Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions For The Kids Too!

From Vincent Iannelli, M.D., Your Guide to Pediatrics at

In addition to your own New Year's Parenting Resolutions, this year, how about helping your kids, even your preschoolers and younger school age kids, come up with some New Year's Resolutions?
With the rise in childhood obesity, continued parental complaints about discipline and behavior problems, and continued teen problems, such as drug and alcohol use, some New Year's Resolutions to be healthy might be a good idea.

This year, the American Academy of Pediatrics has made it easy by providing these 20 New Year's tips, which you might talk to your child about trying, depending on their age

Read The Twenty New Year's Tips By Clicking Here

I wish your family a Happy, Healthy, Blessed New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Resolve To Be A More Effective Parent This Year

With Advice From Pediatrician Vincent Iannelli, M.D.,

We often hear of New Year's Resolutions for people to start exercising more, eat healthier, stop smoking, etc., but this year, how about adding some resolutions to help make you a more effective parent?
Is there anything you would like to, or need to, change about your parenting techniques?

Is there a behavior or habit of your child that you wish you could help change?

Here are some parenting resolutions that you may consider making to help your child lead a healthy and happy life:

>Be A Good Role Model

>Effective Discipline

>Learn to Understand Your Child

>Teach Your Children to Eat Healthy

>Encourage Regular Physical Activity

>Know Your Kids

>Be Prepared

These are all super resolutions - I'm sure we're all in agreement on that!
But how do we put these ideas into practice in our parenting? (and grandparenting?)
Read the rest of Dr. Ianelli's article here for some answers.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Children and Holidays : A Year Round Celebration

by Barbara Freedman-De Vito

For children, every month of the year should be a fun-filled celebration of something special, from large occasions like the birth of a new brother or sister, a child's birthday, or Christmas, to the smaller milestones of everyday life, such as losing the first baby tooth or coming to the end of another school year. Often families hold large-scale celebrations surrounding certain events, but may pass others over entirely. The purpose of this article is to suggest ways in which parents can make every month special and uniquely memorable for their children.

Picture the scene. It's Christmastime. Many homes, especially if there are children, are framed in twinkling lights, have Christmas wreaths hanging on the front doors, and perhaps Santa's sleigh adorning the front lawn, in addition to a lovingly trimmed Christmas tree in the livingroom. The act of making or putting up these decorations provides a special opportunity for parents and children to participate in a creative endeavor together. It heightens the child's anticipation of the big holiday to come and provides an enjoyable day spent doing things together.

Because of its association with a very special annual event, it may particularly stand out in the child's mind and even become a cherished childhood memory, lasting long after the child has grown into adulthood. Moments such as these linger and contribute to the special bond between parents and children and become tender memories that grown children and their parents can hold onto forever.

After New Year's Day, when the Christmas tree comes down and the last string of tiny light bulbs has been packed away, it's a bit of a letdown and signals a return to the routine passing of the days. Well, instead of just packing away all of these fanciful flourishes for another year, why not segue directly into another holiday ? In January, this could be preparations for Chinese New Year or for Valentine's Day. Why not put equal care and attention into doing up the house for each subsequent special event throughout the year ? With a bit of planning and effort, every month can mark a new festival of creativity, excitement and anticipation. The house need never revert to dullness and children need never feel that the fun's all over until next year. This practice will also allow your children to take pride in their own artistic accomplishments, the fruits of which will be on display all around them.

Here is a list of just some of the annual events that you might wish to make a bigger fuss over, in terms of decorating a single room or decorating your entire home, inside and out. You may even choose to make gift-giving a part of a broader range of annual events, just for the pleasure of giving. You might bake a special cake and have a party with a particular theme in mind, and incorporate that theme into all of your table trimmings. Some of the following widely celebrated holidays and other special observances have fixed dates, while others vary a bit from year to year :

January 1 - New Year's Day
midJanuary - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
January - Chinese New Year
February - African-American History Month
February 2 - Groundhog Day
February 14 - Valentine's Day
March - Women's History Month
March 17 - Saint Patrick's Day
late March or April - Easter
April - National Library Week
May - Older Americans Month
May – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May - Be Kind To Animals Week
midMay - Mother's Day
midJune - Father's Day
July 4 - American Independence Day
September - Grandparents Day
September 15 to October 15 - Hispanic Heritage Month
October 12 - Columbus Day
October 31 - Halloween
November - American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month
November - National Children's Book Week
late November - Thanksgiving
late November or December - Chanukah
December 25 - Christmas
December 26 to January 1 - Kwanzaa

To find detailed information on designs to use or special pictures and symbols to go with each event, you can consult Internet or find a book on holidays at your local library. Whatever your religion, you may also want to decorate your home for your faith’s unique holidays and traditional celebrations, the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot, for example. Don't forget to doll up the place for all personal family events, too, such as each family member's birthday, graduations, anniversaries and the like. How about celebrating when your child successfully learns to ride a bicycle or loses a baby tooth ? You might even mark the arrival of a new pet, or a long overdue visit from a favorite relative who lives far away.

For each event, you may or may not choose to use some store-bought ornaments and objects related to the festivity, but you should also always include many homemade decorations. The art sessions during which you and your children design and make your own decorations add to family closeness and create special memories in and of themselves. They also encourage your children to tap their own creativity, to develop original ideas and see them through, and to trust their own instincts.

You might buy some basic materials, such as rolls of ribbon or crepe paper or rolls of colored cellophane and pipe cleaners, or really maximize your resourcefulness by relying primarily on odds and ends that you already have lying around the house. These could include bits of colored construction paper, tin foil, crayons, cotton balls, leftover ribbons and yarn. Be careful, of course, to keep scissors and swallowable objects out of the reach of small children and exercise caution if you have pets in your house. Please be careful not to use any decorations or materials that may be poisonous, such as poinsettias, or otherwise harmful to pets. For example, cats may swallow tinsel, which can then block their intestines, or pets may become tangled up in or choked by long, string-like strips of ribbon and such.

When plannng each project, let your kids decide what to make and where to put each item, or start with one room plus an idea of that room's overall decorative potential, such as a garland here, a mobile there, and a picture over there, and then set about to construct each desired element. Take plenty of photos along the way, not only of your resplendant rooms once they've been all gussied up, but also of your family's "making of" activities. You may even decide to start a special photo album just for this purpose.

Later, when the time comes to take down all of the decorations from a particular special event, pack them lovingly away so that next year you can reuse some, in addition to creating some new ones each year. You can gradually build up your own personal inventory of special ornaments and trimmings for each event in the year. Then, in years to come, they can be brought out for nostalgic afternoons with your adult children, or for sharing with your grandchildren. Each decoration or photo will have its own story to tell and, after all, these are the special moments that lifetime memories are made of.

