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 dinner...it'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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

San Francisco Writers Conference

Hi All,

Chad and I attended the San Francisco Writing4Change Conference last weekend.

Mom and son at Fisherman's Wharf
We hoped to get some ideas on publishing our book, How to Break 10 Common Childhood Myths.   It has tips for both parents and educators to help encourage the growth of their children into responsible, independent young adults. We traveled all day Friday and Monday and had sessions all day Saturday and Sunday, from 8:30 until 6 including speakers during lunch. As we filled our heads with knowledge we gained new perspectives on how to go about this endeavor. Since we also have workshops for both parents and educators and Sassy Kids Home Parties for more individual behavior help, we now hope to build a market based on the needs of those parents and educators, and then try for an Ebook market and self-publishing. What do all of you bloggers think? Does anyone have any ideas for us?

We will adjust our blog to answer whatever questions you may have. Feel free to throw them at us, either by commenting below or through our email. Thanks for helping us grow in this new (for us) blogging community.

Next blog: San Francisco, past and present...a great place for families to vacation:)

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fall Chores

Are you in a part of the country where raking leaves is a perennial fall chore?

Remaining November leaves
Yes, autumn leaves are so beautiful!! They have a distinct smell that brings back so many memories...the smell of burning leaves, ahhh...before the ban:(    They bring so much joy for kids to gather and play in. But -- in most areas people rake, pile up, and bag leaves. PUT THOSE KIDS TO WORK!   If you 'train' them when they're very young, they join the family (another key!) and have fun playing while working. As they get older, it's just natural for them to help the family in many ways.

helping with fall chores!

If you allow them to jump into the chore, get muddy, and make a mess they'll have fun and forget that it is a job! Encouraging the results of their work when they're young and the quality is not so hot leads to:
            keeping your expectations realistic
            keeping their enthusiasm high
and later allows you to further encourage higher standards in everything they do.

Please remember that family chores done together increase family cohesiveness. Have fun even when working hard!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Coming next: We attended the Writing4Change Conference in San Francisco this past weekend:)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Holidays are Coming!

     The holidays are not about the table settings, delightful though they may be...
DC adding a touch of whimsey to the table!
nor about the food, as comforting and delicious as it is...
Chad and Scott with Thanksgiving turkey legs:)
The holidays are about those you love....
The Torch Lake adults

and the Torch Lake kids    
family and friends, both here and gone....
the group sends thanks to the veterans
Plan ahead to enjoy the holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving! Teach your children about the need for giving thanks, help them learn to honor the older people around them and those who have passed on, and practice those manners you've been thinking were lacking. Through your love and understanding, 
Bring joy to the table!!

Happy Parenting,
D and C


Sunday, November 7, 2010

backpack troubles??

So now that you've had that parent/teacher conference, would you like some tips for organizing what goes in and out of that backpack?
Are you an 'everyday checker' or a 'whatever checker'?? There can be some scary things in that backpack if you don't stay on top of it everyday....late notes, study guides for tests, requests for information, and even some unrecognizable goo:(
a sample of backpacks in a hallway in an elementary school

This photo was taken after the kids emptied out the homework and snacks after they arrived at school. Notice how they're just hanging open?? Might you have put some important note in there for the teacher??? Maybe some homework is still stuffed in the bottom and doesn't make it to the teacher...anyway, just a suggestion to remind your children to zip their backpacks back up each time they leave them in their lockers or hallway.
something is about to fall out!!
Tip # 2 about backpacks:  Practice having 2 folders inside, one for work coming home and one for finished work and notes going back to school. If you start this organization early in the year, and if your child expects that you will look in that backpack sometime every night, your year should flow a little more smoothly...we hope:)

Finally Tip #3: When homework at night is completed and all notes have been signed, have your child zip up that backpack and put it by the back door for morning. The only thing left to do in the AM is add snacks and/or lunches and the day is off to a successful start!

Happy Parenting,
D and C

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

parent/teacher conferences

    Are you nervous, afraid, anxious, worried, angry, or calm, cool, and collected about seeing your child's teacher and hearing a progress report on both academics and citizenship in the classroom?

Prepare just a little, ahead of time, and you may join the calm, collected group!
     Step 1: Make a list of the things you want to remember to discuss.
     Step 2: Compose yourself into a calm, receptive adult who can listen attentively before becoming defensive.
     Step 3: Please! Assume that the teacher just may be correct about your child's grades and/or behavior.
     Step 4: Ask positive questions about how you can help at home. Keep your interactions totally about your child's actions.
     Step 5: If you are going to request that weekly progress reports be sent to you by email--ask instead if the teacher will reply to  emails from you requesting those reports. Most teachers will gladly reply to an email, but find it difficult due to the number of students they have to remember which child needs a report and how often to send it.
     Step 6: Be positive about the conference when you speak to your child about it. Remind them that small changes can bring great rewards in their school work or behavior.
     Step 7: Remember that a behavior report is often more important than an academic one. Kids' behavior and study habits, including manners and responsibility, lead to success or disaster in the classroom and in their future.

Enjoy your conferences. Enjoy your kids!

Happy Parenting,
D and C

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