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Routines, Earrings & Vision Boards: Get Set Up for Success in the New Year

It’s the New Year, the time for setting resolutions and goals. Some thrive and are truly excited about this time of year and the prospect of new commitments. Others feel stressed and overwhelmed. I sometimes find myself feeling both. I LOVE setting goals and accomplishing them, but the sheer number of possibilities for goals sometimes overwhelms me and leaves me feeling more stressed. Last year I felt like I found a good balance and approach to this time of year and setting new goals.

As I have listened to many people talk about their approach to goal setting and the New Year, one perspective that I heard a few times and really resonated with was:

Choosing goals and new commitments that would ADD to my life, not take away.

I loved this concept and felt it really aligned with the balance I found last year. I have a pretty good idea of what I want my life to look like, so for me the New Year is more about resetting and realigning. 

I focused my goals and new commitments on things I wanted to be intentional about in my life. I wanted to be intentional about taking care of myself and making sure my days ran smoothly. What goals would help me to take the best care of myself? I also wanted to be intentional about having fun! 

Recommitting to Routines

There’s a lot of debate and discussion about schedules (especially when it comes to taking care of our kids, am I right? Sleep schedules, feeding schedules; should we do them, should we not?). But I think there is a difference between a routine and a schedule. A routine can feel like a schedule, until it just becomes a part of who we are and what we do. The beginning of the year is a perfect time to reevaluate and recommit to routines that make your life easier!

Last year, I implemented some new routines with my kids. On paper, it looked like a lot of “stuff to do”. Morning routine, after-school routine, nighttime routine…a LOT of routines. But here’s the thing, we worked really hard for two to three weeks, meticulously checking off the boxes. Then after about three weeks, I noticed that all of this box checking had simply become our daily life. I didn’t find myself constantly asking my kids if they had finished their routine…because it was a routine.

Over the course of 2020, we slipped away from our routines we established the first three or four months and it really started to show toward the end of the year. I’m recommitting to these routines and keeping them going throughout the year.

I hope to help my kids recognize that having solid routines can give you a map of how your day looks, ease feelings of stress and anxiety, have more productivity, and also time for rest and play.

Adding More Fun

A few years ago, I started making a few “fun” goals. I called them “fun” goals because I couldn’t think of a better name. Last year, I decided I wanted to have a skincare routine. Before then, I basically had no skin care routine. I bought a few things, learned a bit about my skin, and now I can say my skin care routine is one of my favorite things to do each night. It’s not too exciting, it’s still probably pretty basic to some, but it makes me happy and it’s fun!

This year, one of my “fun” goals is to wear earrings more. Yep, that’s it. I have gotten out of the habit of wearing earrings the past few years. It’s not consequential to my life but I think it will be fun. And it will make me happy, thus adding something good to my life. So if you have any fun earring suggestions, send them my way.

For my kids, I’m going to frame this as something new they want to try or learn. There are so many lessons to learn from just setting a goal because it’s fun or you want to! It sets you up for a pattern of life-long learning. It also teaches us that it’s not all about getting stuff done but having fun along the way and finding joy in the journey.

Trying Vision Boards

This is something new I want to implement this year. I want to see if this style works well for me or anyone in our family. We’re going to make them a combination of words, pictures and drawings. I hope to find a place in their rooms for them to display them, so they can remember their visions for the year and add to it as they have new visions for themselves.

The “goal” (haha) for this way of goal setting is to be able to have a place for maybe the “one and done” things we want to accomplish or more unique and specific goals that don’t have an obvious category to fall under. I could see this being easy to adapt from a young child all the way up to a teen, and for me, an adult!

To help me get started, I’m checking out a couple of our past posts about vision boards here and here.

Setting goals and how we go about accomplishing them is different for everyone. I think what is key is to make sure your goals and resolutions are ones that add to your life and make it more full and enjoyable, so they leave you feeling energized and happy! If the goal is something you want, but the current process is making you miserable, reevaluate how you’re doing it and see if there is a better way. It’s important to remember that we are all enough exactly as we are, goals and growth and change can simply add to our life experience!

