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Thursday, December 22, 2016

10 things I got RIGHT as a mom

Mom2MomEd Blog: 10 things I got RIGHT as a mom
Let's face it, this whole mothering thing is HARD work! It's so easy to feel like we've made mistakes and messed up (as I wrote about HERE), but you know what?

For all the mistakes and regrets, there is so much more that we get right!

Although I never grew up wanting to be a mom--my life plan from a young age was to be a single, carefree, childless woman of the world, working in Emergency Medicine and to travel when not working--being a mom has turned out to be the BEST thing I have ever done. Truly the best. I wouldn't want to undo this aspect of my life for anything.

My son is my world.
My son is my life.
My son is simply wonderful.

It has been a a wonderful gift to be my son's parent, and I hope you feel the same about your own children. 

Here are 10 things I feel like I got RIGHT as a mom:

1.  I hugged him A LOT.
As noted in THIS post, I am committed to hugging my son with the single rule that I hold on until HE lets go. I started doing this about 15 years ago, when my son was three years old. These hugs fill us with a sense of connection, and I think the hugs fill my son with a sense of safety and belonging.

I actually still hug him a lot...even when he doesn't want me to do so.

My son may be 18 years old, but he still needs his mama and this mama still needs her son. I don't plan to stop hugging him anytime soon, and he seems to be OK with that most of the time, often coming up and giving me hugs for no real reason other than that he wants to. 

2.  I played with him a lot
After I left my son's dad and got us out of that toxic environment, I made it a point to play with my son as often as I could muster the time and energy. We might play together for only 10 minutes or a few hours, but the point wasn't how long we played together, but rather that I was fully in the moment with my son. I also made it a point that we spent that time playing whatever my son wanted to play. Some of our favorite activities together were (and, actually still are):
  • building with Legos
  • drawing
  • having a doodle war (more on that in another post)
  • kicking around a soccer ball
  • taking a nature hike or river walk
  • going for a bike ride
  • reading together (especially Read-a-palooza style--read about it HERE)
I wish I could say I played with my son every single day--one of my regrets is that I didn't--but I did the best I could and I know I played with him and gave him my undivided attention a whole lot more than some other parents I have encountered.

My son still asks me to play with him, but now it is mostly video games. 

3.  I gave him adventure
Although some of our adventures were huge (moving cross-country TWICE), others were more modest but still adventurous compared to how many of our friends live their lives. We made regular outings to the local nature areas in our town, accessing them in many different areas to have multiple different experiences, and we toured a lot of different museums, landmarks, and other places of interest too. At one point, we took to letterboxing, an activity where you follow clues to find a hidden log book in which you leave a mark (usually an inked stamp mark). Letterboxing took us all over our city! You can google letterboxing, but I'll be sure to come back to it in a future post!

4.  I made him order for himself at restaurants
When I was a kid, I hated it when my dad made me place orders for myself, ask sales clerks questions I might have, and so on. I hated having to speak up for myself--I'm not just an introvert, but I also tend to be incredibly shy. 

My son is the same way.

I started making my son order for himself and ask questions at an incredibly early age. If you can't talk to someone just to order a meal, you are going to have a really hard time getting along in the world! My son is flying alone for the first time next week, and I know he'll be able to ask for help, if he needs it, because I laid the groundwork early.   

5.  I made him write thank you notes
Do you like to be acknowledged when you do something nice for someone else? Me too. My grandparents were HUGE on thank you notes and I started writing them as soon as I could write...as soon as I could hold a pencil and form letters. I started my son doing the same. Initially he required a lot of guidance, but now writes thank you notes entirely on his own--even for things he didn't want or doesn't like (see McKenzie's great post on teaching children about gratitude HERE).

6.  I prioritized reading and literacy over technology
As early as my son's first week of life, I began reading to him. I read everything from children's books to my college textbooks to my son. If it had words and was worth our time and energy, I read it to him. My son quickly picked up on reading himself and before long we were reading together. You can read a lot more about our reading experiences and tips and tricks to build a family of readers HERE.

