the stories or laugh along with the songs with a sense of humor.

I love Zac Brown Band (I took my daughter for a one-on-one mother daughter weekend to see them perform and have written about his Camp Southern Ground) and get a little choked up still at the patriotic part in Chicken Fried. At our local elementary school, the kids sing Lee Greenwood’s Proud to be an American and I swear I cannot keep it together hearing those sweet little voices sing those incredible lyrics.

Floating Wishes – Fun Activity for Kids and Adults

February 20, 2014

floating wishes, flying dreams, fun family activities, fun youth group activities, activity for churches, sunday school activities, blessingways, activities for families, family rituals, traditionsFloating wishes has become a tradition for Valentine’s Day in our family but could be used for birthdays, New Year’s goals, Blessingways, or to mark any special celebration or ordinary day.

How to Make Floating Wishes:

1. Cut squares out of any color tissue paper you like.

Match the color to the theme of your event or celebration. Cut the squares about 3″ x 3″ with very even edges to help them stand up later.

2. Pass out the tissue paper squares and pencils and write on the squares.

Distribute the papers to your guests or family and ask them to write their wish, dream, prayer, gently with the pencil on the tissue paper.

You may provide different directions to your participants depending on the occasion. For example, this Valentine’s Day, Anna handed out three pieces of hot pink tissue paper to each family member and told us that one was for a wish, one was for a dream and one was a thought for the world.

If you used this for a church retreat or youth activity, perhaps you’d have everyone write a prayer in general or for a specific person or cause. As a part of a Blessingway for moms-to-be, you might have everyone write a special thought for the new mother, the new baby and her family.

http://youtu.be/bkZUEIkosNI

3. Roll the paper up around a pencil.

Use the pencil and roll the tissue paper into a tight tube around the pencil. When you take it off it will loosen, that’s okay, but you want it to be able to stand up on one side like a toilet paper tube.

Goal Setting for Kids

January 9, 2014

goal setting for kids, setting goals, new years goals, notebook paper on bulletin board, how to have kids set goalsGoal setting: it’s way better than “making resolutions!” Goal setting is a life skill and a gift to teach our kids young.

I love the Napoleon Hill quote, “A goal is a dream with a deadline,” we can dream, but we need to quantify it to help us achieve it.

Teaching and modeling goal setting to kids is setting them up to strive in life, it’s putting action behind the words: “You can do anything you set your mind to” or “you can be anything you want to be.” Teaching kids how to set goals and map out mini-goals along the path is giving them the tools to really be anything they want to be.

Effective goal setting includes writing it down. Good, old-fashioned pen and paper! You can have your kids illustrate the goal or cut out magazine pictures and make a collage around their written goal. Hang itset goals, alphabet blocks, goal setting tips, activities for goal setting, I want to be a better reader, get straight A's, mini-goals, quotes on goals somewhere prominent, above their bed, beside the bathroom mirror, somewhere they can see it during daily tasks (like teeth brushing, hopefully!)

2014 Reasons to be Grateful

January 1, 2014

2014, 2014 reasons to be grateful, list of blessings, get happy, feel grateful, thankfulness list,One thing I know for sure is that GRATITUDE is the key to happiness. Being able to see the good around us, taking note of the blessings in our lives, even when things are in chaos, is not always easy, but within it lies happiness and contentment.

I had the idea to list 2014 reasons to be grateful, so here goes, I’m challenging myself to find that many.

1 Amazing husband
3 Incredible children
2 Supportive parents
2 Caring in-laws
2 Kind-hearted sisters
1 Fun brother
3 Precious nephews
10 Fingers to work, type, touch, cook, live, DO
1 Healthy heart
1 Mouth for kissing, smiling and talking
2 Arms to hug my family, to play tennis, do yoga, and do a million other things
7500 Body Parts: Okay, so before I list every body part, the American Association of Anatomists has 7,500 listed parts and that’s 7500 reasons to be grateful – even if I can’t pronounce them all. But let’s keep going, I allow for 25 parts that I can easily be thankful for: my eyes, arms, hands, lungs, ears, legs, heart, mouth, fingers, and brain.
100 = 25 Healthy body parts on my three kids and husband
250 = 25 Healthy body parts on my parents, in-laws, sister, brother and nephews

So we are up to 378 reasons to be grateful – let’s keep going! This will be harder than I thought but it’s making me happy just counting my blessings.

I’m thankful for:
Friends
The 500 kids of the Destiny Africa Choir and at the Kampala Children’s Centre
Our church and the people thereDestiny Africa, The Children's Centre for Hope and Wellness, KCC, Uganda home for orphans, giving tuesday, medical center in uganda
Newtown, my hometown
Books – I’m sure I have over 2014 books to be thankful for!

My Christmas Binder

December 20, 2013

Thank you to my friend, Danielle, an inspiring Mom and a believer in the importance of family traditions and rituals. I aspire to be as organized as she is, read here about her brilliant Christmas binder idea.
Danielle is the voice behind Festival Fete’s blog, Festival Fete and her own blog, Rock-Paper-Snips.

Guest Post by Danielle Salisbury, Find Danielle on Facebook

christmas crafts, Christmas baking ideas, Christmas activities for kids, organizing for Christmas, Christmas organization,  Christmas traditionsI admit it. I am one of those super-organized people who I think drive other people crazy. When confronted with a mess, after the initial rush of panic, I actually get joy from creating order out of chaos. I also love a celebration, and with the holidays, I tend to go a little over board and end up feeling overwhelmed. So, finally a few years ago I discovered my own little holiday tradition that keeps me in check (so I don’t go too overboard) and helps me keep a bit of order in the chaos of holiday planning. It’s my Christmas Binder.

