Tuesday, December 13, 2011
To read about some of our holiday family traditions, go to these links:
St. Nicholas Day
Putting up our Tree on Santa Lucia Day
I share our traditions not to say our way is right or pass judgment on anyone who celebrates differently, but to encourage you to make the holidays about what you desire them to be--not about what consumerism and commercialism try to make them. May this season be meaningful for your family--not something you dread.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
If you've got an organization near you that does something similar, help them out if you can. We focus a lot on things like Toys-for-Tots, which is a great program, but this helps teach children the joy of giving as well.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
We were going to check it out last year, but it snowed a lot on that day and we decided not to leave the house. So this year, after my wife got home from school, we headed up to check things out. We ended up parking closer to the elementary school so we went there first. A magic show just finished, so we stayed for a delightful puppet show. It was quite hilarious. Several families from the boys' school were there, so it was nice to get to talk with some friends. There was ice carving outside as well as a fire pit for roasting marshmallows.
We ambled down the street, talking with other families as we went, enjoying being able to hold hands while the boys tromped through the snow.
The puppet show took up most of our time (which was fine...we didn't get there right when it started), so the only other thing we ended up doing was stopping in a business where the kids could make a bird feeder. They enjoyed it, and they came home with a nice feeder. They plan on hanging one in our yard and giving the other one to someone at Christmas.
There were several other activities going on. Many of the shops on the street had a sale at least, some had giveaways. There were pony rides, horse-drawn wagons, flame jugglers, carolers and a lot of other fun activities (most of which we didn't get to see this time). The high school had a craft/art/bake sale that I was told was pretty good (some friends scored some wild honey for a good price).
It was just a nice evening to get out and enjoy some neighborhood fun in a larger metro area. It didn't cost anything (though there would be opportunities to support some local businesses) and was a fun memory for the kids. Look for those fun little neighborhood/small town type of holiday events. They're simple, but enjoyable times.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Most of the schools don't work that way in the metropolitan area. Some of them actually use a temp agency. All of them have a big application process with background checks and other hoops to jump through. I totally get the need to be safe, but most of the checks are ones had to do to get my license.
Anyway, things have gotten processed and I'm getting some calls. Subbing is not the easiest job in the world. But it's what makes sense right now. I don't have to work on days when the boys don't have school. And most schools are done before the boys are out of school, so we don't have to worry about having additional child care.
Though my degree is in secondary education, I really prefer subbing for elementary grades. Even if its just subbing for a paraprofessional position that pays less, I enjoy it more. The students still love to learn and respect adults.
But after parenting, teaching is probably one of the hardest jobs out there. Make sure you encourage and thank your kids' teachers once they're off to school. And thank you for all the work you with your kids.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Upon the advice from Dr. Kevin Leman's book Have a New Kid by Friday we began ignoring him. We would inform him at the end of his bedtime routine that we were done with bed, that mom and dad had work to do and needed time together. So when he got out of bed and came down, we would ignore him. This was supposed to get him to go back to bed. It wasn't working the best.
But recently we began shutting the door completely when we finished the bedtime routine. We had been keeping it open just a little so it wasn't completely dark in their room. But now we've been shutting it and turning on a night light. And this seems to be working--we've had several nights of him staying in bed now. And for this, we're thankful.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I've forgotten to do this after moving into our house. But I remembered last night (I've remembered before, but not very often). The boys love it. And it's good time together. The only draw back is that it gets them a little too wound up before bed. But a good story with the lights off will cure that.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
|Dressing up as a mild-mannered photographer|
for the relay.
|Superhero cake break|
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
One of the days were were there we spent helping my dad on the farm. The crops had all be harvested (I was hoping we'd be able to get in some combining). So we helped work ground (breaking up the ground the corn was planted in to overturn the stalks and make planting in the spring possible).
The boys traded off spending time in the tractor I was driving and the one Far-Far (grandpa) was driving (both were John Deere of course). Each of them got a chance to drive. Nils loved working the lever to raise the disk ripper when we got to the end of a row and had to turn around. Anders wasn't thrilled with being in the tractor all day. Nils loved it and would have spent more time there.
We talked about farming and hard work and how much easier it is now than in the Little House on the Prairie books we've been reading.
After we were relieved from our work by my uncle, I took the boys to a good old country park where we played on the playground equipment that would be contraband in any city because it's an unsafe liability (I'm fairly certain some of it is older than my parents), we hiked around the lake and climbed up to go across an old train trestle. After visiting my grandmothers in the nursing home again, my parents took us out to eat at The Pizza Ranch.
The boys also found out that hard work pays off as Far-Far gave them a few dollars for "helping" out in the field. I hope time on the farm teaches them a little bit of work ethic--as well as having good time with family and being outdoors.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
I've decided that playgrounds are a great place to assess what type of parent you are. I see many parents who hover over their children, warning them not to climb too high or slide too fast. If this is you, loosen up. You're way too protective. I understand the desire to protect your kids. And you should. But only from the real dangers out there. Playgrounds, while they may give their share of cuts and bruises and scrapes to kids, are not a real danger. More than protecting, our job as a parent is to prepare our kids for growing up and being on their own. So instead of warning them, encourage them. Let them try...and fail if need be. A bonk to the shin or a scraped hand will heal. You can teach them to not walk in front of a swing, but you don't need to hold their hand the whole time.