Although my son had access to computers and technology at a young age, I made sure we read books every night at bedtime, had books all over the house (even in the bathroom) and in the car, and so on. We still both frequently take books with us when we leave the house. In fact, my son is traveling to New York City next week and every time we travel more than an hour from home, I buy a new book for each of us or check books out from the library.

Additionally, at my house if you claim to be bored, I am likely to hand you a pile of guess what???

BOOKS!


7.  Although I let him watch television from an early age, I implemented limits
As noted above, my son had access to technology early on. This included television. However, I did place limits on his television viewing. This included such things as no television during meals or snacks, limiting content that I deemed to mature, and strictly limiting violent content. Whenever possible, I encouraged reading instead of viewing. I believe this eventually helped my son to make better informed decisions about what was worth watching.

In fact, although I started talking to my son about ratings and such regarding video games, the practice of monitoring his television and movie viewing had a large part in his development of critical thinking skills, particularly in regard to media messages such as in commercials and other forms of advertising. Given the recent abundance of "false news" on Facebook and other social media, these early precautions have proven invaluable. Read more about teaching critical thinking with regard to media HERE.

8.  I was honest (but age appropriate) when he had questions about s-e-x.
At some point, all kids become curious about where they came from. That, of course, leads into conversations about sex... And, even if your kids don't necessarily have questions specifically about sex, they will hear about it at some point from their peers or from television or movies or the internet.

Your kids WILL be exposed to sex before they are ready...

Think about it--when was the last time you watched prime time television and didn't hear at least a vague reference to sex, if not an all out explicit mention or discussion about it? Commercials and advertising are filled with sexual content.

While you don't have to give your children the whole scoop on sex until they are older, it can be beneficial to make sure they understand some basics from a young age. In particular, they should know the basics of how their own body works and that mommies and daddies have different body parts.

My son's dad did a terrible job of talking to our son and gave him all kinds of misinformation. Thankfully, my son was savvy enough to figure that out and one day said to me, "Mom, I think daddy told me some things wrong about sex. Can you tell me the right stuff?"

A great way to start off any such conversation is to ask your child what they already know or think and go from there. I did just that and asked my son what his dad had told him. We went piece by piece through what his dad had said, and we talked about each item and the truth about each. I then went just a step further.

I believe in telling your child as much as they are comfortable with and then just a tiny bit more. You don't want to gross out or disgust your child, but you do want to make sure they are properly informed and not relying on media or friends for information.

And, above all, make sure your child has information to help keep him or herself safe when it comes to stranger danger, improper touching, and using protection if and/or when they have sex (hopefully not until they are 40 years old, right???). I also believe in talking to kids about the realities of sex and how it is a responsibility to be taken seriously--Personally, I told my son, "If you aren't ready to have and take care of a child on your own, you aren't ready to be having sex."

9.  I was OK with saying NO (a lot).
If you want to raise a spoiled brat that believes the world owes them everything and they shouldn't have to work or be responsible, that is your choice. However, I wanted to ensure that my son was able to be a responsible, functioning member of society, capable of taking care of himself. I believe saying NO plays a big role in that!

Your kids don't need every single toy they want. They don't need every cereal in the row at the grocery store. They don't need to go to every single movie, have every single video game, or to stay up late.

It's OK to say NO. And, to say NO a lot.

Your children rely on you to enforce limits and boundaries. It is part of how they form their views of the world and their place in it. Saying no to your child also helps them learn to deal with rejection which they will have a lot of when they get old--rejection from playmates, from love interests, from jobs, and so much more.

If you don't say no often enough, your children will turn out to be spoiled brats. 

10.  I got us OUT of an abusive situation.
The absolute most important thing I got right as a mom was to leave an abusive situation. My son's dad was, unfortunately, an abusive person. He was primarily verbally, mentally, and emotionally abusive, but he also had started to physical lash out at my son in the couple of months before I left. Thankfully, my son doesn't remember a lot of that and I got us out before the damage and abuse were worse. 

