a visit

Some things – even a very simple thing,  you don’t forget.

When our son Henry was six years old, Penny, a friend from Winona, appeared at our door one late November afternoon.  She had with her supplies aplenty to make Thanksgiving turkeys – vanilla wafers, some chocolate frosting, Hershey’s kisses, mini-Reese’s peanut butter cups, and candy corn.

Dinner prep was put on hold, Henry called his neighbor friend to join us, and we made Thanksgiving turkeys, right that very moment.

I love the surprise, the spontaneity, the Mary Poppinsesque feeling of that moment, as Penny flew in our front door, ready for some fun.  There was no prearranged date, there was no plan at all.

She just came – and it was magical.

I think of Penny and her surprise visit every year before Thanksgiving, as late day darkness approaches.  Penny  isn’t able to recall this memory herself anymore, but that’s okay, Penny, I’ll remember it for both of us.

Thank you to Penny and to all those who share their gifts with others.

(If you would like to have some fun making  sweet Thanksgiving turkeys of your own, just Google vanilla wafer turkeys and follow the simple directions.)

I wish all of you many special Thanksgiving memories.



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the bridge

I read this tidbit of information recently that I found interesting.  The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is virtually painted everyday of the year.  By the time the work is done, it’s time to start over.

An ongoing process – a job that’s never done.

Sound familiar?  Certainly as parents, our job description reads this way.  And maybe even in other areas of our lives.  Our work is always present.

One of the reasons the bridge is constantly painted is to keep it in good repair.  Left to the high salt content in the air surrounding the bridge, the steel components would rust and corrode. In our parenting lives the same thing rings true.  In order to maintain healthy connections with our children and keep our interactions strong and positive, we need to be responsive, proactive and pay attention to the everyday needs and strains of relationship.

In spite of the vast amount of care, however, the Golden Gate Bridge is a wonder of the world, a beautiful sight whether shrouded in fog or shining against the blue sunlit sky.  And so goes our parenting journey – cracks here and there, a cloudy day, a stormy day, a beautiful day.  Yet together all the moments can add up to a magnificent span.

Parenting really is like the bridge – offering not only our children but us a path on which to travel.

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Every parent who has ever shared their concerns with me about their child’s behavior may be frustrated, scared, at their wit’s end, but always, behind their words of desperation, sometimes temporarily hidden even to them, lies their overwhelming love for their child.

And that’s what we can use to focus on – once we hear about the whining, the tantrums, the negativity, the aggression.  What else is there about your child?  What is your child like when there’s peace shining through?  What is he doing? What are you doing?  What is happening in the family?  What makes her smile? What makes him cooperative?  What makes her lovable?

There’s seldom an easy answer or one parenting technique that will change a difficult situation over night.  And often trying to fix the child and make this child “good” backfires on us and makes things worse.  Because it is often the child’s natural goodness and refreshing the parents’ belief in that goodness that goes a long way toward healing the disconnection between them.

For when any of us feel valued, feel appreciated, feel cherished – we are ready for renewal.

“Namaste” – (pronounced “Naa-Maa-Stay”) is a word from the Sanskrit language that means ” I honor the divine light within you.”

I believe looking for this very positive light within a troublesome child is what will show us the way.

“Namaste ” –   a word to remember.

If you would like some help in appreciating the “light” within your challenging child, let’s talk.  Call me at The Parenting Place – 784-8125 .

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I’m pretty sure I might have said this before ( but I’m going to say it again)  how much I love being in the midst of children working side-by-side, actively involved on a project with adults.

That’s the way it was on Friday afternoon as a group of parents and their school-aged children showed up to work on ornaments for The Parenting Place Rotary Lights Tree – painting, glittering, cutting, stuffing, cleaning up, hauling.

There was a determined and focused energy present to accomplish our united task at hand – to interact, to laugh, to listen, to be a part of a larger group, to feel empowered, useful and competent.

There was even an infant in the group who slept, observed, smiled and welcomed any passing-by-attention offered but did not demand any of it.  It was as if even she knew she was a significant part of the group, that she belonged, and she was satisfied with her job just being in the midst of our work  – watching.

Earlier that day in the morning, a middle schooler helped me in the Childrens’ Room preparing for Trick or Treating day at Play Shoppe.  It was the same with this young girl who amazes me with her clear, take-charge ability to creatively problem solve and follow through independently to get the job she’s working on done.

Do any of these children love to clean their rooms and keep track of their school supplies and hang up their jackets and put away their backpacks and other everyday monotonous chores?

