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Fun with the Family - Julie Lavender
Color your world with gratitude this month
Julie Lavender

Despite the craziness of pandemics and politics, there’s much to be thankful for in our little corner of the world. Be intentional this month while spending time with family to point out the positives, gush with gratitude and welcome the wonder of the season. Enjoy November’s autumn offerings and be thankful for blessings every day, both great and small.

And speaking of small, celebrate these seemingly-minor holidays with the family and create unique ones of your own to instill a habit of making every day worth celebrating with those you love. 

National Farm-City Week — Have fun with this barn craft for the kids. Give each child a sheet of red construction paper and several craft sticks. Help the kids glue the sticks in place to form the outline of a barn that includes the barn roof and barn doors. Have the kids add farm animals to the paper by drawing freehand with markers or adding farm animal stickers. End the celebration with a rousing rendition of “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” and see how long the song can continue with as many rounds of new farm animals as you can think of.

National Brush Day —Take a field trip as a family to purchase new toothbrushes for everyone in the family. Purchase a handful of extra toothbrushes and deliver them to your church’s supply closet for those in need or to the local homeless shelter or women’s shelter. Then when you get back home, before discarding the old toothbrushes, use them as paint brushes to create some abstract artwork. 

Color the World Orange Day — Have fun with orange food coloring (or drops of yellow and red according to package instructions) to turn: eggs orange for breakfast; milk orange for mid-morning slurping; cream cheese orange to put on crackers for an afternoon snack, and mashed potatoes orange for dinner. Look online to find a color chart with various shades of orange, like coral, carrot, tiger, vermillion, tangerine, marmalade and persimmon to learn some new orangey-verbiage. 

Purchase the “orangest” pumpkin you can find on the produce stand and place it on the table or counter next to a black sharpie. Encourage members of the family to use the sharpie to jot down things they are grateful for and then use the pumpkin as a centerpiece for the Thanksgiving meal and let the kids read back over everyone’s contribution to the Grateful Gourd. 

Sweet Potato Awareness Month — Work together in the kitchen to make this recipe sometime during the month of November. Peel and boil five or six medium sweet potatoes until tender. Drain and use a mixer to blend until smooth, yielding 4 1/2 cups of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes. (Or use two cans, 29-ounces each, of cut sweet potatoes). In the same large mixing bowl, combine the 4 1/2 cups of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup melted butter, one-third cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 beaten eggs and 1 cup of white sugar. Spread the mixture in a greased nine by 13-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of light brown sugar and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Cut in 1/3 cup of butter. Stir in 1 cup of finely-chopped pecan pieces. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. 

Go For A Ride Day — How many different ways can you celebrate Go For A Ride Day this month? Plan to take a couple of bike rides during the month of November. Put the younger kids in a wagon and travel down the driveway or through the front yard. Horseback? Consider going for a ride on horseback this month. Golf cart? Go-cart? 

Climb in the family vehicle and take an “old-fashioned” Sunday afternoon ride, traveling to some of the roads on the outskirts of the county and take in the seasonal sites at farms and gardens and ranches. Use that time to talk about things you’re grateful for, as a family and as individual family members. 

Look for any opportunity to talk about your blessings this month, whether you’re baking together in the kitchen, creating an artistic masterpiece together, or going for a Sunday afternoon drive. 

Keep a gratitude journal or discuss at every meal or share while running errands. Talk about thankful thoughts so often this month that it becomes a habit that lasts way longer than the month of November, and color your world with gratitude every day.

Statesboro native Julie Lavender has much to be thankful for, as wife of David, mom of four and grandmommy of an almost-2-year-old. Julie is especially grateful for her community’s love and support with her recently-published book, "365 Ways To Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories. "         

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