Tag Archives: family bonding

Sunday Morning Shout Out


As the holidays quickly approach, does the thought of gift buying leave you uninspired?  Would you like to make your holiday more meaningful with your family?  Consider making presents with your children, for family and friends.

Before you accuse me of falling of my rocker, let me just say that these crafts are doable even for the un-crafty sort ( like me).  Sherry Osborn’s article, “100 Homemade Gift Ideas, at the “About Home” website, offers many ideas that appeal to different sensibilities.  They are sweet and often upcycled from common household items-buttons, pens, and even old cabinet doors. They make especially cute gifts for teachers, family, and friends who may have everything else already.

If crafting isn’t your thing, perhaps baking or cooking gifts for others is more appealing.  The article “Exceptional Homemade Edible Gifts,” by Carroll Pellegrinelli, at the “About Food,” website, lists some mouth watering delicious treat ideas for edible gift giving.  Let’s just say chocolate figures into many of the recipes that are listed.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

Whether homemade crafts or homemade treats for gifts, homemade anything shows a lot of heart.  Anyone can purchase a necktie, calendar, or gift card for a loved one.  But these ideas and their finished product possess that lovely and special quality that the standard mall gift does not.

With working together on these projects and giving from the heart, it may just lead you back to what’s essential about the holiday season.  And that is definitely another win-win!

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


dinnerWe all know dinner together as a family is important.  But did you know it is the best predictor of how adolescence will go for our children?  In my favorite go- to place for professional advice about “Happy Familiying,” Dr. Laura Markham, Ph.D., at the “Aha Parenting” website, discusses why dinner and eating together are the glue that keep families strong.

Dinner is a protective factor for all family members and an extremely powerful one for adolescents, especially.  The more frequently teens eat with their families, the more likely they are: to do well in school, not do drugs, and become sexually active in high school, depressed, or suicidal.  They are many factors at play.  Families that regularly eat together, offer structure and routine to their children.  They offer oversight and supervision to teens and all children, in a world that can be utterly fast and risky for all.  Dinnertime offers children a sense of identity as a family, tradition, and stability.  In a world where a lot is changeable and stressful, regular dinner offers a family a constant.  Dinnertime is a place to check in with one another about each other’s day—the good, bad, and ugly.  It is a place to ask more questions about what occurred at school; what your children’s feelings and thoughts are about family events; and it is a place to weigh in, for all parties.  Most importantly, it is a place to belong, connect, and build better relationships.

As ideal as this sounds, life is not always conducive to sitting down together.  Many different schedules can exist in the same house.  If this is not happening at all, Markham says to aim for a few days a week.  The more times you can do this, the greater the effect! Perhaps it is a single parent home. Maybe, one spouse works later than another.  There is still great power in sitting down together regularly, as a family with a single parent or as a family where one parent is the regular one at dinner.  Markham suggests if one parent gets home later than the other, everyone could sit down and have a snack together.  Or, there could be special emphasis placed on weekend dinners together.  Weekends could then be kept sacred for dinner.  She also states that families may want to adjust dinner time to eat earlier or later, if it means everyone can eat together.

There are other practical things to keep in mind, according to Markham.  Do not get hung up on making an elaborate dinner, at the expense of energy, patience, and time! It is better to put all these ingredients into the actual activity of connecting with one another.  She also talks about creating a welcoming dinner atmosphere, and biting your tongue as a parent if needed.  The idea is build up one another and connect as a family, rather than tearing each down over a difference of opinion or behavioral critique.  She lists some creative resources for promoting dinner conversation, so it goes beyond, “How was your day?”  One classic approach is having everyone give their high and low points of the day-or their roses and thorns.  The point is to connect, converse, and feed more than just the appetite.  When we do this with our families, we do so much more than eat….

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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


Let me create the mood and scene.  The air smells of cinnamon, apple, pumpkin, and crunchy leaves.  The sun light is coming thru the window and the air is crisp and cool.  There is something delicious baking in the oven, again of the pumpkin variety.  You have a hot tea or coffee in your hand.  Your children are sitting nicely at the table, lingering after a meal.  There they are at 10, 7, and 3 or 7 and 5.  You want to freeze frame the moment while you can.

The other scene is of this note.  Two of you are running out the door for dance.  Another child is groaning at the table, doing her homework with your spouse.  The only notable smell is of burnt toast and a bad mood.  Life seems like it is just cruising by you and your family.  You long for some real and enjoyable family time.

Doing a family craft can be a wonderful way to reconnect; slow down; and spend some quality time as a family.  Even if you say you are not a craft person, today’s abundant choices that are offered online have something for everyone’s skill level and interest.  There are numerous fall crafts for small children featured at All Kids Network.  These cute themes and ideas are colorful and great ways to capture small people, with big imaginations.  They are also a wonderful way to build fine motor skills, with the materials that are used.  For an owl loving child, there is a beautiful and whimsical art project, made from many natural elements.  You and your family can enjoy gathering leaves and acorns to construct this adorable, unique hanging owl for your home as described at HGTV Gardens.  There are further craft ideas broken down by theme at DLTK Growing Together.  From scarecrows to sunflowers, there are some fantastic ideas for family crafting here.

