Monthly Archives: August 2009

Pass It On

Pass it on – I love that expression and what it conjures up in my mind when I hear it.  There are so many positive things we can “pass on” as we go through life.

That’s why Family Resources chose to call our inter-generational gratitude walk –  PASS IT ON!   The walk  – to honor, celebrate , remember significant persons in your life – will be held on Saturday, August 29th, at Riverside Park from 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.  The route ( the loop around the park)  is easy, short and accessible to all.

Registration is not necessary, there’s no cost to walk, no pledges to gather.  Family Resources will be accepting free will donations to support our on-going free parenting programs.

As you walk along the route, there will be opportunities for you to personalize a heart with the name of the person you are celebrating.  There will be many different categories – Parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, children, teachers, co-workers/mentors, health providers, pets, foster parents, our U.S. Troops, etc and you may choose to hang a heart, on a designated tree, for any of these significant people in your life.

Miss Wisconsin, Kristina Smaby, whose platform is inter-generational activities, will be there to welcome and sign autographs.  There will be special postcards available for walkers to send to people that they have walked in honor and celebration of.

Along the way, walkers will find quotes reflecting a sense of gratitude and the difference people can make in somebody’s  life.   We hope  this walk will be a time to recognize those who have been  important – perhaps even in small ways;  a chance to acknowledge as well as reflect on the “gifts” received and to realize the opportunities in our own lives to pass these gifts on to others.

This is a simple but meaningful activity  to do for yourself as well as for the people you are recognizing.  The loop around Riverside Park is beautiful.  On a bright Saturday morning, with the Mississippi gleaming and others walking in gratitude with you, this is a “happening” not to be missed.

I encourage you to take the time. We know how busy people’s lives are so we have tried to make this opportunity as simple and stress free as possible.   I believe it will fill you with a sense of peace, thankfulness and joy.  Tell your friends, neighbors and family.  Walk together or come alone.  You can walk at any time between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.  Come down after a stop at the Farmer’s Market or as a break from other Saturday morning outings and tasks.

All ages are welcomed.  Hope to see you there!   Any questions, give a call to Family Resources, at 608-784-8125.


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Positively No

I can remember when my children were young that I would periodically make an intentional effort to check how many times a day I was saying the word no to them.  I was often surprised.  I encourage any parent to do the same.  You might be too!

We want our children to be positive people – who come up with original spontaneous ideas – who make plans and know what they want in life.  Yet, often, our children’s frequent suggestions and requests are responded to with a hearty dose of noes and accompanying negativity.

So what should  we do when our child asks for that cookie right before dinner or wants to finger paint when company is expected any moment?   Well, usually, we don’t  want appetites ruined or a huge mess at an inconvenient time.  So our first response might certainly be a definitive ” no”.

I suggest,  we say instead,  “Yes, sure, choose a cookie to put on the table to have after dinner.”

“Finger Painting?  That would be fun.  Let’s put a sticky note on the fridge to remind us to do that tomorrow.”

Saying no by saying yes!

Some very persistent children may still protest – but most will be encouraged enough by the lovely, positive sound of “yes,  sure,  good idea”  ringing in their ears,  along with the recognition that they had a good idea and the assurance that they will get to act upon it.

Okay, fine, you say – a cookie is one thing.  What about asking for an expensive toy or to stay up all night or to send their baby brother back wherever he came from?  Well, let’s see – can we be as creative as we hope our children will become?

How about saying “Wouldn’t that be something,  to have a remote-controlled dump truck?  Let’s think about putting that on your wish list.”

“Stay up all night?  You think you would love that?  What a fun idea.  When you get older, you probably will try that someday.”

“You feel like sending your baby brother back?  I know it’s hard being the big sister and having to share Mommy and Daddy all the time.  Let’s plan to do something while she naps.”

I can hear some parents groaning even as I type.  I know, I know – who has the time to be so patient or spend the time to be so positive?  And don’t kids just have to hear and understand the word no?

Absolutely.  I’m not suggesting eliminating the word no from your vocabulary.  I’m suggesting we take a look at how many times we say no – a bit too automatically and a bit too often and the message our children are receiving.

And, consider this.  We all know how much kids repeat everything they hear.  So think how thrilled you’ll be when you’re hearing less noes back from your child and more “Sure, Mom!   Good idea!”.

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Parents and children – growing together

One of the reasons I love my job is the families I  meet –  and  over the years I’ve been at Family Resources, there have been many.  I get to know the parents and their children and what’s more,  I get to watch them as they all move along  the developmental continuum.  For as frequently as we observe a child’s development, we are simultaneously witnessing a parent develop and mature.

