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Fun with the Family with Julie Lavender: Celebrate the "love month"
Julie Lavender web
Julie Lavender - photo by Special

    Seems a little unreasonable that the month of February, the one that touts hearts and love and sweethearts and chocolate, is the shortest month on the calendar. But, that just means extra care and attention must be given each day to those we love. Warm up the days in February with time spent with family — bundle up and go for long walks, roast marshmallows, read books under the covers or gather in the kitchen and prepare a big pot of soup. Make every day a celebration with unique ideas or try some of the holidays below.
    Groundhog Day — Can you find Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on a map? Most folks probably can’t, but that’s where the famous groundhog who “predicts” the weather on Groundhog Day makes his home. Legend says if the groundhog sees his shadow that day, he’ll run back into his hole and six more weeks of winter will follow. Celebrate Mr. Groundhog with a fun game outside. Scatter hula hoops or circles made with rope or ribbons in the backyard. Place one less hula hoop than number of players of the game (think "musical chairs"). Choose one person to be the "caller." The caller announces “No sun; early spring” and then decides how the other players (the groundhogs) get to celebrate, like skipping, hopping, jumping backwards or so on. When the caller yells “Groundhog sees his shadow; six more weeks of winter,” each groundhog player runs to a groundhog burrow (one of the circles) and jumps in the hole. The player who doesn’t make it to a burrow is the new caller.
    Canned Food Month — How many cans of food do you have in the pantry? Did you know that many pantries across Bulloch County are empty right now? Warm someone’s heart and fill their bellies this month by donating canned food items. Shop together as a family, then replenish your church’s food pantry for those in need or donate to the Statesboro Food Bank. Find a church that participates in the Backpack Buddies Program and meet some of their needs. Then prepare this recipe together to end the celebration. Drain two cans of French-style green beans. Spread drained beans in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Slice an onion into rings and place rings over the top of the beans. Fry eight strips of bacon, reserving the drippings. Remove the bacon and let cool. Meanwhile, add six tablespoons of sugar and six tablespoons of white vinegar to the drippings and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Crumble the cooled bacon over the casserole. Then pour the dripping mixture over the top of the beans. Cover the casserole and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Bake the next day for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
    Valentine’s Day — Make this fun butterfly craft for Valentine’s Day. Paint a clothespin with pink or red paint. While the paint dries, cut heart shapes from pink, red or purple construction paper for wings. A heart-shaped cookie cutter works well; use one that measures approximately 2 1/2 inches at the widest part. Decorate the wings with glitter or markers. Once the butterfly body is completely dry, twist a pink pipe cleaner around the inside of the clip to keep it in place, then curl the ends to form antennae. Glue two small eyes on the edge of the clip. Then glue a pair of heart-shaped wings on each side, attaching at the pointed end of the heart.
    Black History Month — Check out children’s books from the Statesboro Regional Library by African American authors like Faith Ringgold, Angela Johnson, Kelly Starling Lyons or a host of other delightful writers to celebrate this holiday. Such a wide selection is available that your family could read two or three a day and not get through all of them.
    Presidents Day — Play a trivia game to celebrate the holiday and brush up on your history knowledge at the same time. Before the game, have each person collect five or ten facts about some of the United States presidents. Take turns sharing a trivia fact about a president. For example, does your family know who had a pet goat at the White House during his brief tenure? Or, do you know who was president during the famous newsboys strike of 1899? The first person to answer each question correctly gets a point. The player with the most points at the end of the game might just grow up to be United States president, with all that knowledge.
    Don’t waste a minute’s precious time during the 28 days of February. Make every day Valentine’s Day and tell those you love how very special each one is to you. Express your sentiments with words, hidden notes, cards, mushy texts, sappy emails and lots and lots of chocolate. Happy month of lots of love!

    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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