Author Archives: fmswift

joys

It was G’pa Dick’s birthday on Saturday at our house.

There was the traditional phone time with our two very excited grandsons and the sweet and cherished singing of Happy Birthday – even if across the miles.

Both boys love holidays and birthdays – alot – even other people’s.

For why not? It’s a chance to celebrate – and excitement that day was high.

Six-year-old Theo took up the cause to sum it all up – “today is the start of it all!! Next is Halloween, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentines Day, Easter, Yia Yia’s’ birthday (that’s me), Bubbe’s birthday (other grandma), Zeke’s birthday, 4th of July, Mom’s birthday, Dad’s birthday and then my birthday!”)

And then we start again!

That is a lot of dates – a lot of joy and anticipation – a lot to count on and hope for and be glad about.

Yet it sends a message, I believe, how much the rituals and holidays we anticipate in our families add warmth and memories and intimacy. Anticipation doesn’t take away from the present but make the future seem bright and full and loving.

It gives two young boys a sense of their year, a continuity of caring and togetherness (even during Covid) that serves to bring us all closer and puts the joy of a six-year-old boy and a three-year- old boy right where it belongs – in our hearts.

Hope you are all finding and anticipating your own personal joys as we approach a new season with hope.

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welcome

You may recall a few of my earlier posts in the Spring where, perched at my home office, I could look out my front windows and watch a house being built from the ground up.

I cited the lucky little boys who came daily – grandchildren of the builder – who romped on the huge dirt piles as the cellar went in. Then days passed in to weeks and months and the frame went up, the roof and the siding went on and just recently the driveway and walk path were cemented.

And it’s amazing to see this progress – to feel a part of it in a way – to recognize the men working , and the wife who sometimes brings lunch , to meet the eager homeowners – a young family with two little children..

I feel it’s been free diversion for me during this Covid Spring and Summer. And now in the middle of Fall – they are preparing to “call it a wrap”.

I’ll miss the commotion, the big exciting construction vehicles (honing in to my days with a young son) but I look forward to the next stage.

Lights in the window, cars in the driveway, children in the yard – a home.

Welcome!

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Yours for keeps

I love Autumn – the beautiful blue sky, the white puffy clouds and oh yes – the glorious colors of the trees.

Every year you hear people say “I think this is the best color yet!” But maybe it’s because every time Fall comes – it lifts our spirits and we can’t imagine anything else so special.

At least that’s me – and I’m not sure – is it the smell of autumn, the spell of autumn, the anticipation and briskness of autumn – of pumpkins and ghords and scarecrows and ghosts – of collecting, raking and jumping in leaves -of bright blue skies — that brings me back to so many autumns past?

But I do know – in order to feel like I still do – remembering what an Autumn day feels like, looks like, smells like and sounds like – we need to share it with our children now.

And then – no matter what age you are – your bright Autumn Days will be “yours for keeps”.

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a sit spot

Maybe some of you have head about going outside – the park , the forest, the bluffs, your very own backyard – and finding a spot that “speaks” to you – that offers you a sense of calm, a sense of peace, a sense of reflection and quiet awareness – a sit spot.

In so many cases, the spot will find you – and you’ll feel it.

And when it does, take a seat.

We probably all have our favorite cozy spot in our homes – a rocking chair near a window, an easy chair to curl up in – a couch to cuddle under a blanket – even to share.

But we are talking about out-doors time – “me time”- a time to be quiet, to be still, to listen and to notice the natural world around you.

Back in the 70’s, we were called tree-huggers (which I still proudly am ) But the present-day Medical community is behind this – strongly supporting and emphasizing our need to increase our Vitamin N – Nature!

In our busy virtual world these days, with much uncertainty and stress that bombards us daily, this natural opportunity, free and available to all, is a winner.

Try it with your children – those who are at home doing virtual schooling. When they need a break, send them out, have them find their personal sit spot – to observe, to feel the sunshine, to notice the breeze, the leaves, the birds, the squirrels – to think.

We don’t always need the most perfect site like in a forest or a State Park. Look for the practical site versus the ideal site. Look for the site that’s easy to get to, that is minutes away, but that offers you a chance to “feel” the strength, the peace that, even in your own backyard, is there if you watch – and listen.

As a child, I remember a spot in my backyard that was somewhat hidden by a big bush, a fence I could climb on and a tall tree I could hang on – and I went there often to think, to pretend, to connect.

Try it. In fact, I think I’ll go out right now to my sit spot in my yard – for a quick ten-minute dose of nature!

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Yes

“…In the Forest, wonders await … as countless as the trees.”

Sometimes you just know that you’re choosing the right thing – making the right decision – at the right time – eager to begin.

That’s the way I feel about The Parenting Place’s new Forest Play Shoppes.

The strong response to registration alone tells me parents are searching for ways to connect with one another – safe ways for their children to play in this uncertain COVID time.

And we all remember, right?

The joys of playing outside are usually some of our most cherished memories we hold from childhood – exploring, discovering, climbing, jumping -adventures that make our spirits soar and our bodies strong.

Pretending with sticks, leaves, dirt, pinecones, bark – nature’s “tiny things” – become our most precious playthings – our coveted treasures.

