Monthly Archives: November 2010

A gift

Family Resources’ Parent Advisory Committee decided to keep it simple this year for our part in the Rotary Lights Parade. 

 Four pieces of sparkly blue material, approximately 20 feet long, with hand holds tied on for walkers to hang on to, did the job.  A lighted banner, announcing our group, led the way.

The temperature was cold, the wind a bit nippy, but there was a huge sense of warmth, connection and commaraderie within our ranks. It seemed the perfect way to spend the day after Thanksgiving for it was all about sharing our time, our energy, our fellowship with so many.

Walking along with these Family Resources families – babies in strollers, babies being worn, wagons full of little children conscientiously waving to the crowd, older ones hanging on and walking near Mom or Dad, two little girls chanting, and enchanting the crowd as they sang out, “1-2-3  Happy Holidays”-  it was priceless!

The parade went quickly.  As we entered the park, the families, with children tired and cold, dispersed into the brightly lit park.  I didn’t get a chance to tell everyone how important their participation was – how by sharing this event with their families, coming together with other families, the strength, the beauty, the significance of all families was represented so powerfully.

Black Friday is a day so many shop till they drop looking for just the right gift.  So I hope these parents are aware of the real gift they’ve offered to their young children this night.  It could be witnessed by the shining eyes and awestruck expressions on their faces, and I believe it will be a memory of something  bright and special that will linger in their hearts forever.

A great way to start the holiday season.

Thank you!

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A mother’s intuition

Mother’s intuition – that’s what Autumn Grooms cites in her last column for the La Crosse Tribune on Friday.

Autumn has been a La Crosse Tribune reporter for eleven years, a very good friend to Family Resources and someone who has become special to me.

Autumn has covered many stories about Family Resources including being the reporter to come and inform me of my selection to be the 2009 Tribune Person of the Year.  Autumn’s total delight and emotion in delivering this news to me, mixed with mine, is something I will always remember.

But I also know Autumn as a mom and it was as a mom that she made her decision to leave the Tribune staff and work less hours in order to spend more time with her young son.

“Sometimes you just know – even though it’s hard”, Autumn says of her decision.  I agree.  According to Webster’s dictionary, intuition is the ability to perceive or know things without conscious reasoning – an immediate understanding.

As mothers, how many times can we remember just knowing, intrinsically, what needed to be done – and feeling absolutely satisfied it was the right thing to do.

For Autumn it was the realization that she needed more time with her son.  For another mom I know, it was the decision to go back to work  to find the individual space she needed in order for her to be the good mom she wanted to be for her daughter.

A mother’s intuition is always in play – silently observing within our hearts. It’s how we know when enough is enough – when it’s time to slow down for a particular child, when you just know, before anyone else realizes it that this child needs to see the doctor, when the decison that your child will flourish in a certain school feels right even though your friends’ children are all going to a different school. 

 It’s when you  know that today your child doesn’t need a time-out but instead a quiet time with you, when admitting that practicing for the marathon right now in your life is taking too much  away from the family and adding more stress, it’s recognizing the needs of the moment – and feeling the certainty and peace that comes with that.

Often when a mom comes to talk to me or calls me on the phone about a situation that is troubling her, I can tell when it’s a mother’s intuition at work – when she already knows the answer – in her heart – and just needs to embrace it.

So pay attention to those gut feelings that gnaw at you – they’re important messages, a mother’s intuition.

Listen to them.

 Trust them. 

Trust yourselves.

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A pair of snowpants

A mom told me the other day, “This winter, I’m getting myself a pair of snowpants so I can be warm and comfortable when I play outside with the children”.

Yes!

This comment came while we were talking about how important it is to dress kids warmly for the cold.  I had chimed in it was just as important for the adults. In order to have good outdoor experiences when it’s cold, adults as well as children need to be dressed appropriately.  That means layers, (dress like an onion), warm jackets that zip tight shut, sleeves that cover the wrists, snow pants, warm boots, cozy hats.

I know.  Parents groan just thinking about this chore.  I remind them, however, the time spent in getting ready will double the time and the pleasure of time spent outside – for everyone.

I find it is often the parents who do not want to bundle up to go outside.  So many of us get used to dashing to the car with just a lightweight jacket, no hat, (I even see flip flops!).  Not a good example – or a good way to adjust to the cool temperatures.

This is the perfect time of year when we come face to face with how we’ll treat the rest of the winter.  The days are cold but nothing compared to what there is to come.  November offers us the opportunity to slide into winter, to adapt to the brisk air, to experience the refreshed and relaxed feeling one gets when coming in from the cold to a warm and cozy place.

And then to be prepared and ready for more.

