Pre-kids, I was fairly laid-back.  It was easy to be carefree and fun-loving when my job was pretty much to worry only about me, myself, and I.  Fast forward twelve years, and my responsibilities have broadened to include caring for my two girls, three pets, a husband, and sometimes extended family, all who have varied needs.  I’m now the serious one, and I suppose I’ve embraced that, because I keep things running smoothly with my lists, planning, and schedules.

Sometimes, though, being the grown-up is a drag, and kids learn to tune their parents out. There are times when I can’t repeat myself one.more.time.  No one is listening, or my kids are squabbling, or I find myself caught in “mommy mode.”  I can’t remember exactly how she came about, but one day, I invented a fun-loving alter-ego, Lady Leaf Lover.  She speaks in a British accent and offers only compliments and encouragement.  Lady Leaf Lover doesn’t appear too often, but when she does, my girls greet her with hugs and enthusiasm. Sometimes she invites her husband, Lord Leaf Lover, to make a cameo, and he’s an even bigger goofball. The whole process gets everyone in hysterics, and whatever scuffle the Leaf Lovers interrupted is long gone.  Should you introduce a Lady Leaf Lover to your parenting repertoire, and if so, how?

Pick a true alter-ego

If you’re the serious one, your alter-ego should be funny.  If you’re the goofy parent, let your new character be as serious as a General.  No matter who you choose, you want to both shock and crack-up your brood.

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Go with a wacky name

Who IS Lady Leaf Lover, and where on Earth did she get her name?  I really don’t know, but my girls googled her and couldn’t find any evidence that she’d ever posed for a photograph.  Regardless, every time she surprises the girls by popping in, her trills of “Darlings!  I’ve missed you!” pause any conflicts, and their attention is immediately riveted.  Mrs. Smith might be funny if she tried hard enough, but an absurd name really lightens the mood.

Be positive

Parents are great at giving orders and doling out consequences, but what kid is excited for that?  Your alter-ego, however, offers nothing but love.  When the kids are overwhelmed by a task, Lady Leaf Lover swoops in with encouragement and fun ways to get the job done.  She’s patient, she’s willing to roll up her sleeves and help out a little, she doesn’t get cross, and no one gets mad at her.

Use a funny voice and/or accent

When Lady Leaf Lover first came to visit, she spoke with a British accent.  That fact is both comical and unfortunate.  Comical, because I am terrible at accents, and often waver into Scottish, Jamaican, even Western; unfortunate for the same reason.  Her voice is high, squeaky, and silly.  “Get ready for bed!” sounds much funnier when Lady Leaf Lover says it, and for some reason, my kids are more willing to listen.

Lighten the mood

Your alter-ego is your tool for when the daily parenting tricks are not working, and everyone needs a change of pace.  There are times when we’re all frustrated and I know the situation could go downhill fast.  At that moment, I’ll take a deep breath, quietly exit the room, and find some strength from deep within.  I return with a, “Helloooo!” and everyone brightens.  It’s a signal that we’ve shifted gears and turned a tense situation around.  It might sound silly, but there’s a lesson there.  When things are getting out of hand, it’s better to take a step back and find a positive way to deal with things rather than to let it escalate.  Humor isn’t always appropriate, and there are plenty of times when I’m not in the mood.  Alter-egos are like a secret weapon to be enacted only when the time is right.

Parenting is hard work.  There are tantrums, disagreements, homework, and bedtime. There are times when being a parent feels easy and can be done with grace, and other times when every morsel of energy doesn’t feel like enough.  There’s a time and a place for all kinds of parenting, and it helps to turn to humor when it’d be just as easy to turn to anger.  Channel your inner Lady Leaf Lover, and share your experiences with our readers, below.  Tootles, Darlings!

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When I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of traditions. We actually mixed things up year to year. There are a few traditions I keep up with my own children, and we introduce a new one here and there. But one tradition that remains the same year after year is our tradition of charitable giving.

I began our first charitable efforts at my twins’ second birthday party. I asked friends to donate one non-perishable food item.  As we were collecting items I told the girls where our donations will go. They probably did not fully understand. But they did help me make our final donations. Charity starts at home and making it an activity during the holiday season helps lay a strong foundation of generosity for my children to build upon.

This year we continue our efforts to send Christmas cards to local kids staying in the hospital and writing letters to soldiers stationed overseas. It isn’t always money that has the greatest impact; sometimes it’s just a thoughtful act that sparks a feeling of being remembered. Every human being wants to feel like they matter.

