looking for answers

Most of the time politics is a subject to be avoided – at all costs – in a group or public setting – or – most definitely, a weekly blog from The Parenting Place.

But I listened recently to a group of House of Representative members – 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans – who call themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus.

They are relatively new members of Congress – and they’re earnest in at least trying to get significant progress made – by actually sharing and listening to each other – hearing each other – and hoping to come to agreements in this manner.

And I felt a sense of hope because that’s what progress and compromise and problem solving is – listening, being heard, examining, respecting, trusting.

And, of course, for me it always comes back to families – our families.

And, in our families, we can do the same. I know how easy it is to have an opinion, a strong opinion, and how hard it is at times to give another’s opinion a listening ear.

But – if we can do one thing to make our relationship and families stronger and more effective – more resourceful and more loving and- our children’s lives more peaceful and more secure-, it is to practice this very type of communicating with one another – listening, hearing, trusting.

Looking for answers together.

It’s called family – it’s called parenting!

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Dear ….

I’ve been thinking – feeling – during this pre-holiday season – that perhaps this is the year for me to resume sending holiday greetings through the mail.

It seems for several years now, that the number of holiday cards I’ve received or sent – has really dwindled.

And I miss it! And during such a time like this – when social interactions are so limited and Zoom-like – I’m feeling a need to reach out in a more personal and warm way.

I’m not thinking just a signature – but a line or two – something you miss about not seeing them – something you look forward to in the future – a memory that’s stayed with you – a funny moment shared.

As a child, I remember what seemed to me a ton of cards that arrived daily to our home. It was a big part of the holiday season to sort through all of the many cards, choose favorites, think about who sent them, and, in some cases, as a child, I would have to ask who these people even were.

And it would be extra exciting if, sometimes, one or two would even come addressed just to me.!

There’s something about seeing a friend’s – a relative’s handwriting – that feels almost like a hug – definitely a warm connection that is meaningful and special to discover among the advertisements and junk mail that arrives in our mailboxes daily.

So – I’m suggesting you might want to join me – pick out a few people you know that might really appreciate being remembered, take pen in hand and jot a memory and a holiday wish .

I believe it will brighten both of your days.

Dear….”

. I’m so ready to do this!

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Reading to the sun

There’s something abut the warmth of the bright sunshine flooding into the area where I’m working right now that fills me with quiet peacefulness – and an appreciative and warm gratefulness.

And I realize how – even in these days ahead that will grow much colder and have fewer hours of light – the sun remains there for the taking – to appreciate and enjoy – even if in shorter measure.

Do you have a spot or spaces in your home where you especially feel the sun pouring in? I hope so! And if you do – that’s the very spot – when the sun is bright – to set your children up – with a few books for them to sort through – pore over – look at pictures – “pretend read”.

“Pretend read?” You must know what I mean – when children page through a familiar book and say on each page what they recall – having heard so many times from an adult reading to them. This especially happens when a child is alone with a book.

Alone and reading to the sun I say!

Reading in the sun – a brief, quiet time for children to feel the warmth, the harmony between his/her world, the joy of books, and the brightness and security it brings.

It might be only for five to fifteen minutes – but it’s the start of a habit – of a love – of a quiet appreciation between children and their books.

And the sunshine?

That’s the icing on the cake – a friend over one’s shoulder – filling your page – and your heart – with light.

Try it!

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Mousie

Sometimes it’s the little things that count.

I like to send “fun packages” here and there throughout the year to my grandsons – never extravagant, often “used” items or recycled in some way – to fuel their imagination – their playfulness, their interests.

A while back I had sent to Zeke, our youngest, a little white ” jewelry box” that held inside a very small mouse – a gentleman mouse at that – dressed in a dapper coat, his long thin tail hanging out.

Well this simple gift of a soft mouse for a tender-hearted 3-year-old became Mousie to their family – and every night it is important to “find” Mousie in order for sleep to peacefully occur.

