Monthly Archives: December 2014

New Years – Conversation Starters


So the end of our calendar year is upon us again as we say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015. We have made another orbit around the sun and many cultures find this time of the year to be a time to reflect on the past, plan for the future and generally hope for more prosperity. It is also a great time to talk with and listen to your children about their thoughts about their year and what they hope for in the coming year.

Of course starting a meaningful conversation beyond ‘what do you want for dinner’, ‘do you have any homework…is it done?’ and/or ‘did you pick-up your toys?’ with a child or teen can seem a harrowing task.  Below you will find a few conversation starters you might try the next couple of days.  Remember you might be surprised by the response but you should try not to be negative nor judgemental. Should that surprise (which can actually be good) happen, a positive way to understand the response better is to ask ‘can you tell me more about that?’ or ‘what makes that important to you?’.  Digging a bit deeper just might bring a smile to your face and warmth to you heart.

New Years Conversation Starters

  • What word describes the last year for you?
  • What word do you think will describe the next year?
  • What is your educational goal for this year?
  • What are you most proud of in the past year?
  • If you had the power to change something in the past year what would it be? Why?
  • What was the best advice you had last year?
  • What you do in the new year that will help make the world a better place to live?
  • Did anything inspire you last year?
  • What was your favorite memory of last year?
  • What is one thing you really want to do in the coming year?

For a nice set of 220 free questions you can print on index cards visit the Balancing Beauty and Bedlam website.

Happy New Year!

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


There was the extra seat we always left at the Christmas Eve meal table.  This was set for the wise men on their way to Bethlehem.  There was the special wafer or platek that was broke at this meal.  We each broke a piece off of it and shared Christmas and New Years wishes with one another.  It was a meatless meal at Wigilia, the Polish Christmas Eve meal growing up.  Herring or another type of fish was eaten, usually with mushroom soup.  Quite often, pierogis were also served.  This special meal has got to be one of my favorite Christmas traditions from growing up.  While not all of it is done each year in our home, we maintain aspects of it.  The beautiful thing about traditions is the way in which they do dearly connect us to our heritage, our past, family, friends, and memories from growing up.

Sometimes our world today can seem a million miles away from traditional customs and our unique heritages.  For many of us, the holidays are time when we connect to them.  Some people I know are searching for new traditions for their families or at least different ones to make the holidays more personally meaningful.  Traditions, whether food related or activity related are such important anchor points for are our families.  Cozi.com, a website for today’s busy families, offers some great new traditions to bring to your family this year. From food traditions and gift giving traditions to volunteering and special family activities for the holidays, there are many great ideas here to ponder and perhaps implement.  What are some of your favorite traditions?  How do you make the holidays meaningful?

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Forest Lawn Chapel

Forest Lawn Chapel

I can still recall the night.  It was as if my dear friend Sandee and I were part of a classic holiday movie scene.  In the lovely village of East Aurora, we slowly ambled to the Aurora Theatre. –The soft snow fell on us and many fellow would-be viewers, as we all waited to be admitted into the theatre.  Crowded sidewalks, pretty snow, charming store and restaurant facades, the only thing missing was the black and white grainy color that could have further encapsulated the scene.  (I will leave out the part of the ambling that was related to me being almost done with the first trimester of my youngest child). We were there to see the theatre’s annual free showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

This year, the Aurora Theatre is again offering numerous special movie events.  From “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” several matinees are being offered for the next three weekends. This area is fortunate as several other theatres are also offering free movies and special events and listed in the Buffalo News’ GUSTO.  From the newly renovated and refurbished “North Park” in North Buffalo, “Screening Room” in Amherst, and Shea’s in Downtown Buffalo to the Elmwood Regal and Lockport Palace, there is an entire array of free holiday movies to choose from.  So take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and enjoy some great classic and new classic holiday films with your family, or as an individual retreat.

Editors Note:  I got caught up in the bustle of this month and failed to post this wonderfully written post earlier when it was more helpful.  Still it is possible to watch some of these great movies with your family in the comfort of your own living room.  For something different today at 2pm is the last live performance of “It was a Wondeful Life” at the Forest Lawn Chapel in Buffalo. Seating is very limited but when I last looked there were a few seat left.

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Source: Ken Lauer, Nov. 2014

Source: Ken Lauer, Nov. 2014

This year’s November storm is still fresh in our minds.  There is nothing like six feet of snow; visions of stranded motorists on our local thruways and state highways; and haunted thoughts of being stuck in the vehicle with our loved ones or by ourselves to remind us of having our automobiles in “winter shape” and packed with the proper winter essentials.  These very things can save our lives.

The AAA website lists different points of consideration for winter car care in a short piece titled ‘Tis The Season To Prepare For Winter Driving‘.  From checking your vehicle’s battery and coolant levels to tire treads and breaks, there are several vehicle care points to consider to have your vehicle in good running order for winter.  They also provide a list of emergency essentials to be carried in your vehicle, in the event you do breakdown or simply cannot drive because of road conditions.  From extra blankets and energy bars (even candy) to flares, flashlights, emergency kits, and car chargers there is a comprehensive check list for motorists to quip their vehicles.  Lastly, the website describes their smartphone app that is available for Android and smartphone users that allows a motorist to request help, without needing to make a phone call.  Simply, motorist information is input to the screen.  While you do not have to be a AAA member to download it and use it, it is a requirement for their roadside assistance.

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