Author Archives: fmswift


Who hasn’t noticed the beauty all around us these days – in our yards, along the boulevards, in the parks – the blossoming trees, the colorful tulips, the lily of the valley.

Oh – and yes – of course, let’s not forget the dandelion , sturdy and sunny and cheerful – fields of them, (more than ever it seems) welcoming bees and butterflies – and children of all ages. But, alas, these childhood friends dwelling in our yards are mostly briefly admired- as the grass begs to be cut – (have you noticed how green!) and the mower does its dutiful job.

Maybe it’s just me – but have you observed- it also seems that the birds are tweeting more, the bunny population in our neighborhood has exploded, and the young squirrels couldn’t be more entertaining in their frolicking, climbing, and chasing of each other.

And – also in this particular year, I believe most of us are so much more grateful than ever, perhaps brighter than ever, more blossoming than ever ourselves, for those who have been fully vaccinated are now being reunited in person with relatives and friends .

“Reunited – and it feels so good!”

Ah Spring 2021!


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Take five

So many times parents tell me the most challenging, chaotic times between themselves and their children, between siblings and each other is after dinner – before bath, before bedtime.

All havoc can often break through – high intensity, arguments, hitting, whining, out-of- control behavior – sizzling – ready to erupt.

It just seems, even if dinnertime went fine – hold on to your hats for the post-dinner/pre-bedtime “half-time show”!

Experts talk about the build-up of the stresses of the day – from separation, over-stimulation, upsets, insecurities, need to reconnect , to settle.

And more and more these same experts recognize and advise 5 minutes (or more if you’re up to it) consistently each evening of plain ol’ roughhousing, chasing, capturing/escaping, surprising, screeching, and laughing till you actually can feel the stresses of the day escaping evaporating – into the joy of the moment.

I think you get what I mean, right?

Sometimes moments like these happen spontaneously -( like when a throw pillow accidentally lands on the floor – and then proceeds to live up to its name?).

But actually – being intentional about this time each day goes a long way towards retaining a consistent re-connect, an interactive and emotional exchange and discharge.

The thing is – it’s 5 minutes – it’s inside “capture and release”it’s batting a balloon around the room, it’s rough housing – and now that outside after-dinner play is extended – playing Tag in the yard never grows old.

So – try it – even if your children seem to be doing okay. Do it because it says “you’re fun to play with, to laugh with, to connect with”.

5 minutes a day – and if you have multiple children – the good thing is – this takes care of the whole bunch at once – perfect family playtime.

Forgive me please if I’m repeating myself – if you’ve heard me say this more than once – but valuable tips for making emotional connections with your children lend themselves to repeating.

Am I right?

Take five – have fun! Melt those stressors away!

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an invincible summer

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer”. Albert Camus

Such a comforting thought to consider – to explore.

And at our Parent Ed meeting this past week, we took the time to do just that – and then shared what is, what might be, what was our own personal “invincible summer” during the challenges and loss we’ve felt in our lives.

What a gift this philosopher had to give – to offer us – this solace, treasure, understanding, comfort and power in such few words.

And during this long siege of national and personal loss – in so many ways – on so many levels – both individual , personal, and universal – acknowledging what strengthens us, consoles us, brings us comfort, hopefulness,, joy and peace – is a gift worth sharing.

I wish you all the recognition and the strength of your own “personal invincible summer” within – now and when you need it.

Trust in it. Celebrate in it. Share it with your closest friend.

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ode to de-cluttering

I know it needs to be done – the process of decluttering – so many “things” that at the moment seemed far too precious to move along, discard, forget.

And so they found a place – a loving place – that seemed right for them – at least for the time being.

But shedding season is here – and now it feels – (I feel, I hope?) ready to participate, to simplify, to organize, to take stock of items far too numerous to remain.

So .. how does one decide? What will go – and what will stay?

The thing for me is that most often the “things” that I’m debating about – in many cases, I’m pretty certain – would never have “made the cut” in most people’s lives.

