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How to Raise a Foodie

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how to raise a foodie - Boston Moms

When I was a kid, I wasn’t really into food.

My family tells stories about me eating only butter packets while out to dinner. My mom would have to beg me to take just a few bites of food. I remember eating scrambled eggs, cereal (Frosted Flakes and Cinnamon Toast Crunch), and carrots. I’m pretty sure I survived on chicken patties and pizza during my teen years. In fact, I didn’t become a foodie until my 30s.

I could attribute this title to living and working on a vegetable and dairy farm in my 20s, but I prefer to thank my family. They had been laying the foundation all along. It just took me 30 years to appreciate it.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Here’s another article about how to cure my picky eater. You’ve tried all the tips and tricks, and they haven’t worked. But wait, don’t click away just yet — because I’m taking a different approach. These tips won’t provide a quick fix. They’re more about parenting for the long game. As in years from now — maybe 30 years from now.

Tip #1: Learn to open the refrigerator and make something — anything – without a recipe in 30 minutes.

To do this you need a stocked pantry and enough items in your freezer to last the winter. Frozen cooked meat is essential. You also need creativity and a time limit, because while the possibilities might be endless, the time frame is not. In 30 minutes, your foodie judges, I mean children, will be sitting at the table with their scorecards, I mean forks, ready to take one bite, and only one bite, of your carefully concocted creation.

It’s like “Chopped,” only the judges are even more fickle and prone to throwing things.

I’m serious, though. Thank you for this one, Mom.

Tip #2: Discover the importance of a great sauce.

When out to eat, my dad likes to ask the servers, “What’s in this sauce that makes it so delicious?” The servers chuckle and then ramble off a quick list of ingredients.

From the man whose culinary repertoire is limited to scrambled eggs and grilled cheese, I was curious to know what he would be doing with his newfound sauce knowledge. Apparently, he wanted to share it with me so I could make the delicious sauces at home. “Because,” he says, “the sauce pulls the whole dish together.” He’s not wrong. Sauces provide moisture, depth of flavor, and cohesion to a dish. I just wonder which ones pair nicely with scrambled eggs (hollandaise?) or grilled cheese (pesto?), because if I’m at the sauce station, I need someone to cook the main dish.

Tip #3: Offer meals as a buffet.

From my maternal grandmother, I learned the importance of options. Why make an apple pie when you can also make pumpkin? Why serve just turkey when you can have ham and sausage, too? Broccoli, corn, and carrots? Why not?

Quite frankly, this is genius, and it’s how I cook for my kids. Every dinner is a smorgasbord — some items are their favorites, and others they’ve never seen. They don’t have to put everything on their plate, but they should have at least three food groups represented, and one has to be a fruit or a vegetable. This tactic encourages independence and decision making. It also uses leftovers, because I don’t make the full buffet every night.

Tip #4: Learn the value of taking your time in the kitchen.

This is the opposite of Tip #1. But there is something to be said for slowing down and taking all day to prepare a meal. For me, it’s a form of foodie meditation. A way for me to tune out the world and focus on my senses and tasks for a moment of zen.

These types of meals are my husband’s specialty. I call them his Epic Meals. From the meal’s inception to the mise en place to the execution of the dish, this can take hours, sometimes days. I love this quality in him, and it definitely makes him the better cook. He is careful and thoughtful in a way that I am not. He never loses his concentration, not even with a 3-year-old screaming at his feet.

My only request: Please don’t make an Epic Meal on a Monday night. Oh, and do your own dishes!

Tip #5: Cook and bake alongside your kids.

A few weeks ago, my 6-year-old daughter and I took on the task of making a hazelnut-almond dacquoise. (Don’t worry, I had to Google the word dacquoise, too.) The preparation took days. We made the almond dacquoise layers completely from scratch — we blanched, peeled, toasted, and ground the hazelnuts and almonds to grainy flours; we whipped the egg whites to perfect peaks; we folded the ingredients to maintain aeration; we piped the batter into three equal rectangles; we baked it for three hours then left it to cool in the oven overnight. And that was just ONE of the three main ingredients! We still had the buttercream and ganache to make. But we took our time, and persistence paid off with an absolutely beautiful replica of a three-layer 10-inch-long cake that served 10-12 people.

My daughter took one bite and declared it, “Not that great.”

Sigh.

I’ll admit I was frustrated. She had been begging for months to make this dessert, and now she didn’t even like it. But it would have been pretty unfair of me to expect her to immediately like its sophisticated flavors, unfamiliar textures, and a name she couldn’t pronounce. What I do hope is that she continues to try new foods and be a lifelong adventurous eater. Because, for me, that’s what it means to be a foodie.


Christmas Gift Ideas for a (Moderately) Minimalist Mom

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Christmas gift ideas - Boston Moms

I love Christmas. Give me all the baking and togetherness and carols. I will gladly watch the canon of holiday movies on Netflix over and over (boy, do I love love!). I have an inflatable Buddy the Elf on my back porch.

One thing I struggle with every year, though, is the other mainstay of the holiday season — gifts.

I aspire to minimalism, but (for me) parenting and minimalism don’t seem to go hand in hand. The need for 1,000 burp rags feels real, and at the rate my children keep growing out of their shoes, it is hard to keep the closets decluttered.

Here are five gift ideas that are sure to please the (moderately) minimalist mom in your life:

Childcare

Be specific! “I’d like to take your kid(s) for the morning one Saturday in January” is a lot more helpful and less stressful than “I’ll take the kids sometime.” Depending on how well you know the mom and the kids, see if she’ll let you take them out of the house (to the library or the playground — it doesn’t have to be fancy!). A morning alone in my house to do whatever I please? Wow. Now that sounds like luxury.

Plan an experience together 

Every year, instead of exchanging traditional gifts, my mom and I go see the Boston Ballet. I buy the tickets; she buys the dinner. I look forward to it every year. I have memories to look back on and a fun evening out.

A gift certificate for something she loves but rarely gets to do 

I know, I know. A gift certificate? Really? YES! I love yoga classes and ax throwing and heading to Milton Nails & Spa, but I very rarely choose to spend money on those things when parenting makes it so there is always something else that seems more pressing (childcare costs, college savings, swim lessons, new shoes that the kids grew out of again, etc, etc.).

Really nice olive oil 

Sure, moms have their pantries stocked and probably have a go-to olive oil for everyday cooking, but not many of the moms I know are splurging for the good stuff. This Tenuta Di Capezzana Extra Virgin Olive Oil will dress up any dish, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

A “one in, one out” gift

If you know the recipient well and really want to give her a gift she can open, try to find something that she might consider a replacement rather than an addition. I am fine with my programmable automatic drip coffee pot, but I wouldn’t mind replacing it with one that grinds the beans for me every morning. If I am going to say goodbye to an old item (recycling via BuyNothing or Facebook Marketplace), it feels like a win.

All I know about Christmas tells me that the moms in our lives are all working hard to make others feel loved and appreciated. If you receive and give gifts with gratitude for the relationships in your life, you can’t go wrong! 


Plan Your Weekend :: December 13–15

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Friday, December 13

Santa In The City…Photos With Santa

November 23 @ 8:00 am – December 24 @ 5:00 pm :: Prudential Center, Boston 

Capture the magic of the holiday season November 23 through December 24 and bring the kids for a special photo with Santa in his Winter Wonderland located in Belvidere Arcade. A variety of photo packages are available, starting at $19.99.

