best wishes

Sometimes you  meet someone who’s just very special – in so many ways.  And if you’re really lucky, you might get to work with that person on a regular basis.

We’ve been that lucky – The Parenting Place, that is – working with Kristy Braunreiter, Parent Educator, for the past three and a half years.

Kristy is the type of person that exudes warmth, caring, insight, empathy, resourcefulnes, commitment to her work, wisdom.  And that’s only half of it – the other half is a spirit so vibrant and fun – always seeing the positives, always looking at the sunny side.

Kristy will be leaving her position as Parent Educator and all of us at The Parenting Place are sad to see her go – as I know the parents and families she has so caringly worked with will be also.

My mother-in-law had a favorite  line from an old childhood poem that  she  often shared with her grandchildren.

“Brighten the corner where you are” she would say to them.

And Kristy, you have done just that!

Thank you for your good work, your passion and your friendship. You will be missed.





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read to me

I see it every week.  An “out of sorts” child arrives at Play Shoppe not quite ready to face the world and his/her parent intuitively knows what will work – a book and a lap.

The emotional connection that happens within the security and coziness of a parent’s arms,  the shared distraction of the pictures on the page and the sounds of the words spoken, help to ground both child and parent.

Most of us know the value of reading aloud to our children, in addition to the connection factor.  Raising a child who becomes a lifetime reader happens by sharing your love of books and reading together throughout childhood from infancy on.

Squeeze reading in each and every day – even if you have to let something else go.  It’s that significant.  And wonderful books abound at libraries in our community.   Make the libraries a familiar place for you and your child.

In this day and age of unpredictable events that change people’s and country’s lives in an instant, let’s hold on to the simplest of pleasures ever a parent can offer –  imagination, affirmation, resilience and trust – all between the covers of a beloved book.

“There is no app to replace your lap.  Read to your child.”











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“She’s just irritating!”  An honest but very difficult statement a parent admitted to me about her own child.

But I commend this mom for being so honest and so direct, for her genuine love and concern for her child and their relationship, and the earnest work she is doing to understand and make things better.

It’s very challenging to have a child whose personality clashes with our own.  All of us as parents have probably, at some time or stage, felt irritation or conflict with a particular child – perhaps wishing he/she were different in any number of ways.

I spoke with a mom recently whose concern was about one of her children who marched to a completely different drummer than the rest of the family.  And her question was “do we keep trying to change this child or become more flexible ourselves and meet him where he is?”

What I admire most about these parents is that they recognize that there is a situation that may not just be about fixing the child but perhaps taking a look at the whole family dynamic.

And it isn’t easy.

It takes personal reflection and observation of what’s actually occurring in all of our interactions within the family.

Is the behavior happening in order to get more attention, more power, to just be noticed?  Is there too much extra activity for the introverted child, too little opportunities for success for a discouraged child, too high expectations in the family?  Does this child have a  special need that should be addressed with a physician?

It takes an emotional climate check – but the very first step is awareness of the problem – and like these strong moms, the willingness and the love it takes to understand and to change things.

If you are experiencing a particular challenge with a child in your family and would like to discuss how to begin, call The Parenting Place Warmline – 784-8125 and we can begin together.

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It’s November

November is here – and we are fortunately enjoying such unseasonably warm, lovely weather.

However, I’m here to tell you – once again – that, really – November is here.  And one of these upcoming mornings, the car will have frost on it, the wind will blow, the sky will be gray and a snow flurry or two may appear.

I actually love November.  Once the leaves are raked up and sucked away by the big leaf blower, the bare tree limbs against the early winter sky can be starkly dramatic – a definite hint of cold weather to come. So right now is the time to make sure you and your family are ready with warm outer clothing to face the brisk weather – cozy jackets with zippers that work, hats that are comfy and fit, (that goes for parents too) and don’t forget snow pants and boots.

And as the temperatures drop and the furnaces go on, I encourage you to  continue to put going outside on your agenda – to take a walk in the neighborhood, play at the playground, run around in the yard, face the feel of the wind at Riverside Park.

Because the only real way to be prepared for a Wisconsin winter is to adapt to it day by day – by being out in it day by day.

Going outside in winter’s fresh air has definite health benefits.  It clears the sinuses and the cobwebs, energizes the body, makes for a restful sleep.  And as parents, we get to instill this sense of adventure and vigor that winter offers in our children – a fun and healthy way to live.

This Friday at Play Shoppe – we’ll be meeting at Seminary Park on East Ave. for a late fall/early winter play adventure.

