Around here we -- meaning I -- do a couple of things to welcome in the new year (besides fireworks which were awesome this year).
Last year, I came up with a family word for the year. Since my short term memory isn't so good at retaining and applying specific goals I thought a word might be easier.
My stipulations for our family word are simple: Will it help us be better and get back to Heaven? Is it universal enough that I can yell it at the kids in almost any situation?
Last year's word was "charity," and it was a good one. I yelled that thing all over the place.
We did a few little, long-term projects throughout the year that were mildly successful because they involved chocolate. Most of my kids now know what charity means so I'm going to chalk 2012's word up as a success.
This year our family word is "peace."
The plan is when someone is feeling contentious or angry at someone else, they're supposed to zip their lips and hold up the peace sign. That means the other person has to turn around and leave them alone or they get a timeout.
So far it's been 50 percent successful; Harrison, age 9, is really good at giving Rex, 7, and June, 5, the peace sign. Rex and June think it's really funny.
We're working on that one.
The other thing I've implemented this year is a family motto.
I was talking to my friend April two weeks ago and she threw out a phrase her mom used to say that hit my mental funny bone.
It's, "Look out for the little guy."
I love this. We have adopted it as our 2013 family theme and June and I worked it into family night on Monday.
We took one of those pocket cabbage patch kids (two inches long) and explained that this was the "little guy". One person would leave the room as we quickly hid the little guy, then played hot and cold until the little guy was found.
June was in charge and it was something she could teach. Unfortunately, she was so wrapped up in bossing everyone around that the game didn't spin off as well as it could have, but that's OK.
The other New Year's project I've come up with is our Sunshine Jar. It's a jar with a vinyl sunshine on it, hence the Sunshine Jar. My family eats dinner together about three or four times a week and for the past few year's we've done "High-Lows" at the dinner table.
This is where you take turns telling your daily high and your daily low. It's a nice way to catch up but I feel like it's gone a little stale around here.
Instead, I thought up about a dozen different questions relating to a typical day, things like, "Did anyone make you angry today? How did you handle it?" or "Did you see anyone who was sad today? What did you do? What can you do next time?" or "What's the best thing you ate today? Did Mom make it? Who is the best cook ever?"
Everyone pulls a question out and answers it and then we talk about it as a family. It's been surprisingly successful, the kids want to go through all the questions at every meal. Since we only do it a few times a week it doesn't seem to be getting old.
That's how we're heading into 2013. I know it's cliche but I can't help admitting that I love an excuse to make a fresh start.
Annie Valentine is a wife, mother and columnist. Contact her at email@example.com, or vist her blog at regardingannie.wordpress.com.