How do you approach goal setting? What routines work best for you or what fun goals do you have planned this year?

Rethink Those New Year’s Resolutions

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Can you believe it? Have we really gone full circle and arrived back to a New Year? I don’t know about you, but this has been the shortest and the longest year of my life. On one hand, I feel like it’s still March, and on the other hand, I feel like the never-ending “Spring Break” was years ago.

I know that all of our circumstances have been different—and a different range of extremes—but I’m pretty sure we can all agree that 2020 has been quite the dumpster fire. In fact, I found an ornament that perfectly commemorates 2020.

I am ecstatic for 2020 to exit stage left. Even though I know that the chaos is not going to magically disappear at the stroke of midnight, I am thirsty for the freshness of a new calendar year and the hope of having the COVID “uphill climb” behind us. I feel like my house, my body, my brain, and DEFINITELY my car could use a total overhaul.

However, I am already dreading my inbox, social media, the ads, and the posts that pressure me into feeling like I need to overhaul my life starting January 1. My problem (and this is my fault) is that I delude myself into thinking that I will do a “better job” of LIFE in the New Year, so I throw a bunch of darts at the board thinking surely something will stick. But in reality, NOBODY can perfect their body, declutter their home, weekly meal plan, build their career, start a new hobby, and make homemade goodies all at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong; I feel the jitters and excitement of how I could challenge myself to improve in 2021. But to be super honest with you, I am leaving 2020 feeling quite exhausted. I feel like I spent much of the year in a mental state of “survival mode:” walking on eggshells, trying to keep my family’s mental and physical well-being protected.

I feel like if there were ever a year for a “PASS” on New Year’s resolutions, this is the year. The pandemic is still not “over” (will it ever be?) and I don’t know about you, but I could use a little grace in all the corners of my life. Since 2020 took a match to most of my plans, I just don’t feel like putting more pressure on myself after such a taxing year. Can we all agree to just set the bar a little low this year?!

However, if you are looking at that new shiny planner and free blogger printables and just CAN’T HELP yourself, I did LOVE this article about 18 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep. If I pursue anything new in 2021, I want it to truly bring me JOY. I will admit one thing that I would like to focus on more in 2021 is thankfulness. I’ve been practicing writing down little things that I am thankful for (anything, even a hot shower), and it has already helped me to see the good things in my days that sometimes seem so mundane and repetitive.

So cheers, Mamas: We made it through 2020. No matter what method you folded your clothes (or just used the mountain method like me), no matter how many pre-packaged snacks you handed out or meal deliveries you ordered, you did WHAT MATTERED and pulled your family through. So grab that fuzzy blanket, some chocolate, a glass or mug of your favorite drink, and put your feet up. You DID GOOD in a year that nobody ever expected or prepared for.

A Collin County Mom’s Guide to the Month of January

It’s January! New beginnings. A clean slate. Let’s throw off the moldy old husk of 2020 and get down to better business. All that optimism, potential, and possibility that comes with a new year? WE’LL TAKE IT. Have a look at our roundup of January events and activities below, and get 2021 started off right.

And of course, it’s important to remember that things are still ever-changing. Check risk levels, mask up, keep your distance, and double check for last-minute cancellations of any and all activities.

As always, don’t forget to PIN IT for later OR subscribe to our Newsletter and have our Collin County event guides sent straight to your inbox.

All Month :: Last full month to see Dinosaurs Live! at the Heard in McKinney. Be sure to check the weather before you go, because they won’t turn on the dinosaurs if temperatures drop below 35 degrees. Visitor tips hereCOVID protocols here. Closed Mondays! Tickets are $12/adults, $9/ages 3-12. 2 & under are free.

All Month :: Penguin Days at the Dallas Zoo means $8 admission and a chance to see the animals actually awake instead of napping in the heat. Reminder that there are some new safety measures in place, and all visitors must reserve tickets online in advance (even members). 9am-4pm daily.

