My Dynamic Duo

From playgrounds to playtime and everything in between, the brotherly bond between my Golden Bear and Baby Bear continues to grow and melts my heart at every turn. I know it won’t always be this simple. When Atticus is more verbal or when Liam decides his little brother is too much of a baby to spend time with. The natural ebb and flow of sibling rivalry and banter will slowly trickle in and this Mama Bear will be praying for more patience and guidance to get them all happily through it.

Until then, I will continue to float on the beauty of these little moments- little exchanges between little people who love each other dearly. It comes in so many different forms- a sincere and heartfelt hug initiated by Liam as he wraps his brother in his arms in an embrace. The giggles and coos that reverberate around Atticus like a halo as he finds humor in all of the big boy things his older brother does. My cup runneth over as I stand idly by witnessing such heartfelt moments between a big brother and his baby brother.

Lost in each others company, they play together lovingly- stacking colorful blocks one on top of the other or pushing matchbox cars around an imaginary track on the carpet. Each in awe and wonder of the other. Liam fascinated by all of the things his brother can now do- walking, playing, laughing, and discovering. Atticus intrigued by all of the things he can only dream of doing one day- zip lining across the playground, rock climbing high above his head, or racing across the sidewalk faster than lightning.

As a mother, I absolutely love seeing the two of them leaning on one another and growing as brothers. There is something truly beautiful to see as an outside observer. My two sweet boys may you always look out for one another, want the best for each other, and demonstrate love and support every step of the way. When you find yourself frustrated or angered by your sibling, may you search deeper and let your bond and love outshine the conflict. I will always be here to lend an ear, help you make amends, and guide you back into one another’s good graces. My little dynamic duo, together you will always be stronger, happier, and more alive when you are in it together.

The Magic of a Good Book

From a very young age, I can remember how much I looked forward to bedtime stories with my mom. From fairytales to fictional fantasies and everything in between, my love for reading quickly developed. By the time I could read independently, I could often be found lost in a good book curled up somewhere in my bedroom.

Growing up, my mother modeled a love for reading. Her favorite place to read was in a comfortable swivel chair next to our large front window in the living room. The perfect nook haloed by natural light eventually turned into one of my favorite places for page turning fun too. Weekends, afternoons after school, and summers often involved bike rides to the neighborhood library where I eagerly checked out every Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, Babysitters Club, or Boxcar Children’s book I could get my hands on. Then I sped back to my house as fast as my little legs would carry me so that I could open my new book and let the reading adventure unfold.

In the course of my life, I can think of only a handful of times I was too busy for reading. My tenure in graduate school required a lot of reading, but I can honestly say it was rarely the kind of reading I would typify as pleasure reading. With the exception of graduate school, reading for pleasure has been one of my favorite leisure pursuits.

For the longest time, I loved reading paperback books. There truly is something so satisfying in the tactile parts of reading: running your hands across the smooth cover, opening the book and letting it rest between your hands or on its spine in your lap, and turning the pages over and over as you lose yourself in the riveting plot line. Additionally, I loved being able to share in the highs and lows of the storylines with my closest friends when I passed one of my favorites along to them.

Today though, more out of convenience than anything else, my page turning now requires finger swiping across my phone screen. The Kindle app on my iPhone and a subscription to Prime reading, guarantees that no matter where I am, a book is never more than a few finger taps away. If I find myself with idle time, I simply take my phone out and enjoy one of my favorite pastimes as I wait in line at the grocery store or in an airport waiting for my flight to board. It also makes reading at night with the lights off incredibly easy, which often leads to me staying up way past my bedtime. While I often miss the tangible aspects of reading an actual book or having the opportunity to share a book with a friend, I appreciate the ease and accessibility of reading on an electronic device.

The joy of reading is one of the most beautiful gifts my mother passed along to me. A love of reading is something I have passed along to classrooms full of students and now love that my own two children are following suit too. As this school year has progressed, it has been incredibly amazing to watch Liam grow academically. Decoding and applying his knowledge of sight words as he takes in words and signs all around him. I love seeing Atticus delight in turning the pages of his hard books or listening as Liam and I read aloud to him. I hope that they will both find happiness through the adventures they discover in the books they read. Perhaps renowned artist J.K. Rowling puts it best with, “I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”

Here’s to reading for pleasure in your favorite nook with a delightful cup of coffee and getting lost in the magic that unfolds with the turn of every page!