But with all that loving, Mousie, of unknown origins to begin with, lost his arm and his tail. Fortunately, however, for both Mousie and his favorite buddy, there was a loving and creative mom who quickly remedied the situation – replacing the loss with t-shirt scraps and a very nimble sewing hand.

I love this story because it reinforces to me that things that matter – that touch our hearts – that make us feel happy, connected, fulfilled, loved – isn’t usually about big things or expensive items -or even make a huge impression upon receiving – but instead bring a quiet knowing, warmth – that speaks to one’s heart – that we are remembered, noticed, cherished.

As this Thanksgiving holiday approaches, look for these simple messages – gifts from the heart really – to give and to receive – to cherish the “Mousies” in your world that make a difference.

Wishing you all a healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

You, too, Mousie!

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me wondering

Ever watch an infant learning to roll over – every attempt – over a few weeks, days – he gets a little further – until – success!

Ever observe a 12-month-old learning to walk – first one step, then two, three, four – until – joy! – she falls into the welcoming arms of her parent.

Ever see a 6-year-old learning to ride a bike with the training wheels gone – over and over – until – wow! – pure mastery!

I could keep going on and on and I guess I have in my head recently – thinking about the struggles we go through in our life. Most of those struggles, if we’re fortunate enough, relate to our development and growth and anticipation as we mature into adulthood – and beyond.

But sometimes struggles can turn into suffering – and I started to think about hundreds of years ago – in this country – how so many people’s lives reflected hardships, famine, sickness, death and war – some of which in today’s world have been solved, improved, made easier by science, medicine, education, technology, progress and spirit.

Yet – actually – we might be meeting our very own lifetime struggle – right now – facing the rising sickness and deaths, uncertainty and sacrifices that people are being asked to make – to limit the number of rising deaths from COVID – the hospitals that are full, the medical staffs who are strained, the people who are out of work.

And it might not affect you – or me – or anyone you may know personally – but for the greater good, is this our time in history – to sacrifice – to struggle – to face the loss – to accept the request to stay home more, to celebrate the holidays with only those who you live with?

Is this the time to model the strength and courage and will for our own children – to show them – that this is our time – our family’s time – to listen and to respond and to show strength.

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now more than ever

I wish I knew where I read the following excerpt -and who wrote it – when I decided “I should write that down and save it.” but apologetically I don’t.

It’s a pattern of mine – often forgetting to pay attention to the details – and instead, responding so passionately to just the heart of the matter – the emotion.

And – actually that may be the reason this following passage by an observant soul – stirred my own.

“Some of the most kind and thoughtful kids I know are raised in houses that are messy, by parents who forget practices, and who wear mismatched socks. At times I think this may not be a coincidence. When parenting life becomes overwhelming, perhaps they know what to let go and what to put first. Kindness matters – socks – not so much!”

“What to let go – and what to put first” – a truth for parents to live by – for all of us to live by.

And goodness knows – kindness always comes first – now more than ever.

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Together

I love history – and the stories it tells – about struggles that people have endured and fought for that we often now take for granted – and joys and dreams that are as true today as they ever were.

Tomorrow is Election Day – our privilege and our duty to go out and vote if we haven’t done so already.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution which granted women the right to vote.

And as they say “ Do you know what that means to you – do you?”

Susan B. Anthony was a leading pioneer crusader for women’s suffrage in the United States. Her passionate work, ahead of her time, helped pave the way for the final passing of the 19th Amendment. She died before seeing her hard efforts come in to being.

But on Steve Hartman’s “On the Road” segment on Friday’s CBS evening news, we hear that she was not forgotten. He shared about the hundreds and hundreds of women, of all ages, showing up in Rochester, New York at the grave of Susan B. Anthony – – bringing their “I voted” stickers with them to leave on her gravestone in honor of her work, her passion, her belief that all women should have the right to vote.

In ending, Steve Harman warmly encouraged all of us to mindfully share a thank you and a nod to Susan B. Anthony and all the other passionate women suffragettes who paved the way for the rest of us.

And so – here’s a sincere thank you – and a nod – to all of them – and to all of my favorite women out there – we’re all in this together!

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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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