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favorites. Those aren’t what I would normally do on a Saturday; I’d usually spend my time with other adults, my family, and my friends. But right now, my normal is making sure the kids are happy and have smiles on their faces. Their laughter and joy brings me back to what’s important. Jasmine and I take the kids to preschool, and I usually pick them up. We play games and look out at the scenery during these drives. The other day on our drive home, they pointed out the leaves, the pumpkins, a lake, and anything else in nature they saw as we passed. I usually participate in this game of I Spy, but at that moment, I was in my own universe, thinking about a project and what I needed to get done before the end of the day. I guess I was a little quiet on the drive, because the 3-year-old was concerned by my lack of participation. “Aunt Polly, are you mad at me?” he said. I was surprised. I’d been in my own head and wasn’t paying attention to the emotions I was emitting. I came back to the present. “No, are you mad at me?” I asked. He laughed before shouting, “No!” It was an important lesson. Kids pick up on our moods, and even when we think they’re not paying attention, they are. Parenting is a constant act of role modeling, and your actions speak volumes to young minds. That little one was reminding me that I wasn’t in the present, and it was my little wakeup call to come back. In addition to some good life lessons, this experience helps me understand your parenting challenges even better! I’ve been overwhelmed by the support that you all have given me in this adventure. Thank you for your words of wisdom, tips on potty training and kids books, and suggestions for kid-friendly activities. It’s been enlightening and enjoyable to share this connection with you. Co-parenting is a constant journey of evolving “new normals.” Some days you’re doing it on your own, some days you have a partner, and some days you have a community of friends and family who are there to support you. Families come in all shapes and sizes. As Jasmine and I experience this together, we’re taking it one day at a time and trying not sweat the small stuff. Most days, we just hope to let the other person take a shower without kids knocking on the door. It’s important to recognize what needs to happen for the kids as opposed to being in conflict with each other; it’s about being in tune with your partner. You need the support that only a partner in parenting can give, and you don’t have to be a married couple to provide that. –Polly Tatum
It’s been over a month since the boys came to our home, and life is full of adventure. The mornings look a little like this: The youngest comes in for snuggles first thing, letting me sneak in a few more moments of rest at the same time. It sets a nice tone to the day. Then we do a 12-minute meditation, often while I’m changing his Pampers and trying to distract him. Those are just a few little snippets of our new normal. I’m not naturally a morning person, but life with three little boys requires me to adapt. What’s been reaffirming for me and even more so for Jasmine, who doesn’t have kids, is the sage advice not to sweat the small stuff. Parenting is incorporating flexibility into your life. My mornings are sloppy, imperfect, and often funny. You have to laugh at yourself sometimes, and truly, I’m grateful for these moments. I’m especially grateful for the kids for keeping things in perspective. That’s what life is about — picking up the kids and watching how excited they are to see you when all they want to do is play. They’re always so full of joy and playfulness, and it makes life richer. On weekends when the weather is nice, we’ve been finding free and moderate-cost activities that allow the boys to play and have fun. Trips to the park, basketball court, and kid-friendly festivals are a few of our REMEMBERING NOT TO SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF Adventures in Our New Normal
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HOW TO EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR NONSTICK COOKWARE
modern nonstick surfaces, such as Teflon, are technically considered safe, Teflon flakes are, of course, unappetizing in all situations.
Another way to extend the life of nonstick cookware is to avoid using cooking spray. These sprays often contain additives that cling to nonstick surfaces, even after washing. Instead, use a purer form of fat, such as butter or coconut oil — or don’t use anything at all! And during cooking, always use soft utensils, such as wood, plastic, or silicone. Never use metal utensils, which will scratch nonstick surfaces. Another tip is to keep nonstick cookware off of high heat. High heat shortens the life span of nonstick surfaces. Save this cookware for low and medium heat only. For high-heat cooking, rely on stainless steel or cast iron. When it comes to cleaning your nonstick cookware, skip the dishwasher. While many nonstick pots and pans are labeled “dishwasher safe,” regular exposure to scalding hot water and detergent will shorten the life of the cookware. To keep your pans in good shape, hand wash them using dish soap, warm water, and a soft brush or sponge. Following these simple steps will keep your nonstick cookware looking great for years to come!