I am sure there are other things I got right as a mom, and many more that I will get right in the future. There are probably a whole lot of mistakes that I've made beyond the ones in THIS post, but overall, I think I'm doing a pretty good job as a parent.

What about you? What are you doing right as a parent? What advice would you give to other moms and dads or parents-to-be on how to do a good job of raising their children? Post a comment and let us know!
Want to ramp up your parenting mojo? If nothing else, read THIS book! I read it when my son was three years old, and it changed everything about our relationship: 
http://amzn.to/2iQMjVB
Like this post? Check out these additional articles:
http://mom2momed.blogspot.com.ar/2016/11/how-real-moms-get-it-all-done.html

http://mom2momed.blogspot.com.ar/2016/11/15-ways-to-have-low-or-no-tech-family.html

http://mom2momed.blogspot.com.ar/2016/12/5-unexpected-things-I-am-grateful-for.html
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Teaching kids to be grateful--is it possible?

Mom2MomEd Blog: Teaching your kids gratitude--is it possible?
Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to teach young children (and older ones too) how to be grateful. I know they are sponges and are always soaking up their environment, so if we model how to be grateful they should pick it right up, right?

NO.

Not only will they not necessarily pick up how to be grateful, but they will also embarrass you at the most inopportune times with how ungrateful they actually are!

We happen to have two kids who have birthday's almost immediately after Christmas. My son's just so happens to be 10 days after. Yes, 10 days. I have a summer birthday and always thought it was awesome to receive gifts throughout the year.

My kids, however, pretty feel like they get gifts, gifts, and more gifts once per year and then, what? No more gifts?


Waaaaaa!

Not only is there a TON  of kid stuff flying in and out of here, especially with Christmas followed by two birthdays, but we also are bound to have duplicate gifts some point. This is why I've made sure my kids understand: It's the thought that counts.

If someone gives you something that they think you will enjoy you say, "Thank you."

That is all.
You don't add a "But...." or an "I wish..." or an "I already have...."  

You just say, "Thank you."

This is a big time pet peeve of mine.

I went to a birthday party when Hank was a baby, and the child opening the gifts got two of the same things. Instead of saying thank you, there were full on tears and meltdowns because everyone should know that they were going to get a duplicate. The parent coddled the child, the child continued to cry, and I'm sure the gift givers felt bad. I felt annoyed, personally, and I vowed to make sure that my child would NEVER act like that. (I've learned now to never say never because our children are all bound to embarrass us at some point).

As early as it was feasibly possible, my husband and I started practicing being grateful with our kids. I know that modeling behavior is beneficial, but role playing is my go to when teaching my kids how to act in certain situations.

I mean, practice makes perfect, right???

I remember wrapping up toys that my son already owned and having him open them. Inside of some packages were his favorite toys, but others had items like a baby spoon or junk mail--things he wasn't interested in.

My son opened each packaged and then practiced saying, "Thank you so much! I love it."  We also practiced saying thank you if you get a duplicate gift and just setting it aside with the knowledge that I would help him to exchange the duplicate for something else later.

Now, with my daughter, she has not only her parents to model gratitude and grace for her, but also her brother.

While my kids are far from perfect, (and do say the wrong things at the worst possible times) I can honestly say that receiving gifts has been something that they have graciously done so far. I know that they get overly excited, can't wait to open presents, and can also give me a list a mile long of all of the things they "want", but over the last few years, they have learned to be appreciative of someone giving them gifts, even things they weren't that into.

In fact, this morning, my little guy looked at me and said, "You know what I'm most excited about this Christmas, Mom? It's spending time with my family."

Cue proud mommy moment and waterworks!  Whew!

While I have made a ton of parenting mistakes, yelled too many times at my kids, lost my mind, and tried to hide alone in the bathroom, I have also apparently done something right.

'Tis the season of chaos and gifts. You can't really get around it.

I'm challenging you to step back and think of one thing you've done right with or for your children this holiday season......and pat yourself on the back for that job well done!

What are some parenting things that you are most proud of? Do you have a parenting pet peeve, like I do, that really gets under your skin?  Share your experiences in the comments!

Did you love this post? Check out these additional articles:
 
 
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Make the spirit of giving a year-round affair

Mom2MomEd Blog: Get into the spirit of giving in 2017
Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is only 11 days away as I write this. Typically at this time of year, people are asked to donate food, coats, blankets, and other items to those in need. This post is no exception...

Although I am devoted to Mom2MomEd and the work I am doing with McKenzie, I have to tell you that my day job is also a true passion. I work in emergency medicine and at a community-based urban hospital that serves a HUGE homeless population in addition to regular city residents. I see people in need all day, every day at my job.

Many of the homeless that I see have serious mental health and substance abuse issues, but I also see many that are hardworking, stand-up citizens who have run into the worst luck of their lives and are struggling to get upright again.

Regardless of the reasons for their struggles, these are people in need, and sometimes a little bit can go a long way. 

Most are in need of things you and I take for granted every day. Look around you--when was the last time you really thought about how much your toothbrush and toothpaste or a blanket or a clean pair of socks actually impacts your life? For the people served by my hospital these are HUGE.

I want to encourage you to donate a few extra items this month in the spirit of the giving season, but then I want to challenge you further to donate a full grocery bag of food, hygiene products, or other items to the needy EVERY month in 2017. 

Will you join me in this endeavor?


Before I get into specific items, here are a few things to consider when deciding what and where to make your donations:
  • For canned items, those with a pop top (that don't require a can opener) are ideal.
  • When possible avoid glass jars and bottles as they break more easily and can lead to injuries if they break.
  • Ask if your food bank needs grocery bags or boxes (people need something to carry home their items).
  • If you have fruit trees or a vegetable garden, ask if your food bank or pantry can accept produce--some can.
  • If you have a farm or butcher animals, ask if a homeless shelter or food bank can take meat--my uncle just had a cow butchered and was able to donate pretty much all of the meat to a homeless shelter.
  • Give your local food bank money or grocery store cards. They often don't have the funds to cover many of their costs. 
  • Donate foods you would actually want to eat and products you would actually want or need to use--no one wants that can of weird vegetables you bought on a whim 10 years ago and never got around too because it's too odd.

And, here are some specific product donation ideas based on my own experiences with those in need locally, from my experiences teaching and tutoring students in need, and from researching what food banks and shelters have on their wish lists:

PROTEIN
canned tuna (in water)
canned chicken (in water or own juices)
canned beans
peanut, nut, sunflower seed butters
canned, jarred, or bagged nuts

CANNED FOODS
soup, stew, chili (my local Dollar Tree often has LOTS of this and often pop-top cans)
canned meats or fish (see protein above)
low sodium canned vegetables
canned fruit (preferably in their own juice and not syrup, but NOT pineapple or anything weird)

HOLIDAY FOODS
canned cranberries or sauce
boxed stuffing mix
canned green beans
canned sweet potatoes or yams
marshmallows

BABY ITEMS
diapers and wipes
diaper rash ointment
Pull-Ups
canned formula
boxed baby cereal
boxed teething biscuits
jarred baby food
Pediasure and Pedialyte

KID FRIENDLY ITEMS
granola bars
fruit snacks
juice boxes or pouches (100% juice)
shelf-stable milk boxes, incl soy or almond milk alternatives
mac-and-cheese
snack cracker packs
pudding or Jell-O cups
unsweetened applesauce (cinnamon is great, but look for all natural, unsweetened varieties)
boxes of crackers
snack pack/size crackers and chips