In the binder, I have photos, recipes, menus, Christmas “To Do” list, Christmas card list, gift ideas, crafts, table settings, decorating ideas and a gift and tip list. I love being able to reference back to see what we gave the babysitter last year and how much we gave in tips!

organized Christmas, red binder, Martha Stewart Christmas, going overboard for Christmas, limoncello, homemade Christmas gifts, cooking for Christmas, menus for holiday dinner, Probably the the most useful part of the book is my personal notes on menus and what we cooked. For example, the year that I made seafood risotto on Christmas Eve (thinking I would satisfy the Italian tradition of seven fishes in one big dish) we didn’t sit down to eat until 10:00 pm and unfortunately we hardly remember the dish because of all the wine that we were sharing with the risotto during the three hours of cooking! Now I can refer to my notes to see that I shouldn’t start shucking lobster and shellfish an hour before you expect to eat it.

One of my favorite things about this binder is that it is a place where I can put a great idea and say to myself, “someday…I WILL do/make/cook that.” And eventually, some of those inspirations become a reality.

I usually try to come up with one handmade gift item each year, (usually something for eating or drinking) such as a jam, Limoncello liquor, truffles, etc. This year, paging through my binder I found a recipe for cranberry vinegar and decided that would be my foodie gift. The recipe was from Coastal Living Magazine in 2000. So even though it took me 12 years to finally make this – it did happen eventually!

Christmas Tree Trunks

December 16, 2013

what to do with Christmas tree trunks, fresh cut on tree, fresh cut christmas tree, traditions with Christmas tree, christmas tree memories, ideas for christmas tree trunksWe began collecting a fresh cut from our Christmas tree trunks the year Ali, our first daughter, was born. This is one of my very favorite Christmas traditions each year. I save the tree trunk disk until after Christmas when I write something special about that year’s holiday celebration.

The dates of each of my children’s and nephews’ first Christmases and the years of my grandparent’s last ones are marked on the tree trunks. The year it snowed two feet and the years we moved and were expecting babies are noted on others. One tree trunk slice commemorates the Christmas Eve that we were visited by the Fire Department. (It was just broiled asparagus but those guys tore themselves away from “A Christmas Story” to check it out and we enjoyed a cheerful visit.)

tree trunk tradition, writing on Christmas trees, scrooge Christmases past, ideas for Christmas traditions, new baby Christmas tradition, live christmas trees, allergic to Christmas treesSome tree trunk pieces are skinny, others so wide I could write a long story on it. Every year, as we unpack the decorations, the basket that holds our Christmas tree trunks is always poured over and cherished. The kids lay them out, read each one and fondly remember Christmases past, where we were, and highlighted moments.

The first year we moved to Rhode Island, I had the fantastic idea of cutting down a pine tree from our yard, it was too large for it’s spot against the patio. It was not only efficient, the tree had to come down, but also sentimental. I thought how special it would be to have our first Christmas tree in our new home be from our own yard, and besides, then it’s disposal will be taken care of by the town’s tree removal in January – a perfect and practical plan!

[caption id="attachment_1032" align="alignleft" width="300"]elves with tree stumps, tree stump tradition, Christmas tree cuttings, elfmagic.com, silly elves, crispin, Elves playing with the tree trunk cuttings[/caption]

Nick assured me the tree was way too big to be our tree and wanted to cut just the top off, I hemmed and hawed and insisted and finally, in the tree went. It was way too big.

Christmas Elves

December 9, 2013

tips tricks ideas for elves, Christmas elf ideas, elf on shelf ideas, ideas for Elf on Shelf, naughty elves, Santa's elves, Elf Magic, Crispin, Jilly and Zibby are our own personal Christmas elves. These mischievous Santa’s helpers are called from the North Pole with crackers (to remind them of the crunching snow) and water (melted snow); they visit for the weeks before Christmas, hiding, making messes and bringing joy until they return to Santa’s village on Christmas Eve with Santa.

I’ve always loved everything about Christmas and I am still overcome with the love, generosity and magic of the season. I see the deeper meaning of Christmas even within seemingly commercial, non-spiritual activities. I love the sheer excitement and amazement in my children’s eyes elves in popcorn, elves making a mess, hiding elves, Christmas elf tradition, ideas for elves, Jilly, Zibby, Crispin, elfmagic.com, when the elves are discovered in the morning in a pile of homemade snowflakes and all the scraps that go with it or creating music at the piano among music strewn about.

When we moved to Rhode Island nearly eight years ago, some friends introduced me to elf-magic.com, instead of getting an elf per child as some families did, I chose to introduce just one elf. Crispin was our first little boy elf. Over the years the kids attributed magic to the elf beyond the intention.

elf ideas, visiting elves, how to do elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf, ideas for Christmas elves, traditions for Christmas, girl in Indian hat, One morning, they could not find Crispin anywhere, it was hilarious to me because they passed by him over and over. He was in the downstairs bathroom where the silly elf had unrolled several rolls of toilet paper and hidden in the tube of one in the middle of the huge mess of paper. The kids walked back and forth searching and never saw the paper. Finally, my son said, “Wait, maybe we need to get ready for school and do what we’re supposed to do first, then we’ll be able to find him!” So they scurried off to get dressed. Right after that, they somehow did see the toilet paper explosion, with faces filled with wonder, and as a bonus, it reinforced doing the right thing!

Tips For Safe Christmas Decorating

December 5, 2013

tips for safe holiday decorating, tips for safe Christmas lights, safe Christmas decorating, tips for electrical safety, ESFI, electrical safety foundation international,It’s magical when the house is decorated for Christmas, but I have often wondered how safe some of our lighting hook-ups have been. I love the white candles in all of the windows, the wreaths on the doors and my favorites are the trees and our basket of Christmas tree trunks marking our past celebrations. But I do care that we’re being safe as we deck the halls.