Santa’s hours:
Monday-Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Sundays: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
CLOSED THANKSGIVING

Extended hours start December 6:
12/6: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
12/7: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
12/8: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
12/9-12/13: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
12/14: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
12/15: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
12/16: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
12/17-12/20: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
12/21: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
12/22: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
12/23: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. 12/24: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Miracle on 34th Street

December 13 :: Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham :: $20 – $57

Join Greater Boston Stage Company for the production of
MIRACLE ON 34th STREET
NOV 29-DEC 22, 2019
If you really believe, anything can happen.

When Kris Kringle agrees to serve as a last-minute replacement for Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, he is so convincing that he is offered a job as the Santa for Macy’s department store.

He claims to be the real Santa Claus, but can he convince the doubters, including a little girl longing to find something to believe in?

Hallmark Channel Presents: Mariah Carey: All I Want for Christmas

December 13 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm :: Wang Theater, Boston :: $60.95

Global singing and songwriting icon Mariah Carey has announced an exclusive limited engagement holiday run with her All I Want For Christmas Is You Tour, presented by Hallmark Channel, at the Boch Center Wang Theatre for Friday, December 13.

This tour marks a special milestone in the legacy of Carey’s beloved album, Merry Christmas, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this holiday season. Mariah will bring an extravagant, festive outing that only she can deliver to limited cities across the U.S. this winter. Her special run of can’t-miss shows will bring out the festive spirit in fans of all ages. The All I Want For Christmas Is You Tour will be filled with Carey’s most recognizable hits, as well as the internationally celebrated music from Carey’s Merry Christmas album, re-releasing on November 1st, in recognition of the 25th anniversary (to the day!) of the album’s original release date.

$1 from each ticket sold will benefit Toys for Tots, a 72-year national charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, which provides happiness and hope to less fortunate children during each Christmas holiday season. Unwrapped toys will also be collected at each event for donation to Toys for Tots.

Saturday, December 14

The Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan and Santa Visit Franklin Park Zoo

December 14 @ 11:00 am – 2:00 pm :: Franklin Park Zoo, Boston 

The Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan is coming to Franklin Park Zoo! Look for the festive truck as it brings Santa to the Zoo on Saturday, December 14. Guests will be able to meet and take a free family photo with Santa between 11:00 and 2:00 p.m.

Warm up inside the Tropical Forest building as you watch some of the animals receive festive enrichment. There will also be a fun craft to take home and an activity at the education station.

Ugly Sweater Holiday Brew Hike

December 14 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm :: Rocky Woods Reservation, Medfield :: $15

Join us for a special Ugly Sweater Holiday Brew Moon Hike! Dig through your closets and drawers — we know there’s an ugly holiday sweater in there. Be brave. Wear it to show off at this fun night hike! There’s bound to be a sweater uglier than yours!

Celebrate the full moon with a night hike guided by lunar light, topped off with local brews! We’ll be hiking some of Rocky Woods’ most beautiful trails and wrapping up at the Chickering Cabin Visitors Center for brews, bites and a blazing fire. After the hike, relax by the woodstove with fellow trekkers to enjoy delicious beers and light snacks inside our visitors’ cabin. You’ll be able to sample the beer(s) you choose to purchase. 21+ and registration required. A prize for the ugliest sweater will be awarded.

This event runs rain or (lunar) shine!

Be sure to wear boot or shoes that are appropriate for hiking in potentially wet, rocky and muddy spots.

Space is limited for this event. Pre-registration is required. If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

FAQs

Q: Can I bring my dog?

A: Of course! And put an ugly sweater on your canine campanion if you dare. Your furry friend is welcome on our hike as long as they are on leash. Unfortunately, we do not allow dogs inside the cabin, but pups are welcome to hang out just outside the cabin.

Q: How long is the hike?

A: Anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on our group’s size, ability, and whatever adventure our rangers have in store!

Questions? Want to become a Trustees member and enjoy free and/or discounted programs? Contact [email protected]

Brett Eldredge

December 14 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm :: Wang Theater, Boston :: $39.50

Following the release of his 2016 album Glow and its deluxe edition last year, country music star Brett Eldredge has become synonymous with Christmas. This season the powerhouse vocalist will return for his annual Glow LIVE holiday tour, which comes to the Boch Center Wang Theatre stage on December 14.

The LIVE show will feature seasonal selections from Glow as well as other holiday hits. Eldredge’s album earned widespread praise from critics upon its initial release, with Entertainment Weekly calling it “a brassy romantic collection with bold big-band arrangements” and People detailing his “rich, pliant voice.” Its acclaim culminated in his duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with GRAMMY-winner Meghan Trainor reaching No. 1 on both the Adult Contemporary and Holiday Music charts.

Glow LIVE will begin with a special appearance from comedian Barry Rothbart. Rothbart is known for his work as “Kevin” on ABC’s Downward Dog and can also be seen on Showtime’s Kidding. He has performed on a variety of television programs, including: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Adam Devine’s House Party, as well as his own Half Hour with Comedy Central. He has earned several honors at the Just For Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival, and on the big screen he can be seen in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wallstreet and Demetri Martin’s Dean.

Eldredge, a Platinum-selling recording artist and songwriter, celebrated his seventh No. 1 country single earlier this year with “Love Someone.” He is currently working on his next project.

Sunday, December 15

PJ Library Lights Up Chanukah

December 15 :: Newton and Walpole :: $13 – $25

Join PJ Library for an imaginative, illuminated interpretation of Chanukah at the Riemer-Goldstein Theater, Leventhal-Sidman JCC (333 Nahanton Street) in Newton on Sunday, December 15 from 10:30am-12pm, and at the Elm Street School (415 Elm Street) in Walpole on Sunday, December 15 from 4-5:30pm. This glowing Chanukah performance features singing, juggling and hula hoops to create mesmerizing, rhythmic patterns with light while telling the story behind the Festival of Lights. For families with children ages 0-6 years, siblings welcome. Cost is $20/family by December 13; $25/family after December 13. Register at bostonjcc.org/southchanukah. For more information, contact [email protected] and join the JCC South Area Family Connection Facebook group for weather-related updates.

Santa Visits Jam Time in Norwood

December 15 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am :: Jam Time, Norwood :: $6.50 – $13

Ho, Ho, Ho! Come and meet Santa Claus and enjoy a festive morning of winter and Christmas themed arts & crafts along with lots of playtime to your favorite holiday tunes! Don’t forget your camera for this popular event! Great for all ages and free with playground admission of $13/child. $6.50 for class and play members. No reservations needed, just show up!

PJ Library Storymakers

December 15 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am :: Bow Market, Somerville :: $5

Come with your kids for a fun and easy Sunday morning at Bow Market (1 Bow Market Way) in Somerville on Sunday, December 15 from 10:30-11:30am. Meet in the lobby, next to In Season. Get your coffee and listen to some favorite PJ Library read-aloud books, sing songs, and do a hands-on project related to the story. Grab lunch or shop afterwards in Bow Market’s many eclectic establishments. Cost is $5/drop-in per family paid at the event. For families with children ages 1-5 years. RSVP at bostonjcc.org/storymakers. Check the JCC Metro North Family Connection Facebook group or contact 617-841-8009 x2 for weather-related updates. For more information, contact [email protected]

Sugar Plum Fairy Party

December 15 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm :: Joanne Langione Dance Center, West Newton :: $25

Enjoy Nutcracker themed music and movement led by the Sugar Plum Fairy, with festive games, stories and snacks!

