jensenlawaz.com 480.632.7373 December 2017
The Traditions Make the Holiday Looking out the window on
“the best part was always catching up with the family.”
Christmas morning in Arizona, it’s hard not to sigh wistfully and remember the snow-blanketed winters of Wyoming back when I was little. But then, I think about the hassle that ice and subzero temperatures bring, and I snap out of it a little. That said, there’s some nostalgia when I think about those years. Back in the day, Christmas was a huge operation for my family. My mom’s seven brothers and sisters, along with all their kids, gathered together at my grandparents’ place on Christmas Eve. Sometimes it was over 60 people, just feasting on the most food you’d ever seen, playing games, and scrambling around spending time together. I remember, sometimes, the snowdrifts would reach all the way up to the roof, and we’d make our way up there and leap into these massive, cushy piles of powder. But of course, the best part was always catching up with the family. These days, our traditions are a little tamer, but they’re important to us nonetheless. Every Christmas Eve, the immediate family goes out for a nice dinner somewhere different every year. Then, we comb through the movie times and pick something good to go see together. The last couple years, it’s been the new “Star Wars” movies, and this year, it’s sure to be “Star Wars” once again. I’m not about to complain — I love the series. Then, we head over to my brother-in-law’s house and heat up some hot chocolate, maybe sing a few carols together, and read aloud a Christmas story or two. After we head home
in the evening, we always put on “The Polar Express,” a longstanding tradition, though it’s one that has started to wear thin on my boys as they’ve grown older. When I was little, Christmas morning involved a covert mission with my siblings and me as we snuck into the living room at 5 a.m. to see what Santa had left before scurrying to bed and pretending to be asleep. Though, later, my mom told us that she always knew when we were out there; she just loved listening to us try to be quiet. With my kids, it’s a different story. My wife has them totally trained in the procedure, and there’s absolutely no going downstairs to the tree without the pair of us. They come and knock on our door, and we head down together.
Then, it’s a pretty relaxing affair, as we slowly make our way through the presents and relax in the living room. Inevitably, the boys will pop on whatever latest video game system they’ve gotten, and their mother and I will just zonk out on the couch. Christmas, to me, hinges on these little rituals, the traditions that bring a family together. I’m excited to see how my sons carry on and tweak our traditions for themselves. For now, though, I’m content to see their faces as they hurry
down the stairs and see all the presents beneath the tree.
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Gift Wrap Alternatives
There’s something magical about seeing a stack of presents wrapped in bright, multicolored paper. However, that enchanting scene quickly evaporates a few hours later when all those wads of wrapping paper and plastic bows are chucked unceremoniously into the garbage. What if we told you there are countless ways you can still enjoy wrapping and unwrapping presents, without all the waste? Here are a few creative gift wrap alternatives to consider this holiday season. Brown Paper Bags With the holiday season comes holiday shopping, and if you opt out of plastic grocery bags, you’re sure to have a surplus of brown paper bags in the pantry. Drop a present into the bag, tape it shut, and you’re good to go. Add some simple lace or a ribbon for an old-timey feel or get creative with stamps and hand-drawn artwork. This wrap job lets your imagination run wild. Old Maps and Calendars These days, pretty much every phone has a built-in GPS, so you probably won’t need the map from your 1999 road trip anytime soon. If you still have an old map, why not use that for wrapping? The
unusual designs guarantee your gifts will be one of a kind. And don’t worry if there are notes scrawled across the paper. Old events or directions will add some unique flair to the presents.
Furoshiki Fabric is an excellent substitute for wrapping paper. You can use a scarf to create two gifts in one or pull out scraps of fabric from old projects. The traditional Japanese practice of furoshiki is all about wrapping goods in fabric. Described as “functional fabric origami,” you’d be amazed at how a few well-placed folds can turn your gift into a work of art. Learn how to wrap anything, from boxes to bottles, at furoshiki.com/techniques. You don’t have to follow the same gift wrap habits year after year. After the effort you put into finding just the right present, you should be able to make your gift wrap just as special. Find a method that’s uniquely you and get started!
