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smooth sailing

Driving through a construction zone recently,  I found myself paying extra attention to some of the road signs along the way.

“Yield – slow down – caution – wrong way – do not enter – stop”.

And I thought, as we enter this busy holiday season, those signs might very well offer us some food for thought.

Every year I hear from parents concerned with the social and family expectations  often put on them to travel long distances, to see everyone, to disrupt young children’s routines and schedules, stages and needs in order to keep the holidays just as they have always been.

But sometimes we’re going through a “construction zone” and we need to “proceed more slowly”, “yield” to the needs of our young family, watch for “bumps in the road” and have a safe journey.

So if we watch our speed limit and listen to our inner traffic report, pay attention to frequent rest stops, we can make these busy weeks less stressful, more meaningful, and hopefully smooth sailing and warm memories ahead.

 

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a rainbow

The Children’s Playroom at The Parenting Place has been given a face lift – some play areas moved – some new items added – some spots spiced up.

One of the new items is a very large colorful set of movable wooden arches – a rainbow really.  I had them scattered when the children first walked in.  I have to admit I was unsure what the children would do with them, how or if they would play with them or perhaps just ignore them.

Well – what was I thinking? 

It’s a rainbow, after all – beautiful, colorful and one that you get to move around, straddle, climb through, climb on, sit on, hide under.  And so my adult concerns about what they will do with it were vanished by the freshness, creativity and curiosity of these young children and their innate playfulness.

And so went the rest of the room.

New items were noticed and enjoyed, older ones recognized in different locations and  it was altogether a very lovely morning.

And I couldn’t help but think that sometimes our own lives and homes and interactions need to trust a bit of “rainbow magic” in them – in our day-to-day routines, our responses to each other.

Perhaps we could try adding a touch of whimsy here, a surprise response there, a new way of welcoming each other or sharing at the dinner table, removing a plaything for a while that’s been around too  long in the same place, showcasing some other particular item in an unexpected spot.

Brighten the day – cause, I think, that’s what rainbows bring out in each other – right?

“What was I thinking anyway?”

Thanks to all the children who always respond in their own playful and unique ways … and keep me noticing… and learning every day.

 

 

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a simple trick

Sometimes we’re just out of touch.

All of us have probably felt this way at one time or another – with family, friends, work, self.

On Friday it was  my Ipad  that refused to respond.

I know, I know what you might be thinking  – “really – you’re talking about your ipad?

.  Well … yes…it is something that I count on to check on significant things in my life – you know – (like new photos of my grandsons) – unavailable to me – frozen – no matter what I tried.

And I thought I tried everything.  But no response.

So after talking to my “tech expert” at work to no avail, I went to the MAC place – and there a very knowledgeable woman took my ipad into her own hands – and told me – “sometimes this simple trick works”.

She held the on-off  button on top and the center round button below at the same time – and presto – got the response I was waiting for.

All was well.

And I couldn’t help but compare this situation to our own everyday significant relationships with our children, our spouses, our partners, our friends.

Because sometimes we dig in our heels and don’t respond well and try and try to get the result we want- and perhaps our child is pushing all the buttons and not getting the response he/she wants or needs.

But – then, we realize that maybe we’re just doing it all wrong.

Maybe it’s as simple as touching the button on top and the button on the bottom  – at the same time.

Maybe it’s finding the right words – maybe it’s getting down to eye level, holding them with your whole being, maybe it’s a hug, a joke to break the ice, a high five, a compliment.

Maybe it’s pressing the right button.

Because it’s definitely all about connection.

And as the helpful non-judgmental tech woman told me “Sometimes this simple trick works.”

Thanks! I think you’re right.

 

 

 

 

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boys …you gotta love ’em

I just noticed I’ve been having quite a run on boys in my blog of late – actually not intentionally – just the way it’s worked out.

And today I had the gift of having some Parent Advisory parents come to help create our decorations for The Parenting Place holiday tree for the Rotary Lights display at Riverside Park.

And because it was a no-school- day, we had extra help – nine boys and one girl – ranging in age from 15-months to eleven- years- old who accompanied their moms.

And we witnessed the pure happy, boisterous energy and bravado when they were all together – challenging each other to be faster, funnier, stronger , sillier, louder.

Watch this – watch me!

But then there were the moments – the one-on-ones – the requests – the thank yous – the “can I helps?” where you find yourself sinking into the very depths of their sweet faces and earnest eyes.

So … thank you all for sharing the exuberance of the day – with each other, with all of us.

And to the moms who understand so lovingly and well – and meet the needs of the moment so effortlessly

 

 

 

 

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Brotherhood

So many times these two brothers run and play and laugh  – and sit looking at books together, building legos, doing puzzles, riding bikes.  They share bath times, snacks, and dinner.  They get wild and chase, sneak up on their Mommy – tickle her and then escape – climb all over  their Daddy and rough house.

These two young brothers – best of friends – until, momentarily, they’re not.

I was witness to one of these occasions the other day.  I just heard it take place while I was on the phone with their dad.

The little brother did something to his bigger brother’s “project” and so that brother gave him a shove that ended in loud crying and tears.

I waited while their dad took a moment’s break from our phone call to access the situation.

It wasn’t as bad as it sounded – but apologies – from both sides –  were in order.  I heard the older brother first “I’m sorry for shoving you, Zeke”.  Then the younger brother spoke up “I’m sorry for grabbing your project”.

And it was over.

But actually it will very likely be repeated many more times as they grow together – in trust and love, and adventures.

It’s called brotherhood.

 

 

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boys…

Somehow it seems we just don’t recognize the feelings in our boys.  Maybe they just don’t show them that often.

But, as for me, I’ve said it before – and I’ll say it again – I know there’s tenderness in “them thar boys” – a lot of it.

Recently a mom shared with me, that in a particularly rushed moment, she said to her 6-year-old son, “Come on – you need to help.  If you are a part of this family, you need to help!”

That’s all it took, however, for this young lad to crumble and blurt out “I am part of this family.  Without you, I’d be nothing!”

Oh such a heartfelt baring of his soul – proof of his deep, deep love and need to belong.

But – it’s true – on any old ordinary day – who would know this?

I felt the same for another little guy – 5-years-old, happy and content at Play Shoppe- an independent boy, not prone to showing his emotions.

Until he noticed his dad was gone.  This boy was very familiar with us at Play Shoppe  and since he was busy playing,  his dad didn’t think twice when he ran out to their car to get something – without telling his son.

But this little guy noticed and his expression turned to fear and loss and the tears flowed.

Of course his dad quickly appeared and the both of them hugged – and I got to see his dad’s usually reserved emotions openly shared with his son.

So, that’s it  …  young boys… they grow up to be loving dads.

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embraced

“We have to stand up and say when things are wrong” a local La Crosse Dad told his 5-year-old daughter.

Sometimes we wonder how to explain to our children about difficult subjects such as bullying, hate crimes, intolerance, meanness.

But this dad said it all – and made his point.

“This is a really simple thing we as neighbors can do.”

This conversation this dad and daughter had was about signs that are showing up in local neighborhoods –  in this 5-year-old’s very own yard – and the park she plays in.

Her Dad was involved in starting a Go Fund Me campaign to purchase“Hate Has No Home Here” signs for local residents to put up in their yards. With increasing intolerance of others and hate speech rapidly growing across the country – yes – even here in La Crosse – it is time to take a shared action.

And even young 5-year-olds will soon be able to read the words on the sign – Hate has no home here – in English – and see those words written also in six other languages.

And when it sits in their front yards – and the front yards of many –  it encompasses a sense of belonging and safety – to know what their family believes – what their community believes – and feel embraced by its message.

Think about it.

To request a FREE yard sign, donate to the campaign, or learn more – visit: http://www.gofundme.com/f/hate-has-no-place-in-la-crosse

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