There are few things my husband asks for, for Father’s Day. But he does enjoy a good celebration meal. His favorite thing to eat is a grilled steak. It doesn’t matter what sides are served if there is the perfect beer to balance it out.
That’s it. He isn’t really picky about the details.
All the gifts he gets are from the kids and it is typically a silly joke between them printed on a t-shirt, or something handmade. They help me prepare dinner and set the table. The kids help me pick out the side dishes (usually things they will eat, and dad just goes along with). I don’t think there has ever been a takeout night or dinner outside our backyard to celebrate. I try to keep things low key and simple. The family seems to enjoy that most.
Do you have a traditional meal to celebrate Father’s Day in your home? Here are a few ideas for inspiration. And if you don’t celebrate Father’s Day, these are great meals to make any day of the year.
Easter is traditionally observed as a religious holiday, but like any holiday in America, everyone is invited to join in. The Easter season begins with Lent and ends with Pentecost. The season lasts for 50 days (nearly two months, not just one day!). Just for this one holiday season, more than 90 million chocolate bunnies, 91.4 billion eggs and 700 million Peeps are produced each year in the United States alone.
Next to Halloween, Easter is the biggest candy driven holiday. When I was a kid our Easter baskets were FILLED to the brim with chocolate treats and sugary confections. I don’t know what my mom was thinking giving all four of her children (very close in age) free reign over so much candy. Maybe she was too tired to care, or just opened the door and tossed the candy on the lawn so we had to fight over it and only one of us could reign supreme? (Old age makes the details fuzzy).
Anyway, a lot has changed now that I am a parent. Instead of focusing on the treats, we try to fill our kids’ Easter baskets with things they need, or items they can use rather than eat. The first holiday my twins were just babies and we bought them a few outfits and stuffed animals to snuggle, but really did not go overboard. At six months old they were too young to participate in anything. It was more fun just to dress them up and ooh and awe at their cuteness, or sharing a storybook before bed.
Now as pre-teens, my kiddos are way into candy, so we don’t deny them. But we do set limits (for our own sanity). They get the most important holiday classics like a chocolate bunny and some egg shaped peanut butter cups. The rest of the baskets are filled with fun craft and science kits, seeds and garden kits or painting kits to keep them busy. My kids would make everything in one day, so I strategically hide them to dole out through the rainy days of spring. One kiddo mentioned she found these beaker creatures online and wanted a set of her own. Of course, we tucked that idea away for Easter baskets!
You can also skip toys and crafts and candy all together and put in gift certificates for experiences to a local zoo or ice cream place. A fun list of hikes tucked inside of a pair of new hiking boots with a plan to explore together. This holiday may be steeped in traditions, but there is no tradition dictating what kinds of things you put in your child’s Easter baskets. Other moms might have opinions about giving gifts at Easter, but you do what works for you and your family. I know for my family; it doesn’t work to hand my kids a bucket sized basket of candy. Not only would it be a sugar crash waiting to happen, but would also be very boring for my busy, active kids.
And if you don’t celebrate Easter in your family, celebrating the coming of spring with gifts and earth based ceremonies are just as important. We all celebrate in whatever way works for our own family. I have noticed the common threads between the celebrations usually involves family, food and time to reflect on the gifts we already have. Whatever holiday you celebrate – even if it’s just to feel joyful about spring – I wish you a healthy and happy celebration!
It’s Christmas, during a pandemic, and getting a baby sitter is not as easy as it was during Christmases of yore. So, on the first day of Christmas, I’m giving my true love a list of movie date nights to choose from. We can’t get reservations at a local restaurant either, so I created a list of cocktails we can make at home to sip along with some take out appetizers. Everything we need can be picked up curbside at a safe distance.
If you do not drink alcohol, mocktails are equally fun and festive. If you prefer to you can choose a main dish from a movie to recreate and eat while watching along. The key is to just make the most of the evening while the kids are either in bed, or in their own rooms.
12 Movies + 12 Cocktails = 12 Date Nights of Christmas
It’s a Wonderful Life – our favorite classic movie to kick off the season with. You have to sip your way through this holiday tear jerker with a simple Bailey’s on the rocks, or shake it with cream and serve in a chilled martini glass.
Home Alone – one of my personal favorites! I have to go with a chocolate martini here in honor of the giant sundae Kevin eats while no one is watching. Toss in some mini marshmallows and a sprinkle of crushed candy canes.
Home Alone 2 – normally I am not a fan of sequels, but this one was as good as the first movie. It is a must see in our house! Since Kevin is lost in Manhattan, you’re going to need a Manhattan cocktail to go along with this movie.
