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Fun with the family by Julie Lavender
Leaping into February
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    For the last three years, you’ve only had 28 days in February to create lasting family memories. This year, you have a bonus – an extra day. Make all 29 days count this year, with quality time spent with those entrusted to your care, whether that’s little ones, a spouse, special friends, or all of the above. Build a bonfire and make s’mores on a cold evening, put together a puzzle on an even colder evening, or curl up in front of the fireplace on a warm evening with a milkshake! Fill February with enough warmth to last throughout the winter. If you find yourself at a loss of ideas, try some of the real, but sometimes zany, holiday celebrations below.
    Groundhog Day – Did Phil see his shadow? What’s the weather like in your home today? Make your own groundhog puppet to celebrate the day. Let the kids glue two brown pom-poms to a large craft stick. Add felt eyes to the top pom pom and felt feet to the bottom one. Cut a slit in the bottom of a paper cup. When the glue is completely dry on your puppet, slide the bottom of the stick into the slit and make your groundhog go in and out of his burrow. While the glue is drying, you can make shadow puppets of your own. Hang a white sheet in a darkened room and shine a bright light on it. Take turns standing between the light and sheet and make hand-puppets.  
    Canned Food Month – On the next grocery trip, carry along a piece of paper with each letter of the alphabet written along one side. Then have a scavenger hunt on the canned food aisles to find a vegetable or fruit for each letter of the alphabet. Can you find zucchini in a can? (You may have to complete the scavenger hunt in the produce aisle or freezer section.) While shopping, add some extra cans of food to your grocery cart to deliver to the Statesboro Food Bank.
    Valentine’s Day – Make your own Valentine’s cards for family members. Put lipstick on the little princesses and have the princes slurp grape cranberry juice to stain lips. Have the children put a smooch on a sheet of white construction paper and then add the other facial features to create a self-portrait. Encourage the children to write sweet sentiments on their pictures before sharing them with another family member. Make heart-shaped biscuits for dinner and serve with strawberry jam.      
    Potato Lover’s Day – Work together in the kitchen to create these delicious mashed potatoes for dinner. Peel six medium to large potatoes and cube. Boil potatoes about fifteen minutes, or until soft. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Add two tablespoons margarine, one-half cup milk, one teaspoon salt, one-half teaspoon pepper, one-fourth cup sour cream, four ounces softened cream cheese, and one cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, play a bowling game with a large baking potato. Set up plastic cups or empty drink bottles like bowling pins. Take turns rolling the potato towards the pin to see who can knock down the most.
    Leap Year Day – Make the most of this extra day this year by leaping around all day long. Play leap frog outside, have a kangaroo relay (hold hands in front and jump on both feet), or leap like gazelles by taking large leaps, one foot at a time, across the back yard. Make frog puppets by painting a paper plate green. Add a green construction paper head. Then cut four strips from green construction paper, preferably a large sheet. Fold each strip accordion-style, then staple each into place for four legs. Insert a paper fastener into the top of the paper plate and attach yarn to it before securing it into place. Let the children use the yarn to make their puppet leap around the room. Google “frog children’s books” on the Internet and you’ll find a plethora of reading material to help celebrate the day.
    Don’t miss a minute this month to make memories. Have fun and fellowship with family and friends this February. It’ll be fantastic!
    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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