Ordinary Treasures

In her travel memoir, Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, author Alice Steinbach talks about the power of paying attention to ordinary life moments.  She shares a simple treasured memory of her sons playing innocently out in the backyard on a summer evening.  There was nothing special or different about this evening, there had been many like it before.  But for some reason, as she heard the childish chatter outside, Steinbach was lucky enough to recognize the power and beauty of that ordinary, everyday experience.    She calls those special bits of time, when our hearts are touched by the magic and specialness of the ordinary, “Holy Moments.”

It is easy, as parents, to get caught up in life’s busyness.  Running from activity to activity, our daily life becomes so routine that we forget to pay attention to the little moments.  And here’s the thing.  By not paying attention to those moments we lose them. 

The truth is, most of family life is ordinary. Taking the dog for a walk. Cleaning up after dinner. Snuggling in to read a book together before bed.   Yes, these moments are ordinary, but they are special, too, because these are the moments that make up your life.  These moments turn to hours, the hours turn to days, and pretty soon the days add up to a time when moments like these no longer happen.

So today, make an effort to notice and savor the ordinary moments in your daily life. The sound of your children laughing together.  A tiny hand fitting snugly into yours.  The smell of your toddler’s neck when you kiss him goodnight.  In this way, today’s moments become tomorrow’s treasures.

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Today's guest blogger is Ms. Julie Danneberg. She is a teacher and a children’s author.  She started working on collecting her own Ordinary Treasures when her children were young.  You can find out more about her books and follow her blogs on writing and teaching at www.juliedanneberg.com.

 Guest Blogger: Ms. Julie Danneberg

Guest Blogger: Ms. Julie Danneberg

Dads and Play

Dads benefit when they play with their children. Researchers studied fathers and found there were no differences in testosterone levels, but there was a decrease in cortisol and prolactin in fathers after just a half hour of playing with their children. This study suggests fathers experience hormonal responses when playing with their children (Gettler et al., 2011). Playing with children can decrease stress, be lots of fun, and create wonderful memories. 

Play is good for Dads!

My playspiration is my Dad! When he plays with children in our family, my Dad is totally engaged and present in the moment. His granddaughter reminded me that the last time Nonno was at our house they played hide-n-seek for “lots of hours.” True! It was probably about two hours without a break. 

My Dad believes play is important. Places to play are important too. When I was little my Dad built me a playhouse in our backyard. After putting in a full day’s work, he would come home and work on the playhouse until everyone went to sleep.

 The Playhouse Nonno Built 

The Playhouse Nonno Built 

Thank you for being my Dad! Also, thank you for making PLAY an important part of our life together. I love you, Dad! 

Happy Father's Day to all Dads this Sunday. 

 

Source: Gettler, L. T., McDade, T. W., Agustin, S. S., & Kuzawa, C. W. (2011). Short-term changes in fathers' hormones during father–child play: Impacts of paternal attitudes and experience. Hormones & Behavior, 60, 599-606.

Picture with Santa?

I thought we were just getting the obligatory Santa picture with the cousins. What I got was so much more than just a picture with Santa for the photo album! My sister-in-law was looking for a place for us to take the kids when we all met up in Arizona for the Thanksgiving holiday. Her online search turned up an event at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

A must see event is waiting for you at this luxurious resort in Scottsdale during the holidays. The sixth annual "Christmas at the Princess" is a fun evening for people of all ages from November 19th to January 3rd. There are signature activities you won’t want to miss in the seven areas of the resort.

#1- The Enchanted Plaza

When you enter the resort, you will be enchanted with holiday lights, decorations, and holiday characters. Princess Noel awaits you when you arrive. She sits in front of her castle and greets guests. You can even have a picture with her if you’d like.

 Princess NOEL

Princess NOEL

As you enter the Enchanted Plaza, a 4-story musical tree is illuminated. The tree has 70,000 LED lights that dance to 14 holiday songs. The festive music is synced up with the spectacular light show depicting a variety of images. The hotel is also dressed to look like a gingerbread house. The animated light show will entertain guests of all ages. My three year old daughter gave us an impromptu dance recital while we hung out in front of the tree. At 6pm and 9pm there is a 5-minute show projected on the face of the building.

#2- Nativity Garden

The Nativity Garden is on the Northwestern side of the resort. There is an 88-foot light show that tells the story of Christmas to music. Seating is available. You might be able to catch a glimpse of Peppermint Penguin when you walk along the path between the Nativity Garden and the Lagoon of Lights. He passes out peppermint candies to visitors. Peppermint Penguin is Princess Noel’s best friend. He too poses for pictures, signs autographs, and entertains guests.

#3- Lagoon Lights

Festival of Lights can be enjoyed as you walk along, or take a train ride, the shoreline of the lagoon. There is a pirate ship, dragon, Santa fishing from a row boat, and much more.

#4- Kringle’s Korner

A truly unique experience is available in Kris Kringles’ Korner. Outdoor ice skating in the desert can be enjoyed on a 6,000 square foot skating rink. Rent the skates and twirl around on real ice.

Rinkside Firepit Rentals surround the skating rink. Edible treats, beverages, and blankets provide a cozy way to view the ice skating.

Some of the proceeds from desert ice skating are given to COX Charities which award grants for children’s educational programs. Three other charitable giving opportunities at the Princess Festival are: Toys for Tots, Dream City Mom’s Pantry, and Charity Water.

