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3 Holiday Anti-Traditions Your Family Will Love

It’s the holiday season, so something something and dum dum de dum, and don’t forget to put up the sock… Chimney… Santa.

I can’t remember the words. But if you really pay attention to any holiday song you will get a healthy dose of some of the universal Christmas traditions that are a part of most people’s holiday - seeing Santa, decorating a tree, driving around and looking at lights, etc.

Even though we do many things the same, we all have our own unique twist on holiday celebration.

When I was a kid my mom made us special pillowcases that we could only use on Christmas Eve to help us sleep. While that was mostly wishful thinking on her part - we didn’t sleep very much - it was a fun tradition. I still have my pillowcase and I still put it on my pillow on Christmas Eve.

But sometimes our traditions can get in the way of our holiday, whether they distract us from the true meaning of the season or take up all our time so we don’t get to enjoy it.

Here are a few anti-traditions that turn more conventional traditions on their heads and might be just what you need to breathe life into your holiday.

The Tradition: Christmas Dinner

With a turkey, eh! Mashed potatoes eh! And we we we are gonna have a good time.

Right? What better formula for holiday joyousness then a full stomach and a long winter’s nap.

Sadly it doesn’t work that way for everyone. Somebody has to make all the food and someone is going to have to do the dishes and clean up after it is all eaten. Add to that all the normal holiday pressures - relatives in town, an overcrowded house, last minute shopping - and your formula for joyousness has turned into one for ulcer inducing holiday stress.

If that sounds like you maybe it’s time to try an alternative.

The Anti-Tradition: Christmas Takeout

Sing fa ra ra ra ra all the way to the nearest Chinese restaurant and get some sweet and sour chicken in a box. Bring it home and have everyone sit around in comfy seats and stuff their faces while enjoying each others company.

Your kids will love it because they get to spend more time with you. You will love it because you don’t have to cook or clean up.

The Tradition: Buy Presents for the Kids

As an adult, half the magic of Christmas is lost for me because I already know most of the stuff I’m getting. I either picked it out myself or accidently found out what it was because I happened to check our bank statement or opened the wrong closet while looking for my favorite winter gloves that have been missing since last year.

Even though the joy of receiving is not what it once was, I still take a lot of pleasure in giving gifts. Seeing my son’s face light up after tearing open a present almost makes the other 364 days of whining worth it. Just kidding. Kids are great. Love you Henry.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, bringing the excitement back. Every kid loves Christmas because they get stuff. But most kids don’t really get into the giving.

Hmm. There must be a way to solve both of these problems at the same time.

The Anti-Tradition: Let Your Kids Buy You Presents

Give them a 10 or 20 dollar budget and send them off with Grandma and Grandpa, a friend, a neighbor, or some other responsible person. Don’t tell them what you want and give specific direction to your supervising adults to refrain from influencing them. Make sure that you aren’t around so they can sneak it into the house, wrap up their gift, and put it under the tree.

On Christmas day you will be genuinely surprised by whatever your child got for you. Your kids will love it because they get to experience some of the joy of giving. Plus they get the satisfaction of knowing that they picked it out all by themselves.

The Tradition: Go to the Movies

The Christmas holiday means big bucks for Hollywood because there is no better way to spend time with your family then sitting in a dark room not talking to each other. Okay, I’m being a little facetious.

When it comes to holiday movie going I’m as guilty as the rest. I’ll probably sneak out for a flick or two. But how much more fun would you have if you spent that time at home with the family doing something else.

The Anti-Tradition: Make a Movie

All you need is a smart phone with a decent battery and the ability to shoot and export video. Get all the family together and give yourselves some guidelines. Set a time limit for writing the script and a limit for the length of the video and then let the creative juices flow.

Your whole family will have a blast coming up with crazy ideas and testing out your acting skills. Once it’s all done, sit down with some Christmas popcorn and watch it together.

Not only will it bring you closer together as a family, it’s guaranteed to give you laughs for years to come.

So that’s it. Start something new and unusual this Christmas. Turn tradition on its head and get back to the true roots of the season.

What’s your anti-tradition?

Is there something that you do differently for the holidays? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Flickr

Good Parenting - Child's Safety

There comes a time when everyone feels helpless and lost. For me, that came when I realized I was going to be a new parent. Without making any conscience effort to change who I was I now became the very kind of guy I made fun of as a clueless outsider. I now felt over protective, I was already stressing myself out (and anyone unfortunate enough to be around me) about all the things I would do to have to make my child’s life perfect. At times I felt like I would make or break my son’s life if I chose to name him something girly like Grayson, or something awesome like LeBron.

