May 052016
 May 5, 2016  family, Mother's Day Comments Off on 5 Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away |

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the mothers and grandmothers in our lives, so it’s a particularly hard time of year to live far away from family.  My parents live across the country from us, while my in-laws are in Costa Rica.  Though we try to visit as often as we can, it is not practical to go as often as we like, so maintaining ties can be a challenge.  Here are some easy ways we have discovered to keep in touch with family far away.  Leave your ideas in the comments!

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away |

1. Homemade Cards and Gifts

I am a big believer in old-fashioned cards and gifts.  For special occasions the kids and I always sit down to make homemade cards to send to loved ones.  Especially when you live far away, having a sweet, tangible gift really means a lot!  And cards are very practical, since they are inexpensive to send overseas.  Hand print cards like this hand trace art are perfect, since they are a great keepsake gift as well.  At our last family reunion, my sister-in-law had all the kids make hand print T-shirts for each other – so fun!  For even more ideas, check out my Homemade Gift Ideas board on Pinterest.

2. Photo Gifts

Photo gifts are also a lovely way to be “present” in your family’s lives even though you are far away.  We send out photo cards with pictures of the kids each year, and often create special family photos to send to the grandparents in the US and Costa Rica for occasions like Mother’s Day.  They are truly cherished, as this way the grandparents get to “see” the kids everyday.

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away |

3. Create a Shared Ritual

One sweet idea is to create a ritual you each can do at the same time.  For example, you could take a morning walk or work in the garden at around the same time then share photos of the flowers or animals you see.  (Especially fun if your kids help take the photos!)  You could also have special candles that you each light as you say your evening prayers, or a favorite bedtime story you read together over the phone, or a decoration that you can both use on special occasions.  My sister, for example, sent us all beautiful handmade garlands that each family uses to decorate for the holidays.

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away |

4. Virtual Parties

Can’t be there for a special occasion? Get on the computer and make a virtual visit!  My family threw a virtual baby shower for us before each of our babies was born, and we have gotten to be a part of the big family Christmas celebration in Costa Rica each year via computer!  We really felt like we were there as my sister-in-law “carried” us around the house to say hi to everyone and even drool over the food!

5. Send a Financial Gift

If we lived nearby, we could take the grandmothers out for brunch on Mother’s Day, or buy them a special gift on their birthdays.  Since this is not practical because of the distance, we often send a financial gift instead.  (Be sure to check out these awesome Mother’s Day deals and egift cards from PayPal!)

As a busy mom, I’m so glad that now I’ve discovered how easy and safe PayPal and Xoom are to manage and move money quickly.  Now I can rest easy knowing our gift was received and they have more time to focus on family rather than chasing down the money transfer.  Managing our money securely is important to our growing family, so using services like PayPal and Xoom helps relieve that added stress that finances can bring.

Xoom is an easy way to transfer money to loved ones

Xoom is the only remittances company that offers instant disbursements, and it has so many options for how your loved ones can receive your financial gift, such as bank transfers, cash pick-up or delivery, bill pay and mobile reload – so easy!  And how great is it that you can track your transfers with SMS alerts, and even get a text message when the money is received?  I can recall so many instances in the past when my husband had to make multiple phone calls to see exactly how/when our family could pick up the money we had sent, and even then we never quite relaxed until we got a call from our family members that they had received the money successfully.  The Xoom system is so much easier, leaving more time for everyone to relax and enjoy the holiday!

How do you keep in touch with family far away?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

May 052015
 May 5, 2015  Mother's Day 

5 Ways to Make a Mom Friend Feel Special This Mother's Day |

I received complimentary products from Shari’s Berries to facilitate this article; however, all opinions are my own.

Do you have a special mom friend in your life?  Here are some great ways to make her feel special this Mother’s Day!

1. Moms’ Night Out

Sometimes what a busy mom needs is to get out of the house with her friends to relax and have fun!  Of course, this could be dinner or dancing, or you could do something even more creative:  A friend recently told me about a group painting class for moms.  What a fun way to spend an evening with friends!  Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of caring for others that it can be refreshing to do something just for fun, just for ourselves.

