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F A M I L Y Holiday crafts for the whole family

Having a guilt free Christmas


Around the World


Introducing a toddler to your tree



Meet the Waltersdorff Family

Dania, Rodney, Ariana and Alyssa


F A M I LY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Janette Osemwota




Eghe Lenze



Join our community for

The Expecting Mamas Network


Connect with  us

9801 FallCreek Rd #221 Indianapolis, IN 46236   becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Holiday writers Lindsay Blythe

Scott Ciero

Jennifer Boudreau

Cassandra Blair

Jill Wilcox

Aarielle Kago

Roxana Snedeker

Anne Maslanka

Winter contents

Photos take by Lorraine Shorb Photography

In this issue 7 becoming MAMA 21 becoming DAD 29 becoming COUPLES 41 becoming BABY 55 becoming TODDLER 65 becoming PRESCHOOLER

Must Read 8 Winter Skin 101 19 Featured Ambassador 26 Xbox Game review 31 Featured Couple 34 Christmas 6 ways 44 My Mary Christmas 68 Making it count

Holiday Features 10 Holiday Favorites 14 Guilt free Holidays 47 Christmas Cookies 56 Holiday Crafts 60 Capturing the moment 62 Your tree and your toddler 66 Elf on the Shelf

Lets Socialize!

what’s trendy right now

An App to add some silliness

Pin it!


Visit This year, instead of just “getting through” the Holiday Season, why not create some new Christmas Traditions. From the Christmas Pickle to holiday themed Minute to Win it games, there is fun for the whole family at Crazy Little Projects.

“Bring some festive photo fun to your holidays with the help of Christmas Booth! Snap a picture, or grab a photo straight from your camera roll, and add seasonal stickers to turn your face, or your friend’s, into a famous festive character.”*

*source: itunes app store

Twitter This Christmas, Poll real or fake tree?

46% Fake 56% Real

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We want to know… We have a Christmas movie night.... Charlie Brown, a Christmas story, Elf, A Christmas Vacation. Heidi D.

Make and decorate cookies!!

Jana M.

We drive around the neighborhood to look at all of the Christmas lights and decorations. We listen to Christmas music and usually finish the night with cups of hot chocolate from a local coffee shop. Diane N. from

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids during the holidays?

Drive through a park that has Christmas lights on display. Alana S. from

Christmas Eve... I would always buy each kid a pair of pajamas and a movie of his/her choice. Wrap them up and put them under the Look at Christmas tree. And the. Christmas Eve they would open their lights! pajamas, put them on, and Jill W. we would watch one of their movies. And snack on appetizers that they all requested me to make! They're all grown... And now the girls are bringing their boyfriends to join in! They still want to do it! Want to be seen in our Prudy B. from magazine? Follow us @ExpectingMamas #becomingFAMILY becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


from the



inter is my absolute favorite season. Unlike most people, I enjoy

the snow. I’ve lived all over the world but have missed being able to build a snowman and have snowball fights with my kids. This issue of becoming FAMILY is full of some of my favorite things. I’m encouraging you to get out of your old holiday routine and try something new, create new traditions and come together as a family. There is nothing more important than family. Spend a little extra time with your children, snuggle on the couch and share a cup of hot coffee with your partner. This season is all about focusing on what is important. After all, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” Celebrate the presence that you share with your family. Happy Holidays!

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becoming MAMA

becoming MAMA

Winter Skin 101

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Salmon, like walnuts, are a great source of Omega 3. Salmon also has silica. Silica helps produce collagens. Collagens are vital to the strength and flexibility of your skin.

Super Foods For

Hydration Watermelon


Being made up on 90% water, watermelons make the perfect hydrating snack.

Walnuts are an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 helps your skin not only stay hydrated but actually help repair it.


These tasty super foods are a great source of antioxidants that help the body combat the damaging but normal aging process


Besides being a super hydrating vegetable, cucumbers contain silica which helps produce collagens that are the foundation for flexibility and strength but most importantly hydration.

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ




More than just a Mom’s Group, but a place where community and families connect. Â

Meet up with other moms and sit back, drink some coffee, and let the little ones play. To find out more, visit our calendar of events at

Holiday favorites

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Our lives revolve around family dinners, where generations gather around our dining room table

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Food is an important part of our

family. Our lives revolve around family dinners, where generations gather around our dining room table made by my dad, which bears the scars from my childhood. And the food? We have Southern staples like cast iron skillet cornbread, shrimp n grits and fried chicken dinners or my mom's amazing collards. Summer weekends are reserved for cookouts and barbeques. But our favorite time to eat is undoubtedly the holidays. Even though the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are declared to be the days where "calories don't count" the waistbands still expand. I truly don't think anyone complains about the added pounds. Holidays in our family host a multitude of traditions revolving around food. I can't wait to pass on to my daughter the secret family recipe for my mom's world famous oyster dressing and cranberry bread. Holiday dinners always had an atmosphere of warmth, and it wasn't all from the Florida weather. The same table, the same assigned seats, but there was magic served along with the turkey.

“Holiday dinners always

had an atmosphere of warmth”

And although my family rarely ate breakfast together due to busy schedules, on Christmas morning we always gather around the table and enjoy French Toast Casserole. Since I can remember, my family has made French Toast Casserole every Christmas Eve for the following day. This recipe is simple, easy to assemble, is best when it sits overnight, and smells divine while it cooks during gift exchanges. The kids of the family help measure and year the bread, and the adults make sure we have included all of the main ingredients. The recipe itself changes through the years as does our family. The year that my father died, there may have been tears added. The year my brother made us the most delicious hard egg nog? I think some got added to the mixture. My mother bought whole nutmeg with my sister on a recent trip up north, and you can bet that it will be in our Christmas breakfast this year. The casserole itself has become almost a family member in its own right, with its place of honor on our Christmas breakfast table, amid the indentations of homework from years past and the handmade napkin holder. Make it your own and see how it evolves through the years. Enjoy, from my family to yours . becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Embracing the holidays (guilt free) as a working mom


written by Aarielle Kago

I am not your typical working mum; I work long hours, I am away from my children and I am not paid. Nuts, I hear you say. Yes, at times I feel it is all a bit nutty. I am a medical student and spend all of my days on clinical rotation. I will be a doctor soon (5 years and 2 kids later) but for now I have to be an unpaid working mom. For the most part I am able to muster the strength to be immune to the resounding feeling of guilt that is associated with not being with my children during the day. I know that the end goal of being a doctor and being able to provide for my family is definitely worth it.    

