This has been a year of making new traditions, with Annabelle finally old enough to get excited and to help with the making and executing of plans for our family shenanigans. Everything we did in her first two years has been taken to the next level, and it really adds to the magic and wonder of it all. It has also been a year of thinking and evaluating traditions as we determine what we want to focus on in our celebrations and how.
Being culturally American, I always celebrated Christmas, but I don’t have many memories of specific traditions associated exclusively with it that I’m compelled to carry on with my own children. We did gifts, sure, but for the most part I look back and feel a bit bummed at the sense of entitlement I felt to those gifts. Not only did I have a long list of requests, but I honed my negotiation skills as I convinced grandparents to combine their birthday and holiday budgets to get me the big ticket items I knew cost more than the amount they spent on each of us for Christmas. We also believed in Santa, though I’m not really sure why, because none of the gifts under our tree were credited to him, and I knew that mom had selected each of our stocking stuffers. As the most deeply religious one of the bunch, a few times I all but forced my family into sitting around the living room on Christmas Eve to listen to the Biblical story of Jesus’ birth, but that one never did stick either. The one thing I do remember is having extra time to be with family, and that’s the one thing I still appreciate deeply today. Continue reading
The one thing I missed dearly during our family’s island beginnings was the physical evidence of the changing seasons. I have gushed plenty about autumn this year, but it has long been my favorite season. I have always been terrible about getting up early in the mornings, but when I was teaching, I made a point of it during the first few weeks of school each year, so that I could take my time and walk instead of driving or biking to work. I savored these walks, especially in Colorado where winter comes early. I was never huge on Halloween, but I loved the sights and the smell of the season. Later on, I started a small Spanish program for preschoolers and, after exploring culture with them, became enamored with the Day of the Dead, which gave me yet another reason to appreciate this time of year.
Because there was no such thing as autumn on Guam, this is the first year I have been able to really celebrate since we’ve had children, and I enjoyed it even more than I would have expected. I wanted to list all of our new fall traditions while they’re fresh in my mind, and I’d love to hear what yours are, too. I’m looking forward to adding to these in the years to come! Continue reading
… even if there is no such thing as winter here at 14 degrees north of the equator.
When I was teaching, I always loved the first day back to school after Thanksgiving. We teachers would have put away any and all fall related work and decorated the classroom to correspond with the season. It was such fun to see the awe and excitement on the children’s faces when they arrived to see their classroom transformed.
Now that Annabelle is a bit older, I was able to do something similar with our home. On the day after Thanksgiving, I put her to bed and then busily went about the decorating, putting up the tree, switching out the books in her baskets, and changing out the activities on her shelves. I had far more fun than you can imagine, giggling with excitement all the way as my husband sat and wondered what he had gotten himself into. Below are a few photos to show what Annabelle has been working on since winter arrived in our house. Continue reading
After reading my bloggy friend Jessica’s enthusiastic plans to host a pumpkin themed toddler Halloween party, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I pushed my nerves aside, and decided to throw a party for the toddlers and moms who attend the weekly play group I organize. Generally, we meet at different parks around the island to give the children a chance to run and enjoy some fresh air, but it is the rainy season, so I thought I would invite everyone to our house to eliminate the need for a contingency plan. Our party was on Friday, and I was thrilled that almost everyone we invited was able to make it. On an average Friday, we have no more than half a dozen moms at play group, but we had eleven moms at the pumpkin party. It was a bit chaotic, but it was tons of fun and totally worth it.
My goal was to make sure that everything was edible and safe to explore. I also wanted to offer a few different things to do so that the toddlers could choose whatever appealed to them. There was no schedule of events – I just set up the activities and the food in advance so that the kids could lead the way. We did: Continue reading