Here are some important tips for safe Christmas decorating from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).

“ESFI is a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to providing unbiased information regarding electrical safety.” According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year an estimated average of 160 reported home fires are caused by decorative lights, and Christmas trees account for another 230 fires each year. Combined, these resulted in an average of 13 deaths and $26.3 million in property damage per year.

50% of home fires caused by Christmas trees happened during the 15 days between December 22 and January 5. – National Fire Protection Association

Water Your Christmas Tree

I like to have two trees, one that sits in the front window and looks so pretty from both outside and in. A few years ago, I finally gave in to a fake tree for this one and it’s so much more practical, but I love the smell and tradition (damn the allergies) of the live one we put up in the family room in the back of the house. We decorate (well, I decorate and the kids load) the live one with garland, baubles and ornaments the kids have made and collected. As part of our tree decorating tradition, I buy them each a new ornament every year. My box of favorite ornaments is full of dated frames with photos of the kids through the years.

To keep your tree safe, water it daily to keep it well hydrated. It’s a joke in our family that Nick regularly, annually, always puts the tree up and forgets to water it. One year he was so proud that he remembered and as he was bragging to me, the tree tumbled forward spilling the water all over the wood floor. We had a good laugh as we sopped up the water, erected the tree, tied it to the wall with fishing line and refilled the water! Good thing he remembered the water!

christmas tree safety, christmas tree light safety, Christmas tree cautions, electrical foundation tips, tips for decorating, tips for Christmas lights

Use Light Strings and Extensions Cords With Care

The ESFI says to use one extension cord that is long enough to do the job, do not connect an extension cord to an extension cord. Don’t nail or staple light strings or extension cords or use anything that could damage the wire insulation and never run an extension cord under a rug or where it could be pinched under furniture.

I think of this all the time with cords and wires throughout the year, not just for safe Christmas decorating. Years ago when we lived in New Jersey, a family we knew in town had a house fire. It was devastating and scary and was caused by a wire (that wasn’t even plugged in) that had been under the foot of a dining room hutch. I think of them often and am constantly aware of not letting anything rest on top of any cords or wires.

GivingTuesday

December 3, 2013

#GivingTuesday is all about putting giving first.
When we give with a full heart we can change the world.
How will you participate in #GivingTuesday?

#givingtuesday, charities to give to, best charities, places to give, giving tuesday, what is giving tuesdayWhile avoiding all crazy lines, (we turned right around if there was anything ridiculous), I did my share of weekend gift shopping. My favorite moment was when Ali and I were leaving a store, both of us with bags in our hands. With a big grin, she turned to me and said, “I love this feeling. These are gifts I bought with my own money.” Giving in itself gives the giver a boost of happiness. Of course, that’s not why we give, but it’s a wonderful side effect.

On this #GivingTuesday, here are a few of my favorite organizations:

The Children’s Center for Hope and Wellness

In October, three beautiful girls and a pastor from Uganda moved into our home for a week and into our hearts for a lifetime.

Just like every other host family and all the people who see these kids perform across New England as a part of Destiny Africa Children’s Choir, these kids touch people to their core. Their needs in Uganda are great. While the choir was here touring, back home, a young girl died from a preventable illness. Martine would still be alive today with proper medical care and her story brings a greater urgency to the need to build The Hope Centre.

Destiny Africa, The Children's Centre for Hope and Wellness, KCC, Uganda home for orphans, giving tuesday, medical center in ugandaLast night, I hosted a group of women who are joining together in a huge fundraising effort to build a much needed medical center for the orphans who live at the Kampala Children’s Centre, for the over 300 local children who attend school there and for people in the community at large.

Help us build The Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness and make an incredible impact. They can start building with just $20,000 and for only $70,000, it will be built and functioning – what Destiny Africa, Kampala Children's Center, hosting a family from Ugandawould that take in the U.S.? This project is dear to my heart and we are determined to make this happen!

Please consider giving to save precious lives. The website for the Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness will be up in a week or so, in the meantime, you can contribute by PayPal at the Kampala Children’s Center, mark your donation for the medical center. Every single dollar matters. THANK YOU!

Clean Birth.Org

CleanBirth.org is an organization that speaks to me, both in my work as a doula and birth educator and because of clean birth logo, cleanbirth.org, cleanbirth kits, birth in laos, my affection for Southeast Asia.

Chanukah, However You Spell It

November 26, 2013

Hanukkah (that’s my preferred spelling!) starts at sundown this Thursday. My thanks to Melissa for writing about The Festival of Lights and her family traditions.

Guest Post by Melissa Chernick

chanukah traditions, how do you spell hanukah, spelling hanukah, latkes, Allie's donuts RI, festival of lights traditions, family holiday traditionsChanukah, Hanukkah, Hanukah, Hannukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Hanuka, Channukah, Cahnukka, Hanukka, Hannuka, Hannukkah, Channuka, Xanuka, Hannukka, Channukkah, Chanuqa. One holiday with 18 ways to spell it! Which ever way you choose it has the same meaning and significance. It is a celebration of the victory of the Jews and the miracle that occurred when the menorah was lit with enough oil to last only 1 day but it lasted eight!

Growing up in New York I was exposed to all races and religions. In my experience, every family went to church or temple, had their own holiday traditions and all the kids met up and played in the neighborhood. Our neighborhood was a mix of Italians, Irish Catholics and Jews. It was always fun to compare Christmas/Chanukah presents with the neighborhood kids.family in window, grandparents celebrate hanukkah, celebrating Hanukkah, festival of lights, kids in blue window, blue window panes,

In our house, Chanukah was a fun holiday typically celebrated with just my immediate family. We had so much family nearby who we saw on a regular basis that this little holiday was our own! My brothers and I anxiously awaited our father’s return home from work each night, lit the candles and ripped open presents, hoping for something special. To me, Chanukah means spending time with family, lighting candles and reflecting about what it means to be Jewish. It’s our time to be together, just enjoy ourselves and create memories.

