November 26th, 2014 · Print
In just a few days, Chad, Bear and I will be celebrating our first Thanksgiving as a family. And, in a lot of ways, it’s going to be different from any Thanksgiving I’ve ever had. I love having holidays with my extended family (both Chad’s and my own), but this year, it’s going to be just us and the baby. For Christmas, we’ll have more than a dozen members of our family on both sides, but for this Thanksgiving, we’re on our own.
Which, in some ways, is really exciting. As we were thinking about this holiday, I realized that it was a time for Chad and me to create our own new traditions, the ones that will be part of our family’s memories for years to come.
Since Bear is just a baby, his needs are pretty simple this year: some snuggles, a long nap, and a few bites of sweet potatoes (they’re his favorite food)! And yet, I want to spend this holiday creating traditions that will be with us for years to come — even if he doesn’t understand them this year, he will later on, and I’m excited for these moments to become part of the fabric of his childhood. The traditions he’ll pass down to his own children someday.
So, here’s what I’m planning to do:
We’ll be sitting down to a big turkey dinner, cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Chad will watch football and I’ll catch the Macy’s Day Parade. All our family’s old traditions will be alive and strong.
But we’re also going to create our own.
I’ve always loved the idea of volunteering at a soup kitchen or doing a “Turkey Trot” to raise money for charity, but I’ve never done it. But this year, as we’re planning our first holiday traditions, it’s one that I would love to incorporate into our son’s Thanksgiving memories. So, this year, Chad, Bear and I will be participating in a 5k walk to benefit a world hunger relief organization. I’m thrilled to be teaching our son about helping others; Chad is nervous that he is too out of shape to walk 3.1 miles. Bear will probably sleep in the stroller the whole time.
So basically? Good times all around.
In addition, I’m planning to take special moments out of the day to teach our son about the holiday. This year, he’s little enough that teaching will probably be limited to turkey sounds and a story or two. But next year, and the year after, I’d like to take a moment out of the day to reflect on what Thanksgiving is all about: people from different cultures coming together, and treating each other peacefully with kindness and respect. This is such an important to pass on to your children, and holiday traditions provide a great way to make it meaningful for them.
Traditions come in so many shapes and sizes — there’s no reason to limit yourself to turkey and pie and call it a day. Those “untraditional” traditions are special, too, and they create wonderful, lasting memories for your family.
And as you’re creating your own holiday traditions, Fisher Price wants to hear your family’s story. Over on Instagram, they’re announcing the Fisher-Price™ Holiday Traditions Sweepstakes! To enter, follow @Fisher-Price on Instagram, and then post an original photo that captures your favorite “Holiday Tradition” with the hashtag #FPTraditionsSweeps. The sweeps runs from November 24 to December 21st, so there’s lots of time to capture your favorite holiday moments! (See the official rules here: http://www.fisher-price.com/en_us/Sweeps/holidaytraditions_rules.html)
So whether it’s a shot of your early-morning drive to grandma’s house, your perfectly roasted turkey, or your kiddos digging into their mashed potatoes, show us how you celebrate. I can’t wait to see them!
November 25th, 2014 · Print
Pretty much from the moment I found out I was pregnant, setting up a college savings account for our son has been on my mind.
And I don’t mean “on my mind” in a productive, I got this kind of way.
It was more “on my mind” as in: ohmygod there’s this thing I should be doing for him and I’m not doing it and I’m pretty sure I’m ruining our kid’s life by not doing it but I have zero time to figure out how to do it and so it’s never, ever, ever going to get done and he’s going to wind up flipping burgers and it’s all my fault…
See, I knew we wanted set up a place where we could contribute towards our son’s college education expenses.
I just had no idea how to do it.
College is expensive, and more so today than ever before. I hope to be able to pay our son’s tuition someday, but that means that Chad and I have to start saving now. (Ok, we probably should have started saving yesterday, but at least we’re doing it now!)
I know that saving money now to hand over to a university in eighteen years isn’t the most fun thing to think about. But, with saving, the earlier you do it, the better.
So this week, I created a college savings account for our son. I funded it with $1,000 to start and set up a monthly contribution of $100 a month. On months that we can do more, we’ll do more. It might not pay for everything, but it’s a start.
And, you know what? It was easy. Like, way easy. It took ten minutes and I did the whole thing online.
Nearly every state has some sort of “529 Plan” available for college savings. In general, these plans offer some tax benefits and are a pretty flexible, low maintenance way to set aside money for your child’s education.
And even better? Grandparents and other family members can contribute too. So think about getting this set up as the holidays are approaching!
If you’re in Texas, the one that I did is offered by the State of Texas here: https://www.texascollegesavings.com/ In other states, check out this link for your state’s options.
So, that’s my little parenting tidbit for the day. Most days, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m pretty much the last person who feels qualified to offer parenting advice.
But this one? It seemed overwhelming to me, until I did it. And it turned out, it was easy. And now I’m really glad I did. So I figured I’d pass it on.
Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!
November 21st, 2014 · Print
I’ve written before about how reading is such an important part of our day-to-day parenting, but I thought that this week, I’d go into a little bit more depth about the books that Bear has really enjoyed for his first six months.
Because, see: when you’re a new parent, lots of people give you the books that they loved as a child. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that — it’s an incredibly sweet and thoughtful gift and one that I’m always thrilled to receive.
But sometimes, the books that people loved as a five- or seven-year-old aren’t right for an infant.
Because, you know. I’d love to say that our kid is a literary genius, but the fact is: when you hand him a book, sometimes he looks at the words and pictures.
But most of the time he just sticks it in his mouth.
But there are a few authors who seem to get babies, and if you’re looking for a great new-mom gift (or just something to entertain your kiddo for a few extra seconds), here are two authors I particularly recommend.
Sandra Boynton: Sandra has become a household name for us, and her celebrity status is incredibly well-deserved. I can’t even tell you how many hours we’ve spent reading and reciting her books to Bear: hands down, she is his favorite, bar none. Her books are simple, and they teach skills like counting, colors and animals — and yet they’re also fun, with twist endings and little personalities for each of the characters. My favorite, which Bear is perusing in the photo above, is Birthday Monsters — so if you have a kiddo with a big day coming up, this would be a terrific gift!
Eric Hill: I confess, our copy of Where’s Spot is a particularly special one — it’s the tattered, much-loved copy that I had as a kid. My mom saved it for somewhere close to three decades, and shipped it to me last winter, before our baby arrived. Bear loves this book and I do too — there’s something so sweet about seeing the pages that my mom taped together after my sister and I loved that book to tatters, and then letting my son have the same experience.
We also have a lot of tried-and-true favorites: The Giving Tree, The Little Engine That Could, and (of course!) Where the Wild Things Are. But more so than any book itself, the best part is sitting with our son and showing him new ideas, stories, and pictures, and helping him make them his own. So if you can, take a few minutes out of your day to read your child a bedtime story (or a morning, or afternoon story — whatever works for you!) and help them develop a love of reading and learning that they will have for their whole lives.