 

 

The Beauty in Imperfections

Parenting is an intricate tapestry tied together with delicate stitches of many varying colors. As parents, we are called to guide our children to be their best selves. This task is one we do not take lightly. It requires infinite amounts of patience, immeasurable amounts of love, and unwavering support every step of the way.

Even with all of these tools in our back pocket, sometimes our children will misstep. These moments will test our wills and make us question our parenting abilities. For mothers in particular, this can prove to be a deeply personal struggle. The internal monologue in our heads can ring loud and often make us feel like we’re somehow letting our children down by not serving as a better model along the way.

But just like us, our children are human. Like us, they make mistakes of varying degrees each and every day. For our children, the takeaway at the end of the misstep is the most important part of the journey. An integral part of their personal growth comes from recognizing and accepting the error they made. With acceptance, they can put their best foot forward to make a more positive choice when they find themselves in a similar situation. Children, however, are not always quick learners. Their innate curiosity may guide them to push boundaries and test limits to see if the outcome or consequence will change.

Through it all, our role as parents should never waiver. We are there to love, support, model, and guide our children every step of the way. When they fail, we pick them up, dust them off, sprinkle in words of wisdom, and send them back out into the world to do it all over again.

Remember, Mama Bears, parenthood is a calling that comes with immense power and infinitesimal amounts of responsibility. There is no manual to consult for the answers to our lingering questions about raising amazing children. We can only ever take it one-day-at-a-time. Love fiercely, support deeply, and accept our own faults as parents. We are not perfect parents so we cannot expect to have perfect children. And if we look closely enough we will recognize how much beauty truly lies in life’s imperfections!

Off the Radar

Since my last post, life has been a whirlwind of beautiful moments and amazing milestones. To catch everyone up to speed, I’d like to showcase some of the highlights that have had me flying high for the last two weeks.

9 MONTHS LATER

After nine long months of waiting, the State Board of Texas finally granted me licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern. I can now start seeing clients under the supervision of Tiffany Priska, LPC-S. I am eager to expand my experience in private practice and look forward to learning the business side of private practice at Serenity Counseling of Cypress. As I continue my work as a school counselor at St. John XXIII College Preparatory, I will slowly start to build a list of clients until I’ve earned the 3,000 hours required by the state to drop the “I” and be fully licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I know I have my work cut out for me, but I look forward to the opportunity to grow professionally.

STEPPING OUT FOR A GREAT CAUSE

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Training alongside the high school boys I’ve been coaching for track has clearly paid off. I was grateful for an incredibly strong showing at the Steps for Students 5K, an annual race and fundraiser for Catholic schools in the Houston area. Race day conditions were humid and drizzly, but these conditions didn’t slow me down. I finished the race in 18:40, placing 5th overall and crossing the finish line as the first overall female. The silver lining to an already great morning was discovering a stack of 50 Chick-Fil-A gift cards in my swag bag for being the overall female. It looks like I’ll be enjoying a sandwich or 8 count nuggets on them for the next year!

100 DAYS OF AWESOME

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Last Friday, Liam celebrated the 100th day of school with a number themed party in his classroom. All kindergarteners made their own shirts beforehand to showcase their creativity. Using his index finger and an assortment of acrylic paints, he created a colorful rainbow and his name with 100 personalized finger prints. He beamed with pride about getting to wear his shirt to school. The day included games, activities, and arts and crafts that all centered around the number 100.

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Tomorrow he has his first field trip to the Oil Ranch. Tucking him in tonight, he told me how he wished it was already morning so that he could go on his trip. Clearly our little kindergartener is an eager beaver. This year it has been such a joy watching him grow academically and socially. I look forward to hearing all about his field trip adventure tomorrow after school.

VIVA LAS VEGAS

Last weekend, my parents drove up to watch the boys, so Sean and I could enjoy a long weekend in Las Vegas. Between the amazing food, shows, and people watching, there was never a dull moment.