My Kid’s Oral Fixation Is Making Me Crazy!

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oral fixation - Boston Moms

I remember the day my son figured out how to get his tiny thumb into his mouth. He was 4 months old, and when I went to check on him during a nap he was sucking away. I snapped a picture and texted it to my husband. We celebrated this milestone, because once he found his thumb he started sleeping through the night! It was life-changing and amazing!

He was a very colicky and difficult baby. It was tough times. He was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which meant his thumb-sucking was a real blessing. He did not like to be soothed in a typical way. If he was upset as a baby or toddler, my mere presence could make it worse. So his thumb was his way to self-soothe, and I was very grateful for it.

We did not realize that eight years later we would still have a thumb sucker.

Yup, he still sucks his thumb. And now he is also chewing on everything. He chews on his clothes, straws, zippers, and, once, a magnet. If there is any random item near him, he puts it in his mouth. But the worst part of this oral fixation is the toys — he has destroyed some of his toddler brother’s toy dinosaurs by chewing them so hard!

I have gotten specific chew toys for him. He chews right through them and destroys them. I have gotten the chew necklaces. He chewed through every style of those as well. These chew toys are not cheap, and he could go through a necklace a day. Plus, then he has a slimy wet necklace around his neck. Gross.

I constantly ask him to take his thumb out of his mouth or stop chewing on that toy. Or I simply say “dry,” and he stops. But the thumb or the toy literally goes back into his mouth within seconds.

I now offer him sugarless gum. He chews gum at school as well. This is a great solution, but, unfortunately, constant gum chewing can lead to headaches, and we have been advised not to overdo it.

I am at my wits end with this oral fixation! I know it is a habit, and habits are hard to break — especially for a child with special needs. But I cannot take it anymore. I feel like my house is covered in saliva, and I am having serious anxiety over the constant “take it out of your mouth” comments.

I recently found these selfies on his iPad.

Please tell me I am not alone in this? How do you deal with oral fixation in older kids? I’ll gladly take anyone’s advice!


Supporting Families of Kids With Special Needs During the Holidays

special needs family holidays - Boston Moms

I look forward to and dread the holiday season in a “hard to reconcile” dichotomy that is common among parents of children with special needs.

Personally, I love everything about the holidays — the decorations, traditions, food, and company all feels nothing short of magical.

At the same time, I am also a parent to a child who has complex medical and emotional needs, which has changed what our holidays look like immensely. We often have to say no, make hard choices, and decide what’s practical to do instead of what we would prefer to do in an effort to keep our family healthy and happy.

We are thankful to have supportive extended family members who, over the years, have really gone above and beyond to understand and empathize with our situation and make us feel comfortable in their homes.

If you have a friend or family member who has a child with special needs this holiday season, there are some practical and easy ways to help support them without adding a lot to your own to-do list. Even if you choose just one of these things, I know I’m not only speaking for myself when I say it makes us feel seen and loved just a little extra.

You can…

1. Invite us.

Even if you know or suspect we’ll say no, invite us anyway. We still appreciate you thinking of us and wanting to spend time with our family. Try to remember it’s most likely not personal if we turn you down.

2. Give us a call ahead of time.

If we’re unfamiliar with your home, safety is probably our biggest concern. Giving us a heads up if there are any pets, if you have a pool, if your house is on a busy street with a door that easily opens, etc. helps us be as safe as possible.

3. Find a quiet space.

Let us know if there’s a quiet space we can utilize if our kiddo needs a break. Having access to television and comfort items (blankets, pillows, etc.) we can utilize in a “sensory emergency” is incredibly helpful. A break space usually allows us to stay at the event a little bit longer.

4. Be interested!

Ask us ahead of time about some of our child’s favorite things to play or talk about, especially if you are nervous about being able to find common ground with them. We appreciate it more than you know.

5. Level with us.

It’s probable that our child won’t sit with 30 other people at the same time at dinner, “behave” through a religious service, or be patient while opening gifts. They might not tolerate a fancy holiday dress, special shoes, or an adorable little bow tie. Try to empathize with us and understand that this isn’t happening because we’re “bad parents.” Offer us an alternative when it’s possible.

6. Send us some pictures.

For us, the more predictable something is, the better, and a social story (or preview of what will happen) makes the event much more enjoyable. Even though it might feel weird,  pictures of just about everything help our child feel safe and organized.

7. Have fun!

Our life is mostly chaotic, but it’s still beautiful. As a family, we try to take in and enjoy the happy moments when they come to us, and we would love to share them with you.

Please remember that these are things that work best for our family, and they might not be applicable to everyone. All kids are different, including kids with autism and other special needs. Happy holidays!


The Teenager Vs. the Threenager

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threenager vs. teenager - Boston Moms
Photo courtesy Chirag Rathod.

Dear parents of three-year-olds,

Welcome to the threenage year! This year was created to prepare you for your future as a parent of a teenager. Below is a list of comparisons between a threenager and a teenager to better illustrate what is to come.

Waking up

Threenager: Wakes at the first sight of the sun. Runs rampant until naptime. Denies being tired. Crashes hard.

Teenager: Falls asleep 10 minutes before the first sight of sun. Flops body around and drags self around like zombie until naptime. Complains about being tired. Crashes hard.

Feeding

Threenager: Will beg for food at all hours of the day. Cries when it is not procured immediately. Claims to be starving. Cries when it is served on the wrong plate. Gives dog half of food. Takes one bite. Throws rest on ground. Seemingly survives on less food than a mouse. Begins process over again every hour, on the hour.

Teenager: Will beg for food at all hours of the day. Whines and huffs when it is not procured immediately. Claims to be starving. Eats all food on plate. Eats plate. Eats table plate was on. Seemingly eats more than a moose. Begins process over again every hour, on the hour.

Bathing

Threenager: Denies need for bath until dirt covers 78% of body. Fights like wild hyena about the need for a cleansing. Splashes around gleefully once finally in tub. Refuses to get out of tub. Forgets to use soap.

Teenager: Denies need for bath until dirt covers 78% of body. Fights like wild hyena about the need for a cleansing. Splashes around gleefully once finally in tub. Refuses to get out of tub. Forgets to use soap.

School

Threenager: Complains about going to school. Complains it is too hard. Throws backpack on ground. Stomps feet. Cries. Demands snack. Requires superhuman strength and a shoe horn to get into carseat. Claims need to urinate SO BAD the second car pulls away from house. Entire mood changes when friends are seen. Prances into school like it’s the thing they love most in life. Can’t ever remember what happened at school.

Teenager: Complains about going to school. Complains it is too hard. Throws backpack on ground. Throws body on couch. Huffs and puffs. Drags self to car and throws body into car like a bag of stinky laundry. Entire mood changes when friends are seen. Prances into school like it’s the thing they love most in life. Can’t ever remember what happened in school.

Laundry

Threenager: Will wear same outfit every day until eternity. Has tantrum when clothing needs to be washed. Denies having been wearing same socks for multiple days. Doesn’t care if a full entree’s worth of food is caked onto elbow of sweatshirt; will still wear it because it is their favorite.

Teenager: Will wear same outfit every day until eternity. Has tantrum when clothing needs to be washed. Denies having been wearing same socks for multiple days. Doesn’t care if a full entree’s worth of food is caked onto elbow of sweatshirt; will still wear it because it is their favorite.

