Category: featured

A Home Management Tip for Autumn

Stuff! Stuff! Stuff!

I lived in Montana in the same house for over twenty-one years with a husband and seven children. I bet you can imagine the amount of stuff we accumulated!

We frequently had to reorganize the garage. One whole end of the garage was a special room dedicated to storing stuff. In the house hours of time went into cleaning out closets, drawers, and toy boxes. I can recall the time required to sort, launder, store, and fold all of the clothes and bedding we managed to accumulate.

Eventually, we decided to move to Utah. I was ready! I began cleaning out the house. I held numerous garage sales. I wanted to let it all go. My husband felt stressed when he left for work because he wasn’t there to monitor what was being sold. He was worried about what we were going to have to replace.

Here’s what happened. After over thirty years of living together and raising seven children, we pared it all down to one small U-haul and a van. Would you be surprised to know that in all the years since we haven’t replaced a single item?

More Stuff!

“ …We invest a great deal in the acquisition of stuff. Companies bombard us with slick, relentless propaganda as to why we must have their stuff, and we judge an individual’s success by their stuff’s sheer quantity and supposed quality… Stuff beyond our basic needs does not liberate. Consider the overall investment of your time. You have to shop for stuff. You have to clean, maintain, and organize stuff. You lose stuff. You look for stuff. You polish stuff, secure it against theft, trip over it, recharge it, upgrade it, accessorize it, pack it, move it, unpack it, insure it, fix it, and eventually sell, trash, or bequeath it. Stuff has no use beyond this life, and it takes a lot from us.” -Shawn Miller

If you’re having a hard time keeping your home clean you probably have too much stuff. If your dishes are always piled up you probably have too many dishes. If your kid’s rooms are a disaster they probably have too many toys, too many gadgets, and too many clothes.

Stuff is Energy Draining!

Each item we own requires some of our energy. The more belongings we have, the more emotional energy, as well as physical energy, is needed to maintain it. I want you to visualize something.

Close your eyes and imagine you have threads of energy attached to your shoulders and these threads connect to every item you have in your possession. Every item—each dish, cup, and pan; pictures in the photo album, CDs, and hammer; each nail, sock, book, pile of papers, sweater, car, guitar pick, and even your computer files. It’s one energy thread per item.

Now envision wherever you go you energetically drag all your possessions with you. You drag them via the connecting threads of emotional energy. How much are you dragging?

What if you eliminated a quarter of your belongings? How much lighter would you feel? Would you even miss any of the things you discarded or gave away? Through my experience, the answer is surprising: not really.

I have a very wealthy friend; she could buy just about anything. Her home is lovely, not cluttered or crowded. There isn’t a plethora of stuff. She gave me a perfectly beautiful blouse one day and I asked her why she was giving it away. She replied, “I have a rule. If I buy something new I have to give something away.” Wow, really wise woman!

In last weeks article, I talked about a principle which allows us a great deal of freedom – keep things simple. Getting rid of stuff is a way to simplify your life, to free yourself and Autumn is a perfect time.

Tips for Successfully Homeschooling Special Needs

Learning about the letter “M”

Deciding to homeschool a special needs child can be challenging and rewarding. My granddaughter, Maggie, has severe cerebral palsy. Some of Maggie’s CP symptoms include – she can’t verbally speak, use her arms and hands well, walk, move on her own, or express herself in words. That can be challenging when it comes to homeschooling her along with her siblings. Despite the challenges, when Maggie was 5, her mother decided to teach her at home.

Maggie’s now 12 and attends a regular middle school. She still has all of the same physical difficulties that she had when she was five, however, schooling at home for a number of years was one of the reasons that Maggie was able to transition so well into public classes.

During those homeschooling years we learned some things that made our efforts more successful:

• Be patient
• Let them do everything they can even if the results don’t meet your expectations
• Help as much as they need, they will still feel accomplished. Sometimes, Maggie needs a lot of help. However, at the end of any project, even if she has needed a great deal of help, Maggie smiles as if she did it all by herself.
• If your child is non-verbal develop a system so they can answer questions. (Maggie can point to one of two or three fingers to answer yes or no questions and even more detailed questions. For example: Do you want to color the shirt in red, blue or something else?)
• Remember, they are just like any child in their need to do and learn.
• They are interested in the same things as other children their age.
• Don’t be afraid to let them try. They aren’t afraid to try!
• If possible, find others who can help you a day or two a week.

Here is an example in one of those early at home, school days with Maggie

One of the things that increased the success level for Maggie was finding her a special friend who would come and help one day a week. This gave Jodie a break or allowed her to work with the other children. Cindi Walker was a neighbor and went to church with Jodie and her family. She became a good friend and then transitioned to being a very special friend to Maggie.

The photos and example below occurred when Maggie was six, her brother Jack was four and her sister Mary was 2.

