smokey times

Where there’s smoke – there’s fire.

And if you’ve noticed the smokiness in our skies the past few days, you might have wondered where the fire was.

And – hard for me to believe at least – this smoke has traveled all the way from the far western states – and will move on east even further.

But – of course, it got me to thinking – you know – about parenting – about -where there’s smoke, there’s fire – and sometimes when we notice something going on with a child’s behavior – mood, crankiness, sadness, “out-of-sorts, – “an emotional smoke” – we don’t really know where it’s coming from.

So I suggest this is a time to observe – to connect – to go for a walk together – enjoy an ice cream cone – do dishes together -run through the sprinkler – sit on the porch swing – work in the garden – snuggle under a cozy quilt and watch a movie, take a drive to the river.

This is not the time for high-pressure fire hoses here – no high-powered interrogation – just a quiet reach out – a gentle reminder – that you are there for them..

Growing up isn’t always easy – but when our kids trust that love and support is there – just being and connecting – often puts the fire out.

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When you’re almost 7-years-old – and you haven’t lost a baby tooth yet – when your friends have – you can imagine the thrill of discovery when one bottom baby tooth of one particular almost 7-year-old boy became wiggly.

And wiggled and wiggled it got for that whole day.

And later on – playing and running outside after dinner – the tooth fell out – in the grass – who knows where – not to be found.

Uh oh – what to do now?

I’m told, however, the enthusiasm stayed high – and instead of a tooth under his pillow – this young boy wrote an explanatory note.

Good enough it seems.

For as he told me later – he woke up early the next morning – but didn’t look for a surprise yet. He said he thought he should probably wait until 7:00 AM -his regular time to rise and shine. (how sweet is that!)

And so he did – and – yes – the note worked!

Sometimes it’s great when things don’t go exactly right or as planned – but with a bit of problem solving, ingenuity, trust and belief – things work out just as well.

What a good lesson for all of us to hear!

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more than just corn on the cob

You know it’s mid-summer when fresh corn-on-the-cob is available.

And from the time I was a little kid – it was very exciting to go off to the farm stand for the first corn of the season.

It was always the kids’ job to peel the corn for our large family. Playing with the silk and the outer leaves was part of the fun – and looking and finding the one worm that just might be found in a bakers’ dozen – a coveted surprise bringing shrieks of excitement.

As adults we don’t typically recognize the activities that we just take for granted might well be the ones that will linger on in your child’s memory.

And so often it is about food – the preparation, the aroma, enjoying it together – especially if it’s a seasonal treat.

Every season has its favorites – it’s one way in which children form a sense of their identity – a sense of belonging – a sense of “in our family, we always” memory.

So – that brings me back to my childhood memory of corn on the cob. And corny as it might seem, it still warms the kernels of my heart!

Enjoy making your family’s everyday simple, no-fuss ordinary memories together. Believe in them.

They count!

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a treasure

For busy moms and dads, it’s not always simple to find the personal leisure time of reading a good novel for themselves. But there’s an open track toward that goal – if we start reading to our young children – and continue the passion of reading – even as our children grow older.

Here’s the way it works.

Starting the habit of reading begins early on – even very young babies and toddlers are enchanted looking at books with a parent. The trick is to continue this coziness – going into longer picture books as preschoolers – and then as they grow older – chapter books shared with elementary/middle school children – you’ll begin a surefire way to not only connect with one another but to provide the joy of reading to your children.

Reading, I know, is taught at school – but reading is a culture that begins in the home from an early age – and begun early and shared throughout childhood – it is a gift.

I’ve noticed often over the years at Play Shoppe – when one parent picks up a book to read to their young child – perhaps for a bit of quiet time – inevitably – there will be several other children wander over – drawn to hearing a story, circled around this parent and child, wanting to share this experience also.

It’s really that powerful!

So … our libraries are open again – Yay! – and there we can find oodles of books to check out – and resourceful librarians to point us in the right direction for good books to read and share.

Even if times are slim for heading off to the hammock with your own personal book in hand – you know, that down the road – if you play your cards right – the joy of reading will be alive and well in your family lives – to enjoy and share – both together and individually.

A gift for a lifetime!

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pot holes

Summer road construction – always necessary, always understood – but not always appreciated as we find ourselves frustrated, weaving our way around town, trying to discover a clear way through.

It can be kind of like this in our families sometimes too – don’t you think?

Coming up on a few personal potholes – re-surfacing – all for a smoother ride, a smoother journey – smoother sailing with each other.

Maybe it could be as simple as just taking note of how we’re relating – a little more often – before the deep ruts appear. Notice how we’re treating each other – notice where it’s getting a little bumpy – and also – are we practicing self-maintenance- in order to be ready and in good shape to meet the “potholes” of our families.

And if we make it a habit to take our “family pulse” – our own, right down to our youngest member – to check how all are faring – just by noticing more – we might actually avoid major disruption and re-construction altogether.

A patch here – a patch there – , a hug here – , a touch there – shared “eyes” with each other when talking – and a smoother ride for you and your family.

Enjoy the journey!

(And if this sounds easier said than done, give us a call at The Parenting Place – 784-8125 – and a Parent Educator will assist in helping you sort things out!)

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All in a day

I really enjoy watching the busy squirrels in my yard, scampering here and there – the young ones chasing and tussling with one another on the ground – and running up and down the tree.