Chores

Threenager: Thrilled to be a helper. Overzealous. Should only be given plastic items to clean up, because things often become projectiles due to clumsy hands. Takes eons to complete a simple task.

Teenager: Infuriated about being asked to help. Overdramatic. Should only be given plastic items to clean up, because things often become projectiles due to angry, hormonal hands. Takes eons to complete a simple task.

Bedtime

Threenager: Denies need for bedtime. Fights sleep like a wild hyena. Asks 786 questions to delay getting in bed. Demands snack. Demands drink. Demands story. Falls asleep in bizarre position. Still looks like your sweet baby when they sleep.

Teenager: Denies need for bedtime. Stays awake until 10 minutes before sun rises. Falls asleep in bizarre position. Complains about not knowing why they are so tired. Still looks like your sweet baby when they sleep.

Congratulations if you have survived the threenager year! As you see, your threenager has prepared you for life with a teenager. Because threenagers are so delightfully easy, life has chosen to give you an approximately 10-year break before you begin the process again. This time, you will be gifted with a taller, hormonal version of your threenager. May the odds be ever in your favor.

The Season of the Elves

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elves - Boston Moms

If you visited Target or any craft store over the last few months, you know Christmas time has been “almost here” since about Halloween. My family kicks off the season Thanksgiving weekend with the Rockland Holiday Stroll. The main street in Rockland Center shuts down and fills with families and dogs dressed for Christmas! Santa and Mrs. Claus ride in a fire truck as part of a mini-parade complete with dancers. Plus, there are K9 drug-sniffing-dog demonstrations and local food vendors. The businesses on Union Street open up with different activities and treats for the kids.

The stroll night also means our Christmas elves return to our home and bring us our matching family pajamas! Before we cuddle up and watch “The Polar Express,” the kids search through the house to find the hidden elves. Our elves aren’t your standard “Elf on the Shelf” — no, ours are hand-painted glass figurines passed down from my husband’s Nana and Grandpa, to his mother, to him. They’re in sleeping position because they travel every night to report back to Santa. If you touch them, they “turn to glass.” My stepkids creatively named the elves “Red” and “White.”

My mother-in-law shared that the elves could “pop up” anywhere after Thanksgiving when she was a girl. She is the oldest of three and remembers the elves were present at dinner time and bedtime. (Clearly, they know when they are needed most.) Her parents would move them when they weren’t paying attention — because they can move at super speed! This is an important and fun part of them being around, because the kids really love when they move. There is even a video of my stepkids when they were small shrieking with glee because one of the elves moved while they were in the same room.

Their arms may not pose, and you can’t change their outfits. But their presence in our home each year represents something beyond staying on track for the “nice list.” They are a part of an important tradition that our kids will remember and hopefully pass on to their own children. Now full-on tweens, my stepkids will get to experience the Christmas season in a whole new way, because their little brother will soon discover what Christmas means — Santa and the magic of the elves.


Early to Rise: A Window into My Life at 5:40 A.M.

coffee, early to rise - Boston Moms

I cherish my early mornings. Those minutes before the kids’ wake-up clock turns green are all mine. They help me stay sane. Here’s a window into my “early to rise” mornings — or a week’s worth of them, anyway — and what you can find me doing at 5:40 a.m. as I try to hold all the pieces together. This is not a tale of heroism. In fact, it might be a tale of foolishness. Though I bristle when I hear myself use the word “busy” to describe my life, here I am… busy. 

Monday: Drinking coffee. Grading papers.  

Every weekend, I bring home a stack of middle school math papers, and I think to myself: “You’ll grade these.” Some weekends, I find a chunk of time to do it. This past weekend, I didn’t. Oops. 

Tuesday: In the pool.

I love swimming before school. I never swam competitively, but I look forward to my time alone in the pool and the ensuing smell of chlorine. It reminds me that for a few minutes of the day it was just me and the water.

Wednesday: Drinking coffee. Prepping dinner. 

I have oodles more energy in the morning than I do after a day of teaching, so if I can come home to a dinner that is all ready for us — and use the energy I have left to play with kiddos — I am in heaven. Especially if it is slow cooker turkey quinoa chili. 

Thursday: Drinking coffee. Reading about school bullying laws. 

That plate that is a little too full? That would be the grad school class I am taking this fall. I do not have time in my workday to do my school work, so this is where it fits. 

Friday: On a treadmill.

In the “how we parent and stay ourselves” division of time and labor, Tuesday and Friday mornings are mine to be off duty from the kids while my husband is “on call.” On good days, I use that “early to rise” time to work out. 

Saturday: Making a grocery list (and, you guessed it — drinking coffee!)

Family dinners are important to me, and I like to make sure we have what we need on hand. 

Sunday: Snuggling with my daughter. 

Usually, she sleeps until a little past six. Other days, she’s early to rise and ready to take the world by storm. Generally, she wakes up her brother if we let her cry, so I’ll take the extra cuddles now while she’s little. Now if I could just get someone to bring me my coffee…


Documenting Your Family’s Holiday Story Through Photos

family holiday photos - Boston Moms

Ah, Christmas. The lights! The presents! The snow! The cookies! The list of ways to celebrate is endless. When my daughter was first born I was so busy planning and executing that I would forget to pick up my camera until Christmas morning. In more recent years I’ve gotten a bit wiser, and I’ve started taking pictures much earlier. In fact, I pick up my camera in mid-November and don’t put it down until January.

Getting started (early!)

Let’s start at the very beginning. Holidays are rarely a one-day event. Part of what makes this time of year so memorable (and stressful) is the build up — all the little things you and your family do in anticipation of the big day. As you start gearing up for the holiday, consider what feelings and moments you want to remember.

Do you have a religious connection to the holiday, or do you take a secular approach? Do you spend the days, weeks, and months prior shopping for the perfect gifts? Don’t forget the food! The baking, the cooking, the dirty dishes. Do you travel, or does everyone come to you? Are there people you only see during the holidays? Don’t wait until the day of to start snapping photos. If you want to capture all the joy, chaos, helpful hands, magic, and meltdowns, you need to start NOW.

family holiday photos - Boston Moms

About a month before Christmas, my daughter starts making her list. This year it includes such items as American Girl Doll accessories, a giant crystal, a robot unicorn that can shoot play cupcakes out of its mouth, and a pack of gum. I found this list laying among a pile of Legos, baby dolls, and books. I could have moved it to a cleaner spot, but leaving it on this pile of disorganized toys sets a much better scene. By including these details, I can tell multiple stories at once.

Who is celebrating with you

My kids don’t need anything for Christmas but they definitely want many, many things. This leads me to the next task — introducing the characters. Do you have a baby who can do little more than goo goo and ga ga next to the Christmas tree? A toddler who wants to be helpful with the most fragile ornaments? Teenagers who are too cool for anything other than texting adjacent to the tree? What role does your partner play? Or is the whole of the holiday left in your hands? Does extended family join you?

A few years ago, my son insisted on helping with the tree. He was 16 months old! But he found one of his chairs and placed it next to the tree. He climbed right up and did his best to adorn the tree. Let’s just say we’re lucky the tree stayed standing that year.

family holiday photos - Boston Moms

An important note: Please don’t forget about the adults. It’s easy to only photograph the children — I’m guilty of this myself. This year, it is my Christmas resolution (is that a thing?) to focus on the grown-ups.