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Slow down momma – As a busy

However, the holidays escalate that guilt to entirely new level. What challenges me is the happy family commercials, seeing families on outings as I try to grab a quick coffee break, or hearing of all our friends exciting holiday plans well aware that we will be stuck at home working the same old daily grind. This holiday season I have decided to embrace my life as a working momma and do all that I can to make the holidays as memorable as possible for my family. Here are my top 5 tips for embracing the holidays as a working mom.

mom who spends most mornings flustered, I have made the resolution to slow down. Of course there will still be the internal rush to make it on time, but to the kids I appear to have all the time in the world. It’s not easy, trust me, but opting for a sense of calm makes the world of difference to small children. It also helps to deescalate what may eventually lead to the early morning screaming match that we all want to avoid. Take some time to talk about the holidays with your children, explain their meaning, and what plans you may have for the holidays. It will keep the holiday excitement alive for both you and the kids and may even leave you with some of those glorious conversations you have with your kids to get you through the day at work. Make every moment count – When trying to schedule time to spend with the family I subsequently miss all the little moments I have here and there on a daily basis. Five minutes is better than nothing and even if it means taking 5 minutes out from my daily routine to watch my toddler fill in her holiday activity workbook it is better than brushing her off in my busyness. She will feel valued and I will feel included in the excitement of the holiday period.  

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Have Family Time – It’s very tempting to fill my weekend up with school work, but doing this eats into family time. Even if it means staying up late on a Sunday night after the children are in bed to get my work done, I make sure that the day time is free to indulge in time with the family.

Focus on what you can and not what you can’t – It is so easy to get caught up in all the things you are missing with the children and hence bring on the attacks of guilt. I have found it far more effective to focus on the time I can spend with the children and capitalize on the joy that brings me.

Confide in your fellow working moms – Don’t hear me wrong, I am not saying that you can only be friends with working moms. There is a lot to be said for having friends from a variety of backgrounds. I think that knowing there are others out there who feel the same as you is very comforting whether in person or online (there are lots of online communities and bloggers for working moms).


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And most importantly momma? Yes you! Cut your self a break – you are doing the very best you can do. Stop being your own worst critic and start writing your self a guilt free glowing review.  

Social networking. Birth classes.

An answers to your prayers.

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Your gal pal. Resources Answered question.

Something for everyone    



Informative Blogs.



A place to ask questions.

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A good laugh. A good cry.

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Contact us today! becoming family Ÿfall 2014Ÿ 21


Lindsay Blithe


What is the hardest part of being a mom? For me , it's not receiving any feedback on how you're doing; a performance review, so to speak. It can be exhausting to give, give, give, really pour your heart and soul into your baby, and not get a "thanks mom, that was fun!" I know that will come with time, so for now I take smiles, snuggles, and a happy baby as my pat on the back.

What is your favorite thing to do with your son during the holidays? Put on holiday music and dance around the family room. Last year my son was only nine months old at Christmas, but he loved to bop to the Beach Boys Christmas album. I can't wait for family dance parties this year! And we plan on making lots of homemade holiday cards!

Who is your biggest Influence? Hands down, my mom. She was, and still is, my best friend. She made parenting three kids four years apart in age always seem fun; like there was truly nowhere else she'd have rather been. She had silly voices she used to serve lunch, staged elaborate neighborhood scavenger hunts, made wacky Halloween costumes out of things she found in the attic, and judged handstands in our backyard pool for hours upon hours. Being her kid was FUN! I want to be that for my family. Now that I'm a mom, I'm in awe of her energy and creativity. becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


“Connecting fathers in and around the Indianapolis area through meetups, blogs, podcasts, workshops, and more.�

The Indy Dads Group is a diverse community of fathers who take an active role in our children's lives. We meet several times a month; with out kids at parks, playgrounds, museums, parent-and-me classes, and living rooms across the Indy area. We'll also organize parenting workshops and "Dad's Night Out" events to give our members an opportunity to socialize, learn, and support each other as we navigate parenthood.

becoming DAD

Check out a DIY Golf Score Card Holder from our friends at

Our Favorite Christmas Gifts for Dad

What about some DIY Reindeer Rootbeer? See a tutorial at

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Being a dad is a tough job too. Many dads work full time and still come home to crawl on the floor with their little ones. Why not get him something amazing for Christmas this year. This year, try creating the perfect gift for dad. We’ve gathered our favorite DIY yourself gifts from some of our favorite bloggers. Not that crafty? Try these gifts instead.

Harry’s Father & Son Shave Set What a better way to bring Father & Son together to create bonding moments while shaving?

PowerCase & Powermat Bundle A great gift to give that special dad or grad in your life more power and protection for his iPhone 5s or 5.

COGITO – The Connected Watch

COGITO is a must have fashion accessory with a Connected Twist.  

Visit our  friends  at  for  more  gi@s  for  dads.  

This smoker is literally SMOKING and amazing! The smoker comes in 30″ (4 racks) and 40″ (6 racks). The smoker comes with Window and Stainless Steel Door — See how your smoked meats, cheeses or vegetables are coming along through the integrated window. Built-in meat probe displays the food temperature. Digital temperature and time controls. Thermostatic-controlled temperature. Built-in internal cabinet light. Four racks provide 730 sq. in. of cooking space. Can hold six racks for a total of 1,095 sq. in. of cooking area. 25-lb. capacity. What father wouldn’t want one of these?