2. Moms’ Night In

Of course, if you are a homebody like me, going out to a fancy restaurant or dancing at a club may not be the most relaxing way to spend an evening. Also, for some moms being away from very small children (especially nursing babies) can be a challenge logistically.  Instead, one friend and I often do moms’ nights in.  I come over just in time to say good night to her little one, then afterwards she and I relax drinking tea, eating yummy desserts, and – of course – talking for hours!

3. Time to Herself

No one but a parent can understand what a luxury it is to be alone.  As in, able to go to the bathroom without an audience.  Able to sit down with a cup of tea and actually drink it before it gets cold.  Able to close your eyes or gaze off into space or enjoy a good book or movie without worrying that the someone might burn down the house/break a leg/break their siblings’ legs in the meantime.  So consider offering to babysit or have her kids’ over for a play date – you could always swap off so you each get a free afternoon!

4. Acknowledge What She Does

One of the hardest things about parenthood is that it is a 24/7 job, with no performance review once a year, no raises or bonuses to recognize all of your hard work.  And while, of course, this is not while we do it, it is still wonderful when someone simply acknowledges what we do.  So many of us often feel that we aren’t doing enough, that at the end of the day we haven’t accomplished anything, so it is really important to encourage your mom friends by recognizing what a great job they are doing.  Try being specific, so your compliments don’t come off as insincere – Are her kids always polite?  Is she the mom that always remembers the snacks at the park?  Is she an expert at handling tantrums?  It really will make a difference to her when you notice!

5. Treat Her to Something Special

Of course, a special treat for your mom friend will always be welcome!  Mother’s Day is a great time to indulge, and she’ll appreciate that you were thinking of her.  Personally, I love Shari’s Berries, a known source for premium treats for special occasions and everyday indulgences!

5 Ways to Make a Mom Friend Feel Special This Mother's Day |

And while they are known for their delectable chocolate-dipped strawberries, they also have other gifts for Mother’s Day.  For example, for my recent moms’ night in with my friend, we chose an amazing tea collection – yes, with chocolate goodies, but also with a lovely gourmet tea set, including a selection of organic teas!

5 Ways to Make a Mom Friend Feel Special This Mother's Day |

How do you help your mom friends feel special?

Apr 102014
 April 10, 2014  Birthdays, crafts, Father's Day, Mother's Day 

Hand Print Volcano Card -

As many of you know, we just returned from a wonderful trip to visit family in Costa Rica.  While we were there, we were able to take our little volcano lover to visit two of the active volcanoes in that country, Poás and Irazú.

As a result, I thought this would be a good time to share a fun volcano craft we did a few months ago.  The Monkeys and I actually did it for my husband’s birthday, but it would also work perfectly for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.  It’s easy to do with one child but also makes a great keepsake for siblings, as shown here.

Hand Print Volcano Card -

We used red and yellow paint for the lava.  Red had the best effect, although yellow turned out okay on the white paper.  If you are doing two or more kids, be aware that the yellow will not show up very well on top of the red, so it is better to either separate the hand prints a bit or do both in red.

Hand Print Volcano Card -

While Baby was napping, Monkey and I sat down to do step one.  I painted his hand red then made his hand print in the upper half of the paper.  (We did two versions just in case, since this was an experiment!)

Later in the day I painted Baby’s little hand and did my best to do a hand print with them.  He really had fun with the paints!

Hand Print Volcano Card -

Finally, I added the mountain below so that the hand prints look like lava exploding out of the volcano.  An older child could also do this step.  (Monkey was “too busy working” with his legos at this point so suggested that I do it).

Hand Print Volcano Card -

Hand Print Volcano Card -

I was the only one who thought my humor was funny, but since I had the pen it didn’t really matter lol 😉

Have an explosive day and always remember that we lava you!




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