All Month :: The city of McKinney is great about putting together seasonal Activity Guides for their parks, libraries, and civic centers. Check out the McKinney Parks & Recreation Winter Activity Guide for all sorts of classes and events. How about Create Your Own Piñata for ages 6-12 on January 23.

All Month :: Do I need to move to McKinney? I’m loving all their programs. Locals, be sure to look into the Storybook Kits, available to check out from the library. They bundle children’s books on different topics: mermaids, singing, camping, Texas, space, new baby, potty training, and tons more! Free!

All Month :: I can’t forget Plano libraries when it comes to being thoughtful and organized. You can check out Themed Bookpacks (similar to the Storybook Kits) for preschool-aged children. Each themed bag contains picture books as well as a relevant activity, like a flannel board story, puppet, or toy. Free!

All Month :: If you live in Wylie, don’t miss their Winter Activity Menu! Hint: Skip to the Activity Index on page 17. You’ll be able to click on events sorted by location and age group, and there are little computer icons next to the virtual options.

All Month :: Want a little structure to your next park outing? Print this Bingo Sheet out and head to Old Settler’s Park in McKinney. I don’t quite see how it’s proper bingo, but it would work great as a scavenger hunt checklist for the kiddos. Free!

All Month, Fridays & Saturdays :: Cathy’s Critters (in Princeton, TX) has added Open Farm Fridays to their calendar in addition to their Saturday hours. If you’ve never been, check out the “Before Your Visit” info here. Friday: 9am-2pm, Saturday: 10am-4pm. Tickets $8-12.

January 1 :: Day 1 DFW (formerly Day 1 Dallas) is all about family fun, with proceeds benefitting Vogel Alcove, a nonprofit for homeless children and their families. In consideration of the pandemic, this year there are three ways to attend. Check the link for details on each option: all-access passes to Main Event; a virtual party with live and pre-recorded games, performances, trivia, and more; and a FREE drive-in fireworks show at Toyota Stadium. **Please note: Any Main Event passes must be purchased by 12pm on December 31!

January 1-3 :: It’s the last weekend for Skating Under the Stars in Farmer’s Branch. They’re doing limited ice occupancy, so be sure you book a time slot online in advance or you might have to wait a while. Masks required for ages 10 and up. Tickets: $10 for ages 4 and up. Skate rental: $5.

January 2 :: First Saturday at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center in Lucas, TX, is a monthly event featuring guided hikes, kids’ activities, and raptor programs. Masks and social distancing required. Please be advised that the December First Saturday was cancelled. Be sure to check before you go! Tickets: $5 for adults, $3 for ages 3-12, under 3 free.

January 2 :: Allen residents! Your library offers a STEM Take & Make for children in grades 4-6 today. Learn about kinetic and potential energy using rubber bands and popsicle sticks to create stick bombs, catapults and to propel a tiny riverboat. Details on reserving your kits here. Free!
Note: They’ll also have a Mad Science Virtual Show on January 4 for grades K-6. When you register you’ll get a supply list so kids can participate alongside the presenter. 3pm. Free!

January 2-3 :: Head to Watters Creek this weekend to visit the Sweet Tooth Motel (modeled after the Sweet Tooth Hotel in Dallas). Book an exclusive walkthrough experience and enjoy a magical winter wonderland filled with fantastical deserts, frosted trees, northern lights, and more. Advanced ticket purchase highly recommended. Tickets are bundled, $10 per person. Max group size is 4.

January 15 :: Celebrate the Year of the Ox during the Japan-America Society’s Mochitsuki New Year’s Celebration. There’s lots planned: musical performances, mochi pounding and origami demonstrations, the first calligraphy of the year, and more. Don’t miss a chance to purchase limited Mochi Set ($25) or Activity Set ($15) to make the event more fun and hands on! See link for purchase and pick-up instructions. 4:30-5:30pm. Free!

January 18 :: Plano ISD celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a week of virtual programming celebrating the diverse Plano community. More details to come at the link.

