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Decorating Your Home for the Holidays on a Budget by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

Wow, the holiday season is fast approaching! We’ve barely put away the dishes for Thanksgiving and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza.  With these tough economic times anything we can do to save money is a bonus.  It is possible to decorate your home for the holidays on a budget while keeping the kids busy and enjoying a little family togetherness. That’s what the season is all about, celebrating with family and friends.

A pack of construction paper in different colors, some ribbon, scissors, and glue can go a long way in creating decorations for your home.  Old holiday cards can be recycled into decorations by cutting out pictures on the front of the cards and pasting them on a background of colored construction paper.  These can be used as decorations for your Christmas tree or placed on your mantel or walls to create some holiday spirit.

Your children’s wallet size school pictures or even 3 X 5 photos can be mounted on a piece of construction paper or placed in a frame of popsicle sticks with a ribbon attached—you can even add a handwritten message like Christmas 2009 at the bottom.  These are great for your home or even as a gift for family, especially grandparents. 

Snowflakes, draedels, menorahs, or Kwanza candelabras can be cut out of construction paper to decorate your home or windows.

Be creative!  These are simple ways to get the whole family involved, keep your kids busy, and get your house decorated without breaking the bank.

Good luck and Happy Holidays from Motherhood Incorporated!

I hope you enjoy reading these blogs as much as I enjoy writing them! Should you have any questions about Motherhood Incorporated either as a client or as a mom looking for work, please email me directly at sandra@motherhoodincorporated.com or you can check us out at www.motherhoodincorporated.com and www.sandrabeck.com.

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"Thursdays This Summer" The Skirball Adventure

By Shannon Penrod

100_7385Thursdays this Summer” (my plan to entertain and educate my child on a budget) began today with a trip to The Skirball Cultural Center.  What a great way to start the summer!  The two exhibits on Comic Book Super Heroes  were really fun for the kids.  They got to dress up in Super Hero costumes, draw their own comic book character and check out a lot of vintage artwork. 

The real hit of the day was the amazing Noah’s Ark exhibit!  The entire exhibit was hands on and interactive.  I love it when a docent says, “Make sure you touch everything!” 

All of the animals are sculpted from reclaimed materials in the exhibit 100_7438so there are layers to the enjoyment.  While the kids were pulling levers to create lightning, wind and rain the adults got to stare in wonder at an alligator fashioned out of a tire, a glove and a violin neck. Amazing!  The entire exhibit was ingenious, captivating and deliciously educational.  Yippee for Thursdays this summer!  And did I mention it was FREE!  Yes, Free!  Every Thursday the museum is open for free  – there wasn’t even a parking charge.  Thank you, Skirball Center for a wonderful day!

It's in the Celebrations

By Shannon Penrod

Last week my son turned 6 years old.  We decided to throw him a dance party.  It didn’t seem at all odd to me, he loves to dance and I wanted to do something that wouldn’t revolve around food and wouldn’t cost a small fortune.  Solution: Dance Party!  IMG00270-20090605-2059We found a great warehouse space that comes with a trampoline, a bouncy house, a Wii and an Xbox 360 (both hooked up to big screen TVs) – the rent was ridiculously cheap and I bartered the services of a great DJ. 

I did this for a little boy who has worked so hard to overcome autism.  My mom and my husband and I watched him at the party, which my friend Therese called a six year old rave, and we couldn’t believe how social he was.

Just three and a half years ago we realized there was a problem when we went to a friend’s birthday party and our son sat in the corner by himself, humming as he played with a Buzz Lightyear toy, he never even noticed there were other children at the party.  Last week he was the belle of the ball, laughing and running from activity to activity, talking to his friends, answering when his friends called him, even cracking jokes.  It was a great night, and it was filled with family and friends who had shown up to celebrate with us.

Towards the end of the party I had a moment.  You know one of those rushes of feeling and clarity that kind of takes your breath away.  I looked at my mom and my son and was acutely aware of how quickly time passes and how precious every moment is.  There were several moments when I considered not having a birthday party for my son this year – In this economy…aren’t we all carefully considering every expenditure? 

But as I looked around that warehouse room and saw all the faces of people we love and that love us, I knew that this would be a night my family would always remember.  In ten years we aren’t going to remember all of the daily struggles to pay bills and buy biomeds and secure therapy hours, we’re going to remember the celebrations.  I thought about the last ten years and the weddings, graduations, births and home comings we’ve enjoyed, there have been hard times too and even a few funerals, but when all is said and done, it’s the celebrations we remember the most.  I’m awfully glad that we took the time to find the joy in life, now I know…it’s in the celebrations

Wishbone Strategies by Dahna Weber

So we found one.  A wishbone.  Why is that always exciting?  It’s been sitting on the window ledge for a good 10 days now.  When I wash the dishes, (not as often as I should), it stares me in the face asking; What are your wishes? What are Liam’s wishes? When are we going to do this?  It has made me contemplative.  Made me notice how the bulk of my wishes are all wishes for Liam…even when they are about me.  I try to think of ways I can make sure he wins when we do hook pinkies and split the bone in two.  It’s like the coin toss.  No way to cheat.  No way to strategically guarantee that Liam wins…..Guess I’ll just leave it up to fate and wish that he wins and his wish comes true!!  by Dahna Weber

 wishbone

Daymaker Challenge Day 30 Old Fashioned Help! by Dahna Weber, Deb Gillespie and Liam Weber-Nudel

Help an elder cross the street and ask them how they are.  Simple and timeless.  While they may not need your help they sure do enjoy the company! 

P.S. Do it with your kids.    They love doing good deeds. 

by Dahna Weber, Deb Gillespie and Liam Weber-Nudel.  (really it was entirely Liam’s idea…my 9 year old wonderful boy who is super keen on the Daymaker Challenges and on blogging)!

Daymaker Challenge Day 27- Say Cheese by Deb Gillespie and Dahna Weber

You may not know this but….Polaroid is ceasing to sell the instant film real soon.  For fun and for posterity why not take your old one out to a party over the next few days and shoot some shots.  The idea is to take some great shots and pass them out the people you managed to capture.  There really is something retro about the Polaroid and fantastic about having real printed out picture.  How many people can you make say cheese and smile in one night?  by Deb Gillespie and Dahna Weber

Getting Through the Holidays, By Sandra Beck

by Sandra Beck

Many moms have written me this week wondering how they are going to get through the holidays working and trying to have a wonderful holiday season for their families.  The stress can be unreal! My advice to them is simple. Do what you can, don’t do what you can’t. Enlist the aid of others.

It may sound trite, but it is very true. Between the kids, the dogs, the visitors, the parties, the playdates, the presents, the wrapping, the cooking, the cleaning, the decorating I am somehow supposed to get my work done? Here are some of the stratgies I use to get through the holiday season without losing my cool.

1. Hire a babysitter so you can shop, decorate or do what you need to do because you will get it done faster.

2. Hire your babysitter to wrap present or look for charity organizations who will wrap your presents for a small fee. I paid $20 to have almost 40 gifts wrapped with my own paper.

3. Have your kids help. My kids helped me decorate the house. It may not look perfect, but its done.

4. Schedule a playdate agreement. Yesterday, my sons went to my friends house while I did what I needed to do. Then today I have her sons for 4 hours so she can get what she needs done.

5. Call your church or local charity.  My organization that I belong to offers teens to help you for no fee. It is part of their volunteer work and they helped me bake and we had a whole lot of fun.

6. Delegate. Everyone in my house – including guests must help for the three holiday parties we have each season. Guests in my experience want to bring something, so why stress out. Let them bring brownies, cakes, salad whatever…they feel good and so do you!

7. Take a moment each day to sit by your Tree or Menorah. Remember that the holidays are about much more than presents, parties and people. Get yourself spiritually grounded.

8. Don’t color or perm your hair the day of a party. 

9. Chase your kids around the house once a day. Everyone needs to blow off steam – the stress of the holidays gets to us all…scream, dance, throw snowballs, tickle…whatever it is – get everyone involved in the stress relief!

10. Be thankful.  In a time where it is very difficult for many – personally, financially, physically – be thankful for all that you have and all that you can do.  Being grateful can take the sting out of unraveling the tangled mess of your holiday lights – you have a tree, you have electricity, you have someone to share this time with.

Happy Holidays to all!