It became very clear to me that above all else I wanted to make sure my kids are safe. I put on my super hero suit and vowed that I would protect my child from all the villains like Dr. Sharp Korner, and The Choke HaZERD.

Once I was realistic, I found that being a parent won’t be as scary and dangerous as I had concocted it out to be in my head. There are very simple things like making sure the furniture is secured and sturdy, and not leaving out anything that could be sharp or dangerous. There are some things that are clearly not made for kids, but at the same time there are companies that specifically cater their products towards young kids: Kid Friendly Toys, Modern Kids Furniture, and Gerber Baby Food, and Little Tykes.

children's safety village

Stressing was so overrated. The most comforting thing I’ve heard is your kid has no one else to compare parenting to, you are a hero in their eyes. Simply be responsible and avoid obvious dangerous situations and being a parent will be the best experience of your life!

 

Boys Room Ideas: 5 Things to Remember


Boys Room Ideas | Sprout

 

1. What are his hobbies?

The trick is discovering hobbies that are easy and fun to decorate a room around. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you try to figure out how to decorate. Does he like sports? Which sports does he like specifically? What are his favorite sports teams? Does he like camping and the outdoors? Does he like the ocean or sailing? Does he like fishing or ocean marine wildlife? Does he like airplanes and helicopters? Does he like cars, motorcycles or trucks? Does he like music? What types of music does he like? Does he like animals? What animals are his favorites? Does he like the military; e.g., army, navy, marines? Does he like outer space, spaceships, or any sci-fi type stuff?

2. What are his favorite colors?

After determining which hobby or hobbies to focus on next it is best to consider what his favorite colors are.

What color shade or pattern will you use?

Choosing what shade, pattern or style can be hard.  How you go about choosing this depends on what your primary focus. I will give you four criteria to consider as you make your decision

How neutral is the color?

You might not want to pick a strong color that may not be his favorite color anymore after a few months. If the color is a lighter shade or a shade of white it can go with almost any room design as your young man grows up and his tastes change.

Stripes say “I am a boy”.

Perhaps because as boys grow into men, they wear striped suits, shirts, and ties, stripes have taken on a masculine image. Whether or not that is true a room with stripes on the walls, bed, or pillows will help maintain masculinity.

     

 

 

How big is the room?

This may seem like an odd question to ask when considering what shade or pattern to use to color the room. However, there are some great techniques that can be used to make a room look bigger; i.e., painting  the lower walls on all sides. 

3. Is there adequate storage?

The last thing you want as a parent is a room that is constantly cluttered with toys, books, clothes, games, food, and heaven knows what else might be found on the floor of boys’ bedrooms. 

It is crucial that when creating, updating, or changing his room that he be involved in this process. Help him to pick a method of organizing that he likes. Most likely this will end up being some kind of cubby system with the colors or designs that he likes. Consider labeling with him what goes inside each cubby, or what goes on each shelf. Some sort of labeling will allow him to be more committed to the daily clean-up process. You are also enabling babysitters to have the kids to bed and the kids rooms cleaned when you get home.

    

4. How can you allow for flexibility as his interests change?

Remodeling an entire room can be a difficult and expensive process. However there are a few things you should consider to avoid drastic remodeling every few months.

As discussed previously, a more neutral room color is one thing to consider. If the walls are more neutral you can change the colors of other smaller, more inexpensive things as time goes on.

Consider changing the pillow cases, sheets, or comforter to alter the color, or theme of the room.

Consider changing the design or color of the cubby boxes.

Dangling inexpensive airplane models, footballs, basketballs, baseballs, animals, stars, or planets, are easy things to switch out as his preferences change.

5. Tight on space? Or sharing a room?

Consider pushing beds against walls to create more space in the middle for activities, toys, games, wrestling matches, etc.

Consider beds that are elevated to allow for storage under the bed. Even if the bed is not elevated, under-the-bed storage is always a good idea.

  

Summary

Make sure to consult with your youngster first, make sure you’re prepare for changes in his preference, and be aware of opportunities to stay organized and save space. Most of the time girls get the spotlight when it comes designing rooms. Who is to say you cannot have just as much fun, if not more,  designing your young man’s room? You will see there are so many different options for boys rooms. My biggest recommendation is to have fun consulting with your young man to design a room that he will love, and will be able to keep clean!

