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There’s a new public promotional ad I’ve seen recently on TV with a young Dad doing push-ups with his baby face to face.

And the baby and Dad are connecting – beautifully – and the message is … “Do not disturb is on.  Be in the moment.”

And I love that message so much.

But because families are so busy and often distracted, parents can feel they just don’t have the time to make those connections. But when you discover – it only takes a moment or two – a moment of playfulness, of genuine interaction, of spontaneous affection, appreciation, warmth, laughter, acknowledgment – you realize it’s doable, you know it can happen.

Looking at my window right now, I just noticed a neighbor dad and his young son riding their bikes down the street – just the two of them – for fun.  Score!

And parents, overly critical of themselves, might realize, “Hey, I do that all the time, but I didn’t think it counted.”

That’s because we are often made to feel it’s the whole day out at an amusement park, or a week’s vacation , or some special event that makes our child feel special, feel loved.

Those are definitely fun times, but the ones that resonate and make our connections strong are the intimate exchanges that happen everyday that fill our child’s “bucket” and assures them they are loved, they are noticed, they are enjoyed, they are cherished.

So…really … trust your moments – they can mean the most.



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a recognition

I just finished browsing  through a children’s book – The Bunny Who Found Easter by Charlotte Zolotow – his search for Easter beginning, logically, East.

In the end, however, after a very long trek, he found, within his family and the bounty of Spring, what he was looking for, and realized that “Easter was not a place after all, but a time when everything lovely begins once again.

It seems to me April is that kind of month.

Besides the high expectations we have for grass turning green, buds opening, robins nesting, and warmth from the sun, as parents and families we are reminded and moved to acknowledge and care for many in our Community.

Think about it – in April we recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month (notice the blue ribbons in town and the whirling pinwheels at Riverside Park), Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Earth Day, National Volunteer Week, Donate Life Month, Autism Awareness Month, Month of the Military Child, World Health Day, and I bet some others that I, apologetically, may have missed.

And then in Thursday’s La Crosse Tribune’s Hometown Section, there was an article about Character Challenges for our community.  That week’s challenge was simply “Hold the Door Open”.

And simply put, that’s a start – holding the door open – and keeping our hearts open to all those who suffer, need protection, need a friend, need support, recognition, thanks, honor and respect – finding that place where “everything lovely begins once again.”

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“an ode to parents”

Today is April Fool’s Day – but this is no April Fool’s joke.  (even though – hmm – playing one on you would have definitely been fun!)

Instead I noticed a challenge on line to parents to read a poem a week to your child during the month of April – for April happens to be National Poetry Month.

They suggest reading the same poem each day for one week; a different poem chosen for each week of April.

I love that idea.

For me poetry was a part of my life as a child that I treasured.  I had several children’s illustrated anthologies of poems that I read though over and over again.  And to this day, they resonate – “My Shadow”, “I must go down to the sea again”, ” I think that I shall never see – a poem as lovely as a tree”,”Who has seen the wind?” , “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night”.

It was the rhythm and the flow that enchanted me – and became warmly familiar and comforting.

Repetition of a poem shares its impact most.  So during dinner, before bed, take this week’s poem choice out and read it aloud.  By the end of the week,  it will be a friend, it will make a connection between you.

You can find children’s poems easily on line –  or better yet, choose a poem you remember.

And see what happens – in 30 days, it might just turn into the biggest April Fool’s trick yet- for who knew – sharing poems could be so special.

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Sometimes I think conversations are the missing link in our busy family lives.

So much of our talk is about getting things done fast, about on-the-go activities – hurry up,  put-on-your-shoes, let’s go – I -said, put-on-your-shoes, we’ll-be-late – kind of exchange.

Then, phew, we’re in the car – screens come out, entertainment turned on.

But sitting in close quarters at a restaurant on Sunday morning, I heard conversation happen.

At the table behind us sat a dad and his two children, approximately seven and five, having breakfast.  And this dad shared conversation with them.

It wasn’t typical awkward questioning (which as adults we often over-do) about what happened at school, do you have homework, did you do your chores, etc. It was the dad actually sharing with them his experiences, evoking interest and questions in turn from the children.

And it was quite a natural flow of ideas – and lovely to overhear.

I think, as parents, we often tend to ignore the curiosity that our children have about our lives and  what happens in them – and the enjoyment, learning and relationship that is there to be made.

