Friday, 24 October 2014

Have You Been Boo’d?

There is a newer Halloween tradition called Halloween Boo or Booing. It is usually done in your neighborhood. It is similar in nature to the tradition of Secret Santa at Christmastime. It involves leaving a treat and a note saying, “You’ve Been Boo’d” on a doorstep, ringing the doorbell, then running and hiding as fast as you can. When our family got boo’d last year I thought, “Oh great, another thing I have to do.” Well, last year, I was a party pooper and did not participate. Things changed this year. After we were boo’d, the kids were so excited and wanted to spread Halloween cheer, so we did. And I have to say it was the most I’ve laughed in a long time. The kids sat down and picked four families that were a little outside of their inner circle of friends. They wanted it to spread through the entire neighborhood. They felt if they picked their friends, it would just keep circling.   The kids took the booing very seriously.  They huddled before we began Operation Boo.  They were like stealth military operatives going through the neighborhood.   I would stay a house or two away and they would sneak up, leave the treat, ring the doorbell and RUN!   They had dogs barking at them, unhappy babysitters and a few tumbles into the bushes.   All and all it was good, clean fun. If you want to start your own Halloween Boo, just follow these steps:

 

  1. Pick about 4 families.
  2. Pick a treat to deliver. It could be candy, cookies, pumpkin bread…get creative. Our family chose a box of BooBerry cereal.
  3. Download or create a Boo gram. There are thousands to chose from online.
  4. Deliver, ring doorbell and RUN!

 

Please like this post if you have ever been BOO’D!

 

IMG_5708 IMG_5710

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, 3 October 2014

Check Out This Website, It Will Make Your Life Simpler

Get ready moms! I am going to let you in on my new favorite website…gatheredtable.com. I want to take you back a month to where I talked about the importance of family dinners. I was trying to take some pressure off myself by stressing the importance of sitting down together, not making a gourmet meal from scratch. Gatheredtable.com is a website that helps you provide both!   There are countless websites out there that put together menu plans but in my opinion, this is the cream of the crop. It allows you to create a profile with not only how many people you are cooking for but also how many adults and how many children. It also lets you input food allergies, food aversions, and gives you the ability to rate meal options on a scale of how much you like them.

 

I’ve been using the website for about three weeks now and have made some great new recipes. These recipes were not only delicious but also easy to make. Our dinners have included Bolognese sauce with pasta, teriyaki fried rice, minestrone soup, baked ziti with sausage to name a few.   The website can pair all main courses with a carb side, a veggie side and a dessert.   You get a weekly menu that you can edit and the best part is the shopping list it comes with. Grocery list…check!

 

This site also allows you to add your family’s favorite recipes. You can manually add them or use my favorite feature, the web clipper. This web clipper allows you to “clip” your recipes from a website and then it dumps them into your menu preferences. This is an absolute must do to make sure that you get the most out of the site.

 

My life is simpler because I always know what is for dinner. I am much more relaxed at dinnertime. The shopping list is set or you may add the rest of your shopping needs to it. This makes visits to the grocery store less frequent and I’ve also saved money by not buying extras.

 

I’ve actually been setting the table and we’ve been sitting down to real conversations. After we take turns sharing our daily highs and lows, the conversation gets interesting. Bob brought up the subject of hobos the other night. Eva said that he should call them homeless because hobo was not a nice word. Then she added that he didn’t even know what a hobo was. Bob quickly responded with a yes he did, “It’s a man without a wife!”

 

Please join gatheredtable.com right now. It’s free and it takes less than 2 minutes to get started. You will be amazed how much stress is lifted when you know what’s for dinner.

 

 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Social Issues With Preteens…When Do You Intervene?

We were in the first full week of school. I was excited to begin my organizing project.   Just when I was about to start, I received a phone call from the school that my 5th grader was sick and needed to come home.   I remembered that she told me she didn’t feel well the night before and then again the next morning so I dropped everything and went to pick her up. As soon as she got into my car, she seemed a little better. She said it was a stomachache and a headache. That was understandable. We’ve had abnormally warm and humid weather and our schedules are back in full school time swing. I took her home to rest, not thinking much more about it.

 

When bedtime came, I sat down on her bed for a goodnight kiss and she just unloaded. The tears began to flow and she told me she wanted to be homeschooled.   She loves her teacher and is excited for everything she will learn this year but doesn’t like recess and lunch. She said that she doesn’t like them so much that she gets a stomachache when she even thinks about it. She said that nobody was being mean to her but she just didn’t fit in. This broke my heart because she is a happy, kind and caring girl. She is the daughter who wakes up happy and always sees the good in people and situations.