January 27 :: Feeling a little isolated, parenting-wise? Plano Libraries will host Family Place, a virtual library program for parents/caregivers of children ages 0-3. Participate in a hands-on activity with your child, share songs and rhymes, connect with other parents, and speak one-on-one with local child development experts from our community. Registration required. 10-11am. Free!

January 30 :: One more for the Heard! Trail Guides will take you on a special Winter Night Hike tonight from 6-7:30pm. Sharpen your senses to spot signs of animal life and learn more about the inhabitants of the Heard. Check the link for night hike rules and to register in advance because these always sell out. $12 for members ages 3 & up/$14 non-members.

January 30 :: The Little Sweetheart Dance is for fathers or father figures and daughters ages 4-14. Enjoy an evening of music, dancing, and fun at this reimagined virtual event. 7-9pm. Ticketing details TBA.

Best of 2020 :: The Top 10 CCM Posts of the Year

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Feels kind of weird to say “best of” about 2020, a year generally regarded as the worst in most categories. But in our corner of the internet, CCM contributors kept after it, penning really wonderful posts despite all the stress this year brought. Every one of these is worth your time and worth another read. Best of 2020, indeed.

best of 2020 top 10 posts

Drumroll, please. Here are the top 10 new posts from this past year:

best of 2020 top 10

1. How to Talk to Your Kids About Racism, Race, & Activism by Alexis Maycock

“The true question isn’t IF we should start a conversation with our children about race, racism, and activism, but WHEN… and that time is NOW.” You’ll want to check out the book recommendations, broken down by age group from preschool through adult. Anti-racist parenting doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen.

best of 2020 top 10

2. “Try Again Please” :: An Alternative to Cancel Culture by Ashley Ashcraft

“My family is large, maybe a little too sarcastic, prone to raising our voices, and sometimes we communicate by eye rolling. The thought of simply saying in a kind voice, “Try again, please” seemed revolutionary, so I began using the phrase in my everyday conversations with my kids thinking it couldn’t be that easy.”

best of 2020 top 10 posts

3. Five Kid-Friendly Outdoor Adventures, from One Hour to One Day by Amanda Stewart

This guide to socially distant outdoor adventures around DFW is your antidote to stir-craziness.

4. 6 Day Trips to Berry Picking Farms Near Collin County by Erin Meltzer

Perhaps not useful to you right this second in the middle of winter, but you should absolutely save this list for late spring/early summer. Fresh air, fresh fruit, and a chance to support local farmers.

best of 2020 top 10 posts

5. Your Spouse Can’t Fix Your Mental Illness by Kristen Gardiner

I love when moms get vulnerable on here, sharing hard-fought lessons and hard truths. Mental health is a major part of overall health, and shining a light on that helps us all.

6. Snipper’s Remorse :: A Story of Vasectomy Regret by Amanda Krahel

You decided you were done having kids. So why do you feel such intense regret right now?

7. Parks Moms Love in Allen, Frisco & McKinney by Julie Janes

We love, love, love a good recommendation around here. This curated list includes each park’s amenities, like shade structures, walking trails, splash pads, special features, and more.

8. 5 Spring Break Field Trips in DFW {That Won’t Break The Bank} by Katie Wells

A pre-pandemic list, yes, but someday soon we’ll all be looking for fun places to meet up that don’t have prohibitive admission prices. Adults + kids admission adds up so fast.

9. A Mom’s Guide to Taking a Break From Alcohol by Diamond Rodrigue

This is a great piece about a topic on a lot of minds lately. If you’ve been thinking of taking a step back from drinking, don’t miss these simple, actionable items to help you along the way.

10. In the Year of the Pandemic by Whitney Reed

Think of it as the pandemic diary entry you never wrote. Every one of us was feeling some version of this over the summer. Honestly, it’s a trip to revisit. We’ve come a long way this year, y’all.

VIDEO :: Stress-Free, DIY Homemade Gingerbread Houses & Snow Globes

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My gift to you this holiday season…

  • You don’t HAVE to bake the gingerbread house!
  • There are enough handmade ornaments on the tree. A precious homemade snow globe is unique, a fresh take on holiday crafting and will give your kids some entertainment.