The nonstick pan is a kitchen staple. It’s useful, convenient, and easy to clean. But after a few months of use, it always seems like food starts to stick to it and “easy to clean” becomes a thing of the past. The life span of nonstick cookware is generally supposed to be about five years, depending on use, but as many can attest, that rarely seems to be the case under real-world conditions. However, there are steps that you can take to significantly extend the life of your nonstick cookware. If your nonstick cookware is starting to show signs of wear, you can repair existing damage — as long as that damage is minor, such as small scratches or blemishes. Using a 50/50 mix of baking soda and water, gently scrub the surface of the pan with a cloth or sponge. This helps even out imperfections. Rinse and dry. Then, wipe a small amount of cooking oil over the surface of the pan, wiping away any excess. Repeat this seasoning process regularly for even better results! If your nonstick cookware is flaking or chipping, it’s time to replace it. Those flakes and particles will get into your food and your body. While MULTICULTURAL CELEBRATIONS TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT WINTER HOLIDAYS According to the Pew Research Center, Christmas is the most celebrated December holiday in the U.S. Yet, like the melting pot it is, the U.S. contains many cultures from across the globe, each with their own traditions. Teach your kids about some of the holiday celebrations from different cultures this season.
lighting of the menorah candles comes from the story of a miracle that happened during the rebellion, when a one-day supply of oil burned for eight days in a temple. DIWALI Though celebrated in late fall, Diwali is a Hindu holiday that’s known as the festival of lights. Its main purpose is to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and the five-day festival includes the lighting of candles or lamps, feasting, and giving gifts to family and friends. Diwali also celebrates the Hindu new year and is the largest, most widely celebrated festival in India. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but educating your children about holiday practices other than Christmas will give them a broader worldview and inspire them to gain further knowledge about cultures outside their own. Your local library is a great resource for children’s literature on these holidays, and there are also TV programs from PBS that feature episodes on these traditions. Enjoy the winter holiday season, however you decide to celebrate!
KWANZAA Created in 1966 by black studies professor Maulana Karenga during the Black Nationalist Movement, Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration and reflection period for African Americans. The week offers African Americans the opportunity to connect with African culture and history by celebrating the seven principles of African heritage, which include unity, self-determination, and creativity.
HANUKKAH Hanukkah pays homage to a two-year Jewish rebellion against an oppressive Greek-Syrian government that took them captive in an attempt to eliminate Judaism. The tradition of the eight-day celebration and the
4 FITNESS GOAL MISTAKES TO AVOID
SET THE RIGHT GOALS THIS NEW YEAR
Choosing the right goal is perhaps the most important part of achievement. Be brave and challenge yourself this year, but increase your chances of success by avoiding these four common pitfalls. 1. GETTING ‘TONED,’ ‘BUFF,’ OR ‘IN SHAPE’ Do yourself a favor and delete vague fitness terms like these from your vocabulary; they don’t mean anything, and there’s no way to achieve them without a concrete definition. For instance, once you understand that “toned” really means “lean and muscular,” you can create a workout plan that helps you shed fat and reveal muscle. And “in shape” can have different meanings depending on your current fitness level. To you, does it mean completing a difficult WOD, losing weight, or reducing your blood pressure? Be as specific as possible when creating your goal. 2. LOSING A LARGE AMOUNT OF WEIGHT Losing lots of weight is fine as a long-term goal, but it will take a while. To prevent feelings of discouragement and failure, it’s best to create smaller milestones to hit along the way. Decide what you can realistically achieve during a manageable period of time — perhaps 3–6 months — and make that your first goal. While the scale is a handy tool to evaluate your progress,
don’t rely on these numbers alone. Use multiple techniques, such as progress photos, measurements, and the way your clothes fit.