The highlights of the trip include a relaxing stay at the Bellagio, an impromptu dinner at Hell’s Kitchen (a cancellation opened the door unexpectedly for us to get a table as walk ins), and amazing entertainment (Cirque de Soleil’s O, Aces of Comedy featuring Ray Romano & David Spade, and The Million Dollar Piano Man: Elton John).

A getaway with your spouse is always a wonderful way to reconnect. Vegas proved to be the perfect opportunity for just that!

ON THE MOVE

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Today our Baby Bear celebrated his 16 months of life with a new milestone- walking. This sweet boy has been trying to embrace this feat for a few weeks now, but I can say with confidence and certainty that he is officially on the move now. This Mama Bear couldn’t be more proud seeing him walk across the floor towards me beaming with pride. He’ll be running alongside me before I know it!

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I appreciate your patience and understanding about my temporary hiatus from blogging. I’m eager to share some new recipes and blog about other new adventures very soon. Until next time…

Fat Tuesday

Today commemorates Fat Tuesday, a day of indulgence before the somberness of Lent sets in tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. In our den, we’ve been celebrating Fat Tuesday for the last few years. Typically Liam and I enjoy a feast of sorts that includes take out, a lavish dessert, and a sprinkling of other junk food items throughout the day like glazed donuts, waffle fries, and something carbonated and sugary to wash it all down.

This year we kicked things off a few days early with a King’s Cake.Atticus, Liam, and I savored it’s subtle sweetness and gooey cinnamon. However Liam and I were disappointed that our cake didn’t include a plastic baby Jesus tucked away between the layers of pastry and icing.

Yesterday on the eve of Fat Tuesday as we sat around the dinner table, Liam looked at me with his bright blue eyes and a mischievous grin and said, “So Mom, since tomorrow is Fat Tuesday that means I can have cake for dinner and then pick a dessert too!” His wittiness practically brought me to tears I was laughing so hard as I imagined how a dinner that started with cake might end.

Last night I suggested Domino’s delivery to start off our Fat Tuesday because Liam lives for two things in life: pepperoni pizza and dessert. I figured this would be a must on our Fat Tuesday menu. So his response actually caught me by surprise. “Mom, we have pizza all the time. It’s not special enough for Fat Tuesday.” This kid was setting the bar high, and I worried I’d disappoint him if I didn’t deliver at least on the dessert side of things.

Fast forward almost twenty-four hours later, as track practice started to wind down I realized I needed to lock down our Fat Tuesday treat. My lightbulb, “aha” moment hit as I was exiting 290 en route to pick up the boys from daycare. A frozen yogurt cake from Orange Leaf! I walked into the store on a mission as I perused the delicate cakes adorned with fluffy whipped cream. My shining star was a birthday confetti round cake with rainbow sprinkles. Mama Bear for the win!

As we walked out of daycare towards the car, I told Liam I found the perfect treat for our Fat Tuesday dinner. I watched his eyes get as big as saucers and his lips turn up in a perfectly gigantic grin as I described the frozen yogurt cake that lay carefully tucked on the floorboard on the passenger side of the car.

After a long day at work topped off with track practice, I settled on leftovers, which I hoped wouldn’t be too disappointing for Liam. Thankfully we both enjoyed the coconut curry soup I’d prepared earlier in the week. As Liam and Atticus finished their meal, I paraded the cake across the kitchen and gently set it down in front of them. Their reaction was priceless- two boys all to eager to indulge in the frozen wonder that lay before them.

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Dinner ended on a high note with lots of smiles, whipped cream mustaches, and a lot of baby requests for, “more, more, more!” The littlest things in life really can be incredibly powerful ways of connecting with the people you love most in life. Liam clearly touched by the simple gesture even made me a handmade Valentine before bed. My cup runneth over!

 

Unwavering, Unconditional, & Unfaltering

This week work proved to be incredibly challenging. On more than one occasion, I left work holding back tears that came pouring out as soon as I hit the freeway. Being a counselor, places difficult situations in your lap almost every day. In the course of a day, you are often pulled in numerous directions. It can be emotionally draining and oftentimes thankless work, but my heart guides me every step of the way.

As a mother, my heart broke this week for two students I have been working with all year. Motherhood is a gift, I am so incredibly blessed to have in my life. In sharing stories with my friends who are mothers, all of them share the same sentimentality. We love our children deeply, fiercely, and unconditionally. Motherhood is not always a cakewalk, but whether our children are fifteen months old or fifteen, our children need us to walk with them, accept them, respect them, and love them.