#5- Feliz Navidad Plaza

Santa is waiting in the Feliz Navidad Plaza to take a picture with you. The Fairmont Princess has several gift shops and concession stands throughout the resort. There is a "Christmas Shoppe" at Kris Kringle’s Korner next to the ice skating rink if you are in the mood for retail therapy.

 #6- Princess Express Train Depot

Choo! Choo! The Princess Express will take you in style throughout the resort. You will be au courant from your post on the train. All aboard!

 #7- S’mores Land

There are seven campfire pits throughout S'mores Land where you can warm up (it does get chilly at night in the desert). A concession stand has everything you need to make DIY s'mores. They also sell 3-D glasses where you can see images when you look into the holiday lights. Grandma bought my daughter the ones with Santa.

 Carousel at S'mores Land

Carousel at S'mores Land

We saw Elfie the Selfie, an energetic and friendly elf, when we were on the Venetian-themed carousel. He can be found photo bombing or vamping for pictures in S’mores Land or the Princess Express Train Depot areas. A petting zoo had a pot belly pig, 2 alpacas, sheep, and goats the night we were there.

At the end of the night, we had dinner at the Ironwood American Kitchen at the Princess. My steak sandwich was delectable, but my favorite was the herb fries. La Hacienda, Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, and the Bourbon Steak are the other restaurants at the resort. There are plenty of other things to do at the Fairmont. "Breakfast with Santa and Friends" will be held on December 19th. Christmas day brunch, Christmas dinners, and New Year’s Eve dinners can be had at one of the signature resort restaurants. On New Year’s Eve, there will be a Great Gatsby themed party. On my list for next year will be a visit to the Well & Being Spa. I can’t wait to do this again! “Christmas at the Princess” is now a tradition in our family.


Contact Information:
7575 East Princess Drive
Scottsdale, AZ85255
480.585.4848
www.scottsdaleprincess.com

Paying for Higher Education

Okay, so you have small tykes and perhaps their college years seem forever away. It is never too early to start planning for how to pay for your kiddo’s college education. Maybe your kids are in middle or high school and you need information about how to pay for higher education. Here are some things to consider when paying for college.

FAFSA

Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out what financial aid options are available. The Department of Education starts accepting FAFSA applications on January 1st of each year for the next academic school year. After the FAFSA is complete, the student will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). Federal financial aid is needs-based. Cost of attendance minus expected family contribution equals the student’s financial need. Dependent vs. independent student status will also be taken into considerations when determining needs. Federal aid can be in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans. If you need to borrow money for college, consider the following loan information.

Loans

Direct- Subsidized is based on financial need and the government pays interest while the student is in school or during deferment; unsubsidized is not based on financial need and the borrow pays interest, but can add it to the loan. Grace period = 6 months.

Perkins- Based on financial need, borrowing from the college, and interest accrues when payment begins. Grace period = 9 months.

PLUS loan- Parent takes out loan and is based on credit-worthiness. Grace period = none (first payment will be due 60 days after the entire loan has been disbursed).

Private loan- Interest rates are usually variable. The lender decides the borrowing limit. There may be fees attached to the loan. The student may need to have a creditworthy co-signer.

A Master Promissory Note (MPN) is signed when taking out a loan. Tip for an unsubsidized student loan: pay the interest while student is still in school. Research has been done on student work while in college. There is evidence to show that students who work 10-15 hours per week stay in college at higher rates compared to those who do not work. If a student does not finish college, they may still need to pay back loans and grants.

Financial aid can come from a variety of sources. See if your student qualifies for a Hope Credit (not a scholarship) or the Lifetime Learning Credit. If liquidating investments to pay for college, there may be tax ramifications. Confer with a tax attorney or expert for more information.

Moving with Little Ones

Many people would rather scrub toilets at their local gas station than move. It is no picnic moving with little ones. I moved households when my daughter was 3 months old, 29 months old, and again at 38 months old. Here are some things I learned to keep me from cleaning toilets at Shell.

1. Have FUN!

Depending on the child’s age, they might have a hard time watching you place their cherished belongings in a box. My toddler was confused when she saw me placing her toys in a box. It was helpful to explain in words/concepts the she could understand that her belongings would be meeting us at the new house. Talk to your child about where, why and when you are moving. Answer questions and facilitate communication about the move. Make moving fun by incorporating your child’s interests into the move. My child was really interested in stickers. She placed “her” stickers (e.g., stars, smiley faces, etc.) on the boxes. 

2. Be flexible with packing.

Finding the time, energy, resources, and conditions to pack all your belongings is extra challenging when you are also caring for children. It is not always possible to pack when your children are away, but ideal. I found it much easier to pack when my child was asleep or away from the house.

3. Help your child with saying “Good Bye.”

Closure is important not only for adults, but children too. Acknowledge your child’s feelings about moving. Is she scared, excited, nervous, happy, and or mad about the move? Having a closure activity or ceremony can help children say good bye. A going away picnic with her favorite treats is how my toddler spent her last day with friends.

4. Unpack treasured things.

Let your child unpack some of his or her boxes when you get to the new location. It will feel like a birthday or Christmastime when they unpack their familiar objects at their new home.

5. Resume familiar routines when you get to the new location.

Keep sleep and meal routines the same or similar when you move. Go to bed at the same time at night, and keep nap times predictable. Maintaining your child’s sleeping and eating routines can help with their ability to self-regulate. 

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