 

For more great ideas visit:

http://www.bhg.com/rooms/kids-rooms/boys/bedrooms-just-for-boys/#page=3

5 Reasons Easy Assembly is the Future of Furniture

Easy Assembly | Tool Less Assembly | Sprout

My wife and I moved our family two weeks ago. With our two little boys it was quite the ordeal. We had to find someone to watch them as my wife and I boxed up all of our belongings, stuffed them into the mini-van, and then drove across town about 20 times to unload at our new place.

Looking back on the whole debacle there are a few things that I wish for.

Ugh My Back!

My first wish is that we had decided to get furniture that did not weigh 500 pounds. Of course as recent college grads we didn’t have a lot of money so we took what we could get. Which means that a lot of our furniture we got for free from my wife’s great-grandmother. Which means that it was all made of solid hardwood. Which means that it was all spine shatteringly heavy.

You might think that a recent college grad would have a lot of strapping young buddies who can grunt and heave heavy things like they are tossing bags full of cotton candy. Not so! Unfortunately we were the last of our group of friends to leave town. So all of our potential movers were scattered from Virginia to California.

That left me and my father-in-law who, although he is far from being old, will be the first to admit he is past his physical prime. (Love you Steve :-).

Our lives would have been so much easier with furniture that we could disassemble and carry out piece by lightweight piece.

Where’s the Truck

Did I mention that we are poor recent graduates? Yeah, we were way too cheap to get a moving truck. So we borrowed a friends’ pickup and took the seats out of the mini-van. Having the truck was great. We got a lot of things moved. But we really didn’t want to impose so we only borrowed it for one day.

Unfortunately we couldn’t get everything we needed moved in just one day. So even though we got most of the big things with the truck there were a few pieces of furniture that wouldn’t fit easily into the mini-van without some grunts and muttered curses.

Not only would disassembled furniture parts be lighter, they would also be easier to fit into smaller vehicles. U-haul might object. But I would love it.

Ouch My Thumb!

Finally everything was at the new place and it was time to put everything in its place. After clearing away a maze of boxes we got around to setting up our kids’ room.  Our oldest boy had been sleeping in a pack and play because I hadn’t gotten around to assembling his crib. The crib was one of the few pieces of furniture we owned that actually did come apart.

Unfortunately it was also incredibly difficult to assemble. The bolts that held it together went in at a crazy angle that made them difficult to turn and in order to get the nuts to attach to the bolts I had to do this magical thing with a pair of needle nose pliers. After about an hour longer than it should have taken, I finally had the thing together.

Difficult assembly is incredibly frustrating. I can’t tell you how many times those silly little nuts slipped off my pliers and I had to dig them out of the hole recessed into the wood.

Where’s That Little Thinger?

One of the other fun things that we ran into while moving was finding all the little pieces that went to some of our furniture. We had some bookshelves from a giant Swedish furniture maker who I won’t name. These shelves had adjustable height. You just had to pull out the tiny little metal piece that they rested on and you could reposition them wherever you want. So we took all these tiny pieces and put them into a plastic bag so we would not lose them.

But when we tried to put together the shelves at our new apartment we had somehow misplaced the entire bag. Luckily we found it a day or two later. But until then we had to climb over and around stacks of books sitting in front of our empty shelves.

Lesson learned: losing little pieces can cripple your big important furniture.

Where’s My Sonic Screwdriver?

So, I managed to get my oldest son’s crib together. But it has been two weeks now and the crib for our second son is still lying in a pile of parts in the middle of the room. You see, a few months before we moved, my brother borrowed my tools to work on his bicycle. He still has them. I can’t put the crib together because I don’t have the tools.

Some furniture makers, like that Swedish one with the delicious meat balls, have opted to include the tools with the product. That way you never have to worry about being unable to assemble things. Plus after a number of purchases you build up quite an impressive collection of Allen wrenches. That is if you manage not to lose all of those little things.

If you have, like me, lost them and your brother is borrowing your tools then you are out of luck.

Why not make it entirely tool-less assembly? That would be so much easier.

Why Sprout is Awesome

This is one of the reasons that Sprout furniture is so great. From the kids table and chairs to the cubby storage, there are no tiny little pieces to lose. All of the products are made from lightweight materials. After they are taken apart they can be stored flat. With only Sprout furniture we would probably have to make more trips moving the stuff we stored in the furniture then we would moving the actual furniture. Plus, I wouldn’t have to keep trying to reach my brother so I can get my tools back.

Why Sprout?