 

A Pre Built Gingerbread House with the candy will save time!
You don’t have to add water! I share how to make these with and without the water

Pre-Built, No-Bake Gingerbread House Decorating 

I don’t know about you, but my son is less interested in the “construction” piece of the gingerbread house and more about the candy!

Not to mention, I personally STRESS over the gingerbread pieces breaking and not fitting perfectly. Leave the stress behind and buy the pre-built gingerbread house WITH the candy. This will save so much time!

PRO TIP: I found the BEST fluffy and spongy icing in a tube for a freshly fallen snow look is cupcake frosting! I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS!

Best icing ever!

I love a good gingerbread baking session, but as I mentioned above my son is LESS interested in the baking and loves the decorating piece. Most gingerbread recipes require the dough to chill in the fridge for a few hours and WHO has time for that..especially around the holidays?

In my video, I share where I found these yummy gingerbread snaps that are easy to decorate and have a melt-in-your-mouth gingerbread flavor! Decorate these guys and indulge!

DIY Snow Globe With or Without the Water 

What I love about do-it-yourself snow globes is how unique this activity is. Let your kids pick their little wintery scene, perhaps include tiny toys they no longer play with, or old ornaments. I had extra glittery pinecones from our Christmas tree that look so magical!

Secure the items by hot-gluing them to the inside of a mason jar lid. I think the 8-oz. jars are best. We found little holiday figures and tiny pine trees at The Dollar Tree store. Keep in mind these figures need to be small to fit on the lid.

I recommend NOT adding water if you have young kids who will open the jars. If you do add water and glitter, I found that adding a couple drops of glycerin will make the glitter swirl around like a winter snowstorm. So pretty! Just make sure to tighten those lids to avoid big spills.

This craft also is a fun personalized gift idea. Have a blast and remember, document your moments. Our kids grow up so fast it it is so fun to reflect year after year!

Moms, tag me and Collin County Moms in your photos, videos, and IG Stories. We would love to share what you come up with and add you to our community of moms! @socialwithsarah_ @collincountymoms

Local Holiday Small Businesses Round-Up :: Get to Gifting!

It’s that time of year again‚ shopping + gift-giving are both in full swing! For last-minute gifts (and beyond!), check out this list of small businesses in Collin County. What better time to avoid the major shipping delays and shop local holiday small businesses to show your support. And, merry everything!

Clothing & Home Decor Small Businesses in Collin County

Andrea’s Custom and Vintage Clothing has seriously some of the hottest leather items I’ve seen. Shop their custom and vintage clothing!

Byndr Leather Goods sells the most unique, custom leather goods. Owner Tony says he hand makes every item to last a lifetime from his Dallas studio. Shop now for the holidays with 20% off on the website. (I have my eye on that black canvas tote!) 

Clique Fashion Boutique is a mom-owned business. They tout the slogan “Babes Supporting Babes.” If you’re glamming it up for the holidays, you’ll want to check out their trendy boutique. 

Grounded in Good touts modern home decor inspired and designed to “keep us grounded in the “good stuff” of life.” Owner Kara Shade is a fellow couple’s clinician like yours truly. Take a look around her shop!

Lylas is quite literally home decor and way, way, more…like gifts and furniture. Located in downtown Plano, check out these stocking stuffers for less than $5! Yes, please.

Southern Sweet Children Boutique for the little fashionista in your life. This family-owned boutique stocks stylish and trendy outfits and accessories. Check out their cute holiday items! Right now, they’re offering free shipping on all orders over $99, 

Tumbleweed Texstyles is a creative and one-of-a-kind shopping experience. All of their clothing designs are uniquely inspired by concepts of Texas. Check them out!

Self-Care & Wellness Small Businesses in Collin County

Blue Sky Yoga offers semi-private yoga instruction with a diverse and spiritual approach to wellness through the mind + body + soul. 

Bodywork by Liz has what you need for massage and stretching. This would be an excellent gift for the busy, stressed person in your life! 