Maintaining confidentiality is an important part of my role as a counselor, so I cannot get into specifics as to why my heart goes out to these students. However I can encourage and motivate the mothers reading this to consider what I’m about to say so that their children alway feel love and supported.

Motherhood tests us each and every single day. Our children will make mistakes, but more importantly we will too. Forgiveness is such an important part of our role as mothers. First we must forgive ourselves for our shortcomings, and then we must forgive our children for theirs.

As our children get older, they will push boundaries more than we might like. They might frustrate us and at times anger us. Don’t lose heart, Mama Bears. Remember it’s part of the job description. We might be tempted to cast judgement in our times of anger. We might have a hard time holding our tongue. It will take incredible self-control, but we absolutely must be mindful of what we say to our children. We cannot take back what we say. Our words have great power and can create mistrust and great heartache for our children. We will not always agree with our children’s actions, decisions, or lifestyle choices. No matter what though, they are our children. We must remember every step of the way how our children deserve to feel safe, secure, and supported.

Our work as a mother requires unwavering patience, unconditional love, and unfaltering support. In infancy, while toddling, growing into childhood, and then blossoming into adolescence, our children need their mother’s love in its purest and truest form. My work with high school students has made that more evident than ever. Be that pillar of support and love they so desperately need even when they seem too big to need it anymore. They will forever be our babies, and our babies will always need their mamas!

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Five More Minutes

On my favorite local country radio station, a song by Scotty McCreery has been getting a lot of air time. The song evokes strong emotions and often brings me to tears as I sing along to Five More Minutes. 

“Time rolls by the clock don’t stop
I wish I had a few more drops
Of the good stuff, the good times
Oh but they just keep on flying
Right on by like it ain’t nothing
Wish I had me a pause button
Moments like those Lord knows I’d hit it
And give myself five more minutes.”

Holding Atticus tonight before bed as he fell asleep in my arms, I found myself silently singing the chorus to myself. Thinking about how quickly time passes and how before we know it these moments become nothing more than a distant memory.

A loved one we lost before we had a chance to say goodbye. A baby now going off to college before we’re ready to be emptynesters. An embrace with a loved one as you say goodbye and part ways until the next time. In our life, if we were only so lucky to have the opportunity to slow time, hit a pause button, and give ourselves five more minutes with the people we love and care about.

You know as well as I do we would all be so lucky if we truly could afford ourselves more time. But time marches on at the same rate every single day. It is up to us to soak up the beautiful moments, grow from the moments that challenge and test us, and give thanks for all of the little things that make our lives special and rich.

Slow down enough to savor a cup of coffee with your husband or girlfriend and get lost in the small talk that comes from two people sharing time together. Take the long route home when you push your children home in their red wagon after an afternoon at the playground and soak in the smiles and laughter. Give yourself five more minutes on the phone with your mom or best friend even if you have a mountain of to do’s piling up and savor the beauty of your relationship.

One moment at at time. One day at a time. Live it as though it could be your last. We never know when that day will come but allowing ourselves to marinate in these enriching moments will carry us along through the more difficult challenges life throws in our path. It will propel us forward and give us the grace, appreciation, and love to keep these beautiful memories close to our heart. Give yourself permission to give yourself five more minutes…

An “Egg”cellente Kind of Week

Between our holiday Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and then two consecutive  “Snow Days”, this week has included a lot more play than work. On our snow days, the boys and I lounged around the house in our pajamas without a care in the world. I got so caught up in the ease of no makeup and messy hair that I had to mentally psyche myself back into the idea of going back to work last night.

Another highlight of my week was plated and served the last three nights for dinner. Let me just say each of these recipes was incredibly fresh, easy, and simple to orchestrate from start to finish. With the wintry conditions, I didn’t venture out for my typical midweek grocery store run. Grateful for my standby kitchen staples, I whipped up three amazing egg dishes I highly recommend. Every single one of them was vegetarian friendly too. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

HUEVOS RANCHEROS

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground comino
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • cherry tomatoes (not pictured), quartered
  • eggs, # depends on how many you’re serving
  • corn tortillas, again the quantity depends on the # of people at your table
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • salsa

Directions:

In a skillet on medium high heat, sauté the garlic in one teaspoon of olive oil until fragrant. Add the black beans and ground comino and stir until well blended. Allow the beans to warm through. While the beans are warming, in a separate skillet fry an egg in one teaspoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. As the egg is frying, warm the tortillas on a comal until slightly charred. To assemble, place the tortilla on a plate, top with a fried egg, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and salsa. Continue frying eggs and assembling until everyone at your table is served.

