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Archive for November, 2006

You know that I’m all about being the best mom you can be and spending quality time with your family. Today’s Thumbs Up Thursday nod goes to Anne-Marie over at A Readable Feast.

She’s got an entire category on her blog dedicated to bonding with your kids. Take a look at it here. That first post you’ll see is a contest to win a journal that could be a great keepsake to pass on whether you’re a mom or a grandma. Sign up…I did!

Be sure to peruse her entire site as she’s got great craft ideas, recipes and books that you can share and do with your family!

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There is something special about walking into a room and seeing the Christmas tree. It instantly makes you feel happy. Kids especially love to see the tree all lit up and sparkly. The ornaments, lights and sparkle hold them in awe for hours. Here are some tips for making tree decorating a fun family tradition:

Have Fun – First and foremost make this occasion fun. If decorating the tree isn’t fun for you, it won’t be fun for your family. So relax and enjoy it, even if little Emma isn’t putting the crystal ornament exactly where it should go. If there are some ornaments that are precious, keep them in a separate box up high so that the adults can add them to the tree and make sure you have lots of fun wooden or non fragile decorations for the kids to put up.

Theme – Before you get started decorating, choose a theme. What kind of tree would you like? Do you want a traditional green and red tree? Or does your family want something funky and different? Get together, brainstorm and decide how you want your tree to look.

Lights – Does your family like white lights, or do they prefer colorful bulbs? Choose lights that your whole family will like to see on the Christmas tree. There are tons of options out there, from single color strands to lights that play Christmas music as they blink.

Handmade Ornaments – A really fun tradition for your family is to have everyone make ornaments. Set aside a special day just for this, a day when every family member will be able to pitch in with their creativity. Use cookie cutters, colorful paint and beads to create an assortment of unique tree ornaments. You can also buy ribbon and wire in the Christmas department and make tons of bows to decorate your tree.

Store-Bought Ornaments – Add some sparkle and shine to your tree with things like tinsel, icicles and garland. Or, if your family isn’t crafty and does not want to make ornaments, go together as a family and pick out ornaments for the tree.

Make it Special – Make the tree decorating day a special time. Play Christmas music, put out fresh baked cookies and eggnog for the grownups (non-alcoholic version for the kids of course) and hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows. Gather a group of close family and friends around and make it a real festive affair.

Once you decorate your tree go on a Christmas walk around the neighborhood and take in all the sights and lights around you. Then bring everyone back to your place for a hot Christmas stew or casserole… you’ll be creating a family tradition for years to come.

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Do you get tired of the hassle of holiday shopping? Many shoppers line up for hours on end to get a deal on the hottest toy of the season (I used to do this every Black Friday, but not this past one!), or newest fashion craze, then there are those who dread shopping and just put it off until the last minute, or give gift certificates to get out of shopping altogether.

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a hassle. It can be quickly executed without so much stress and anxiety, if you plan ahead.

Try these tips to make your holiday shopping a breeze this year:

1. Set a budget in place. Do you know how much money you can afford to spend on gifts? If not, sit down right now and make that budget. This will be a huge time-saver in the end.

2. Make your list; check it twice. Create a list of who you need to buy gifts for this year. Start with family first, then add friends, co-workers, etc. How does this list look, compared with your budget? Too long? Pare it down. Despite what you think, you don’t have to buy as many gifts as you think you do. Trim your list until you have it down to a reasonable number.

3. What do they like? Now that you know who you will be buying gifts for, start thinking about what these people like. You may already have a good idea of what kinds of things they like. If not, do some snooping and find out. Make a shopping list of these things for each person.

4. Shop early. If possible try to avoid the last minute rush and shop early. Another good option is to go late at night. Many department stores operate late hours during the holidays. It’s a good time to leave the kids with your spouse and do the shopping on your own without worrying about the crowds or the kids needing to be fed or changed.

5. Shop online. Now that you know exactly what you need to buy, start by shopping online. You can find lots of good deals on auction and discount sites. Many online shops such as Amazon.com give you the option of mailing out your gifts (gift wrap included) to relatives and friends, this could save you a lot of time wrapping presents and fighting the crowds at the post office. Shopping online could save you a lot more money than you’d think, and it will definitely save you the hassle of fighting those Christmas crowds!

Still don’t know what to get? The 2006 Mom’s Niche Holiday Gift Giving Guide will give you ideas for everyone on your list…from infants to toddlers to tough-to-buy-for teenagers to good old grandma and grandpa. What could be easier? Great ideas and easy shopping online with this interactive guide!

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…Fa La La La La, La La La La!!!