 

Once we ruled out homeschooling as an option (no way this mama could do that) we began to come up with ideas on how to handle lunch and recess. She is much like me. She is shy, quiet (until she gets to know you), and a rule follower. We talked about learning a new joke to share with friends. We talked about volunteering for lunch duty with the kindergarten class. We talked about practicing piano in the music room. We talked about taking a soccer ball to school to practice juggling. After our conservation, she felt better but STILL wanted me to talk to her teacher about getting off the playground during lunch and recess. So I made the appointment.

 

A few days later, she came home and told me to cancel the appointment. She had worked out the problem on her own. She decided to just walk up to her peers and start a conversation. She put herself out there. Everyone was kind. She was happy. And I was relieved.

 

Kids need to learn how to make friends. We are a social society. We did all the “right” things to socialize our daughter. We joined a playgroup when she was 6 months old, she did three years of preschool, and she played sports in our community programs. How do you give them confidence to make friends? When they are miserable at school, how far do you let it go before you get involved? When do you contact the teacher?

 

Please share your thoughts and stories.

 

 

 

 

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Great Debate: When To Enroll Your Child In Kindergarten

It’s been a little over a year since we struggled with the decision. Should we start our son in kindergarten at 5 years old or wait until he is 6 years old? We decided to wait. There were many factors and questions that went into the debate:

 

  • Will he be bored in preschool?
  • Will he become a bully on the preschool playground?
  • How will he feel if some of his friends start kindergarten before he does?
  • Wouldn’t our lives be so much simpler with all three kids at one school?

 

We spoke with academic professionals and they said he would be fine either way. We spoke with friends that had chosen to enroll their children at 5 years old and 100% of the people we spoke with said they would do it differently. In the end, we realized that you couldn’t get that year back. Bob and I had one last great year of slow mornings and lazy afternoons. These times were greatly appreciated by both of us since he is the youngest in the family. It was nice to have this special time together.

 

I’ve been volunteering in Bob’s art class at school this year and can really see the benefits of the extra year. He is neither ahead nor behind academically but appears to be somewhere in the middle. Many of the strengths I see from the extra year of preschool are social. He makes friends easily, he has no separation anxiety, he is kind and considerate with his peers and he raises his hand to participate.

 

The Wall Street Journal recently published an essay entitled “Should Children Be Held Back From Starting Kindergarten,”

 

http://online.wsj.com/articles/should-children-be-held-back-for-kindergarten-1410536168

 

that brings up some interesting points. They call what we did academic redshirting. “Redshirting” is a term associated with holding kids back for sports. We did not “redshirt” our son. We gave him one extra year to have more time with the family and grow socially. After reading the article, we still stand with confidence in our decision. After all, each child is different and a parent should do what is best for its child. This is not a one size fits all world.

 

At what age did your son or daughter start kindergarten?  Did you see a difference either academically or socially?  Please share your story.

 

 

 

 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Please Hug your Family Today and Everyday

We recently attended a memorial service for a friend and neighbor that passed away in a tragic accident in July.   He left his wife and two children way to soon. There is no way to understand why things like this happen. It is difficult for adults to understand so how can we explain this to our children?

 

The memorial service was a stellar tribute to a great family man. He was a very successful businessman among many other things but the common theme was that his family came first. Many of his friends and family stood up to speak about him but the most moving was his 9-year-old daughter.   She spoke with poise, elegance and a bit of humor. As we sat there and wiped the tears from our eyes, I realized that she was not crying. She was strong. She was resilient. I know that she misses her Dad more than words can express. I am certain there will be times when she is overcome with sadness but the strength of character that her father and mother are instilling in her are evident. She will not only survive but also thrive.

 

As a family, we have been inspired to spend more time together, we hug and kiss more, we say ”I love you” more.  My message to you today is to go home and hug your husband, your wife, and your children. Family is really all that is important.

Friday, 5 September 2014

School is Back in Session…Are you Challenging Yourself?

I always get so excited for back to school. The kids are learning new things and I always like to challenge myself with something new too. This year, I am working on creating good habits. My newest challenge is training for a half marathon. This is funny because I am not even a runner! I am starting from scratch! I was inspired by my sister in law, Beth, and my friend and training partner, Heather… thank you ladies! What I love about the training is the training app on my iPhone.   When I wake up everyday it tells me what to do.   Now that I have told the whole world, I hope I can make it!

My second challenge for the month of September is organization. I am a very organized person but every summer things go wild. All the closets need to be tackled, my desk and files are a wreck and my to do list is about a mile long. I am planning to spend a little time each day organizing.  I hope to be finished by September 30, after several trash bins are filled up and many runs are made to the donation drop. Each week I am going to focus on one area. Next week I will begin with my desk and files. This is going to be a big project. Wish me luck!

 

What are your goals for back to school month?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Importance of Family Dinners

I came across a quote from Ronald Reagan that I wanted to share with you.

 

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

 

I love this quote and I am a big believer in family dinners. Today there is so much written about the importance of sitting down at the table and eating together as a family. It is a constant challenge in our home with my husband’s work and travel schedule and the children’s sports and activities.