A homeschool day for Cindy and Maggie

When Cindy came she had learning activities that she could help Maggie do despite her physical limitations. She included Jack and Mary if they were interested. Sometimes they were but Maggie was 6 and so many of her activities just didn’t hold their attention.

On this day Maggie was learning about the letter “M”. Her lips do not close like most children’s so it was an

Making an “M” collage

extraordinary challenge for Maggie. We hoped she would eventually be able to say this important letter. (Maggie is still non-verbal but the effort to teach her to speak was fun for both her and those of us who worked with her. She does say the letter I perfectly.)

In order to practice using the ‘m’ sound Cindy helped Maggie make a collage of many different pictures all starting with M. Cindy had pre-cut the pictures but helped Maggie use the glue stick and stick them on the paper. When the collage was finished Cindi would say the M word and then Maggie would give it a try.

Discussing what to write in Maggie’s journal.

Next, they read a darling picture story about “Mary, the Mouse with Measles” which Cindi had written. Maggie loved reading the story and so did her siblings, Jack and Mary.

Cindy and Maggie were putting a “Learning Journal” together. Cindy would help Maggie hold a pencil and write. On this day they wrote about the trip that they all had taken to the Utah School for the Deaf when Maggie’s had her ears tested. Here is what they wrote together: “Jack and I had our hearing tested. We can hear.” (Cindy asked Maggie, “Do we need a period or an exclamation mark?”) Then they practiced saying “We can hear” with emphasis!

While Maggie was busy learning Jack was all over the table and chairs

“Luke I am your father!” Yes, Jack does say that with just the right amount of breathiness. : )

blowing his train whistle, eating cookies and making comments. He also turned the popcorn popper lid into a Darth Vader mask. Cindy is VERY patient with Maggie and all her siblings.

Maggie drew some “M” pictures with special crayons. She loved and still does, working at holding on to things with her hands and seeing the result.

Of course, they ended their “m” session by eating marshmallows. Maggie enjoyed that the most!

To finish off the day Cindy read to the children from the classic “The Secret Garden”. This book did NOT appeal to Jack or Mary but Cindi remained patient with their wiggles and giggles.

Homeschooling a special needs child can be a successful adventure. It is worth giving it a try. If your child comes to a point where they need more than you can give them at home, their time at home will be a great foundation.

How do you make homeschool work for your special needs child?

 

Your shares are the best compliment!

Precious Autumn-Graceful Change

Fall is in the air- I love it! Although it still seems a bit like summer here in the west where I live, I know fall is just around the corner. There’s a slight chill to the air and the suns rays seem a bit thinner. The flowers are brilliant and blooming like mad in the final days of warm weather.

Why do I love autumn so much? Well, things begin to gear down. It feels somehow, restful. It feels peaceful. I have a desire to sit on the porch and soak up the sun. I want to bake bread! These autumn days make me feel cozy. I have a desire to be home puttering and preparing for winter.

Mostly, I love this season because the falling leaves remind me that to everything there is a season. There is a time for gathering and a time for letting go. This is a time when I feel the need to simplify, to let go.

Just as the leaves of fall must let go so the tree can rest we too need to occasionally take stock of what we have and ask ourselves, “Is this serving a purpose or is it just clutter?” Are there commitments or obligations that I have taken on that are not serving my family or me? Is my calendar cluttered? Is there too much ‘stuff’ in my home? Are the cupboards of my mind too full? What about my emotions? Are there any old wounds and hurts that I need to release to the wind?” Fall is a time for taking stock and cleaning house.

When we think of this type of cleaning many of us think of spring. But for me, fall is the time. I don’t want to be closed up for winter with too many obligations, too much stuff, too few hours for home and family or feelings that burden my days and nights. Winter is for rest and I want to be free to rest.

This is a principle which allows us to have a great deal of freedom: Keep it simple. When you put something in, take something out. This principle, when observed, can help us have more time for family, relationships, and learning.

As my darling daughter, Jenny, so elegantly said, “Precious Autumn demonstrated graceful change to me today, to change and release with grace.”

You Deserve a Reward!

You have probably heard the saying ‘begin with the end in mind’. In other words, visualize how you want something to turn out. However, if we want more enjoyment when we do things as a family then we should begin with the WHY in mind.

I love this comment by the motivational speaker Dan Clark: “Begin with the why in mind rather than the end in mind. This allows us to reward effort rather than results.” I love his comment because when adults adopt this attitude we and our kids have more fun and satisfaction in just about everything we do together.

Remember why you’re going for a family drive, why you’re letting the kids help you paint, why you’re making cookies, why you’re folding socks together or why you’re preparing dinner. The purpose of just about everything we do in a family is to build relationships.

Stop worrying about how the cookies taste, how the painting looks, if all the socks got matched, if dinner tasted great, whether there’s a mess, or how long the project takes. Keep your mind focused on relationship building.