The morning of

When it comes to the main event, there can be so much pressure to document every single moment. But I encourage you to rethink this idea. Last year I took ten photos of Christmas morning. TEN! That’s it! The photo below is my favorite. I snuck downstairs and waited for my kids to join me. In the foreground you can see my daughter running for the tree. In the background is my son, who was very nervous because he was worried Santa would still be downstairs! Then you see my husband reaching out a hand to help him. All those pieces are what I want to remember about last Christmas.

family holiday photos - Boston Moms

A note about light

Let me state the obvious — it’s dark in the winter. Sometimes your photos will be dark. It’s OK! Embrace it. The intensity and quality of the light changes throughout the year. Use that to set the tone and add mood to your story. In the image above, we know it’s dark outside because no sunlight is coming into the room. The lights on the tree and the light at the top of the stairs are the only lights illuminating my family. In the image below, only Christmas lights shine on my daughter and the car. You don’t need anything more to tell the story.

family holiday photos - Boston Moms

I know what you’re thinking. When do we get to the presents! Well, I’m going to say something wacky and suggest you put the camera down during the unwrapping of the presents. This is for two reasons: First, you will want to watch with your bare eyes as your family unwraps their presents. And second, these moments don’t usually photograph well. If you want to snap one or two of the kids tearing into an especially exciting gift, then do it! But I guarantee you that you don’t need 150 pictures of your kids unwrapping gifts. What you do need is a picture of the aftermath: The living room floor covered in ribbons and wrappings, and your kids playing with their new toys or, let’s be honest, the box.

family holiday photos - Boston Moms


An Open Letter to the Ladies Who Sat Next To Us at a ‘Family-Friendly’ Restaurant

open letter - Boston Moms Blog

Dear older ladies who were sitting in the booth behind us,

You might recall the early fall evening the two of you went to dinner at a local chain restaurant that caters to families and people of all ages. Perhaps you two go for an early supper here often; I don’t know. But this one particular night, when I decided to take my children there, we were booth neighbors.

I was mindful and present with my children that evening. I will be the first to admit this is something I work on all the time. Life sometimes feels chaotic as a mother of two with tons on her plate, but on this outing, I was present. We had fun coloring the children’s menus. We played a game or two. And we ate our food after devouring the delicious bread buns. My kids, who are 7 and 4, were actually not causing any trouble. For most of the evening.

But all of a sudden, right when I decided to take my cell phone out of my purse to text my husband and see if he was headed home from work, things took a different turn.

My active 7-year-old son started playing with the seat cushion he was sitting on, hitting it with open hands and moving his body side to side. I was texting my husband, so I did not notice this typical age-appropriate behavior. But it bothered you. So one of you, who shared a backrest with my son, turned around and with your voice raised said “Stop!” to my son. He immediately stopped and looked like a deer in headlights. I immediately stopped and stared at you, then him, then you again. You said “Thank you” and turned around to return to your food.

But I kept watching. And I could see that both of you were talking about what had just happened. I could see one of you shaking your head and muttering. And I wished I could have gotten up right then and there and said something. But I didn’t. And here’s why.

Your judgment of my parenting does more damage than you think.

I could have gotten up and told you that you should not yell at my son. I also could have told you he had been “good” all night and asked why you lost your temper so easily at this one behavior that bothered you.  Finally, I could have said that I only let things go for a few seconds because I was texting my husband, even though you might have thought I was an absent-minded parent. But that would feel like making excuses.

The fact of the matter is, all those reasons above are not why I am writing you this letter. What you and your friend did after yelling at my son has stuck with me to this day. And I do not know if writing this letter will make it go away.

See, things have changed a lot. Parents of young kids these days can be distracted — myself included. We have a lot going on, and technology and social media have created an additional burden on us despite all the ways they have made life easier. In part because of all the information we have available, we are constantly judging ourselves. Moms in particular struggle with comparing themselves and their parenting abilities to those of everyone they follow on Instagram or are friends with on Facebook.

And when we are judged by older women who probably think they were better mothers back in the day, we get angry. We get defensive. And we might know, intellectually, that we were not wrong or deserving of judgment. But we still think about your judgment. And we wonder if you were right. We judge ourselves and keep revisiting the incident to see if we could have done something different.

And THAT is what hurts most.

So I want to ask you, fellow family-friendly restaurant patrons, to please be a little more tolerant. Please keep in mind that we moms are already having a hard time believing in our parenting abilities 100% of the time. Please refrain from offering comments and making faces and muttering under your breath. Because we can see you, and it hurts.

Sincerely,
A mom of two who is trying really hard to be the best she can be


Staying Calm and Present This Holiday Season

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Staying Calm and Present Over the Holiday Season - Boston MomsIn mid-October, I walked into a local craft store looking for Halloween decorations. Instead of spooky and creepy decor, I came face to face with a full-on visual spectacle of the winter holidays. I was flabbergasted. Halloween had already been reduced to a bin of useless junk in the clearance aisle. By the end of the evening, I found myself holiday shopping on Amazon!

This experience propelled me into thinking about the impending winter holidays. As a pregnant mother of four small humans, I needed to think about how I would go about maintaining sound mind, body, and words. I want to avoid the holiday stress and instead experience the joy that is available this time of year. So I’ve put together a plan for staying calm and present this holiday season. 

First, we do not need to do all the things. 

It is so easy to get sucked into all the cute holiday activities going on. Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram hijack our rational thinking and convince us we need to do all the holiday things. Our social media feeds tell us everyone is singing and gifting and reading and baking and hosting and attending and sending and traveling, so we think we need to fit it all in as well. Wrong.

Let’s stop now before it starts. We do not need that noise in our holiday life. Close the curtains and shut the doors. Stay calm, sit down with your family, and decide what really matters. It’s OK if our plans look different from our neighbors, friends, and colleagues. We do not have to do something grand every day leading up to the holiday, nor do we need to feel guilty if “it” doesn’t happen. 

Schedule an extra therapy session or two. 

If you have yet to jump on the bandwagon of this non-embarrassing, super helpful, and extremely important form of personal care, the holiday season is a great time to practice staying calm by chatting with a personal therapist. I have had one for years (I signed on before having my third child as a preventative measure) and find it to be one of the most stabilizing, centering, and effortless ways of caring for myself.

Having a non-judgmental, unbiased, and reliable ear to hear me out in my good and bad times makes it all a bit more manageable. I typically talk about what I’m doing, what I’m planning, and how it’s going. I rarely go deep. It makes a difference to get the junk and mind-noise out verbally. To navigate this holiday season without giving in to the stress (third trimester with baby number five) will be challenging, so I’m making sure I’m venting to her and not the people I want to be celebrating with. 

Exercise or do something that empties your mind. 

When our minds are clear we can think clearly. For me, after sweating it out for 45 minutes, I often find that pointless thoughts and ideas have been released, and I can move forward more lightly and knowingly. Maybe exercise isn’t your thing but you love creating art or playing music. Maybe you need some coffee alone at a local coffee shop before you begin your to-do list. Or maybe meditation is your gig. Whatever it is, do it with intention this holiday season.

Decide gift-giving boundaries — and let others know. 

You do not owe everyone a gift, and you certainly don’t have to engage in the stress of plastic-toy-junk-buying spree that is in our faces every day of December. Let’s decide ahead of time how, why, and for whom we want to gift. We can gently and lovingly let others know our plans if necessary.

Plan out a schedule at the start of the season. 