But why you might ask do we need to expose ourselves to this cold  torture?  Because playing outside, in all kinds of weather, not only builds healthy bodies but also healthy brains. 

When I was a young mom, the joke with my sisters (also young moms) and I was about our mother who was always reminding (and sometimes scolding), “Put a hat on that baby”.  Children need a hat on to play outside.”  Now the joke is on us as we have turned into our mom and believe the same –  wearing a warm hat makes a difference.

So… recognizing the benefits of spending time outside, being intentional about making it happen, getting into the routine of dressing warmly and appropriately, being positive in our comments about winter, embracing the cold air…

…  maybe even getting yourself a pair of snowpants this winter –

Now, that’s hot!

If you would like to spend some fun time outside with your family, come down to Riverside Park on Sunday, ( dressed warmly), November 21st at 3:30 p.m.  We’ll be decorating the Family Resources holiday tree for Rotary Lights. 

 Also if you would like to walk in the Rotary Lights parade, Friday, November 26th with our Family Resources group, give me a call at 784-8125.  The parade begins at 5:00 p.m  We will be lining up at 4:30 p.m.  

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Tell me about it

I believe all of us have stories to tell. 

This was never more apparent to me than when I participated in a Write Your Life class several years ago.

There was a wide mix of individuals in the class – both age-wise and backgrounds.  We would choose a simple memory to write about – a season, an important person in our life, holidays, siblings, a scary moment, a sad occasion; mostly ordinary things that became extraordinary as they were told aloud.

I was always amazed at the variety of experiences, the power of sharing them, the humor, the emotion, the depth that offered me insight to people I barely knew. One was never bored during sharing time.  The stories came from the heart and everyone in the room felt them.

That’s why I encourage all of you, as parents, to tell your children your stories. 

 Did you have a favorite stuffy?  What was his name?  What did you do with him?  What happened to him?

“You didn’t like to drink your milk either?  Tell me about it.”

“Tell me the story about what happened when you threw your sister’s doll on the sidewalk and cracked its face.”

Could it be any easier? 

The stories you can tell are endless.  They are just waiting to be summoned – at any time, any place .

They can help fix upsets, understand jealousy, lighten a moment, smooth hurt feelings, interpret his fears, help her to be courageous, know that he is okay.

They’re not preachy or moralistic.  They just are – that’s what makes them so special, so tangible. The person hearing the story uses it the way she needs to. 

They’re a window into the life of an all-powerful parent – that remains open –  connecting, sharing, laughing, learning.

Experiences and wisdom shared, unaware. 

Try it!

 

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You go – then I’ll go

Every parent wants their child to share.  Every parent worries when their young child won’t. 

We know, however, from understanding child development, that sharing is a process – a continuum, and that very young children are at one end of this continuum, finding it difficult to share but watching and learning.

 As they mature, they have hopefully moved toward the other end of this continuum, sharing and working together.

Young children learn most about sharing from the people in their lives, especially the adults.  They watch us sharing with them, with our neighbors, with our friends and they follow the example we set.

One of the first ways a child anticipates the fun of sharing is in taking turns with a friend. 

 I watched this going on at Play Shoppe on Friday morning.  An intuitive mom avoided children arguing over the chance to roll the one pumpkin into the liter-bottle ghosts by gathering these five or six little boys into a half circle and taking turns.

  First one got to roll, then the next one got to roll. 

Each child purely loved taking their own turn, yet from the laughter and look on their faces, they also relished with delight watching the others take their turn in a group effort to knock those ghost off their feet. 

I watched with delight also as I witnessed these young children moving ahead on the sharing continuum path.

That’s why I was so struck the next night when I heard excerpts from comedian  Jon Stewart’s remarks in a speech he gave in Washington on Saturday at the Rally to Restore Sanity/and or Fear.

He said no matter how divisive our politicians want to make us out to be, the people in this country want to work together.  They are doing it everyday – regardless of the differences in skin color, religion or politics.  They are doing it side by side as they work, share, build communities and raise families.

He then gave the best example yet.  Thousands of cars everyday, filled with individuals – all different – merging one by one, from ten lanes into two lanes through the Holland Tunnel in New York.  These people, all at the end of their “sharing continuum”, taking turns, in order to get through –  in order to get home.

You go, then I’ll go.  You go, then I’ll go” as the cars peacefully merge through the tunnel.

And that’s the best way our kids learn how to share.  It doesn’t need to be forced or lectured – just suggested and modeled.

They are watching us merge, watching us share, watching us wait our turn.

So let’s just keep on doing what we’re already doing.  Helping out others, sharing good times and sad, finding fun ways for our children to take turns, to see the benefits, to feel the energy, to make it work.

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