I’m NOT A Stepmom

By Neysa Ellery Taylor

I’m not a stepmom. I consider stepmoms to be women who married a man knowing that he had children from a previous relationship. That term doesn’t define me or my situation. My husband did not have kids with another woman before we were married. My husband had a set of twins with another woman while we were married. (Go ahead and re-read the sentence. I know it’s a lot to digest. Better? Ok, let’s continue…) Here’s the synopsis: My husband had an affair, she became pregnant with twins, we decided to continue on with our marriage, our family dynamic was redefined, praise God for restoration and renewal. I’m not trivializing the hard work that has been put in to get to this point, but this article is not about the past. Like I said, that’s the synopsis. So that brings me back to my original statement: I’m not a stepmom. I didn’t knowingly marry a man with kids therefore the term does not fit me.

So what do I call myself? I’m a mom-mom. Yep, I made that term up. What exactly is a mom-mom? A mom-mom loves you in spite of the conditions surrounding your conception. A mom-mom recognizes that adult mistakes do not define your existence. A mom-mom welcomes you into her home as her child. A mom-mom believes that the mental, physical, and emotional health of all of the children involved is most important. A mom-mom wants generational curses to stop with her. A mom-mom is a woman that every weekend expands her family from 2 kids to 4 without batting an eye. A mom-mom prays. A mom-mom loves. I’m a mom-mom.

Women ask me if it’s hard being a mom-mom. Honestly, the kid part is easy. Being a good mother is something that I pride myself on. So loving two more children was the easy part. The hard part is actually dealing the people that try to negate you as a parent. I anticipated problems with the mistress, because let’s be honest – this is not the Will, Jada, and Sheree show. But when some members of the family – the very people you expect to be in your corner – tried to negate me as a parent, I was angry. Actually, I was livid. But what I had to come to realize is that I had other titles that were much more important to me than being called a “niece.” The titles that matter the most to me are “mom,” “wife”, and now, “mom-mom.”

Neysa Ellery Taylor lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, Chris, and their 4 children – Asyen, Maya, Preston, and Patrick. An Emmy-Award winning journalist, she hopes to share her passion for marriage and God through her writing. You can read more of her work at www.myriadthatisme.blogspot.com.

10 Best and 10 Worst Places To Be A Mommy

What are the world’s best and worst places to be a mother? Save The Children.org realeased it’s 13th annual Mothers’ Index report which reveals “Best and Worst Places to Be a Mom” rankings.  This report compares 165 countries around the globe by looking at factors such as a mother’s health, education and economic status, as well as critical child indicators such as health and nutrition. This year, the United States ranks 25th.

 Factors contributing to the United States low ranking include a high maternal mortality rate – mothers face a 1 in 2,100 risk of maternal death, the highest of any industrialized country; a relatively high mortality rate for children under five for developed countries (8 deaths per 1,000 live births); one of the worst maternity leave policies of any wealthy nation (12 weeks of unpaid leave); less than stellar rates of preschool enrollment; and a disappointing number of women in national government (only 17 percent of U.S. congressional seats are held by women).
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9 Things Kids Of Divorced Parents Don’t Want To Admit

By Ms. N. Meridian

When things don’t work out between you and the person you married, you suffer internally, agonizing over a new life without each other, reminiscing about the way he once made you feel. Then, it hits you: what about your children? What happens to them?

For most, the custodial decision is practical. The children will stay with you, their mother, their nurturer, their care-giver. You are the one who kisses their feverish foreheads, who cleans up the vomit and tucks them into bed. Is Divorce Becoming a Luxury?

Beyond the financial aspects of your marriage and deciding who keeps the kids, not much is discussed, and many parents forget about the emotional turmoil their children suffer as a result of divorce. But it’s not just the parents who suffer from the failed union. Often, children of divorced couples undergo the mayhem in silence.

My parents got divorced, and so did I, and I also have a child. Here are several things I’ve learned from both of our experiences:

1. Kids feel responsible. Children may feel an overwhelming guilt about the relationship ending. Some children may feel that the marriage ended because of something they’ve said or done. Sadly, without a parent’s reassurance that the divorce had nothing to do with them or their actions, your children may harbor this and may begin to feel anxiety over losing the other parent as well.

