Check out this article for tips on grilling safely, fireworks safety, and driving safely!
Check out this article for tips on grilling safely, fireworks safety, and driving safely!
This summer, before you send your children off to camp, remember to review a few basic safety issues.
Find out from camp administration:
With your child:
Learn more here.
Last time, I talked about the importance of sleep, staying positive, and screen time, among other things. Remember, for more information on each of the tips, you can download the entire booklet for FREE from my blog
Tip #6: Monitor your teens. Don’t fall into the idea that because they can legally stay home alone they should be unsupervised all summer. Check out the research in the booklet.
Tip #7: What are we gonna do? Boredom has its benefits. Find out what they are here and avoid rescuing your child when you could help them develop needed skills.
Tip #8: Being Available. Work on sitting down and being available when your child comes in the room. Even if it’s for a few minutes, the rewards can be priceless.
Tip #9: Play together. Find things you all enjoy doing as a family and invest in them
Tip #10: But it went so fast…..Consider an end of summer scrap book activity with the whole family to hang on to favorite memories.
So that’s it! Ten tips to help you make the most of the rest of the summer. Enjoy!
Spring is officially here, and with it comes Spring Break. For many families, budgets are tight. If you are hanging around for your child’s spring break and want some adventure and fun, check out these ideas.
Whichever you choose, be sure to involve your family and children (above age 7) in the planning. Give choices that you can afford and make time for, but remember that having input helps children have more ownership of the activity. Consider having the child who chose the activity act as a “guide for the day” and point out the cool things the activity has to offer. Taking time together can be a wonderful way to bond as a family. Do some planning ahead—is your family one where everyone likes to try new things or likes the comfort of old favorites? Are you adventurous vacationers or relaxers? Keep these in mind while planning.
Even if you can’t afford the money or time to fly across the country to a resort or fancy hotel, consider spending one or two nights in a nice hotel nearby. Some offer stay-cation specials, so be sure to ask. Pick one with a pool or spa and treat yourself to some fun and relaxation.
City Pass offers admission to several local city attractions at about half the cost you’d pay for separate admissions. Passes are good for nine days from the first day you use them. Plus, you can often skip admission lines, because you’ll already have your ticket. Check it out!
Plan a family movie marathon. Check out Film Fun for the Whole Family for ideas of films for the different ages in your house. Pop some popcorn, make a blanket tent, and chill out. You might make up a rating sheet with categories on it: Best actor, Best actress, Most Funny, Most Meaningful, etc. or simply rate the movies from one to ten after watching. Talk about what you liked or didn’t like about the movie and why. What was your favorite part? Least favorite part? What kind of alternate ending might you create if you were the director?
Having fun as a family doesn’t have to break the budget. Put some thought into your these activities, and increase the chances for a fun Spring Break!
Julie and I met at the end of a flight from DC to Denver. We were sitting next to each other and struck up one of those conversations you strike up when you think you'll never see the person again. 45 minutes later, we were still on the tarmac, and as it turned out, only beginning our adventure together.
Both coming from the East Coast and traveling to Seattle, we had different stories. Julie, a mom with young children, had taken on the adventure of leaving them with grandparents and flying across the country to a blogger conference in Baltimore, stopping to sight-see in DC on her way home. I was chaperoning three youth/young adults from my church. We were returning from a trip to DC where we had joined members of other faith communities to advocate for comprehensive sexuality education.
As it turns out, we were stranded together all night in Denver, due to a late March blizzard that shut down the entire airport. We adopted each other, ate together, stood in line together, scouted options for each other, and rallied around the youth for the couple of hours of sleep we got on the nice mats we were given to put on the floor. Here's a video of our adventure: Download Coming Home...
We all miraculously ended up on the first flight out of Denver the next a.m., bonded for life. Now, Julie has thrown her hat in the ring on the Oprah site for her own show. It's about things people do everyday for fun and exercise. I am a big fan of this idea, especially since Julie witnessed me and one of my youth doing yoga in the airport during our strandedness. So, please go here and vote for her. You can vote as many times as you want, as long as you're 18 or over, so go ahead--vote early, vote often!
Julie also has her own blog and website: Chubby Mommy Running Club. Plus, you can find her on facebook! Have fun, and make it a great day!
We pull into the rental car lot to return the car that we have spent way too many hours in during the past week. Ahead of us is a young family with a little girl staring into space with that "What am I doing up this early?!" expression I probably have, too.
