Sunday, June 24, 2007

On a road trip

Well, I am off on a road trip this week, travelling US101, as we head to San Diego to visit family. I will be listening for inspiration and ideas for this journal along the way and will post when I can.

I remember many road trips with our kids. "When will we be there?" was asked many times before we could finally say in all honesty, "Very soon!" We traveled often the 600 miles from here south to San Diego. And we even took a very long road trip all the way back to the east coast when the kids were little. We stopped lots, and drove during their sleepy times when we could. But they were also very good travelers and enjoyed the games we would play to entertain them. We listened to their music tapes and sang along.

Life is also a journey. And we all need to stop along the way. This is not selfish. It is necessary to replenish our energies and our enthusiasm for life. David Kundtz in his book Quiet Mind - One-Minute Retreats from a Busy World reminds us that there are three ways to stop briefly or for a long while. He says we need Stillpoints frequently during the day, momentary pauses, time to take a breath, and quiet our minds for just a minute. We also need occasional Stopovers which are simply longer times to put our feet up and just do nothing, becoming more aware, recalling our needs and goals. And lastly, Kundtz feels we should schedule longer time away for a Grinding Halt. During these times we get away from our lives for a week or a month to remember who we are, where we come from, where we're going and how we'll get there.

As I head off on a road trip, I plan to have time to stop and remember. I wish the same for you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fun on a dime

Well, summer has arrived, with sun and heat and kids home from school. The days could quickly get filled up with busy-ness, or we can savor this time. And have fun on a dime. We don’t have to spend a lot of money to entertain children. In fact, it is probably better for them if they don’t become accustomed to expecting expensive gifts and outings. If you have already created entertainment habits that are pricey, let them know you're going to be trying something different, and saving those activities and events for special times.

Children are much less likely to say “I’m bored.” if they have learned to make their own fun. Fun can be found everywhere. And fun is often even more enjoyable when we do it together!
Walk to the park.
Take a bike ride.
Play board games or computer games.
Go grocery shopping.
Read a book.
Sing and dance.
Take a hike.
Relax on a hammock.
Rake the leaves and then jump in them.
Explore a creek or lake or beach.
Look for critters.
Make greeting cards for family and friends.
Bake some cookies or dinner.
Toss a ball.
Dig tunnels in sand or dirt.
Play with pets.

Spending time together builds relationships. What kind of fun will I have with my child today?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thanks Guys!

Fathers' Day is an opportunity to express our gratitude to the men in our lives who provided for us when we were growing up. We can also thank the men we know now who are important in the lives of children. Boys and girls both need positive male role models.

We thank them for their commitment to caring and their dedication to providing emotional and physical support. Being a positive role model to a child is one of the most important things anyone can do.

Thank you for -
Tossing the ball back and forth
Being strong arms that give hugs
Attending school events
Reading all four books at bedtime
Applying bandaids to a “boo-boo”
Cheering from the sidelines at a sports event
Getting up to watch a midnight meteor shower

Fathers Day is a special day of remembrance and appreciation. Supportive men deserve our gratitude everyday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Doing our best

I regularly do a two+ mile walks around our beautiful town lake. I feel renewed by the big open sky above the lake, the water, the birds, and the trees. And this time of year, we have many goslings and ducklings being protected by their watchful parents. There are always other people walking, too. All generations are represented. On a recent walk, I passed a woman pushing a stroller and following her busy three year old. An infant was wailing inside the stroller. Mom smiled as she walked by, and I smiled back. But inside, I felt a pang. I wanted to hold that crying baby. I felt judgment rise in my heart thinking, “Why doesn’t she just carry the baby? How could she let her baby cry?” I couldn’t have when mine were little. But, that’s me.

I know a woman who did child care in her home when her two kids were small. She could make a little income and be there for her own children. One of the children she cared for was a newborn whose mom went back to work after only two weeks. The provider nurtured and carried that newborn as she would one of her own. The baby was a cheerful, mellow, observant infant who rarely cried. One day, after about 6 weeks, the parents told her they were taking their child out of her care and moving to another provider. My friend was devastated. She had bonded to that little one and the parents had voiced no concerns up to this time. They told her that all their baby did on the weekends was cry unless he was held. They just couldn’t have their son spoiled this way.

