Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve with the Kids

     F2 and I were married for ten years before we had kids so we had already gone out to big New Year's Eve parties, and we went to a few more when the boys were little. Then safety on the roads became more of an issue so we began hosting, or going to, house parties that included whole families. 
My honey and I

with kids

It became lots of fun to see if the little ones could manage to stay awake until midnight. A nearby sleeping bag was available for the sleepy ones :)
couldn't quite make it
     As time went on, the kids took part more - having noisemakers of their own, enjoying a fondue party before heading out to their own parties. Finally, it was ..and still is ..the adults trying to stay  awake until the ball drops!!
havin' fun


still awake...but just barely
     Enjoy the years when you can celebrate with your children...they slip by so quickly!

Be safe and Happy Parenting!
D and C

Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of the Year Checklists

Remember some of those Christmas tips we have discussed?

Today we'll see if we can check one or two things off to help keep your kids on track.
     1. Try to replace gifts as you put them away. Have your kids help by grabbing a toy to replace a toy and clothing to replace clothing. Then you can go together to donate the items.
     2. Thank you notes are important:
any kind

whether your style or theirs

Help your kids if they need help, but make sure they are grateful for their gifts.
     3. Schedules: Start thinking about returning to school schedule early so it isn't quite so difficult at the last moment. Think about homework, chores, bedtime, and playing outside. All of them are important and can become a normal daily schedule if you plan ahead.

Now is the time to begin new family goals. Sit down, work together, and come up with a plan that you can stick with.

Happy Parenting,
D and C

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Believe in the Magic

Believe in the magic of the season -- all year:)

Be happy, be joyful, be grateful, be kind, be thoughtful, and be present in the moment! Be the best you can be and encourage others to do the same. What a wonderful world we could have...encourage your little darlings to follow your example!

believing in the magic

Happy Holidays and Happy Parenting!
D and C

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all!!!



Enjoy this precious family time! Merry Christmas!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Christmas "Gimmees"

   Here are some hints for a peaceful and grateful Christmas morning!

     At our house after the kids woke us up, we went directly past the Christmas tree (eyes hidden behind their hands) and headed for the Christmas stockings. That always kept the beginning hoopla of Christmas Day a little calmer with smaller treats including things like fruit, socks, a small Lego, a candy treat...all small, but with Mom and Dad reinforcing - "Wow! Santa knew you needed socks!" or "Sure, you can eat the apple if you want to." or "Want to put  the Lego together now or wait until later?"  AND take photos, it slows the kids down!
     When we went to the tree, we checked to see if Santa had left any unwrapped gifts for the kids  to see right away. Sometimes they were the ones that had to be put together the night before, but sometimes Santa wrapped those gifts so the kids could share in putting them together. We didn't want Santa to be too predictable!!
     We then began taking turns opening gifts one at a time with Mom or Dad always commenting positively on each gift. "Aunt Susie is always so thoughtful, isn't she?" after receiving a sweater, beautiful or not! Make sure your children "parrot" you and appreciate each gift  before moving on to the next child's turn. If there ever were a negative comment or a "yuck" attitude, we would put on our Game Faces and say something like, "Uh, oh...maybe Christmas is over if we can't all be nice..."  Very calm, just a little nudge in the right direction is usually all it takes to remind them of their manners.
     Santa does Not, and should not, give a child every gift he wants. Children can learn that Santa knows best when and where to have kids receive what they should have. Use your imagination to continue the joy! Remember, it's really not about the presents!!
     Thank you notes are important! Please make sure your kids, of all ages, follow through with appreciating all gifts. It helps if the family can sit down and write them together. Also, since kids are so anxious to write letters to Santa before Christmas, how about sending thank you letters to him after Christmas??
I know you've seen this pic before, but how about I say "Thank you, for my boys!!!!
Be thinking about the consequences of your actions on Christmas Day. Make is JOYFUL and GRATEFUL!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Monday, December 20, 2010

