Sometimes I think conversations are the missing link in our busy family lives.

So much of our talk is about getting things done fast, about on-the-go activities – hurry up,  put-on-your-shoes, let’s go – I -said, put-on-your-shoes, we’ll-be-late – kind of exchange.

Then, phew, we’re in the car – screens come out, entertainment turned on.

But sitting in close quarters at a restaurant on Sunday morning, I heard conversation happen.

At the table behind us sat a dad and his two children, approximately seven and five, having breakfast.  And this dad shared conversation with them.

It wasn’t typical awkward questioning (which as adults we often over-do) about what happened at school, do you have homework, did you do your chores, etc. It was the dad actually sharing with them his experiences, evoking interest and questions in turn from the children.

And it was quite a natural flow of ideas – and lovely to overhear.

I think, as parents, we often tend to ignore the curiosity that our children have about our lives and  what happens in them – and the enjoyment, learning and relationship that is there to be made.

One of the experiences I heard this Dad sharing was about his recent visit  to a Mexican restaurant – which began a whole exchange of conversation with the children about food and people’s likes and dislikes.

All of us have something funny, curious, unusual, interesting, kind –   even plain old ordinary –  happen sometime during our day- that our children will appreciate hearing about, appreciate being included, appreciate being noticed , and then, appreciate having their own responses shared.

A conversation.

So, think about it.  Start a conversation with your children.

They’ll make a great audience.

And you’ll make another strong connection.


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Pot holes

Pot holes – you know what I’m talking about if you have been out driving on any of the streets in La Crosse lately.

And that got me to thinking about another kind of pot hole – one that we as parents try to avoid, but often fall in to as we handle some of the emotional struggles and behavior issues of our children.

But as parents, we are cautious. We expect these, have developed strategies on how to handle these kinds of parenting “pot holes” with care – but new ones pop up frequently and unexpectedly, and jolt us into sudden reactions.

And so as the city crews hastily patch the road potholes in town to avoid accidents and keep the flow of traffic moving,  parents have to be ready to quell their child’s latest meltdown.

And yes, it is often about our own maintenance with our children – daily emotional connections, noticing your child at his best and commenting on it, sharing meals together, laughing and playing with one another, reading aloud to your child, offering a rhythm of family life that your child can rely on.

This kind of “road work” in your family will help to maintain the fiber of your family life – and  keep you prepared and ready for  the next unexpected “pot hole” along the way.

Check out The Parenting Place Spring Building Blocks newsletter for information on an upcoming Discussion group – Walking on Egg Shells – managing and avoiding temper tantrums, Thursday, May 9th from 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM. or call Fran for more information.






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“one proud mama”

“One proud mama” shared a story about her soon-to-be-thirteen-year-old daughter, who took it upon herself to make a difference.

A boy at her middle school, striding down the hall, purposely bumped into another boy, scattering his books on the floor – and then kicking them as he continued on his way.

But this time someone noticed – this young girl not yet thirteen used her strong voice to loudly call him out – as she also stopped to help the other student gather his books.

Wow – such a brave thing to do – such a kind thing to do – the right thing to do – something we all should do – when we notice injustices and bullying.

I’m happy to say, she was overheard – by a teacher – who also noticed – and pulled her aside to thank her and to recognize her and give her the respect she earned.

We all know bullying exists – and there are meetings and committees, and posters and rules and studies to try and stop it.

And that’s all good.

But what it also takes -really takes – is noticing – like this strong young girl did- responding like this strong young girl did – because she knew it was wrong – and she chose to speak up, call the “bully” on it, let him know he is a bully, and rise to support the victim, and not to ignore him.

Way to go, Kassidy!

“one proud mama” for sure!

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Stop and go guy

Apparently it appears – there’s a new guy in town.

The Parenting Place Parent Educator, Mike Scott, was sharing a remark made from a young boy who stopped with his parents at The Parenting Place booth at the La Crosse Center during the 2019 Family Fest a few weekends ago.

The  young boy looked up at Mike who was working at the booth, a realization spread across his face, as he happily announced, “I know you – you’re the Stop and Go guy!”

And that he is.

Every Thursday morning at The Parenting Place Muscles in Motion held in the gym at the Ericikson Boys and Girls’ Club from 10 AM – 11 AM, they play Red light, Green light – or better known to Mike’s followers as Stop and Go.

And Mike tells us – this is serious business – an activity that the children adore, wait for, that they do not want skipped or altered in any way.

It’s as simple as that.  Green means Go; Red means Stop; Stop and Go. And they’re off!