The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was fresh cilantro. Next time, I’ll make sure to have an extra bunch in my fridge to enhance the flavor of this dish even more.

This recipe is truly a simple, delicious, and healthy option that is ready in no time flat. The only skill required is the ability to multi-task in the kitchen!

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AVOCADO TOAST

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 12 grain bread, # depends on your dinner party and/or how hungry your guests are
  • fresh spinach
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • eggs, again this will vary
  • sea salt & pepper
  • avocado (not pictured), smashed to create a spread
  • hot sauce- our new favorite is Yellowbird Sauce Jalapeno Condiment

Directions:

In a toaster, toast the bread to your preference. Set the toast aside.

Cut an avocado in half, squeeze into a bowl, and smash with a fork. Spread evenly on each slice of toast. Then evenly layer the spinach leaves on top of the avocado.

In a skillet on medium high heat, fry an egg in one teaspoon of olive oil. Place the fried egg on top of the spinach. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes and top with hot sauce.

My brother and sister-in-law gave us this amazing new hot sauce for Christmas. It’s made and bottled in Austin and apparently is in high demand in all of the local restaurants there. My brother said Austinites have dubbed it their local Siracha. The flavor and heat bring a lot to the palate, and it definitely harmonizes well with eggs.

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BAKED EGGS IN TOMATO SAUCE

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I discovered this recipe while perusing the internet. A blogger after my own heart Recipe Runner (reciperunner.com) encourages her readers to “eat well and run happy.” A mantra I’ve been living by for years. This recipe is hands down the easiest thing you could make on a weeknight. I was blown away by the combination of flavors and will definitely be serving this one again very soon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of tomato sauce
  •  6 eggs
  • parmesan cheese (not pictured), grated
  • fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • sea salt & pepper

Directions:

In a large cast iron skillet, pour a jar of tomato sauce and spread evenly with a spatula. I used a jar of H-E-B’s Tomato & Basil. Feel free to use whatever sauce you have on hand. Next evenly layer the grated parmesan cheese over the sauce. Then carefully break six eggs over the cheese. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. You will know when the dish is ready when the tomato sauce starts to bubble and the whites of the eggs set. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil. Serve warm with fresh bread.

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Seriously, “egg”cellente!

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A Snow Day in South Texas

This morning Liam crept into our room at 7:15 full of excitement about today’s snow day.  Atticus slept soundly in the nursery as Liam and I searched the Internet for the latest weather updates. Soon we were cozied up in our bed watching the local news and preparing for our day.

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A little before 8:00, Atticus peeked his sweet head over the side of the crib as I was finishing my breakfast. I noticed the movement in the monitor and sent Liam into the nursery to spend a few minutes with his brother before I joined them to nurse. As I listened to the two of them giggling and playing happily together, I felt my heart melt with joy. I silently slipped into the nursery to sneak an unexpected photo. Brotherly love truly is beautiful!

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Truth be told, on our “snow day” there was a lot of anticipation and waiting for snow. Liam repeatedly and anxiously looked out the window hoping for snowy conditions to come into full effect. He kept asking, “Mom, can we have another snow day?” I tried explaining that this kind of weather in South Texas was incredibly rare. I told him that he was very lucky that already in less than a month an a half he’d already had two days of wintry weather with snowlike conditions. For an overeager six-year old though, explaining and rationalizing how the precipitation and temperatures had to align in perfect harmony to create a winter wonderland was lost on him.

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As sleet and snow flurries fell intermittently all morning, the boys and I settled into a morning full of indoor adventures. Building a teepee, experimenting with polymers, baking peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, playing with Octonauts and Hot Wheels, and a little video gaming set the stage for an ideal morning together.