Here are some simple ways to give back this year:

Leave cookies for your neighbors.

Clean out your closet and donate gently used clothing, books and toys.

Donate gently used household goods like dishes, linens and appliances to families in need.

Bring homemade cards and baked goods to your local fire house, or police station.

Have an ornament making party with friends and deliver to a local nursing home.

Shake hands with your mail carrier.

Greet your garbage collector with a hot cup of cocoa.

Hold the door open for an elderly shopper.

Let someone take your parking spot on a busy day.

Help your child write a personal letter to their teacher thanking them for their hard work.

We often think we need to buy gifts to show our appreciation, or show someone we care; when really it is the little things that add up to bigger moments. Someone may be having a bad day when they cut the line in front of you, or they may feel like no one appreciates their job collecting refuse. Offering kindness at Christmas and all year is the perfect gift!

If your children are older and want to help in bigger ways perhaps helping them earn money, or make a donation will fill their desire to give back. I shared this list with you last year, but I have found five more local charities to share this year!

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HUDSON VALLEY HERO PROJECT- A local non-profit providing aid and caring support to veteran’s right here in the Hudson Valley. 

CHRISTMAS WISHES ULSTER COUNTY– A local non-profit bringing gifts to families in need in Ulster County.  Accepting monetary donations through the year, and toy donations in November. 

GRANTING WISHES FOR CANCER KIDS ON CHRISTMAS – adopts families with children going through cancer treatment. Families paying health care coverage, premiums and co-pays for children with cancer often struggle at Christmas. 

ANGELS OF LIGHT HUDSON VALLEYA local non-profit whose mission is to provide Holiday Giving for Children and Families with life threatening illness in the Hudson Valley, NY.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY RESTORE– located in Ulster and Dutchess counties. The mission is to provide stable home ownership for members of our own community. You can donate $20 to purchase a board that will be used in building a Habitat home; or you can shop at one of their Restore locations. These thrift shops include appliances, furniture, home goods and décor at the fraction of retail prices. Recycling these quality goods into your gift giving saves you money and the planet, and proceeds are cycled back to your neighbors in need.

You don’t have to give big to give back. You can do small, age appropriate acts of kindness, or charitable projects with your children. If we all do one small thing for our community this Christmas it will have a big impact on our neighbors through out the year.

Share some inspiration: what family traditions do you have that make it feel more like Christmas?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

Related posts: Granting Christmas Wishes for Local Families Give a Kid The Gift of Swag Charity Starts at Home- 7 Ways to Give Back With Kids In Tow

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The Pressure of the Holidays

This time of year is filled with joy and excitement for the holidays. There is so much pressure on parents to give their kids a “good holiday” with lots of presents, big family meals and seven foot tall trees trimmed to perfection. The magic of the holidays seems to come at a high price between stress and money. I wonder how much of the pressure we put on ourselves is even worth it.

Remembering Sandy Hook

No matter what I do lately I feel haunted by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We’re coming up on the fourth anniversary on December 14th. I think of those small children who were looking forward to the holidays too. I wonder how many of them sat on Santa’s lap, played in the snow in oversized coats and snow pants, decorated trees or were crossing the days off on their calendars.

Ties That Bind

It wasn’t the first shooting I had ever seen unfold on live television. That would be the shooting at Columbine High School. That happened my freshman year of college and it was horrific, but something about this one at Sandy Hook has scarred my heart. Those kids were just babies. The difference was that by the time this tragedy occurred I was a parent myself. I could feel the universal love we all have for our kids. It’s perhaps the strongest tie that binds us together.

Tragedy can be found anywhere, on any day. I have to turn off the news so my empathetic heart doesn’t break all the time. But I owe those parents who lost children in the shooting at Sandy Hook a huge debt of gratitude. I owe it to them to remember that their children changed the way I appreciate my own.

Honoring the Children Lost

Those twenty little faces remind me to forgive just a little bit quicker when my kids are misbehaving. They remind me to hold a little tighter and not to get annoyed at the “one more kiss” goodnight, which is always more like six or seven. I might be tired and just want to finish my nightly routine so I can go to bed, but I remember that there are parents who would kill for one more kiss goodnight. So I open the door one more time when I hear my toddler’s sweet voice calling for “kisses, more kisses.”

The Magic of One More Kiss Goodnight

We get so wrapped up in holiday magic and giving our kids more than we had. We sometimes forget that our kids supply the magic. Every time they look at you like you are their sun and moon, they remind us that we already are everything they need and we already give them everything they could want.