As adults, we have motives that can prevent us from rewarding our family’s efforts to work and play together, regardless of the outcome. These motives can make it more difficult to give ourselves a reward just for being together, for enjoying each other, for working on our relationships.

MOTIVE 1—We want the experience and the outcome to match our expectations

When we plan any activity, vacation, chore, etc. with our family it’s almost impossible not to have an outcome in mind. However, if the family event doesn’t match that outcome then it’s easy to feel dissatisfied, even angry. It’s important to watch our expectations.

Keep expectations from getting in the way of enjoying your family. Avoid the trap of giving up because, well, what’s the use, what can they possibly be getting out of this? Keep the perfect from becoming the enemy of the good. The point is not what you teach, or how well it looks, but being together. There’s great value in linking your satisfaction to being with your family even when it falls short of your expectations.

MOTIVE 2—We want a reward

In our world, we get rewards for getting stuff done. If the job’s done right, we get bigger rewards. Rewards are what we’re used to.

In our families, the reward isn’t a paycheck but a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of happiness. Frequently, we withhold this reward from ourselves and other family members if what we’re doing doesn’t turn out right, in other words, if it didn’t meet our expectations. We don’t give ourselves the reward for simply engaging with our family and solidifying relationships.

It’s OK to reward ourselves with a sense of satisfaction and happiness even if we fall short of our expectations.

MOTIVE 3—We want others to think well of us

We want to look like the family we have in our mind – kids with clean hands and faces, no bickering, clean plates at dinner, clean rooms, happy conversation in the car…

That family doesn’t even exist but for some reason, we think it does and that if ours isn’t like that we have somehow failed. We want this imaginary family because sometimes our motive when being with our family is to look good to others – to look like that imaginary family. When we have this motive in mind it can suck the joy right out of any family activity with a REAL family

Success in any family endeavor can be measured by how people feel during and after an activity together. Is the family energized? Did you have fun? Did you feel happy being with one another? Was there a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment? Was individual esteem strengthened? Are relationships better? Is the family feeling still strong?

If we can answer yes to even one of those questions then we can reward ourselves because we will have succeeded in WHY we are together as a family – relationships!

When we remember why we do things as a family it’s easier to jettison these common motives and have greater enjoyment as we work and play together.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE –

Your family gathers at the table for dinner. You notice that one of your children’s hands are filthy and send them to wash. Another child complains that now you all have to wait to say grace because of so and so’s messy hands. The child with the messy hands comes back and gives their sibling a raspberry with their tongue. You intervene, remind them it’s time for grace and pick someone to pray.

During the prayer, the smallest child tips their milk. They should have had hands folded for prayer but they were reaching for a slice of bread. While the family finishes grace you head to the kitchen for a towel.

Both you and your spouse feel a bit frustrated but as you wipe up the milk your husband says, “Guess what I saw today?” One of the children responds with, “What?” “Well, I saw a sign for the circus, it’s coming to town.” There is a round of happy comments and someone says “Can we go?” “Well, we can talk about that at our family meeting. But do you know what my favorite thing was when I went to the circus as a kid, the Kaliope.” Someone responds with “The whatopee. I never heard of that.” And so the conversation goes for the next few minutes. Then your oldest child asks to be excused which starts an avalanche of request to be done.

Quickly you and your husband find yourselves sitting alone at the table. You realize that you are going to have to call those assigned to clean the table back and that you are going to have to argue with the ones assigned to wash and dry. But for now, in this brief moment, you and your husband look at each other and one of you says – “Well that was nice.”

And it was nice. You all sat down together. You ate together. You kept your cool and managed your responses. You had a full five minutes of conversation as a family. No one went away feeling less than. It was a success! Reward yourself with a sense of satisfaction and a happy feeling that you are managing just fine.

Of Hens and Families

                                                   A Very Bright Chicken!

We have chickens, free-range chickens. That means they are never locked in the coop. That has its advantages and disadvantages!

•It feels like country even in the city
•They poop on your patio and steps
•Breakfast can always include eggs
•It takes a hunt to get those breakfast eggs
•There are fewer bugs everywhere
•Ripe garden tomatoes might not make it into the house!

You see the last thing on the list- Ripe garden tomatoes might not make it into the house! That has been happening to me all summer. In fact, I have been picking my tomatoes when they are still slightly orange with a bit of green. It’s annoying because the reason to plant tomatoes is that you want ripe from the vine tomatoes.

I’ve been watching for the culprit who’s getting into the garden. Today I found her out! She is the mangiest chicken in the flock. She’s missing feathers on her neck and on her behind. She’s skinny and scraggly. You wouldn’t think much of her. However, you would be wrong! She is smarter than the average chicken despite her looks.