2. Their behavior changes. Some children begin to act out in an effort to display distance from their new home life situation. To suddenly go from a secure two parent home to a one parent home can be devastating for some. For others, withdrawal seems best to avoid getting hurt further. Of course, the child who is suddenly uncomfortable in an alien environment may retreat to the safety of their fantasies, friends, school work, anything to keep from admitting that anything is wrong.

Some even act out because the only parent in their lives full-time becomes too distracted and overwhelmed by the situation and thus, avoids the children. As a result, the misbehaving children begin to hope that their new behavior will force their parents to pay attention to them. It may be the only way these children know how to cry out for help.

3. They feel a sense of loss. Losing a parent to divorce can be just as traumatic, in some cases, as losing a parent to death. Where some once seemed complacent, many may feel loss because the other parent is no longer in their lives full-time. In DK Simoneau’s book, We’re Having A Tuesday, Simoneau describes how children living with both parents, but not necessarily under the same roof, can find solutions that work for both the divorced parents and the children involved.

In the end, parents have to yet again, read between the lines, follow all the nonverbal cues their children are sending out in order to help resolve this matter. Sadly, feelings of loss may always be with your child, but there are tactics we as parents can employ to decrease these feelings over time.

4. They may resent you. Although most parents try to shield their child from the harmful effects of divorce, resentment creeps in, nonetheless. This is especially true when one parent seems to have moved on to another love, another life and eventually another family. Children can feel displaced, not knowing where, if at all, they fit into their absent parent’s life.

5. They hate when you fight. Believe it or not, your children love both of you. So bashing one, or denouncing the other isn’t showing the children you’re a hero. In their eyes, you’re making an already difficult situation unbearable. Besides, fighting will only give the absent parent a viable excuse not to visit or communicate with their children. And guess who will be the bad guy in that scenario? I can assure you, it won’t be dad.

6. They need you to listen. Getting anything more than a few words out of your children gets harder as they get older. So shut up and listen! If your child offers that rare moment for you to get into his/her world, take it. When your children ask to talk to you, oblige them. Although the last thing you want to do is relive the doomed relationship, if your children ask about dad, offer a few kinds whenever possible.

Yes, you’re still reeling from your new situation, your new debt, and the fact that you now have to start playing the field all over again. But that’s not your children’s concern. Recall a few of the good times you had together, as well as what went wrong. I’m not saying you should reopen old wounds in this case. On the contrary, keep your explanation to a minimum all while reassuring your children that the divorce had everything to do with you and your ex’s relationship, not them.

7. They aren’t adults. Your child has been through enough in regards to the divorce. So keeping a set of rules by which to live helps reestablish your child’s understanding that although you may have been thrown a curveball in life, you’’e still holding everything together. Even if you are crumbling internally, your children don’t want to know this. It only frightens them. Not to mention, your strength and flexibility shows them that they too can handle difficulties that arise in life.

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Letters to My Daughters – Part 5: Love

By Neysa Ellery Taylor

Dear Asyen and Maya,

Here it goes.. the boy talk.  I am sure you are thinking “what more can she say?  She already talks about this subject too much.”  (I bet Asyen is even rolling her eyes right now!)  But this is not about boys, this is about LOVE (and yes, there is a difference.)  I want you to know about love and finding a husband.

Well, I mis-spoke.  A husband should find you.  But I want you to be able to discern if the man that says he wants to marry you is really your husband.  And you can’t discuss marriage without first talking about love.  So let’s just jump right into it.

1.  Falling in like, lust, and a version of love is easy but staying in love is a choice.  Don’t let the butterflies in your stomach tell you that you are in love. That isn’t love.  That could be infatuation, lust, or gas.  But love is “I trust you with all of me and even when I don’t like you, can’t stand the sight of you, and want to walk away from you, I will choose to love you because hurting you hurts me.”  Until you get to this point in your relationship then you aren’t truly in love.

2.  Sex is great.  I am not going to lie and say “sex sucks” just to keep you from having sex.  Nope.  Not gonna do it.  Sex is AMAZING!  But let me explain it to you this way.  Imagine you are a trapeze artist in a circus.  You have climbed up the rope and you see your partner swinging toward you.  You are nervous and excited.  You reach out your hand and swing with your partner.  Now, if it is with the right person – a committed married relationship – you will keep swinging higher and higher.  You will turn tricks and flips because you trust that your partner will always catch you.  But if you are with the wrong partner, you will never get comfortable enough to let go and flip.  You will never find your rhythm and your partner can drop you.  And if your partner drops you, the effects can be emotionally devastating.