Visit Barbara Freedman-De Vito's shop for T-Shirts, Mugs, Magnets, Clothing, and Gifts with holiday designs and more.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007


There's a strong connection between family traditions and rituals and the ability of a family to survive and thrive in today's world.

The family has changed dramatically over the last century. Family members are spread across the country. Young and old have their own separate, hectic schedules. Family time becomes a casualty to tired parents, children's sports practices or lessons, and the lure of television. We're also caught between a pop culture ideal of individual happiness and fulfillment, and the dream of love and connection sold in commercials. We still love each other and we have no less desire for meaning and connection. But we drift apart and feel empty.

We don't know how to deal with the changed family. We generate the highest expectations of family life of any generation in human history, but provide the least guidance and support for making it happen. There are few rules. And so we struggle along, each trying to figure it out in a way that will make sense for ourselves and our circumstances. Building a family, just like building a home, a career, or world peace, needs a plan and conscious, continuous effort. It also requires a foundation on which to build and maintain real relationships, even when they get messy and difficult.

One way to establish that foundation, to find order amid the chaos, is through tradition and ritual. This doesn't mean "going back to the good old days" (there really weren't any), but it does mean connecting to each other and our communities in a habitual pattern that we can count on and that slows us down every once in a while. Traditions and rituals are a powerful way to balance the whirlwind of our lives. We are creatures of habit. And when we ingrain a family tradition, it becomes a habit that anchors us. Traditions and rituals can pull us back to what's important – a story at bedtime, a weekend meal, a holiday gathering. Our best memories – and sometimes our worst – tend to be tied to family traditions and rituals. It's not only how we communicate in a family, but how we enact our connections that matters. Research is slowly beginning to uncover tradition and ritual as a very important factor in strong, close families.

Read the rest of this article Here at the National Legacy Project website, then take a look at 12 Ideas for bringing the generations of your family closer together.

1. Start in the Kitchen: Research shows the kitchen - not the living room or dining room - is the most relaxed place to make cozy memories. We smell, we taste, we talk, we learn things in the kitchen. Something as simple as baking cookies (even if you use a mix!) can create a loving memory.

2. Have Your Own Family Book Club
: Choose a new book every month. If you're a grandparent who lives far away from your grandchildren, mail a book a month - even send along an audiotape of yourself reading the story! This gives you something to share, and to talk about in person or over the phone.

3. Use the Power of Story: Read aloud as a family- even with teenagers! It's a cozy activity all ages can enjoy that builds bonds - and can start important conversations. When you finish a story, share the memories or stories from your own life that it evokes. This helps children get to know you and themselves. Bring your stories alive by using old mementos (your mother's earrings, your grandfather's watch, an old train ticket).

4. Make It Picture Perfect: Have a family scrapbook party. Children, parents, and grandparents can choose their favorite photos and you can decorate themed pages. It's a great way to organize those scattered photo packets, recall family memories, and create a treasured keepsake. If you live far apart, photocopy old family photos, write a few lines at the bottom about what's going on, and every once in a while mail a photocopy as a reminder of family history.

5. Involve All Ages in a Collection: Whether it's rocks, coins, or baseball cards, a shared family interest gives generations something to talk about and enjoy together.

6. Give a Keepsake: When parents and grandparents give a keepsake, explain or write down the story behind it. Where did it come from? Why is it important?

7. Remember Two Small Words: parents should encourage a simple "thank you" note whenever children get a gift from a grandparent. This teaches kids an important social skill, and makes grandparents feel appreciated.

8. Bestow Your Furniture: Assign a special piece of furniture to each child or grandchild. It's like giving twice - now and in the future- and makes children feel important.

9. Encourage Family Rituals: The more complicated the world gets, the more simple things matter. From waving good-bye from the same window every morning to going to the local pizza place every Friday night, these are the moments that make memories.

10. Share Your "Best Memory": Even in a strained relationship, one of the most powerful gifts you can give is a short note describing your best memory of someone. They're often surprised at what it is!

11. Interview an Elder: When children interview an elder, they learn an important communication skill and come to understand their past. Older people often value the chance to talk about their lives.

12. Hug Someone You Love: Research shows that the older people get, the fewer hugs we give them. But "big, warm smiles and warm snuggly hugs" aren't just for kids. We all need them! Remember to give your child or grandchild, and your parent or grandparent, that extra hug.

The national Legacy Project is a community service initiative that offers grandparents and parents lots of free information, ideas, activities, and contests to bring the generations in your family closer together. These 12 tips to get you started are from Legacy Project Chair Susan V. Bosak. For more great ideas, visit the Legacy Project website at

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Preserving A Festival Of Hope

By Eugene J. McCarthy

One should not take Christmas for granted, though it has managed to survive "Jingle Bells" and even "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."

It has survived biblical scholarship that questions the time and place of the Nativity and raises doubts as to whether or not the Three Wise Men ever went to Bethlehem. It has survived the new theology that says Easter's religion mystery is of greater significance that that of Christmas.

Christmas has even survived civil liberties organizations pledged to eliminate the observance of the day from schools.

Christmas has, so far, withstood the threat of artificial trees and plastic ornaments.

Its strength lies in the fact that Christmas is a celebration of hope, and hope dies hard. Hope is a special virtue of children and a special need of adults.
Hope is very difficult to describe or to represent in sign or symbol. One can only work around it, leaving empty spaces to be filled.

There are five or six important guides that, I believe, would help protect and preserve Christmas as a festival of hope.

The first is that the tree should be real. It should threaten to fade and lose its needles before the end of the holiday season. The ornaments should not be plastic or permanent, but should be fragile and breakable. One or two should be broken each year. The rest should be saved, carefully packed away from year to year.

The wrapping of gifts with special Christmas paper, a practice that developed to its present strength during the Great Depression, when people had little to give, should be continued. It is, I think, also a good practice to save paper and boxes from one Christmas to the next, in anticipation of sending presents, even though the paper or boxes in most cases are not reused.

The saving of them is an act of hope.

There are no set rules for gifts to adults, but as to children's gifts, there are some worthy of note.

Obviously, there should be toys, but among those toys should be one or two that will not last much beyond the Christmas season. A drum for a boy, as an example, which he will play knowing that it will not last long and knowing also that it may well be the last drum he will ever be given.

There should be at least one gift that cannot be used until another season, thus giving in winter a dream of spring or summer, or fall.

I am against new pets as Christmas gifts. Old pets are fine at Christmas, but new pets are a distraction and, in any case, deserve separate attention.

In cold climates, at least one gift should be something to keep one warm.