Cabela’s Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite Window Smoker

*photo and reviews by

Get your game on

Watch your back

Say goodbye to all your free time… Game review by Scott Ciero

Destiny is the latest game released

by developer Bungie, the people that brought you the Halo series. At its core it is a FPS but mixed with aspects of RPGs and MMOs. The basic story, and so far the story is VERY basic, is that an immense interstellar object named the Traveler has come and positioned itself above Earth. Although humankind has benefitted greatly from its presence an evil entity known as the Darkness (silly, I know) has followed this Traveler to our planetary neighborhood. As the player, you are one of many Guardians given the task of trekking through our solar system to eliminate this evil

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and the numerous alien races it brought along with it. Admitting that this “story” is lacking depth, I am willing to give Bungie the benefit of the doubt since Destiny, as it was released, is supposed to be the beginning of a long lasting franchise. They have signed a $500 million, ten year deal with publisher Activision to develop and manage this world they have created. What comes on the disc is not meant to be a complete and final product like most games, Destiny is planned to continually grow; new additions are made weekly since its launch and two large expansions are already in the works.

As far as gameplay is concerned, the shooting elements and player mechanics are spot on. The visuals are breathtaking causing you to stop once in awhile and just marvel at the scenery. There are various game modes to delve into besides the basic story mode such as daily and weekly strike missions, bounties, public events, patrol missions, and the Crucible (Destiny’s multiplayer arena consisting of several game types itself). Unfortunately for some, Destiny requires an online connection to be able to play the game. Other players will pass in and through each other’s games on a regular basis. Many game types even require three players and even six in the case of the exclusionary raids that require all members to be part of a friends list.

“…you will be spending every available waking moment playing it…”

Leveling up as you play is the main objective where every action you take and every event you take part of affects your growth. Up thru level 20, looking back comparatively, happens on a consistent basis and can be done just playing the story line and some side missions here and there. It’s after level 20 where the game takes shape. It’s almost as if the first 20 levels were just to let you get a feel for all the weapons

and armor types and get familiar with the game itself. After level 20, you will be on a never-ending quest to upgrade to Legendary weapons and armor and then to find more elusive Exotic gear. You accomplish this by playing all the game modes as often as you can, trying to acquire the necessary items to help you achieve your goal. It can seem to be a tedious, vicious circle playing all these modes to attain items to level up so you can participate in game modes that require you to be at certain levels to obtain certain gear that can help you… you get the idea. But you can’t stop partaking in all that Destiny has to offer. Destiny is not the new groundbreaking IP everyone was hoping for but what it does, it does very well. Even though you will be spending every available waking moment playing it, you will fun doing it. And that is what gaming is all about.

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Get the accountability you are looking for. Â

becoming COUPLES




Grab a glass of wine and join our twitter party every Sunday night at 8 pm (EST) @expectingmamas #relaxandunwine

Chad & Gabriella We asked our favorite vlogging couple how they like to spend their holiday season. becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Spending time as a family is

always important to us, but this is magnified during the holiday season. There are traditions to be made and enjoyed as a family during this time. On Thanksgiving we always get together with friends and family and pig out on bad for us food and watch sports all day long! Then there is Christmas, our favorite holiday of the year. We not only celebrate this as a time of giving, but more importantly the birthday of our Savior Jesus Christ. When it is cold outside we love lighting the fireplace, putting up the tree, decorations, and stockings. During the Christmas season there

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are so many activities to go and enjoy in Indianapolis, and even though it is cold outside, we often find ourselves forgetting about that because of the fun we are having and the memories that we are creating as a family. The holiday season is a time of love and happiness in your family, not about the gifts we received or were able to give, not about if our team won the big game, but about spending time with our family and each other. As we get more mature in our relationship we know that spending time together is one of the best ways to grow and keep our love for each other strong!

We love to watch old holiday movies snuggled up by the fireplace

We love to decorate together, we turn on some holiday music and have fun!

We are always looking for new things to do during the holiday season, trying to start new traditions is important to us because we are a young family. Spending time with family & friends is one of our favorite parts of the holiday season.  

Snowball fights are the best, we can't go one winter without a major snowball fight.

Something we always take time to do is to reflect on the past years events and memories. This is fun for us because we can grow together from some of the mistakes we made, but also appreciate the victories we had together.

We love going out on the town and involve ourselves in all of Indianapolis's great holiday events. This is a great way for us to spend time together doing new and exciting things!

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ



different ways Six moms talk about Christmas traditions in their country.

Aarielle Kago from Australia Juliana Park from South Korea Connie Rainey from the Philipines Anna Lilja from Iceland Julie Okotie from Mexico Manuela Eads from Germany 34 ŸWinter 2014Ÿbecoming family


y name is Aarielle and I am Australian. My husband is Kenyan and we have two little adorable girls who are Kenyan-Australian. It’s safe to say that we have a mix of holiday traditions in our household. In Australia our holiday period is in the middle of summer so there is not roast turkey for us, as the mercury usually hits 30 degrees Celsius. Our table is a spread of salads and fresh seafood. The holidays are big but until recently we didn’t really acknowledge Halloween or Thanksgiving. However these two holidays are creeping into our calendars and more and more Australians are celebrating these events. I now have to remember to buy candy so I don’t get caught empty handed by Trick or Treaters – a concept which was once foreign but now familiar to me.   For my husband the holiday period is more of a religious holiday than a hallmark event. My first Christmas in Kenya I was shocked by the lack of Christmas decorations, commercialism and associated paraphernalia that I am well accustomed to back at home. The most important part of the holidays in Kenya is making sure you attend church and visit your family. While I was initially taken aback I have now come to embrace the simplicity.  