So this holiday season forgive yourself if you fall short of holiday perfection. If you don’t pose an elf on a shelf (I know I sure as heck don’t), if you burn the Christmas cookies, if you can’t afford a dozen presents per child; it’s all okay. One day, if we’re really lucky they will remember us, our faces, around a tree or a table. What presents they opened or meals they ate, will have long been forgotten. Those are the details that blur on the edge of memory.

The best gift we can give them is just the best of us. A little more patience than we typically have, a smile big as life just because it’s been a couple of hours since we saw them last, and of course one more kiss goodnight.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

Whether you’re walking on an icy driveway or holding onto several objects while climbing stairs, you need good balance. But if you have a tough time of it, you’re not alone. Most of my yoga students and clients tell me that balancing postures are the most difficult. Try balancing right now. How was that? Harder than expected?

Because balance is so important to safety, I always include these postures in my classes, but you don’t have to attend a yoga class to develop your equilibrium. One minute of practice a day is all you need. So when your phone rings, stand up and hold the conversation on your toes or one leg. Next time you have to stand on your tiptoes to reach the highest shelf, dust the top of the refrigerator or decorate the tree, you’ll feel the difference.

Throughout a typical stretch of homeschooling, we have productive days yet plenty of cringe-worthy moments.  Homeschooling is as much about the journey as it is the destination. It’s not just about what the kids learn, but how they learn it.  Ideally, with some passion, excitement, freedom, creativity, and self-led interest.  As my kids mature and their learning needs change, I sometimes feel like we’re reinventing the wheel.  When I really think about it, though, it’s more like fine-tuning, and I’m good with that.  I want our homeschooling experience to be ever-changing, and evolving to meet all of our needs. Yet at the core, I’ve hit upon certain nuances that help the process feel more fluid, less overwhelming, and minimize chaos.

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Organization

Organization serves as the backbone of how I make things work.  Like all parents, I’m wearing many hats, and plenty often, I’m overwhelmed.  A few subtle tricks have helped make life easier.  Just as I did when I was a student, I keep a detailed planner of assignments and projects.   Seeing what needs to get done in writing provides a visual that takes the burden off of one’s memory and allows for a concrete tracking of progress.  And who is a stranger to the delight of crossing something off of a to-do list?  Not only do I plan out what we hope to cover each week, but I break it down by day and subject.  It’s all written in pencil, because, you know, Life.  I took this a step further and we put a label on the front of each of the kids’ books, notebooks, and folders, marking not just the subject but the days of the week on which it is used.  Finally, each day when they are putting away their completed work, they prep the next day’s work and leave it piled on a shelf or chair. It allows them to begin their work after breakfast with minimal prep and fumbling.  We have a homeschooling bookshelf- top shelf for supplies and reference books, they each have a shelf of their own, and the bottom shelf is for joint subjects and manuals.

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The Library

The library serves as a the homeschooler’s hub for resources and community connections. Not only do we save an inordinate amount of money by utilizing books and online resources such as a foreign language program, but the library graciously allows us to meet there for homeschooling purposes whenever we’re working with other families.   Not to mention, there are always enrichment opportunities such as science club or art classes throughout the library system. Having this support has greatly enhanced our homeschool experience.

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The Internet

Once upon a time, I felt like I needed to physically obtain materials to supplement our curricula.  Little by little, I’ve discovered so many online resources that allow us to access what we want, when we need it.  Whether it be an animated video to demonstrate mitosis, sound clips of a composer’s work, or passages from a poet, we have found so very many fascinating items on the internet.  Equally as important, we’ve made great friends through online homeschooling groups, purchased materials at a significant discount by joining forces with other homeschoolers, and participated in awesome field trips that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Chores

Giving my kids some daily responsibilities around the house allows me just enough breathing room to focus on their schooling or gasp, myself (rarely).  The way I think about it, I give the bulk of my daytime hours to their schooling, and in return, they give back some of that time by doing chores.  When they grow up, they’ll know how to cook for themselves, keep things clean, and do laundry.  In the meantime, it helps our house run more smoothly.