One of the experiences I heard this Dad sharing was about his recent visit  to a Mexican restaurant – which began a whole exchange of conversation with the children about food and people’s likes and dislikes.

All of us have something funny, curious, unusual, interesting, kind –   even plain old ordinary –  happen sometime during our day- that our children will appreciate hearing about, appreciate being included, appreciate being noticed , and then, appreciate having their own responses shared.

A conversation.

So, think about it.  Start a conversation with your children.

They’ll make a great audience.

And you’ll make another strong connection.

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Pot holes

Pot holes – you know what I’m talking about if you have been out driving on any of the streets in La Crosse lately.

And that got me to thinking about another kind of pot hole – one that we as parents try to avoid, but often fall in to as we handle some of the emotional struggles and behavior issues of our children.

But as parents, we are cautious. We expect these, have developed strategies on how to handle these kinds of parenting “pot holes” with care – but new ones pop up frequently and unexpectedly, and jolt us into sudden reactions.

And so as the city crews hastily patch the road potholes in town to avoid accidents and keep the flow of traffic moving,  parents have to be ready to quell their child’s latest meltdown.

And yes, it is often about our own maintenance with our children – daily emotional connections, noticing your child at his best and commenting on it, sharing meals together, laughing and playing with one another, reading aloud to your child, offering a rhythm of family life that your child can rely on.

This kind of “road work” in your family will help to maintain the fiber of your family life – and  keep you prepared and ready for  the next unexpected “pot hole” along the way.

Check out The Parenting Place Spring Building Blocks newsletter for information on an upcoming Discussion group – Walking on Egg Shells – managing and avoiding temper tantrums, Thursday, May 9th from 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM. or call Fran for more information.






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“one proud mama”

“One proud mama” shared a story about her soon-to-be-thirteen-year-old daughter, who took it upon herself to make a difference.

A boy at her middle school, striding down the hall, purposely bumped into another boy, scattering his books on the floor – and then kicking them as he continued on his way.

But this time someone noticed – this young girl not yet thirteen used her strong voice to loudly call him out – as she also stopped to help the other student gather his books.

Wow – such a brave thing to do – such a kind thing to do – the right thing to do – something we all should do – when we notice injustices and bullying.

I’m happy to say, she was overheard – by a teacher – who also noticed – and pulled her aside to thank her and to recognize her and give her the respect she earned.

We all know bullying exists – and there are meetings and committees, and posters and rules and studies to try and stop it.

And that’s all good.

But what it also takes -really takes – is noticing – like this strong young girl did- responding like this strong young girl did – because she knew it was wrong – and she chose to speak up, call the “bully” on it, let him know he is a bully, and rise to support the victim, and not to ignore him.

Way to go, Kassidy!

“one proud mama” for sure!

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Stop and go guy

Apparently it appears – there’s a new guy in town.

The Parenting Place Parent Educator, Mike Scott, was sharing a remark made from a young boy who stopped with his parents at The Parenting Place booth at the La Crosse Center during the 2019 Family Fest a few weekends ago.

The  young boy looked up at Mike who was working at the booth, a realization spread across his face, as he happily announced, “I know you – you’re the Stop and Go guy!”

And that he is.

Every Thursday morning at The Parenting Place Muscles in Motion held in the gym at the Ericikson Boys and Girls’ Club from 10 AM – 11 AM, they play Red light, Green light – or better known to Mike’s followers as Stop and Go.

And Mike tells us – this is serious business – an activity that the children adore, wait for, that they do not want skipped or altered in any way.

It’s as simple as that.  Green means Go; Red means Stop; Stop and Go. And they’re off!

And it just made me stop – and go – wow – wait a minute – how can we be missing the simple beauty of this childhood game? As society encourages more and more sophisticated activities and programs for our youngest people, the overwhelming response to this Stop and Go game should give us some pause.

I believe simple is always better- and maybe physical activity, pure and uncomplicated, is what these children need, what they crave , what they respond to most. Maybe running and moving their bodies freely and naturally is what matters to them  – going fast – stopping short- listening – watching – at their own speed – red or green.

So as parents and caregivers, take a hint, perhaps, from the Stop and Go guy and play physically with your child.  Chase, run, tag, capture, laugh, wrestle, giggle, play. collapse.

Share this experience with your child and feel like a child yourself!

Thanks Stop and Go Guy – for playing!!


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