3. SETTING UNREALISTIC GOALS Challenging yourself is one thing; setting yourself up for failure is another. If you spent three years putting on weight, it’s not going to come off in three weeks. If you’re juggling a 50-hour work week with a family and chores, you’re probably kidding yourself by swearing to hit the gym every night after work for an hour. If you’re a hardgainer, trying to look like Arnold will be an exercise in futility. Don’t be afraid to push yourself, but set goals you stand a chance of achieving. Once you hit those successfully, set some new ones! 4. LETTING INSTAGRAM INFLUENCE YOUR GOALS Your favorite fitness Instagrammers may look like gods and goddesses online, but keep in mind that they’re only showing you their best selves on their best days with the best angles and lighting. Instead of trying to be someone else, focus on yourself! Just because they’re hitting PRs or rocking bikinis or eating a vegan diet doesn’t mean you have to. Decide what you really care about, then choose goals that will make your life better every day — even when the camera isn’t around.
Don’t wait until January to get started. Decide ahead of time what you want to achieve, make a plan now, and set yourself up for success!
MONTHLY CHALLENGE QUALITY KID-FOCUSED TIME Amid all the busyness this month, enjoy a few hours of quality time with your kids. Find one activity that gives both of you a chance to play and brings out the smiles. Here are a few ideas:
PALEO HOT CHOCOLATE
– Do a kid-friendly yoga class together.
1 can (14 ounces) coconut cream, chilled 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 cups almond or coconut milk 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– Go ice skating or sledding.
– Go to the Museum of Fine Arts.
– Check out Legoland.
pour into a large bowl; whisk with an electric mixer. Add coconut sugar and mix well. 4. Pour hot chocolate into a mug, top with whipped cream, and enjoy.
1. In a large saucepan, bring almond or coconut milk to a boil. 2. Once boiling, remove from heat and gradually stir in cocoa and vanilla until well-combined. 3. To make whipped cream, remove coconut cream from refrigerator and
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Adventures in Our New Normal
Are You Damaging Your Nonstick Pots and Pans?
Teach Your Kids About Holidays
4 Fitness Goal Mistakes to Avoid
Paleo Hot Chocolate
Everything You’ll Need for an Ugly Sweater Christmas
UGLY SWEATER PARTIES A Fun Trend You Can Easily Follow!
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN UGLY SWEATER PARTY? It’s rather simple — slip on your favorite Christmas sweater, gather all your friends and family members, make sure there are plenty of refreshments and games, and you’re guaranteed to have a top-tier party. A few ugly-sweater-themed games that should be on the agenda include an ugly gift exchange, which is similar to the white elephant exchange, except with the gaudiest gifts you can find; an ugly photo booth, complete with terrible, tacky props; and, of course, an ugly sweater contest. This is the only time of year when slipping into a lurid red sweater with a stuffed Santa sewn on the front is considered trendy. So adorn yourself in the frumpiest, tackiest sweater you can find, and have some fun this December!
It’s speculated that the first ugly sweater party took place in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2001. Since then, the trend has become one of the most popular holiday party themes. Come Thanksgiving, you’ll start to see racks in all types of clothing stores lined with hideous sweaters. If you’re ready to jump on the ugly-sweater-party bandwagon this Christmas season, here a few things to keep in mind. YOUR VERY OWN UGLY SWEATER Ugly sweaters come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. You can head to H&M or a local thrift store to pick one up. However, if you have a sweater that’s been cozied up for years in the back of your closet or a drawer, now’s your chance to give it new life. Arm yourself with a hot glue gun, thread, and needle, and patch Santa, Rudolph, or Frosty on it. And let it be known that an ugly sweater isn’t complete without sparkles, beads, and sequins galore.
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