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Color Coded by Child

Flexibility

If I had things my way, we’d keep to a schedule that would make the military proud.  Any parent knows that while goals are nice, kids have other plans.  Any homeschooling parent multiplies this by ten.  So while I have my daily expectations, I have learned to be flexible. Sometimes we need to get outside and run around.  Sometimes an important appointment or errand interrupts the school day, and our morning work becomes evening “homework.” Sometimes, things take too long, no one gets it, and we’re running behind.  And once in a while, we speed through everything and are done early.  I’ve learned to fit bits of work into whatever opportunity presents itself.  On weekend trips to visit friends and family, my husband drives so that I can read a chapter aloud.  A writing lesson might get done on Saturday morning.  Books on CD have turned our driving-to-and-fro-activities time into quiet, peaceful car trips while enjoying literature.  As much as I wish life would fit into clean, neat boxes on the calendar, I’ve learned not to stress (as much) and let things happen at their own true pace. This doesn’t come naturally, but after all, the process is about learning, not just checking off a to-do list, and I want my kids’ experience to reflect that.

Moms and dads, post in the comments below and share your tips and tricks with our HVP readers.  Whatever helps make your home run more smoothly and your school day a success, we want to hear about it.  Happy December!

diytooth-fairy-bags

I cannot believe my “twinadoes” are turning 6 already! The time has really gone by quick! This year instead of throwing them a big party we decided to treat them to a week long vacation. Smack dab in the middle of all that planning and packing, the first wiggly tooth arrived! My kids have been waiting for this moment their whole lives. All they can focus on is the magic! All I can focus on is the pressure to make magic.

I see so many moms on Facebook handing out $5 bills for one little tooth, or buying a pile of presents and throwing about pixie dust to celebrate. There are even apps that allow you to snap a pic of the tooth fairy hovering over your sleeping child. I am all for magic, but all of that just seems like too much for me to invest in. I’m not judging these other parents for their efforts, I just know it isn’t my style.

Thankfully, both of my kids believe with their whole heart the only thing the tooth fairy brings is a bag full of coins. Well, all chocolate coins and one real gold coin. I do not know where they heard this information but I am totally cool with it. To make it more “magical” I created these quick little bags to take with us on vacation should her first tooth fall out. Which it did. She almost lost it in the swimming pool. That story alone is worth more than the magic she’ll remember about losing her first tooth.

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Here’s what you’ll need: (Makes 4 bags)

4 Medium organza gift bags (you can find at the dollar store)

1 Piece of white felt

8 Googly eyes

Elmer’s glue

8 inches of string or yarn

Wax paper

*Optional pink paint for rosy cheeks

I did a quick search online for a tooth shape that I could print, cut and trace onto the felt. After I cut out my felt shape, I began adding the little face. Cut string into two inch pieces to start, then glue mouth and eyes to the felt. Allow to dry before applying to the bag. If you’d like cute little pink cheeks, dip a pencil eraser, small dowel, or the end of a paint brush  (whatever you have on hand) into the pink paint and apply at the ends of the smile.

Since you are working with a mesh fabric the glue is just going to seep through. Cut a small square of wax paper (small enough to fit inside the bag) to keep the glue from sealing the bag closed.

First, insert the wax paper into the bag.

Next, apply Elmer’s glue to the felt and apply to the bag. Wait a few minutes before pulling the wax paper out. Then hang the bag upside down over a pencil, chop stick, craft stick or whatever you have to allow to dry. Be sure the baggie is open and the glue is not touching the stick. Allow to try over night.

I made 4 at once so I can have one set per kid. I give my kid one empty bag to put her tooth in and place under her pillow. This way the tooth isn’t rolling around loose and I can find it quick. I fill the second bag with all her required coins and just swap out the bags once she falls asleep. We can reuse these for each lost tooth and I’m already ahead of the game for the next round.

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I picked up chocolate coins at Party City (15 for $1.00) and a gold dollar coin at the bank. In fact, I picked up 10 so I can have back up! Once that first tooth falls out, the next is right behind it! Three weeks behind to be exact. We currently have both kids wiggling a tooth just waiting for their gold coins. Having twins means double the magic and double the tooth fairy money. So keeping some pre-filled bags between payouts means I won’t be caught off guard the night a tooth falls out.

My girl woke up to find this cute bag filled with coins under her pillow and was on cloud 9 the rest of the day. She told everyone we ran into how the tooth fairy left her coins in the middle of the night. For her it is a dream come true. I have to say that alone is pretty magical.

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Do you go all out for the tooth fairy, or do you keep it simple?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

 

 

 

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As you can probably guess, as I’m typing this post I have a cold. I’m also wishing it were a “man cold” and not a “mom cold.” What’s the difference? Let me break it down for you.

What Is A “Man Cold?”

If I had a “man cold” I would be able to take off of work and take a nap. I could drink orange juice and hot soup and take some medicine that would make me sleep the afternoon away. I could focus on taking care of myself.  Instead, I have a “mom cold.”

Sickness Is Not On Our To-Do List

That means I’m up plugging away at the many things on my to-do list, despite my deep desire just to lie down and rest. I have laundry that needs to be done, a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded before dishes start piling up in the sink since I seem to be the only one capable of looking to see that it needs to be emptied, oh and my toddler decided to boycott her nap again today so I don’t even get a few hours to drag my butt through these tasks without chasing her around pulling her off the couch, which she has learned to body surf down this morning.

Hit By A Bus

If you’ve been following my posts for a while you know that I love my husband, like L O V E love him and I’m always bragging about him, but today I’m going to throw him under the bus, along with half the men in the US. And you know who’s sitting in this bus with me, all the other moms I know. We are so tired of getting stuck with the “mom cold,” while you men are allowed to wallow in your misery.

We Helped Create The Monster

But it’s not all your fault. No, we played a part in this. We take care of you when you’re not feeling well. We make you soup and dry toast and bring it to you in bed. We make sure the kids keep their voices down and don’t barge in the room a million times, interrupting the nap which is going to propel you back into good health.

We carry on with every task we normally do and exempt you from it all. Why? Because we’re moms. Caring for our family is what we do. And because thankfully you aren’t sick that often.

As a work at home Mom I know I have it easier than a lot of work outside the home moms. If I were really feeling horrible, I’d just focus on getting my blogging work done and let the housework go and deal with the avalanche of mess when I’m feeling better. Though the day you crawl out of your covers to find that nobody cleaned up the half a box of cereal that spilled on the floor is so NOT fun.

The Part Inequality In The Workplace Plays

Most working moms I know don’t even take a day off of work unless they feel like death. Why? Because they are saving their sick days for when their children are sick and need to take off to care for them. Why aren’t men taking off more time to care for their sick kids?

It may be attributed to the breakdown of differences for men and women in the workforce. Men typically get paid more than women. They take off less time when their children are born and less time when their kids are sick or off of school.

It’s less detrimental to a man’s career that he has a family than a woman’s if she has children. Why? Because we are the caregivers (primarily). Not, that it makes it right.

The “Mom Cold” Mentality

It’s really pretty sucky and it all contributes to the “mom cold” mentality that we have to power through even when we feel really awful. Moms can’t afford to be sick.

Even if this were more than a cold, like say the stomach bug, I know my kids need to eat even if the thought of lunch makes me lose mine. My husband will pick up medicine and take out for dinner if I’m really sick and that helps. I appreciate it. But you know what all moms need?

The Thing Moms NEED Most

Men, we need you to take off work and take over sometimes. We need the same rest and care we afford you during your “man colds.” We need you to put out the figurative fires, take care of the chores and keep the kids alive till morning.

We need you to put your career on the back burner. Not forever, but just for one day. Heck, we’ll settle for a half-day.

We don’t expect you to single-handedly close the wage gap. We don’t expect that you can change the perception of care-giving roles for men and women all by yourselves, but you can do us a solid.

The next time we feel sick, give us the gift of having a “man cold” instead of a “mom cold.” Pick up the slack and do what needs to be done. Why? Because we do it for you ALL…THE….TIME and we deserve it.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

During my years as a personal trainer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with all kinds of people. For the most part, they share two dilemmas: not knowing what exercises to do and not having enough time to do them. Fortunately, when you correctly perform the best exercises to meet your goal, it doesn’t take nearly as much time as you might think. I’ve chosen three movements to effectively work your core right on your kitchen chair. Work up to three sets of ten of each, then cycle through them again if you have the time.

  • Seated Elbow-to-Knee: works obliques
  • Bicycle: tones every muscle in the abdominal group
  • Pendulum: strengthens upper body in conjunction with abs and hip flexors

Next time you finish your morning coffee, push back from the table and give these a try!

Welcome Back

We’re an Elf family.  Our little sprites (Johnifer and Glinda) come to visit us sometime after Thanksgiving, and stay until Christmas Eve.  Even though they add one more task to an already busy season, I believe it’s worth it.  The innocent excitement that comes along with the daily hunt for the elves is a tradition that will be gone too soon, and one I’ll cherish forever.

We do elves a little differently in our house.  They don’t serve as, “Better behave, the elves are watching,” because that just doesn’t feel right for us.  Our elves are visitors.  They spend each day with us to bring some holiday cheer and excitement, not to tattle on bad behavior.  My girls prepare snacks for the elves, leaving tidbits nearby and checking hopefully for signs of missing bites. They write notes of love and appreciation, which I secretly save for them to read when they’re older.  My little one makes clothes for the elves, using scraps of fabric, ribbons, and construction paper, and delights in seeing the elves enjoy her creations.