Turns out, they are on the same shuttle we are to the airport, and even cite the same airline to the driver. As we exit the bus in front of the airport, this seemingly mild-mannered mother, with limp blond hair and a somewhat mousy appearance, shouts, "SH*T!" She turns around and in a loud voice (perhaps so we can all purposely hear her or perhaps I'm just nosy) says, "HE left the car seat in the car, so he'll need to go back with you." Bummer, I think. I empathize, since I've left stuff in rental cars before, and have been equally as stressed traveling with young children while exhausted from short nights of not enough sleep.
As our family drags our luggage over, up, and across to the terminal, the woman's voice follows. She is narrating the situation....to her daughter? The 3-year-old right next to her? Seems to me it may be for public benefit (or again, maybe I'm just that sleep deprived that I'm inappropriately listening to this conversation) that she continues, "Daddy forgot your car seat and had to go back and get it." (Read I didn't forget the car seat....) I wonder if this is a contract they have: Ok, you're in charge of the car seat, and I'm in charge of what goes in the car seat (a/k/a sleepy daughter). Or is it one of those unspoken "understandings" most couples have but that trip us up at the most inopportune moments? (My dad *always* took care of the car seat! or You've always taken care of the car seat before....). She continues to narrate loudly, "We need to go over here and wait for Daddy and the car seat he went back for."
You may be wondering why I put so much thought into this. I don't know, really. Maybe it was the empathy I felt for this mom and my younger self, in my more self-conscious days as a parent of young children...
We get to security (I vow to get a new carry on bag so this process does not involve wrestling a laptop) and get to the gate where I strike up/continue a conversation with a woman we met yesterday on a college tour at the University of San Diego. Daddy shows up with the car seat. There is a (I'm not proud of this thought) disappointing lack of drama about it all. I think maybe he deserves some appreciation for the extra trip back to the car rental place in the shuttle all alone with the driver, hearing Mommy's voice in his head. I imagine the Gate Attendant on the PA in an Ed McMahon tone: "Ladies and gentlemen, seated today in row 10, it's Daddy--who has already today, before 8:00 in the morning, successfully retrieved a forgotten car seat from the rental car place AND made it to the gate in time to relax with his daughter before boarding! Let's hear it for Daddy!"
As we board the plane and head north, I'm left thinking that perhaps we all need a little more appreciation in our lives--just for making it through some days. So go ahead, borrow Ed McMahon's voice in your head for a minute. Think about something you did today--could be something you do every day--but something that no one really appreciated. Hear that, "Heeeere's YOU! Deserving of appreciation for _______________________! Let's hear it, folks!" Wild applause. Aw shucks. Thank you. Thank you very much. I'll be here all week......
I know better. I really do. But every once in awhile I do something crazy like run errands involving purchasing Easter Candy during the lunch hour. When I'm hungry. Maybe it was a rebellious reaction to the "spring cleaning" yoga class I'd just attended--one designed to detoxify our bodies from heavy, fatty, sugar-laden food ingested during the holidays and winter months. Maybe it was just too much detoxification for me in one day. At any rate, suffice it to say that a small chocolate binge occurred in my presence this noon.
Later on, when I was looking for Easter in the storage closet (where are those boxes I so carefully re-organized earlier this year? Where did I put them? I know the stuff is in clear boxes--oh! There they are. Right next to Christmas. Hmmm. Appropriate....), I began to reminisce about this holiday.
When our boys were young, we would tie a string to a note or picture and they would follow the string to find their baskets. This evolved into picture clues, then multiple word clues in multiple places, generally alternating between up and down stairs, so they would wear off a bit of excitement before digging into chocolate and jelly beans and counting the change we'd hidden in plastic eggs. We'd cut some flowers from our yard for the cross at church, and proceed to our place of worship, where they would participate in another egg hunt. Sometimes, there was an extended family gathering with ham and fruit salad.
This year, we'll celebrate Easter apart--three of us on a plane to California for the Great 2010 College Tour, the fourth happily at college with his buddies. But I kind of feel like I've already been given my Hallelujahs this year, since I happened to be in Washington, DC when the health care legislation was passed. (I'd also like to note for the record, that Joe Biden stole my line. I didn't actually say the f-word though. On Sunday, when I was saying I wanted to eat dinner somewhere where we could watch the proceedings on CNN, the youth I was with were unimpressed by the historic relevance of this moment in time. "This is history!" I exclaimed! "Everything you've just said is history," they said, with the swagger and confidence of youth. "Well," I responded to their response, "it's....it's...it's a BFD is what it is! A Big Freakin' Deal!" At which point the Rabbi in the room who'd been listening to our conversation quietly got up and started streaming CNN on the laptop through the projector in the room. Gotta love Michael Namath.)