Eira CBD is grown in the hills of Colombia, with a proprietary blend of Co2 extracted organic CBD oil + Sacha Inchi Oil from the Amazons, which makes Eira both potent and fully bioavailable. Sacha Inchi is a superfood, rich in fatty acids, and contains more Omega 3s than any other plant-based oil. Check them out!

Lauryan Yoga Mats believes a strong foundation in your yoga practice is monumental. That’s why they created The Lauryan mat, which is an eco-friendly cork and natural rubber yoga mat. A wonderful gift for the yogi in your life!

Vybe5 Studios combines the therapeutic benefits of infrared heat to provide a complete mind-body fitness experience. Each 50-minute workout is designed for all fitness levels to increase strength and flexibility, sharpen your mental acuity, and enhance your immune system. Fantastic gift to challenge body and mind! They’re offering two weeks for $25!

Food & Wine Small Businesses in Collin County

Cornerstone Wines is your award-winning neighborhood wine store. They introduce you to hand-selected unique wines from around the world. After all, wine should be fun! Cornerstone also offers curbside pickup on request and local Plano delivery on orders over $25 for select zip codes.

Fieldsong Farm in Lucas! Food + Fun has Nubian dairy goats that live a quiet, unrushed life in tune with nature, which produces sweet-tasting milk. Check out their delicious cheeses, fudge, cajeta caramel, cream, and butter. Fieldsong also offers herbs for sale year-round and seasonal veggies such as spinach, kale, chard, radishes, beets, carrots, onions, hybrid and heirloom tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, cucumbers, squash.

Marble Kitchen Bakery Treats, anyone? You’re going to want to check out this cupcake shop! What a cute surprise this would be over the holidays, and a great end to 2020!

Art & Unique Gifts Small Businesses in Collin County

Arrow Sarah is a fun shop! They’re making wood boxes. Can you say wine box? You have to check them out. They are “spreading joy one box at a time!”

Apothicc was created by “a couple of old marries” that joined their two passion—art and things that smell amazing. The website “about us” page makes me want to be their friends…but I’ll also be checking out their wares!

Care Package Depot is a unique spin on gifts because they do the work for you—in gift boxes! They’ve got so many fun pre-made boxes for the holidays (and anytime!), but you can also make your a personalized gift box. I love this!

Carey Lynn Creations touts some of the most unique woodcarving skills I’ve seen. Engraved woodworking, crafts, and gifts. Check them out! 

Crafting Dragonfly is a fun Etsy shop with unique designs and crafts. Based out of Allen, Tammy Moberg is super talented. Check out her shop! 

Craftyrific is a fun shop with handmade jewelry and hair accessories. Soooo many great choices here and attention to detail. Check them out!  

Dowdy Studio is a fun shop! They make cool art with their own hands and then turn it into cool tees and fun and exciting goods. I can’t love this enough! Plus, free shipping on all orders over $35. 

Gaston Made makes handmade gifts! Suuuuuch cute wood coasters and other crafty items. Check out their gallery, where they turn visions into creative reality. 

Oil and Cotton offer virtual art classes for adults and kids. We need this in our lives, especially right now! Their website says they “place a high value on the resourcefulness within ourselves and are dedicated to doing things the old-fashioned way.” I’m a fan!

Toots ‘n Monk Dog Treats Boutique…Need I say more? This gem is a boutique barkery providing delicious homemade treats for your best canine and feline friends. Along with mom’s help, these little entrepreneurs have created all-natural recipes to ensure fur babies’ healthy options. Cuteness overload!

 

The Gift of Green: A Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide

Sustainable Gift Guide Homepage

The holidays are upon us and I’ve got the perfect Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide. In here, you’ll find a little something for that green and clean person in your life. I even got you covered if you’re looking to buy some fun green sustainable gifts for your kiddos.