As they say when it comes to raising children, the days are long but the years are short.  On those days when you would like to reconnect as a family and are tired of the same activities, consider doing a family craft.  The rewards are numerous and immeasurable.

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A New Family Time


So it is getting closer to the end of the school year.  I remember that when I went to elementary school many moons ago it was a time of review for finals and very little ‘new’ learning.  That certainly isn’t the case today.  Instead my first grade daughter has an Ecology project and presentation due this Friday and we have just been informed that a History project is coming!

Now it is great that learning has been extended for more of the school year but two big project in the final month seems a bit over the top.  This is especially true for parents of grammer school children who are really the ‘doers’ of these projects.  And yet, looking at it from another perspective these school projects are actually promoting more family time since they call for a family effort to complete them.  Thinking of it this way makes the tears, smiles, Aha’s, tension, time crunches, brain breaks and debates somewhat more bearable.  Already my daughter and us are much wiser about water ecology and smiling about our ideas.  Now lets hope we can pull it off by Friday!  As our fish says…’Don’t worry, be happy’

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Mother’s Day On A Student Budget


Mothers DayMother’s Day is on Sunday, May 11th and, as a student, you probably don’t have much free cash to show your mother a little appreciation on her special day.  The good news is that Mother’s Day isn’t really about spending money so much as it is about showing your mother that you really appreciate all the things she does for you.  When it comes to Mother’s Day, it’s the sincerity and the thought that counts.  It is also about family and connectedness so don’t forget to engage your Mom’s significant other and any siblings you may have.  Here are some really great ways to show your mother a little love on her special day.

Keeping It Clean
While doing chores that you are already responsible for doesn’t count, you can do work your Mother would normally do to make her life easier. Do the laundry, wash her car, clean the house or do all the cooking for a week. Giving her a break will not only make her day, it will also give you an idea of just how much work she puts in to her family and her home.

Spring Picnic
With exams and end of term stress, most of you have not yet been able to enjoy the warmer Spring weather.  Plan a picnic with your family so that you can all spend some time together.  Take your Mother to the park or to another great natural setting.  Make a lunch or dinner for the family to share including all her favorite foods.  Pack some outdoor activities such as soccer or baseball for added family fun.

Family Entertainment
If you mother likes going to the movies or the theater, take her out to see a show on Mother’s Day or stay at home and watch her favorite movie with her (even if it’s not your favorite movie!).  You can make some popcorn and prepare all her favorite snacks too.

Dinner El Fresco
If you are planning to cook your mother a special meal for Mother’s Day, then take it outside! Dinner on the roof, in the garden or in the park is a great way to make a family meal even more fun.  Play charades after dinner or bring a board game that you all enjoy.

Putting in the time and effort to do something special for your mother is what will make Mother’s Day special for her.  Making a cake, creating a card, writing a poem or cooking a special meal is a fool-proof way of showing appreciation on her special day.  Your mom does so much for you and she really deserves a little bit of creativity and imagination this Mother’s Day.  For me this will be the first Mother’s Day since my Mom passed away so it will be challenging but I’ll remember all the great times we had together.

P.S.  Mom’s…it is OK to give us hints on what you’d like to do on your day.  When we’re small we also appreciate you helping us make it a special day!

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 4/25/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Parenting: All Joy, No Fun?


9780062072221_custom-3ad0830c9e5840ec040960b6d50a8049e48fcc91-s2-c85During a recent trip through our Western New York frozen winter wonderland I had the radio on and I was able to catch part of an author interview on my local NPR station.  The @ 40 minute segment was on the Fresh Air program and was titled “Are We Having Fun Yet? New Book Explores The Paradox Of Parenting“.  I only caught a portion of the show but the parts I caught were pretty thought provoking.  As stated on the NPR summary of the interview with Jennifer Senior:

In her new book, Senior writes about how about children change the lives of their parents — for better and sometimes for worse. ‘All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood‘ considers the impact of children on marriage, sex, work, friendships and one’s sense of self. Senior draws on a wide variety of studies, surveys and histories, as well as her own interviews with parents.

Topics discussed in the interview included:

  • Defining the Role of Parents Today
  • Housewives vs. Stay-At-Home Mom
  • Teaching Happiness
  • “Drone” vs. “Helicopter” Parenting
  • The Correlation Between Parental Happiness & Government-Subsidized Social Services

I did not listen to the entire show yet, nor have I read the book but the portions I did catch were intriguing.  I love history and Ms. Senior discusses the history of parenting and how it changed dramatically when child labor became frowned upon in most developed countries during the progressive era between 1890 and 1920. She also shows some depth to her book by citing research done by sociologists, anthropologists, educators and other social scientists.

Listening I had a few ‘aha’s!’, a couple of ‘hummms?’ and a point or two of contention.  To me that adds up to something I should explore more as I continue to learn this parenting thing!  I also thought it something our readers might want to explore more.

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