And it just made me stop – and go – wow – wait a minute – how can we be missing the simple beauty of this childhood game? As society encourages more and more sophisticated activities and programs for our youngest people, the overwhelming response to this Stop and Go game should give us some pause.

I believe simple is always better- and maybe physical activity, pure and uncomplicated, is what these children need, what they crave , what they respond to most. Maybe running and moving their bodies freely and naturally is what matters to them  – going fast – stopping short- listening – watching – at their own speed – red or green.

So as parents and caregivers, take a hint, perhaps, from the Stop and Go guy and play physically with your child.  Chase, run, tag, capture, laugh, wrestle, giggle, play. collapse.

Share this experience with your child and feel like a child yourself!

Thanks Stop and Go Guy – for playing!!


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tongue -in-cheek

“I’m human again – Only human again – Poised and polished and gleaming with charm.” Lumiere the Candlestick in Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast.

Sometimes something you’re not looking for shows up – and grabs your attention, puts a smile on your face, and suggests a why-not attitude.

That’s what happened when I accidentally came across this Lumiere quote – and I felt  with total tongue- in -cheek -seriousness – – that says it all.

After six weeks of strengthening my new knee and still more to go, I feel ready to start to put it to the real test and find my way back to work and play – outside the home.

It’s quite amazing, really, to be on the other side of something that had loomed ahead of me seven weeks ago.  But as daunting as that seemed then, the feeling of accomplishment, of relief, of healing, and most of all, of gratitude, is worth it all.

So join me in my tongue-in-cheek celebration declaration , won’t you?

Look for ways to celebrate the things in your life – big or small – that you have worked through.

And humor me –  and Lumiere –  as we, tongue-in-cheek, playfully declare –

“I’m human again – only human again – Poised and polished and gleaming with charm.”

Hope to see you soon.


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Won’t you be my neighbor?

Have you ever gotten a tune stuck in your head that you find yourself humming all day long?

Well – that’s me – with “Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood”, the opening song from Mr. Roger’s TV show that so many of today’s parents and children have grown up watching.

Recently when Heather and I sat down to plan our family Spring Fun morning coming up at The Parenting Place, we talked about the message of neighborhoods and the significance of neighbors that always came across so strongly in this beloved TV classic.

And, so, yep – our Spring Fun morning, on Saturday, March 23rd at The Parenting Place will be just that – “It’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood”, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM, where we’ll celebrate our friendship through play, activities and visits from a few of our own very special neighbors of The Parenting Place.

And – since we discovered March is also Mr. Roger’s birthday, we’ll celebrate that with – what else? – cake and candles and party pizazz.

And we’re asking participants, if they are able, to bring a package cake mix and can of frosting to pack up and deliver to our neighborhood food bank for families in need to be able to celebrate someone in their family on their special day.

You know, we often wonder how to help our children feel a part of their “larger world” outside the family, and for me, that always, always starts with our neighbors.

So, you’re invited – to meet some of our very fun and interesting neighbors – to celebrate together, to play and create, (of course, always, at The Parenting Place!) meet new friends, and enjoy a beautiful day in our neighborhood.

Registration is required – online at or by contacting Fran/Heather at 608-784-8125; families with young and older siblings welcome.

“Please won’t you be our neighbor?”




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just ask

Sometimes when my sisters and I were young, we would go with my mom to visit her elderly aunt who lived alone in a large rambling house.  As my mom and her aunt visited in the kitchen, we would be off on our own, exploring all the rooms in the house.

There was one room that held great attraction for us – as well as fear and daring.  And that shadowy room had in it an ornate secretary desk.  It stood dark in a corner – closed up – but one day we opened it –  inside, there was a black revolver pistol.

That was enough for us.  We closed the desk and ran out.  But, every time we visited, the attraction of seeing the revolver was too much – and we would need to go back and look at it.

We never picked it up – although I think we dared each other to touch it.  It was a frightening object to us – and one we never told any adult about.

I’m sharing this with you because there may be guns in people’s homes now where your children play.  The question experts advise parents to ask of the homes their children visit is “Do you have a gun in your home and is it unloaded and locked up, and is the ammunition stored separately?”

Because just as my sisters and I found out –  the attraction of just looking even at the gun we discovered was a thrill.

And many children – braver than us – could actually pick up a gun they find, point it and even pull the trigger, innocently ending in loss of life.

So … it’s a hard question to ask, isn’t it?  But The Academy of Pediatrics advises it’s a question that needs an answer – for the safety of your children.

Sometimes we have to start the difficult conversation.

People who have a gun properly stored will not take offense.  And those who do react negatively to your inquiry, that, too, might just be your answer.


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