3.  You have to make sure that the man you marry has the following traits:
A.  He has to love God.  Your husband must love God and not be afraid to pray for and over you and the entire house.  Ask yourself this one question: “if I were dying, would I trust this man to pray over me?”  If the answer is “no,” then he isn’t your husband.

B.  You want a spouse that has vision  – both personally and collectively.  He has to have a plan and not be afraid to work the plan.

C.  You want a spouse that has a work ethic.  Will he work for the betterment of the household?  Can you trust him to hold down a job?

D.  You want a spouse that can balance a budget.  Can you work together and manage the finances?

E.  You want a spouse that you can have fun with.  Can you hang out with your spouse?  Can you giggle with your spouse?  Do you have fun together?  Do you like being around each other?

4.  Having standards is not the same as having a list.  Don’t be a woman that has a superficial list of traits that you want your spouse to have.  Things like “he has to be 6 ft tall and drive a Bentley” mean very little when they are 80 and in a hospital bed.  You can have standards – He must be honest, loving, kind – without being superficial.

5.  Don’t look for anything in a mate that you yourself don’t bring to the table.  I hate when people say “the man I marry must have a six pack and make at least $100-thousand” when they don’t make $20-thousand and are obese.  You want to be equally yoked.

6.  Finally – well, finally for tonight;  any love you are going to share with another person has to start with the love you have for yourself.  Love you.  Be complete by yourself.  The Word says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  It doesn’t say youwill be fearful and wonderful when you find Mr. Right.  It means that you right now by yourself are the bomb, or the jam, or whatever the hot word is when you read this.

Remember, I love more than you know!  (and my standard disclaimer: I have the option to add more later.)

Love you both,
~Mama

Neysa Ellery Taylor is an integral part of the writing team here at Blackloveandmarriage.com. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, Chris, and their 4 children – Asyen, Maya, Preston, and Patrick. An Emmy-Award winning journalist, she hopes to share her passion for marriage and God through her writing. You can read more of her work atMyriadthatisme.blogspot.com

It’s Time To Release Yourself From The Foolishness That Is…The SuperMom Syndrome

By Kathy Wilson

One of the top stressors for women today is what many are calling the “supermom syndrome”. Many of us are led by society today to believe that in order to be successful Moms, we have to do it all, and give all. Nonsense. We all want to do our best as Moms, as we should. But at some point, for our own mental health, our best has got to be good enough. Here are some great ideas to reduce the syndrome at your house.

 

It’s ok not to be perfect. Let me say that again. It’s ok, not to be perfect. I think many of us hold ourselves up to a level of perfection that merely hurts our ability to be a good Mom. So what if the living room isn’t clean on Monday nights?…you had bedtime stories to read. Who cares if you had to choose a work presentation over your childs field trip…you’ll go next time. Not allowing ourselves any slack simply causes more stress in our lives, and prevents us from savoring every precious moment of being a Mom. Lighten up. It’s ok not to be perfect!

 

Don’t buy into societies hype that in order to be a good parent, you must offer your child every experience under the stars. Over and over again, psychologists talk about the dangers of over scheduling our kids, but it seems few are listening. It is not healthy for your child to learn to be so busy that he/she never learns to be with and like himself, to dream, use his imagination, or just be bored! Limiting your family to one extracurricular activity per child will help reduce family stress both in time and money. Do not let society guilt you into doing more…after all, this is the same society rules that say its ok for our children to starve themselves to look like movie stars, or to play Nintendo for 12 hours straight. Is that what you want for your kids?

 

Make time for yourself. Make a rule that you will take 10, 20, even 30 minutes a day and shut out the world. Close the bedroom door, take a bath, take a walk…just have that time to yourself. You deserve it, and your family owes you that much. Do not feel guilty asking for it either! Tell the kids Mom is not to be disturbed unless someone is bleeding or something is on fire…then enforce the rule! Oprah says it well…if your cup is empty, how will you fill up the ones you love?