The Grace Box

November 13, 2013

saying grace, teaching kids to pray, faith and family, faith and kids, prayers, dinnertime prayers, ideas for grace, box of prayersThe Grace Box sits on our kitchen table and represents more than the slips of paper it holds. I believe that the key to happiness in life is gratitude and daily grace before meals builds in both being thankful and teaching thankfulness to our kids.

The Grace Box used to be a small envelope that Ali decorated in Sunday school, over the years, we’ve collected short prayers and dinnertime graces and upgraded to a larger container. The prayers came from Sunday school classes, magazine clippings and the weekly prayers our old church in New Jersey used to distribute in the Sunday bulletin. We have a small children’s book of prayers that fits in neatly and an embroidered prayer on the wall that Anna favors reading when we sit at the table that’s closest to the framed words.

Trading in the Mini-Van

October 9, 2013

trading in the mini van, not wanting mini van, why get a mini van, upgrading from mini van, good bye to mini van, gold mini van, tire treads, I swore I’d never drive a mini-van.

Then, almost thirteen years ago, with a growing family, we shopped around and, without wanting to, I loved the Honda Odyssey. It was the first mini-van to have the third seat that folded INTO the car so it laid flat. We’ve used that feature for furniture, bulky shrubs and lugging stuff from Home Depot more times that we can count. The entire contents of my trunk have spewed all over a parking lot on numerous occasions as I reconfigured the car to fit a new patio set or the tag sale treasure I couldn’t pass by!

But now it is time and I’m trading in the mini-van.

Our gold Odyssey has driven us the equivalent of around the world – FOUR TIMES! Yup, 204,089 miles to visit grandparents, take vacations and camping trips, attend far away weddings and to make 1,492,648,112,951 trips to the grocery store. She’s welcomed two babies, endured coffee spills, melted crayons, throw up and seasons upon seasons of winter salts and summer sands. Her cup holders and Michael’s “secret compartment” have collected countless treasures like acorns, seashells, rocks, candy wrappers, food bits, and handfuls of the green Stop & Shop twistie ties.

It’s hard not to feel a little nostalgic as we part ways. I’ve never been much of a car person, sure I like a nice car, but mostly I care if it’s functional and safe and doesn’t cause me problems. But it’s time to let this golden capsule go. She’s car mileage, over 200000 miles on car, odometer reading over 200000, high odometer reading, gold honda odysseyserved us well.

We’ve long ago lost the knob cover for the bass on the radio, I have to fiddle with the temperature knob in just the right way to make the kids get heat or AC in the back, and the thingy on my seat belt that holds up the metal latch is gone. You have no idea how important that silly nodule is until you have to dig between the seat and the door to find the buckle 32 times a day! Yup – I’m trading in the mini-van.

Memories match the marks. There’s the white smudge on the ceiling from the sheet rock when we redid our basement playroom, there’s the stain from my Dad’s spilled coffee mug when we were house hunting in Rhode Island, and there are still a few pine needles from the year we stuck the tree in the car instead of on the roof. There’s the small scratch from Michael’s scooter riding a little too close to the driver’s door, and there’s the gash on the back bumper from that snow-covered, too-low-to-see-in-the-dark rock – oops!

We have a “system” we are used to in this family car. We have the hand sanitizer in a specific pocket that we all can reach, there are hair brushes and pencils, workbooks and song lyric books, How to Learn French read-alongs and enough Lego’s hidden all over to build another car. We know who sits where, even when we fit grandmas and grandpas in with us. Without looking I can reach a napkin, a CD, or toss a kid a snack.

This car has listened to singing, lot’s of singing. From lovely notes and off key sounds, to shout-it-out singing, rock-and-roll singing and singing you may not call singing. (I think we may have the very last car running that still has a cassette player. How will I play those mixed tapes from high schgold honda odyssey, old odyssey, trading in odyssey, good bye to old car, kids saying good bye to car, missing old car, ool now?) This car has heard peals of laughter, endless joking and moments of screaming and ranting. She’s heard soft spoken adult talks, heart-to-heart teen talks, unguarded secrets spilling and endless toddler tales.

Autumn Organizing Ideas

September 30, 2013

autumn organizing, autumn organizing tips, ideas for fall cleaning, orange leaves, fall leaves backgroundSpring Cleaning is a time of clearing out and freshening up after winter and Autumn Organizing is a time to declutter and put things in order before snuggling in for winter.

There are so many things to switch over in the fall, summer clothes are exchanged for sweaters and mittens, toys are purged and the entertainment center is rearranged to make room for what Santa brings. I even like to move books down through the kids. Things Ali is too old for move on to Michael and Michael’s shelves are cleared out for Anna. When Anna outgrows books, we safely store the favorites in waterproof bins and others are donated or shared with cousins and younger friends.

This weekend, I tackled our shoe problem, for Autumn Organizing, the flip flops are traded for fuzzy boots. I cannot believe how many pairs of shoes we have for a family of five – and since the start of school, every shoe, sandal and sneaker seemed to be spilling around every entrance. Then, at the first snap of cold, my girls (as girls can do) excitedly pulled out all of their favorite winter boots and added them to the mix. Every shoe bin and basket overflowed, bursting heel to sole.

The Great Shoe Switch-Over Project had to be done! Every kid tried on all of their shoes. Ali’s hand-me-downs got put away for Anna’s petite feet, Anna’s out-growns are in a bag for donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters and anything with rips, holes or excessive wear (i.e. most of Michael’s shoes) got tossed.