Gifts for the Skincare Junkie

Gift Guide Skincare Junkie

    1. Aether Beauty: Pigmented, sustainable eyeshadow palette. All their palettes are stunning and pigmented. Sustainable and beautiful non-toxic makeup products.
  1. Wabi-Sabi Gua Sha Tool: This is the best for facial lifting and lymphatic movement. I swear by doing this for five minutes each day. My favorite tool for lifting and plumping; it’s like natural Botox for the face.
  2. Odacite Shampoo Bar: Sustainable shampoo that lathers and hydrates. It’s been my new go-to for a couple of months now
  3. Bamboo Makeup Organizer: Use this for makeup, skincare, or anything else you prefer. Plastic-free.
  4. Lisse Safety Razor: Switching to a safety razor is one of the best things you can do for the environment and for yourself. Plus, it’s way more cost-effective. Lisse is a woman-owned brand!
  5. Riki Mirror: The BEST mirror hands down. Lights up and great for bloggers or anyone with horrible lighting. You can even travel with it.
  6. Odacite Creme de la Nuit: This is the best night cream I have ever used. Gets results within days and leaves your skin incredibly soft and silky.
  7. Fitglow Lip Kit: The best lip kit and makeup brand in clean beauty.
  8. Gua Sha Pressure Point Stone: The perfect tool to help with pressure points on the face. I hold the tension between my eyebrows and this is a lifesaver.
  9. Wabisabi: All in glass packaging and under $50. I recommend and use all of them!

Gifts for the Green Home Junkie

Green Home Junkie Gift Guide

  1. Our Place Always Pan: The best non-stick non-toxic skillet.
  2. Xtrema Cookware Tea Pot: Yes! Your teapot can be full of toxic metals. This one is made of 100% ceramic. I have this one and love it.
  3. Essential Oil Diffuser: Diffusing oils is a natural way to scent home and this diffuser is worth every penny.
  4. So Well Salt Lamp: I own five of these and it’s relaxing. They help purify the air and assist with blocking radiation.
  5. EMF Laptop Protection: This is to help with radiation. Both my hubby and I have one and use it all the time. Such a great gift idea.
  6. Sol Organix Bath Towel. 
  7. Xtrema Cookware Non-Toxic Steamer Basket
  8. Savvy Rest Organic Pillow and Bedding: Love their organic pillows. I will be purchasing the mattress soon and can’t wait to sleep on an organic mattress free of toxin chemicals.
  9. Xtrema Cookware Ceramic Cookware: The best ceramic cookware on the planet. Don’t let nasty toxins leach into the foods that you’re eating.

Gifts for the Sustainable Kid

Sustainable Kids gift guide

  1. Car Eco-Friendly Crayons: Eco-friendly sustainable crayons. Better for your kids and the environment. Plus, they’re super cute.
  2. Eco-Friendly Doll House: Don’t spend money on plastic dollhouses. This one is made with 100% real wood and without chemicals such as PVC, Phthalates, BPS or BPS, or Lead.
  3. Eco-Friendly Car Garage: My kids would love this. Anything that has to do with cars is always a best seller.
  4. Doll Stroller: For that sweet baby girl of yours.
  5. Recyclable-Turning Garbage into Science Kit: I thought this was really cool. Great way to use up things you may throw out and build something cool with.
  6. Mud Pie Kitchen: I love this for outside use. A great way to let your kids make as big as a mess outdoors to explore and play.
  7. Balance Board: Both my kids have the balance boards and they’re so great for all ages. They can even use their imaginations to build a car road and drive cars on it.
  8. Rainbow Arts & Craft Kit: This is perfect for that crafty child in your life.
  9. Ride-On Toy: Okay, how cute is this? Love this for my four-year-old son.
  10. Stocking Stuffer Kit: My boys each have these Cuddle & Kind dolls and they’re so amazing. Great way to pick out sustainable stocking stuffers.

Celebrating Kwanzaa as a Family: How We Incorporate Kwanzaa in our Holiday Traditions

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The holiday season is a time for celebrating traditions and sharing those traditions with family and friends. Our most significant memories around this time tend to center around how we celebrated the holidays growing up and it is the main reason why we pass these traditions down from generation to generation. We want our kids to have the same experience that we had during the holiday season or perhaps get to experience what we did not have.