So anyway, a part of my soul feels like Easter already came, even though tomorrow is Good Friday, and there are forces at work to tear down the hard-won victory. Isn't that how it always goes, though? Work for good, someone might wreck it--do it anyway? (I'm paraphrasing here...).
This year, I'll put out the bunny and egg decorations, I'll lovingly create Easter baskets (a day early, and 2 "to go" ones for the college roommates), and I'll pray and sing Hallelujah on Sunday, no matter where I am. And this Easter, I will also hold in my heart and celebrate the face book status I read yesterday, attributed to John Fugelsang: "Obama is not a brown-skinned, anti-war socialist who gives away free health care. You're thinking of Jesus." Yeah, that Jesus. He was a BFD, too.
I had the incredible honor and privilege to be part of a group of faithful, religious communities joined in voice to promote comprehensive sexuality education last week in Washington, DC.
The 6th Annual SEAT (Sexuality Education Advocacy Training) was put on by the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Union for Reform Judaism. I am still processing, interpreting, coveting, and holding dear and discerning best ways to share all that I learned and experienced there.
Aside from the fact that 40 of us came from literally all over the country (Washington State, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Texas, New Mexico, California, Indiana, Delaware, Massachussetts, etc), the experience of joining together as people of faith to be a religious voice to our legislators about a topic so precious to me touches my heart deeply.
Lobbying was, how can I say this? Way cool!!!!! Empowering, inspiring, patriotic....
Being in community with people who are intergenerational (lots of youth and young adults there with us older folks), interfaith, advocates for sexuality education of the comprehensive variety seemed to be a match made especially for me. I love teenagers, I love my faith and learning about the faith of others, I love advocates and advocating, and I love sexuality education. 'Nuf said.
But what I really want to share is a prayer written and read by UUA Reverend Meg Riley at our closing time together. You can go here for her post, and I am also including the text of her prayer below. I hope it touches and inspires you like it did me. And you can take that inspiration into action by contacting your legislators and asking them to support the REAL Act (Responsible Education About Life), which is legislation that would open up a federal funding stream for comprehensive sexuality education. Please also ask that they DEFUND abstinence only education--those funds have already been allocated and must be defunded or they just keep on giving groups money to spread myths like HIV is spread through tears, and condoms failure rates are 30% (go here and here for some really entertaining presentation of some really startling information.
Here's the prayer, with my blessings added to Reverend Meg's, and in conjunction with my faith community in supporting us all to be healthy, included in community with one another, and loved always.
Sweet source of hope and healing, longing and life,
We know our first responsibility is to create a world which supports the growth of our world’s children
A world safe for them to explore, and to learn and grow, without being judged or punished.
A world safe for them to make mistakes, knowing there is nothing they can do to lose our love.
May we provide them with tools to protect themselves and those they love from decisions which hurt—information about the physical, spiritual, emotional aspects of sexuality.
May they know it is safe for them to come to us always, and we won’t make it worse.
We wish that life were simple.
We wish that unwanted pregnancies never occurred,
That no one engaged in any kind of sexual activity without protection and real choice, real response-ability,
That all people were equally valued.
We wish that every person knew his or her own beauty and worth, and thus that of the others with whom she or he interacted.
A child I love dearly, aged ten, was struggling with gender identity.
“Do you ever feel,” I prodded gently, trying to understand, “as if you were born into the wrong body?”
The young one paused for a moment of silence, and responded, “Nope, this is my body all right. I feel like I was born into the wrong world!”
We pray that we can make this wrong world a little bit more right for our children.
May they know and cherish their own bodies as sacred, beautiful, true.
May we create a world which reflects this back to them.
May we demand schools, governments, communities, which honor them
And in so doing, be worthy of this gift of life, this beautiful broken world.
I was well into adulthood before I realized how incredibly lucky I was to have all four of my grandparents still living. Especially when I met my husband, and realized he had not known his grandparents well and had only known them as a child and teen, I took a step back and felt gratitude. In addition, I much more frequently counted the blessings they have bestowed upon my life, rather than taking them for granted.