A Christmas Story – another classic we watch year after year. A simple red wine goes along with this movie. It’s the drink the mom and dad share while taking in the splendor of their Christmas night in front of the tree.
Scrooged – This is my husbands favorite and one I was reluctant to watch. I just didn’t think it looked very Christmasy. Now it’s on our annual watch list! In this movie Bill Murray’s character repeatedly requests a Tab and Vodka. I’ve never had that one, but willing to give it a try. (p.s. Tab was discontinued in October this year, but you can use a cola drink instead).
Elf – This is a quirky little mish mosh of a Christmas movie, but in honor of Buddy’s search for the Worlds Best Coffee, I’d fix up an Espresso Martini.
Christmas Vacation – we usually watch this while finishing up our gift wrapping. It’s just tradition! You can’t go wrong with a simple Rum and Nog (eggnog). Any store bout eggnog will do!
Die Hard – I confess, I’ve never watched this movie. My husband (and several friends) swear it is a traditional Christmas movie. I agreed this year to watch it. We have not tried this movie + cocktail combination yet, but I found the Nakatomi Plaza Bomb.
The Santa Clause – another one of my favorites from childhood! I paired this with a Sugar Cookie Martini. (You could reuse some of the Bailey’s from a previous movie night if you haven’t drank it all yet).
Deck the Halls – this back and forth competition of bright lights is too hilarious to forget about. Nothing says Christmas like dueling neighborhood light shows! A boozy Hot Chocolate will keep you lit through the chilly adventure.
If you choose to make the cocktails portion of these themed date nights, please drink responsibly, and pace yourself! If you can’t handle one cocktail a night then don’t! Just pick one or two nights of fun as you count down to Christmas!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer/blogger just trying her best to survive parenthood. You can follow along with her less than perfect adventures at The Whatever Mom.
Christmas 2020 is going to look very different. It is easier to shop the big box stores for the things my kids love, but when it comes to gifts for the grown ups in my life I strive to shop as many local businesses as possible. This year has hit small businesses pretty hard, so giving them our support now will help keep them going all winter long.
What I love most about small businesses, or mom run businesses is that I get to know the people behind the products and I know that my dollars are going to help support a family vs. a big CEO buy another yacht.
Today, I’d like to introduce one of my favorite Etsy creators and personal friend, Shelly Kelly. She handmakes beautiful jewelry and crocheted items under the name MamaMoonLocks. You can get an exclusive 20% reader discount using the code WHATEVERMOM20.
Here are some samples of her beautiful handmade goods. Click on the image to see the listing and enter your discount code at check out.
These are all items on my personal wish list! Everything is made with an eye on sustainability, durability and functionality. You will love everything you find in her Etsy shop!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom looking to ditch perfection and just do whatever saves her the most sanity each day. You can follow along with her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Got a Star Wars fan or a game enthusiast living in your house? I have both! We love family game nights and curling up to watch a Star Wars movie. Here are some great gift ideas for every age and stage of fandom. Some of these gift ideas may have come straight from my family’s wish list.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of The Whatever Mom. Her family is totally into Star Wars for the special effects and laser beams.
This post contains affiliate links where I make a small commission on qualified purchases at no cost to you. For full disclosure, read here.
A few years ago, a friend invited me to participate in a secret sister gift exchange. That’s where you sign up to send one gift to one other woman and you are supposed to receive 36 in return. Almost everyone worried it was a scam and backed out, but before that I received a couple of great gifts, not the intended 36 that the gift exchange boasts. Which if you do the math, it does not equal 36 gifts. But it is fun to send off (and receive) some good cheer!
This year I have been invited to at least a dozen of these secret sister gift exchanges. No one is worried it’s a scam anymore and it is pretty safe to do among friends and friends of friends on Facebook.
So, if you are wondering what to include in your gifting, I created list of affordable gift ideas for $10 or less. You can ship directly to your secret sister today!
These are all easy, allergy friendly ideas. You won’t have to worry about personal diets, food sensitivities, alcohol/coffee preferences. They are super cute and easy to pair with other embellishments. The best part of this gift exchange is how much fun it is! So, keep spreading the joy!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of the The Whatever Mom. Her mission is to help other parents let go of perfection and embrace the messier parts of parenting.
Halloween can be overwhelming to anyone with sensory processing disorder (SPD). If you haven’t heard of this particular disorder before, you are not alone. Most people do not know what it is until their own child is diagnosed. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may struggle to understand your child’s sensory triggers.