PANTRY ITEMS
salt and pepper
seasonings, spices, seasoning mixes
jars and bottles of mustard, mayo, ketchup, etc
olive or canola oil
salt/pepper
low-sugar, whole grain cereals
oatmeal
packaged pasta
pasta sauce
packaged or instant rice
microwavable popcorn
boxed meals that require ONLY water to make
ground coffee and tea

HYGIENE ITEMS
single rolls and larger packages of toilet paper (in package...not just rolls from packages you bought for you own household)
toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss
deodorant
bar soap
basic shampoo and conditioner
menstrual pads and panty liners (tampons are useful, but pads are more easily changed and can be used for more than just a period)
disposable razors and shaving lotion/cream
chapstick or lip balm

OTHER ITEMS
underwear for all members of family
socks
blankets
coats/jackets
school supplies
small "mess kits" with a basic cooking pot, cup, plate, and utensil set for one person (for example, for a newly homeless person)
sleeping bags
scarves, gloves, and winter hats
dog and cat food
dog poop bags

PLEASE DON'T DONATE:
boxed cake, cookie, brownie, etc mixes
alcohol
soda
candy

What are YOU committed to doing for those in need in 2017? 

Personally, I have made it my goal to donate:
  • 24 FULL bags of groceries (2 per month)
  • 48 toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes (4 each per month)
  • 48 packages of menstrual pads and liners (4 each per month)
  • 24 books (2 per month)

McKenzie has committed to donating:
  • 12 FULL bags of books and toys (1 per month)
  • 48 self care items (4 per month)
  • Blankets and towels for her local animal shelter
  • Doing good deeds in her neighborhood

But, I hope to add lots of socks, several coats, and many packages of diapers and dog food too. Check back throughout the year to see our donations pile up and share yours as well!

Comment and let us know what YOU will commit to donating or doing for your local community in 2017!
Love this post? Check out these additional articles:
http://mom2momed.blogspot.com/2016/12/5-unexpected-things-I-am-grateful-for.html



http://mom2momed.blogspot.com/2016/11/how-real-moms-get-it-all-done.html

And, while you are in the spirit of giving, get into the gratitude attitude as well! We've created a simple, one sentence gratitude journal, available in three colors, for you to create a simple daily gratitude practice. Just write down one sentence every evening or morning about what you are grateful for that day! Keep it up for a month and then read it over whenever you are feeling down. Get yours in our Etsy shop HERE or click on the image:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/mom2momed?search_query=gratitude

Sunday, December 11, 2016

5 Unexpected things I'm grateful for as a mom and wife

Mom2MomEd Blog:  5 Unexpected things I'm grateful for as a mom and wife
Tis the season to be thankful, full of love, and surrounded by family more than ever! 

I love scrolling through social media and seeing everyone's beaming faces and happy families! I also love hearing about your adventures, seeing your kids grow up, and watching you precariously place your Elf on the Shelf in the craziest of places.

I also know that, despite your smiles, you are tired too. Your house isn't always as pretty as it was in that Pinterest perfect moment, and maybe that's why you took a second to snap the picture.

I know that you are up late with your kids when they have school functions and then up early the next day to get them back to school.
I know that you don't have enough time for yourself because you give all of yourself every single day without fail to your family and friends.

I know you....because I too am doing the same.

Lately, I have been thinking about all of things that I have to be thankful for in my life, and this year they feel a little different. My family has undergone some major transformations this year.

We're different.

We're in school, we're growing up, we're changing jobs, dealing with health issues, getting more organized, and yet barely holding it together at times.

It's funny how those times when it seems like the tides are turning are also the times that we learn the most about ourselves and what we really need.

While I'm thankful for my family and friends and my home, I also realized how important and thankful I am for some more unexpected parts of my life.

