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.

 

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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!

 

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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?

Friday, 1 August 2014

America The Beautiful…Have you seen it?

Summer was quickly approaching. My friends planned summer trips to Israel, Turkey, England, and Italy. My stepdaughter prepared for a European vacation. I planned a trip to a family reunion in Kirksville Missouri.   Even though I knew a trip to Europe was not fiscally possible, part of me wished for one as I listened to my friends share their plans. When asked what we were doing, I quietly said we were driving to a family reunion. At the time, I couldn’t get excited about it. It didn’t sound very glamorous.

 

Summer arrived and off we went on our two-week road trip. Our first stop was the Grand Canyon. I had no idea how beautiful and overwhelming it would be. The word grand doesn’t come close to describing the experience. The countless stars we saw that first night was like nothing my children had seen before. We are lucky if we can pick a few stars out of the sky where we live. From there we went to Lake Powell. I like to describe it as the Grand Canyon filled up with water. We met several Navajo Indians that still speak their native language and that really impressed our children. Then it was off to Four Corners. Although there was not much natural beauty to speak of, the expression our daughter’s face lit up the landscape as she said it was very cool to stand in four states at the same time. It was in the car again and off to Mesa Verde National Park. It was yet another breathtaking and amazing part of American History as we stepped back in time. Our next stop was Durango Colorado and it was beautiful, peaceful, and so green after driving through the Arizona desert. I decided that I could move there. As we drove across the Continental Divide I found myself singing “America, The Beautiful” because the song so perfectly describes our United States of America.

 

In the end, the experience was so much better than I imagined and seeing it through my children added special magic. We had two weeks of uninterrupted quality family time, we saw parts of the United States that we had never seen before, and it inspired us to do it all again next summer.

 

As a young girl, one of my goals was to travel the world and to set foot on every continent. I still have that goal but this trip inspired me to see my own country. I am a true patriot. I cry at the National Anthem, I cry when I see my Dad stand at attention for the National Anthem or Pledge to Allegiance and I think there is nothing more honorable than an individual that choses to join a branch of the military and defend our freedom.

 

I am sharing my new dream with you. I will see America. I will enjoy its beauty. I will share with my children the history and majesty or this country.

Have you seen America?  What is your favorite spot?

 

 

 

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Friday, 25 July 2014

The Freedom Cyclers: Lasting Impact

When my husband’s cousin called us and asked if her college-age son and three of his friends could “crash” at our house for a few days because they were riding their bicycles across the country…I thought it was crazy.  We have a small house, we have three young children,  it was the last week of school, I just returned from a business trip and the list goes on and on…but we said yes.  It’s family and we always try to do everything we can for family.  The funny thing is that I had never met Jeff or any of his friends and my husband hadn’t seen him since he was a little boy.  We were in for a great adventure.

The “boys” arrived and spent three days with us.  First of all, let me say that these boys were thoughtful, intelligent, athletic, considerate, spiritual young men.  They were gearing up for a long summer of riding their bikes from Laguna Beach, CA to Savannah, GA for a cause.  They were riding for freedom (thefreedomcyclers.com) the end human slavery.  We were honored to be there for the beginning of their journey.  Our daughters were inspired by the fact that we opened our home and enjoyed getting to know the boys and hearing about their ride.  Our son, Bob, loved having four big brothers for a few days.  We thought we were going to lose him one day when we saw him in the driveway “tuning up” his bike…he said he was going with them.

Anyway, I was searching for something to watch on TV the other night when I came upon the movie, Yes Man.  It is a comedy with Jim Carey (not appropriate for children.)  In the movie, his character has to say “yes” to everything.  It is amazing where his “yes” journey takes him.  Sometimes I feel like I am saying “no” all the time (especially as a mom.)  Saying yes to The Freedom Cyclers staying with us enriched our lives and the lives of our children.  It was not an inconvenience, it was a blessing.

Here is my challenge for you, start with one day and just say “yes.”  I promise you that you will say yes to things that you think are crazy but at the end of the day, you will be happier and richer for the experience.

Ready, set, JUST SAY YES!

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Friday, 22 November 2013

How I Got My Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables Without Hiding Them

One of my favorite discoveries this year is my weekly organic fruits and vegetable delivery service.  The seed was planted when my good friend, Liz, told me about her weekly delivery and I was intrigued.  I love to cook and I love good food and I am always striving to eat healthier.  And then I found the Groupon.  It was for $15.00 for the first delivery.  It was a no-brainer.  The first morning I woke up to my delivery outside my front door I was so excited.  I opened the box and emptied it onto the counter.  When the kids woke up and saw it, they were excited too.  The box contained things they loved, things they didn’t love and things they didn’t even know the names of yet.  When I told them that everything was fresh from the farm, they wanted to try it all…even the things they knew they did not like.

 

We’ve been receiving our delivery since August and every Tuesday morning there is still a race to the front door to get the box and empty it onto the counter.  The kids are still willing to try anything…at least once.  It has also broadened my menu planning.  I will plan meals around what is in the box.  With the exception of my monthly run to Costco for the basics, this leaves me with minimal grocery shopping for the week.

 

The service we use is Farmfreshtoyou.com.  You can change your schedule or  cancel at any time.  The cost did double after the initial Groupon but I find that it is worth it for my family to eat healthy and we are supporting our local farmers.

 

Tonight I will be making butternut squash lasagna.  Do you have any yummy vegetable or fruit recipes to share?

 

Do you receive organic produce delivery service in your area?

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