Holidays, Observances, and Literary Celebrations: January–April

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Introduction

Champ always gets quite depressed after we take the Christmas Tree (which, I can assure you, we did in a timely matter, at the beginning of January). To cheer him up, I embarked on a calendar project, compiling holidays and observances, national and international celebrations.

I included Christian holidays, and then added some Jewish holidays, and then looked up literary birthdays as well.

As you might have guessed, the project began to take on a life of its own, and I still haven’t finished it. However, I thought there might be some other families out there who’d like a list of holidays that expanded upon the public holidays each month, so I thought I’d share what I’ve got so far.

Many of these national celebrations were taken from an exhaustive list found at Brownielocks.com. The literary holidays were compiled from birthday lists of authors. I never found a complete list, and many of the writers and poets I just looked up individually.

This is a perpetual list of holidays, meaning you can come back to this list each year. I do have downloadable calendars for 2014 at the bottom of this post that you are free to print and use!

How it works

MONTH

Each month has a theme. Some are nationally or internationally recognized, and others are just suggestions (take February for example—”Celebrate the ones you love Month”). Each month also has a list of authors born in that month. The idea is that older children or parents choose from that list and read a book from one or more of the authors during the month.

WEEKS

The holidays listed under the “weeks” are holidays that occur on a particular day each year. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is always celebrated the third Monday in January.

DAYS

The holidays listed here are celebrated or observed on the same date each year. New Year’s Day is always January First. I’ve included birthdays of poets on these lists, so that on their birthdays, we can read one of their poems. It’s a gentle reminder to me that I need more poetry in my life, and it’s an excuse to read poetry to my children at least a few times each month.

OTHERS

Some holidays aren’t based on the Gregorian calendar. For example, the Chinese New Year is celebrated in January some years, and February other years. I have 2014 dates for these holidays marked on the printable calendars. For subsequent years, you’ll have to look them up. I’ll include links when I can find them.

January

MONTH

  • Resolution Month (Choose a motto for the new year, make a collage, etc.)
  • Human Trafficking Prevention
  • Authors: Tolkien, A.A. Milne, Poe, Lewis Carroll

WEEKS

DAYS

  • 1/1 New Year’s Day
  • 1/3 Tolkien Day
  • 1/8 Midwife’s Day, Elvis’ Bday
  • 1/18 Winnie the Pooh Day (A.A. Milne’s Birthday)
  • 1/19 Edgar Allan Poe
  • 1/27 US Holocaust Memorial Day (day of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp), Lewis Carroll
  • 1/29 Puzzle Day

OTHER

  • January or February: Chinese New Year
  • Last week in January: Lead up to Super Bowl

February

MONTH

  • Celebrate the ones you love Month (Read some classic love stories, compile stories of how your family members met & fell in love)
  • Winter Olympics Month (every 4 years)
  • Authors: Dickens, Jules Verne, Lemony Snicket, Laura Ingalls Wilder

WEEKS

  • First Sunday—Super Bowl Sunday
  • Second Monday & Tuesday—Westminster Dog Show
  • Third—Engineers Week
  • Third Monday—Presidents’ Day

DAYS

  • 2/1 Langston Hughes
  • 2/2 Groundhog’s Day
  • 2/8 Elizabeth Bishop
  • 2/14 Valentine’s Day
  • 2/15 Susan B Anthony Day
  • 2/27 Longfellow

OTHER

  • February or March: Carnival / Mardi Gras (day before Ash Wednesday)
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Lent
  • Purim (Esther’s Feast)

March

MONTH

WEEKS

DAYS

  • 3/4 National Grammar Day
  • 3/6 Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • 3/14 Pi Day
  • 3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
  • 3/21 First Day of Spring
  • 3/26 Robert Frost

OTHER

  • March or April: Easter
  • Passover

April

MONTH

WEEKS

DAYS

OTHER

  • April or May: Yom Hashoa (Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Download the 2014 Calendar

  • Download the plain 2014 calendar (with federal and public holidays) here.
  • Download our family’s calendar for January–April (with various religious, literary, and geeky observed holidays) here. (Subscribe by email or follow me on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when the other months are ready!)