This morning I discovered her in my garden and I shooed her out. Then, because I can’t figure out how she gets in I watched her. Within minutes I saw her scoot under the fence at the corner where it connects to our neighbor’s fence. I shooed her back out. Then I placed a large rock in front of the low spot.

These low spots are actually created by the chickens themselves. They love taking dirt baths. Over time they can create quite an indention.

That’s what has happened around the perimeter of my garden. When I discovered this I placed cinder blocks in every indention I knew about. That’s why I couldn’t figure out how Scraggy Hen got in this morning.

After I blocked her newest entrance I watched her pace from one end of the garden to the other looking for a way in. I could feel her frustration as she paced back and forth trying this and that.

Although I felt for her plight what I felt, even more, was the desire for a ripe red tomato out of my own garden so I turned my gaze away and I went back to my cleaning. The next time I looked her way she was in the garden! How did she do that!!

I shooed her out and then I watched some more. For just a few minutes she went back to pacing the fence line, then she veered to the left towards the pasture fence. The fence at the back of the garden is also the fence to the back pasture. It’s made of far different wire than our chicken wire garden fence.

This fencing is meant to keep out cows and sheep, not chickens. Scraggy Hen looked along that piece of fence line until she found a place where the wires were just a bit more open and through them she went. Now she was in the pasture and she headed for the section that is at the back of the garden, where she searched until she found a larger opening. Voila, in the garden again!

What Do Chickens Have To Do With Families?

Now, this post isn’t about hens and gardens or even ripe tomatoes. It’s about the challenge we have to work out a solution when something that used to work stops working for our family or family relationships.

Scraggy Hen had been getting into my garden the same way all summer, under the fence. She had a routine going. Get in, eat all the tomato you can and get out before Mean Lady shoos you out. Then today it stopped working. Scraggy Hen paced up and down along the fence line for a long time. She would finally wander away and then eventually come back and pace some more. It was frustrating to watch and if chickens feel then Scraggy Hen was frustrated. She just kept checking the same old spots but they were blocked and she couldn’t get through anymore.

That can happen in family relationships and family systems; what used to work stops working and then we mentally pace. We keep trying to do it the old way. We feel frustrated, angry, annoyed, sad, victimized and any number of other human responses.

Back to Scraggy Hen. She got tired of pacing that fence line. She wanted ripe, red tomatoes for breakfast. She had had them before and wanted them again. So she checked out a new fence line and got through. Back into ripe, red tomato heaven!

For Better Solutions Get Out of The Box

What Scraggy Hen did was get out of the box. She stopped thinking in the same old familiar pattern and tried something different. She stopped being frustrated and feeling victimized. She took control of her response and began to think outside of the box. When nothing was going right she went left, literally.

Scraggy Hen was used to getting into the garden a specific way. When that way stopped working she had to find a new way. She had to leave the comfort zone of what she knew and try something else.

There are books written about how to become an out of the box thinker, to find better solutions. But here are some simple steps to begin practicing now.
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•Stop accepting victimhood and begin taking control of your responses.

When things aren’t going well it’s easy to feel like a victim of other people, even our kids. However, we are always in control of our response and when we believe and live as if that is true, it goes a long way in helping us manage even unmanageable situations and come up with better or new solutions

Repeat to yourself every time you feel that someone is doing something to you – I am not a victim!

•Leave your comfort zone

We all have ways that we have always done things or think that they should be done. It’s easier to follow the status quo but families who thrive keep changing whatever needs to be changed. They aren’t afraid to try doing something in a new way. In every family, everything is an experiment. Some work and some don’t and it’s OK. Try another experiment!

•Challenge your assumptions (stories)

Often when things stop working or go awry we assume it’s the other person’s fault. However, as we remain in control of our response to what doesn’t feel right we can also begin looking at our own motives, desires, and stories. What is fueling our feelings and our actions?

•Ask yourself searching questions

For example – instead of blaming your kids for not doing their chores ask yourself questions about how you are when you’re attempting to get them to do their chores. Are you present? Are your boundaries good? How do you feel about chores and what energy are you bringing? How is your consistency? Are you allowing yourself to feel like a victim? Why? When we ask ourselves searching questions about what is happening or not happening we can often make slight changes in our own behavior that can right a sinking ship or help us find a new ship altogether.

• Step out of your shoes and step into that of your spouse and children

It’s easy to get stuck in our own heads and in our own feelings. But when we step out of our shoes and into someone else’s we get a better idea of what’s driving another person’s behavior. For example, I had a friend who’s 13-year-old would not talk to her. It made her feel like a bad mom, that her daughter was mad at her or that she didn’t love her. She kept trying to get her daughter to talk to her. It only widened the gap.

Finally, this mom stepped out of her shoes and into those of her daughter. She decided that being 13 was probably a tough place to be and that what her daughter might need was a consistent connection, not words. She spent 3-5 minutes sitting on the edge of her daughter’s bed each night in the dark, in silence. She gently laid her hand on the bed next to her daughter’s arm. After a few weeks, her daughter began opening up. This mom stepped out of the box in her thinking.

•Don’t Take The Need for New Solutions Personally

Life is full of ups and downs. We can ride these waves of change better when we’re open to exploring different options and trying new experiments. Don’t take the need to change personally. Don’t make it about how you are doing as a parent. Just try a new experiment.

Your shares are the best compliment. : ) 

The Best Grandpa Ever

My Grandpa Ted Cazier was the best grandpa ever! He wasn’t always soft and cuddly. Sometimes he could get annoyed. He made you work and expected you to do a good job.

But if you needed anything he would help you out, always. If you wanted black licorice he would have some in his pocket, always. If you were hungry he had food and would share it, always. If you really needed a smile or a hug you could depend that he would give you one even if he was annoyed, always.

What made him the BEST grandpa ever was that you could depend on him because he was consistent!

A few years ago I asked my friend Darrell Newbold to write out his thoughts about being the best grandpa ever.

“You can be a pa, but to be a grandpa is something special! It has been said, “Fathers get promoted to grandfathers.” I think that you need to earn the position of grandfather.

I can remember time spent with my grandpas. One was easy going, had love in his eyes, and shared a chocolate whenever I went to his house. My other grandpa was rough and could be strict…But as I got older I would spend Saturday’s horseback riding with him. I was 18 and he was 80. Those are good times to remember.

Those are the kind of times I want my grand-kids to think back on. I will sit at the piano and start to play and have all the kids trying to sit next to me on one little bench or at a family outing all trying to get into the same photo. Those are really special times! We all need to stop and think about what is important in life. I think the family is!

I’m trying to share special times with my grandkids so that they can get to know me so that if they need me they will come and have a talk or get a hug or receive the help needed.

They all like a sleepover at our house. Just the other day my wife was telling me not to squirt the can of whipped cream into the grandkids mouths, when they all yelled out, “You’re the best grandpa ever!”

Here is why Darrell is the best grandpa ever. It isn’t really the whipped cream. He takes this job of being a grandparent seriously and he works at it. He wants to be the best! His grandkids know that he will hear what they have to say, always. They know that when the family gathers together he will be there with smiles and hugs, always. They know he has whipped cream in a can, always. They can depend on him because he wants to be the best grandpa in the world and works at it.

My husband Don is the BEST grandpa ever. I think so and so do his 13 grandchildren. They know that if they need something they can ask and he will do whatever he can to help them out, always. They know he has a listening ear and treats, always. They know he will stop working and look them in the eye and let them tell him what is happening, even if the story is long, always. They can depend on Don because he is available.

Tips To Be The ‘BEST’ Grandpa Ever!

The BEST grandfathers have many different temperaments. As Darrel said, some are easy going and some are rough and strict. Some work a lot like my grandpa Ted. Others are home a lot like Grandpa Don. None of that matters. Here is what does matter if you want to be the best grandpa or for that matter grandma, in the world:

  • Be consistent
  • Take the job seriously and do the work
  • Be available or in other words, BE PRESENT!

Celebrate this Grandparents Day by taking the time to connect with your grandchildren whether they are near or far.

Your ‘shares’ and ‘comments’ are the best compliments. Thank you!

What is Labor Day: Teach Your Children

When I was a girl I lived in a series of small towns. Just before the start of the new school year, there was a holiday called Labor Day. I had no idea what it was about but I knew it meant school was starting.

In the small towns that I lived in, there was always a big celebration with a parade down Main Street, a BBQ in the park and boring speeches by important people. Over the years, whenever Labor Day rolls around someone in my family would ask, “What is the Labor day holiday for?” and someone else would reply “I think it must have something to do with working or working people”. If a child asked an adult “Why do we celebrate labor day?” they might hear “It’s a day to celebrate how much work it was to bring you into the world and then take care of you”.

I thought it might be interesting to fill you in on what Labor Day is really all about so that when your child asks you, you can give them a real answer and not be a wiseacre! How about an activity or two that you can do as a family to learn about and celebrate the day.

In fact, why not celebrate Labor Day for the whole week with interesting conversation and family activities.

History of Labor Day

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. It’s a day dedicated to the everyday worker. This holiday gives tribute to the working class and their contributions to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Labor Day became an official national holiday in 1894. This holiday is usually celebrated with summer activities – swimming, camping, picnics, etc. Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer in the Northern part of the U.S. Many schools start sometime just before or just after Labor Day.

Labor Day Activities and Ideas

•This labor day why not have a family program in your living room and show your children what labor you perform in your community. Maybe you are a doctor, a teacher, salesman or nurse. If the timing is right, go on a field trip and show them where you work. You might round out the program by having each person in your family share what it is they think would be the most fun work to do when they grow up. Don’t forget the treats.
•Take some time, at dinner for example, and talk about all the contributions children can and do make. Here are some ideas – Babysit, deliver newspapers, magazines or flyers, walk dogs/care for pets, do yard work, grass cutting, helping a neighbor with chores, do chores in their own home, be a tutor, help out at kids clubs, teach computer skills, volunteer. All of these things are important because they contribute to society – kids do make a difference.
•Make a collage by cutting pictures out of magazines of people doing different kinds of work.

Teaching Children the Importance of Work

Discuss why it’s important to work and what we can learn when we are working:
•Money Management -You quickly learn the value of money when you earn it yourself.
•Time management – You will learn how to manage your time, be organized, and set schedules so you can get your work done and still have time for school and play.
•Responsibility – When you make a commitment to take on work or chores or do volunteer work you have to follow through because people are counting on you.
•Setting Goals – You want that bike? Set the goal and go for it. Work teaches you how to do this.

Labor Day Games and Puzzles

•Make the game Tools of the Trade and then have a family game night and play it. Serve popcorn. Here’s how:
Make cards showing a tool from many different occupations. Use blank index cards) Make two cards for each tool. (hammer, dentist drill, garden rake, semi-truck, a judges hammer, stethoscope, shopping cart, computer, pen, etc. ) Then play the game just as you would Memory. Take turns turning over two cards until a match is found. The person with the most matches is the winner. Part of the fun is in choosing the occupations and then deciding on a tool for each. Kids love making the cards!
PRINT OFF some super Labor Day Word Search puzzles.

Short Stories for Labor Day

PRINT OFF some short stories to share each day of the week before Labor Day or the week of Labor Day. Here is just a small sample of what you will find:
The Smithy by P. V. Ramaswami Raju, Indian Fables; Hofus the Stone Cutter, A Japanese Legend from The Riverside Third Reader; Arachine by Josephine Preston Peabody, Old Greek Folk Stories; and The Champion Stone Cutter by Hugh Miller

Labor Day Books to Read to Children

Choose a book about working people and their jobs to read in your family reading time. You can get a description of each book HERE.
A Job for Wittilda by Caralyn Buehner
Bruno the Tailor by Caralyn Buehner
I Want to be a Police Officer by Daniel Liebman
Jobs People Do by Christopher Maynard
Community Helpers from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman
Fireman Small by Wong Herbert Yee
I Want to Be a Teacher by Daniel Liebman
Library Lil by Suzanne Williams
My Daddy is a Soldier by Kirk Hilbrecht
Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Sam Who Never Forgets by Eve Rice
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Tortoise Brings the Mail by Dee Lillegard
Walter the Baker by Eric Carle
What Do Authors Do by Eileen Christelow
What Do Illustrators Do? by Eileen Christelow
What is a Community from A to Z? (AlphaBasiCs) by Bobbie Kalman

Holidays are great times to spend time with your children, engage in some interesting conversations, read and establish some family traditions. Labor Day is no exception!

Your ‘shares’ and ‘comments’ are the best compliments. Thank you!

A Tip To Improve Parent-Child Relationships

Here’s a true story.

A father was painting the outside of his home. His five-year-old son wanted to help. So this good father gave his son an old shirt with the sleeves rolled up several times. They both went to work on the door, dad painting the top and son painting the bottom. It just happened to be the main entrance.

Now because of his age and size, the young boy wasn’t able to spread the paint evenly and consequently, the paint was beading up. That certainly wasn’t how the father envisioned his front door. So each time the five-year-old bent down to get more paint the father would hastily smooth out the paint on the bottom panel. It couldn’t do any harm, the boy didn’t know what was happening and the door sure would look better.

Well, father and son painted in silence for a time, the boy doing his best and the father smoothing it out. As the father thought about the situation and his redoing of his son’s work he decided that working with his son trumped a first-class paint job. He realized that his son was doing a mighty fine job for a five-year-old. The relationship that was being forged over the painting of a door was more significant to the father than the appearance of the door. He stopped smoothing out his son’s work.

Ever after that when the father approached the front door and saw its distinctive style of decoration he was reminded of what is really important.

The father of this five-year-old boy spoke about his own experiences with his father. His father had a workshop in which he made wonderful things. The son said, “I would wander into this workshop and watch him. Just to be in his presence was a thrill for me. He invited me to help him by passing a hammer, a screwdriver, or some other tool. I was convinced that my help was necessary and that without me he would not be able to complete his task.

As I look back and reflect upon those wonderful memories, I realize that my contribution was not necessary for my father to complete the work he was engaged in. I was the beneficiary, as through these experiences I came to know him and to love him. I came to know about a Fathers Role In Parenting .” We All Have a Father in Whom We Can Trust”, Ensign, May 1994, 30

Relationship vs Outcome

Sometimes parents care too much about the outcome and too little about the relationship. When we take time to be present with our children we give them the opportunity to know and love us. We give them a gift. And they return that gift by loving us back. It’s the best use of our time because the relationship that develops is the thing of greatest significance.

When you are older and they have gone from home, you will be glad that you spent the bulk of your time on forging relationships rather than on the outcome of the myriad projects parents need to do.

Work-Presence Balance – Is it doable?

It’s helpful to know and understand that moments of connection can happen during the daily activities we engage in already. It needn’t be out of the ordinary, planned ahead or take extra time.

“In the intervals of the game, while Uncle Henry was pondering over his moves, the little girl looked down at her pets and listened absently to the keen autumnal wind that swept around the old house, shaking the shutters and rattling the windows. A stick of wood in the stove burned in two and fell together with a soft, whispering sound. The lamp cast a steady radiance on Uncle Henry bent seriously over the checker-board, on Molly’s blooming, round cheeks and bright hair, on Aunt Abigail’s rosy, cheerful, wrinkled old face, and on Cousin Ann’s quiet, clear, dark eyes. . . .That room was full to the brim of something beautiful, and Betsy knew what it was. Its name was Happiness.”

These are the final words of a book I enjoy so much, Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield. I liked it as a young girl and I reread it as an adult. Then I read it to my grandchildren.

Presence, What it is and What it Isn’t

One thing I enjoy about this old classic is that it’s all about being Present, what it is and what it isn’t.

Betsy unexpectedly found herself an orphan and went to live with her Aunt Harriet and Aunt Frances. These two dear old ladies were obsessed with taking care of Betsy. If you asked them they would say they were really Present. But they weren’t. They had confused being Present with taking care of all that’s required when you have children. They were stuck in what I like to call management vs. relationship.

Then Betsy goes to live in Vermont, with her mother’s family, the Putney’s. They often seem un-present. But they aren’t. They get Presence – It’s the gift of our full attention, our whole self, nothing held back, and it can take as little as five minutes or less.

Being Present isn’t as much about time as it is about our understanding of how to find moments to be Present when we’re busy, when we’re living our regular everyday lives.

I will never forget the father with teary eyes, at the end of a live event, who said he had always wanted to connect with his children consistently but hadn’t known how. He was short on time!

This father was gone each day working eight or more hours. When he came home it was difficult to connect with each child in a meaningful way. There was so much competing for his time in the few hours they had before bed. There was the deluge of homework, mealtime, and the chaos of getting kids to sleep. Not to mention his need for downtime to unwind from a busy day.

What brought tears to this father’s eyes was the comfort of knowing he could connect in meaningful ways with the time he had. He felt the information was life-changing. Frankly, understanding how to connect in everyday ways is family changing.

A TED Talk on Being Present, Sorta

Nigel Marsh tackled the thorny issue of work-life balance in a TED talk. It addresses head on what that teary-eyed father was feeling. As you listen, change the words work-life balance to work-presence balance. Stick with it to the last 2 ½ minutes and you’ll be glad you did.

That’s the problem that we face the most isn’t it; too busy to really be Present with those we love, hence we feel unbalanced. The corporate executive isn’t the only one who gets caught in this web. It happens to stay at home moms and dads, as well as those who leave home and go to work. It happened to Betsy’s aging aunts.

But with just a tweak in the way we think about what we’re already doing every day we can get a clear vision of what Presence at home, with our children, is really all about.

Today take the time to get the FREE chapter Touchpoints from my book Becoming a Present Parent and begin making this family altering change in your own life. Learn how to be a more Present parent. Then take the time to read this beautiful and cheery little book to your children or grandchildren.

Your ‘shares’ are the best compliment. Thank you!

Special Needs – The Other End of the Stick

Five years ago I became my granddaughter Maggie’s aid at school.

Maggie has severe Cerebral Palsy. She is non-verbal, can’t walk, has to be fed and changed, and has minimal control of her hands and arms. But she is so bright. I went to school with her to help her brilliance shine.

I held her hand while she wrote. I put math on a white board so she could write an answer. I moved her from one place to another so she could participate in all that went on in school. I showed the other children how they could talk to Maggie and be her friend. I showed adults how to interact and how to be absolutely amazed at her remarkable spirit. I advocated for Maggie. It was a gift to me.

It was also challenging.  It was a challenge moving a seven-year-old from place to place, lifting, holding and carrying. I was tired! Sometimes I thought, “I can’t stand to explain to one more person why Maggie can’t talk or walk, or do all that we take for granted.”

But then I would recall the words of a wise woman, Maggie’s mother, and I would smile and help one more person understand how to be a friend to the most joyous person I know, Maggie Palmer. Maggie is now twelve years old but the words of her mother, a We Sherpa, are as true now as there were five years ago when I was Maggie’s aid at school.