Other holidays appeal to one or two of the senses, but Christmas appeals to all five: taste with its special foods; touch with fire and warmth; hearing with music; and sight with trees and tinsel. More than any other holiday, Christmas also respects the sense of smell. Among the threee gifts brought to Bethlehem by the Wise Men, The Scriptures tell us that two - frankincense and myrrh - appealed to the sense of smell. So Christmas should be remembered for the scents of pine, oranges, ginger and cloves.

Former Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota died Dec. 10, 2005

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Best Santa Videos On The Web!

And remember - to track Santa and see how close he is to your house tonight, visit NORAD's Santa Tracker at

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Christmas Ornament Tradition

Ideas for starting a Christmas ornament tradition in your family - by Rachel Paxton.

When my husband and I got married, my mother-in-law introduced me to one of her favorite Christmas traditions. She has five children, and for years she has been collecting ornaments for each of her children so that they can take their collection of ornaments with them when they have their own families.

I decided to start this tradition in our own family. Every year my daughter picks out a new ornament for her own collection. It's fun to look through all of the old ornaments and see how her collection has grown. The variety of ornaments shows how her tastes and interests have changed throughout the years.

You would think only girls would be interested in collecting Christmas ornaments. Actually, my husband has a lot of Christmas ornaments he really enjoys. He has several ornaments representing his favorite college and NFL football teams. He also treasures many of the keepsake ornaments his mother has made for him throughout the years.

There are a variety of ornaments you and your children can choose from to collect. If you have the time and desire to make them, you can purchase many types of ornament kits at craft stores. You can find beaded ornaments, ornaments made from felt, ornaments made from plastic canvas, and many others. This year I found a Nemo felt ornament kit at Walmart. My boys love Nemo and I thought they would be fun to make. They are turning out beautifully, but are taking much longer to make than I expected. I'll maybe have them done by next year! You might choose to make ornaments with your children. Clay ornaments are easy and fun to make.

If you don't want to make ornaments, buying them can be fun too. This year I purchased my boys' ornaments at a Christmas craft show. They had clay ornaments made to look like Thomas the Tank Engine that were absolutely adorable. They personalized the ornaments with their names and the year for free. Christmas bazaars are a great place to look for unique ornaments. Look for ornaments while you are travelling. Many gift shops have ornaments you can purchase to remind you of your favorite vacation spots. Ebay is also a good place to find ornaments. Last year I purchased an ornament on Ebay that had my husband's favorite football team on it. I'd never seen another one like it, and he loved it.

As you can see, collecting Christmas ornaments can be fun for the whole family. Every year your kids will look forward to picking out their new ornament to put on the tree. Make sure to write their names and the year on the back or bottom of the ornament with a permanent marker so you can keep track of everyone's ornaments!

Visit to find out how to decoupage a beautiful box to store your keepsake ornaments in.

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For more recipes, gardening, organizing tips, home decorating, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This Week's Thursday Thirteen - The Thirteen Ingredients For Making Figgy Pudding

Thursday Thirteen

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some, so bring some out here

Well, to begin with, Grammy finds this to be a bit rude and demanding and doesn't care much for the threat about not leaving. That is not polite.
However, it is Christmas and children do become overstimulated, so I suppose...

The second problem is, Grammy is not real sure what figgy pudding consists of (other than figs?) and doesn't know how to make one.
Until today.

Figgy Pudding:

2 package(s) (8 ounces each) dried Calimyrna figs
1 3/4 cup(s) milk
1 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 cup(s) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon(s) salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup(s) (1 stick) margarine or butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cup(s) (3 to 4 slices white bread) fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon(s) grated orange peel
Marzipan fruit and greens, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 1/2-quart metal steamed-pudding mold or fluted tube pan.

With kitchen shears, cut stems from figs; cut figs into small pieces. In 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, cook figs and milk, covered, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (mixture may look curdled). Be careful not to let mixture boil.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.

In large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat eggs 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; add margarine or butter, bread crumbs, orange peel, and warm fig mixture. Gradually add flour mixture; beat until just blended.

Spoon fig mixture into mold, smoothing top. Cover with sheet of greased foil, greased-side down. (If your mold has a lid, grease the inside and do not use foil.)
Place the mold in a deep roasting pan and place on oven rack. Pour hot tap water into roasting pan to come 2 inches up side of mold.

Bake pudding 2 hours or until firm and it pulls away from side of mold. Remove pudding from water bath; remove foil and cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert onto serving plate; remove mold. Garnish with marzipan fruit and greens. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream.

So that's figgy pudding. With thirteen ingredients. I doubt that I'll make any but it is good to know how it's done. Maybe if someone were to ask politely?

We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Free Kindness Pass-Along Gift Cards (I Love This!)

'Pay it Forward' Acts of Kindness

You've heard the heartwarming stories about people who have committed "random acts of kindness" by tossing extra change into a toll booth for the car behind it, or by paying for a cup of coffee for the next person in line. Often the kind deed is appreciated by the recipient, and wouldn't it be awesome if the incentive to "pass it on" is also present? Now it can be!

To help that "kind energy" to keep moving forward, Creativity Portal's Chris Dunmire has invented one way to inspire more kind acts to continue from person to person through these Kindness Pass-Along Gift Cards. These cards are free for you to download print, and use simply by visiting the website Here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'Twas The Week Before Christmas - And There's Still Time To Make It From Scratch

The final edition before Christmas of the Make It From Scratch blog carnival is Here and once again, it's full of really good stuff...

Visit Mrs. Micah's site and find links to all of the participants - lots of recipes, last minute craft ideas, some different thoughts on ways to celebrate.

I love Make It From Scratch day!

Monday, December 17, 2007

NORAD ( The North American Aerospace Defense Command) Tracks Santa

Since 1955, the NORAD Tracks Santa Program (NTS) has been managed by the NORAD and United States Northern Command Public Affairs Office at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, HQ NORAD/NORTHCOM.
You can visit their website now to start counting down to Christmas Eve with fun games and activities.
Get Started!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Free Holiday E-Cards !

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen places to find free holiday e-greetings for all your friends!

1. 123 Greetings – free greetings for the planet

2. Koala’s Free Christmas Email Cards – including some cards with an Australian theme

3.DaySpring Christian E-Cards


5. Tess’ Castle In The Sky Free Christmas E-Cards

6. Christmas on the Net has free egreeting cards and a lot more

7. RiverSongs Christmas Greetings – these are beautiful…

8. Christmas snow scenes, vintage Santas, art cards at AskAlana

9. Send a Virtual Beargram from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company

10 Greet2k Free Christmas eCards


12 Vintage Christmas E Cards from Christmas Past

13.And last, but surely not least - Elf Yourself from Office Max
Check it out!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yuletide Trivia and Fun Christmas Facts

Did you know?