Coloring Pages

Annual List of Holidays, Observances, and Literary Celebrations | Bewildered Mother

Click to Pin!

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10 Rules for Buying Gifts for Kids

I decided to make a pinnable image of my 10 rules for buying gifts for my kids, which I detailed in The Birthday Party.

Click the image to pin. You can follow me on Pinterest here.

10 rules for buying gifts for children | bewildered mother blog

Still to come, the cookies and books lists from the birthday party, plus Champ’s 3-yr-old photoshoot. Follow / become a fan / subscribe if you don’t want to miss them :)

Champ is 3—milestones and memories

 

I’m all about remembering sweet things about my boys and collecting them so that I can look back in the future. I am not, however, all about scrapbooking. I think it’s fun, but I also think it’s incredibly time, space, and cash consuming. When Champ turned 2, I made him a book from Shutterfly that went from his first birthday to the month before his second birthday. It’s basically a digital scrapbook printed out. The prices range a lot, starting at $13, and you can get coupons if you pay attention. Right now they’re having sale and you can save 10%-50%. The code is on the site. If it has expired since I post this, it will not be on the site. There are other places to make the books, too, I just like the Shutterfly designs the best. And as some of you know, I’m a design snob. Anyway, making a photo book per year per kid is just not feasible for us. At least it won’t be once we have a houseful of kids. And I know the more kids you have, the fewer photos you take of each. C’est la vie.

I do plan on making the photobooks for each child at least for their baby years. This Christmas I’ll finally get Champ’s first year done, and in the spring I’ll do Lion’s first year for his birthday. But I needed an idea for a scrapbook alternative for each child as they grow older.

I’m a bit of a Pinterest addict, so I’m always collecting milestone and memory ideas for the kids in my a full house board and birthday boards (I have a TON of boards…and pin a lot, especially to my geeky boards. Fair warning if you want to follow me.) There were two pins in particular that I knew I wanted to start them with Champ when he turned 3.

Birthday Photo Letter

The first one is like a journal, photo, and letter in one. Here’s the original.

Champ 3 letter

This is the blog version. I have one using his actual name to put in an album later, with the interview below.

Birthday Interview

The second one is a list of 20 questions, and you can find the original here. I changed some of the questions to better suit our family. (I found the food questions to be repetitive). These will live on the blog until I have enough to make a book, or until Champ can start writing them himself.

Me: I’m going to ask you some questions for your birthday, okay?

Champ: Okay.

 What is your favorite color? 

Yellow. And blue and green and white!

What is your favorite toy?

My LeapPad.

What is your favorite TV show?

Bus!

Magic School Bus. That’s right. What is your favorite thing to eat? 

Juice.

Juice is something you drink. What do you like to eat?

Ice cream.

What is your favorite thing to wear?

[His Michelangelo mask, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, that he bought for his birthday]

What is your favorite game?

Candy Land?

no.

Memory?

yeah.

What’s your favorite animal?

Yar! [the lions at the zoo]

What is your favorite song?

Oh yeah. [Walk Off The Earth’s “Red Hands.” The “oh yeah” part makes it the only song he can actually sing along with]

Good choice, but maybe not entirely appropriate for a preschooler… What’s your favorite book?

[Little People’s Busy People.]

Who is your best friend?

Is Mommy and Daddy okay?

Yeah, that’s okay…

happy-cuteness-overload

What’s your favorite thing to do outside?

Drive. [He means his ride on John Deere Gator]

What is your favorite holiday?

It’s happy birthday.

 What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

[Ollie the elephant, his Scentsy buddy]

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Up high [he flies his hand above his head] and with a car.

Like an astronaut?

Yeah.

What’s your favorite movie? [I lined up five of his favorites for him to choose from]

Nemo!

Who’s your favorite person in a movie? [This will evolve to favorite superhero or fictional character]

Po. [From Kung Fu Panda]

What’s your favorite subject in school?