I lost my mom's dad first. An incredibly successful business man, he had succombed to an Alzheimer-like disease not too many years after retiring. My other grandfather made it to 99 1/2, though he'd been telling us for decades prior to that what a good life he had lived and that he was ready to meet his maker. It became the family joke that he might be ready to meet his maker, but apparently, his maker wasn't quite ready to meet him yet.
His wife, my dad's mom, was a quintessential grandma. She baked each person's favorite cookies when we visited, she made homemade presents for us, she was proud of us no matter what. I still have unfinished needlework of hers that I just can't bring myself to give or throw away. She loved dogwood, and unfortunately, she once let some family member know she kind of liked ducks, so she had quite a collection of duck everything when she passed. Even in her retirement home years, she found ways to have cookies stashed for us when we visited. I miss her terribly, and I have planted a dogwood and cross-stitched stockings for children in our family in her honor.
My Grandma Betty is my mom's mom. We have been blessed to have shared a beautiful relationship, mostly as adults. I wasn't that close to her as a young child--I spent much more time around my other grandma then. But during my college years and as I became an adult, a bond grew between me and this grandma. This at times caused tension between me and my mom, because, as these things go, we often have an entirely different relationship with our parents than our children do. But I think God knew what She was doing when she created grandmothers and grandfathers, and the whole dynamic is part of growing up, separating, and choosing which parts to keep of where we came from. Not to mention those chances grandparents get to be different with grandchildren than they were with their own kids.
Grandma Betty is one of the most quietly generous people I know. The enormity of her generosity still catches me off guard, as much as the attitude with which she does it. She acts like it's expected of her to give this much. From her, I have learned the embodiment of "To whom much is given, much is required." How she has chosen to be generous is as much of a gift to me as that she is generous.
Grandma Betty rarely cooks. Instead, she finds wonderful, special treats and quaint restaurants and creates special meal times. I visited her many times in a home she used to have in California, usually in the spring, and we would spend long hours talking over breakfast (with fresh squeezed orange juice and freshly brewed swiss water decaffinated coffee) or lunch on the porch, which always seemed to include a few radishes and hamentashen, a three-cornered, fruit-filled pastry she found at a local bakery. She had camelia bushes, and bought boquets of Protea flowers from a farm nearby. Once, I found Protea flowers at a Trader Joe's near my home in Washington. I couldn't wait to get them home and call her to tell her I got them. She laughed with me and we reminisced about old visits. I sent her camelia's on her birthday from the tree in my yard, and she called to gush over their successful arrival in Indiana in winter.
My grandma's home is the only home that has remained constant throughout my life. When I was a little girl, I played barbies behind a blue chair in her living room and slept in my mom's old room, which had a cool three panel mirror a bathroom with wonderful old wall paper. She has a cuckoo clock in her breakfast nook (and she has a breakfast nook...), a screened in back porch, and a finished basement with a small player piano. Until recently, she still hauled her laundry up two stories to hang out on the porch off her upstairs bedroom. She didn't have to haul it down to the basement, because there are laundry chutes on each floor. She has given me countless gifts throughout the years, but by far the most precious is her love of me and my family.
She's not well. After hitting her 90th birthday a few years ago, she's had ever-increasing challenges. Though still in her own home, now with around-the-clock care, she is failing. I will be visiting next week, making one of those heart-wrenching journies where you know it will be the last time you see a beloved person alive.
As I grieve the loss of her faculties and abilities and the parts of her that she has shared with me so generously over the years, I am aware that a rite of passage is in the wings. My last living grandparent is dying. Soon, I will be one generation closer to parting this world.
At church, there is a hymn that I love called "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God." There is a part that speaks of how saints are all around us, ordinary people doing good in the world:
"You can meet them in school, or
In lanes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too."
While I believe all my grandparents are saints, the truth is that I have a very special place in my heart for Grandma Betty. She has been my Fairy Grandmother, appearing predictably and unpredictably with her own quiet magic wand, showering me and my loved ones with so many gifts that I might have had a time or two when I thought I was a princess. She has been a constant touch point in the midst of life's chaos. Her generosity has not been earned, nor deserved, nor taken for granted, but it has graced my life and helped to make me who I am. When my time comes, as Fairy Grandmothers go, I mean to be one too.