Here are 5 of the unconventional things that I am most thankful for this year:

1. Random acts of kindness--doing them and being on the receiving end.
I must have been sending out some signals to the coffee gods because on two occasions, almost back-to-back, I was sitting in the drive thru of Starbucks, prepared to pay for my drink, only to find out that the the person ahead of me had already paid for my coffee (AKA: mom-fuel!). Those two moments happened to be on days that I really needed my coffee and a mental pick me up. They were perfect and made me realize how much we're all connected and that a small, random act of kindness can really can make a difference in someone's day. Even better, I was able to pay it forward and treat the person behind me as well. I wonder how long the chain lasted...

2. A really good dryer.
Yep, you read that right. While I admittedly hate laundry, I am super duper grateful for my working dryer. I've never had a good one, and the last one we had needed to be kicked in a certain spot and jiggled just right to keep the heating element working properly. Finally, one day, it just gave out. I cannot even tell you how frustrating it was not having a dryer with two kids who love mud and a husband who wore a uniform to work every day--can you say constant laundry? Almost right away, we got a call that my parents' neighbors were getting rid of a perfectly good top of the line dryer and did we want it? The only reason they were getting rid of it was because their washer died and they wanted to make sure they had a matching set. Score! It makes a huge difference when you actually have a working dryer!

3. Rainy days.
Not only do we need the rain here in California, but I love how it sort of forces you to stop and take a breather. I love days where we can stay in our pajamas, watch movies, read, and drink hot chocolate. Those lazy days are about so much more than just relaxing or getting out of other responsibilities. They allow me to refocus on hobbies and interests I often don't have time for (like reading) and to spend more focused time with my family since we are all cooped up inside together.

4. My bullmastiff.
I am a dog lover and have strong feelings about how owners should treat their pets--your pets are just like members of your family. Our bullmastiff has been the best dog we could have ever hoped for when it comes to our kids. He also got me through a very hard time when I lost my first fur baby, and he has been by my side as I brought both of my human babies home from the hospital. He's gotten up with me every night when I had to feed and change them. He's been on both of their first walks, first bike rides, first hikes, and first camping trips. He lays in bed with me when my husband is out of town and keeps me company. All of the looks and comments I get about having a 150-pound dog just make me laugh. He is such a baby and couldn't be any more special to our family.

5. The internet.
I know, how could we live without it? You wouldn't be reading this blog right now if it weren't for the internet. I am thankful for it because of the information that is always at my fingertips. My kids wanted to make caramel corn the other day and boom......I found a recipe. We look up all kinds of things, including how to draw animals, videos of people taking care of lizards, craft ideas, and so on. I am still amazed at how awesome the internet is! I didn't grow up with a computer in my house, and when my parents finally did get one, no one really knew how to use it. The difference between technology when I was growing up and technology available to my children is simply amazing!

What are some unexpected or unconventional things that you are thankful for? Share in a comment and let us know!
Did you enjoy this post? Check out these additional great articles:
http://mom2momed.blogspot.com/2016/07/parenting-my-spirited-child-can-you.html

http://mom2momed.blogspot.com/2016/07/5-self-care-ideas-for-busy-moms.html

http://mom2momed.blogspot.com/2016/11/20-ways-to-treat-your-fellow-moms.html

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Single mom of an only child Christmas traditions

Mom2Mom Ed Blog: Single mom & only child holiday traditions
Being a single mom is both the most wonderful and the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. 

I love the freedom of not having to run my thoughts and ideas by anyone else and of being in charge of every decision on my own. I love how close my son and I are. I love how easy it is to basically just do whatever we want without worrying too much about too many other people.

I don't love not having anyone to lean on when times are tough or when I need a counterbalance in my parenting. I don't love having to make every HARD decision on my own. I don't love not having all the same family traditions I grew up with around the holidays.

As a single mom to an only child, I've found that our holiday traditions have changed a lot over the years, but over the last few years, we've found an easy holiday rhythm to our lives--however, this year will be a lot different...more on that later...

