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Fun with Family with Julie Lavender: Leap into a lovely month with family
Julie Lavender web
Julie Lavender

The groundhog might have predicted an early spring, but could he have emerged earlier and warned us about all the strange weather headed our way? In the last couple of weeks, we've danced in snowflakes, dressed in flip flops and shorts, bundled into coats and gloves, hunkered down and prayed for tornado victims and searched for Noah and his ark.

Celebrate the promise of spring with Punxsutawney Phil, General Beauregard Lee and loved ones, despite weather conditions, because it's the thing to do - after all, it is the month of love. There's one extra day to celebrate with family members this month, so leap into the following celebrations or create unique ones befitting your own family. Through rain, snow or what drips from above, celebrate madly with those you love.

National Wild Bird Feeding Month - Try this fun, biodegradable way to feed the hungry birds this month. Use one or more of the following fruits: orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit. Slice in half the fruit or fruits you plan to use. Hollow out each half of the rind, saving the fruit pieces to make a fruit salad to enjoy. Don't worry about getting it all - the birds will enjoy that, too.

View the circumference of the fruit as if it were a clock, and plan to insert twine to hang the fruit with holes at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock. Don't make the holes too close to the cut of the fruit because as the fruit begins to decay, it could rip through. Use a sewing needle with a really large eye to insert a 20-inch length of twine through the fruit going from 12 to 6 (or use a wooden skewer to create a hole and then push twine through). Pull the twine so that ends are touching and even. Repeat with twine at 3 and 9, pulling evenly again. Tie a knot at the four ends of twine; this forms the hanger.

Now fill each piece of fruit you prepared with birdseed for wild birds and hang on the boughs of trees outside.

Add just a dab of sugar, if needed, and other bits of sliced fruit to the meat you removed for your feeders. Refrigerate until you're ready to eat. Much on a bowl of fruit one morning and watch the birds snack on their breakfast, too.

Chinese New Year - Celebrate the Year of the Monkey with these colorful decorations. Choose several different colors of construction paper. Fold a sheet of paper in half so that the long ends are touching. Make 10 or 12 cuts along the fold, about the same distance apart. Do not cut all the way through; be sure to stop about 2 inches from the edge. Unfold the paper and glue the short edges together.

Cut a strip of construction paper, 6 ½ inches, and glue that into place for a handle. Hang the lanterns around the room for decoration, and enjoy some Chinese and Chinese-American literature like "Grandfather Counts," "Apple Pie 4th of July," "At the Beach" and "Earthquake."

National Hero Week - Do you have a favorite superhero? How about a flesh-and-blood hero? What characteristics make a person a "hero"?

Line up a short, age-appropriate superhero movie or show to watch. Don capes - towels safety-pinned around the neck - and watch the show together as a superfamily. After the show, talk about the people you know that are true heroes - law enforcement personnel, moms and dads, members of the military, missionaries, volunteers, foster families, the next-door neighbor - the list can be as endless as your imagination. Decide to write a note to your "hero" and let him or her know why you feel that way.

End the evening with bedtime stories. Let each person pick a superhero character to become. Describe your character and your superpower. Next, make up a story and decide how the family has to work together, with each superpower, to save the world.

Valentine's Day - Make this fun craft for Valentine's Day. Cut out lots and lots of construction-paper hearts of different sizes and shades of pink and red. Glue the hearts around the edge of a white paper plate, turning the plate into a picture frame. Let each person make their own frame.

Glue a picture of each family member on the center of the plate, one person per picture frame. Use red or pink yarn to attach all of the plates to each other, in birth order, to hang vertically, and find a place in the house to hang the family portraits to admire throughout the month.

National Snack Food Month - Let each person in the family pick out their favorite cracker to snack on. Then, make this appetizer recipe together to enjoy with the crackers.

Chop fresh broccoli florets - you'll need 1 cup once chopped. To the broccoli, add 2 tablespoons of onion, chopped fine; 2 tablespoons of red pepper, chopped; ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese; 1 clove of garlic, minced; 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded; ½ cup of mayonnaise; ½ cup of sour cream; and salt and pepper to taste. Stir the ingredients well, then spread mixture in a oven-safe dish. Bake for
20 minutes at 375 degrees.

With an extra day this month, you're bound to find plenty of opportunities to celebrate with the ones you love. Snack on heart-shaped chocolates, cut peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into heart shapes with a large cookie cutter, shake pink sprinkles on top of a dish of ice cream or color a glass of milk pink with a dab of food coloring. Make everything the color of hearts and love this month, including the words you say, and have a lovely and blessed February!

Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel, and Jessica.


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