What does this mean for our African Australian daughters you may ask? It means that they love a good fresh seafood spread, but must have side dish of Ugali (traditional Kenyan dish). They are absolutely spoilt with gifts, but we ensure that we teach them the real meaning of the season. We truly have a mix of traditions, so much so that we have created our own little family traditions that we are proud to call our very own. becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Christmas in South Korea is not too different than a lot of Western countries. American Missionaries exposed Koreans to the idea of Christmas! Considering that about 25% of the population is Christian, there are typical celebrations and traditions. For example the exchanging of gifts is becoming more popular but the preferred gift is cash! You will most likely see Santa Claus around but he may be wearing blue. Retailers will have typical Christmas lights and decorations but they will be over the top. Many Korean homes will have decorations up but probably not a real Christmas tree. You can find smaller, fake plastic ones. My favorite part of the holiday in Korea is the food. Many people will gather together with their families, but also many will celebrate Christmas by going out to eat at restaurants. During the holidays, restaurants are busy! A typical Korean Christmas dinner will have some sort of BBQ beef like bulgogi or kalbi, sweet potato noodles, and kimchee (fermented cabbage). Although during the season if you are out and about walking in the streets you can enjoy a lot of street foods, especially seasonal ones like roasted chestnuts or sweet potatoes (not yams).

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Many festivities and including Christian holidays are celebrated in the Philippines due to early colonization during the mid 1500's. "Fiesta" is probably the most frequent holiday celebrated. It is a celebration to commemorate the patron saints of different churches and their territories. Filipinos are widely known for having one of the longest Christmas holiday celebrations. The sounds of Christmas carols can be heard from as early as September and extends until the Feast of the Epiphany which is also known as Three Kings on January 6th. Beautiful parols are hung, these are colorful lanterns typically made out of cellophane that resembles the Northern Star. Christmas holidays wouldn't be complete without "Evening/Night Mass". This starts on December 16th and lasts until December 24th. It is common belief that if you attended each of the 9 masses without any absence you could get a wish granted. After each mass, families share bibingka and puto bumbong for breakfast, a traditional holiday food. Of course everyone loves "Noche Buena" it's the grand family dinner after the midnight mass. Christmas morning is typically spent visiting relatives, receiving aguinaldos from godparents and dinner at the end of the day.

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Four Sundays before Christmas Icelanders start preparing for Christmas. This season is called Advent which means “coming”. The season is all about enjoying and having a cozy, relaxing time. Candlelights are lit, people bake Christmas cookies and make truffles and it´s very popular to meet family and friends at least once for a Christmas buffet. Icelanders are lucky to have 13 Santa Clauses that live in the mountains and the first one comes to town 13 days before Christmas. Children put their shoes in their bedroom windows and every night they get a little presents from each one of them. December 23th is called St. Thorlakur´s day and the traditon is to eat putrefied skate (fish) for lunch. It´s very smelly and you can smell it all over town. Many Icelanders decorate their Christmas tree later that night and many of them go downtown to shop

for the last presents or simply to enjoy the atmosphere on the busiest shopping

day of the year. Icelandic traditions count 13 Christmas days. Christmas starts at 6:00 on Christmas Eve, December 24th and is over on Epiphany, January 6th. As in many other countries, Icelandic Christmas is all about being with family, eating good food and exchanging presents. At 6:00 on Christmas Eve people listen to the bells from the Cathedral of Reykjavik on the radio and then Christmas has officially started. People have their best clothes on and then it´s time to have a three course dinner. Most people eat “Hamborgarahryggur” for our main course which is a smoked pork loin. After that Icelanders open the presents and read their Christmas cards. Many go to church during the holidays and it´s becoming common for people to attend mass at midnight on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, December 25th, people have big family gatherings with extended family and the tradition is to eat smoked lamb. 38 ŸWinter 2014Ÿbecoming family

December is a wonderful month in the Mexican culture. We celebrate the more religious aspect of how Christmas came to be. Just like many holidays, it takes time to prepare for such a big event. The nine day period that comes before Christmas Eve is called “Noche Buena”. We attend a mass at midnight during Noche Buena. This nine-day period of time, or “Novena”, is known for the re-enactments of the holy journey which Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary, faced. Every night of the Novena the children walk around the neighborhood singing Mexican Christmas songs and hold statues of

Mary and Joseph and people will play the characters. The actors ask to go into three homes. The first two homes decline and the last one accepts. This is known as the “Posada”. In the house of the Posada, the hosts set up a scene of the barn where Jesus was born. Around the scene, people will pray, then they sing Mexican Christmas songs. Afterwards, the children hit the pinata as the celebration goes on through the night. The western version of Christmas is much different than the Posada. Some regions of Mexico have a more westernized way of celebrating Christmas, such as Christmas trees, presents, and Santa Claus.

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


In Germany, Nikolaus visits on the 6th of December. We put a shoe or a boot outside our door the night before and in the morning it is filled with some candy, books or clothes. Then we have the Christmas market in the middle of the larger towns. It is beautiful! The Christmas market is like a small fair with booths where they sell Christmas candy and handmade wooden ornaments and Gluhwein, which is a spiced hot red wine drink to keep you warm while you are shopping. So much fun!! On Christmas Eve, we celebrate Christmas by going to church then we open gifts.

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becoming BABY

1 Christmas

Baby’s st By Janette Osemwota

This year the newest edition to our family will be celebrating her first Christmas. It will be such a bitter-sweet moment for me! My youngest, my only daughter and my last “first” Christmas. Baby girl will be 10 months on Christmas and I am already considering all the fun “first” traditions she will join in on. Every year Grandma, my mother, sends us ornaments for each of the boys. For my eldest son, we made hand and foot print ornaments to commemorate his first Christmas. My second son, who was almost a year old, we created hand made decorations together. For my third son, we created cute little Christmas poses in front of the tree together and made Holiday photo booths with props. This year, I hope to introduce sissy to all these family “firsts” and more. Whether it’s gathering in front of the tree and reading The Night Before Christmas or making cookies and leaving them for Santa together, I hope you enjoy all the amazing things you can do for your little one for their “first”. Remember, you only get one “first”, so why not make it the best.