First Day of School Traditions

August 28, 2013

first day of school, first day of school traditions, family traditions for school, starting school, back to school, back to school 2013, first day of school nervousBack to school is like a parent’s New Year’s. The calendar rolls into a new school year, new goals are set, there is hope in the air for a fresh year. My mind visualizes the academic year and on the first day of school, and like on the first day of a new year, I tend to reflect back.

As I’m sure so many people do, we have the tradition of taking pictures on the first day of school. The images mark their moves through the grades and even offer proof of unrecognized growth from September to June. I love family record-keeping projects like photo books to highlight the year’s events and kids art photo books.

The first day of school pictures are filled with emotions as I remembering their first day of school jitters (and my own) and how quickly they evaporate. The excitement of wearing a new shirt, meeting their teacher(s) and the anticipation of seeing friends all jump out of those pictures. I laugh at how their over-loaded back packs, filled high with supplies, causes them to tip and lean.

Their first day nervous-excited grins peer out at us, year after year. The pictures mark my babies growing up. Right. Before. My. Eyes. How is it that I just dropped off Ali for her very first day of preschool? I can vividly remember each of my bright-eyed Kindergarteners eagerly jumping on the school bus and waving good-bye through the window. Another proud step toward independence as my heart squeezed and I was left waving at the departing bus, swatting at a tear.

[caption id="attachment_3282" align="aligncenter" width="300"]first day of school pictures, school pictures, school traditions, family pictures, recording family life, My three kiddos off to school this morning.[/caption]

Reflections on a High School Reunion

July 30, 2013

high school reunion, thinking about high school, old high school friends, preparing for high school reunion, going to high school reunionMy voice is hoarse and crackling, my face is sore from smiling and my heart feels a little fuller after a weekend spent among classmates from another era. As my daughter plays and romps in the years we reminisced about, I marvel at the passage of time even as it seems to stand still.

A High School Reunion can let us revisit, for a short time, our younger selves from the secure and steady position of our adult selves. It can give us a glimpse into the relative naive innocence of our teens, or put a new perspective on an experience from a parent’s point of view.

I felt the joy of reconnecting even if simply to hear where someone is living and where life has taken them. We share a history, however loose or strong, while having been absent in each others’ lives for decades perhaps.

Vivid, crisp memories, mixed with blurry-edged ones. Memories nestled down and hidden from view were pulled out like a favorite old album from an attic chest; dusted off and given light, once retrieved, they were clear again. How had that moment, that nugget of my life, that sliver of friendship been forgotten? I felt gratitude as those nuggets were passed around, shined up and brought back to me to hold again.

Math Kisses

July 23, 2013

Math kisses, bedtime math, teaching kids math, learning math with fun, fun ways to learn math, fun ways to teach math, making math part of your day, math routines, how to teach math, ideas to teach young kids mathMath kisses grew in our family from a song that a babysitter when I was about eight years old first sang for me.

It’s a silly little ditty:

“Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
It’s time to go to bed,
Boop Boop!”

And the babysitter accented the “boops” with her hips as she left my doorway.

When Ali was little, I sang it to her and soon it was a regular part of our bedtime routine. Over the years and through three children, the song has grown, changed and evolved.

Each child has added his or her own individual enhancements. A second verse bloomed, “I love [insert kids’ name here], I love [kid sings Mommy/Daddy as parent sings kid’s name], I love [you get the idea], it’s time to go to bed, boop boop.” bedtime mathMichael now says “wee-ooo” instead of “boop boop.” Another addition, we sing the names of everyone in the family (and our bird, Piper) and new phrases have crept in, too, (“I love Ali, so much, I love Michael, so much…”)

As the song has lengthened, perhaps initially to delay the actual bedtime, it has remained a special part of ending the day. I don’t know how or when, but years ago, Anna began giving two kisses in between each phrase and instead of the boop boops. One night I realized she was counting the kisses on her fingers, we would end up with 16 kisses and run out of fingers, and then we always had to kiss four more times to get to an even 20.

I suggested she count by twos using one finger for each pair of kisses, so Anna started learning and practicing counting by twos. We added a challenge and I’d give her one kiss before singing and she’d need to count by twos on the odd numbers. Without knowing, we had fallen into a special bedtime routine of math kisses.

The Meaning of Independence Day

July 4, 2013

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I’m a patriot, I love our country and deeply believe it’s the best place to be in the world! I believe in teaching my children, and America’s children, about our founding and guiding documents, these are what make us The United States of America.

So along with watermelon and hotdogs, this year we’ll be reading and listening to The Declaration of Independence in our family as the beginning of a 4th of July tradition.

The meaning of Independence day starts here, with The Declaration of Independence. Click here to listen to celebrity reading of The Declaration of Independence. I am proud to be an American and hearing this is moving and powerful.

Today, I wish you a “Happy Fourth of July!” and I’m remembering what it really means.

The Meaning of Independence Day – The Declaration of Independence

Blessingways for Moms-to-Be

June 27, 2013

flower wreath, flowers in hair, flower wreath for hair, white flower wreath, agroterra photography, lisa gendron photos, celebrating motherhood, ways to do a blessingwayA Blessingway is a special ritual which honors a woman during a time of transition or celebrates her in a new life journey. Blessingways for Moms-to-be create a beautiful circle of support and love around the expectant mama. Just as elephant mothers surround and protect another birthing elephant, so too, we encircle and offer support to a sister, friend, cousin who is becoming a mother for the first or fifth time.

A blessingway differs from a baby shower in that it focuses on the woman and her transformation into mother in a deeper way than at a party with a showering of gifts. Gifts may be included, but instead of practical items or pretty clothing, gifts are symbolic or carry special meaning, such as an heirloom being passed down, or the gift of a poem being read. A woman may have a traditional baby shower and also savor the ritual of a blessingway. These ceremonies welcome and honor a woman as she enters into the Mother’s Circle.

