Holidays and Indulgent Grandparents…

Grandparents and Gifts

grandparents

The holidays are almost here and gifts will be pouring in from relatives to your children especially well meaning grandparents. It can quickly get overwhelming for you as parents and your kids. This is not a good feeling.

What if anything do you do to control the amount and type of gifts your kids receive at Christmas and Hanukah?

Let’s assume that most grandparents are well meaning even though you may think that sometimes they have lost their minds when it comes to gift giving.

grandparents

If it is not too late, try to have a conversation with them about what your children would like for gifts and what actually might be some really great gifts. This is not always a comfortable conversation to have but if you sandwich your points between two positive comments, it can soften the discussion. You might begin a conversation by telling them how helpful they have been recently, being specific and then swing into the gift topic.

Always end discussions like this with another positive thought as it leaves the conversation with an upbeat feeling instead of a decree about how you are raising your children and what grandparents can and cannot give them as gifts. To me, it is a blessing to have a grandchild.

My motto here, is to be kind as you never know what kind of day your family members are dealing with…we all have our difficulties to negotiate each day.

 

Chicago Holidays…Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago is a world class city.

Being a native of New York, I really thought that I would never get used to living away from it.

But Chicago is where I have been at home for many years and where my children have grown up. Now, as a grandparent, it is my turn to enjoy Chicago and all it has to offer.

Chicago Holidays...zoo lightsLast night was unusually warm for December, so we took advantage of the balmy weather and made a spur of the moment plan to have dinner downtown and try to take in the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park.

First, we stopped at Viaggio on Fullerton and had an excellent meal with our granddaughter.

Chicago- Viaggio on Fullerton

To our surprise, it was child friendly and they were very accommodating with our late arrival due to horrendous traffic.

Viaggio came recommended to us just that afternoon so it was a new find and a wonderful one. We met the owner, Dave and his daughter.

I think we will find our way back there soon maybe without our granddaughter so our meal can be more leisurely.

Chicago Holidays-Christmas at Lincoln Park Zoo 2013

Unfortunately, our attempt to visit the Zoo Lights was limited to driving along Stockton with the rest of mankind, looking for parking. It seems that everyone was taking advantage of the unseasonable weather.

Chicago Zoo Lights-Lincoln Park

The light show was fantastic even from a distance and Lakeshore Drive lived up to my expectations on a clear night.

The lights along “The Drive” make me so happy to live near Chicago, such a gorgeous city.

Chicago-The Drake

My granddaughter thought all the lights were pretty fantastic and exciting… her enthusiasm was contagious!

Christmas Wishes to Jennie

Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo

Merry Christmas Jennie!

And so, my gift to you is a super easy, really one bowl recipe for gingerbread—or should it be called  gingerbread cake? Perhaps I should eat one more slice to try and decide.

via gingerbread cake {a one bowl recipe} – In Jennie’s Kitchen.

If you are at all like me, I am always looking for a gift that is very special at Christmas time when it comes to my family and friends.

Since I love food and trust me most people do…I look for unique cookbooks by unique cooks.

Homemade with Love

is one of those cookbooks.

Jennie Perillo is one of those cooks.

As the year 2013 comes to an end, I am looking back at some of the wonderful people, I have met this year.

Jennie is one of them.

Last spring, I was introduced to Jennie through a group of Instagram bloggers from NYC.

She was launching her first cookbook, Homemade with Love. At first, I was drawn to her by her story.

Jennie had lost her husband suddenly. She and her two daughters were left without their anchor. Jennie found solace in her love of cooking.

As she grieved for her husband, she began to create Homemade with Love.

During her publicity tour, Jennie stopped in Chicago where I live. She did a book signing at a small bookstore.

As luck would have it…I read about the book signing after the fact.

I was so disappointed…

Well, I took to Twitter and sent Jennie a message asking if she was doing any other signings.

“No”!

But I was welcome to stop by her hotel and she would sign my copy.

I was more than thrilled.

Not only did Jennie sign my copy of Homemade with Love but she invited me to a media luncheon which she had prepared in her hotel kitchen. I was actually tasting some of her recipes and they were easy enough to make in this tiny kitchen.

Homemade with Love

I had fallen in LOVE.

I knew when I read about Jennie and read Homemade with Love…I was being reintroduced to my love of cooking again.