By mid afternoon when the wintry mix of precipitation led to an accumulation of more sleet than snow fall, Liam decided to venture out even if it meant playing in a slushy mess of ice. Bundled up in long johns, ski pants a few sizes too small, a warm winter coat, mittens, and a beanie, he ventured out to the backyard. Our trampoline covered in a sheet of white sleet and snow offered a perfect platform for him to slip, slide, jump, and play. After a day of being cooped up, it was an ideal way to expend some energy and take in the wintry elements.

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More and more little Atticus aspires to be like his big brother. It is truly an endearing quality and so incredibly adorable to see. He wants to wrestle on the floor with Liam the way he sees Liam and his dad rough house. Today proved to be no exception. When Liam anxiously peered out the window in search of snow, Atticus followed suit.

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And when Liam ventured out to play in the snow, Atticus expressed great sadness that he couldn’t partake in the wintry merriment too. He stood on the window ledge banging on the window and babbling with a tone of sadness about how he wished he could also be frolicking in the snow. His sadness crescendoed with a loud thudding noise as he banged his hands on the window pane. While my heart ached seeing him so distraught, I also couldn’t help but feel heartfelt joy about the love and adoration he had for his big brother.

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As today’s snow day comes to a close, I’m reminded by how beautiful these little moments in our lives can be. It is rare that we have the opportunity to enjoy a day with no agenda whatsoever. So often the constraints of work and other daily to do’s take precedence. Today offered an unexpected opportunity to let things come to fruition organically and with little concern for time. Life has a way of circling back to the little things that remind us how truly blessed we are!

Carrying the Christmas Spirit All Year Long

The magic of Christmas is magnified when you look at the beauty and mystery of the holiday through the eyes of a child. Their excitement, joy, and wonder is wildly infectious and can help even the grumpiest Grinch find the spirit of Christmas in their heart.

This Christmas brought unique opportunities to bond as a family and share in the merriment of the season. Beautiful weather allowed for outdoor adventures at the local zoo. Liam almost lost his head in the mouth of a sharp toothed crocodile, and he walked into an incredibly cool opportunity when a zookeeper allowed him the chance to feed a giraffe.

An afternoon relaxing in the backyard with my parents and brother brought a low key vibe to Christmas Eve. Watching Liam race across the lawn with Atticus tracking his every move further solidified the adoration our baby bear had for his big brother.

Sharing glasses of wine with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and family friends brought the magic of Christmas to life time and time again. Creating special memories for Liam by laying out the cookies and milk for Santa  and sending his elf off with a proper goodbye stand out vividly in my mind.

Constructing and decorating gingerbread houses brought great pride for Liam and a giant mess of frosting, gum drops, and hard candy. I’d gladly clean it all up again to see his eyes light up with pride at his unique creations.

Dressing up for Christmas Eve at my grandparents, toting the boys there in their red wagon, and exchanging gifts with loved ones were just some of the memorable moments that peppered our Christmas. Simple, child-centered, and at its core all about family coming together to offer gratitude and share in fellowship.

This Saturday, January 6th marks el dia de los reyes magos. This holiday commemorates the Epiphany of our Lord when the Three Magi found the truth upon meeting Jesus. In Mexico, this holiday holds more significance than Christmas Day. This is the day they exchange gifts and celebrate with food and family. A traditional rosca, one of my favorite sweet breads, is served with a tiny plastic baby Jesus tucked somewhere inside the bread. Tradition states that the person who finds the baby in their slice of bread must host a party within the month for everyone. What better way to continue spreading the Christmas joy than with a party on February 6th!

This simple tradition offers us a unique opportunity to reconsider how we approach Christmas. It truly doesn’t have to end on the 25th. The spirit of Christmas can live in our hearts for the remainder of the year. Through charity, acts of service, and random acts of kindness we can continue to share the meaning of Christmas with those around us. For children, this magic rarely loses its luster. They carry the excitement of the holiday well into mid February when their sights change from presents, lights, and trees to hearts and Valentine’s.

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Now just a few days into the new year, we have a distinct opportunity to reframe our pattern of thinking and approach this season of Advent through the rose colored glasses of our children. We are their models, their heroes, and the keepers of their hearts. Let us open our own hearts and minds to the endless possibilities carrying the season of Christmas into the new year could bring for us. What will you do to spread Christmas joy?