Santa still visits
First and foremost, my son has always gotten a stocking full of goodies from Santa--we have an "if you say you believe, then Santa will come! The second you say you don't believe, Santa stops!" agreement. My son was allowed to tell me ONCE and ONLY ONCE his true thoughts on Santa if he wanted the stocking tradition to continue. So far, at 18, he has stuck by that and still gets a stocking every single year!

I love helping out Santa!

However, WHEN my son gets his stocking and HOW he gets it have changed dramatically since he was a young tyke! For the past six years, we have not had a fireplace and we also have both given in to our night owl tendencies (McKenzie's kids are committed early worms!).

So, over the last few years, instead of getting his stocking, stuffed full of goodies, from the fireplace mantel on Christmas morning, as was the tradition when I was a child, my son has to search the house for his treats! 

Santa, ahem, leaves the stocking and treats all in one place, but hidden away. 

And, they can only be found AFTER midnight so that it is already Christmas!

A Charlie Brown Christmas
After the stocking has been found, we gather 'round the laptop to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas--it's a classic that I grew up with and now my son has grown up with it too! When my son was younger, we watched this classic ever year, but not on a particular timetable. For the past six years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a firm date at about 1230am on Christmas morning!

JP gathers his stocking and treats from Santa, I make hot chocolate, and we eat candy and watch the video while cuddled up together and with our dogs, all under a pile of blankets on the floor.

One Christmas gift at midnight
My son also gets to open one Christmas present of MY choosing between finding his stocking from Santa and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. This really came about because he would beg and beg and beg to open his presents early! I finally caved and let him open ONE and ONLY ONE early, but only if I chose it. 

Holding off on the "big" present
I have always gotten my son one large present (whether in size or price or level of want) and several smaller items. I purposely get to chose the present that is opened early because I don't want him to find the one big one and then be let down by all of the others. 

In fact, I usually hide the "big" present and he gets to open it LAST, after we've had Christmas day brunch.

By holding out on the "big" present, my son is allowed to enjoy his other gifts and Santa treats and to appreciate them and our time spent together before he gets the awe-inspiring gift. Last year the big gift was a Wacom Bamboo digital tablet. A few years earlier it was a HUGE Nerf dart gun that he'd been begging for over the prior two years!

Christmas day brunch and lounging
We don't get up early ever if we can avoid it, and Christmas day is no exception. After watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, we both eventually drift off to our beds and fall asleep, waking in the morning at whatever time we happen to rise. But, even last year, my son was still up early and ready to open presents! 

Eventually, we both get up and open most of our presents and I put together a big brunch of bacon, ham, eggs, and FTWP (french-toast-waffled-pancakes...I'll explain in a future post!). I rarely ever make bacon, and FTWP is a multi-step, messy process reserved for special occasions, so this is definitely a brunch that is more in the traditional holiday meal category rather than an every day or even every weekend meal.

The rest of the day, we basically lounge around, enjoying our new goodies (I usually have a few new books and some new pajamas or a new throw blanket) and we relax and play board games too. 

Our single mom to an only child Christmas traditions have resulted in some of my absolute favorite memories over the past six years and it will be hard to do something dramatically different this year--hard for both of us.

This year, we are both going on big adventures, but not together. To be totally honest, I'm a little heartbroken to be apart over Christmas, but unless I find $6,000 (or more) out of the blue in the next two days and with no strings attached, that's how it will be. 

This year, my son will be going to New York City to visit some of our very best friends while I travel with my uncle to Argentina to deal with some business relating to my uncle's estate (my uncle was diagnosed with brain cancer just 3 months ago and is putting his affairs in order, including real estate overseas). Because my uncle doesn't celebrate Christmas and isn't a parent, I don't think he realized what a big deal it was that he booked our trip over the Christmas holiday. Since I can't afford to buy my son a ticket to Argentina, even with the generosity of others, we are taking separate trips and will have to figure out some new traditions for this year. Any suggestions?

Are you a single parent? If so, what holiday traditions do you follow with your kids? Have those traditions evolved over time?
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