You see, I had been an empty nester after taking care of my own family and my mother and now I was helping to parent my granddaughter…I needed to cook again for a family.

Jennie came into my life and resurrected my love of cooking at a moment when I needed a new inspiration to cook again for a family.

Jennie, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and New Year full of new horizons.

Thank you.

Jennifer Perillo

Children, Holiday OverIndulgence…Grandparent Style!

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 Do your children have Santa Claus for a grandparent?

Is there an overindulgent relative in your child’s life?

And do they disregard your requests about gift giving?

I am not quite sure how to handle this type of situation except to be very direct in your requests as a parent.

It seems that there are many parent ideas about what is appropriate when it comes to their children.

In some cases parents do not even agree with each other when it comes to defining what is “overindulgent”.

It seems that grandparents may be the biggest group of overindulgers when it comes to  children, Christmas and Holidays. At least, that was the recent consensus of a group of parents discussing the holiday stresses at my grandchild’s preschool.

It seemed that the grandparents were not deterred by requests of their sons and daughters in their gift giving habits.

As a grandparent, I can understand both sides since I was also a parent of young presents and childrenI remember requesting certain things for my children and making suggestions to their grandparents. I guess I was lucky in that my husband agreed with this approach. So for the most part we did not get “stuff” that was inappropriate and not useful.

Some suggestions

  • Be honest about your feelings
  • Have gift suggestions
  • Perhaps suggest college fund donations, even small ones so as the kids get older and more appreciative of money as a gift, this might become a habit of their grandparents.
  • Be thoughtful and respectful
  • Be empathic and understanding that your relationship with your kids is different than your parents’ relationship with them which is what helps to drive the overindulgence.
  • Be realistic if you have really difficult grandparents…and try to make the best of the situation.

Aunt Annie’s Childcare: When grandma won’t do it your way- Part 1: The overindulgent relative.

Weekend…Christmas, Kids, Consumerism

Chicago Xmas State Street

Christmas and Holidays can pose a dilemma especially for those of us with children. What is meant to be a time of joy and giving can become a time of stress and “gimme, gimme”.

So, I was overjoyed to see this post and thought I would share it with those of you who want to share some of these points with your own children….or grandchildren.

So it got me thinking – what do I want my kids to really know about Christmas?  And because I started thinking that led to me making a list for my kids. Which I’m sharing with you today.

via finding joy: 25 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Christmas..

 

 

In keeping with my consumerism theme this week, I am posting a link to one of my favorite bloggers and writers, Annie Urban.

She makes an excellent effort to “quell” consumerism in her home with her own children. This, mind you, is no easy task and it is certainly made easier if you have all the family together in support…especially the grandparents, aunts and uncles and all who dote on your kids.

But then the Christmas commercials started. Not in December, not in late November, but back in October or maybe even September. And that is when the chorus began. It didn’t matter what type of plastic crap was being advertised, they wanted it, they needed it, it was the best thing ever.

 

 

Kiss Goodbye to Holiday Stress

Christmas Window

Kids and the Stress of the Holidays…

I know, what stress is it when you are a kid and looking forward to gifts and toys and all kinds of stuff that comes along with Christmas and Hanukah and other gift giving holidays?

The best way I think we can go about figuring out what might bother our particular children is to look at what bothers us and look back at what we “hated” about the holidays when we were their age.

Looking back with empathy…

Here are some of my memories…

  • I hated leaving my own house on Christmas Day to visit relatives…Christmas Eve was okay but leave me alone with my gifts and my grandmother’s, who lived with us  food on Christmas.
  • Now my parents were divorced so it was somewhat contentious when I did not want to go visiting on Christmas. I was made to feel guilty for not wanting to dress up and go to my father’s family.
  • I hated some of the awful presents that I received year after year from relatives who will remain nameless. Usually they were “regifts” like gloves that were too big and other awful stuff.
  • I also hated having to kiss and hug various relatives that I hardly ever saw except for the Holidays.

Now granted I am a grandmother and I imposed some of my family rituals on my own kids but not many …we always had Christmas at home.

However, Christmas Eve was another story…we spent many Christmas Eves with a family that has adopted us since our own family is across the country.

Here are some holiday simplifying suggestions from our Montessori school, for you and your children…the kids may actually thank-you with their good behavior.