Friends for Christmas

A TLG Christmas!!
     Our Torch Lake Group consists of seven families that have known each other for over 35 years!  This year ten of the adults and 5 of the young adults plus a spouse, girlfriend, and boyfriend got together for our annual Christmas bash, otherwise known as a party!!
               Thank you to Crarys for hosting this year:

delicious food
     Beautiful decorations, delicious food, and as always, wonderful memory-making moments!
     The eight "children" of the group were born within nine years to five families, and they, along with their parents, have vacationed together, celebrated all kinds of events, and shared growing up almost as brothers and sisters. They continue to laugh and tease each other, following in the steps of their parents.
     This wonderful group has shared many highs and lows, and we continue to look forward to new excitement and adventures.
The Torch Lake Group, adults and "kids"
If you are lucky enough to have friends like ours, embrace and love them this holiday season :)    There is nothing more precious than to be able to show your children the magic of special friends!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Presents, Part 3

The past two blogs were all about the giving and then hiding of presents. Our Part 3 of Holiday Presents deals with receiving gifts!

It is important to start training your children early if you would like them to become gracious, thankful, and thoughtful receivers-of-gifts as adults.

     1. Make sure your children always say thank you when receiving anything.
     2. Teach your kids to have a kind, smiling face showing appreciation, even if they totally dislike the gift. 
     3. Give your child the gift of being able to appreciate whatever they receive, because of the person giving it and the thought behind it.
     4. One-at-a-time delight and appreciation of each individual gift is taught by your modeling whenever you receive gifts of  any kind. Be careful of what you say in front of your kids...they hear it all!! Please remember that your kids, from a very young age, watch and emulate your responses.
family is important
Show your children that each gift, whether from friends, family, or even Santa Claus, is special and deserves to be acknowledged in a positive, appreciative manner.

Help your children to learn the spirit of the season. Give joyfully to others, but also receive joyfully from others.
The companionship of friends and family should always be the best gift to give and receive. Have fun with each other :)
Use the season to teach your children the values you wish them to have! 

Happy Holidays and Happy Parenting!
D and C

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Presents, Part 2

     Now that your children's gift to others are taken care of (see Dec. 13th), what do you want to do about their gifts from you and from Santa?  If your kids know that you buy them some gifts that you want to be surprises for them, you can give them some tips about not looking around for presents because of the chance of "wrecking the surprise". If they can learn to delay gratification and wait for surprises, their Christmas mornings will be sooo exciting and they will have developed a useful character trait. If they're not looking for your gifts, they won't accidentally find Santa's gifts.
     I had always thought that Chad and Scott didn't snoop when Christmas came around because they liked to be surprised. Wrong!! I just discovered that they were nervous that if they found  surprise gifts we wouldn't let them have them!! I'm sure we never said that exactly, but they could tell from our voices that snooping was not a good thing.
     If you want Santa to last...always keep separate wrapping paper, labels, bows - only to be used by Santa. At our house, Santa wrapped some gifts and left others unwrapped by the tree - and unwrapped trinkets in the Christmas stockings. Last minute wrapping of Santa's gifts is always a great idea. It's less confusing if all family gifts are wrapped ahead of time with the whole family involved (and in our house put away until Christmas Eve). So all you need to be concerned with on Christmas Eve after the children go to bed is wrapping Santa's gifts and arranging the presents under the tree.
whether the presents are wrapped by Mom and Dad
or by Santa
or left unwrapped by Santa

or packages from friends and families

Make sure your kids appreciate each gift individually. More to come in Part 3!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Presents or Presence?

This is the first of a three part series on holiday gift giving.
Today we'll talk about the "giving" of presents. How do you involve your children in the giving spirit of the season?? Well, the operative word here is INVOLVE!
     Decide with your children who they will give gifts to: Mom, Dad, brother, sister, grandparents, teacher, and anyone else you think appropriate. Remember that some of the most precious gifts family members can receive are those that have been made by the children in their lives.
     Then decide, based on the child's age, who will pay and how much. When children are very young, obviously the parents will be in charge of buying gifts and helping with decision-making. As children get older they can begin contributing some of their own money as the decision of what to give becomes more their own. Many schools offer Santa Shops where kids can purchase inexpensive items for all of their special people, and in some cases, the Santa Shop elves even help them with wrapping presents before the kids take them home.
     Do include your children in the wrapping of gifts to give to family members. Involving your kids in thinking about what to give, who to give to and why, and preparing the gift increases their ability to care about others and to think about someone besides themselves.

an obvious overabundance!!

gifts of clothing can be fun:)

Christmas photos when they're young...