It’s that time of year again! Gift giving season is upon us. Are you having trouble finding just the right gift for tween-aged daughter? Or maybe something special and different for your brand new nephew?

Mom’s Niche has just released the 2006 Holiday Gift Giving Guide. This guide is unique in that it is interactive. There are hot products listed for every age category on your list. Each picture and product that is suggested is “clickable.” You can actually click directly on the picture or product title and be linked directly to the page where you can purchase that gift. This saves TIME and MONEY for you!

Check it out here…you won’t be disappointed!

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Holiday Giving

Teach your Kids the Meaning of Giving this Holiday Season

Christmas makes kids wide-eyed, with thoughts of a ton of presents under the Christmas tree. Some kids even like to count their presents under the tree. This holiday season, teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas — giving to others.

Give to Others – One simple way to teach your children the value of giving is to have them donate to a local shelter. Have your children go through their toys and clothes. Make sure they give away one really nice thing that they don’t really need or play with. Place an emphasis on the fact that there are many children who have no home or parents.

Another way your children can learn about the gift of giving is to donate canned goods to a local food drive service. These services provide food to families in need. The holidays are often a difficult time for those in need. Take your children to the grocery store and have them choose a nice variety of canned foods to donate.

One more way your children can learn a lesson in giving is to buy gifts for others. Choose a needy family in your church or community. If you don’t know of anyone in need, ask around. Officials at your city’s municipal building, or local pastors will be able to make recommendations to you.

Take your children shopping and help them pick out age-appropriate toys and gifts. Let them wrap the gifts, too. Finally, drive your family to your “adopted” family’s home and let your kids hand out their gifts. You can also give a gift to a local gift drive for children in need, most of these will advertise in stores and the local community during the holidays.

It’s SO important for the young ones to get the true meaning of Christmas – take some time out of your busy schedule and teach them!

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Okay, this is really bad timing for this post…BUT, I thought you might still benefit from it with all of the parties and such coming up in the next month 🙂

5 Ways to Stick to Your Diet this Holiday Season

It’s dreaded by every woman on a diet—the holidays! Holidays are filled with tons of food, the nemesis of every dieter on the planet. If you’re worried about how your diet will suffer during the holidays, try these tips for coping:

Get Active. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t be active. Organize a group and go on a winter hike or ice skating. Even caroling can help take the focus off food while giving you some mild exercise too. Or go for a long walk to look at the Christmas lights. Think of small ways to stay active rather than vegging out indoors.

Snack Light. Don’t be afraid to have a few snacks at a party. But beware of snacking during the entire 3-5 hours! Allow yourself a small plate of snacks and stop there.

Eat before you leave. If you’re really worried about eating too much at a party, have a light, healthy meal before you leave. Eat something nutritious and filling, but leave enough room for a light dessert.

Watch the Alcohol – With all those parties those few drinks can really add up. Take it easy on the alcohol as it has tons of calories. A good trick is to have a wine spritzer, mix a little wine with some club soda and sip slowly throughout the night; this could cut down your alcohol intake nearly by half.

Forget about the Diet. Well don’t dump your diet altogether or you may regret in the New Year, just don’t focus on it. If you constantly worry about your diet or how many pounds you might gain during the holidays, you’ll be likely to eat more. Instead, concentrate on the wonderful company you are sharing and stop worrying so much about overeating.

Have a Great Holiday Season!

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Happy Turkey Day!

It’s Thanksgiving morning. Yes, I’m sitting at my computer doing a little bit of WORK before everybody wakes up. We’ve got a great day planned! We will begin by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (tradition) and then will begin the preparations for the feast (actually, we mixed up and partially prepared everything we could last night so we could enjoy ourselves today). The older kids will be back from their dad’s around 1pm. Our big dinner is planned for about 4pm. We’ll have our family plus the family down the street for the wonderful dinner. It’s going to be a GOOD DAY! Traditions are funny, they remain the same, yet year to year you take them and maybe “tweak” them a little bit to make them your own.

I have been thinking about what I’m thankful for this year – I’ve got a list 🙂 Here they are in no particular order:

  • my husband who supports me in anything and everything I do
  • my children who sometimes drive me nuts…I wouldn’t be complete without them
  • my mother-in-law – she is a great friend
  • my mom and dad – I’m so thankful that they are still healthy enough to do the things that they want to do and BRAVE enough to host our crazy family for the Christmas holiday
  • my brother and his wife
  • my other brother and his girlfriend
  • my nieces and nephew
  • the servicemen fighting for our freedom
  • my health
  • my neighbors who are also great friends!
  • my friends who aren’t my neighbors, but are great friends!

Take a few minutes to reflect today and express you thanks and gratitude to the people you love and God.

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