According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”
Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag inside their shirt, or the seam inside their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone while wearing an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.
After speaking with other moms whose kiddos have SPD, I can share some really great tips. The most important thing is, do not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough.
PRO MOM TIPS
Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint.
Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up.
For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great.
For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light.
If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.
Skip the costumes and make your kiddo feel included with fun family coordinated themed set of t-shirts. Use a small, personalization business like Mom Squad Creations to print up your matching shirts and you’ll be ready to head out together.
Avoid a meltdown by keeping your child informed of timing of events.
Host a small gathering in your home for your child’s comfort.
Trick or treat on streets with sidewalks to lesson anxiety.
Get creative in how your child participates. Nothing is set in stone. Instead of bobbing for apples, maybe your child can stack apples in a bucket.
Put yourself in their shoes. Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next.
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand so they know what to expect.
If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises, there are no rules mandating they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake and decorate treats, have a fun meal together, or make some popcorn and settle in for a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween!
If this Halloween looks different than the way other families are celebrating, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable and less stressed.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. Her spookiest Halloween decoration is an empty coffee pot. *shudder*
Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, including my own. My kids are always excited to show off their costumes to our closest neighbors and spend time walking door to door with their friends. But before we head out, I want to make sure their tummies are full and they have enough energy to make it through the neighborhood.
I’ve rounded up some of our quickest and most favorite Halloween dinner ideas. When my kids were just toddlers, these fun recipes were also a fun holiday themed activity and eating our creepy morsels was part of the fun.
MUMMY PIZZA from “Cents”able Mama uses store bought ingredients to make this fun dinner fast!
BAKED QUESADILLAS from That Fit Fam are perfect for your little cheese lover! Serve with some carrot sticks or an apple sauce pouch for a quick meal before heading out the door.
SWEET AND SOUR BAT WINGS from Sprinkles and Sprouts. How spooky are these?? Marinate overnight in the fridge and put in the oven in time for your pre-treat dinner.
If you have time to make all of these at once you’ll have a variety of fun things to offer the kids before heading out for candy. We usually don’t serve a dessert since we know we are going to eat a bunch of candy as soon as we get home. Happy treating!
What’s your favorite Halloween recipe to make?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She spends most of her time making food her kids won’t eat and fantasizing about how a beach vacation where naps are required. You can find her at The Whatever Mom on Facebook and on Instagram. For more recipe ideas, follow her on Pinterest.
Valentine’s day seems to bring out two kinds of people. The ones who love everything about the holiday and the ones who hate everything about it. I used to be one of the folks that hated it. I thought it was some dumb made up holiday created to dupe people from their dollars with useless trinkets and overpriced flowers. Gift giving is easy but loving someone every day is the hard part. A total cynic, even after I found love with the man that is now my husband.
We were dating only a few weeks before Valentine’s day, so I
gave my new love a card and a funny pair of joke boxers out of obligation. I
was clearly in the no frills, less is more camp. Only after arriving at his
apartment for a home cooked meal, a surprise dozen roses, some chocolates, gold
jewelry and a sappy card did I realize he was in the other camp. And that made for
some very awkward dinner conversation.
A lot has changed since our first Hallmark holiday. For our second Valentine’s day, we celebrated the birth of my nephew. Our third Valentine’s day we celebrated my niece’s victory over childhood cancer and on our fifth Valentine’s Day we attended my father’s funeral. Valentine’s day has not always been all roses and chocolates for us. We’ve watched friends marry and divorce on Valentine’s day, and we’ve watched atrocities of mass shootings unfold on Valentine’s day. This Hallmark occasion has become a mixed bag of emotions for me. I’m always torn between throwing love around like confetti or sobbing in a closet. In between all the gifts and romance, funerals and cancer diagnosis’ we’ve learned that we need this one day on the calendar to remind us to slow down and check-in with those around us. I am always thankful for that extra reminder.
Today marks our 19th Valentine’s Day and again it is a day of celegrieving (Note to self: coin the term “celegrieving”). We lost four amazing people in the last month. Grieving on Valentine’s day isn’t new to us, but it does put a crimp in our celebratory mood. Yet in a way it doesn’t. (There’s that mixed bag of emotions. You just don’t know which one I’m going to pull out). We don’t need flowers, or grand gestures to celebrate our family and friends. We are grateful for the memories we have with our Uncle Mike, our friends Michael, Jennifer and Erica. They are among the reasons we rejoice. We celebrate them and the wonderful gifts they’ve given us. Each of them taught us something, showed us kindness in every day gestures and made us laugh. Oh, how I will miss hearing their laughter. And their smiles when we talked. The run-ins at Walmart. And our shared stories with funny inside jokes. This holiday wasn’t invented with grievers in mind, and it isn’t my fault that my grief comes with a side of glittery wrapped dark chocolates. I guess grieving on the high holy day of chocolate has this one small benefit.