What is a We Sherpa and how does it apply to Special Needs

Hi. I’m Maggie’s mom. Maggie is 7 and has severe cerebral palsy. Last year I had a first hurt. I found a picture on Facebook of all Maggie’s friends at a birthday party she hadn’t been invited to. Cry! As parents with special needs kids we come to these new layers of grieving over and over again, don’t we?

Sometimes the depth of my grief over what seems to be a pebble in “the road of life with a special needs child” surprises me. How could stepping on such a little thing hurt so badly? I shake my head in wonder as the tears flow. Just the other day one of Maggie’s little next-door friends said to me, in her frustration of not being able to play with Maggie in ways that she wanted to, “I wish Maggie didn’t have cerebral palsy.” Her comment sucked the air out of my lungs, and I was speechless. What should I think about this, about her? I didn’t know.

We’ve always homeschooled Maggie. Next week she’ll be going to public school for the first time in her life. In fact, she’ll go to a school that has never had a child with her sort of disability. I’m expecting that we’ll be stepping on lots of those painful little pebbles at this section of our journey. Maybe there will be some rocks I crack my shins against or a boulder that crushes me. For this reason, I’ve been considering this strange land we all have to tread when the “typical” and the “special” intersect.

There was a time when I was one of “them” and lived in the “typical world”—when I didn’t have a child, when I didn’t even know any special needs people. If I crossed the path of someone different I stared, I stumbled; I felt unsure and didn’t know what the heck to do with him/her. Should I ask what was wrong with him? Should I talk to her, or should I talk to her caregiver? Should I pretend that I didn’t notice anything different? What would be the wrong thing to say? What if I couldn’t understand what he said back to me? Might they hurt me? Might I hurt them? Could I catch what they had? I felt afraid, I felt awkward, and I felt stupid. I have a lot of compassion for “them.”

As we prepare to enter this place of intersection in earnest, I’ve come to the conclusion that Maggie and I are going to be We Sherpa‘s. What’s a We Sherpa, you ask?

A Sherpa has come to be known as someone who guides another along a challenging journey. A Sherpa takes upon themselves the heaviest burdens of the expedition. A Sherpa understands their traveling companion may be inexperienced, awkward, and fearful as they walk through territory that is not their native country, and they are patient with that.

The “We” part of the equation is a conscious decision about how we are going to walk in this world. A world of only “us” (those who get it) and “them,” (those who don’t) is really only a world of ME. The “We” means we’re going to leave the path of ME, and walk the path of WE.

When it comes to people’s insensitivities or ignorance about our special kids, here’s why choosing to be a We Sherpa matters so much.

If we want inclusion and compassion for our children, we have to be willing to pick up the other end of that stick.

When someone speaks insensitively or ignorantly, when they stare, when they don’t include, or worse, exclude, the We Sherpa simply sees them as a traveler who needs a guide to help them walk this uncharted territory. The We Sherpa bears the larger burden of reaching out, of inviting, of educating, of creating opportunity, of giving the benefit of the doubt, and of forgiving. The We Sherpa puts an arm around their shoulder and invites them onto the path. They may decline. There will be the inevitable stepping on toes as we learn to walk together. We Sherpa’s accept that.

Seth Godin said it best. “The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.”

I’ll keep having these painful “firsts.” And, I’m learning to own my own grief. But, I’m going to choose to walk a path of WE.

When someone clumsily stumbles into us with insensitivity or ignorance, Maggie and I are going to scoot over, invite them to walk with us, and help them over the rocky places of fear, awkwardness, and unfamiliarity.
It’s true. We’re better, together.

Blessings to all of us who tread this challenging path. May your grief be comforted, and the rocky way smoothed.

Love,
TheJoyfulPalmers (Jodie)

I appreciate my daughter’s words of wisdom. They move me and I have been learning to We Sherpa right along with her and Maggie. It isn’t always easy but it is preferable to feeling like the world is “us” against “them.” If you know someone with a special needs child please share this article with them. If you know someone without a special needs child it might be even more important to share. It might help both along their own rocky path.

You might also enjoy an example of how Jodie and Maggie We Sherpa. Jodie, Maggie and friends made this video to introduce Maggie to any new groups of kids. They used it both in church and school. It will inspire you. “My New Friend Maggie.”

Jodie is the mother of four children, ages 5, 8, 10, and 12. Her oldest daughter, Maggie, has severe cerebral palsy. Although her energies are focused on the busy season of raising a young family, she is also a writer, teacher, mentor, and coach. She has spent many years helping parents create their own unique vision, master plan and custom-made systems for the education of their family. She is also the past president of the Midwives College of Utah and currently serves as a member of their board of directors and a personal student mentor. Jodie’s secret wish is to ride cross-country on a motorcycle in black leather pants.

Your ‘shares’ are the best compliment. Thank you!