Thursday, December 19th, 2013
With the holiday season in full swing, Parents caught up with Mario Lopez to ask about his family’s traditions. The X Factor host and proud papa of Gia, 3, and baby Dominic, 3 months, emphasized that while he loves the food and fun, nothing is more important to him than family.
How do you go about blending Mexican and American traditions?
ML: Being Mexican, I just don’t know any other way. It’s what I grew up with. My wife is 100 percent Italian; Mexican and Italian happen to be my two favorite cultures, two favorite types of food. With holiday traditions, food is very important. We prepare and serve our food together. Lately, we’ve been loving fresh avocados from Mexico, which is just a staple in a lot of the holiday dishes because they’re so versatile. I give them to my kids. I think it’s an underrated fruit, a healthy fat.
Aside from tasty treats, are there any holiday activities that have become a seasonal staple?
ML: Well, lately our tradition has been to have a very beach-y Christmas. We’ve done that the past couple years with my sister and her kids. My family and I will go down to Mexico right around Puerto Vallarta for Christmas on the beach.
Your son Dominic is only 3 months old. How will it be to travel with him?
ML: We’ve already traveled, believe it or not. He’s already gone to Chicago and he’s got a passport. He’s ready to g0 and the passport photo is the funniest thing. My daughter traveled at around 2-and-a-half months. We took her to Mexico last year, too. She’s 3 years old and her passport is all stamped up.
What present are you most excited to give Gia this holiday, just to see her reaction?
ML: The last thing she needs is another present. When we go to the beach I want her to boogie board with me. I think she’s big enough that we can take on the waves, so that will be fun.
What is the most special thing about a first Christmas as a bigger family?
ML: I’m all about just having the family around. As long as the family is all together, that’s the only tradition I really care about. We make it all about the kids. We go to mass at midnight and sometimes the kids are a little too tired and my wife will stay with them and I’ll still go with my mom and grandmother.
Is Gia excited about Santa?
ML: She is excited about Santa Claus. We also do the Elf on the Shelf. Right now, she’s just all about The Sound of Music. She’s been singing the songs. I can’t believe she knows all the songs and she’s only 3. She’s been singing left and right. It’s like Sound of Music overload. She’s got my energy, that’s for sure.
Working with young singers on the X Factor, does that affect how you think about your kids and their talents in the future?
ML: I’m just going to be supportive and try to guide them whatever way that they’re passionate. Just try to raise good, respectful, polite children and let their mother worry about what they want to get into.
Raising a baby boy can be different from a little girl. What is the biggest or most surprising difference so far?
ML: He’s only 3 months, so he’s just been sleeping or eating. He’s maybe been awake 10 percent of his life. He’s a good little baby. Fortunately he sleeps a lot. He even eats while he’s sleeping. My little girl, it’s hard for me to maybe be as firm as I should be disciplining her because she just melts my heart, but I don’t think I’ll have that problem with a boy.
For ideas and recipes to make your own holiday fun, visit our 100 Days of Holidays page.
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Monday, November 5th, 2012
Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.
At Thanksgiving time, we are reminded again of how important traditions are in a family’s life and legacy. But many parents express anxiety about how to find the “right” traditions for their family. Should traditions just “evolve,” or should parents consciously establish them? The right answer is do both – allow some traditions to evolve by embracing the activities your kids naturally gravitate toward, and consciously experiment with other traditions to see which ones work within your family dynamic.
There are two secrets to establish lasting family traditions: repetition and anticipation. When you find something that brings out smiles, repeat it on a regular and predictable enough basis that it becomes an ingrained part of the family repertoire. For those traditions that need planning ahead, begin talking about the event days before it occurs to build excitement. Anticipation can be as much fun as the tradition itself.
Traditions come in two sizes: big (national and federal holidays, birthdays, anniversaries,); and small (those unique to your family). Both are important in a family’s legacy, so personalize them with these 10 ideas for creating special traditions:
1- Make the big holidays your own. Serve meals at the homeless shelter on Thanksgiving morning. Play backyard football before Christmas dinner to work up an appetite. Bring flowers to the local military cemetery on Memorial Day or July 4th.
2- Turn birthdays into unique celebrations. Hang balloons in the kitchen the night before so the kids arrive to a party room on their big morning. Eat pancakes for breakfast in mom and dad’s bed. Sing “Happy Birthday” in the most off-key way possible.
3- Double (or quadruple!) the number of birthdays. Serve a cupcake on quarter birthdays and half a cake on half-birthdays. Avoid gifts on these fractional celebrations, and instead focus on laughter, singing, and fun. Add a balloon or two. Celebrate your pets’ birthdays, too!
4- Have monthly Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Give mom a night off from household chores on the first Tuesday of every month, and make a special dinner for her. Do the same for dad on the second Thursday of every month. Pick which day of the month works best for you, but your family will have 22 more “celebrations” each year.
5- Share quirky inside secrets. Make a funny noise in the elevator when it’s just your family taking a ride, or give a whoop every day when the clock strikes your address number (if you live at 920 Elm Lane, cheer at 9:20 every morning and night). Invent a secret family hand shake.
6- Have the same meals for special occasions. Serve Chinese food for every anniversary, Indian food for good report cards, or hot dogs on the opening day of baseball season every year.
7- Get dressed up for a candlelight dinner. Once a month, have everyone wear their best party clothes and eat a fancy meal at home by candlelight. Put on soft music, bring out the good dishes, and use restaurant table manners.
8- Celebrate the first sign of seasons. Have a family leaf fight every fall when the leaves begin to pile up in the yard, go sledding after the first snowfall, eat fruit salad in the garden to celebrate the appearance of the first spring flower, and have a family water fight on the first summer day that reaches 90º.
9- Have family-only activities. Plan a family comedy night or a talent show, make holiday cards from scratch, or write personalized lyrics to an old song and then sing the new composition together.
10- Give back to the community together. Identify a favorite charity and participate in its fundraising each year – walk, run, bike, volunteer, and/or donate.
Try lots of different ideas. There’s no such thing as “failure” – if an idea doesn’t work, you’ve still spent wonderful moments with your kids. Plus, you’ve created unforgettable memories and, perhaps, given them something to tease you about for years to come (“Remember when dad thought it would be fun to have all of us join the “polar bear club” and jump into the lake in December?”)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).
Image: Mother and daughter in autumn yellow park via Shutterstock.
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