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My Mary Christmas

A Birth Story by Anne Maslanka

Christmas has always been special to me and my siblings, mainly because my mom, Mary, loved Christmas. She prepared all year long to make Christmas the very best for us. Each year as Christmas came to an end, she would ask, "Did you have a good Christmas, honey?"   Christmas 2011 was almost no different except it was then that I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Of course, many mothers are overjoyed to learn they are pregnant, but I was particularly grateful because I felt like I was racing against time – the time my mother, who had lung cancer that spread to her brain, had left to meet my baby. A week before Christmas, my husband and I found out we were going to have a baby, so we decided to tell our families at our Christmas gathering. What a perfect gift during a trying time! On Christmas Eve morning, we revealed our exciting news by giving them each a present: my dad received a bun and my mom a toy oven. My mom figured it out immediately. Shortly after Christmas, we went in for our first ultrasound where we learned the baby did not have a heartbeat.  I had a D&C, and my mom – as moms do, sick or not – took care of me. As I rested in bed the night of the procedure, my mom played with my hair and promised me she would meet my children. Losing the baby was heartbreaking, but the thought of my mom not knowing my children was even more  

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devastating. My mom understood this even though I never said it aloud. My mother passed away on March 12, 2012 without having the opportunity to meet my babies. Despite the heartache, my husband and I continued to try to get pregnant. On May 21, one day after my mom’s birthday, we found out we were pregnant and due at the end of January. The news was bittersweet; I was thrilled to be pregnant but sad my mom was not there. My three sisters and brother are all older than I am and already have children, so they did everything they could to make my pregnancy special even though my mom was not there to accompany me on such a precious journey.   When Christmas came around that year, we dreaded spending the time without the person who had made it so special for us for our whole lives. On Christmas Eve morning, after talking and crying with my dad and siblings, my husband encouraged me to get out of bed, pull myself together, and meet his parents for lunch. While at lunch, I felt a little funny, so I got up to head to the bathroom. As I stood up, my water broke, and I mean BROKE, soaking my clothes. There was no question we were going to have our baby on Christmas Eve...five weeks early. Mom.   Shortly after we arrived to the hospital, my entire family joined us, excited and in much better spirits than when I left that morning. Mom. Every nurse I had that day and night had also lost someone, they all knew how hard Christmas is without a loved one, and they all recognized this was something special. Mom. We did not know what we were having, but we did have names selected.   becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Our little girl was born via C-section Christmas Eve evening. She was taken to the NICU because she was having difficulty breathing. The whole time I knew she was going to be okay; after all, she had a special angel watching over her. Mom. Finally, after I had recovered from surgery, I was wheeled in to see my Mary. As she was placed in my arms for the first time, I glanced up at the clock to see it was 12:00am.  Mom. As always, my mom made sure our Christmas was special. “Yes, Mom. I had a Mary Christmas.”   And as promised, Mom has “met” my daughter. This is evident by Mary’s uncanny behavior in relation to her Gaga: she talks to her, points to her pictures, and says “Gaga.” Recently, I lost another baby.  The day we found out, my husband was in the kitchen as Mary played on the floor. I expressed to him how sad I was to experience another miscarriage but this time without my mom to take care of me. Minutes later, Mary (who is 21 months old now) smiled, pointed and looked upward, and said “Gaga.” Mom.   I wanted to add a special thanks to my dear friend Brianna Vinup, who helped me write my story.        

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Grandma Betty's Gingersnap Cookies

Recipe provided by Kathe Burke from 5 cups flour 1 1/4 cup white sugar   2 teaspoons baking soda 1 cup brown sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 eggs 3 teaspoons ground ginger 1 cup molasses 1 teaspoon cayenne (the secret 1 teaspoon vanilla ingredient!)   1 cup butter, softened (Grandma said to NOT use margarine, EVER, real butter only)   In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger and cayenne. In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugars until mixed together.  Add the eggs, molasses and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Slowly add the dry mix into the wet ingredients until a uniform dough forms. Taking a small bit of dough, roll around in your hands to form into ping pong sized balls. With a plate of white sugar, press the balls lightly to coat one side. Place sugar side up on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until done, about 12 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them to a rack to fully cool.

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Easy Cereal Holly Cookies

Recipe provided by Mary Hoover from 40 large marshmallows (1 red size bag) 1/2 lbs butter 1 teaspoon Vanilla 1 1/2 teaspoon green food coloring 6 cups Corn Flakes Candy Cinnamon "red hot" decors Instructions Melt butter and marshmallows (I do this in 30 sec intervals in the microwave). Add vanilla and food coloring. Pour above over the Corn Flakes and mix till all flakes are coated in color. Allow mixture to cool a little, drop by spoonful on to wax paper (or go the extra mile and form into circular wreath shape). Finish with cinnamon red hots for decoration becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Candy Cane Crunch Balls Recipe provided by ‪Renae Mowrey Chiovaro from

Ingredients ½ cup sugar (1) 3oz Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Bar ½ cup packed brown sugar with Dark Chocolate, chopped into tiny ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract pieces 1 cup all-purpose flour (5) Peppermint Candy Canes, crushed into ¼ tsp. Kosher salt tiny pieces 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 1 stick unsalted butter, softened Instructions In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar for several minutes until well combined. Stir in vanilla & mix well. Combine flour and salt and then begin adding to wet ingredients a little at a time; using a wooden spoon or spatula continue mixing until all the dry flour is mixed in. Next stir in the melted butter and Ghirardelli chocolate pieces. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper, form into a ball and slowly roll and press in 2-3 tablespoons of crushed candy cane. Place remaining crushed candy cane on a small plate or in a small dish. Using your hands form a ball with the dough and roll in the candy pieces. Refrigerate until hardened. Serve & Enjoy! (Number of cookies depends on how large you form each ball. Approximately 12 larger or 24 mini cookie balls.)     Notes * Substitute Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark for chopped Andes candies or mint chocolate chips if you have them on hand instead. * Before coating in candy cane pieces try dipping balls in melted chocolate before sprinkling with candy topping!