Traditions and celebrations are also a way to hold on to the heritage and culture of our family groups. So even though Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and any other holiday celebrations that occur in the month of December are different, the reason for celebrating them year after year is still the same.

What Is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa was established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, who at that time was a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University. He desired to find a way to bring African Americans together, after the Watts Riots occurred in Los Angeles. This was also during the Civil Rights era, where African Americans had much difficulty in gaining equal rights and faced much discrimination and racism in their country of origin, the United States of America.

Because of this, many African Americans intentionally sought out ways to empower themselves and their community by establishing customs and traditions and celebrations. Dr. Karenga began to research traditional African harvest celebrations. His research led him to combine several aspects of harvest celebrations among African tribes, specifically the Ashanti and Zulu tribes, to create the celebration we know today as Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is primarily celebrated in the United States from December 26-January 2.

Kwanzaa comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. The celebration traditionally involves songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. Each night of the seven nights, the family will come together and light one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder) and then one of the seven principles is discussed.

The Kinara consists of three green candles, three red candles, and one black candle. The black candle is lit first and the principle of “umoja” (unity) is discussed first. The principles, called the “Nguzo Saba” (seven principles in Swahili), are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African Americans. There are also seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.

Source: History: What Is Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa Candleholder

Seven Principles & Seven Symbols of Kwanzaa

Seven Principles

Each night of Kwanzaa, a candle is lit and a principle is discussed:

  1. Unity: Umoja 
    To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Self-Determination: Kujichagulia 
    To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  3. Collective Work & Responsibility: Ujima
    To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
  4. Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa 
    To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Purpose: Nia 
    To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Creativity: Kuumba 
    To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Faith: Imani 
    To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Seven Symbols

  1. Mazao, the crops (fruits, nuts, and vegetables) Symbolizes work and the basis of the holiday.
  2. Mkeka: Place Mat  The mkeka, made from straw or cloth, comes directly from Africa and expresses history, culture, and tradition.
  3. Vibunzi: Ear of Corn The stalk of corn represents fertility and symbolizes that through the reproduction of children, the future hopes of the family are brought to life.
  4. Mishumaa Saba: The Seven Candles Candles are ceremonial objects with two primary purposes: to re-create symbolically the sun’s power and to provide light.
  5. Kinara: The Candleholder The kinara is the center of the Kwanzaa setting and represents the original stalk from which we came: our ancestry.
  6. Kikombe Cha Umoja: The Unity Cup This special cup is used to perform the libation ritual during the Karamu feast on the sixth day of Kwanzaa.
  7. Zawadi: Gifts  On the seventh day of Kwanzaa, meaningful gifts are given to encourage growth, self-determination, achievement, and success.

 

How We’re Celebrating Kwanzaa as a Family

A few years ago, our family decided to start incorporating Kwanzaa in our holiday traditions. We attended our local library’s Kwanzaa celebration where we learned more about the history of Kwanzaa, discussed the seven principles, listened to storytelling from “Harriet Tubman” about the Underground Railroad, and enjoyed a meal of soul food with the other attendees. Two years later, my oldest daughter still talks about the experience and how much fun she had.

Kwanzaa Celebration

This year, due to the pandemic, we will be focusing on the at-home aspects of celebrating Kwanzaa as a family. We will light the seven candles for each night of Kwanzaa and discuss the seven principles. I look forward to the discussions my husband and I will have with our teen, as her interest around her heritage and racial culture has peaked significantly this year. I also plan to read some books especially for our four-year-old, about the history of Kwanzaa to incorporate the storytelling piece of Kwanzaa. For the meaningful gifts, we plan to give each girl an age-appropriate gift that represents the elements of Zawadi.

One realization that all the chaos and uncertainty of 2020 has given me is the importance of establishing and maintaining traditions with my children. I hope that celebrating Kwanzaa as a family will be a holiday tradition that my girls will incorporate into their holiday traditions when they are older…and for generations of our family to come.

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