* Modern day astronomers say that the famous Star of Bethlehem wasn't a star at all. More than likely, it was either a comet or an astronomical phenomenon caused by the conjunction of several planets at once. (that still makes it a "Star of Wonder" in my book!)

* According to historical records, the first American Christmas festivities took place in Jamestown in 1607. The celebration was meant to cheer up the forty settlers who had survived living in the New World. (The original number was one hundred)

* Because the British Parliament felt that Christmas was a heathen holiday, they officially abolished all related festivities in 1643.

* Alabama was the first state to give Christmas the status of a legal holiday, while Oklahoma was the last state to do so. They didn't declare Christmas a legal holiday until 1907.

* Donder, (not Donner), which means thunder, was the original name of the reindeer who helped pull Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. He was paired with Blitzen, whose name means lightning.

* The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was written as an advertising and promotional give-away for the Montgomery Ward Company in 1939 by one of its employees, Robert L. May. The little book was given away free to every customer who shopped there during the holiday season.

* The candy cane first gained popularity in churches, where it was given as a treat to children who behaved themselves during services.

* Gingerbread houses became popular holiday gifts during the nineteenth century after The Brothers Grimm released the story of Hansel and Grethel.

* St. Francis of Assisi was the first to introduce the singing of Christmas carols during holiday church services.

* The first American Christmas carol - a song named "Jesus Is Born" - was written by Reverend John de Brebeur in 1649.

* Irving Berlin wrote the popular carol "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas" in 1942 for the movie Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby.

* Two years after World War II ended, the people of Oslo, Norway sent a holiday tree to the city of Westminster in appreciation of British support. This tradition continues today.

* Along the shores of the Mississippi River - especially along the Louisiana coastline - bonfires are lit on Christmas Eve to light the way for Father Christmas.

* The image of Santa as we know it today was popularized by none other than the Coca-Cola Company in their Christmas ad campaign.

* The custom of Santa eating cookies on Christmas Eve originated in Germany where trees were decorated with fruit, flowers and sweets. After leaving gifts for good children, Santa would help himself the some goodies from the tree.

* Santa's fur-trimmed suit, his cap, and his cloak were fashioned after the clothing ot the Dutch Saint Nicholas, who wore a bishop's mitre and vestments.

* Santa isn't done when Christmas is over. As St. Nicholas, he is also the patron saint responsible for Greece, Russia, sailors, merchants, pawnbrokers, bakers, prisoners, children, and wolves - tasks that keep him busy all year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Make It From Scratch - For Christmas!

My post for today has been made super easy by Summer at Summer's Nook and the ladies of the 43rd edition of the Make It From Scratch Blog Carnival. This week's carnival is loaded with Christmas crafts, gifts, comforts and recipes.
Go on over to Summer's Nook and take a look!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Candy House

It began two weeks ago when we went to visit Santa and Maya saw the Candy House.
oooohhhh....a Candy House....

Since then, she's seen candy houses at Walgreen's and at Big Y, she spotted candy houses in Christmas magazines. There was a candy house in a commercial on TV.
Every time she saw one, Maya wanted me to look at it too.
A Candy House.

This morning we made a Candy House.

Nothing fancy, not a gingerbread house, our house began as a cardboard box covered with foil. We frosted it, shingled it with graham crackers, then dressed ourselves in coats and hats and boots and mittens and set out for a walk to the corner store for the candy.

By lunch time, we had our very own Candy House.

Now that it's almost time for bed, our candy house has a lot less candy.
I tried to quell the vandalism - "nibble, nibble, little mouse! Who's that nibbling at my house?"

"It's me, Maya. I'm eating the candy off this house."

Alrighty then.
Carry on.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Now Here's A Good Site!

This is a big site full of Good Things.
I stumbled across it looking for Christmas ideas and they certainly have those!

Here are nearly 200 Christmas recipes that ThriftyFun users have submitted throughout the years.

But here's the idea I loved - simple, thrifty, fun!

Greeting Card Finger Puppets!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Lots and Lots Of Holiday Games For My Mom - The Great-Grandmother Of Our Family !


1. Free Christmas
jigsaw puzzles, mah jong, card games

2. Christmas Games -
Online Christmas games and puzzles for kids. Includes coloring games, word search, and tic tac toe. ...

This one has some pretty tough trivia games!

4. DLTK's Christmas Games for Kids
Offers online and printable Christmas games and puzzles, coloring pages

5.Christmas games for Moms, Grandmoms and Kids at

6. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis offers Jolly Days Winter Wonderland
Fun Winter Activities for the younger set (Pre-K through grade school)

7. CR Puzzles
Your on-line puzzle magazine
Okay, they aren’t Christmas puzzles, but if you’re a word puzzle fanatic (like my mom) this site is packed!

8. Family Fun’s Classic Games Index

9. A Christmas Cat Jigsaw Puzzle – very pretty!

10. Christmas Concentration, Holiday Word Searches, Math puzzles at Coolmath Christmas

11. Make a Christmas Snow Globe with Holly Hobbie and email it to your friends!

12. Snowflake Fun And Games – lots, some online, some printable

13. And finally, a page of Christmas Jokes and Riddles

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Stories For Everyone To Enjoy From

Simply click on the links to visit the HighlightsKids website and start reading!

Merry Christmas from the Moon!
On December 24, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 gave an unforgettable present to the people of Earth.

The Spiders' Gift
Spiders brought beauty and hope into an old woman's Christmas.

Christmas Comes to Miz Cricket
Miz Cricket learns the meaning of Christmas.

Ma Planned a Surprise
Clever Ma is making presents for everyone.

What Dad Wanted
Sam wants to get Dad something that he needs for Christmas

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cruising Through The Holidays With

Do you know about the FlyLady? It is a very selfish Grammy who keeps this information to herself - or rather, a very forgetful one - I should have passed this on long ago! I've really come to believe that the best (if not only) way to get to the Main Event - aka Christmas Day - with your sanity intact is to do it the FlyLady way! (and no, I am not a FlyLady affiliate. I don't think she offers an affiliate program. Nor is this a "pay per post" gig. I simply and sincerely swear by FlyLady)
So go on over there, download your Free Holiday Control Journal , read Kelly's Holiday Cruising Missions, get the Clutter Free Gift Ideas , then keep on going through the Holiday SHE Shouldn'ts, FlyLady's Holiday Essays ,The Where and the How for the Holidays and maybe most important of all -
Do Not Allow Anyone to Steal Your Peace.

Merry Christmas and Enjoy The Cruise!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Countdown To Christmas!