 

That being said, it is important to recognize your family as an essential part of your life. Stopping to smell the roses when it comes to your family will help you to keep your life in perspective, and therefore, reduce your daily stress. Make sure you take time for yourself, but also take time to spend with your family outside of the daily chores and running around. Let your children help you cook dinner, play cards together in the evening, take a walk around your neighborhood with your kids. Make sure you read to those little ones every night, and make sure you do those great voices with the characters! Laugh with your family, choose your battles wisely, and savor every moment of their precious childhood…before you know it, they will be tending their own families! (And won’t you feel good knowing what an example you were, cherishing your family as you do!)

 

Finally, make sure you remember who you are as a person. Not as Mom, or wife, or business associate, but as who you are. Cultivate old pastimes, and expand your world by developing new ones! Learn to play piano, paint, or to speak a different language. Read. Celebrate your spiritual life, and let yourself grow in the world that has been gifted to you.

 

It is time Moms stood up and made a stand…we don’t have to do it all to be good Moms. We already are good Moms, because we do our best. And that’s good enough.

 

Kathy Wilson is a columnist, author, and editor of The Stress Less Journal. For stress reducing inspiration visit her at StressLessJournal.com.

Beyonce’ Breastfeeding Drama – Are You O.K. With ‘Nursing In Public’ ?

By breastfeeding her seven-week-old at the table in a restaurant last week, Beyoncé unwittingly joined the growing ranks of “lactivists” taking a stand in support for nursing in public. These warrior women have pushed for legislation promoting breastfeeding and staged “nurse-ins” to promote tolerance. Facing off against them are those who believe nursing mothers should retreat to bathroom stalls or backrooms when feeding.

Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka and Jeanine Valrie, the co-founders and editors ofFreetoBreastfeed.com, are thrilled that Beyoncé, by openly breastfeeding little Blue, haspopularized discussions about nursing in public. Many have praised the singer, while others have condemned the idea that she engaged in NIP — the acronym for “nursing in public.”

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Facing My Fears About Motherhood

By Lana Moline

One of the things that I fear the most about motherhood is that my kids will have some of the same feelings I’ve had about my mother over the years.  She wasn’t as attentive as I wanted her to be at times.  She wasn’t available because of work commitments and sometimes she just flat out couldn’t relate and for that I was angry for a long, long time.  The old folk certainly knew what they were talking about when they said  “you live long enough, you will learn” because I have.  My oldest daughter is at an age where my crown doesn’t shine as bright to her and that’s the beginning of something huge.  From this point on, she will see the world through her own eyes and not from the throne of mommy.  That’s a little scary for me because I still very much desire to guide and show her everything.  While the time has come for me to entertain the thought of loosening the reigns of adolescence, I must now define and understand for myself what that means exactly.  For whatever reason, it was a little different with my son although I suspect my husband went through similar personal challenges in this regard.  We’ve reached a point where she fits my clothes and quite honestly, many of them look better on her.  She’s becoming a young woman before my eyes.

In my heart I think about down the line and I picture adult kids around the table with their spouses and kids but to actually watch as the transformation begins is surreal.  Our conversations these days are evolving and the answers that worked in the past just won’t do.  In fact, her questions have changed.  She’s deep and while she continues to amaze me, I find that now the challenge is truly mine to rise to the occasion to meet her changing needs.  This is probably the single most amazing journey – ushering in a relationship that I know will be lifelong.  Everything is important to me.  I don’t want to miss any of it although I know that I miss the mark sometimes.  I was probably too hard on my mother because it is really impossible to be all things to all people.  She is kind, compassionate, an excellent cook, a brilliant educator/teacher and an overall wonderful mother.  I know that now and I sincerely hope that my girls and my son for that matter will say the same about me.

I’ve asked myself time and time again what legacy I want to leave.  Yet the older I get, the more that changes for me.  I desire so much for them to truly live and enjoy whatever path they choose in life.  I believe in their success so I’m not so worried about specific career choices.  I don’t want them to be afraid to try something unique and I very much want them to find the thing that they are passionate about and give their all.  I want them to celebrate their wins each time and treat themselves to something frivolous just because.  It is important that they like who they are and at the end of the day their decisions line up with their own personal truths.  A relationship with God is a must yet I will never dictate the vehicle they choose because it is their choice to make.  I guess all in all I want them to smile, hold their heads high, pick themselves up when they fall, push themselves to reach success and enjoy every minute of it.  I don’t want to  paint the picture for them.  I suppose my picture of legacy is just a sketch of a solid foundation.  Prayerfully, my contribution is that ray of light that says “you can do anything.”