And on one particular day, I noticed a small piece of plastic – the size of a sandwich baggie – float down from the tree right after the young squirrels had zoomed down – and disappeared – chasing each other around the yard.

It was an adult squirrel that then quickly scampered down, snatching the plastic up and returning it back up the tree.

Hmmm – that was interesting I thought.

Since then – I’ve seen the same incident happen several times – in the same way. The young’uns are playing up and down the tree – when – down floats the plastic to the ground – and down follows the adult squirrel to retrieve it and bring it back up the tree.

I wonder what it’s used for – as it definitely seems to have a purpose – and an importance in their daily lives.

I can’t help but think it’s kind of like “not closing the door behind them” when our own children come and go in the house – no matter how many times they have been reminded.

Are those rambunctious young squirrels – zooming in and out of their nest – up and down the trunk – carelessly pushing out this precious “piece of plastic” – ( which – as I’ve said – definitely seems to belong in the nest) – in their hurry and zeal – without any particular concern – no matter how many times they might have been reminded.

For maybe kids will be kids – human kids and squirrel kids – and parents – yes -human parents and squirrel parents too – always reminding, always hopeful – yet there to pick up the plastic – and close the door.

All in a day’s work.

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out of the park

I heard a sweet story the other day about a group of 1st grade baseball players – and their coach!

Playing sports is a competitive event – and kids learn early on that winning is the goal.

But the lessons of sportsmanship ranks even higher as we sign up our young children to play on a team.

Recently I heard a sweet story of modeling what leadership is all about.

A baseball team of first graders arrived at a game against a neighboring town to find they were missing their own head coach plus five players.

So … the head coach of the opposing team recognized the situation and put three of his own team players on the opposing team when they were in the outfield – in order for them to have enough players. (after all they were there to have a game!)

This same head coach stepped up also to pitch for this team (remember – they were missing their head coach who usually pitched) and going so far as learning the kids’ names and giving them all kinds of encouragement and advice – just as their own head coach would do.

And one mom shared with me – as her little guy was up to bat, – this coach noticed his shoe was untied – and actually came over and tied his shoe for him. What a sweet moment!

It didn’t have to be this way. The other team and this coach could have taken advantage of the situation and won bigtime.

But that’s not the message this head coach wanted to teach these young kids.

So yes! – yes!- yes!- this coach, in my opinion, gets the best coach of the year award!

And for these 6-7-year-olds – what a message – what a lesson – about sportsmanship, about kindness – about respect – about caring, about having fun, about what matters.

A homerun – out of the park!! – for sure!

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It’s really hot – and you don’t need anyone to tell you the exact high temperature to know that.

And when it is this hot, tempers can be short, children can be whiny, and energy low.

This is the time to slow way down – really way down – and with young children around – to me the magic word is water!!

Water play is simple – water play is magical – water play is cooling and fun and easy! Just find the shadiest spot you have in your yard – some real stuff like pots, pans, unbreakable containers and a wading pool or a bucket of water, The children will take it from there – if you let them – and yes, of course you will!


And why not also be ready for a “let’s read a bit break time” – a few books – and a popsicle later – and the day goes pretty smoothly.

For there is something about accepting an unhurried lazy day, a really hot summer day -letting the day just unwind,- the peacefulness of water play – the appreciation of some shade, the coziness of reading time together – a “look at the clouds” kind of day – and – who knows – perhaps, becoming the “coolest” day of your summer.

Embrace it!

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blooming and blossoming

June is bursting out all over!

When it’s not a beautiful new-fallen snow in December – then I think – what can be more beautiful than a June day in La Crosse with blooming and blossoming everywhere you look.

And I think this year appreciation and gratitude runs exceptionally high – since we are all feeling safer, braver, more thankful that we are able to be with family and friends – breathing in the freshness that surrounds us – outside – without a mask!

Down at Riverside Park this past weekend proves this point! There were so many out and about taking in and enjoying the sunshine, the river – graduates, brides, children and babies, couples, families, dogs, and senior citizens – (and don’t forget the ducks!)

But now we know, right? – how much we missed it and how new and precious it can all seem again.

So on this first day of June – I wish all of you to enjoy – to breathe in the gifts that abound – and look for ways to keep that awareness fresh and evident in our lives – with our families and our neighbors and ourselves.

Blooming and blossoming?

Yes – for sure!

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Birthday – we say it so casually – and often – in our everyday speech that it’s only when you actually really look at the written word when you say it that you get the full impact.

The full impact being – it’s the day of your birth – a pretty significant day – don’t you think – as days go.

And, of course, by my age we’re always glad to have them – birthdays I mean – am I right? And for years doing Friday Play Shoppes at The Parenting Place – in person, by the way – I always gave myself a party for my birthday- that’s right – gave myself a party during Play Shoppe – decorations and balloons and treats!

And I did that because it’s children who know the real joy in celebrating birthdays.

Our youngest grandson has one coming up also – his is on this weekend. Excitement will be high, I’m sure. Cupcakes and balloons was his simple request. (This kid knows what’s important!)

And I believe – whether you’re turning four or – well, let’s just say – older than four – birthdays are a very special day – a day to celebrate -the day of your birth.

So Happy Birthday to both me and Zeke!

You can’t help but smile about that!

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