Saturday, December 30, 2017

Perfecting the Art of Serving as the Family Sherpa

For the past few years I have been serving as our family's Sherpa while my husband and kids ski and snowboard. (I don't ski. Maybe someday!) While I cannot claim to have anywhere near the skills, perseverance, and dignity of the  Sherpas of say, Mount Everest, I have found much value and enjoyment in serving my family in this capacity. Here are some tips I've learned during this little journey of mine.
1) Know the Best Place to Set Up Home Base: Scope out the resort, either in person or online and figure out where your best home base will be. Consider proximity to where your family gets off the slopes. This is super handy for safety if kids are making it down the slopes at different times, as they will know to go straight to you.  Also consider proximity to food, restrooms, and strong wifi signals.
2) Packing Gear: When the kids were younger (toddler to about 6 years), we found it super handy to bring our all terrain wagon. That way we could pack gear, food, and tired kids in there. We occasionally needed to enlist the help of someone to hoist the wagon up the stairs, but we found help was easy to find. Now that the kids are older they can carry more gear, and we can get by with a backpack or bag.
3) Food: If you want to save money, pack healthier or dietary restricted food, or want to avoid long food lines, packing your own meals and snacks is the way to go. Keep it simple. We pack sandwiches, chips, fruit and granola bars. Leftover pizza is a hit too.  Thermos' full of coffee, hot chocolate, and soup are perfect for extra cold days. Water and electrolyte drinks are great for rehydrating. Use a sharpie to mark everyone's initials on the cap ahead of time.
A backpack that has a cooler in it is particularly handy (great for vacations, hiking, & theme parks too!):
4) Keeping the Sherpa Entertained: I do love some good people watching, but I like to pack things to do as well. A good book, Kindle, and my phone with a great wifi connection are usually plenty to ensure I have an entertaining and productive day. In fact, I am writing this blog via the Blogger app as my family skis Bear Mountain! Make sure your favorite apps are updated on your phone.
5) Keeping Warm: Today it is unusually warm in Big Bear, CA.  However, days will come when many layers are necessary. Today we have a bag of extra layers to pack on when the sun goes down behind the mountain around 3pm and a cold chill moves in. There are also days when toe warmers and hand warmers become much needed items. My fellow Sherpas, it's important to get up and move around every once in a while. Have some exercises ready to do to keep your blood flowing.
Maybe one day I'll take some ski lessons, but for now I am enjoying serving as my family's Sherpa, and having some precious reading time 😉.   I will add more as I experience more!  I'd love to hear any tips you have too!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

5 Things We Can Learn From Boxing Day Traditions

Happy Boxing Day!  Boxing day is December 26, the day after Christmas.  It is a national holiday in the UK and Ireland, and also celebrated in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.  It's a day off for many to enjoy family and friends, and many traditions.  It's also a big retail shopping day and sporting events.  Historically Boxing Day was a day off for servants who were typically working on Christmas Day.  They were given gifts of gratitude for their service.

From Wikipedia:
In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.[8] This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663.[9] This custom is linked to an older British tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.
Here are 5 Things we can learn and implement during the holiday season from the Boxing Day Tradition:

1)  Gratitude:  How have you honored those who serve you throughout the year?  Do you have a tradition of giving gifts to teachers, coaches, delivery services, cleaning services, hairdressers, etc.?  Reflect on how your life has been blessed by these services.  Even the smallest of gestures can make a big difference.  I like to plan ahead during the winter break to think of these gestures for next year.  I like to identify homemade treats to make for next year, and if there's a sale on a non-perishable holiday item that would make a practical gift, I wrap them a year ahead of time to be ready for next year.  You may also consider leaving a basket of bottled waters and snacks at your door or lace of business for delivery service employees to enjoy.

2)  Giving:  Boxing Day has also been a day of giving.  As referenced here on The Spruce, boxes are placed at churches to collect money for the poor on Christmas Day and opened the following day.  Find ways you can involve your whole family in giving this holiday season.  Sponsor a family in need, serve meals to the homeless, or give to a charity that is close to your heart.  It's also a great time to take a close look at what you have around your own house that can bless others. Clear the clutter and donate! Here in Ventura County, California, we have many families who were affected by the historic Thomas Fire.  Click HERE to see where to donate and HERE for resources for the recovery process.  

3)  Presence:  Celebrate presence more than presents!  Put your phones and devices down and focus on spending quality time with those you love.  

4)  Slowing Down:  Boxing Day extends the Christmas holiday.  In our fast paced world of go-go-go, we truly need more slowing down days.  This is a time to recover from the daily chaos.  Consider having a day with no plans whatsoever.  No to-do lists, no plans!

5)  Relish in Leftovers!:  Chances are there are many leftovers to enjoy from family celebrations.  Enjoy them to their fullest!  No leftovers around?  Use this day as a day to enjoy and appreciate food as the nourishing and delicious life force it gives you.  I like to plan ahead for next year too - if you have a Christmas or Holiday binder, add some recipes you'd like to try next year.  Thank you The Spruce for this handy blog post on recipes for leftovers!  

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Tips for the Week Before Winter Break

This next week is the week before Winter Break for us.  If you have kids, chances are this is a very, very busy week.  Some activities like sports practices may have eased their way off the schedule by now, but others may have crept in like special performances.  There are also most likely parties galore at school, workplaces and with family and friends.  This is a wonderfully festive time of the year.  However, with all of the to-do's, it can be a very stressful time of year as well, especially for moms.  Here are some tips for this week that are helping keep me calm the chaos. 

1)  Gift @ the beginning of the week:  I like to bring gifts for teachers, staff, coworkers, etc. at the beginning of the week, not on Friday.  Friday typically has a lot going on; class parties, potlucks, other stuff to remember.  Bless those around you when you have more of a chance to take a moment to breathe and give a genuine thank you and holiday greetings. 

2)  Have some extra gifts on hand:  These are the "just in case gifts."  I like to make homemade things, baked items, hand scrubs, candles etc.  As much as I think I've captured everyone on my Christmas spreadsheet, I'm amazed how every year I am so glad I had an extra gift or 2 on hand.  I like to get these gifts prepped ahead of time as much as possible. 

3)  Plan some self care:  Being the one of the busiest and sugar-laden times of year, it's no wonder we are more prone to getting sick.  In addition to taking your vitamins and supplements, work some more veggies into your diet.  Drink plenty of water.  Limit your sugar intake.  You may want to also plan some pampering.  Anything that will relieve stress and rejuvenate your spirit you should plan to have in your schedule. 

4)  Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!:  Do things that will make your week easy.  Use paper plates, have a night or 2 of eating out if it's in the budget, prep food ahead of time, say no to extra commitments.  Simplify anything you can think of so you can truly enjoy this time of year. 

Best wishes for a wonderful week!