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Simple Snowman Cutouts

Recipe provided by Prudy Blank from 1-½ cups sugar 4 cups flour ½ cup butter 1 tsp baking soda ½ cup shortening 3 tsp baking powder 2 eggs 1 tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla 1 cup sour cream Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, butter, shortening, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.  Begin adding the flour mixture alternating with ¼ cup sour cream at a time mixing until it’s well blended until all of the flour and sour cream have been incorporated into the dough. The dough will be really sticky. At this point, you can divide it into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a couple of hours for ease of rolling.   I never do.  If I’m in cookie mode, then I’m going for it until they’re done. Divide the dough into two balls.  Using plenty of flour on your rolling surface, roll out the first ball to about 1/4 inch, and begin cutting circles of dough (dipping the cookie cutter into flour each time), placing them on a parchment paper lined large cookie sheet.  You can fit about 12 cookies at a time on the sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. This makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


The Frosting: 3 cups confectioners sugar ½ tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp light corn syrup 4 tbsp milk Combine ingredients into mixing bowl, mix on low speed until the ingredients are blended together, and then increase the speed to high for about five minutes. The Snowman Using a small spatula, spread plain white frosting over ¾’s of the cookie. This is the snowman’s face. Using tip #46 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with red frosting, create the hat by piping stripes from the top of the face to the top of the head.  Pipe a half circle from one side of the top to the other. Using tip #3 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with green frosting, pipe dots ½ of the snowmen, and pipe plaid on the other ¼ of the snowmen. Using tip #22 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with white frosting, create the fur around the hat by piping stars along the bottom of the hat, and then one poof at the top of the hat. Using tip #230 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with orange frosting, pipe a single nose onto the middle of the face. Using tip #7 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with black frosting, create the snowman’s face by piping dots for eyes, and five dots into a smile for his mouth. Stick two candy holly leaves (or Christmas trees) into the fur of the hat, and using tip #7 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with red frosting, pipe three little holly berries in the center of the two leaves. The cookies are ready to go. If you are planning on layering them on top of each other, then you’ll want to let them set for about five or six hours before putting them into the container.  Use waxed paper between layers.

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Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Recipes provided by Jennifer Martin from Ingredients 2 cups flour ½ cup icing sugar 1 cup cold butter 1 can (14 oz) condensed milk 1 egg 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 package skor chips 1 cup chopped pecans 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or ½ cup semi-sweet, ½ cup white) Instructions Preheat oven to 350 F In medium mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Press firmly onto the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan.Bake 15 min. Meanwhile, in medium mixing bowl beat condensed milk, egg and vanilla. Stir in skor chips and nuts. Spread evenly over prepared crust. Bake 25 min or until golden brown. Cool and chill thoroughly. Cut into bars.

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Almond Bark

Ingredients 8 Squares Bakers Semi Sweet Chocolate 6 Squares Bakers White Chocolate 1 Cup toasted almonds Instructions Chop each square of chocolate into approximately 8 pieces. Place chopped semi sweet and chopped white chocolate into two separate bowls. Microwave each bowl for about one minute depending on your microwave. Essentially you want to see one-third of the chocolate still un-melted. You can also opt to use a double broiler method. Stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth. Stir in a half a cup of almonds into each bowl until coated. Drop spoonfuls of chocolate, alternating white and semisweet onto a waxed paper lined baking sheet. Using the end of a knife, draw the semi sweet chocolate and white chocolate together to create a marbled pattern. Refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces.

becoming TODDLER

Christmas Crafts for Kids

By Jill Wilcox

Christmas + crafts, what a great way to start the season off right! Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season this year and sit down with your kids to create some beautiful and fun crafts. Use the time to laugh, share, and talk about the real reason for the season – all while making memories that will last a lifetime. Here are five fun projects to get you started!

To begin, have an adult hot glue

Sparkly Popsicle Stick Snowflake Ornament What you’ll need: Small Popsicle sticks (unpainted or precolored, it’s up to you!) Craft paint Paintbrushes or cotton swabs School glue Fine glitter Hot glue gun w/glue

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three or four popsicle sticks into a snowflake shape. Start with an “X” shape and then add another one or two sticks perpendicular to that. Then it is time to paint! Grab a small paintbrush or cotton swab and dip into your craft paint of choice. Coat the entire front (don’t forget the sides!) and let dry. When dried, draw designs in school glue along the sticks and sprinkle fine glitter over the glue. Let dry. Tap the excess glitter off of snowflake or use a soft brush to remove any extra that remains. Glue a loop of string or ribbon to the back of the snowflake and you are ready to hang it on the tree!

Beaded Pipe Cleaner Ornaments What you’ll need: Pony Beads (assorted colors – red, white, green) Pipe Cleaners (assorted colors)  

These are easy peasy! Kids love to

string beads. To make a candy cane, take one red or white pipe cleaner and some red and white beads. Make a small loop in one end of the pipe cleaner. Thread the beads onto the pipe cleaner in any pattern you wish. When your candy cane is the length you’d like make a curve in the top to resemble a candy cane. Trim any excess pipe cleaner from the bottom, leaving at least half an inch. Make a loop with the remaining pipe cleaner and tuck the end into the last bead. To make a wreath, leave a 2-inch blank space with no beads at the beginning of the pipe cleaner and string beads as desired. Leave another 2-inch blank spot at the end of the pipe cleaner. Curve beaded pipe cleaner into a round wreath shape. Twist the two empty ends together and shape a “bow” with the extra length.