Like any of us – probably not.  But faced with an offer to be taken seriously, to have their opinion heard, to try something new, to be included and you’ll see, I believe, their initiative, their competence, their industriousness – their zest –  show up – and what a delight that is!

Keep that in mind when doling out chores at home.  Is it time to recognize, up the ante and ask more of our child’s maturing abilities to plan and figure things out and make a contribution they will feel good about?

Try it and see.

Thank you to all who helped!

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let it be

I read a quote recently that I thought was so beautiful – “Linger for a few minutes after lights are out – that’s when you see children’s souls”Rabbi Sandy Sasso.

I think all parents have experienced this moment of bliss as they peek in on their sleeping child and are filled with their child’s beauty and innocence.  And their own love for their child is so powerfully strong – yet often their guilt as well.

For how could I have been so impatient, so cranky, so disconnected – to this beautiful child that I love so so much?

Because parents aren’t perfect, life is complicated, and some days are harder than others.

And sometimes we need to dial back on our activities, our demands, our expectations of ourselves and our children.

And let it be.

Let lists be;  let mussed-up hair be;  let pajamas, still on, be;   let sitting together, just looking at books, be; let dust  be; let a simple meal be; let a wandering walk in the neighborhood, just because, be;  let sitting on the stoop watching the leaves fall and the cars go by,be; let noticing the bright eyes, the quirky expressions, the hint of the person- to- be, be.

Let breathing everything in – be.  Let exhaling – be.

Let love – be.

Maybe that’s when our children see our souls.

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Its hard not to notice – whether you’re taking a ride out in the Coulees, walking in the marsh, hiking in the woods, driving down Losey Blvd. with the bluffs right there, or even as I arrive home, driving into my own driveway, the color of the leaves on the trees are just magnificent.

I even caught myself bragging to a relative in New England, where leaf viewing is rated so highly.  “You should see the leaves here this year!”

But, of course , what can you expect from me?  As quite a few people know, I am a genuine tree lover.  I love bark, sticks, branches, logs, and often find a “gift” of an interesting stick or branch left on my desk at work, with a note -
“thought you might appreciate this”, and I always do.

We had a very tall, wide, shady tree in our side yard when I was growing up.  It had huge roots that spread above ground all around it.  It was the perfect place to play – to make little pretend worlds and villages and drive toy cars around. I think that was probably where my tree affection began.  I can still imagine the way the bark felt – rough yet warm to the touch – a tree hugger in the making was I.

Early experiences with the natural world are so significant for children.  We live in nature’s paradise here – every season offering special effects – at our doorsteps – for free.  It is up to us as parents to open those doors and our eyes and observe and share with our children, these gifts of awe and wonder.

Thank you, October for this technicolor display!


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Last week talking with a group of parents, the subject turned to – what parents sometimes do just because they need to.

One mom shared a darling story of her little boy called to come to story time at the group he was with, told his caregiver, “I’ll be there – as soon as I finish my cup of coffee!”  Perfect response – one his mom admitted to saying often to this little guy.

Another mom talked about her occasional “I need this” solution with her two young girls under three years.  Pack them in their car seats, hand them back some cherrios and drive – an afternoon ride through the coulees – some time to think and to own.

A parent told us  ” I know I need to emotionally connect with my child who is having a difficult morning – but sometimes I just want to go drink my coffee by myself instead.”

And sometimes that’s the right thing to do for everyone involved.  There is a happy medium in all of our interactions with our children – a balance.  Once a parent begins to feel a twinge of resentment toward a behavior or a child’s need, it often means – perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what is actually happening.

Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept says repeated annoying behavior from a child is often that very child just begging the parent to take a stand, be the adult -“ I need you to tell me what I need to do”. She says often a child’s purpose is to get the parent to go about her own business with confidence and without seeming to ask his permission.

And the parent can do this – for her child and herself – and the emotional connection can still be strong.

Another mom I talked to at the Costume Swap shared that she was working part-time now after having been at home with her children and was pleased with this new arrangement for herself and her family.  “I feel I am a better mom because I am doing what I needed.”  This mom had attended The Parenting Place’s recent Mom’s Night Out this summer where we had watched, listened, sang and even danced to Pharrel Williams’ video HAPPY .

She shared that night and that song confirmed for her what she needed – wanted – and now feels more relaxed and open to her children’s and family’s needs while meeting her own.

So ..  take a listen for yourself – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM -

“Clap along – If you know what happiness is to you –

“Clap along – If you feel like that’s what you want to do!

Anyone who would like some help sorting out ways to manage meeting their children’s emotional needs and that delicate balance of meeting their own also, give me a call and we can talk.  The Parenting Place – 784-8125.


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