Thursday, May 29, 2014

Six Secrets to Summer!

School is out for summer!  It is the favorite time of year for most children I know.  But parents enter this transition with mixed feelings.  What does the new schedule look like, if there is a schedule at all.  Will the siblings be bored and fighting within a few hours of the final school bell?  Will there be tears about going to camp?  The questions about what the summer will hold are rattling around in every parent's brain.  I can still remember feeling the panic that would set in, while attending the final performance at school...oh no, what am I going to do now that they won't be in school?

Here are some tips for making the most out of your summer, from a mom who has weathered 25 years of them!

  1. Have a plan:  Summer is the time to kick back a little and relax, but children always adjust better when there is some structure in their lives.  Explain to them what a summer day will be like.  A schedule that used to work for our family was swim lessons and then chores and study time in the morning, and when the "work was done, it was time for fun!"  But depending on the age and maturity levels of your children, you will need to find what works for you.
  2. Make a list:  Get out the markers and a poster board and have some fun brainstorming simple activities you hope to do this summer.  This list is a great way to inspire your children to think about what they hope to do with you.  If you are in need of some ideas, head over to Pinterest for inspiration.  Or check out the website.
  3. Enjoy the simple things:  Go play at a park, pack a picnic, take a bike ride, visit your library and sign up for the children's programs, color, play board games, make lemonade, bake a cake, go swimming, hike in a forest preserve, run through a sprinkler, visit a farmer's market.  There are so many opportunities for simple summer fun.
  4. Guard against summer slump:  Academics shouldn't disappear for the entire summer.  Keep your children learning and growing but embrace fun ways to stay sharp.  Play math games in the car, write poems to each other, visit museums and zoos to learn new things about history or animals.
  5. Think outside the box: One year we placed a small tent in our yard and encouraged the kids to use it for a "special" reading place.  Even though it got hot inside, they loved this idea of a unique place of their own.  So get creative and do something different whether it is pitching a tent, planting a garden, or painting a mural.  Kids love the opportunity to experience new things.
Savor the summer.  Remember to view family life with rose colored glasses.  To use a metaphor, see your bucket as half full rather than half empty.  Eventually you will run out of summers with your little ones.  They grow up so fast, so seize the day!  Live summer to the fullest and enjoy this precious time with your children. 

Helpful links:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

This weekend we celebrated my daughter, Christina's graduation from college.  And this week's blog is dedicated to her and her accomplishments.

Dear Christina:

From the day you were born, you served up the unexpected.  Ending up in the hospital for 11 days was just your way of making a grander than expected entrance, and the memories I have of all of your family gathering around your incubator/plexiglass cubical to be near you, and hold you and shower you with love and attention truly made an impact on the type of person you would become.  You have always put family first, and when given the opportunity showered all of us with your love and attention as if you had already decided in those first few days of life that you would "pay it forward" to all of us.

If a character in a novel held your name, the image that would come to mind would be of a raven haired, olive skinned beauty: Christina Marie Lantero.  But once again, you serve up the unexpected through your porcelain fair skin, strawberry golden locks and beautifully expressive, dark blue eyes.

Your fierce independence was evident even back in preschool, when Mrs. Hoekwater wanted you to have a "buddy" to help when you broke not one, but BOTH of your arms.  And I remember you telling me in no uncertain terms, that if you had to endure another day with a "buddy", you simply would prefer not to return to preschool!

From high school to college, your father and I have been able to see you mature with such grace and style;  seeing you form amazing friendships with a wide spectrum of personalities, watching you overcome obstacles and disappointments, and cheering you on as you juggled sports and activities, while maintaining your grades and nurturing the people around you.  You have always been willing to step up and lend a helping hand when I have needed you.  You have no idea how much that means to me.  You helped with the retirement party last year, and the educational conference, and there have been countless other times you have created videos or slide shows that have enriched your family's lives.  Your giving nature has exceeded all of my expectations.

And now, you have graduated with a degree in education.  I figured you would find a job at a wonderful local school and they would be so glad to have found you.  But no, you will be heading to the other side of the globe, to inspire and teach and influence lives in the polar opposite time zone! 

Words cannot express how proud I am of you and your accomplishments.  You are fearless,intelligent, kind, and passionate.  You will be a wonderful role model to all of your students.  And I can hardly wait to see what life has in store for you.  Of one thing I am sure.  It will be completely unexpected but utterly delightful.  Just like you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gardening Will Have To Wait!

 All parents know that when the calendar fills up the first thing to be sacrificed is self care.  We are programed with all the expectations of our family members and somehow the time for ourselves gets forgotten.  In my case, when I get sacrifice my "me time" the whole family pays the price.  My fuse is shorter, my moods are swingier, my thought process is weirder.  As you can tell, I'm in that place right about now.

So what can I do?  How should I react?  Who should I punch? Or wait, maybe that is not the answer.  Here is what I am prescribing for myself during these next hectic few weeks.

1.  EXERCISE!  I read once that if all the benefits of exercise were contained in pill form, we would all be taking it!  And I know from experience that exercise, even just a walk around a block or two, can have a calming effect and elevate my mood.

2.  Dial Down the Caffeine and Sugar:  I don't need to be adding any substance in my body that is going to add to my already jittery self.  When my mind says "go ahead and indulge, you need this"...I will stay strong and brew a cup of herbal tea or an icy glass of club soda mixed with a splash of fruit juice.

3.  Stock Up:  If I am shopping, I am going to consciously try to buy the necessities in bulk, so that running out of toilet paper or paper towels will not be an issue in the next hectic few weeks.

4.  Call in Reinforcements:  Have a friend or relative or babysitter come over to lend a hand if I am truly overwhelmed or need help.  There is no shame in asking for help.

5.  Reevaluate Expectations:  Okay, maybe I need to reevaluate what I can humanly achieve in the month of May.  Vegetable garden might not make the cut.  Sorry Michelle Obama, I need to go brew my herbal tea.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gifts my mom gave me!

What gifts can you thank you mother for giving you?  I did some reflecting on what I have been given from both my mom and mother-in-law, and came up with this list of knowledge that they have shared and passed along to me and my family:

  • Put family first
  • Share what you have.
  • Delight in other's happiness
  •  Never stop learning
  • Practice your faith.
  • Love your grandchildren
  • Learn how to cook at least a few things very well
  • Don't stop exercising
  • Smile a lot and laugh often
  • Appreciate beauty in all forms
  • Treasure your friends
  • Value your marriage
  • Accept change with grace
I would love to hear the gifts that your mom passed on to you.
And Happy Mother's Day to all of our lovely moms!