Decide which days your family will engage in holiday events. You do not have to do something every day. You won’t miss out by not participating on a given day. As soon as you step out of your home you will be able to enjoy the lights, music, advertisements, decorations, and constant reminders! So decide when will you decorate, which days you will go somewhere special, when you will bake cookies, when you need to order your cards, and what gifts you need to get. 

If the holiday season doesn’t go the way you envision, there’s always next year. Let’s not forget that the season is about the joy and the meaning of our holidays, not the junk, or the events, the stress, or all the things. You do the holidays your way, I’ll do them mine, and everyone else can go about it their way. Let’s go into this holiday season happy and excited with sound mind and presence so we can enjoy our children, our faiths, and our families — and a little of all the extras.


The Getting-Out Guide :: Boston’s Best Activities for Families This December

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Hello, December! The holiday season is upon us! The Boston area is brimming with fun things to do in the chilly weather. Bundle up, and get ready for a fun-filled month ahead!

Check out our guide to December, sponsored by the JCC Greater Boston! We encourage you to join the JCC Greater Boston for upcoming PJ Library Lights Up Chanukah events. You can find more information here.

In addition to this guide, our calendar has daily events listed to keep you active and entertained this month!

We’ve also included links to area libraries and recurring events. We know this is not a comprehensive list, so if you think of any fun family activities we missed, please share them with us in the comments.

If you are looking to connect with other moms near you, make sure to join our Community & Conversation Group!

December 1–January 4 :: Hot Chocolate with the Reindeer :: Stone Zoo, Stoneham

Have an up close encounter with the beautiful reindeer, and learn some amazing facts about them too! Guests can customize their cocoa with festive toppings from the hot chocolate bar, enjoy some cookies, have their photo taken with the reindeer, and enjoy exclusive early entry to ZooLights.

December 1–29 :: Gardens Aglow :: Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich

Heritage’s expansive gardens will be aglow with beautiful light displays, extensive indoor holiday décor and numerous activities around the grounds and galleries. This year visitors can expect expanded lighting displays and outdoor interactives, along with all of your favorites from previous years!

December 4 :: Meet Fancy Nancy Illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser :: The Blue Bunny Books and Toys, Dedham

Robin Preiss Glasser actually wore tiaras and tutus when she danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet! She put away the fancy clothing, and switched over to Fancy Nancy! Her illustrations have won the Children’s Choice Award for Best Illustrator of the Year for Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet. Come meet her at the Blue Bunny Books and Toys!

December 5 :: Frozen Wonderland :: The Children’s Museum in Easton

Enjoy a day of play at the Easton Children’s Museum, and meet your favorite Snow Queen while you are there! Elsa will be in attendance to meet and take pictures with families. Guests will also have the opportunity to design their very own frame for their pictures and create keepsake ornaments.

December 6–8 :: SOWA Winter Festival :: SoWa Art + Design District, Boston

‘Tis the season for the fourth annual SoWa Winter Festival. Now over two weekends, join for the biggest winter shopping village and holiday festival in Boston. You’ll find the perfect handmade gifts, sip on winter cocktails, and discover the best of the SoWa Art + Design District. The SoWa Winter Festival is family friendly and free to attend.

Through December 22 :: Miracle on 34th Street :: Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham

If you really believe, anything can happen. When Kris Kringle agrees to serve as a last-minute replacement for Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, he is so convincing that he is offered a job as the Santa for Macy’s department store. He claims to be the real Santa Claus, but can he convince the doubters, including a little girl longing to find something to believe in? Come find out at the Greater Boston Stage Company’s production of Miracle on 34th Street!

December 7–24 :: Boston Pops Holiday Pops Kids Matinees :: Symphony Hall, Boston

These special family concerts include a children’s singalong and post-concert photos with Santa. For those seated at the floor tables, there are special kid-friendly menu options along with holiday treats. The December 7 performance will be a sensory-friendly concert. The show is designed for all families with children or adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or sensory sensitivities. The concert will be a shortened 60-minute version of the regular Holiday Pops concert, with a flexible, non-judgmental environment.

December 8 :: PJ Library Lights Up Chanukah :: Framingham and Belmont

Join PJ Library for an imaginative, illuminated interpretation of Chanukah at Amazing Things Arts Center (160 Hollis Street) in Framingham from 10-11:30 a.m., and from 4 – 5:30 at Studio Cinema (376 Trapelo Road) in Belmont. This glowing Chanukah performance features singing, juggling and hula hoops to create mesmerizing, rhythmic patterns with light while telling the story behind the Festival of Lights.

December 10–11 :: Pentatonix Christmas Tour :: Agganis Arena, Boston

Join the chart-topping group as they tour with their new holiday album “Christmas Is Here!” A family favorite for sure!

December 12 :: Rupi Kaur :: Boch Center, Shubert Theater

Rupi Kaur is a poet, artist, and performer. At the age of five, her mother handed her a paintbrush and said, “draw your heart out.” At seventeen, she happened upon a local open mic night where she performed her first spoken word poem. While studying at the University of Waterloo, Rupi wrote, illustrated, and self-published her first collection, milk and honey. In the years since, milk and honey has sold over three million copies, been translated into more than 35 languages, and landed as a #1 New York Times bestseller. Come see her inspirational performance in Boston!

December 14 :: Kendall Square Holiday on Ice :: Kendall Square Community Skating Rink, Cambridge

The 11th annual Holiday on Ice celebration at Community Ice Skating includes free admission all day, free food, and a free show produced by Frozen Frog Productions. The show will feature holiday numbers as well as local and international competitors and world-class professional skaters. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. with free admission, and the ice skating show begins promptly at 2 p.m. Join for a fun show that is sure to get you in the holiday spirit! Skate rentals will be available at regular rates.

December 15 :: PJ Library Lights Up Chanukah :: JCC Greater Boston, Newton

Join PJ Library for an imaginative, illuminated interpretation of Chanukah at the Riemer-Goldstein Theater, Leventhal-Sidman JCC (333 Nahanton Street) in Newton from 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m. This glowing Chanukah performance features singing, juggling and hula hoops to create mesmerizing, rhythmic patterns with light while telling the story behind the Festival of Lights.

December 15 :: Knead Doughnuts Pop Up at EHChocolatier :: EHChocolatier, Cambridge

Back by popular demand, Knead Doughnuts of Providence, RI, returns to EHChocolatier on December 15! After selling out in record time at their first pop up, they will be bringing WAY more doughnuts, and offering hot cups of coffee and hot chocolate to keep you warm!

December 15 :: PJ Library Storymakers :: Bow Market, Somerville

Come with your kids for a fun and easy Sunday morning at Bow Market (1 Bow Market Way) in Somerville from 10:30–11:30 a.m. Meet in the lobby, next to In Season. Get your coffee and listen to some favorite PJ Library read-aloud books, sing songs, and do a hands-on project related to the story. Grab lunch or shop afterward in Bow Market’s many eclectic establishments.

December 15 :: PJ Library Lights Up Chanukah :: Elm Street School, Walpole

Join PJ Library for an imaginative, illuminated interpretation of Chanukah at Elm Street School (415 Elm Street) in Walpole from 4–5:30 p.m. This glowing Chanukah performance features singing, juggling and hula hoops to create mesmerizing, rhythmic patterns with light while telling the story behind the Festival of Lights.