...and when they're older - always important!!
Remember to teach your children important messages in the little things you do every day, especially during the holidays!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Monday, December 6, 2010

Joyful Season

Whatever your religious beliefs are - can you find JOY during the holiday season for you and your family?

Small gifts are cool!!
finding fun in the little stuff :)
Kids love traditions: Decorations, both indoors and out!
hiding behind the drummer boys
Friends at holiday parties!
torch lake group:great memories include very strange "looks"
Family brings joy!!!
Chad and Scott are all I need for JOY

Remember to find some calm, peaceful time to appreciate what you have and enjoy your time together!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do You Believe in Santa? you believe in Santa?
Come on, Santa, smile!!
That is always the question, isn't it? Is there really a Santa Claus? How do you answer your children's questions - blow it off, ignore it, answer from the head or from the heart?

We wanted our boys to enjoy those light-hearted, magical beliefs as long as possible. I still believe in Santa...the spirit of a giving soul expecting nothing in return! Shouldn't we all be more like that "Jolly Old Elf"???

If your conversations with your children can begin to focus more on the gifts Santa gives to everyone else, how kind and industrious he is - it may help your children to develop some of those helpful characteristics in their own lives. Santa letters, Santa cookies to give to others, special Santa wrapping paper and bows, trips to see Santa, watching TV specials -- how can that be wrong?
Make sure your child knows what you believe. You do believe in that loving spirit, don't you? If you're confident in what you want for your children in the way of believing or not, then no remarks by kids at school or by crabby relatives can shake them from those beliefs.
a present from Santa :)
The light and sparkle in your kids' eyes should not be extinguished just because others may think your children are too old to believe in Santa. Hold on to what you want for your own kids. Chad and Scott never thought that we had lied to them when they were young but that believing in the spirit of Christmas continues into adulthood. 

I believe in Santa, do you?

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

So we just finished Thanksgiving!!! But, we probably should all continue to focus on giving thanks for what we already have and downplay what we want!! We are role models for our's our choice whether we are good ones or bad ones.

About now kids begin to write those adorable letters to Santa...just how long are they anyway?? If their list is very long or very materialistic...then you might want to "tweak" some of their ideas.

     1. Kids do not 'need' lots of toys - help them see the difference in needs and wants early. Make sure they understand that they will not get everything on that list, nor should they. Santa has many children to give to and shares his toys around the world.

     2. Do not give your children all that they ask for. It saps the excitement from each moment because they begin to understand that, no matter what, they really will get it all.

     3. Christmas morning at our house was always "stockings first". The kids had to wake us up so we could go downstairs together for our stocking stuffers...small things - fruit, matchbox cars, socks. Everything was 'oohed' over and appreciated.
not really awake, but ready!

older, and much more ready...with Corky

    4. When we, as a family, opened gifts under the tree it was always one gift at a time. Everyone watched until that gift was opened, then we moved on to the next, including Mom and Dad. We alternated gifts from Santa and ones from parents. The kids knew they needed the right grateful attitude when opening presents...or we just might stop;)

     5. All during the holidays have the kids help. Chad and Scott helped make cookies, cook, wrap presents for others, straighten up. After Christmas Day see if the kids can find toys they're ready to let go of (ones their new gifts can replace). Have them go with you to drop these things off at a shelter or another organization that helps people.

still in jammies, but helping up a storm!

     Try to instill that attitude of gratitude early. It can begin to enhance their ability to think of others on their own as they get older.

Christmas brotherly love :)

Good luck during the holidays with gratitude!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grief during the holidays

     For those of you going through a tragedy or grief of any kind.. 
This blog is for you....

The holidays can suck .. I know!! When the boys were a senior and a sophomore in high school, their dad - my husband - was killed in a motorcycle accident in our neighborhood. It happened on November 10th, fourteen years ago......What to do!?! ... for Thanksgiving, his birthday (Dec. 4), Christmas, New Year's Eve (surprisingly traumatic), New Year's Day, my birthday (Feb. 6), and Valentine's Day....all within 3 months after his death. Ughhhh!

Fred and I had both worked in the same school district for 28 years, so the kids and I had tons of support from our school families. We were supported and cared for by family and our everloving Torch Lake group.  BUT - how does that help the huge hole in your heart? How do I learn to help my boys grow up to be good men without their wonderful dad??

