Smart Mamas

Category: Tradition

Love Day

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a “fake” holiday contrived by greeting card and flower companies.  It can simply be a day about love.

A day to celebrate the people in your life that love you unconditionally.

We spend time together as a family at home. I like to cook something special, something I have never prepared before. A natural way for me to show people love is to cook for them.

If today feels forced, think about making it your own day. A day without Hallmark and taking ownership. A day without restaurants dictating what your meal must be and charging a fortune for it. It is yours to show love however suits you.

Abudant love to you and your family,


New Year’s Tradition: Family Bucket List

On New Year’s Eve we started a new family tradition.  We filled up a bucket with all the things we want to do this year.  We each took turns so everyone would have the same amount of to-dos for the year.  I was most surprised by how serious my boys (ages 3 and 6) were in choosing their contributions.  I was certain they would write things like, I want more legos or buy more toys.  But, they never once mentioned anything material.  Each time their turn came around they sat quietly pondering all the possibilities.  My husband and I enjoyed listening to all their wishes for the year and it was a nice reminder that children are full of hopes and dreams, too.  Sometimes all we have to do is ask.  If you do this activity with your children, you may be surprised by what memories and activities they hold sacred.

We placed our bucket on our mantel.  A daily reminder that we are accountable for all it’s contents.  The boys are eager to pull the pieces of paper out after each recreation.

Here is our 2011 bucket list:

  1. Vacation in Arkansas
  2. Go camping
  3. Play with friend, Seven (our old neighbor’s son)
  4. Have a family dinner while camping
  5. Go fishing
  6. Find a new place to hike with family
  7. Eat blueberries (my youngest is devastated they are not in season)
  8. Go disc golfing with the family
  9. Play with Riley
  10. Go snowboarding
  11. Collect seashells
  12. Visit the Grand Canyon
  13. Visit Grandma in Sacramento
  14. Learn how to ride a horse
  15. Go to the beach
  16. Go to Black Beauty Ranch Animal Sanctuary
  17. Travel around the world and collect coins
  18. Stay in a cabin
  19. Move to Arizona

2011 will be a busy year.  Better get started!

If you decide to make a family bucket list, I would love to hear your list.

Happy 2011!

Finally, A Little Sugar

Hectic.  December.  Why does it have to be that way?

Actually, my entire year was hectic.  Managing graduate school, an internship, a stay-at-home toddler, a kindergartener’s schedule, laundry… it has not been easy.  Errors were made.  Assignments were late.  Nothing worse than forgetting Polar Express night at my son’s school.  A special ticket was sent home for an evening of holiday movie magic while dressed in pjs.  My little one kept saying it was his special movie night and I had no idea what he was talking about.  He cried himself to sleep.  The next day he talked about his plans to share a pillow with his good friend and promises of bracelet exchanges.  Bad mommy moment.  Oh, the guilt.

Throw in a couple of half marathons and I am exhausted.  Depleted.

Now, the time has arrived.  The light at the end of a long tunnel.  I counted down the months, days with fellow classmates.  Ah, holiday break.  So many things to catch-up on and long awaited time with my family.

Oh yeah, Christmas.  Eek.  So much to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas time and all the festivities that go along with it.  BUT, this year I really need a break and I want to spend every moment with my kids and husband.  I miss my little guy who started school this year.  When I stayed home with my kids there was endless time with them, those days are long gone.  Time with them is precious and I look forward to it.

Something’s got to give.  And so it did.  Christmas cards fell by the wayside.  Early shopping, negative.  Thoughtful gifts for out of state relatives, fail.  Fresh baked goodies for friends, next year.  My first day off of school and internship was Friday.  Friday and Saturday I was in bed sick.  Yesterday was the first real day off and we did something I have looked forward to…baking and decorating sugar cookies with my sweet boys.

I loved having the entire day to spend at leisure.  Every time I bake or cook with my sons, memories flood in from my childhood.  My maternal grandparents owned a bakery.  My paternal grandparents owned a cafe in Greece.  My father owned a restaurant for 25 years.  Most of my fondest memories are standing on a stool side-by-side a beloved family member stirring, mixing, beating eggs.  We made homemade breads for dinner and dessert was NEVER bought from a store.  Fast food was a rare occasion.  I recall less than five happy meals before my fifteenth birthday.

My grandparents have all passed on.  My mother, too.  All of my family lives in Arizona and Greece.  Texas is home to my husband, my children and myself.  Christmas never feels right.  This year I want to focus on our small family, while recharging my batteries.

We enjoyed our cookie day.  We listened to music and danced while we pressed cookie cutters into soft dough.  We giggled and ate colored sugar with our fingers. We iced cookies and decorated broken cookies sending them to the “boneyard.”

I watched their busy, little hands at work and it warmed my heart.  My 3 year-old would make my grandma proud ~ with the way he managed a rolling pin.  My big kid firmly pressing the cookie cutter with both hands to form a well-shaped cookie ~ my grandpa would smile.

Yesterday felt like Christmas.  I may be selfish, but I want a few more of those days before the holiday ends.  Next year I’ll have the shopping done early and cards mailed the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This year we will focus on our time together and I plan to savor every moment.

Do you ever take a break from any of your holiday obligations?

What to Do With All That Halloween Candy, That is the Question.

We are healthy eaters.  That said, nothing is more depressing than a Halloween bag full of nuts and raisins.  Holidays are a magical time and kids count down every minute until it’s time to celebrate.  Discussions on healthy eating and how sugar rots your teeth all have a proper time and place, but please don’t make Halloween one of them.  Smart parents are successful at minimizing the amount of candy their child eats, without dumping the whole bag in the garbage while their child cries her eyes out.  If candy is kept to a minimum throughout the year, than it will be easier to ration when Halloween comes around.

One of our favorite things to do on Halloween is dump out all the loot and sort through it.  My boys do not eat a lot of candy, so the heap of shiny wrappers and bright colorful sugar is mind-blowing.  We let them pick out some pieces and while they are chowing down we talk about all our favorite costumes and decorated houses.  This keeps the focus on the holiday rather than the candy.  The next day after the sugar high dies down, I remind them of the awesome gingerbread houses we get to make soon.  I am a big advocate for children being internally motivated to make good decisions, so I like to ask them what pieces they think would look great on our houses.  Excitement quickly ensues and they are fast to collect candy corn, lollipops, licorice, taffy, spiraled peppermint candy, sweet tarts, and pixie sticks.  We put all those pieces in a *gingerbread* bag and, voila, half the candy is gone in no time.  No dumping, taking away, bargaining, or tears.

Another way to prepare ahead of time is to find a few craft projects online that use candy.  Have them printed so you are armed and ready to show them to your kids once they have their candy.  If they like them, you can use the same tactic.  If you still want to get rid of more, ask your kids if they want to decorate a paper bag and they can select pieces of candy to give away; perhaps to the mailman, yard professionals, grandparents, or to a neighbor who does not have children.  The key is to make it your child’s choice to share or use their candy for another purpose.

There are good alternatives to giving out candy, here are a few that kids love; temporary tattoos, glow sticks, change, little platic spiders, and bouncy balls that look like eyeballs.  Stores have a ton of little trinkets this year that have a Halloween theme.  Fun treats with less sugar than candy, include; yogurt covered pretzels, fruit roll-ups, organic lollipops, and popcorn balls.

Do you have any other suggestions?  We would love to hear them!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Ever Wonder About The Man Dressed As Santa?

Every year when it’s time to get pictures with Santa, I cringe as my child climbs onto his lap.  Who exactly is this man in costume that wants to have kids sit on his knee all day long?  Kinda creepy.

This Santa was arrested in New Jersey, click here to see his charge.

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