Recently I saw an official sign nailed to a post with the word NOTICE in bold black letters with the message written below.

All of us have seen this same type of sign numerous times in our lives.  But this time, the word NOTICE jumped out at me and resonated over the past few days.

Because in some ways, to notice is really the key to relationships, to work, to life.

There’s an art to noticing I believe but one we can all perfect.  Most of us can’t help but notice the big things, the joyous moments, the saddest moments, the loud explosions, the annoying frustrations.

But it is the smallest things that we notice that often make a difference.

It’s noticing the expressions on your child’s face, the happy ones, the sad, the pensive, the scared, the reluctant.  It’s noticing the shy mom at your next group gathering, your own personal responses/reactions, your needs. Its noticing the “sweet nothing” moments with your loved ones.  Its noticing nature in all its glory. Its noticing plenty and when you have enough.  Its noticing comfort and satisfaction.

This week on 4th of July, as fireworks explode and light up the sky, we’ll ooh and aah and notice for sure.

But then try posting your own NOTICE sign in bold letters on your refrigerator door and pay attention to your own quiet reasons to ooh and aah.

It will be amazing.


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In our neighborhood, near a mailbox post, under a bayberry bush, lies commitment.  There a mother duck sits alone on her nine eggs and waits.

It’s been several weeks now that we discovered this secret hideaway, the nest perfectly camouflaged so that one would never know it was there.

We discovered it only by accident as we walked Tootsie down the street.  She nosed it and immediately the mother duck spread her wings and flew out to distract us and, of course, Tootsie. It was then that we peeked and saw the nine eggs inside.

Now when we walk by, we stay far enough away that the mother duck feels safe.  Even Tootsie seems to understand and accept this new boundary with respect.

I read online that a mother duck sits on her eggs for a month – so soon we may see her walking them to the river which will entail crossing a very busy street.  But I’ve no doubt that this determined mom will pull it off.

I thought about this mother duck sitting so conscientiously on her eggs several times while I was away this past week, soaking up the joy and energy of our two grandsons – almost 3-year-old Theo (end of August) and baby Zeke, just three and a half weeks old.

And like the mother duck, I watched and thought about their parents’ commitment – so strong, responsible and enduring, meeting the needs of their children, and the universal commitment it takes for each and every parent to raise their children.

And it fills my heart with awe and admiration.

So – here’s to Theo’s and Zeke’s parents, and to all parents out there who daily commit to raising their children – and to the noble mother duck sitting alone on her eggs – I salute you!





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a dad

It seems many children go through a stage when they want to be a fire fighter when they grow up.

And why not?  Fire fighters are our heroes – our real life super heroes, rescuing people from danger, putting out fires, racing down city streets with sirens blaring and lights flashing.

This week during Friday Play Shoppe, we were making SuperDad capes for Father’s Day when we heard the sounds of sirens and firetrucks as they zoomed down Green Bay St., right past The Parenting Place.

One little boy about three years old,  concentrating on his project, not looking up, said, almost as if to himself, “That’s my Daddy’s fire truck.  My Daddy is a fireman.  I’m going to be a fireman when I grow up“.

Oh my – how sweet is that!  It was the perfect way to begin Father’s Day weekend!

But, actually, we all really know, right?  Dads don’t have to be a fireman to be considered, in the eyes of their children, a hero.

They just have to be a Dad.

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mothers count

I know – I know – it’s Fathers’ Day weekend coming up – so why in the world am I focusing on mothers?

Well – I just can’t help it!  All around me (literally) are expectant moms in various stages of pregnancy.

They are all conscientiously taking care of themselves, eating well, going to pre-natal visits, making absolute sure that all is well with the baby, continuing to take care of family members, while often still working outside the home.

When the baby arrives, however, the focus becomes solely on the baby.  From friends and relatives to doctors and nurses, everyone’s concern is about the baby.

Yet the mother, who just accomplished a near Olympian feat, a physical accomplishment that leaves a women’s body and often times her emotions in need of care, repair, and attention – is on her own.

Recently I heard about a Godsend – a true and manageable support and help for all pregnant and postpartum mothers. It comes from an extremely reliable source; yes, a woman who just gave birth herself and has reaped its benefits and totally believes in its effectiveness, and how it has made a difference for her. – check it out – really – see what you think – there’s something for everyone here.

It’s only a click away!

Oh yes, I actually didn’t mean to forget the dads out there on this upcoming Father’s Day weekend so I sincerely say – “suck it up, dads!”

Do the dishes, vacuum, fold the laundry,  bathe the children, order out (after the kids are in bed).

This might just turn out to be your best Fathers’ Day ever!







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Theo has a brother – Ezekiel Alexander – born May 30th – 9 lbs 10oz . He calls him Zeki – and is very gentle and sweet with him.

“Theo seems huge” said his dad.  And isn’t that the truth?  When we bring our infants home, even one as big as Zeke, our older child appears, in size, to have left toddlerhood behind and become a regular “kid” over night.

Except they haven’t.

And that’s why we still do cozy lap time and reading for our older child, look back at his baby pictures together,  give him warm eye contact when he’s speaking, and show how to –  and notice when –  he’s so kind and gentle with his little brother.

I have a tattered out- of- print picture book called Oonga Boonga which I love.  Baby Louise cries and cries and no one can soothe her – until her big brother comes home.  He says the magic words “Oonga Boonga” to her – and she stops crying – stares at him.  “Oonga Boonga” he says again, and she smiles.

All the adults are amazed and so when Baby Louise starts to cry again, they all say “Oonga Booga” to Louise – but to no avail.

When her brother returns, they tell him “Oonga Boonga” doesn’t work anymore.  So he kneels down close to her and whispers “Bunka Wunka, Louise” – and Baby Louise stopped crying and smiles.

So often with second, third and subsequent babies, it is their older sibling they look toward to be comforted, entertained, taught – with perhaps a few semi-rough edges in between.

I’m betting on Theo being that kind of brother.

Have fun, you two!


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“Does the baby say,  I’m ready to come out? two and a half year old Theo asked his expectant mom recently.

Oh, the innocence and logic of a toddler!  I mean, how else will this baby ever appear?

And with the passing days and weeks, even the rest of us begin to wonder – and wait – for this new little one to make an appearance – to hint, at least – I’m ready to come out.

For when a women is close to her delivery date or days beyond that date, the waiting game feels endless, the well-meaning inquiries tiresome, and those who really care, a bit helpless to do much.

As for me, I am in awe of pregnant women everywhere who share this universal journey – most especially those who are mothering another child or more at home besides.

So kudos to all the pregnant moms out there, wondering if today or tonight or tomorrow will be the day – and especially to Theo’s mom who might be listening extra hard, just in case, she hears “I’m ready to come out”.




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a question

The interview was over – all the questions answered – but one.  “Do you have any questions for us?”

And during this particular interview recently, I was struck by the poignant question the candidate asked of us.

“Do you take care of each other?”

Wow! That response has resonated with me since.

Because that question is really the question for all of us to answer in whatever relationships we find ourselves in. That’s what families are about – and friendships – and hopefully even places of employment.

For taking care of each other means being tuned in to one another’s needs, it means sharing, it means supporting,  it means belonging, it means kindness, it means strength, it means security.

It is a powerful question to ask ourselves – not just once, but as we continue to grow in our significant relationships.

“Do you take care of each other?”

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