 

I grew up in a very busy household with two parents who worked fulltime and sometimes beyond.   My brother and I played sports among a list of many other activities. The funny thing is that I don’t remember NOT eating together at the table. Many times it was crockpot meals or casseroles or sometimes it was even eating the $5 papa platter special at Papa Gino’s but we always sat down together.

 

Last week I stated in my post that one of my personal goals this school year is to make delicious dinners for my family. I am not abandoning this goal but I am going to take a little pressure off myself. Dinner doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal every night. It can be simple. It can be soup and salad, take out, or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. The most important thing is to set the table, sit down and eat as a family.

 

If my mom could do it working full time, I can certainly do it as a stay at home mom. I remember making fun of my mom because she spent so much time cooking and freezing on the weekends. Now I know it was her planning that made our family dinners possible. I am going to accomplish this by scheduling just three to five nights a week when everyone can sit down together. Hopefully this will be one of the habits my children will carry on as adults.

 

I challenge all of you to sit down together this new school year. Let’s see where it takes us.

 

IMG_3960

Friday, 22 August 2014

Happy New Year… I mean, Back to School!

 

 

As a stay at home mom, this time of the year feels like the start of a new year. After a wild summer, it is a time to regroup and set goals not only for the children but for me as well. It is a little more radical for me this year, as my youngest will begin full time kindergarten. This will be the first year that I drive through the morning carpool lane and ALL my kids will hop out of the car.   Yahoo! I am sure I may shed a quick tear but he is ready to go to school and I am ready too.

 

Several people have asked me when I will go back to work.   This is a sensitive subject for me. I love staying home with our kids but I’ve always struggled with not working. While I haven’t had an “official” job, as many of you know that stay home, I’ve been working my bottom off the last 10+ years. They say watch what you wish for and now I am at a point where I may have some time to work and I am not sure that is what I want to do.

 

Last week I attended a birthday party for one of Bob’s future kinder classmates.   Attending the party were many mothers that will be sending their last child off to school. The conversations were interesting. Almost everyone I spoke with was planning a new adventure from running a half marathon to joining a tennis team to putting more hours in at the office.

 

There are two things that I know I want to do, make delicious dinners and exercise. I want the kids and my husband to come home at the end of the day to a calm and peaceful home. This may seem simple to you unless you understand the chaos that occurs between 3pm and bedtime in most homes.

 

I want the time after school with my kids and husband to be enjoyable. I want to embrace my stay at home status. As James M Barrie once said, “The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.”

 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Summer Through the Eyes of Our Children

This summer has been an interesting one. This is the first summer that all of our children are really appreciating and enjoying summer vacation. To the children, it’s been a true break from school and all activities. There has been no piano practiced, no workbook pages completed and no alarm clocks set. We’ve had a wonderful summer of staying up late, sleeping in, attending a few camps, traveling, going to the beach and pool with friends and family. It’s nice to slow down and enjoy the simple moments in life.

 

As the end of summer is almost here, I find my emotions are torn between the simpler side of summer and getting back into the routine of the school year.

 

I’ll end with a quote from Dr. Suess, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

 

Please share summer of your favorite summer moments with us!

 

IMG_3009

IMG_2944

 

IMG_3021 IMG_5381 IMG_5354

Friday, 8 August 2014

Be Mindful of the Habits you are Teaching Your Children

Last weekend we had dinner with old friends. They are at a different stage of life. They are almost empty nesters. One son graduated from Boston University in May and one son is half way through college. It was interesting to listen to their summer adventures. They have been a bed and breakfast for many of the boy’s friends throughout the summer. They truly enjoy it.   They were saying how it was interesting that with all the visitors, the boys still get up first thing in the morning and exercise.   Our friends believe this is because that is what they have always done. For as long as the boys can remember, the parents have gotten up early and exercised. What a great habit!

 

This story got me thinking about our family and the habits we are creating, some good and some not so good. The dictionary defines habit as, “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.” There are countless books on the market about habits. Habits are important. You may not even realize something you do is a habit but if you do it everyday or most days, it is a habit. When children are young, we create basic habits such as eating, sleeping and potty training. As children grow, it’s brushing their teeth, doing homework, and household chores. Children are constantly watching us and learning from our behaviors. Do you exercise every day? Do you cook or bake a lot? Do you clean up after yourself? Do you sit down to eat dinner as a family? Do you kiss your spouse goodbye and hello? Do you read books? Do you eat ice cream directly out of the container? Do you watch movies? Do you spend time with your friends? Do you call your parents on the phone? Whatever the answers are to these questions, your children are watching you.

 

After our dinner, I watched our children for the next few days. They have many good habits and a few bad habits. This inspired me to adjust some of my own habits.

 

Can you see your habits developing in your children?