We had an ice storm today, glistening and beautiful and taking down a power line this afternoon. I came to my desk tonight planning to seek out a good selection of Advent and Christmas countdown activities for the children to enjoy.
And to keep the children busy so the grandmothers can get something accomplished during the day!

It turns out that Beverly Hernandez, Your Guide to Homeschooling at has already done the job for me. In fact, she's done a far more thorough job than I planned on doing!

I'll be visiting Beverly's Christmas Countdown Calendar Pages every day from now until Christmas to use her great ideas. ( and I still won't have time to do them all!)
Thank you and Three Cheers for Beverly!
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Special Saturday Edition, A Special Make-It-From-Scratch Carnival Entry And A Very Special Guest Blogger - Grandma Strange's Folk Art Rag Bag

Thank You To Grace Martin at WOW, that had to hurt for sharing her blog, her talent and her very special knit "rags"!

Please be sure to view all of the entries in the Make-It-From-Scratch blog carnival -
Click Here

from Grace:

Grandma Strange's Folk Art Rag Bag

My Grandma Strange was old fashioned & a loving Grandma. She always wore a braid in the back of her hair & always wore an apron. Grandma knitted dish cloths/cleaning rags from left over yarn before paper towels were manufactured or purchasing rags became popular.

Grandma taught me to knit and while we knitted the afternoons away, we would talk. She would show me that every rag we made was different, not perfect, just like people. I learned many life lessons during my knitting visits with Grandma Strange.

I remember my visits like they were yesterday. Grandma was quite plump & would always greet me with warm hug. It was like being engulfed by a billowy pillow.

Now, as an adult, I would like one visit with Grandma Strange, but it is not possible. So, I knit rags in loving memory of my Grandma Strange. No matter how bad life is or what is going on, I can always knit & picture Grandma here to talk things over with. There were times she only had to look at me & I knew what she was saying.

Remember, these rags are just like Grandma Strange's Rag Bag. None of the rags are perfect or the same as the one before or after. I kept the bright, funny colors too. We had to use the left over yarn. There was never yarn to make one rag the same color.

If you would like to purchase a rag or two, please Visit Grace By Clicking Here for all the details.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Finishing The Week With Jan Brett And The Mitten

A Ukrainian Folktale retold and illustrated by Jan Brett

When Nicki drops his white mitten in the snow, he goes on without realizing that it is missing.
One by one, woodland animals find the mitten and crawl in; first a curious mole, then a rabbit, a badger and others, each one larger than the last. Finally, a big brown bear is followed in by a tiny brown mouse, and what happens next makes a wonderfully funny climax.
As the story of the animals in the mitten unfolds, the reader can see Nicki in the borders of each page, walking through the woods unaware of what is going on.
Once again Jan Brett has created a dramatic and beautiful picture book in her distinctive style. She brings the animals to life with warmth and humor, and her illustrations are full of visual delights and details faithful to the Ukrainian tradition, from which the story comes.

After reading the book (either buy it as a wonderful Christmas gift or borrow it from the library - or both!) visit Jan Brett's Homepage for activities to accompany this classic book.

She has masks of all the animals to print out and use to put on your own play of The Mitten,
a Print and Cut game of Put The Animals In The Mitten, a design your own mitten template , even a cross stitch pattern of the mitten and all the animals for a loving grammy to stitch as a gift.

Have fun joining the animals and staying snug all winter!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winter For The Canada Goose

In spite of being called the Canada goose, these geese are one of the most common type of water birds, living or at least migrating through all of North America. There are really over a dozen kinds of geese that belong to the species called Canada Goose. Almost all of them migrate, but a few kinds do not, preferring to stay in the same location year round.

The Canada Goose enjoys the young shoots of plants such as cattails, pondweed, grasses, clover, most of plants that can be found growing near water. Seen in ponds with their head submerged underwater and tail sticking up high, they also eat insects and their larvae, snails, small clams and mussels.

In the winter, when the ponds and lakes begin to freeze and their food becomes scarce, the Canada geese begin to migrate to a place that is warmer with plenty of food. Scientists still aren't sure just how migration works or how the geese know what to do and where to go. They do know that most Canada geese travel the same routes or paths each year and arrive at the same place to spend the winter.
The geese migrate both by day and by night, stopping often for rest, food, and water. They make their migration in family groups and are led by experienced adults who have made the trip before. It is believed that they find their way by watching for familiar landmarks, such as mountains, cities, rivers, and lakes. It is also likely that the position of the sun, moon, and stars in the sky as well as the earth’s magnetic field helps them to find their way.
However they do it, we all have to agree that it is a very impressive accomplishment!

For some fun with the Canada Goose, visit these pages:

Canada Goose Coloring Page (from

Canada Goose Coloring Page (with information)

Canada Goose Coloring Page with Labels (with information)

"What I've learned about the Canada Goose" Coloring Worksheet

Help the Canada Goose find the pond Maze

How many words can you make from CANADA GOOSE Word Worksheet

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What Do Rabbits Do In Winter?

The cottontail rabbit is a familiar wild animal that can be found living alongside people almost everywhere, in the city or the countryside. In the summer these rabbits find food easily - nibbling on clover, green grass and other green plants, even raiding the neighbor's garden to eat the plants there!

Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk. This is the best time to see them. They spend the remainder of the day resting in hollows or shallow nests in the ground called forms. In summer these nests are made in tall grass or brush. You might find a rabbit nesting in an unmowed lawn, meadow or under a bush. In the winter, the rabbit will seek out a place with protection from snow or wind. Overhead cover such as a bush protects the rabbit from birds of prey. Rabbits frequently use woodchuck, skunk or badger burrows during winter months and sunbathe in any nearby sunny spots.

During times in the winter with little snow rabbits eat grasses and other plants they can find. The bark of young trees and shrubs is eaten when snow covers other plant foods. You might want to help out the rabbits in your neighborhood by scattering apple peels, carrot tops or lettuce leaves on the snow in your yard.

You can sometimes tell that a rabbit lives nearby if you see small shrubs or tree seedlings nipped off just above the snow. You may see piles of their round, dark colored droppings. It's easy to identify a rabbit's tracks or footprints. When hopping, the hind feet land first with the front foot prints appearing inside the back feet's prints. Like this:

Click Here for a rabbit coloring page that you could also use for painting or as the beginning of a rabbit collage.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Do Squirrels Migrate Or Hibernate In The Winter?

Well, according to The Scholarly Squirrel

"Although squirrels seem to disappear from sight in the winter months, they are in the exact places where they lived during the warmer months. In fact, squirrels spend their entire lives within only three to five acres. Ground squirrels hibernate during the winter months, but tree squirrels do not. Tree squirrels keep warm by snuggling with their family in their tree nests or ground burrows. As soon as the weather permits, they emerge and begin hunting for food again. Squirrels are very sensitive to weather changes and prepare for an upcoming drop in temperature by instinctively burying their nuts underground as well as binge eating!"