To make a Christmas tree, start with one pipe cleaner and fold in half. String one pony bead at the top. Make two small bends on both sides and then add 3 beads to each side. Make one more bend on each side and then add 4 beads per side. Make another bend on each side and add 5 beads. Bend the remaining pipe cleaner horizontally and add the remaining beads until all space except half an inch is filled in. Tuck each end into the last two beads to complete your tree shape. To add tinsel/ornaments – cut one pipe cleaner into three sections. Thread beads onto two sections and then wrap the ends where the pipe cleaner bends at the tree “branches.” Trim any extra ends. You may add a star by folding a yellow pipe cleaner in half and twisting it into a star shape and trimming the ends. Your ornaments are now ready to be hung on the tree or decorate your home!

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Puffy Snow Paint What you’ll need: Shaving cream (the cheapest brand) Washable school glue Construction paper (darker colors make the paint show up better) Fine Glitter Paintbrushes or popsicle sticks Craft paint Googly eyes Peppermint extract (if you want your snow paint to smell festive)

Making snow paint is a favorite craft in

our house! This paint is special because it dries in the shape that you paint it – puffy! It looks just like real snow. Mix equal parts of shaving cream and washable school glue in a bowl. Add a drop or two of peppermint extract, if desired. Now you are ready to paint! Your kids can experiment with different shapes – snowmen, trees, clouds, and gingerbread houses – whatever their minds can imagine! When finished, sprinkle with fine glitter and allow it to dry. I used a cotton swap to dab on small details with craft paint and pressed googly eyes into the paint for the snowman. Have fun!

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Tissue Paper Cross What you’ll need: Heavy-duty construction paper Pencils or pens Multicolored tissue paper cut into 1-inch squares (it is available pre-cut if you don’t have the time to cut them yourself) School glue Contact paper (for younger kids)

Begin by cutting out a cross shape from a

piece of construction paper or Contact paper for younger kids. Take a tissue paper square and place the eraser end of the pencil (or pen) into the middle of the square. Using your fingers, wrap the square around the end of the pencil with a rolling motion. Holding the wrapped paper and pencil with one hand, dip the tip into school glue. Continue holding the paper to the pencil and stick it onto the construction paper template. Release your fingers from the paper. It should stick and resemble a little flower. Continue to fill in the space until no more construction paper can be seen. For the contact paper – expose the sticky side of the paper after cutting into a cross shape. Repeat all steps except for the glue. Paper will stick without a glue mess. With either method, you will end up with a beautiful colorful cross to remind you of the reason for the season!

Handprint Wreath What you’ll need: Construction paper A kid or adult hand to trace A pen or marker Scissors School glue

I am a sentimental gal and love to see how my daughter P

grows and changes through the years. This project is a good way to remember just how small your kids’ hands used to be!

  ick a hand     to trace (I used my daughter’s right hand) 8-10 hands.     hands and arrange in wreath shape, making sure that Cut out traced     in the same direction all the way around. Glue into fingers overlap     place with school glue. Keep wreath like this or add details like circles

of construction paper for ornaments, small photos of your family, or even words like Joy, Peace, Faith and Noel. Glue a loop to the back of the wreath or keep flat to use as a table decoration.     becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Capturing the! perfect Moment with Santa! !

Getting the perfect Christmas photo with your child and Santa Clause can either be a great success or a total disaster. Our resident photographer offers a few tips to getting the perfect picture of your special little one with the Big guy himself !

1) Prepare your kids days in advance! Show them pictures of other kids with Santa and talk about how good he is with kids. It can be a scary experience for little ones if they have not seen him before. 2) Have patience. This is a must with kids. A child that is not ready or comfortable to get close to this big guy is probably not ready to be sitting on his lap or in close proximity. If you are taking your child to the mall or somewhere where you have a clear view of Santa, walk around him, show your child how the other kids are doing it and let him/her get comfortable.   3) Bravery goes a long way! Getting some ice cream or going to the toy store for a nice treat is always a great idea.   4) Expect the unexpected. Some kids just do great while others are just too nervous to talk to the big guy or to smile for the camera. Kids will be kids, but do not worry...there is always next year.

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Your Christmas Tree


Your Toddler by Jennifer Boudreau A work from home mom of 3 kids

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It’s the day after Thanksgiving and it’s time for our family tradition. Our Elf on the Shelf, FiFi, makes her annual debut and my husband drags all the Christmas decorations out of the garage and piles them up in our kitchen. Our house becomes a dusty, colossal disaster area for the next several hours while we prepare our home for the holidays. It’s one of my absolute favorite days of the year because not only do we make our home a festive one but we bring home our family Christmas tree!

Most of us love the tradition of the Christmas tree, but the Christmas tree can present some challenges if you have a toddler. Toddlers and their cute, chubby cheeks combined with their endless enthusiasm bring us so much joy and laughter over the holidays. On the other hand, their natural curiosity and desire to touch everything can make the annual Christmas tree a source of stress for parents and a dangerous situation for toddlers. So, how can parents maintain a low-stress holiday season and keep their children safe?

When you bring your Christmas tree home or set up your artificial one, let your toddler touch and get familiar with the tree. Encourage “gentle hands” and demonstrate how to appropriately touch the tree. Toddlers love to touch, so let them experience the feeling of the tree so they’re not quite as curious going forward.

Find the non-fragile decorations and let them help decorate the bottom portion of the tree. Toddlers love to be included and it creates a fun family

to the top of the tree. Personally, we are able to use furniture to block ours off. If using furniture, be sure to keep furniture at least two to three feet away so your toddler cannot reach the tree from the furniture.

If using small or breakable ornaments, place them high enough so that they are out of your toddler’s reach. Avoid using metal hooks as they are a choking hazard. Instead, opt for ribbon.

If using decorations that resemble food, keep them out of your

child’s reach to avoid their natural temptation to eat them! Real holly and mistletoe are toxic to children, so avoid using these altogether or place them out of your toddler’s reach.