Despite my sadness this morning I decorated our kitchen with
red and white crepe paper and scattered chocolate kisses all over the breakfast
table. I surprised my girls with some special gifts, and I wrote love notes in
everyone’s card. No, my husband’s presents and impressive dinners over the
years have not converted me to the commercialism of Valentine’s day. But living
in a world where it is easy to become so busy that we lose track of time and each
other has changed our view of what this day means for us. All the materialism
celebrated on this day will fade, but the lasting memories we forge together
will get us through the low points, like when we can’t make sense of death. Even
if this holiday is just another day on the calendar, I can still gift my family
with joy over the cynical harshness of life. And what I’ve learned from the
last 19 Valentine holidays is that every second we are alive is worth
celebrating. Also, if you buy your brand-new boyfriend a pair of goofy boxers for
your first Valentine’s day, when you get married, you can coast along on those
low standards for another two decades.
Roxanne is the head writer, creative force and marketing guru at The Whatever Mom. She started this crazy blog before her babies grew into smarty pants little people leaving messes all over her house. Eight years on the coffee wagon and still folding nine million pairs of socks. But she is a survivor and she’s gonna make it. Even if it means white knuckling through every morning until her kids’ graduation. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
The Christmas season is in full blown panic mode. It’s time to buckle down and find the PERFECT gift for everyone! All the emails filling my in box are YELLING AT ME to open to find the PERFECT gift for everyone on my list, including the postal carrier, my kids’ bus driver and the lady down the street that once stopped to chat with me for five minutes about the weather. Everyone has to have THE PERFECT gift!
Every year as I panic to make all the gifts happen and I worry if I am buying something useful and am I including everyone, I think back to one year I found exactly the perfect gift for everyone on my list and it only cost me $20. I was a poor college student in between jobs. I was determined to somehow give my friends and family a meaningful gift. Something truly from the heart, but still fit in my budget.
I had to get creative since I was down to the last $20 in my bank account. Now, to be fair at the time I was a college student $20 stretched just a little bit further than it does today, but it still couldn’t stretch as far as I needed it to. I had some really wonderful people in my life that I needed to thank and tell them just how much I love them. I decided to write each person a letter.
I purchased some pretty stationary and planned to hand write everyone a personal letter telling them what they mean to me. I was so excited I started composing letters in my head as I walked up and down the aisles of the drug store. But it didn’t feel like enough of a gift to simply add a stamp and drop in the mailbox. I keep pacing the aisles looking for inspiration. I started looking at all the pretty things I couldn’t afford and realized there was no way I could buy one gift for each person. But I could buy one thing to share and divide among my friends. I decided I would invite everyone over for a spa party and hand deliver my letters.
I scooped up some pretty candles, borrowed my mom’s best table cloth, scattered some rose petals on top and laid out all kinds of facial masks and nail polishes. I even had enough to purchase some chocolates and crackers and cheese. For a poor teenaged college student this felt super fancy! Then I invited everyone to come over for some pampering, a nosh and just spend time together.
It turned out to be one of the most memorable gifts I have ever given. We all had so much fun just being together talking and laughing. There was no pressure to exchange gifts of equal value, no worry about guessing sizes or accounting for taste. It was just all my important girl friends gathered to spend a few hours connecting and enjoying the season together.
In fact, the memory of this day drives me to slow down at every Christmas and just enjoy who I am surrounded with. I have spent many Christmas’s with many different people over the years. But the ones I cherish most are the ones with my kids. To wake up with their wide eyed wonder staring at the magic before them, with a heart so full of belief is priceless. And I could never find a gift under the tree as special as that.
So this year give up on finding perfection in gifts and material things. Instead, look for the perfect moments spent connecting with friends and family. Those moments will sustain you longer than any seasonal candle, electronic or new gadget. Take photos even if you don’t feel “perfect” and eat that extra Christmas cookie if it brings you joy vs. the perfect calorie count. And I challenge you to look for perfect moments well passed the holiday season when we expect every moment to be perfect. There is no rule saying we can’t connect with friends and family in the same way in July as we do in December.
Slow down, take a night off and stop to enjoy all the warmth surrounding you. Merry Christmas!
The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia