family

What is a Christmas Eve Box?

Growing up it was tradition in my family to get new bedsheets and pajamas for Christmas Eve. I remember loving having something new and it added to the excitement of getting into bed as early as possible so that Santa could hurry up and stop by. I’ve continued the tradition, at least the pajama part, but this year I am starting a new tradition with a Christmas Eve box. I have no idea as to the origins of this practice but I read about it somewhere and then searched Pinterest and, of course, found tons of ideas.

A Christmas Eve box is a collection of treats and goodies that will make up the entertainment for the evening of the 24th. I’ve seen everything from pajamas, slippers, socks, and hot cocoa mix to movies and popcorn. I thought it was a wonderful idea and so I set out to create my own. Some people buy a cardboard box, or even have a wooden box that gets reused each Christmas. I used a shoe box and I wrapped it so that the lid could be removed without tearing the wrapping paper. For the moment I have a book, a movie, a set of pajamas and a Christmas themed activity book.

The best part about these boxes is that you can customize them to suit you. As your family grows and changes the contents of the box will as well. I hope to do this every year. If you like making things this might be a project for you! It doesn’t have to be for kids, you can create a box for you and your significant other to enjoy together. The possibilities are endless.

Here is the box I made. I used things I already had in my crafting supplies. I can’t wait to give it to Diego!

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Who has time to be perfect?

I thought I would share some of the less glamorous things that go on around here. We aren’t all balanced meals and green juice. I try to incorporate lots of the good stuff into our diet, and I do my best to limit the amount of television that Diego watches. I don’t really schedule our days, I like for things to happen organically. One weekend we walked to the canal and fed the ducks, other days we just walk around looking at the different front lawns. Exercise is important and I try to ensure that Diego has the chance to be active and burn all of that energy but some weeks we are more sedentary than active.

Some days I make mac and cheese out of the box, chicken nuggets out of the freezer, and we have ice-cream for dessert. Some days I am so tired that I can’t hold off until nap time, so I put Diego in his crib and turn on the Bubble Guppies on the desktop computer in his room. I sleep for about an hour after which guilt compels me to get up and shut off the toons. We often stay in our pjs until late afternoon. The house is in a state of disarray a lot of the time. Our house is clean but it does get messy. Wooden blocks, stacking cups, and bouncy balls don’t always get put away.

Blogging can have us seeing our lives through rose colored lenses. We put out the best part of ourselves, our best days, our best face. It’s not reality. We all have our lazy days where we barely lift a finger, eat some unhealthy fast food, and veg out in front of the couch. There are things I don’t skimp on, hygiene is one of them. Daily baths, tooth brushing, and hand washing are things that never get skipped. But the other stuff? Meh, it’s nothing that won’t keep for another day.

Right now I am trying to move towards clean eating. I am more cautious about what I make available to us and what brands we use. One of the hardest things sometimes is coming up with different lunches for Diego and I during the week. I am not aiming for a perfectly balanced diet, but I am making some improvements here and there. I think that’s the stuff of life, getting better, learning new things, making some changes, striving towards goals we set for ourselves.

Now more than ever it’s very easy to compare our lives, our parenting styles, and our beliefs to others’. We have access to people’s lives like never before, and some look pretty perfect. I know I don’t, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

The importance of shared meals

Now that Diego can eat pretty much anything I really enjoy mealtime with him. It’s fun to see the strange and often funny ways that he picks out which morsels to eat and how he puts them in his mouth. On days when my husband works Diego and I will have breakfast on our own since Diego wakes up long after my husband leaves the house.

The first thing I do when we get downstairs is give him his cup of milk. He sips on this while I get breakfast ready. Here are some of our favorite breakfasts:

  • Cheerios, applesauce, yogurt
  • Scrambled eggs, slice of toast, applesauce or yogurt
  • Oatmeal and a banana
  • Cottage cheese, applesauce, an egg
  • Waffle with cut up banana and strawberries
  • Pancakes

Lunch will usually consist of leftovers. We often eat them picnic-style in the living room. I throw down a blanket on the floor and we sit together. Diego now loves to share his food and he feeds me often, sometimes it’s a discarded piece that has been on the floor. He also likes to steal food from my plate. When you eat your meals with a toddler you learn that this open up a whole new world. They are a  learning opportunity. Everything from table manners to utensil proficiency is learned at mealtime. Language development is also positively reinforced at mealtime. I look forward when Diego will be able to participate in our dinner conversations, but for now we engage him in his babbling by identifying what he’s eating, encouraging him to use his fork, and redirecting him when he decides that when he’s done with his cup he’s going to toss it off his highchair.

I also believe that healthy eating habits start at home, right at our dinner table. I’ve been lucky that so far Diego is not a picky eater. He will try just about anything and even though he might not like it at first he usually comes around. I’ve noticed that he has some preferences when it comes to textures. For example he will eat a pureed strawberry but it will take a little coaxing to eat a piece of one. My philosophy is to encourage but not force him to try or eat anything. I also don’t believe in making him clear his plate. This sets up a negative eating habit where he can end up eating past satiation. Most days he eats everything, others he picks at stuff and hardly eats anything. As long as he’s healthy and growing I’m not going to worry about it.

To sum up, shared mealtimes are important because:

  1. Family is important. It creates confident kids.
  2. Language development is aided by this interaction at mealtime.
  3. Manners are taught through practice and it’s never too early to start.
  4. Food is a learning experience. New textures and flavors expand a child’s horizons.

Food is a basic need that must be met everyday. I think that experiencing new things at mealtime can translate into a child that looks forward to new experiences. Being adventurous isn’t limited to things you do, or places you go. Food can be a teaching tool in so many scenarios. Years from now when he’s in school, learning about new cultures I can use food to bring that culture to him. How people eat and what they eat around the world is fascinating.

Similarly, baking is a great application of math and science. As soon as Diego is old enough I plan to bring him into the kitchen. Basic cooking skills as well as food safety are things I believe everybody should be competent in. Preparing food for our family should be something that Diego shares in. I think it creates a sense of community, responsibility and affection. I read somewhere once that work is love made visible, so is cooking and shared mealtimes are part of that love.

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Want more information about family meals, as well as recipe ideas and other resources? A day after writing this post (I pre-write and schedule them) I came across this pledge and site dedicated to family meals.  Disconnect to reconnect is a campaign that seeks to encourage families to pledge one day a week where they disconnect from social media and enjoy a meal together. Check it out!