I am a “for sure” romantic -in the sense that “little things mean a lot” – things I’ve found, discovered, received, committed to – at some time along the way.

And a lot of them (well, maybe even most of what I’m speaking about) are impractical, fanciful, sentimental – probably only to me.

So – no – I for sure won’t give them all up – just the excess – just the excess – just what I’m ready to part with. ( I’ve found that sometimes you just know – just feel – when that is)

The rest I’ll neaten, organize, recognize, and pledge my allegiance to – until -perhaps – the next time my urge to de-clutter comes along – knowing that sometimes (maybe even always) – it’s the smallest, the simplest things that mean the most.

Make sure to save some of them.

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my favorite day

What day it it?” asked Pooh.

“It’s today” squeaked Piglet.

“My Favorite Day!” said Pooh.

And even on a chilly, damp, windy April day – even after being spoiled by so many late March/early April warm Spring days – even after taking things for granted – today is actually the day we get.

So how can we be more like Pooh and declare every day “my favorite day”?

For as life goes on , and we understand more and more -we realize that today really is the day we need to live, to love, to laugh, to thank, to honor, to feel, to accept, to grow.

Today! A day to be grateful for – a day to bring sunshine to another – a day to believe in.

It’s not always easy to think of “today” as your favorite day – when the rest of you might be thinking – “not so much”.

But then – even as I write this – the gray cloudy sky just lightened a bit – and the sun is trying its best to break through – nudging me – to try – and, huh! – you know? – I do feel brighter.

I think sometimes we just have to work a little harder, dig a little deeper, to make each day a more perfect day – a day to be grateful for, and maybe even like Pooh – your favorite day!

Thinking of all of you.

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Every once in a while a really special person comes into your life.  

And sometimes you’re not even aware of it at first – until you are – and then that friendship and caring and support and love and shared conversations – sprinkled with humor and laughter and insights and confidences and surprises become precious and counted on – a touchstone that is treasured.

That was the way it was with my dear friend and co-worker, Heather.  I wasn’t the only one who felt this way about Heather.  She had the ability to reach out and be there – in her unassuming way – to so many people – her co-workers and the many families  – parents and children who knew and cared about her – as she cared about them.

And that she was a dedicated Parent Educator came as no surprise.  Heather’s love for her own family – most especially her daughter – was central in everything she did and believed and shared with others.  She had a zest for living, for laughing, for always showing you who she was – absolutely no false pretentions – just here I am – take me or leave me.

And at The Parenting Place we all took her – into our hearts – and there she will stay.

Heather was always helping me personally in my continued battle with my computer – and my lack of technical skills.  It never mattered how often I would seek her help – sometimes for the very same problem.

And she would fix it – and I would always say “you’re amazing!”  And she would laugh heartily.  And say “I’m going to tell my family that Fran thinks I’m amazing!”

And just in case she didn’t – I did truly think she was amazing – in so many beautiful ways – and I will miss her dearly – and in my heart, she will stay.

Rest in peace our dear amazing friend, Heather.

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I started thinking about being “stuck” recently after hearing daily reports on the national news about this huge container ship – the Even Given – a ship as long as the Empire State Building is high – stuck sideways in the busy Suez Canal – unable to move one way or another – holding up international ship traffic and significant cargo for at least 5 days now.

And I couldn’t help but think about how each of us probably gets stuck occasionally – whether we realize it or not. (often it’s someone else that might point this out to us).

Yeah – maybe I am stuck” not moving one way or the other can’t make up my mind frustrated keep doing the same thing that doesn’t seem to be working over and over again.

Yep – I’m stuck!

And – just saying – we’ve all been probably feeling more than a bit “stuck” this whole past year with concerns, restrictions, indecision, and anxiety about the pandemic in our midst. And now – when hope is on the horizon – we need to get unstuck – in the most safe and helpful ways that we can.

If you are familiar with one of my favorite “Winnie the Pooh” stories- when Winnie gets “stuck” in the doorway of Piglet’s house after eating far too much of his favorite treat – honey! – something had to change – right?

And when we’re stuck – usually something does need to change.