December 18 :: PJ Library Celebrates Chanukah at Playgroup :: Temple Sinai, Sharon

Join PJ Library for a special Bagels and Books in celebration of Chanukah! Transform into a Maccabee at the craft station, enjoy holiday-themed stories, sing holiday songs and eat delicious snacks. For more information, contact [email protected] and join the JCC South Area Family Connection Facebook group.

December 18 :: Celebrate Chanukah at the MFA :: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Come together for an evening of art, music, and activities in celebration of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Immerse yourself in history and tradition with a tour of the MFA’s Judaica collection, catch an array of musical performances by artists from around the world, and view a one-of-a-kind menorah created by a local artist before participating in a community candle lighting.

December 20 :: PJ Library Celebrates Chanukah at Friday Playgroup :: Natick and Arlington

Drop into PJ Library playgroup for a special Chanukah-themed day! There will be songs, crafts, and treats to celebrate the festival of lights! The celebration will occur at Temple Israel in Natick from 9:45 – 11:15 a.m., and at Ready, Set, Kids! in Arlington from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.. For more information, contact [email protected] and join the JCC Metrowest Family Connection Facebook group.

December 21 :: Winter Carnival :: Waltham Recreation Department, Waltham

There will be a Carnival set up in the Auditorium of Waltham Rec! Guests will also enjoy bowling, Wii bowling, inflatables, crafts, laser tag, and more! The Night will end with a movie in Skate ‘n’ Scoot. Admission is FREE! The Paint Locker will be open for ornament decorating as well ($5.00 Large piece, 2 for $5 Small pieces). Snacks and pizza will also be available for purchase.

December 21 :: Get Your Craft On: Open Paint :: Hammer & Stain South Shore, South Easton

At this family friendly open paint, there will be designs for family, kids, and just about anyone. Tons of projects geared to gift making for everyone! Bring the kids in to make wood slice ornaments and the perfect handmade gift. If you would like a specific project/design prior please message [email protected] one week prior to the event.

Through January 5 :: Bird Park Reindeer Quest :: Bird Park, Walpole

Grab your snow shoes, hiking boots, or cross-country skis and get the family outside to seek out the four wooden reindeer sculptures hidden in Bird Park. See if you can find “Charlie,” “Anna,” “Billy,” and “Birdy” and leave a bell around the neck of the first one you spot! This is a self-guided program and bells can be found by the Bird Park Office (maintenance area, behind white house; park side). The quest is available dawn to dusk.

December 26 – 29 :: Disney On Ice Presents Celebrate Memories :: Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence

Join Moana on her high-seas adventure, dance with your favorite Toy Story friends, celebrate Elsa and Anna’s sisterly bond, and watch dreams come true for the Disney Princesses. Share the excitement and make new memories the whole family will treasure forever!

December 27 :: PJ Library Chanukah Mitzvah Meet-Up & Story Time :: Bacon Free Library, Natick

It’s Chanukah time! Join for holiday stories, games, songs, and treats at the Bacon Free Library. Light up a child’s life by bringing a book to donate to hospitalized kids, and make a special bookmark to go with it.

Through December 29 :: Disney on Ice Presents Worlds of Enchantment :: Agganis Arena, Boston

From wheels to waves, icy wonderlands to infinity and beyond, your family’s favorite Disney moments come to life at Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment!

December 28 – January 7 :: All Aboard! Trains at Science Park :: Museum of Science, Boston

The Museum’s seasonal tradition continues with All Aboard! Trains at Science Park. This fun-for-all-ages model train exhibit features classic winter landscapes and a hint of nostalgia. Miniature trains, snow-covered peaks, engaging hands-on activities, and even a few surprises await!

December 28 :: Luau Party with Moana :: South Shore Children’s Museum, Kingston

Come have a luau with Moana from 1 – 3 pm! Guests will make leis and create island body art and shell bracelets before they dance in a luau! There will also be ham and pineapple kabobs for a snack!

December 31 :: First Night Boston :: Boston

For 40 years, Boston’s First Night has been a cherished tradition and a signature event for the city, with artistic performances, the wonders of the season, and the beginning of a new year. Entertainment and special attractions will be focused in Copley Square and Boston Common. Many of the beloved traditions of First Nights past will be retained, including ice sculptures and light displays. In addition, arts and musical performances will take place in numerous inside and outside venues around the heart of the event.

Storytime at Showcase Cinema de Lux :: Patriot Place, Foxborough :: Tuesdays, 11 a.m.

This free weekly storytime takes place every Tuesday at Showcase Cinema de Lux. After a story reading, a special character makes a weekly appearance followed by a short movie.

Public Telescope Nights at New England Sci-Tech :: 16 Tech Circle, Natick :: Tuesdays and Fridays, 8–9 p.m.

The public is invited to join New England Sci-Tech for an evening of astronomy during the spring, summer, and fall months. Depending on staff availability, inside activities such as planetarium shows and visiting the astronomy classrooms may be available. Visitors are also invited to borrow smaller “starblast” telescopes to use on their own.

Urban Air Sensory Friendly Jump/Play Time :: Bellingham :: Sundays, 9 a.m.

This event is specifically designed for children with autism and special needs to enjoy time at the park and have a lot of fun without loud music and flashing lights! The lights will be white and music/video games turned off for those with sensory challenges during this time.

Family Night at Urban Air :: Bellingham :: Thursdays, 4–8 p.m.

Family Night is a crazy deal! Get four ultimate passes, four bottles of water, and one pizza for $79.99! It’s fun for the whole family!

Baby-Friendly Monday Matinees at the Capitol Theatre :: Arlington :: Mondays, 12–2 p.m.

The Capitol Theatre features a baby-friendly movie every Monday afternoon. Please check the theater’s Monday schedule to see what feature has been selected for parents and their infants.

Kids’ Art Club :: Dorchester :: Tuesdays, 4:30–5:30 p.m.

This club has a new art project at the library every Tuesday. Projects include collage self-portraits and artist’s books. Art Club projects are showcased in rotating displays in the library children’s room.

Nature Time at Blue Hills Trailside Museum :: Milton :: Thursdays, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Introduce your preschool-aged child to nature with this fun program. Programs may feature a story, nature games, crafts, short walks outside, or meeting one of the museum’s animal residents. Meet, play, and learn with other area families. Each program runs for 45 minutes and meets most Thursdays. Museum admission is included with this program. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

JFN Free Friday Playgroup :: Natick :: Fridays, 9:30–11:30 a.m.

Bring the little ones and come join other parents and caregivers in the Metrowest area for a fun-filled morning of play and socializing. There are plenty of songs, activities, toys, snacks, and laughter, as both the children and their grown-ups build connections and lasting friendships.

Backyard and Beyond: Forest Fridays :: Acton :: Fridays, 10–11 a.m.

A great way for the whole family to enjoy time outdoors, the Forest Friday program is held outside, no matter the weather. Every Friday morning there is a nature-based activity based on the weather and season, either in Discovery Woods or out on the adjacent conservation land. All ages are welcome but activities are designed for 2- to 6-year-olds. Please note that the conservation land trails are not ADA or stroller accessible; please wear appropriate footwear and clothing.

Storytime at the Curious George Store :: Cambridge :: Fridays, 10:30–11 a.m.

Small children and their caregivers are welcome at these weekly storytimes, running throughout the year.

SaturPLAY :: Rose Kennedy Greenway – Chinatown :: Boston :: Select Saturdays, 1–3 p.m.

