I am excited about this month's issue because 1) I love birthdays, 2) Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and 3) this issue is packed with interesting features, helpful tips and opportunities to reflect.
Birthdays always have been a big deal in my family. I tend to stretch my celebration out as long as possible. One year not too long ago, I managed to celebrate my birthday over a two-month period. Birthdays aren't just a way to mark the passing of another year, in my opinion. They are a celebration of life, your life in particular. My daughter already is showing signs of following in my birthday footsteps. Every other day or so, she mentions who she's going to invite to her birthday party. She has asked me three times in the past week if she can have her birthday party at the Children's Museum of the Ohio Valley in Wheeling. (To which I replied, 'Of course'!) And she even sent a handwritten invitation, by mail, last week to one of her classmates. Never mind that her birthday isn't until March!
On the birthday subject, check out some of the cute birthday party activities for babies in this month's edition. I never thought about using balloons as toys or in games at a baby's party, but Penny Warner has come up with some clever and entertaining ideas.
Another article that resonated with me in this issue is the Over the River and Through the Woods feature on family hikes. Writer Justine Ickes highlights all the great reasons for hiking and ways to make the hike family friendly. November is the perfect time for hiking because it's not too hot, not too cold (although I do recommend thermal underwear!). Every other year, my side of the family gets together at a state park in either Georgia, Ohio or Kentucky for Thanksgiving. Hikes are always a part of the extended holiday weekend. The fresh air and exercise do wonders for burning off pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes, and has the added benefit of getting the youngsters out of the cabin and thoroughly tiring them out so the adults can stay up late goofing off without getting upstaged by the kids.
Last year, we were at Hocking Hills State Park, and the kids were positively enthralled with the rock and cave features in the region, including the cavernous Rock House, beautiful Old Man's Cave, and scenic Cantwell Cliffs and Cedar Falls. Check them out at www.1800HOCKING.com. There are plenty of great hiking spots right here in the Ohio Valley, including Oglebay Park in Ohio County, Tomlinson Run State Park in Hancock County, and Barkcamp State Park and Dysart Woods in Belmont County, to name a few. So take my and Justine's advice, and take a hike!
Another highlight of this month's issue: Lee Ann Cleary's thoughts on sharing family memories in her Book Bag column. Family traditions and memories are like the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie of our lives: life wouldn't be the same - wouldn't be as sweet - without them. Lee Ann shares some of her own memories and encourages us to share ours with our children - and what better time than around the Thanksgiving supper table? If you can't remember any stories, ask your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings or cousins to refresh your memory. Then write them down so you'll have them for posterity.
I am reminded that Thanksgiving and the coming holiday season are always filled to the brim with extra activities. We often try to squeeze in this or that event to ensure our time with family is made extra special. That's fine, as long as we're not attending events just for the sake of saying we attended them. Pick a few events that have special meaning to you or that most (if not all) of your family enjoys. Sure, you have to attend the kids' concerts and plays - so maybe those are the only events you make a point to attend this year. The rest can wait until the kids are older. (A friendly tip: Don't take children under 3 to holiday concerts, no matter how much you think they will enjoy them. They won't. And therefore you, and those sitting around you, won't. And yes, I found this out the hard way.)
In honor of Thanksgiving, I will share a few things for which I am thankful this year. Please feel free to share your thanks and your memories with us on the OV Parent Facebook page!
I am grateful to live in America, which is still the greatest nation on the globe.
I am grateful for a healthy family, a roof over our heads, a car to drive and a job that I love.
I am grateful to my parents who have loved, nurtured and supported me all my life. I owe everything I've had the opportunity to build in my life to the foundation they provided. I can only pray that the foundation my husband and I are laying for our daughter will be as strong.
Finally, I am truly grateful for you, the families who live in this Ohio Valley, who make it a wonderful place in which to raise kids.