I recently was commissioned by Palmetto Parent to write a finance article for families. They liked it enough to put it on their website’s home page as well! 🙂
This story originally appears on TodaysMama – Portland.
I admit it, my kids (and I) have always hated going to see Santa in the mall. From the long lines, to the crying children around us, it’s never been our idea of a jolly good time. Add my lack of zeal for shopping and you can imagine how hard it was for my kids to talk me out of taking them again this year. But that doesn’t mean I want to take Santa out of the Christmas equation entirely! Instead, we’re on the lookout for Santa sightings in Portland (sans malls). And we’re not talking about the rogue-Santa impostors roaming the city for SantaCon either! We’re talking the jolly ol’ fat man that will listen carefully to your child’s secret holiday wish (or, at the very least, take their tears in stride).
Here’s my list of Santa sightings to come around town during the last week before Christmas. If I’ve forgotten any, please, let me know! Add it to the comments below.
Portland Children’s Museum
4015 SW Canyon Rd, Portland
Dec. 20-21, 5-8 pm
Pre-registration is required for this event, but if you do you will have VIP access to the big man himself! One on one contact and no lines! Plus, there will be story times, ornament decorating crafts and even a holiday scavenger hunt! Come out of the cold rain and enjoy the warm, winter-themed museum.
6149 SW Shattuck, Portland
Dec. 20-22, all day
Alpenrose Dairy’s Storybook Lane offers professional photos with Santa. While you still have to stand in line to see Santa, at least you’re doing so amongst a beautiful backdrop of over 300 decorated live trees, live animals, festive music and train displays. You won’t get bored here and admission is free!
Pioneer Courthouse Square (corner of Morrison and Broadway)
Cedar Hills Crossing (3205 SW Cedar Hills Blvd)
Dec. 18-23, 11 am-9 pm and Dec. 24, 11 am-5 pm
With rain tents and hot chocolate, standing in line to see Santa here doesn’t seem so bad after all. Plus, they’re around on Christmas Eve and I don’t have to go to the crazy-frenzied mall to see Santa!
Special thanks to my dear friends, The Curreys, for letting me use their ‘Happy’ Holidays 2013 Christmas picture. I hope all of you have a very merry Christmas full of joy and good tidings – and no coal!
This time of year it seems as though everyone says, “make meaningful moments!” or “Every moment counts!” Between magazines, television and commercials, you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel as though you aren’t doing enough or baking enough or buying enough this year.
Make Meaningful Moments Mine
I lost one of my oldest and dearest friends this April to cancer. He didn’t even make it to 38th birthday. I blogged through my grief (elsewhere) and I’ve included an excerpt of it here. Rereading it only reinforced my resolve: making moments meaningful has, well, much more meaning now. I’ve stopped listening to all the noise, noise, noise, and I’m redefining what it means to make these moments mine – especially during the holidays.
Here is my previous post from April 2013:
I recently lost one of my oldest and dearest friends to cancer. And while I could wax on about how wonderful he was and what an impact he made on my life, I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to tell you how his death has affected me.
For the most part, yes I did. Did I write as often as I wanted to? No. Instead, I went on mini-adventures with my kids. I walked away from a toxic working environment. I went to the beach. I played in the sand. I bought a book just because. I giggled and ate popcorn with my daughter. I went on walks and discussed politics with my son. I fell in love with the man of my dreams.
I’ve learned to make meaningful moments all year – not just over the holidays, and certainly not by listening to the media. I’ve never felt more grateful, more full of love and life. Give it a try: make meaningful moments of your own that aren’t defined by anyone but you.
“You’ve gotta dance likethere’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
~William W. Purkey
Let me preface this first with: I am not a dancer. I rarely dance in public… and even then only under extreme coercion (and copious amounts of wine). Nor do I profess to be much of a chef (I do know where the can opener is). But I am trying to incorporate a few new things into my life under the umbrella-ideology of ‘enjoying the moment.’
I recently watched this TED Talk in which Amy Cuddy, a Harvard professor, said that you need not only to “fake it until you make it,” but to go that extra step and “fake it until you become it.” In other words, don’t just pretend you know what you’re doing so others won’t know the difference, do it long enough that YOU won’t know the difference. I’ve taken that to heart. My plan is to become a happier, healthier person – inside and out – one dance move at a time. I’m fox-trotting outside my normal path and dancing in my kitchen. And here are five reasons why you should dance in the kitchen, too.
1. Dancing in the kitchen pumps up your heart rate and your appetite.
Okay, so this one is pretty obvious. You burn an average of 100 calories for every 15 minutes of dancing1 and you’re likely to get pretty hungry afterwards. But did you know that short bursts of high-energy exercise will do you as much good – if not more – than a slow and steady cardio workout?2 This also turns dinner into the best time to “cheat” and have that high-carbohydrate food you crave (read: mashed potatoes) as your body will likely use it to replenish your glycogen levels (fuel for your muscles) rather than store it as fat.3 It really is Mashed Potatoes Time!”
2. Dancing in the kitchen gets your positive endorphins flowing.
If you’re like me, you may feel pretty silly dancing in the kitchen. The trick is to not take it seriously. It’s not about how well you dance, but why you’re dancing in the first place. Dancing releases endorphins that make you feel happier and reduces your stress levels too. Step outside your norm, shake those cares away.