Blessingways for Moms-to-be celebrate women as they enter the sacred circle of motherhood. They should be planned and created with love in the details and should reflect a mother’s personal beliefs and values. Whether a mother is spiritual or not, a ceremony may be designed specifically to have deep meaning and importance to her by incorporating her individual practices and beliefs.red thread ceremony, red thread, matriarchal lineage, henna on belly, pregnant henna art, belly art, pregnancy belly art, blessingways for moms,

Some elements of blessingsways for moms-to-be could include a salt bowl in which each guest adds something to the Epsom salts, such as fragrant oils or dried flowers, and mixes it while saying a prayer or giving a special message to the mother. Another idea is to have a laying-on-of hands ritual in which trusted women gently hold their hands all at once on the mother, upon her head, shoulders, back or belly according to her comfort. Everyone sends thoughts and messages of love and peace to her as they quietly rest their outstretched palms and fingers.

Camping Activities for Kids

June 25, 2013

sun through trees, woods, woodlands, camping activities for kids, things to do with kids, outdoor activities, camping ideas, fun with kids, camping recipesCamping activities for kids can spring up naturally from your surroundings and basic camping preparations. We’ve been camping with our kids since Michael was a baby (that was a sleepless weekend with a pack and play in a tent and rising with the birds … but that’s a story for another post!)

Both Nick and I grew up camping with our families, his family more than mine. We both have warm and happy memories of evenings around a campfire, searching for the perfect marshmallow roasting stick and spending time with our parents. Before our kids were born, Nick and I did some camping together and with groups of friends. We camped in Saratoga, NY, and spent our days at the races and along the water in Virgina. It was the perfect activity for our fresh out of school salaries.

Years later, when our children were still little, we ventured out on a few single-night camping outings. We pitching tents, putting up a tent, how to put up a tent, tent camping, tents and kids, kids putting up a tent, kids helping with camping, would load everything up and leave early on a Saturday morning to a campground nearby. Sometimes we were only 20 minutes from home but once you’re inside a wooded campground with streams, ponds, pools and fire pits, no one could tell where we were!

The kids, older now, love camping and we are building memories of unplugged family time. Our number one camping rule: Electronics are not allowed.

Remember when camping, hiking, climbing and exploring in the woods to check for ticks. Click here for 7 tips to protect your kids, and yourself, from Lyme disease.

Kids find their own fun with what’s around and here is a list of more camping activities for kids.

Summer Solstice Activities

June 21, 2013

summer solstice activities, strawberry, strawberry picking, strawberry in hand, when to strawberry pick, strawberry lemonade recipe, homemade strawberry lemonadeHow will you spend the longest day of the year? Here are some summer solstice activities to do for yourself or with your kids.

In astronomical terms, the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere marks the start of summer and the time that the sun is at it’s northernmost point in the sky. But the day is also full of spiritual meanings, symbolic meanings, and personal meanings.

The day marks a sort of tipping point in the year when we reach the longest day and shortest night and it marks a reversal as days shorten following the solstice. There are myriad ways to acknowledge this celebrated day. Add your own ideas to this list in the comments.

Do you have any family rituals or traditions around the summer solstice? Take a moment to enjoy some summer solstice activities alone or with your family.

Dying Easter Eggs Creatively

March 29, 2013

dying Easter eggs, creative easter eggs, Easter traditions, Easter kids activities, Easter activities, how to dye Easter eggs, pretty Easter eggsDying Easter eggs is one of our favorite Easter traditions. We boil four dozen eggs, one dozen per kid and oneDarth Vader egg, Star Wars Easter eggs, Daddy's egg, creative Easter eggs dozen for me and Nick to share if he’s home to participate. This year, he made one Darth Vader egg and went off to work.

The fun starts when the kids divide up the PAAS coloring tablets and before we each drop a tablet into the vinegar, we have to guess what color we think it will be. Year in and year out, we ooh and ahh with amazement as the tablet that looks orange turns yellow and the one that looks purple turns green.

All the cups full of colors make me happy!

cups of color, egg dyes, colors for dying eggs, Easter egg dyes, PAAS egg dye, pretty color mugs, rainbow mugs, rainbow liquidsThen we get creative, Ali tried scotch tape this year with partial success. We use kosher salt to absorb some of kosher salt on egg, egg dying tips, egg dying ideas, creative ideas for Easter eggs, green Easter eggthe dye and add interesting effects and we wrap eggs in elastic bands before coloring them to create stripy effects. rubber bands on egg, elastic bands on egg, ideas for easter eggs, interesting egg ideas,

The kids use drops of dye and blow the colors across the eggs for a tie-dyed look and use paint brushes for more exacting work. This year, Ali drew shapes all over her solid colored eggs with a black Sharpie for a really interesting and pretty look.

Parent Child One on One Time

March 12, 2013

yellow plane, rhinebeck, ww1 planes, father son camping, boys weekend, One on one time with each of your children is worth scheduling. It’s can be such a valued tradition for each parent to carve out a special time alone with each child throughout your week. What you do doesn’t matter, what matters is that your child has 100% of your attention with no distractions.

It doesn’t need to cost money, take all day and it doesn’t even require leaving the house, but adding in special occasion one on one time can build cherished memories.

I still feel cherished and special when I think about some one on one time I had with my parents growing up. There was the time my Dad took me, just me, to go horseback riding. It wasn’t a habit and didn’t become a thing, we only went once, but it was a new experience and I did it with my Dad. I was the center of his attention the entire time we were together. Another time, we went hiking in the woods. On the day I was alone with my Dad, my Mom would take my sister somewhere just for her. On one of our days, my Mom let me choose what to do, I picked going to a Hallmark store! Truthfully, I still love gift shops and sending cards.

