Monthly Archives: August 2014

Sunday Morning Shout Out


Faster than you can say melting ice cream by the pool, school will be back in session for Western New York students.   Transitioning back to a school schedule can be a very challenging task, even for the most organized parent (for the record I do not claim to be).  Fortunately, there is always expert advice.   In her article “Countdown to School-Ready,” Dr. Laura Markham shares this week’s parenting secrets, with her useful tips for getting children ready for school.  Here are a few of my favorites.

One very important thing for parents to start doing now, if they haven’t already, is get your child to bed earlier.  In this household, bedtime has fluctuated throughout the summer, often to accommodate special events.  We have been enforcing school bed times as much as possible in the last week.  It is important for children to get between 9.5 hours sleep and 11 hours sleep to function at maximum capacity. Start having your child go to bed a little earlier each night, so you a reach school bedtime, well before the night before school starts.

Another suggestion is to tour the school.  Whether your child is going to kindergarten or moving up into the junior high school, having a sense of where you are going a head of time can be an immense relief and stress reducer.  Along these same lines, if it is possible for your child to meet her teacher ahead of time, this truly helps!

Dr. Markham suggests preparing your child emotionally for what is going to occur.  She describes how a parent can “walk” a child through her day, by describing what will occur; when hellos and goodbyes will be said; who will pick your child up, etc.  She suggests developing a rhyme, song, or routine around it. One book that many parents have used for just this purpose is Audrey Penn’s “The Kissing Hand“.

Some of her other great ideas include involving them in back to school supply shopping, whether it be in your home or at a store.  This helps your child mentally prepare and get excited for what’s to come.  Lastly, I just love her idea for a celebratory end of summer dinner for the family. With this, parents can help their children recount their favorite moments of summer.  She goes with rounds of appreciations and “I look forward to …. What a great way to mark what’s been; transition into the school routine; and set a positive tone for the year ahead!

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Summer Concerts

Summer Concerts

I am somewhere within my summer bucket list; surrounded by a few of my f a   v o r I t e “things”;  and unable and unwilling to let go of summer anytime quickly.  More than once recently, people have commented,  “I am sure you will be happy once your children start back to school.”  Mind you, there have been certain moments throughout the summer when I would have said of course or thought, I could even drive the bus.  But for me, these times have been fleeting.  Fleeting is why I have a hard time letting go each summer.  To me, summer marks a most precious and ephemeral period of time.  It is in its finest moments this summer, 10, 7, and 3 have been beautiful, whole, and timeless.  The days are long and the moments are punctuated by earnest and innocent childhood pursuits.  In this house, fairies are played; dragons are found and read about; little boys are closer to babyhood than preschool still; and dancing shadows on the walls are both of little girls and the young ladies they are becoming.  Yet with all good things, these days will pass.  Next summer will find us closer to the teen years; fully into the tween years; and anticipating a certain little boy’s entry into preschool.  Rather than think about then, I will relive and revisit now.

In my mind’s eye, I see our oldest learning to dive.  I see the moment it clicked during swim lessons and her graceful little self diving over and over again into the water.  I see our youngest daughter playing her heart out during soccer, even though she was the smallest and one of the youngest, having moved up this year.  I see her gutsy determination and her holding her own a field that seems too large to hold her.  I relive a walk with our littlest.  I feel his little baby hand reaching for mine and telling me where to find blackberries in the woods.  I go back to our delight over the geese that were pausing from their flight and watching us in the field, as we looked for berries.  I taste the delicious blackberries and cherish his little caring heart, that warns me to be careful as I walked.

I take a step back and admire my children lost in play.  On the nights by the lake, I hear their feet running as they play ghost in the graveyard.  I smile as they make friends with the other children there and play bad mitten and other games.  I again see our children in the vegetable garden.  I see them excited to be such a help to their dad.  I can hear our oldest telling us to close our eyes as she surprises us with sweet peas from the garden.  I smell the cucumbers our two youngest enjoy and share.

I replay the music of our oldest’s first concert.  As I listen, I see us sitting outside on a beautiful night, feeling the energy of a concert crowd and tapping into the pulse of a night, in a way that music and an experience allow when they deliver you.  I feel her weight on my lap as she was proud of being able to go to a concert for the first time, but young enough to let me hold her when she was cold.

Yes, these summer days are too short.  But perhaps that’s what makes them so longed for and remembered.  Right now, I am blissfully lost in remembering….

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


 

Summer could have many tag lines when it comes to siblings.  How about : “It was the best of times and the worst of times.”  Or there is: “In corner one, Rocky Balboa. –Corner Two, the sworn enemy.”  Or better yet when it comes to having a houseful of quarreling siblings, “There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”  One of my vivid early summertime memories is clocking my sister over the head with my cast (age five, broken arm), because I didn’t like the sound of the fire sirens that were roaring near us.   Aww, summer , so warm, so fast, and so full of naughty behavior at times!  Thank goodness for consequences and corrective action!  The letters and essays my children have had to write to me is surely helping with summer slide and fulfilling Common Core requirements (insert evil laugh).  It lends itself to the argument for an all year round school year –okay just kidding.  But mostly it makes me sigh at times and think what can I do to remedy the situation.