Lana Moline is an integral part of the Blackloveandmarriage.com writing team, freelance writer and poet who lives in Ft. Worth with her three kids and husband Emile. Married 11 years, both media professionals have vowed to maintain integrity in all aspects of print and broadcast journalism.Visit her atLana Moline Speaks.

How A Mama’s Creativity Brought Her Family Together

By Lana Moline

We just recently moved into a new house. As to be expected, everyone was thrilled. Since it was early in the school year, the kids thought it was cool to be in a new grade with a new house. So everyday, they attempted to make their space their own, and surprisingly that lasted for two whole weeks. Soon enough in addition to backpacks that seemed to linger on the couch and the tree full of paper on the dinning room table, clothes and the hangers began to accumulate on top of the unpacked boxes of books and toys in their rooms.

Initially I thought that I’d take it own as a project when they went to school and I would organize it all just like Martha Stewart does. Then a couple things dawned on me. First off, despite the sheer joy it brings me to wash, fold, hang and put away all their clothes, I was going in another direction. I decided to restrain myself. Secondly, I am not Martha Stewart. I am a wife and mother of a 13-year old basketball playing son, an 11-year old daughter who loves to sing and an adorable 6-year old daughter who I’ve watched spend hours playing with legos or drawing. There was absolutely no reason my brilliant team of 3 kids and my handsome husband could not join in.

But, I had to come up with a plan to compete against all the other absolute necessities in their lives like my son chatting obsessively on facebook with his friends and the constant giggling that comes with having two daughters. I just didn’t know what would grab them and then one day as everyone seemed to be hovered over some type of electronic device I created and sent an evite. This is how it read:

 

HOST: Lana Galvez (I gave myself a new last name for effect)

Where: The Moline Residence

When: Sunday, September 4, 2011

 

Welcome to your new home. There is nothing more exciting than adding the personal touch to your own space. As your host, I am immensely honored by the degree of confidence you’ve placed in my abilities. But now, I just want to make sure that I am on the right track. So I invite you to FINISH MOVING IN. Organize and clean your room. Hang up all of your clothes. Discard old clothes, toys and other items that you haven’t touched in year.

 

The hilarious thing with this approach is the immediate responses. My husband who I assure you has an MBA because I went to the graduation myself replied “aint no party like a moving in party cause a moving in party don’t stop!” My two daughters confirmed that they would attend. Yet, my son’s response read “unfortunately, I will be unable to attend.”

The morning of my party, I started breakfast and marched through the house singing my husband’s response and getting everyone out of bed. They didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. As we sat down, I explained that I did not want to stand in their way of learning how to become self-sufficient and that this was just me doing my job. Of course the dancing as I poured the juice was something else but by this time the best of Stevie Wonder was already blasting on the stereo. Half asleep yet entertained, they thought I’d lost my mind.

Eight hours later, when I examined their rooms, I was quite pleased with the results and much to my satisfaction, my son showed up for breakfast. To this day I still refer to him as “my special guest.”

 

Lana Moline is an integral part of the Blackloveandmarriage.com writing team, freelance writer and poet who lives in Ft. Worth with her three kids and husband Emile. Married 11 years, both media professionals have vowed to maintain integrity in all aspects of print and broadcast journalism.Visit her at Lana Moline Speaks.

“The One Who Loves Their Children Is Careful To Discipline Them”

By Neysa Ellery Taylor

 Proverbs 13:24
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”Most parents have heard the phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child.”
Many of us use the phrase as a justification for us spanking/whooping/beating our children. But have we ever read the entire verse in the Bible? The word that sticks out to me is “careful.” We have to be “careful to discipline them.” I think that care is something that is lost on most parents.
Think about it: you were trained for your job, you were trained to drive your car, but what did you do to train for becoming a parent. If you are like most folks that I know, that “training” involved a good time and a messed up form of birth control. Or if you were really advanced you attended a childbirth class. That’s great for getting a little person into the world but then what? Have you trained to handle a toddler? Have you trained to deal with a middle schooler? What about training to deal with a college student? Most folks would answer “no.” And that’s a problem.