It was so obvious to me this past week and a half  ( probably why this subject is on my mind).  There were several occasions where families, who have been involved with our programs at Family Resources over the years, have crossed my path.  And what a special treat it is to see how children have grown.  There’s always the two-year-old that I recognize lurking behind that 10-year-old grin and the reserved 3-year-old whose mom always wanted him to say hi and good-bye Miss Fran,  who now steps up as an 8-year-old and says without prodding, ” Hi Miss Fran, I’m in third grade now”.   I saw the middle-schooler, whose parent worried about him as a preschooler, because he was  “always into  everything”,  now into archaeology and spending the summer at a dig.  And the other 8-year–old, who was the first born,  now, as big brother responsibly carrying around the third baby.

In this relaxed,” settled parent”  stage,   I  sense a feeling of parent confidence in their job.  They have come through their initiation as a brand new parent.  They have made it through many different stages and anxieties over how to manage this or that behavior.  They have learned to trust themselves and they have built a foundation on which to handle new concerns.

As joyful as it is for me to see the maturing child,  I am also always keenly aware and appreciative of the growth I sense in the parent.  There might even be a new parenting issue that they are presently working on, but it is approached with a different  sense of understanding and perspective.  So to all those parents out there who are growing, learning and developing  “in the trenches”,  right along with their kids,  whose children are heading off to Kindergarten, 1st grade, middle school,  whose son is celebrating his golden birthday, ( 16 on the 16th) ,  I say,  “You go, Mom!   You go, Dad!”

And remember – Family Resources is still there to continue serving you as a partner in your parenting journey.

Keep in touch.  We love it when you do!

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The gift of reading

One of the best resources we have in La Crosse, in fact in the whole country, in big cities and small towns, is the public library.  When parents share their concern with me that their children are not interested in reading, I ask them how often they go to the library.

 Making frequent family visits to the library as  part of a regular routine is a significant statement to our children that reading and books are a valued and shared part of our family life. For kids to choose to read, to regard books as special treasures, they need to feel surrounded by them – by the printed word – both fiction and non-fiction. 

When I volunteered at an elementary school library, I was surprised to learn that the first graders were only allowed to check out books from the easy-reader-section.  I observed many of the children, boys in particular, craning their necks and trying to escape to the non-fiction aisles where dinosaurs, space ships, snakes and rocks held their secrets.  True, these eager youngsters probably can’t read every word in these non-fiction books.   They might even need an adult to share this information with them.  But with their curiosity peaked and knowledge budding, this could very well be the catalyst that propels them forward to becoming intellectually curious and life-long reading enthusiasts.

Think of the process of learning to read as an ice berg.  As important as reading skills such as letter recognition, sight words and phonics are, experts still consider these skills to be at the very tip of this reading ice berg.  To become an independent reader with excellent comprehension, interest and recall, the  rest of this reading ice berg is comprised of a child’s disposition toward reading.  Do they love books, stories, information?  Do they enthusiastically associate reading with positive experiences, make connections to their life and view books as a choice both for personal enjoyment and information?

I talked with a parent at the beginning of the summer who was concerned that her first grader lagged behind some of his classmates in his reading skills.  She was having a very difficult time getting him to read aloud to her and working, as well, in some phonics workbooks she had purchased.  It was turning into a challenging battle each day.  I suggested that she begin reading aloud to him from beginning chapter books – just for fun, no pressure.  Let him hear the rhythm of more complex words, sentences and content than the material he could master on his own.  Share with him the suspense of a Box Car Children book or the fun and imagination of My Father’s Dragon or a Roald Dahl book.  Fill him with the love of stories, characters, information, intrigue, humor that you both can share.  Surround him with non-fiction books of his own interest – with no requirements made – just left there for him to discover and explore.

And then watch what happens in the fall!

Giving the love of books and reading to a child is a true gift.  It will fill their days (no one who loves to read is ever bored) and their minds with adventures, ideas and understanding of themselves and other people and places around the world.  Priceless!

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Cucumber Boats!

We had a lot of fun last Friday at Family Resources’ Play Shoppe making cucumber boats.  If you’re looking for a fun idea for your family, try this activity.

You need as many cucumbers as boats you want to make.  Before carving the cucumbers, place them in a bucket of water to see how they float. (the side that faces up in the water becomes the top of the boat)  Have an adult use a kitchen knife to cut a wedge along the length of the cucumber and remove it.  Then let the kids use a spoon to scoop out the insides.  Presto!  A cucumber boat!

We decorated small paper sails for our boats, with markers and stickers, gluing the sails on to wooden skewers.  I stuck the very sharp wooden skewer into the boats for the children.  When I put 5-year-old Cole’s in for him, it wasn’t turned properly.  “I need it this way so the sail will catch the wind”  he told me.

And catch the wind the boats did as they floated down the different levels of the fountain next to the Radison Hotel, across from Riverside Park.  You can float these boats anywhere – in a creek, a pool or the bath tub.  They smell absolutely heavenly, so it’s a good idea to cut some extra cucumbers up for a snack – delicious and fresh!  A simple, fun idea that children will want to make into a tradition every summer!  Enjoy!

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