Finding time alone with each of your children isn’t always easy, but get creative and I’m sure you can see opportunities in your day to give even 15-20 minutes of concentrated attention to each child. Can you do a puzzle or craft with your 4 year old while your toddler naps? Can you go for a treasure-hunt walk through the yard or neighborhood when grandma comes over to stay with the other child(ren)? How about making the usual bedtime or bath time routine dedicated time to a child?

The Meaning of Valentines

February 14, 2013

stack of hearts, paper hearts, homemade valentines, valentine hearts, craft hearts, make your own valentines, colorful hearts“What was Valentine’s Day originally for? For sharing love?”

That’s what our third-grader asked as she glued hearts onto her shoebox Valentine mailbox for school. She had just finished gleefully and proudly writing out Valentines for her classmates. She’s the third child so she gets store-bought Valentines now. I found cute ones that she loves, but I laugh and shrug at one more thing that I’ve let go of as the years pass: Homemade Valentines.

When the kids were younger, they created exuberantly, sitting among construction paper hearts, white lacy doilies (with all the little teeny flakes that fall out as you pull them apart) and scraps of pink, red and white. They rubber stamped cupids and hearts and Valentine’s Day wishes, they decorated rectangles into book marks and glued and glued and glued.

I drew the line at glitter. Have you ever tried to clean up a glitter spill? It will never ever actually completely go away, you will still see glitter at Christmas and in time for the next Valentine’s Day.

As my Mom did growing up, each Valentine’s Day, our tradition is to have a special family dinner. I’ll set the table homemade valentines, making valentines, what do valentines mean?, why do we send valentines?, valentine mailbox, doilies, valentine doilies, in the dining room with linen napkins, candles, Valentines and a small package at each place, a new book for each kid. I don’t make my own cards either, I buy my Valentine’s, too. (I’m a Hallmark girl – I love buying and sending cards!)

I savor selecting the perfect cards. For Nick, I often choose several. This year, I mailed a funny one to his office and he’ll have another waiting at dinner. I’ll find Valentines at my seat, too. Those poems and pictures lovingly made at school that warm my heart and the one that makes my heart flutter as I catch my husband’s eye across the table.

Our Valentine’s Day is about all of my sweethearts: the man I married and the three I birthed. We don’t need February 14th to ourselves, other evenings, Nick and I will have our date nights. But tonight, we’ll reminisce about our first Valentine’s Day together 20 years ago and we’ll enjoy our kiddos and family time.

valentine love letter, love letters, sealed with love, wax seal on letter, hand written letters, red wax seal, sealed envelope, romantic letter, While the old-fashioned, nostalgic fun of making your own Valentines has perhaps seen it’s day in our house, in the end, it really doesn’t matter. Valentine’s Day is about the intention and the thought. It’s about acknowledging and appreciating our friendships and relationships.

At eight, Anna said it perfectly: Valentine’s Day is all about sharing love, however you do that.

 

 

 

Celebrating Childhood Birthdays

February 8, 2013

This is my fourth post in the Mom Before Mom series started by Carla at All of Me Now.

This Week’s Prompt: How did you celebrate your birthday?

Happy Birthday Leah, Birthday cake, decorating a birthday cake, kids birthday cakes, pretty flowered cake, peach flowers,Like in last week’s Mom Before Mom post about favorite home cooked meals, my Mom was central in making birthdays special growing up. She baked, decorated, planned, wrapped, hostessed and cleaned up after.

Most of my memories of my earliest birthdays are from faded square pictures. My friends and I all dressed in frilly pink party dresses, a cardboard throne decorated for the birthday girl, streamers, balloons and presents.

My birthday is in early November, so as I got older, I often had Halloween-themed birthday parties. Decked out in costumes, my friends would arrive and between autumnleah's birthday, 1970's birthdays, old birthday photos, pink party dress, birthday girl games, my Mom would lead us through a mini haunted house in our finished basement. We loved the nervous feeling and giggled nervously as she told us a legend, blind-folded, and we had to step over imaginary creatures, touch unknown brains and we somehow ended with our face in a plate of flour, I wonder if she remembers how the story went.

Even for my sleepover parties, my Mom planned games like dressing up relays. One year, I remember my Dad getting angry because some of my friends dressed my little brother up as a ballerina and then tied together the pink tights at his feet. I got in trouble, but it still makes me laugh!

As a Mom, I really don’t love slumber parties, but for my birthdays, just like my kids now, I always wanted to have a pajama party. My friends and I would line up in our family room and do the hustle to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. (Can you guess how old I am?)

Goal Setting for Kids

January 3, 2013

set goals, alphabet blocks, goal setting tips, activities for goal setting, I want to be a better reader, get straight A's, mini-goals, quotes on goalsGoal setting: it’s way better than “making resolutions!” Goal setting is a life skill and a gift to teach our kids young.

I love the Napoleon Hill quote, “A goal is a dream with a deadline,” we can dream, but we need to quantify it to help us achieve it.

Teaching and modeling goal setting to kids is setting them up to strive in life, it’s putting action behind the words: “You can do anything you set your mind to” or “you can be anything you want to be.” Teaching kids how to set goals and map out mini-goals along the path is giving them the tools to really be anything they want to be.

Effective goal setting includes writing it down. Good, old-fashioned pen and paper! You can have your kids illustrate the goal or cut out magazine pictures and make a collage around their written goal. Hang it somewhere prominent, above their bed, beside the bathroom mirror, somewhere they can see it during daily tasks (like teeth brushing, hopefully!)

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2012

family in front of Christmas tree, Christmas Eve family picture, Christmas prayers, Christmas poems, cookies for SantaI wish you and your family a wonderfully Merry Christmas. Snuggle up with your kids, relish the sparkle and savor their pure and youthful joy.

