Tag Archives: family traditions

Celebrating Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day will be a little different for us. We usually celebrate it by making or preparing Valentines during the day, then surprising each other with them at suppertime. Our grandma comes over for a special meal, and we end the day with a lot of chocolate.

This year, however, my husband will be working late, so the kids and I have been wondering what to do. The consensus is that we’ll have a special Valentine’s Day snack instead of a supper during the few minutes in the afternoon he can come home so he won’t miss it. And we’ll still end the day with chocolate. 🙂

There are lots of ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Find picture books at the library about St. Valentine, or look up information about him online. Share his story with your children.
  • Spend some time baking together!  Make Valentine’s Day treats from scratch with your kids. You can find all sorts of recipes to try at KidsCookingActivities.com and Kaboose.com.
  • Decorate a room in your house – Cut out paper hearts and tape them around the room. Our favorite room is our kitchen, and the paper hearts are going up all over the windows. Have the kids write messages on the hearts or the names of the people they love.
  • Create homemade cards for grandparents or neighbors.
  • Make valentines to share with the residents of the local nursing home or for children in the hospital.
  • Write a letter to a friend you don’t see very often.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Picture is Worth…a Lot!

Today, we visited with some new friends from our co-op. And during that visit, I was encouraged to move our photos off of the hard drive to places where everyone could enjoy them.

The family we were with reminds me so much of my own — about five years ago. Their young children, ages 2 – 9,  are always running, shouting, and laughing; it was so much fun to watch. As my friend showed me around the house, I saw some of the neat ways they’ve commemorated holidays, trips, and  occasions with their photographs  — things similar to those I used to do before life became so hectic. So, if time seems to be flying by for you, too, take a day or two or three, and try creating some of these special reminders:

  •  Instead of  just saving your family photos on the computer, display them with a digital photo frame. Some frames have a place for a thumbdrive, so you can easily change out the photos you display. Our friends have separate thumb drives for Christmas pictures (displayed during the holidays), vacation pictures (displayed before they go on vacation again), birthday pictures (showing all the birthday parties of a particular child), etc.
  • Decorate a frame: Buy an inexpensive photo or collage frame for your favorite holiday or vacation pictures. If it’s not the color you want,  paint it with some inexpensive craft acrylic paints. Hot glue fun reminders to the frame: sea shells, ticket stubs, small ornaments, etc.
  • Create a photo book: You can arrange your digital prints in a photo book in which you can add your own captions and text. These are available online at sites such as Snapfish or Blurb, or at local drugstores as well. You’re book can focus on one event or a whole year of events. You could even create a book for your child of photos they took themselves.
  • Display a scrapbook page: If you’re like me, you love scrapbooking but don’t have much free time to do it. Instead, try arranging some photos on just one page, frame it, and hang it on the wall.
Sometimes, when I mention to the kids something that we did when they were little, they don’t remember. But with photos available for the viewing anytime, I know they won’t forget!

101 Things

While we were visiting with family over the Christmas holidays, a group of us went shopping together at a specialty shop. While there, my sister showed me a book she found entitled 101 Things You Should Do Before Your Kids Leave Home, written by David Bordon and Tom Winters. I thumbed through it and it looked really good, but I was just browsing that day, so I wrote a note to myself to look for it online later. But my sister purchased one, and to my happy surprise, she gave it to me!

The book is organized in a simple yet effective format. Each of the 101 things are listed and numbered in the table of contents for easy reference. (This also makes it convenient to read through the list and mark off the ones you’ve completed.) The text for each item fills up two facing pages; the left page features the number and the activity, while the right contains further details, such as how to do it, tips for making it memorable, and why you should do it. This book is a Christian book, so many of the “whys” include explanations on how you can use the activity to encourage your children to follow the Lord.

After looking through the list, I was glad to see that we have already completed nearly half of the items, especially since my oldest is 14 and will be going off to college in a few years. Some of the things we’ve done include: washing the car together, joining in a parade, inviting a pet (or in our case, a lot of pets) into our home, picking up trash in a public area, gathering for family reunions, camping, flying kites, and telling family stories. Some things are on-going, such as learning the value of hard work, manners and etiquette, and ways to manage conflict.

Of course, this book isn’t a mandatory list of things to do with your children, and if you don’t do them you’re not a good parent. But I think it is a great reference for ideas, and it’s a reminder of the things that we can do with our kids. Sometimes in the busyness of day-to-day living we forget to take the time to just enjoy being with them. And, as every parent knows, the time flies by so fast.

So what’s still on our to-do list? Thanking a soldier, standing together at the edge of the Grand Canyon, serving in a soup kitchen, pitching a tent indoors, and sharing family recipes.

What’s on your list?

The Birthday Banner

This past weekend, my youngest, Luke, turned five years old. For the past month, he and his eight-year-old sister Lillie have been planning the party – decorating treat bags, looking through catalogs for favors, deciding on cake decorations. And, of course, bringing out his birthday banner.

Birthday banners have become a favorite tradition in our family. It all began seven years ago when my second child, Cassie, turned three. We were living in what we thought would be just a temporary home – a single wide mobile home on the same property as the house we planned to renovate. Because we were going to be moving again soon (or so I thought – it actually took two years), I didn’t unpack photos or pictures for the walls.

When Cassie’s birthday came around after Christmas, we decorated with streamers and balloons, but there was still one large bare wall where the Christmas tree had been. To fill the space, I pulled out some large pieces of felt my mother had given me and decided to make a banner. I used the large pieces as background colors, then cut flowers, butterflies, and “HAPPY BIRTHDAY CASSIE!” out of the rest. My mother was living nearby at the time, so when I was finished gluing all of the pieces down, she secured them with stitching and added tabs across the top. We hung the banner on that bare wall with a curtain rod and two sticky hooks, and it filled the space perfectly!

Of course, as each of my other children’s birthdays rolled around that year, I had to make a special banner for them too. My mom had moved, so after I created the patterns for the designs, I sent them to her to sew together. She even made banners for my husband and myself. Now we all have our own birthday banner, which we hang in our living room at least two weeks before the big day. It’s one of our favorite family traditions, and one my children can take along with them even after they’re grown.