Here's a page of links to directions for making various squirrel nesting boxes
a bunch of online jigsaw puzzles featuring squirrels and other forest friends!

Now Just In -
A List of Thirteen Fascinating Squirrel Facts by Nancy at Soliloquy.
Thanks, Nancy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Animals Are Getting Ready For Winter!

People usually spend the winter in a home with some sort of heat; they put on extra layers of clothing and heavy coats for added warmth when they go outside. When the need for food grips them, they go to the grocery store. But what about the wild animals that live around us?

The biggest problem for most animals in the winter is finding enough food. Wild animals cope with the changes in weather and availability of food in one of three ways: adjusting, hibernating or migrating. Most land-bound animals are forced to remain and stay somewhat active during the winter. They must adjust to our changing weather. Many make changes in their behavior or bodies. Cold-blooded animals (i.e., insects, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) must hibernate if they live in environments where the temperature and therefore their own body temperature drops below freezing. Box turtles burrow into the soil or mulch piles. Reptiles like lizards and snakes seek protective cover under rocks, leaf litter and mulch piles. Many others hoard food stores to get them through the winter. Squirrels and mice stash their food in tree cavities, under leaf litter, or in holes in the ground. Still other animals, such as voles, have communal food storage areas underground.

Most animals prepare for winter by changing their bodies - accumulating body fat is the most crucial, a vital insulator for warmth and source of energy. Many of these animals, like deer, squirrels, and raccoons, spend the fall feasting on energy- and fat- rich acorns and other nuts that help them put on an insulating layer of fat beneath their skin. Their sparse summer coat is gradually replaced by a warmer one made up of a dense layer of under fur and a thick surface layer that helps to trap body heat. These species, as well the rabbit, otter, muskrat, fox, and bobcat, remain active throughout the winter, foraging or hunting daily. For other species, such as opossums and skunks, winter activity is temperature dependent. During extremely cold periods they spend their time in their nests or dens, curled up in a semi sleep dormant state.

Hibernation is the practice among certain animals of spending part of the cold season in a more or less dormant state, apparently as protection from cold when their normal body temperature cannot be maintained and food is scarce. This deep sleep allows them to conserve energy and survive the winter with little or no food. Hibernation is caused by a chemical trigger released by the brain when the animal experiences extremes of temperature, lack of food, or decreased amounts of daylight. Most hibernators prepare in some way for the winter. Some store food in their burrows or dens, to eat when they awaken for short periods. Many eat extra food in the fall while it is plentiful, and store it as body fat to be used later for energy.

Hibernators have two kinds of fat: regular white fat and a special brown fat. The brown fat forms patches near the animal's brain, heart, and lungs. The fat sends a burst of energy to warm these organs first when it is time for the animal to wake up. Hibernating animals are able to store enough food in their bodies to carry them over until food is once again obtainable. They do not grow during hibernation. Their bodily activities are reduced to a minimum; in fact they may have only one or two heartbeats every minute. This energy-efficient dormant stage enables the hibernating animal to have periods of inactivity that last for weeks or even months. True hibernators go into such a deep sleep that they are difficult to wake and may even appear dead. Their body temperature drops, and their breathing and heart rate drop significantly. For example, the groundhog, or woodchuck, is one of our true hibernators. It spends most of the summer in fields and in tunnels it has dug below. During winter, the groundhog finds it way to the deepest recesses of those tunnels where it will hibernate. A hibernating groundhog's heart rate slows from 80 beats to 4 beats per minute, and its body temperature drops from 98F to as low as 38F. If its temperature falls too low, it will awaken slightly and shiver to warm up a bit.

If an animal lives in an area where the winter is mild, it may hibernate only briefly, or not at all. However, even when the winter is severe, hibernators may wake up for short periods every few weeks to use their "toilet rooms" and eat if food is available. Animals such as raccoons, skunks, and some chipmunks are light sleepers and are easily awakened. They may sleep during the most severe weather and wake to roam and forage for food in milder weather.

Our largest hibernator is the bear. Bears are unique because, unlike other hibernators, they do not eat, drink, or excrete at all while hibernating, which can be as long as six months. Although the quarters are cramped, female bears give birth and nurse their cubs during hibernation. Other true hibernators include the jumping mouse, little brown bat, the eastern chipmunk, and some species of ground squirrels.

This week, let's have some fun learning about how animals live in the winter.
Crafts, coloring pages, stories - we could even make a feeding station to help out the animals that live nearby.

If your family has some ideas we can use to learn about animals in winter, please leave a comment and I'll be sure to say Thank You!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Grammy Community!

Yes, I know I said I was on holiday, and I am -
but this is just too exciting to wait...

My friend Cynthia at Granny Xpress has issued an invitation to Blogging Grammies everywhere.
Cynthia writes:

I want to let all Blogging Grandparents that might be reading this to know that we now have a "Blogging Group" on Blogcatalog (go to and register if you are a blogger). It's a Group so that we can come together a build a community of 'like interests'-- grandparenting, predominantly.

*What does it mean to you?
*Who/what are your models for grandparenting?
*Do you find yourself rejecting or emulating the "classic" notion of grandparenting (eg., granny knits, has grey hair, loves to care for her grandkids).
*Do you have words of wisdom to share?
*What makes grandparenting special for you? etc.

Hope to see you on the Group (you do have to "apply" and be "approved"-- just to screen out all the many, many mock blogs that are just 'shopping sites')

I've signed on but we need lots of grandparents to build a thriving community!
Won't you join us?

Thank You, Cynthia!

Turkey Cupcakes - From Grampy And Betty Crocker!

Grampy emailed this recipe this morning, from his computer downstairs to Grammy's computer upstairs. Maya and I think he might be hoping to see these on his Thanksgiving table. We think that can be arranged!

If you'd like to make these cupcakes for your family, you'll find the recipe on the Betty Crocker website at this link: Turkey Cupcakes

And now I will be joining Grampy on his Thanksgiving Vacation.
I wish all Ye Thankful People a Very Happy Holiday!
God Bless You.

Blogging will resume on Monday, November 26, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

"Mommeee...Grammy's talking weird again! She's callin me 'ye thankful'!"

The Kinder Arts newsletter just arrived and I was immediately drawn to the number of projects designed to help our family count its blessings.

Susan Futch has directions for Blessing Boxes made from milk cartons to show what you are thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. (I don't see why any small box wouldn't work just as well)

Karen Rowley shares a fun and educational Thankful Turkey.

Amanda Formaro walks us through the steps of making a Handprint Thanksgiving Tree.