The mere ability to reproduce does not make a person a good parent. Just because your mama was a good mama, doesn’t mean you will be a good parent. Being a good parent is innate in some folks. But what about the rest of the folks? Are they actively seeking training to become better parents?

I readily admit that I am not Dr. Spock or a child psychologist. But I am a scholar (normally, I am called a nerd). I believe in researching and trying different techniques to effectively parent my children. From reading articles on the web to checking out books at the library to talking to youth workers; I surround myself and my children with information to help us communicate better. Why? Because I love my children and want to be careful with the precious gifts that God has given me.

I want to make sure that nothing I say or do crushes any of their dreams. I want to make sure that they know that I love them, support them, believe in them. I want my children to come to me if they are ever in trouble. That doesn’t mean that they get a pass to act a fool, but it does mean that we will deal with it and I will still love them despite their misdeeds. I love my children enough to use care with them.

So take a moment a access your parenting skills. If you have a deficit in an area, work on improving it. Seek help at churches, youth groups, schools, or grab a book from the library. Check yourself. If you can’t objectively judge your own actions, take a look at how your children treat each other. What you see may shock you. When I saw how my oldest child was speaking to my youngest, I had to check my own tongue… Now I make a conscious effort to speak life to not only correct misbehavior but to praise good behavior.

So use care when disciplining your child, but make sure it comes from a place of love.

Neysa Ellery Taylor is an integral part of the writing team here at Blackloveandmarriage.com. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, Chris, and their 4 children – Asyen, Maya, Preston, and Patrick. An Emmy-Award winning journalist, she hopes to share her passion for marriage and God through her writing. You can read more of her work atMyriadthatisme.blogspot.com.

New Year’s Eve Ideas For Families With Children, i.e., When You Can’t Go Out!

I can’t remember the last time my hubby and I went out to bring in the New Year. Our oldest is 10…so maybe 10+ years ago? There are some holidays that are just hella hard for parents to get out and celebrate and New Year’s is one of them. Why? Because everybody and their mama is celebrating in some way or another. They’ll either be at the club, having a wonderful diner in a nice restaurant, on their knees at church giving thanks and praise, or at IHOP at 2am having a early New Year’s Day breakfast. The bottom line? Ain’t nobody at home! Lol! So, families with young children have to get creative! That’s what we’ll be doing this year (but I just told my husband we’re going out next year!) 😉

Check out these Family Fun Ideas from Familyfun.com:

First Night

Celebrate NYE with a family friendly First Night. There are many cities across the country that now hold all-day festivals for entire families to enjoy. Many are alcohol free and celebrate the communities’ local culture.  Check out the First Night USA website to find one in your state.

New Year’s Eve Sleepover

Instead of the traditionally champagne-fueled party, why not hold one specifically for your kids and their friends? Get together with your parent friends and host a good old-fashioned slumber party. Eat tons of junk food, let the kids run wild, and stay up to watch the ball drop!

New Year’s Resolutions

Decide on family resolutions for next year. What would make your family stronger? Do you need to spend more time together? Can you make a commitment to whole-family health? Some ideas are to watch less TV, eat dinner together four nights a week, and spend weekends doing something physical. Group resolutions are more fun and easier to accomplish because you can hold each other accountable. One way to keep yourself and your family on track is to remember that it’s a process and that one slip-up doesn’t negate all the progress, so KEEP TRYING.

Day of Firsts

Spend the first day of the new year doing ONLY new things. Eat all new foods, wear new clothes, only go to new places, and take a new route there while you’re at it! Is there a road you’ve never been down? Is there a town nearby you’ve never visited? Use this new day and new year to experience anything and everything you can think of. I know I want to try some new foods because that’s one of my weird hangups. I’m picky and hard to please, so why not start off 2012 fixing that.

New Year’s Crafts

Make confetti balloons to pop just as the clock strikes TWELVE! Write a time capsule letter to document this year’s favorites and next year’s expectations. Read the letter next year on December 31st to see how close you were and to see how things have changed. You can also use this fun free printable wish-list to map out the coming year.

I’m looking forward to wrapping up this year and welcoming the new one with my family. I want to try out many of the things on this list, and save a few for when my kids are old enough to play along. What are you planning for your family?