The Asian Community Development Corporation’s youth program, A-VOYCE, hosts a placemaking event monthly to activate and bring children to The Greenway’s Mary Soo Hoo Park. Each month features a different theme with games, activities, crafts, and more. Youth volunteers are on hand to engage children. SaturPlay is subject to weather conditions.

ImprovBoston Family Show :: Cambridge :: Saturdays, 4–5 p.m.

Improv Boston’s improv and music extravaganza is completely made up on the spot every week based on your suggestion. No two shows are alike! Best of all, children who want to participate have opportunities to be on stage and take part in the fun! The show is ideal for family outings, birthday parties, and school field trips. It’s fun for the whole family and best for children ages 4-12.

guide to december pinterest

Giving Thanks for Dirty Diapers

I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude. I try to be aware of the many blessings in my life. Some days, it is easier than others to maintain this awareness. When my children were in the newborn period, it was definitely a challenge. But Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reflect, take pause, and really think about what we have to be thankful for.

I am so thankful for my amazing daughters, my loving and supportive husband, and my community. I am so grateful for the laughter, the songs, and the hugs that are constant in my life.

And I am thankful for… dirty diapers.

Yes, I am thankful for dirty diapers. I am so thankful for dirty diapers. For a long time, my daughter was constipated, and she suffered such pain and agony when she pooped. When I see the success of a dirty diaper and I know her body is working smoothly, I am thankful. More importantly, I am thankful I am able to afford diapers when so many must go without. Yes, they are a pain and they are expensive, and I feel privileged.

I am thankful for a sink full of dirty dishes.

Those dirty dishes came from another family meal we got to have together. And as chaotic as the prep work and clean up may be, family meals are a priority in my house and something we all enjoy. We use this time to reflect on our days, build our family identity, and develop positive eating habits. No matter what is going on in our day, the family meal — and the dishes it creates — is like the beacon that brings us together. And I’m thankful to have the life that allows me the time and resources to provide this.

I am thankful for my messy house.

My house is not a museum. My house has a “lived-in” look. And that’s because, well, it’s lived in! My kids play in my house. We have books all over the place. I have clothes that are yet to be put away on the couches. And those couch cushions have seen better days after being used as obstacle course props. I could use more of my free time to clean up. But I don’t want to. I want to be with them, playing and reading. And I know that’s so much more important. And I’m thankful I know that.

This Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?


Shop Boston 2019 :: A Boston Holiday Shopping Guide

Make your list, check it twice, and don’t forget to THINK LOCAL.

We’re honored to bring you our holiday gift guide, featuring gift ideas from some of our favorite Boston-area businesses. These items are all loved by us, and they’re perfect for everyone on your list!

THE MONARCH STUDIO

Give your children the gift of PLAY! The Double Sink Mud Kitchen is The Monarch Studio’s most popular item. Set it up for water play, sand play, or with any other sensory play materials for hours of hands-on, creative, educational, play. 

CHOWDAHEADZ

These fun New England-themed products are all shipped from Woburn, MA! They’re perfect for anyone on your list!

SWEET P CREATIONS

Sweet P creations is an online boutique of handmade and custom baby gifts — headbands, bows, bibs, burpcloths, teethers, toys, and personalized baby blankets. Custom orders are welcome and encouraged.

PLANT PACKAGE

Give the gift of gardening this holiday season by gifting a Plant Package subscription! Each Plant Package comes with four plants, a container, soil, plant food, and instructions for assembly and care. You choose how many boxes your loved one receives!

EHCHOCOLATIER

EHChocolatier’s holiday bonbon collection captures the spirit of the holidays with seasonally beautiful designs and flavors. They are the go-to gift and most popular choice this time of year at EHChocolatier’s award-winning shop in Cambridge! Whether it’s for a friend or family member who is a chocolate lover, as a holiday gift for clients and colleagues, or as a thank you to folks who’ve helped make your year better, this chocolate box will leave a memorable impression.

TINY TAGS

Tiny Tags makes fine, personalized jewelry for moms. Tiny Tags products are laser engraved, made in the USA, and guaranteed for life. And this company is mom owned and operated! Add Tiny Tags to your own wish list this year, or purchase a gift for another mom in your life! 

NAILED IT DIY

Nailed It DIY Studio offers fun, easy, and affordable home decor projects for all ages! You can book a private party or birthday party, walk-in during open studio hours, or book an online appointment ahead of time. Gift cards are available! 

Nailed It offers so many ways for you to DIY!

When Thanksgiving Is Hard :: Gratitude in a Difficult Season

Halloween has come and gone, and that means we’re moving right into what many consider to be the happiest (and often busiest) time of year — the holidays. Thanksgiving is just a week away, and soon the kids will be coming home with hand turkeys, pilgrim crafts, and adorable paragraphs about all the things they are grateful for this year.

It is a special time of year — one that is usually heartwarming and encouraging. But what happens when you and your family are in a difficult season or had a tough year?

There are so many reasons Thanksgiving can seem difficult:

Maybe you or your spouse lost a job, and the search for a new one seems endless.

Maybe you lost a pregnancy this year.

Maybe it’s another year of wishing you were pregnant.

Maybe someone in your family is sick, and the road ahead seems dark and uncertain.

Maybe you lost someone in your family this year, and you’re still struggling with how to move forward.

It can be easy (and completely understandable) to feel overwhelmed when life has been hard for your family. Giving thanks can feel difficult, paralyzing, or maybe even impossible.

There is no magic solution to making it through a difficult Thanksgiving or holiday season. Our family is facing such a season ourselves this year. But I will say that for us there is comfort in taking time to stop and recognize the blessings we do have — even when these can sometimes feel overshadowed by the sadness of the past few months.

Start small.

Start by taking it one day at a time. Each night at dinner you can have each family member share something they are grateful for — just from that day. Did someone wash your breakfast dish for you? Did someone share their snack with you today? Or did someone text you just to check in?

Focus on the ones who “showed up.”

If there can be a silver lining to challenges in life, perhaps it is the reminder of how many people in your life genuinely love you and will do anything they can to make your pain a little more manageable. Maybe it’s your mom circle who took turns watching your kids so you could handle the life things you needed to do; maybe it’s your co-workers who organized a meal train to make sure you didn’t have to worry about cooking; or maybe it was friends from far away who sent UberEats gift cards for the nights when cooking dinner just wasn’t in the cards. Though of course you wish you never had to learn how kind and loving these people are, focus on the kind acts that appeared in the midst of dark days.

Be gentle with yourself.

It’s hard to be in a season of gratitude when life has been overwhelming for your family.  It is especially hard when you’re the mom and you also have to take care of everyone in your family. Make sure to take time for yourself, too. If it means a movie afternoon for the kids, that’s OK. If it means dropping the kids off with a friend so you can grab a cup of coffee and wander around Target, that’s OK. If it means changing up your family tradition this year and doing something different, that’s OK. I lost my dad as a teenager, and I still remember that we spent our first Thanksgiving without him staying in a hotel where our main focus could be swimming in a pool in November. That was what we needed that year, and that was OK.

Do what works for you and your family this Thanksgiving season — worry about next year, next year. In the meantime, try to find those little moments of light in the darkness and be grateful for each one.

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Guide To Boston

Plan Your Weekend :: December 13–15

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Santa In The City…Photos With Santa November 23 @ 8:00 am - December 24 @ 5:00 pm :: Prudential Center, Boston  Capture the magic of the holiday season...