And, if you're feeling really thankful - and ambitious! there are two Thanksgiving Quilts to choose from -
one from Yamilka J. Sena
and another designed by Mindy Shupak.

So Come, Ye thankfuls -
Let's get busy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving With Daddy And Lisa

Statistics are saying that more than 40% of our children have experienced the divorce of their parents.
A statement. A statistic. But not the end of the family story. Life goes on just the same - except it's not the same. Everything is different. Different than everyone planned. Different than everyone hoped. Different than everyone expected.
Adjustments, compromises and accommodations must be made for those differences.
Must be made because regardless of what else may have changed, our common goal remains the health and happiness of our children.

The holidays are a time that require many compromises and adjustments. Every family has their own way of making the holidays special for their children. Today we celebrated our way.
Maya helped me prepare an early Thanksgiving dinner to share with her father and their friend Lisa. I hope that this day will provide a happy memory for a precious little girl.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Parents Have Lives???

It comes as a surprise to young children that the people they call "Mommy" or "Daddy" or "Grammy" also have names like "Rachel" or "Ken" or "Karen." It is incomprehensible to older children that these same people may (gasp!) live a life that encompasses more than being parents or grandparents. Try these conversation sparking activities at your family holiday - if you dare!

* Have the kids write the adult's life story, as they understand it. Then have them check their story for accuracy by reading it aloud to the person they wrote about.

* Let the kids design a questionnaire for their parents and other family members to discover more about them.

* Older children might be interested in what high school life was like for their parents and grandparents. (Or they might not. Ask them to please be polite and feign an interest for the sake of harmony.)

What decade was it when the adults were in high school? What was going on in the world then? What songs and fashions were popular? How about games and other pastimes?

I recently ran across a JC Penney catalog from 1972, the year I graduated from high school. Doing an online search will uncover many other catalogs and magazines from different time periods. Lots of fun - and a little embarassing. (what Were we thinking? hip hugging bell bottoms???)

* Go through old family photo albums to find pictures from when everyone was young.
Before looking at the pictures, ask the kids to make sketches or write brief descriptions of what they think their parents and grandparents looked like. Then compare the pictures. Do they match?

* Ask your children if they would like to have children some day. What do they think their children will look like? Ask them to draw or write a description of their future children then tuck the pictures away for posterity.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Grandmother's Name Is Karen

Names are an interesting topic for children - both their own names and the idea that the adults they know by titles - Mommy, Daddy, Grammy, Grandpa, even Great Grampy!- all have their own names.
Try using these questions as a conversation starter at your Holiday meal:

What does my name mean?

What is the story of how my name was chosen?

Does anyone else in our whole family (from the past or present) have my name?

What other interesting names are there in our family?

Ask the children what they might name their own children someday. Why do they think that might be a good name?

Does anyone in the family wish that they had a different name? What is it? Why is it a better name?

It's fun to learn the meaning of everyone's first name.
Here's a link to a database of over 30,000 names. Just enter your name in the search box to find out what it means!

Older children will want to take the idea a bit further (we hope. Or they're rolling their eyes in boredom by now and wishing they could be excused from the table to do anything else other than this...)

Older children will also be interested in the meaning and possible origin of their last name. maintains a Last Name Meanings and Origins Glossary for your last name. The glossary includes last name meanings and origins, plus research links, common last name spelling variations, and surname search tips for last names of English, Irish, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Jewish origin, including the 100 most popular U.S. surnames.

Can't find your last name in the Last Name Meanings Glossary? Submit your surname to Ask a Genealogist and the editor will try to research its meaning and add it to the Last Name Meanings Glossary. Last name site submissions are also welcome for sites primarily devoted to one of the included surnames.

And finally, dress up your Thanksgiving table. Print, clip, fold and add a name to these Thanksgiving placecards from Kid's Turn Central.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Mr. Rogers Talks About Divorce

Fantasies Are Often More Scary than Reality

Separation and divorce can be very sad and painful for children. Divorce brings many changes, and changes are hard for children. They may feel their family is broken. They may wonder, "If parents stop loving each other, can they stop loving me?" They may also think the divorce is their fault.

Parents can have hurt and angry feelings, too. Divorce can make a parent feel unloved and unwanted. When you feel hurt and upset, it is hard to have energy for the everyday needs of your child. It can be hard to remember that just because one relationship has failed, you have not failed at love. You are still a lovable and loving person.

Divorce changes families in many ways. But a mother and father who don't live together can still help their children feel safe, loved, and part of a caring family.

Children Need Simple Answers About the Divorce.

Most children think they caused the divorce because they were bad. Tell your child, "It is not your fault. This is a problem between the grownups."

It helps children when both parents are together to tell the news about the divorce.

It is enough to say "We are very, very sorry. We tried and tried, but we cannot live together anymore."

Some children think they can get their parents back together. It helps them to hear again and again that the children did not make the divorce happen. And the children cannot "fix" it.

Children Need to Know What Will Change and What Will Stay the Same.

Children don't understand what will change in a divorce. Their biggest question is, "Who will take care of me?" They need to hear there will always be grownups to take care of them.

Talk about the changes, like:

where they will sleep or go to school,
where each parent will live,
when they will be with each parent.
Talk about the things that will stay the same. Children want to know that some things will not change. They need to know there will still be rules.

And of course, the most important thing that stays the same is your love.

Children Need Ways to Express Their Feelings.

Children can have lots of sad and angry feelings about the divorce and all the changes it brings. Those feelings can last a long time.

Help your child to use words and say, "I am really mad!" instead of hitting or throwing things.
Children can get their feelings out by drawing, playing, and making up stories.
Read children's books about divorce. Talk about the story and the pictures.

Children Need to Know It's Ok to Have Their Own Feelings about Each Parent.

Even when one parent is angry with the other, it's important not to say "bad" things about the other parent.

Let your child know it's ok to like being with the other parent. That may be hard for you, but children feel better when they have some good feelings about both parents.

Sometimes children may not want to leave one parent to stay with the other. Let them know you understand that is hard.

Help Can Come in Many Ways.

Let your child's teacher know your family is having hard times.

The teacher can give extra help and comfort when your child is upset.
Tell your child that you told the teacher. Children think the divorce is a secret because no one talks about it. But divorce is not a secret for people who care about your child.
Find another adult you can talk with when you are going through a hard time. That can help you feel better about yourself.

Do things you and your child enjoy -- even small things, like reading a book together or taking a walk. Then you and your child can know there are good things in life to enjoy, even in hard times.

It can take a long time for children to manage their feelings about a divorce. For some children it takes longer than others.

If you feel your child needs extra help, try to find counseling or a support group. Most communities have that kind of help for families -- free or at low cost.