[Play-doh]

Where’s your favorite place to go visit?

Gigi’s house!

What’s your favorite sport?

Hockey. [His cousins taught him how to play it with his toy golf clubs]

How would you describe yourself?

[Three. He hasn’t started using adjectives yet—he pretty much sticks to nouns right now]

– – – – – – – – –

I’ll keep my eyes out for 8×8 albums for the boys, and once I find some, I’ll print the photo letters to put on one side and put the interviews or Q&As on the right side, like this.

I still need to post the book and cookie lists from his birthday, as well as the photos from his birthday shoot. I’ll include some tips on taking your own photos of rambunctious camera-ditchers, too. Be sure to follow, subscribe, or become a fan on Facebook so you don’t miss them when they come!

The Birthday Party

This year I decided to go with a Sesame Street theme for Champ’s birthday. It was his first birthday party with kids his age over, and it was a blast.

This will likely be the only party he has with over a dozen kids, plus their parents attending. Not that it wasn’t super fun, and it honestly wasn’t overwhelming, but next year I’m guessing Champ will be at an age in which he has formed tighter bonds with a few kids. I’ve heard the idea of inviting one child per age of the birthday, so next year we will plan on inviting 3 or 4 kids.

invite

The invitations

Everywhere I looked online said it was bad taste to include any mention of gifts, even if it’s to say you don’t want any. Who are you to tell people what to do with their money? People like giving gifts—don’t deny them that joy. Et cetera.

So I decided to call it an ABC party. I asked parents to bring their favorite cookie recipe and a list of three of their favorite books. Then I’d compile the list and distribute it to all the parents. We got a ton of ideas, some people didn’t feel obligated to bring gifts, and others brought really great ones. Champ loves them all, and he’s slowly, slowly coloring thank you notes for his friends.

abc

I designed the invitations, of course, and printed them at home. I designed some cookies based on a Cookie Monster coloring page, printed those out, cut them out, and included them in the invitations. Parents wrote the list of books on the back.

cookie

Presents from us to him

We don’t want our kids to be materialistic, so we limit how much we give them. I’m really big on gift giving, so this has been hard on me, but also freeing. Here are my rules for buying gifts for our kids:

  1. Is it something my child would want or need?
  2. Is it a good deal? (I make a note to never pay full price)
  3. Is it clothing?
  4. Do we already have something similar?
  5. Will it last through at least one other child?
  6. Is it educational?
  7. Is it open-ended / can it serve more than one purpose?
  8. Will it foster imagination and creativity?
  9. Is it something that promotes group play or family time?
  10. Is it something worth buying (as opposed to borrowing or making ourselves)?

We bought him a bean bag chair that was PERFECT. He fell in love with a huge one at my aunt’s house and when we looked, ones of a comparable size that weren’t overstuffed cost $70–$200. We bought what I’ve dubbed “the prune” new at Dock 86 for $30.

prune

We also got him a LeapPad game, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, to teach him math; a dry-erase book for practicing letters; a Look & Find treasury book; and the Disney animated Robin Hood on Blu-Ray.

Champ also received birthday money this year. We took out 10% for him to give to church, 10% to put into savings, and let him pick whatever he wanted with the extra money. When he starts to get an allowance, he can tithe out of that, so we won’t take 10% out of his gift money for church, but we will still have him put 10% of gift cash into savings.

He chose a water blaster, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask, a Toothless figurine (from How to Train Your Dragon), a play camera, and a tape measure.

From friends, he got play-doh sets, puzzles, a football, books, construction sets, gardening tools, bubbles, sliceable play food…and he’s been playing with all of the toys for the past few weeks. It will take us a while to get through the books!

Party games

What do you do with a dozen preschoolers? I had three mostly unstructured activities for the kids: Homemade Play-doh inside and a Cookie Monster cookie toss and “parachute” game outside.

This is the recipe I used to make a big batch of play dough, but next time I’m going to try this one, which is only slightly different and makes a smaller batch.