Physicians have been advising us right along about the significance of spending time out-of-doors – the value of Vitamin N – the Nature Vitamin – strengthening our immune system – controlling our stress levels – building our resiliency.

And to appreciate Wisconsin in all its seasons means turning a chilly Wisconsin morning into an exciting adventure. For we believe as the saying goes – “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.

And so – here’s to the experiences that beckon – the spirits that will shine – and “the wonders that await …as countless as the trees.”

Yes!

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Pick of the day

I only wish I were there – but I just heard about it instead – and devoured bright lovely pictures – of Apple Picking Day out in Western Massachusetts where my two grandsons live.

But I love that every picture truly does say a thousand words. – and even though COVID is going on – and there are restrictions to be followed and care to be taken, apple picking is a perfect fun activity for families to share and enjoy together.

This orchard that they were at had big old apple trees loaded with apples – and some trees perfect for climbing on – exploring – gathering. It was a family affair – Mom and Dad and favorite Auntie Aimee along.

It was a beautiful sunny day – a “no fuss” kind of day – where getting out and being together beyond the neighborhood was a big event.

And 6-year-old Theo summed it up perfectly “ This was the best day ever”.

Wow! Sometimes simplicity wins – being in nature wins – being with family wins – letting us all believe and appreciate that joy and the “best day ever” arrives sometimes when you least expect it.

Happy Fall to all!!

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“He two sticks”

I hear from parents often – how, after dinner- before bedtime – all “He- two sticks” breaks out in their house. (wow – haven’t used this expression since I was about ten!)

The kids are wild, loud, pushy, unreasonable, unreachable, screaming!

So why is this so common?

Experts say this is because they are carrying the stress of the day with them – and this is their way to unload it.

“The stress of their day? ” I know, I get it. I can hear you now – “the stress of their day? Let me tell you about the stress of my day!

But that’s the problem, you see. We all need a chance to unwind – let it all out in a fun, physical way that brings laughter and unloads fears and anxiety built up – where we can get close physically, where we can laugh, howl, shriek, giggle, and feel connected – together.

Rough housing, I’m- a- going-to-get-you- games, physical outlets shared together are valuable tools as #1 stress relievers for children – and – not surprisingly – for their parents.

Chasing each other; batting a balloon back and forth and keeping it up in the air; hide and seek (always so fun for little ones to be found); wrestling on the floor with a parent: everyone dancing to at least two jivey songs; a raucous pillow fight; a game of “capture and get-away tag” , “howling to the moon” – any and all will do the trick.

So rather than dread this time at the end of the day, expect it – look forward to it as a stress reliever to all – connections growing deeper, laughter feeling oh– so -good, eyes shining.

And when it’s over – (maybe put a timer on) – enjoy the release, the satisfaction, the appreciation of the peace and understanding that this satisfying kind of bonding brings.

It’s a plain olHE Two Sticks of a good time!!

Make it a habit!

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gift of resolution

These are the days – it seems – of uncertainty – of “should I”, “should we”, “are you”, “not sure”.

Whether it’s about attending a perhaps too large celebration – sending your child to school – to dance class – to play team sports – to travel – to visit grandparents – there are no absolute answers.

And so, we’re left with “making up our own minds” – figuring out what works for us.

And that’s not always easy.

But … what would you choose if no one else cared or disagreed? Often we make decisions based on what others will think – what our friends are doing – what is most popular.

But we need to try and consider all the alternatives. We need to put into perspective how real our concerns are – recognizing our fears but not allowing them to drive our decision alone.

Pay attention to what matters most to you and your family – the information you have found – what is wise. Trust your decision.

That’s the strength – the gift – behind “making up our own minds” – the gift of resolution.

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crystal clear

Wasn’t the rain great this morning?  It seems for ages since we had a good soaking and it was sorely needed – and appreciated!

I love waking up to the sound of rain falling – especially when by late morning,  the sun has come out, the sky blue and crystal clear!

Crystal clear – that’s something that we’ve been lacking – in so many ways – since the days of Covid began more than six months ago.

Crystal clear about our choices, our work, our get-togethers, school,  plans of any kind,  -not so simple.

But on a crystal clear afternoon like this – it is a good reminder  – that, as parents, we are our children’s “crystal clear” source – the one they look toward to receive encouragement, confidence, warmth, brightness in spite of intermittent clouds, uncertainty, disappointment and concern.

So that’s what we do, right?

And so often by sharing clarity – crystal clear –  to our children, we feel the warmth and reflection right back at us.

Thinking of all of you as the school year begins in different ways for different families.

Crystal clarity to each of you!

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the “hum”

“Every picture has a story to tell.”

I definitely believe that.  And we, at The Parenting Place are so thrilled to “hear” the different stories “told” in the photos shared of children playing hard at this year’s Children’s Festival.

Parents have expressed gratitude and surprise that by simply setting up some of the Children’s Festival Wonder Box play areas, their children “went to town” and from three to five hours, engaged play reigned.

Simple open-ended invitations to play are enticing to children – unspoken suggestions of what might be done – trust in a child to enter this world of creative play – and then, what I call the “hum” of satisfied children at “work”.

Many questioned what would children really do with this Wonder Box we were offering.  My answer then and now is “It just remains to be seen!” 

That’s the secret of Play!

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