Whatever helps you to remember that you are a lovable and loving person is worth your time and energy.

For more information about helping children with divorce by Fred Rogers, please visit the Family Communications Inc. web site.

How Would You Feel?
an activity for you and your child

Pretending how we feel, or might feel, at certain times can be a good way for children to talk about feelings.


Paper plates
Construction-paper shapes cut to represent facial features


Use a paper plate, construction-paper shapes cut to resemble facial features and tape to create different facial expressions. Ask your child to tell you the feelings each "face" expresses.

As you and your child arrange different faces on the plates you have a chance to ask questions such as How would you feel if you were

*Getting ready to open a present
*Riding a tricycle and someone pushed you off
*Throwing a ball in the house and broke a vase
*Going to get a new puppy
*Hearing thunder
*Going to sleep somewhere else

Your child might want to make different expressions about the different situations you present. It helps children to know that we have lots of different feelings -- ambivalent feelings -- about a lot of things, even about a divorce.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mr. Rogers Talks About Families

Families Come in Different Shapes and Sizes

Families come in all different shapes and sizes. Even people who are not related by blood at all can make up a family because they love and care for each other. And that's what is really important about families. When people care for one another, they have a sense of belonging - of being related to each other, even if they are not blood relatives.

There are many ways to become a member of a family. Being born into a family is one way. Marrying into a family, or being adopted are other ways to become part of a family. When children are adopted, they sometimes need reassurance that adoptive families and stepfamilies are like other families and that their moms and dads care for them, the same way other parents care for their children.
-- Fred Rogers

Family Life and a Focus On Adoption
Day by day, in the secure "nest" of family life, children learn the most essential thing of all -- how to live with other people. Daily life requires some structure and routine so that everyone in the family knows what to expect and can move through the day with some comfort and predictability.

That means, of course, that children can't do only what they want to do. There are rules and limits about such things as when to eat, what to eat, and when to sleep. As much as children may "test" the rules, they need -- and want -- adults to be in charge.

As children deal with the ups and downs of everyday life with parents, brothers or sisters, and friends, they're learning about compromise, responsibility, love, anger, generosity, compassion, and cooperation. Little by little they develop the ability to wait, to share, to try, to cope with disappointment, to understand and to express feelings. Day by day, they're seeing how they are like other people and how they are different. If they're fortunate, little by little they're coming to realize that they are unique, and that everyone else in this world is unique, too.

For Adoptive Families

Being adopted into a caring family can be a very special "love story." But adoption can be difficult to talk about, since it involves one of a child's deepest needs: the sense of security in belonging to a family that will always take care of him or her.

Talking about Adoption

Each child has unique ways of dealing with being adopted, and those ways can change as children grow. Some children talk a lot about being adopted, and they ask a lot of questions. Other children may be quiet about it.

Some people tell "the story of when you were adopted" as they're rocking their infants or when they're snuggling with their toddlers. Of course, infants and toddlers don't understand much about what's being said; nevertheless they're hearing about their history in a natural way.

Some parents worry that if they don't talk about adoption with their adopted child early on, someone else may reveal it to their child and that could raise even more concerns for him or her. In fact, a child could feel betrayed and wonder if adoption might be something shameful or something to hide if he or she hears such an important thing from someone other than family.

"It's Not Your Fault..."

As children grow, they try to make their own sense of why they were adopted. During the preschool years, as they work on controlling their own "bad" behavior, adopted children sometimes wonder if their birthparents didn't keep them because they were "bad" or because they cried a lot.

Those children need a lot of assurance from adults that what they're thinking just isn't true. It's better to say, "Your birthmother and birthfather just weren't able to take care of any baby at all" rather than saying, "Your birthmother and birthfather couldn't take care of you." In other words, there was nothing wrong with your child in particular; rather it was the birthparents' inability to provide care that prompted the adoption. If children are left to their own fantasies and think they were abandoned because they were bad, their next unspoken question to their adoptive parents might be, "How bad do I have to be before you give me away, too?"

Children need to hear that there were probably many reasons why their birthparents couldn't take care of a child, but that those reasons all have to do with the grownups. You may want to ask your child why he or she thinks some birthparents can't care for a baby, so you can correct any misconceptions and maybe find out more about what your child really wants to know.

Adoption Is For Always

There are wonderful things about being adopted into a loving family; nevertheless, some children feel that adoption also means loss -- loss of relationships with people they didn't even know, people who were a significant part of their history. Some children have said to their adoptive mother, "I'm sad that I didn't grow in your tummy." Adoptive mothers can let them know that they're sad about that, too, (if in fact they are) but that they're also very glad that "you're growing in our family!"

Many families nowadays avoid saying "You were chosen" because that could imply that those adoptive children are expected to live up to certain expectations if they are to remain chosen. Parents may think they're helping their child feel secure by believing they are "chosen," but oddly enough, that can have just the opposite effect. Adopted children need to hear and to know that adoption is not conditional -- adoption is for always. They need to hear, "You are special, not because you're adopted, but just because you're you. No matter what, you will always be part of our family. Adoption is for keeps."

However Your Family has Grown

As a parent, day in and day out, you're a nurturer, comforter, problem-solver, protector, limit-setter, and much more. In the safety of the family, you're helping your child learn how to get along with others, how to deal with rules and limits, how to cooperate, compromise, and negotiate -- all qualities that are essential for whatever relationships may be in your child's future.

For more information on adoption by Fred Rogers, visit the Family Communications web site.

Make A Family Photo Album To "Read" At Story Time

Create a family photo collage by gluing the pictures on a piece of heavy paper. Talk to the children about the people in the pictures and how they are all relatives and part of your family. You could store the pages in a photo album or three-ring binder. Each child in your family might like to make his or her own collage.

When you go on a trip to see relatives (at Thanksgiving for example), encourage your child to draw about the visit. Add your own comments on a separate page and put these in a notebook to help your child remember the family members they visited.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Our Family Word Search

Think of all of the wonderful words to describe your family. Think of the silly words that describe your family. Make a list of your family's hobbies, favorite songs, streets in your neighborhood.
Now have some fun making Family Wordsearch Games.
Like this one, for example -

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Our Family Works Together

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, November is a great time to Focus On Family. Today's activity will remind everyone to recognize and appreciate the contributions that each member makes to the family. You might want to work together on a chart like this one.
(but remember, the idea is to appreciate what each person brings to the family, making it a happy place to be. It's not a chore chart - we can make one of those later!)
Once you've finished listing all the wonderful ways your family helps and encourages on another, why not extend the activity by printing out these Fabulous Family Member Awards. Decorate them with paints, crayons or markers - don't forget the glitter!- and give one to each of the Fabulous Members of your family!