I see some parents who take their kids to the playground and ignore them. They sit on a bench and read a book or talk with a friend. Now, I understand the need for adult time if you're a stay-at-home parent. But if the trip to the park is your main time with your child(ren) that day, then pay attention to them. You may be the parent whose child had no boundaries because you feel guilty giving them any. They may be the playground bully--pushing kids, not waiting their turn in line, throwing sand, etc.--because they long for boundaries and for you to give them attention.
And you may be the parent who is right their with your child, encouraging them as they try something difficult that they haven't done before. Maybe you're right there on the play structure playing with your kids, having fun (and getting some exercise, too). Maybe you're sitting on a bench doing something relaxing after a hard day of work, but you're paying attention to where your kids are and what they're doing, responding to them with loving words. Children need a mix of boundaries and freedom, soft love and hard love (discipline). They also need attention from their parents; quality and quantity time is important.
Monday, September 19, 2011
In this new book, Leman addresses the busy, stress-filled culture in which we're raising our families. He gives helpful and practical pointers for moving toward creating a happier and less-stressed home--something I think we all as parents desire. Of course, we can only move in that direction if we're willing to take the steps to do so. But if happiness and less-stress in your family is a desire, be sure to pick up a copy of It's Your Kid, Not A Gerbil by Kevin Leman.
And, the good folks at Tyndale Publishing have given me a certificate for a free copy of the book. If you're interested in receiving a free copy of the book, please leave a comment on this post. Be sure to include your email address or a way to contact you if you are the lucky winner. Winners will be chosen at random. One entry per person. The drawing will close at noon (CST) on Monday, September 26.
***UPDATE: I was informed that some people have been unable to post to comments. I am going to extend the entry deadline to noon on Wednesday, September 28. If you are unable to post a comment, please email david.wenell @ gmail.com
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
They were mesmerized by the coverage of the events in New York. And at that point it was mostly just names being read, but they didn't want the channel changed. Our 7 year old asked what it was about. So we explained what happened (actually my wife did as I was taking care of something else at that point). It was good for them to know that and see what was happening 10 years later. People were still remembered. That's important. They need to know that events and people will be remembered.
A few years back we were with my grandmother on Memorial Day weekend. We went with her and my sister to the cemetery where my grandfather, great-grandparents and other family members are buried. I never knew my grandfather. But it's important to remember and respect. It's important for children to see that as well. We haven't been able to get back for Memorial Day to a cemetery, but we still talk about our family members who the boys never got to meet. It's important that we remember.
We remember events and places, too. After watching a movie that brought Anders to tears recently because the family was getting too busy ("successful") to have time for one another after they had moved to a bigger house. We talked about our old places where we've lived. We talked about neighborhood friends and things we used to do in those places (walks around the pond, playing with neighbors in the pond, community events). we also talked about our place, friends and opportunities now.
Sometimes we try to protect children from death and loss. And while they don't need to see the horrors of war or other tragic events, death is a part of life. We can't hide it from them. Rather, it is good to remember. It is good to acknowledge. It is good for children to see that life matters as we remember those who have passed away, as we remember tragic events.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
It was the first full day of school for my 4 1/2 year old. He had 5 half days of orientation last week (to help new students begin to understand the Montessori approach). He did well last week. Today--not so much. The long weekend probably didn't help (we probably should have had a few more earlier nights and restful days, but we had a lot of fun with friends). There were a few tantrums (complete with kicking and screaming), plenty of crying, a bit of fighting with brother and friends, and other actions that aren't typical of our child (at least not in abundance like that).
He said he liked it, though. It was fun to get to eat at school and be there all day. He seems to be making friends and enjoying the learning exploration. So I'm hoping this is just a short phase of adjusting to things. We had our small group from church at our house tonight (which where half the breakdowns occurred, of course). So he didn't get to bed super early, but he did seem to go down fairly quickly. Here's to hoping that day two goes more smoothly.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
And since it's near the end of summer, I'm trying to make the most of it without making too much of it and wearing ourselves out. I intend to be outside as much as possible in the week ahead.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Our first was at Franconia Sculpture Park, about an hour northeast of the Twin Cities. Many of the sculptures are interactive and encourage play and exploration. We loved that there was a refrigerator next to the parking lot with bottled water and freezies to buy on the honor system. Even the restrooms were decorated with paintings or pictures of sculptures. Their website has games and activities (including a scavenger hunt to print out and bring with to the park) for kids to do. They also have concerts and children's workshops. Our boys both requested a trip back.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Confession: Though I long for country life at times, I love all the opportunities available in the city.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Today I pulled some of the beets and turnips. I planted a few more in their place, hoping for some fall produce.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
We just returned from our second of two camping trips this week. Our first was with good family friends who have kids the same age as our boys. The second was with all of my family for a weekend get-together.
The second campsite was on a lake in Iowa. It was almost completely full and mostly RVs. Now, I understand RVs for older people who aren't able to sleep on the ground or who are travelling across country. I would accept if my parents decided to get a small pop-up camper at some point.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
This year I said I wasn't up for programming a big party. We caught Anders in an agreeable mood, and he asked if he could just have a playdate with a few friends from school he hasn't seen in a while.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
That's summer fun. And we've got weeks ahead of us!
Friday, June 3, 2011
Confession: Sometimes I have a hard time knowing when to encourage and build confidence and when to make my kids do something when they don't want to.