So … being stuck is often a good thing – because the way to get “unstuck” is usually a helpful, improvement.

If you happen to be feeling maybe kind- of , sort-of stuck, perhaps about parenting struggles, behavior issues – please don’t forget the ease of contacting a Parent Educator at The Parenting Place – 784-8125 – to give you a gentle push – a Boost I like to call it – to guide you in a different direction OR perhaps support you in the direction you’re already going.

Because often – especially as parents – we can think we’re stuck- only to realize – we’re just where we’re supposed to be.

It just takes time to realize it.

It might take time to appreciate it.

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There’s a children’s “welcome” song I know sung by many children in their preschool years – and it goes like this.

Hello – Hello -what is your name? Hello – Hello – We really want to know. Hello – Hello

what is your name? (Child answers Others repeat it) and then Hello, Hello, Hello!

And when that child’s name is said, and all respond Hello, Hello, Hello – the child’s face lights up!

Now – as adults – we can’t go around singing this tune (although I will have the catchy tune to this little ditty in my head the rest of the day) but just think – if and when we are around new people – people outside our familiar group – we would reach out and say hi – my name iswhat is your name? – how significant that can be.

For once you know someone’s name, there’s a bridge there to know more – to connect – to learn – to understand – to share- to include.

When you hear your name spoken – something in you lights up – it’s a warmth – an acknowledgement -a connection – a sense of belonging – of inclusion.

And in our world today, those four things – warmth, connection, sense of belonging, inclusion are more significant than ever.

Checking out at the supermarket – or ordering in a restaurant where name tags are worn, or the waiter share her/his name, my husband always notices – and always uses their name when thanking them – often asks about their name if it is unusual or makes a connection in some other way

Excuse me – but yes I admit – I used to “roll my eyes” a bit at this actually very warm gesture – maybe because I thought it too personal.

But – always – I would see a light come on – a response that proved me wrong – names are important – “my name is important – recognized –” I’m important “ – and in that brief connection, the “world” is a kinder, friendlier, more inclusive place.


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Just wait

We’ve been spoiled, right? Beautiful blue skies, sunny days, warm enough to actually “feel” the Spring in the air.

But surprise, surprise – Mother Nature says “not so fast!” as we hear the forecast – accumulating snow , damp and raw temperatures – strong, blustery winds.

The change of seasons – especially between winter and spring has its ups and downs – its bright and hopeful days that we anticipate so eagerly and the dank overcast days with a forecast of snow – a battle of the seasons if you will.

But Spring will triumph followed by summer – that we know for sure.

Isn’t that the way of children? Just as we brag about our child “sleeping through the night”successfully using the potty going to bed so willingly sharing so well picking up toys without a struggle always so agreeable until they’re not until a snowstorm of emotions are in the forecast.

Transitions seldom run a smooth uninterrupted course – but they are just that – transitions – the in-between time – while we wait for conditions to be just right – for short days to turn into long lazy days of summer – for behaviors and growth in our children to blossom – and settle in.

And so it is for all of us as parents to breathe – relax – let doubt and fears melt away like the snow – because experience tells us – Spring is coming! And it’s worth the wait!


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There’s something marvelous about the way young children look at their world – scrutinize their world – make it to fit their own understanding and needs.

And if we are fortunate enough to catch a glimpse – behind the scenes of their thinking – their imagination – their language – it is a gift to behold.

Because so often it makes a lot of sense.

I found that to be true recently when our 3-year-old grandson was talking to his dad about something that occurred the night before. But he used the expression – his own unique expression – yesternight – which is perfect actually – much more defined and exact than yesterday – because, of course,, it wasn’t during the day – it was the night!

I love thinking about yesternight – so much more precise. It has a flair to it – a three-year-old’s innocence and charm. And one that I think I’ll borrow and enjoy – because, most likely, it won’t be long before this creative wordsmith will get older – and grow a little taller – and resort to the vocabulary we’ve all learned to use.

But for me – I’ll always remember “yesternight” – and the little guy who shared it.

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