It’s a good time to meet up with November – some fun and a few of your friends.

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It’s not Halloween yet

It’s not Halloween yet” – those words out of the mouth of a young toddler have resonated with me all week.

They were whispered to her mom when the two of them arrived at The Parenting Place Costume-a-rama fun night on Tuesday.  When her mom suggested a few different activities she might want to do, this young purist repeated, “It’s not Halloween yet“.

The truth is – I totally get what this little girl means.

It really wasn’t Halloween yet!

When I was growing up, Halloween activities were one day only – October 31st and that was that.  The anticipation and suspense grew and grew weeks before – until the magical day arrived – a tour of treats, funny, spooky costumes, trick or treating in the neighborhood, trading candies once you got home, a late-to-bed night.

And the next day – the next day it was over, gone until another year.

Nowadays, that’s not the case.  I bet I could cite at least ten local events before Halloween and probably ten more on Halloween that offer fun activities for children.

How’s a parent to choose?

Choose – that’s the operative word here.  We can and do get to decide which event best fits our child, his age, her interests, their personality, our family.

Often a parent will share with me that they feel compelled to show up for every event in the area – so as not to deprive their child from any experience.

I’m suggesting just the opposite.  Pick and choose – you know your child, trust your instincts, don’t be swayed by hype/friends/family.  Build on tradition and ritual in your own family way.  Your children will count on it, remember it, cherish it.

“It’s not Halloween yet” repeated by the little toddler girl – was her own way of preserving her true expectations of what her personal Halloween is and would be for Halloween day.

Sounds like a plan for all of us.

P.S.  This little one did actually enjoy this pre-Halloween fest – knowing full well “It’s not Halloween yet”.

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You’ve heard that play is a child’s work.  But I’m here to remind you that work can also be a child’s play.

As parents, we often separate and stress about all the activities we need to get done versus all the “fun activities ” we also need to squeeze in to busy schedules to entertain the kids.

But I started to think about this as I was shopping this weekend at the supermarket.  I noticed children from practically every age group engaged in “helping” to fill the basket, to push the cart, to squeeze the avocados, run for the milk, grab the cereal box, remind about needing to buy the cake mix. These children were busy, engaged and enjoying themselves.

So think about it.

When we take our children’s help seriously, when their competence is valued, our work gets done, our “together time” improves, our accomplishments are shared, and family “jokes” and memories are naturally created.  No age is too young to be included. And starting young is best.

Actually Fall is the perfect time to begin.  There’s often a lot to do – window cleaning, raking leaves, organizing the garage, getting bikes ready to store for the winter, flower pots and garden to put to rest, closets to attack, car to wash, snow blower to check out, rooms to vacuum and dust, Halloween decorations to put up – working together.

Oh, I realize it might seem like twice the work for parents to consider, yet offering these opportunities to your child to partner together, to be part of a solution has so many advantages. It’s how children begin to understand and assimilate their own identity and place in their family, their role and significance in it.

So – think about it.

Work and play – it’s a family thing.

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can we go

A five-year-old boy overhearing his mom and me talking about the upcoming “COSTUME-A-RAMA” at The Parenting Place whirled his head around and exclaimed, “COSTUME-A-RAMA? What does that mean?” and then, “Can we go?”

Phew! That was enough for me – to know that I was on the right track for this one!

For in the pure spirit of hands-on–play experienced at all of our fun nights at The Parenting Place, the COSTUME-A-RAMA won’t disappoint.

When I was little and Halloween came along, kids used to dig around in closets and trunks and attics to see what kind of costume they might come up with.  The search was part of the fun – the trying on – the trading with a friend – the thrill of discovery.

So – as I told my 5-year-old friend,  that’s one of the things that will happen at the COSTUME-A-RAMA – finding/creating a costume to dress up in for the night.

Of course that’s only a part of the evening’s fun.  There will be “stuff” to eat, bubbling brews to create,  spooky art to make, secrets to find out – only if you come.

So – watch outbe careful parents – if your child hears you talking about The Parenting Place COSTUME-A-RAMA, they just might want to know “what does that mean?”  and then “can we go?”

The Parenting Place COSTUME-A-RAMA is on Tuesday, October 20th from 5:30 PM-7:00 PM at The Parenting Place, La Crosse.  Registration is required – just call 784-8125 to register or go to our website for on-line registering.   It’s coming up soon, so get your registrations in ASAP and bring the family.  Of course, as in all of our programs, there is no fee – just fun!


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