Treasure the perfect moments of Christmas Eve: the candles at church, the love overflowing, the cookies and milk on the hearth and reading the classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” My children began a tradition on Christmas Eve several years ago, they received cozy blankets from their grandparents and laid them out in front of the fire and coined the term, “Fire-bathing.” Every Christmas Eve now, they spread their blankets and fire bathe, it makes me smile every time!

Cherish the magical moments of Christmas morning: snuggling in bed waiting, the kids poised on the stairs to sprint to their stockings, the shrieks of joyful face Christmas morning, siblings on Christmas, tradition of stockings, why we light candles in church, cookies for santa, Christmas traditions, childbirth at Christmas,amazement, wide eyes of wonder at witnessing the spirit of Christmas. My heart bursts on Christmas, the unending love for these sweet babies of mine, catching my husband’s eye, and the wide grin that won’t leave my face. I am grateful and hold my family close.

As I wish you a Merry Christmas, I remember the families in Newtown and my friends who have lost parents this year (thinking of you, Scott, Jody, Debra, Beverly, Jimmy). I know that Christmas won’t be the same, there will be a hole, a presence of an absence, an ache that I cannot know. I pray for you, all.

Blessings this Christmas and throughout the new year.

This poem by Henry Scott Holland has brought comfort after a loss.
stockings hung on fireplace, fire before Santa arrives, decorating Christmas hearth, Christmas prayer, poem on death, Henry Scott Holland poem,

 

 

Pause. Smile. Breathe.

December 20, 2012

woman in red, smiling wrapping gifts, how to wrap a gift, importance of smiles, breathing to relax, Christmas gifts by the fire, gold and red gift, enjoying Christmas, carpe diem ChristmasPause. Smile. Breathe.

Take a moment to pause, breathe, savor the now. This very minute, this exact place and time. Are you rushing around? Is your list a scribbled mess that keeps growing as Christmas nears?

Take this moment to pause, smile, slow your breathing and think of one thing that makes you feel grateful. Hold on to that.

It’s such a busy time of year, busier than our normal hurriedness. We have excited children, family visiting, traveling to do, cooking, baking, entertaining, wrapping, shopping, more wrapping, finishing off the cards and and and …

It’s all too fast, too busy, it takes effort to slow down and to soak in the joy of Christmas.

I’m trying to make that effort. I love this time of year, I love the music, finding the perfect gift, I enjoy wrapping packages up pretty and having candles in all the windows. I love my friend’s annual cookie swap, the Christmas Pageant at church, the festive celebrations, baking with the kids and especially spending time with family and friends. It does get busy but I choose to savor the preparations and anticipation of the Advent season. smiling woman in glasses, smile to relax, benefits of smiling, the key to happiness, gratitude at Christmas, how to be grateful, how to host a cookie swap, baking with kids

Hold onto that which makes you thankful. Amidst life’s pains and tragedies, finding something to cherish, finding gratitude, really living in the here and now, that is the key to happiness.

Merry Christmas and Happy Getting Ready!

Christmas Tree Trunks

December 10, 2012

We began collecting a fresh cut from our Christmas tree trunk the year our first daughter was born. This is one of my very favorite Christmas traditions each year. I save the tree trunk disk until after Christmas when I write something special about that year’s holiday celebration. The dates of each of my children’s and […]

Chanukah, However You Spell It

December 7, 2012

Hanukkah (that’s my preferred spelling!) starts at sundown this Saturday. My thanks to Melissa for writing about The Festival of Lights and her family’s traditions. Guest Post by Melissa Chernick Chanukah, Hanukkah, Hanukah, Hannukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Hanuka, Channukah, Cahnukka, Hanukka, Hannuka, Hannukkah, Channuka, Xanuka, Hannukka, Channukkah, Chanuqa.  One holiday with 18 ways to spell it!  […]

Christmas Elves

December 5, 2012

Crispin, Jilly and Zibby are our own personal Christmas elves. These mischievous Santa’s helpers are called from the North Pole with crackers (to remind them of the crunching snow) and water (melted snow); they visit for the weeks before Christmas, hiding, making messes and bringing joy until they return to Santa’s village on Christmas Eve […]

Christmas Birthdays

December 3, 2012

My first two babies were born on either side of Christmas, early December and late January. Over the years, I tried to separate their birthday celebrations a bit by moving parties into late November or early February, but like Kate’s experience in her guest post below, my daughter actually likes doing Christmasy stuff on or […]

My Christmas Binder

December 1, 2012

Thank you to my friend, Danielle, an inspiring Mom and a believer in the importance of family traditions and rituals. Danielle is the voice behind Festival Fete’s blog, going on this weekend in Rhode Island. Festival Fete Guest Post by Danielle Salisbury, Find Danielle on Facebook I admit it; I am one of those super-organized […]

Growing a Thanksgiving Tradition

November 20, 2012

Guest Post by Elizabeth Atalay, Documama.org The seeds for my ideal Thanksgivings were planted in other peoples’ homes.  That is not to say that my childhood Thanksgivings were unpleasant. My most prominent memory is my brother and I, the two children, retreating to the den of my aunts’ delicately decorated house to watch Chitty Chitty […]

Traditions of Gratitude

November 15, 2012

I try to live gratefully every day. It’s an active process, one that takes regular reminding and effort, but it’s gratitude, I believe, that is the key to happiness. My whole life, my grandmother’s mantra was, “Count your blessings,” she embodied this philosophy and truly lived with gratitude. As Thanksgiving approaches, (can you even believe […]

The Importance of Grandparents

September 14, 2012

My Grandmother would’ve been 100 today. We had a special connection, my grandma and me, a deep and spiritual bond, a unity of our hearts. My Gramps, too, was a main character in the scenes of my story. My life, and the lives of my sister and brother, were immeasurably impacted by our relationship with […]

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