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Divorce and the Most Wonderful Time of the Year 3 TIPS TO CO-PARENT DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Every part of our culture, from songs to movies, emphasizes the magic of spending the holidays with your loved ones. This can make holidays challenging for families in the wake of a divorce or separation. Kids miss celebrating with both parents at the same time, while parents are faced with the challenge of starting new traditions. There are sure to be growing pains, but that doesn’t mean the holidays will be unhappy. Here are a few helpful tips to make the holidays fun during this new stage of life.
Use your support system.
parenting plan or visitation schedule before talking to your kids about holiday plans. If they spend the holiday with you, be sure they have time to talk to their other parents to help ease the stress of the separation.
There will be times when you spend a holiday without your kids, and this can be a painful experience. It might be tempting to hide away with your grief, but don’t forget, there are people who love you and would love to spend the holidays with you. Reach out to friends and family members and use the time away from your kids to rekindle other relationships. It can be easy to be pulled into resentment or sadness during this time of year, especially if you listen to everyone else’s idea of what a happy holiday looks like. But your family’s holiday can be its own thing! Go in with a positive mindset and do your best to co-parent with your ex throughout the holidays.
Talk to the other parent before making plans.
Having a co-parenting plan or visitation schedule can help make planning for the holidays a lot easier, but if you have holiday plans that go outside the agreement, be sure to communicate them. Misunderstandings and miscommunications lead to heartache for everyone involved. If you have special plans in mind and your ex doesn’t agree with them, be prepared to find a compromise. It can be frustrating, but with patience, you’ll figure out a plan you both agree on.
Never make your children decide who they spend the holiday with.
It’s not fair to put your kids in an awkward, uncomfortable situation by asking them to choose between two of the most important people in their lives. Instead, refer to the co-
Recipe inspired by Leelalicious.com
Thai Spaghetti Squash With Peanut Sauce
ingredients • 1 medium spaghetti squash • Olive oil • Salt • 1 garlic clove, minced • ¼ cup chopped parsley • 2 tablespoons crushed peanuts 1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Half squash and scoop out seeds. 2. Drizzle inside of squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place squash on baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. 3. Let cool. Using a fork, scrape out spaghetti squash strands. instructions
Peanut sauce: • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk • ¾ cup unsweetened peanut butter • ¼ cup coconut sugar • 2 tablespoons soy sauce • 2 tablespoons white vinegar 4. Place sauce ingredients in saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 5. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, parsley,
• 2 teaspoons sesame oil • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
6. Add spaghetti squash and crushed peanuts. Stir to combine until
heated through, about 2 minutes. Once served, drizzle with more peanut sauce.
and 1 of the peanut sauce and combine.
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The Heart of the Holiday
Stop Wasting Gift Wrap!
Don’t Let Divorce Ruin the Holiday Season
Kick Off the New Year in the Magic Kingdom
for Disneyland? Is January the Best Month
January isn’t known for much — broken resolutions and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, mostly. But if you’re looking to escape the cold or take your family on a post-holiday adventure, next month might be the best time to travel to the Happiest Place on Earth. The Best Crowds According to Disneyland’s own figures, the first full week of January through the middle of February is the slowest time of year at the park. Visitors report never spending more than 15 minutes waiting for a ride. The Fourth of July, however, finds visitors waiting over two hours for Star Tours and Splash Mountain. 4 jensenlawaz.com
In Winter, Disneyland closes a little earlier. But if you have young kids, this won’t affect your plans much. They often close rides for maintenance during this time, but never more than one or two at a time. With all the open options, you won’t feel robbed. Let’s Talk About the Weather Does January sound cold and rainy? Don’t worry. The average temperature is still a balmy 66 degrees, and January gets just as much rainfall as peak months like December (winter break) and March (spring break). Check weather reports since the rainfall varies greatly depending on the temperature of the ocean that month. But bear in mind, Disneyland is the No.
2 theme park on the planet, raking in 18 million visitors a year. It wouldn’t attract such huge crowds
if the weather wasn’t theme park- worthy 99 percent of the time.
So, what’s the best month to visit Disneyland? It’s a trick question. The real answer is whatever
month you go. Disneyland is magic! But if there’s a month that’s better than the rest, we’ll say it’s January.
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