Snowman Elf

The elves are part of a daily hide-and-go-seek game (how did they get on the ceiling fan?) but they also encourage goodness.  Every few days, the elves bring a note suggesting a selfless task for a friend in need, or a brownie mix to make for a neighbor, or encouragement to donate toys and clothes to someone who has less.

I admit, I’m somewhat of a Grinch.  I don’t look forward to the holiday season, or enjoy the disruption in routine, pressure to shop and spend, and letdown that follows on January 1st. Yet somehow, the arrival of our two little elves kick-starts my excitement every year.  Something magical happens as my husband and I plan the next hiding spot, bit of mischief, or random act of kindness the elves will inspire.  They’ve even become a part of our Christmas Eve tradition.  We order Chinese food, watch “Elf” with the elves, and the girls give the elves a goodbye hug before bed.

Elves and Nutcracker

If your home has an adopted elf or two, you understand the bittersweet goodbye each year, as well as the relief that you won’t forget to hide the elf until next December.  Share your stories, memories, and ideas with our readers, below.  Happy December!

5-simple-crafts-for-thanksgiving-day

Back in the day when I was just an auntie and had no children of my own, Thanksgiving seemed like such a warm and carefree holiday. I loved getting up early to get our feast started. I’d peel, boil and bake my way through hours of the early morning. I’d pass the time waiting for dinner with my nieces and nephews crafting, or head outside for a scavenger hunt. Our dinner arrived at the perfect temperature and in a fluid succession of flavors.

Today’s reality looks more like me running through the house in my pajamas trying to get everyone to settle down and leave me alone in my kitchen glory. I race through the side dishes listening to kids whining about how much they HATE sweet potatoes and nearly barf at the thought of eating gravy; in between complaints about how HUNgry they are. *sigh*

I remember one Thanksgiving when I was about five, my mom helped us craft a Native American headdress from construction paper, and no joke made EACH of us a vest out of a paper grocery bag WITH FRINGE.   My mom made fringe out of a paper bag for 4 kids (man I wish I had a picture of that!).  I think we’ll go a tad simpler this year.

5 (fringe free) super easy crafts to keep the kids entertained on turkey day:

PLACE CARDS

These do not need to be fancy. Using a simple index card folded in half, or a colorful piece of construction paper works too.  If your child can write, or is learning to write, make a list of names for them to copy onto each card. They can check off the names as they go and place the cards at each place setting.

For little ones who cannot write, making thumb print turkeys can be fun! You, or another adult, will have to work with your kiddo to dip one thumb in some paint and place it on a card. This does not have to be perfect, or even resemble a turkey. It just has to be fun and out of the kitchen area.

GRATITUDE CHAIN

We love making paper chains, and I bet you have all the supplies you already need. Use whatever paper you have on hand, colorful construction paper, plain white printer paper, it doesn’t matter. Cut the paper into strips and have each kid write something they are thankful for.  Start the chain by bending the strip into a circle and stapling, or taping the ends to close up the loop. Repeat until you have made a chain. Your kids will feel proud when you hang it up near the dinner table.

COVER YOUR TABLE IN ART

I love to put out a fancy table cloth for special meals. It just feels a little more special. But kids are messy and it can be stressful watching your nice things get destroyed. So we roll out brown packaging paper and let the kids create their own table “cloth.” They trace their hands and color in to look like turkeys, practice letter writing with holiday messages and drawing whatever comes to mind. Now if they spill I’m not so annoyed. The paper gets tossed in the recycling bin and there’s no mess for me!

PAPER BAG PUPPETS

Again, using whatever you have on hand works. Raid your pantry for small paper plates, or reuse paper shopping bags. Have kids cut out feathers to glue to the back of the bag, draw a face and now you have instant puppets.

ART KITS

If you read this post before dinner starts, there is no shame in buying a ready to use kit with all the supplies inside. Get out to the dollar store or Target and pick up those play packets with stickers, a coloring book and some crayons.

I set hubby and the kids up with the supplies, show them how to get started and I quietly float away to finish off the green beans. Whether you are hosting, or traveling to visit the in-laws your kids will enjoy getting to help make decorations for the feast. Having a little quiet time to think is one more reason to give thanks. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

You may also enjoy reading Friday Favorites- Kid’s Mini Travel Activity Pouch before you travel this holiday season.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

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