Lots of questions and, as it turns out, --really no answers! But for the intermediate, just now answers, here are some personal tips from me to you:

     Change up the holidays  -  Do something different!! A friend gave us tickets to the Lions Thanksgiving Day game, so we went, just the 3 of us - different was necessary. I took the boys up north skiing for Christmas. We had to get away from what had been our normal. It was very strange, not exactly happy, but at least together.
     Let your friends help  - We got together with our friends for any and all occasions,  cried together and laughed a lot together. We continued family vacations together with friends that have been there for us forever. But also, learn to be strong on your own.
     Take your time  - Do not let others influence you on what to do with your loved one's stuff - clothes, papers, items of any kind. Take your time! Other people sometimes think it helps to get "reminders" out of the house. Sorry...but you need to decide that for yourself. I took well over 10 years to remove some of Fred's clothes and actually decided this year to make quilts for the boys from their dad's t-shirts. For me, I love him and his spirit around me constantly. Keep your mind and heart open to what works for you.
     Encourage your children - Let your kids talk often about memories of their loved one with you and those who care about them, but don't push them. Our group continues to tell "Fred" stories, have dinners every year celebrating him, and hold him dear to our hearts.

The holidays are no longer sad - we do stay home now. We have full hearts and tons of happy memories to keep us going through changing holiday plans.  It's all good if you embrace the joy of where you are now because of where you were then.

Peace to those of you struggling through this holiday season. Our thoughts are with you.

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Manners

Do your kids know about kindness and respect? How did they act at the Thanksgiving dinner table?
beautiful table, wonderful kids??
If your children sat at the table for the entire dinner, interacted politely with those around them, remembered to say Please and Thank You, and Smiled :) - Congratulations! You must have been doing something right for years!! If that did not look like your table - All of these things can be taught with you as the model. Practice now for a new look for the holiday tables:

     1. Have your kids stay at the table every night until everyone is done with's only polite!!  And then, have them ask to be excused. No...really!! It works - the boys' grandfather is still impressed, 25 years later, that they said, "May we please be excused?" from a long ago holiday dinner.
with Gramma and Grandad Gallimore workin' on manners
     2. Kids need to practice talking to adults, being kind and respectful. Being able to talk to you on a daily basis shows how they will interact with others. Be kind in the family also.

   3. Please and Thank You are SOOOO important!! It is so easy to teach at home if you are constantly modeling what you want and never relaxing your expectations. Kids do what you show them they have to do! Always say please to them (not asking as if it's a request, but just being kind) and always expect a thank you in return. Always say thank you to them. If you hand your kids something keep your hand on it until they 'remember' to thank you. Eventually a look from you will remind them of their required manners. Please help your children to find their manners :)
Practicing manners with Gramma and Grampa Finkbeiner starts early!!
   4. Smiling can be taught!!! Try it...we told our kids that fake smiles were better than real frowns. Besides, your brain reads those smile muscles as happiness - it actually makes you feel better if you smile. HONEST!! Give it a shot!
Torch Lake kids being happy!!

If you concentrate on these few ideas for the next month, your future holiday dinners could be a breeze, and your children could learn valuable lessons for their future.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes:)

Happy Parenting!
D and C


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Family Vacations

Chad and Scott in San Francisco, 1993
Vacationing as a family unit - whether a stay-at-home vacation, a road trip, camping, flying to a new spot, or visiting friends and relatives - is an integral part of building everlasting memories. Wherever you go, whatever you do:

     1. Take photos....and organize or print them when you get home. I know, not very realistic;)    but...TRY!
     2. Make it all about the family. It is not necessary to take extra kids along so your kids can 'have fun'. (More about pouting and whining in future blogs!!)
     3. Bag the cell phones and all internet connections. Instead concentrate on BEING PRESENT with your family. Interact and have fun:)
     4. Plan a little, be spontaneous often.
     5. Have family fun!!

Sometimes you can even reinvent past vacations:

Scott in 1993
Enjoying San Francisco crab!

Chad in 2010
Fisherman's Wharf

Scott and Chad, 1993

Chad on the same posts, 2010

My "boys" are now 32 and 29, but I enjoy them now as much as when they were little. Family is important. We all continue to take photos to build and keep new memories. My 35 filled albums are like best friends that bring me joy.

Enjoy those family vacations and that precious family time!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C
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