Here’s the Cookie Monster cookie toss game. I got the idea from here, but made up different rules and made and painted the cookies with this recipe for dough. The kids loved it, and liked the point system even more when I told them how many points they got.

cookiethrow

How to Play:

1. Have kids line up behind one another, with the box facing the first person.
2. Give 3 cookies to each of the first few kids in line.
3. Each child gets three tosses per turn.
4. Award 1 point for hitting the box, 2 points for getting in the box, 3 points for going through the mouth.

I made a ton of the fake cookies. Some of them cracked while drying, and some broke while throwing. The ones that turned out best were not made with cookie cutters. My advice: shape the dough into balls and squish rather than rolling out and using a cookie cutter. And do not flip them over as they are drying. I turned mine because they were starting to warp, but that just made them crack when they warped back the other way. Warping isn’t much of an issue if you don’t use cookie cutters.

For the parachute game, I bought 100 ball pit balls here and a sheet from Goodwill. The kids grabbed the sheet and shook while I poured the balls onto the sheet, then they flew up like popcorn. We tried it twice before letting the kids just throw the balls everywhere. It was a bit too much structure for some kids that were really excited, and would drop the sheet to try and jump into it. Couldn’t blame them for wanting to be in the middle of that!

games

We made a game of picking up all the balls. With some kids I told them to pick up by color, but we just made it a race with most of them.

Party Food

Here’s what we had for treats:

  • Ernie’s Rubber ducky punch with lemon sherbet (where on earth can you get the pineapple flavor?)
  • Oscar’s trash (store bought chex mix on sale)
  • oscar broccoli tray and strawberry elmo tray
  • Big Bird cupcakes
  • Chocolate Chip cookies
  • “Slimey” sour gummy worms
  • Elmo’s goldfish

Captain also made some pizza bread (Italian loaf, toasted, with pizza sauce and cheese and toppings, heated in the oven)

plates-puzzlesI totally forgot about the fruits and veggie plates until guests started to arriving, so two of my dear friends put them together. The eyes were condiment cups from Culver’s with blueberries for the pupils. Oscar’s were filled with ranch, and Elmo’s were poppy seed dressing. The puzzles were hand-me-downs from my brothers.

I bought freezer pops for all the kids, but just realized they are still in our basement freezer. Oh well.

The cupcakes were my first attempt ever at frosting cupcakes with a frosting bag. hahahahahaha. Candy corn for the beak, and candy eyes from here. You can get them from Walmart or Michaels, too, in the cake decorating aisle.

bags

Favors

For the favors, I bought bright colored bags ($5 for 12) and added paper cutouts to make them look like muppets.

Inside:

  • a small container of play-doh from Walmart 10-Packs ($6 for 10)
  • a couple cookie cutters (ABC and 123) from this set of 50 for $17.50,
  • a snack size bag of mini-cookies (Walmart brand, 100 calorie variety)
  • a mini rubber ducky ($6 for 12)
  • a punch balloon

They cost about $3 or $4 per bag. I ordered from Prime or bought locally, so I didn’t pay shipping.

Well, I was hoping on including the book and cookies list here, but this has taken a huge chunk of time to compose, so I’ll have to do it later. I’ll link back here once it’s online.

What can’t you live without?

Little Champ’s sitter recently posted a question to mommies of infants. What 2 or 3 items could you not live without, for the different stages (e.g. newborn, 3m+, etc.)

I began to answer her, and then realized that maybe some of my dear readers would be able to give in their two cents, too! So here are mine. Add yours in the comments :D

Newborn

Prefold diapers.

Little Champ used these for diapers after his first week (didn’t want to stain them with the meconium…) until he fit into our One-Size cloth diapers. These are much cheaper and much thicker than burp cloths. We went through about a dozen each day when he was a spit up machine. We still use them now, as dish towels, a bib in a pinch (clip with a clothespin in the back), and a replacement for paper towels in the kitchen.

I will probably buy another dozen of these soon, since I am trying to go paper-towel free eventually. Continue reading