February may be short on days, but hopefully it will be long on all-things-love this month! Find some really cool and fun activities to take part in with the family to make every day a celebration. Make enough warm memories to ward off the cold days, filling the memory bucket with new memories and some older, revisited ones, too. Try out some of the wacky, but real, holiday ideas below or create unique ones just for your family. Share the love all month long!
➤ Bake for Family Fun Month — Gather in the kitchen to whip up this peanut butter cookie recipe. Keep the dough in an airtight container and bake a few at a time to have warm cookies for dessert whenever desired. Cream 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar together in a bowl until well-blended. Add one egg. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture, blending until just combined, but do not overmix. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour before baking cookies. Once dough is chilled, roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheets. Flatten the cookie balls slightly with a fork in a crisscross pattern. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
➤ International Friendship Week — Find a special way to connect with friends this week, like play-dates at the park or a walk on a local trail. Reach out to a friend that might have moved away and start a penpal relationship to renew the friendship. Share some of the peanut butter cookies you made from the recipe above with family friends. Take extra measures to make a new friend at work or church and encourage the kids to form a new friendship with someone at school. To continue the celebration, check out picture books from the library that are friendship-themed in nature. And, look for chapter books to read together about friendships, like "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maud Montgomery or the "Here’s Hank" series of books by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver.
➤ Sled Dog Day — The Iditarod Race begins the end of this month. Read about the history online and look at a map to see just how far the contestants will travel in the race. Then have fun making a sled craft. Use a cardboard takeout box or some sort of small, square box. Have an adult cut away the top pieces of the box lid. Cut away the front flap of the box next. Then cut the two sides on a diagonal. The box will resemble a “seat” when finished, with a back and slanted sides. Let the kids paint or color the “sled.”
When the paint is dry, have an adult hot-glue the sled to two large peppermint sticks, with the hook ends curving upwards in front of the sled as the “runners.” Use the sled as a table decoration to remind you to check on the race results at the end of the month.
➤ Tell A Fairy Tale Day — Does your family enjoy fairy tales? Pick apart these fairy tales and discuss for each one the main characters, time and place of setting, plot, conflict and resolution. After a thorough discussion, brainstorm new ideas for characters, setting, plot, conflict and resolution and write down the suggestions. Keep each idea separate in envelopes labeled with each heading. Then take turns drawing one slip of paper from each envelope and tell a fairy tale with those new story details
➤ Pluto Day — Do you recall the silly mnemonic device to remember the “nine” planets from way back when … “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” Now that Pluto’s planet status has been taken away, create a new mnemonic to help you remember the eight planets in order. Take some time this month to enjoy the stars, and maybe a planet or two, while outside on a cold, crisp and clear night. Bundle up and go for a walk or lie on a blanket and look for constellations.
Add extra minutes of love for family this week to make up for the shorter month. Enjoy all things love, and happy February!
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender loves encouraging families to make memories filled with love and fun. She compiled 365 of those suggestions into a book, called "365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories," available where books are sold.