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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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

When Life Hands You Persimmons, Make Persimmon Cookies!

We receive a weekly delivery of organic produce at our house. Our delivery includes whatever fruits and vegetables are fresh from the farm that week.  Our children look forward to seeing what is in the box and trying new things.  This week we received A LOT of persimmons.  I’ve heard of persimmons but being a girl from New England, I didn’t know how to eat them or what to do with them.  Luckily, my California-raised husband shared that his mother made wonderful persimmon cookies when he was young.  One email later and I had the recipe.

 

Persimmon Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream Together:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

Fold In:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

 

My mother in law’s recipe suggests you may add raisins and/or nuts.  I got creative here and made three different batches adding chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and macadamia nuts individually.

 

Drop by heaping teaspoon on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.

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These cookies were beautiful and cake-like.  My kids loved them.  It was fun to sneak something healthy into such a yummy cookie.

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Making these with one of my daughters, sharing some of my husband’s family history, created an even more memorable experience than simply baking together.  Surprising her Dad with one of the treats from his childhood was an extra perk for Eva.

 

Thank you, Jane!

 

What recipes has your mother-in-law shared to meld your husband’s childhood memories with your own so they become important to the next generation?

 

 

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Perfect Autumn Night

You can take the girl out of Boston but you can’t take Boston out of the girl.  We had the perfect autumn evening last night…homemade soup for dinner, carving pumpkins and the RED SOX WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!

 

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Do You Take Your Children Trick or Treating on Halloween?

You may want to sit down before you read any further.  Whenever I tell people what I am about to tell you, jaws drop wide open.  I NEVER went trick or treating as a child.  EVER.

Yes, it is true.  My parents didn’t feel it was safe.  It was back in the day of horrible stories of razor blades hidden in candy apples and poisoned candy.  Hospitals volunteered to x-ray your candy for free to keep children safe.  Were there any truths to these stories or were they just urban legends?  If I was a parent with young children thirty years ago, I may have made the same decision as my parents.

I want to tell you that I never felt deprived or even thought I was missing out on trick or treating.   My parents put a lot of effort into making it a very special holiday for us.  We always had spectacular costumes, sometimes homemade and sometimes store-bought.  Our Halloween parties were the talk of the neighborhood.  They were so much fun with homemade treats and spooky games including a haunted house.   During the month of October,  our family would watch Halloween specials on TV like, Charlie Brown and the gang in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Legend of Sleepy Hallow narrated by Bing Crosby.  On Halloween night, we would always dress up in our costumes and hand out candy to our neighbors and friends as they trick or treated.  I loved seeing all the different and creative costumes at our front door.

I went trick or treating for the first time when I was 28 years old.  My husband and I took my stepdaughter.  I was very excited.  We live in a very quiet and safe neighborhood.  It was a lot of fun to see all the children running down the streets with their overflowing bags of candy.  Today, our children go trick or treating and they love it.

After experiencing the trick or treating for several years now, I have to say that I am ready to stay home again and hand out the candy.

Whatever your Halloween traditions are, be true to your beliefs.  There are many ways to enjoy the holiday and have fun.

What are your Halloween traditions?

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Help! We Have a Stereotypical Boy!

My youngest child and I went to the doctor for his five year old well check the other day.  The doctor asked if we were having any specific issues and I answered, “Nothing physical, just behavioral.”  She let out a giggle.  We had three girls before our son.  I had no idea what mothers meant when they said their sons were just so physical and active.  Now, I get it.   We need to “run” our son like a horse so he can burn his physical energy or disaster will strike.  Even after the “run,” we need to keep him engaged at home in a project, a lot free time leads to trouble.  He likes to help around the house.  Lucky for me, his favorite projects are with Dad and usually involve tools…and power tools are even more exciting.    This weekend they decided to take our rusty golf cart apart, sand it down and repaint it.  It’s like vacation time for me.

Another major difference I noticed is that my son has a much more difficult time verbally expressing himself than my daughters.  These days we are really working with him on using his words when he is frustrated.  Yesterday, he started to lose his temper.  I pulled him aside and he told me that I was embarrassing him.  I was so proud of him for communicating that to me.   In turn, instead of just putting him in a time out we explain to him what that issue is so that he understands.  This seems to be working…most of the time.

All the physical things aside, I love my son.  He looked up at me when we were watching a movie the other day and said, “Mom, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.”  Kids always seem to know what to say and when you really need to hear it.

 

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Please like this on Facebook if you have an active boy at home.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Be Sure to Call or Visit Your Grandparents This Sunday. If You Don’t Have One, Adopt One!

This Sunday, September 8, is National Grandparents Day.  The day originated with Marian McQuade in West Virginia.    She was looking for a way to help the lonely elderly in nursing homes.  In 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

 

According to Wikipedia, the number of grandparents in the United States will rise from 65 million in 2011 to 80 million in 2020.  Grandparents are also helping out in the area of child care and support.  In 2012, 30% of children under five with working parents were cared for on a regular basis by a grandparent.

 

Our children our blessed to have three living grandparents and two living great-grandparents.   Unfortunately, none of them live close to us.  We have been lucky to see them many times throughout the years and our children feel a strong bond with them and an overwhelming love for them.  We also “adopted” our 90-year-old neighbor.  She has many grandchildren but none of them live in the area.  Recently, she taught our children how to play checkers with true strategy because they were going to visit their great-grandfather and wanted to play with him.

 

If you are part of the 30% that is lucky enough to have the grandparents help out with childcare, I am envious of you.  There are so many different things that grandparents can share with our children that we cannot.  They have a different perspective and have more life experiences.  Please help your children build and keep these important relationships.  If you are unable to visit, there are many other ways to maintain these bonds.  One of my daughter’s grandmothers read a book she was reading this summer so they could discuss it together over the telephone.  Another daughter saves buttons that have fallen off because only grandma can sew them on just right.  The artistic talents of our children are linked to a grandmother that sends the most creative thank you notes and has a love of art.  One daughter inherited a sense of style from a great grandmother that has a pair of shoes and accessories to match every outfit.

 

Please call, face time, visit or write the grandparents this weekend.  Small children can draw or paint a picture.  My grandfather told me a story a few years ago.  He wanted me to know that he chose the cemetery where he would be buried.  He said there were many cemeteries in his town but he chose the one where all the famous people were buried so maybe someone would visit him.  My grandfather had a very bad fall a few months ago that left him with memory loss and he is unable to care for himself.  It has been difficult for my entire family.  Before the fall, he was so sharp and active.  He would read, travel, work, play golf and volunteer.  He is now in a care facility.  All he wants to do is go home.  I will not be able to see him this Sunday but I hope someone “adopts” him and gives him the gift of a visit.

 

Please like this on Facebook if you will be calling or seeing your grandparents on Sunday or even adopting one.

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