3. Listening to your favorite song will help you live longer.
According to psychologytoday.com, “listening to your favorite music triggers biological changes that improve the lining of your blood vessels (endothelial function) and reduces the risk of heart disease.”4 The more frequently you listen to your favorite music, the greater the effect. Dancing to your favorite song doubles the biological changes to your blood vessels. Bonus: Singing along not only reduces stress and boosts your mood, it also gives you energy (and bonus points in my book).
4. No one will see you dancing in your kitchen.
Shedding your inhibitions will in turn help you shed all the stress of your day. With each shimmy and shake of your hips you’re releasing all the tension your body is keeping wound up inside of you. Shake out all the frustration you’re holding onto, or the anger you are trying to shield from your children while you whip up some dinner. If nothing else, you’ll be too exhausted afterwards to hang onto your anger, and it won’t matter how you do it: no one will see! (I’m certainly not watching you!)
5. Dancing in the kitchen is contagious.
Okay, okay, so your kids might catch you in the act. But so what? They don’t care how well you dance; they will just see their mom happy and enjoying herself. That’s worth a little embarrassment, right? It’s not like you’re this guy….
While dancing in the kitchen is still a new phenomenon for me, it seems to be catching on in my house. My boyfriend – a self-proclaimed non dancer himself – joined Elvis and me in the kitchen last night. And my daughter tried her best to roll her eyes and act like her mom had finally lost it – but in the end she was dancing right alongside us.
I think next week I’ll take up ice skating. Until then, I’m going to dance like nobody’s watching me.
1Based on the calculations at http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc.
3Read more about that here http://greatist.com/fitness/afterburn-effect-keep-burning-calories-after-workout.
4Read the full article here http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201309/why-is-listening-your-favorite-music-good-your-heart.
To read the full post, please click here.
Giving Tuesday: Our Neighbors
Have you heard of Giving Tuesday? It is a wonderful counter balance to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This new tradition was started [here] to help bring back the focal point from how much you can receive, to how much you can give to those in need. While many communities are focusing on specific charities and organizations to highlight for Giving Tuesday, I’ve decided to pay homage to a lesser-hyped, yet equally important group of individuals: our neighbors.
Once upon a time, when I was a young child, my mom, sister and I were homeless for a brief period. It didn’t last very long, but it was uncomfortable to say the least. We had a car and blankets and “stuff” in boxes and storage, but nowhere that was ‘ours’ to lay our heads. My mom contemplated whether she had enough money to drive hundreds of miles back to her mom’s house, or whether she had too much pride to do so… read more.
This article was originally published here: http://www.kindredvine.com/?p=596
My son has never really enjoyed parties. He will often go, if asked, but certainly never wishes to have one of his own. His twelfth birthday was no exception. It doesn’t stop me from asking, but his answer is invariably “no thank you.”
In lieu of a party, we as a family took him out to dinner to the restaurant of his choosing. We then came home and had our traditional birthday brownies and presents. Not a lot of presents, really, because what my son asked for from everyone was money. He’s saving for his own computer and wanted nothing but money from family and friends. There were a few packages and a few more envelops on the table.
One by one, the pile of money grew before his eyes. A twenty here, a ten there. Everyone once in a while there would be a fifty or – gasp! – a hundred dollar bill. He was very appreciative, and I was very relieved/proud. You see, just the week before I had to give him a bit of a talking to about being grateful. Gratitude seems to be in short supply in our country, and seems to be dwindling to almost nothing within my almost-teenage son and I had had enough.
Finally, it was time to clean up and get ready for bed – or so we thought. At the last moment, his little sister pulled out her homemade gift for him: she made him a birthday card (complete with a cartoon and private joke), and carefully wrapped eleven cents she then put in a special homemade birthday gift bag.
After watching his pile of money grow, my daughter had shrunk further and further in her chair at the table. By the time he actually opened her present, she was in tears and sobbed, “I’m sorry! I searched my entire room and that’s all the money I have.” I admit, at this moment? I held my breath. Having dealt with my son’s lack of gratitude on a steady basis for the last month or so, I was prepared for the worst.
“That’s okay Sarah,” he said gently. After a slight pause, he continued, “you’ve actually given me the most of all! You see, everyone else gave me some of their money; but you’ve given me all of yours.” She looked up at him across the table, tears streaming down her face. He walked over to her and gave her a hug.
Those are the moments I cherish the most as a mother. It’s always the little things that give me the most pleasure and gratitude for my life. On that day, I was grateful for the reminder that even when it seems as though I’m not getting through to my children, they are indeed learning something. My son remembered his gratitude at the last moment, and my daughter learned that sharing and giving is rewarded in the best way possible. Memories like these propel me forward to be the best mom and person I can be. I hope you find energy and hope in the little things in your daily life, too.
Every now and then I am very pleased with an article. Not necessarily for the artful way in which I may (or may not) have written it, but for the contents of the article. Spreading knowledge, solidarity and hope is so much more meaningful to me than whether or not I liked the newest gadget or if you should leave your pet with a sitter or a kennel. Here’s one of those articles: http://utahfamily.com/article.php?artID=702§=25. Please, enjoy!