If you have a real tree, be sure to keep it properly watered. A hydrated tree is a less flammable tree and makes a lot less mess. Keep cords out of sight and hidden and taped to the floor if possible. Keep cords, tinsel, or garland on the upper part of the tree. They can be a choking and strangulation hazard.

The holidays are my favorite time of the year! As parents, we can enjoy this glorious

season and keep our children safe. We simply have to take a few extra steps to toddlerproof our Christmas tree, just as we would the rest of our home. My hope and prayer is that you’re able to enjoy this holiday season to the fullest! Happy holidays!

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ



If you’ve never heard of Elf on the Shelf you have been missing out on some absolute fun for your whole family. Elf on the Shelf is a children’s book written and illustrated by Coë Stienwart. “The book tells a Christmas-themed story, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and who is nice, and describes elves visiting children between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, after which they return to the North Pole until the next holiday season.”* Families across the world have taken to having their own Elf who often causes Holiday mischief. We have brought you our own Elf on the Shelf ideas to occupy your little one all month long. *source Wikipedia

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Elf on the Shelf An entire month of elf mischief!




Read the Elf on the Shelf together



Introduce your family to your Elf


Make snow angels in the flour


Take a nap in some towels

21 Dance with a nutcracker

8 Have an ice party in the freezer



Get tangled in the lights




Put the star on the tree

Name your Elf

The Elf has found the bathroom!

17 Play dress up with Barbie

24 Spend time in a stocking  




Get bundled Find a new up by the home in a fireplace new toy box

Say good bye to your Elf



Get creative with your Elf


5 Introduce your Elf to the kitchen


Get messy with some hot chocolate

Find some Have a party new friend in with your the toy box kid’s favorite toys





Brush your Elf ’s teeth

Get wrapped up in the toilet paper



Get caught playing video games


Color with crayons


Eat Santa’s cookies and milk

Get wrapped up in wrapping paper



Get your Elf to prepare your kids breakfast


Leave a message with lipstick on the mirror

20 Your Elf finds the tree

27 Play with the new toys


Put your Elf away for next year

becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Making it Count

Volunteering with your children during the holidays

By Lindsay Blythe 68 ŸWinter 2014Ÿbecoming family

The holidays. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with obligations, gift-buying,

party-going, and just plain surviving. We watch our kids get swept away with wanting gifts, gifts, and more gifts. One great way to push back at the constant demands is to turn the focus off ourselves and onto others. I know it’s not easy to volunteer with toddlers and young kids. If we’re being real, it’s not even easy to get out of the driveway with little ones, so the thought of adding one more thing to your “to-do list” can seem overwhelming. That is why I’ve broken down for you the easiest, most family friendly way you and your kiddos can give back this holiday season!


Write a Card, Guarantee a Smile! Kids love stamps, stickers, and glue sticks. Three items guaranteed to make a superb holiday card! Sit down with your kids (or let the older ones work their artistic mojo on their own) and create bright, cheery holiday cards to send to people who could use a smile. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list:

Soldiers stationed overseas always love to receive letters from home. Visit to learn about the American Red Cross’ program and how to send Holiday Mail to a Hero.

Nursing homes or hospitals always have individuals who are unable to come home for the holidays and would love to have a little bit of extra cheer this year.

Thank those who keep your family safe by delivering cards to the local fire stations and police departments.

If your kids aren’t sure what to say, ask them what they would want someone to tell them in a card, and see if that gets their juices flowing. Other fun ideas include having your child write his or her favorite knock -knock joke in the card or have friends come over for a “holiday card party”.


Find a local food pantry or shelter and help out

The holiday season can be especially trying for those who don’t have enough to eat, or a place to sleep. Block off a Saturday morning and give 3 or 4 hours of your time helping at a food bank, or even serving soup at a food kitchen. Watching their parents volunteer alongside them will make a big impact on your kids and create a sense of family pride. If your kids are too young to volunteer at the facility, make a morning of or hitting the grocery store and picking out nongoing through your pantry

perishable items and toiletries. Make sure you bring your child with you to deliver the goods. Click on the following links for local food banks and community meals in the metro Indianapolis area.,,    

Clean out those closets and toy rooms!


Give your kids the opportunity to pay it forward and donate some of their gently used clothes and toys to family shelters or coat and holiday drives. Have they moved on from the Doc McStuffins craze? Great! Donate that doctor’s kit and let a different child play doctor. If your kids grew out of their coat in a matter of months, don’t let it go to waste – find it a good home this winter!   Task your kids with picking out five toys, books, or other items that they want to give to another boy or girl in need. Talk about why they’re doing it, and how it’s important for everyone to help each other.,,,     70 ŸWinter 2014Ÿbecoming family


Find your kids passion and run with it. Have a future pop star on your hands? Hit the streets or the nursing home in your town and go caroling! Who can resist little kids belting out “Joy to the World?” The more off-key the better!   If you have a little one who loves to bake, then the sky is the limit – Christmas cookies, homemade candies, and holiday breads. Everyone, from your pediatrician, to the librarian who makes the silly voices at story time, to your kids’ daycare teacher loves a sweet treat. Get baking! As an added bonus, let your kids decorate the packaging.   Whatever it is you decide to do this holiday season to teach your kids the power and importance of giving back, make it fun! Kids feed off your vibe, so try not to make it another chore but instead a fun family activity. As much as is practical, put the decision-making in your child’s court. Let them pick the carols to sing, toys to donate, type of cookies to make, or canned goods to purchase. Make them feel empowered, and hopefully instill a sense of giving that will last them a lifetime.       becoming family ŸWinter 2014Ÿ


Looking for a good read?

"In a class by itself." —Entertainment Weekly

Look out for enticing questions and lively discussions before the movie comes this spring with our exclusive members only

Book Club

“When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too— but on his own terms. Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success —his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.”* *Synopsis from

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becoming FAMILY winter 2014  

Publication by the Becoming Family

becoming FAMILY winter 2014  

Publication by the Becoming Family