  • Keep your television off as much as possible- your house will be quieter and the advertising will be less. Hopefully it will decrease how much you here these words…”I want…”
  • Try to simplfy your own holiday expectations which might lighten your mood which is a wonderful gift to yourself and your family.
  • Consider saying the word “No” more often when it comes to traveling…going to other homes for Christmas Day…no, to too many parties, decorations, too much food, too many presents. If there is something that you don’t like…try saying, “NO”.
  • Consider being more “Green” when it comes to wrapping paper, cards and food. It is a good thing to teach your children and it is a way to limit some of the “stuff” that is just not important and that may just be driving you crazy.
  • Gifts take on a life of their own during the Holidays…try asking for gifts to your children’s college fund instead of a gift that your child does not really need.
  • Family traditions…you might want to begin some of your own traditions…you do not have repeat the traditions that you grew up with and those that your partner grew up with…how crazy does that get? Develop some of your own traditions that can combine what you both like best and that your kids like.
  • Now about those holiday hugs and kisses…your child should not have to hug and kiss all relatives and friends that he does not even know or remember. What is this telling him…it is telling him this, when he is uncomfortable with certain people touching him…it is okay for him to just say hello and nothing else. Consider the message that we are teaching our kids and then leave the hugging and kissing up to them.

 

Safety Tips and Holiday Toys!

Toys:Legos

With the holidays fast approaching, it is time to pick out toys and children’s gifts.

Here are some safe gift giving tips for small children.

If you are buying for children of different ages, remember to heed the age warnings on the toy labels and protect younger kids from their sibling’s toys that could be potentially dangerous for them.

Button Battery Warning:

Swallowing coin size lithium batteries from electronic devices…

  • remote controls,
  • watches,
  • key fobs,
  • musical greeting cards
  • and flameless candles

can be potentially life threatening to children and sometimes they are easily accessible.

Toilet Paper Roll:

If a toy can fit through an empty toilet paper roll, it could block your child’s airway and choke your child.

Toy Purchases:

Even though it is a law that toys labeled for kids under 3 cannot pose a choking threat…there are parent responsibilities.

  • look for small, removable parts
  • parts that can break off.
  • look for recalls- americanbaby.com/recalls
  • be particularly careful of hand-me down toys

Take Time to Pause…

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Memorial Day Weekend…

 

traditionally…the beginning of summer…

 

weather, cold and rainy or sunny and warm!

 

Summer months ahead…

 

laid back beach days,

 

lazy sunny cityscapes

 

or

 

mountains, woods and campsites…

 

take time to pause and remember…

 

the men and women in uniform.

 

I would like to introduce Laura Crawford and her blog…she is a military wife and mom… 

Laura is a USMC wife and SAHMommy to her son and twin girls. While being a mommy and a military wife keeps her on her toes, she loves moving every three years and the many adventures military life has to offer. She works from home as a freelance writer and blogger, lives on cereal and coffee, and is a craft fail master in training. You can find Laura on instagram as lolagishell, where she shares her daily Deployment Gratitude posts and other fun photos.

Foolproof Easter!

Collage #1

via “Nessas Family Kitchen” blog

Life is short.  Eat dessert first.-Jacques Torres 

This is going to be our Easter Dessert. It is from one of my favorite Irish Blogs- Nessas Family Kitchen.

So head on over to her blog and see her beautiful photos and recipes. The photo above is her Easter cake.

Lemon Frosted Easter Cake

I always find that cake is well suited to every occasion. This lemon frosted cake makes a perfect Easter treat, as yellow themed goods seem to fit nicely with an Easter theme. It’s basically a madeira cake which is smothered with a creamy lemon topping and filled with lemon curd; perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea anytime.

http://nessasfamilykitchen.blogspot.com

After dessert, here are my picks for the rest of Easter.

Easy is my motto for all holidays. Easy does not imply not made with love and delicious…it simply means that I can enjoy the holiday with my family. 

Cool Mom Picks

Some great suggestions from Cool Mom Picks for Easter Brunch!

Quick Brunch Recipes ….and by that I mean 30 minute ones, are always good even if you are not having anyone over for Easter…here are a few from Cool Mom.

Allrecipes

Allrecipes is my go to website for quick, easy and delicious favorites. Easter is a sweet spring holiday and these Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes are right up my alley if you know what I mean.

Although I love breakfast sometimes I prefer the European approach which is to indulge in something sweet with a really good cup of coffee!