I have talked in other blogs about the need to find your own pace during the summer.  Certainly, when we are doing this, life feels more harmonious for all.  Everyone in our household does better.  But how about some of the individual factors that lend themselves to sibling rivalry?  What can a parent do? In the article “This Summer, Help Siblings Get Along” writer Pam J. Hecht shares some expert advice on the issue.  From encouraging parents to understanding why their children are arguing; singling out their special and unique characteristics to make them feel loved, understood, and appreciated; to staying calm and listening to your child’s concerns with her sibling; and finally building a team spirit and a collective family culture and identity in the house, the article is chalk full of good ideas to squelch bad behavior.   Summer really can be the best of times, mostly, if we keep in mind that sibling rivalry is very normal.  Of course it’s seeing our children through it that is the challenge.

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


—So little summer and so many great things to do. This is how I feel when things are relatively balanced in our household.

—-So little summer and too many /?%! things to do.  This is how I feel when there is too much going on during the summer; it’s whizzing by; and I am frazzled by its frenetic pace?  I think how can this be summer when there seem to be too many demands to meet.  Where did laid back, slow paced, and my “Hallmark” card moments, in which our family is playing baseball on the lawn (in the middle of a familial love fest) go?  I know I am out of whack when I feel tired, grumpy, and feel like it’s effort to do the normal things nicely.  I know the children are out of whack when they are acting tired, grumpy, and are having great deal doing normal things nicely.  When this occurs, I have to take a step back and retreat.

For me, this means saying no to many things, and yes to some quiet in our home.  It means dramatically limiting activities outside our home and keeping a realistic pace.  This pace doesn’t leave me or the children gasping for air in the summer.  It returns laid back to the equation and us to grounding activities around our home.  This looks like quiet play inside; reading and crafts for the girls; trains and the toy basket for the boy; some rambunctious play outside; sprucing up our house, by doing some extra organizing and cleaning; catching up with correspondence; baking; and a few “snuck” minutes of reading during the day for me.  It’s nothing dramatically exciting or over the top. It is just things we find grounding.

When I am calm, my children are calm.  When I am more rested, the children also tend to be more rested.  When I am satisfied, the children seem more satisfied.  When I feel more comfortable and at ease, the children seem more comfortable and at ease.   Where I go emotionally, my children tend to follow.  Instead of no thank you, thank you, no!

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Good nutrition is just as much, if not more a concern during the summer months for children, as during the school year.   There are the milder concerns that parents and caregivers face.  I sometimes believe if my children had their way, they would turn into cheddar fish, pirate booty, and gummies.  Like most parents, we do our best to monitor what’s being eaten and served at mealtime.  Yet with ever growing children and appetites, it sometimes seems like our children are forever hungry.  It is very easy to keep handing out crackers and cheddar popcorn, but what about the nutritional stakes?  These formative years that grow the body and mind are too short to eat unwisely.

Summer time is a fabulous time of the year to eat well.  From your personal garden to farmer’s markets, there are incredible things to grow, buy, and eat.  Well known blogger Anna Luther shares some of her favorite healthy eating ideas for summer at her blogs site, “My Life and Kids.”  From cutting up fruits and vegetable for easy grazing at the beginning of the week and building fruit kabobs on sticks to gluten free power muffins and hard boiled eggs, she has some great ideas on how to stock your house with healthy snacks for your ever hungry children.

There are also the more serious nutrition concerns that children face in this country.  A recent article at the National Public Radio website entitled “Summer Program for Hungry Kids Gets Creative With Food Delivery”  discusses the serious nutrition issues facing children at or near poverty, today.  Per this report, more than 21 million children get free or reduced lunches during the school year.  Yet during this summer, this drops to 3 million. Certainly, the need has not gone away.  There is a growing impoverished population in this country, with many folks, including the working poor, being food poor or food insufficient.

Some problems may lie with program design.  The article discusses how there are less formal mechanisms in place for summer meal programs and the various challenges that agencies face.  Any child can receive a lunch, no questions asked, as long as they live in an area where at least fifty percent of the school age population receives a free or reduced lunch during the school year.  Perhaps families do not know when and if they qualify?  Or the challenge may lie where poverty exists.

It is also not always easy to operate such programs in rural areas, because of geography, isolation, lack of transportation, and the poor dissemination of information about such services.  Kentucky has taken some novel approaches to reach affected children.  From book mobiles to pickup trucks that are dispatched to the most rural and hard to reach areas, programs in Kentucky are making inroads in carrying out this summertime program.  The article also discusses some of the challenges of urban poverty.  In heavily crime ridden areas, parents may be hesitant to let their child leave their home or apartment, for fear for her safety.  Some summer nutrition programs are being rolled out right at public housing sites.

What about your area?  If you go to the “Why Hunger” website, you can plug in your information and find out where the nearest summertime meal program is operating.  No one should go hungry or subsist on nutritionally inadequate foods, just to survive!  These programs go far in placing better foods in the households of families who need them.  The need is growing!  For those of us who are more fortunate there is always the opportunities to volunteer or provide donations to local food pantries or food banks.

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