Crying babies.... I have a very particular perspective on this. An infant’s cries are telling us something. Are we listening? Are we trying to figure out what is needed? And, I must remember that everyone doesn’t share my perspective. Does ignoring a baby’s cries damage the child for life? If the crying is rare, for relatively short durations, and the child’s needs are generally met, probably not. My walk around the lake reminded me again that everyone has their own way of doing things. Maybe children become independent at an earlier age when they have been encouraged to self-soothe instead of needing someone to pick them up and comfort them or jiggle them.

Parenting is demanding and non-stop. And very likely that mom needed a break. It was a lovely day. Her three year old was content and not demanding her attention. She was out of the house, getting some much needed exercise. There was a cool refreshing breeze. I only saw and heard them for less than a minute. I don’t have the whole story and it is not my place to judge (though I did). Much better for me to assume that she was doing her best... taking care of herself so she could give more renewed energy to her kids.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Remembering the Lorax

When my kids were little, I had hopes and dreams for their future. I just never could have guessed what it would really be like. There are some amazing things today. One that really knocks my socks off is the Internet. We are all able to communicate with each other, sending words and ideas and pictures across some magical energy waves. When I have a question, I just think, "Oh, I can Google that." And sure enough, I find lots of suggestions immediately. Who woulda thunk it.... way back? So what does the future hold for today's kids?

Sadly, people who study these kinds of trends are seeing declines in resources. It just might be that our age of prosperity is on the way out. Only with the perspective of looking back on these times will we know for sure. I just think it's important that we consider the future. What kind of future are we leaving for today's kids? And, what can we do today, right now? I don't have the answers. There isn't even agreement among the people in-the-know. I just think we need to care.... and we need to keep asking. And we need to do some things now, before it's too late.

And what can we really do? We could use less gasoline today. We could chose activities with our kids that have a lighter impact on resources. We can find ways to have fun together that don't cost us, or the environment. We can do more to support other kids in our neighborhoods, or volunteer in the schools. If we don't care, if we don't pay attention, who will?

Have you read the Dr. Suess book, The Lorax? about environmental issues and considering the consequences of our actions. At the end, the Oncler says, "Unless someone cares, a whole heck of a lot, it's not going to change, it's really not." And then he gives the boy a seed and asks him to plant it and take care of it..... so we'll have a future (my words).

What are we doing right now to insure a future for our kids and grandkids?

Driving us crazy

It's been a week since I posted. My computer has been giving me fits. It still is intermittently sick, with a fan that sometimes makes loud noises for me, but not for the computer doctor I took it to. Have you ever had that experience with anything?

Well, this also makes me think about the way kids selectively act up. I remember telling my guys, when they were doing just that with me, "Well, I'm glad you save this for me and don't do this for your teacher." They also had different reactions for me and for their dad. They had our number early and learned to avoid certain consequences. I often taught night classes when they were little. Every once in a while, the kids and I made cookies during the day. They got a few and we put the rest away. I would come home from my night class, and find the cookie container empty, or nearly so, on the counter. Their dad, who could be very authoritarian with other issues (like finishing all the food you are served), was entirely permissive about chocolate chip cookies. He was also often very laxed with their bedtimes. He would be sleeping and they would be awake! It drove me crazy.

It's amazing how attached we become to things or to the way things are supposed to be. Even a computer can give me a little lesson in patience. Also in letting go. I really don't have the power to control the inner workings of my computer. And I can't control the people I work with, family members, my kids, situations.... I really can only work on dealing with my own response. I do wish I was more aware of this way back. But, I guess there is a time for learning, too. And I happen to be in a mid-life learning curve right now.

So really, they didn't and they don't drive me crazy. I let them, or not. Breath in, Breath out (me relaxing). Have a great day!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A better world

One of the most enduring gifts we can give children is a better world. What kind of world are we leaving them? Our list of concerns is long - war, environmental degradation, poverty, inequalities.

We can start today to create a world where people work together. Children learn from our kindness and flexibility. We can celebrate diversity and work toward a world that is driven by unity and cooperation. We can be good stewards of the earth’s resources. We can conserve what is here so children will have what they need to survive and thrive in the future. We can volunteer. There are many things that can be done to benefit others now. We are building a better world when just one child and one family is helped.
We can save all that we can.
We can give all that we can.
We can do all that we can.

Children have an amazing capacity for generosity and kindness. They want to help others. They are often our teachers, as they walk their talk. We can work together today to build a better world for tomorrow.