Avoiding Holiday Stress: Part II

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I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays.  I LOVE the music, the lights, the TV specials, spending time with family and friends.  I HATE the stress, don’t you? Social media certainly doesn’t help; no one takes pictures of the cake that collapsed on itself, the toddler having a temper tantrum meltdown, the lopsided tree, or the cat batting the ornaments all over the house.

Nope, the pictures we see are all the best of the best and sometimes make me feel as though everyone has it all together…except me. I bookmark pictures of perfectly decorated trees, smiling children dressed in holiday party-best, gorgeous rooms with nothing out of place, and party food displayed in an appetizing assortment of colors and tastes.  My Pinterest account is overflowing with “should do” ideas and my camera is loaded with a laughable assortment of what I lovingly refer to as “Pinterest-fails”. Just keeping it real here, folks.  LOL!

Part of my problem is that I’m trying to do it all myself.  I have come to realize that the holidays are not just for me, but for everyone, and everyone can take part in the preparation and the celebration! This was a huge shift in my thinking and has helped me relax and focus on what is important. Here are some tips that helped me make it all more manageable.

If you’re like me, you want everything to be extra nice for the holidays.  Don’t try to do it all yourself, share the jobs.  My son is grown now, but I used to make a list of jobs that needed to be done. I learned from experience that you have to be specific – put down details of how it should be done, the supplies needed to do the job, and when it needs to be completed. Now cut the job list apart, fold each piece of paper, and put them in a hat, a basket, or a job jar.  I have the cutest job jar all decorated for Christmas. Each family member reaches in and selects a job or two, or even three; somehow this became a tradition that we looked forward to. Finally, each person tapes their jobs next to their name on a chart on the refrigerator.  Getting ready for the holidays has now become a family affair and everyone will enjoy the results as you get things ready for a wonderful holiday!

Remember to give yourself permission to let it be less than perfect. My family constantly reminds me that a house and garden style magazine crew is not coming to photograph my home. Bet they aren’t coming to yours either! So just take a deep breath, relax, take lots of pictures, and gather precious memories. When you look back on the 2017 holiday season, you won’t remember if the throw pillows were perfectly fluffed; you will remember the magical, joyful moments you shared with your family.  So, from my slightly messy home to all of you, Merry Christmas!

Avoiding Holiday Stress: Part I

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There is no way around it! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, this time of year is hectic. I feel as though the holidays have begun before I’ve even finished washing the dishes from Thanksgiving dinner! With all the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking, cleaning, and traveling, it is easy to lose sight of what is really important – family, friends, and fun!

I know I lost track of the fun while my son was little. I remember driving to my parent’s home for the holidays with him in the back seat whining all the way because he wanted some toy that I probably couldn’t afford.

So how do we balance it all and not get frustrated? What’s the solution? How do we find time to get it all done and still enjoy our children?

  1. Start some new traditions.

Talk to your children about starting some new family traditions. For example, if you enjoy an Advent Calendar for the Christmas countdown, how about changing it up a bit? Instead of a calendar, wrap up 24 short stories;  start a tradition that every night between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, your child gets to unwrap one book. Now, you and your child spend 10 minutes reading a Christmas story together. If your child is older, you can read a chapter book, one chapter per night. This accomplishes two things: first, it gives you a few quiet moments each day together, and second, it helps your child with reading. Reading together is a wonderful way to help your child become a great reader…and that is the gift of a lifetime!

2. Be sure to check out your local library.

The library will often have pleasant holiday activities for children on the schedule. While your child is busy with the library activity, you can check out some holiday books to use for the activity above.

3. Think about paying it forward.

This is a season of giving. Plan some quiet time for yourself by having your child/ren work on a charitable project. Here are some ideas to get you started… What is your child interested in? Does s/he love to draw? What about drawing some cards to send to folks in the hospital? Let’s not forget our soldiers overseas. Children can send holiday wishes to soldiers far from family and friends.

4. Simplify.

Another way to combine fun and family (and save money) is to create a tradition of making some of the gifts. Your child can help. For example, take a copy of a favorite family photo. Mount it on a piece of cardboard and cut it up. Now you have a puzzle! Use leftover baby jars, some glitter, and water and you’ve got a snow globe! There are many great ideas out there for fun family gifts that you and your children can make. You would be amazed at the things you can do with everyday items such as toilet paper rolls, marshmallows, buttons, popsicle sticks, glue, paint, and some glitter!  Do a simple search on the internet for “Christmas Crafts for Kids” and you will find tons of ideas!

5. Give.

The advantage to having your children make some of the gifts is “ownership”.  When children are “given”, it creates a sense of entitlement. When children “give”, psychologists tell us that human bonds are strengthened. There is greater joy in giving than in receiving and this is a lesson we should allow our children to learn. Could your child sacrifice one of his gifts to donate to the needy? What about finding a few older toys in the house that could be given to an orphanage or to a family who has lost everything to a fire?

6. Set limits.

Some families have put a limit on how many gifts are expected. Jesus received just three gifts from the Wise Men. Could you limit your giving for each child to three gifts? Other families have set items: one item of clothing, one book,  one toy, and one gift of food for each person. Other families set an expectation that each member will receive only one gift from each person in the family…one gift from mom, one from dad, one from sister, one from brother. You get the idea. Setting boundaries such as these accomplishes two things: 1. You will be less stressed trying to wrap a mountain of gifts and, 2. Your child will know what to expect ahead of time and will have realistic expectations.

So, take a deep breath…relax…make a plan…enjoy this precious time of year.  Twenty years from now, your child won’t remember the video game that was under the tree this year, but s/he will remember the time spent with you.  Merry Christmas!

 

Start with a Good Book

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.34.27 PMHere is a list of over 60 wonderful read-aloud stories that I have enjoyed reading to my child and my students over the years.  You will find many more as you visit book stores and your local library.  Your child will enjoy reading them over and over!

Click here for a printable copy of the list.  Read Aloud Books

Book Title Author Celebrate the Letters
A Chair for My Mother Vera B. Williams M/m
A Hole is to Dig Ruth Krauss H/h, D/d
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Judith Viorst A/a
Bedtime for Frances Russell Hoban B/b, F/f
Biscuit Alyssa Satin Capucilli B/b
Caps for Sale Esphyr Sobodkina C/c
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Bill Martin, Jr. B/b
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Judi Barrett C/c, M/m
Corduroy Don Freeman C/c
David Goes to School David Shannon D/d, S/s
Frog and Toad are Friends Arnold Lobel F/f, T/t
Goldilocks and the Three Bears James Marshall G/g, B/b
Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown M/m
Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss G/g, E/e, H/h
Gregory the Terrible Eater Mitchell Sharmat G/g, T/t
Harold and the Purple Crayon Crockett Johnson H/h, P/p
Harry the Dirty Dog Gene Zion H/h, D/d
Hattie and the Fox Mem Fox H/h, F/f
How Rocket Learned to Read Tad Hills R/r
Hurry! Hurry! Eve Bunting H/h
I can Read with my Eyes Shut!  Dr. Seuss R/r
It Looked Like Spilt Milk Charles G. Shaw M/m
Kindergarten Rocks! Katie Davis K/k
Lemons are NOT Red Laura Vaccaro Seeger L/l
Leo the Late Bloomer Robert Krauss L/l
Letters from a Desperate Dog Eileen Christelow L/l, D/d
Library Lion Michelle Knudsen L/l
Little Bear Else Holmelund Minarik B/b, L/l
Llama Llama Red Pajama Anna Dewdney L/l
Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! Nancy Carlson K/k
Lost and Found Oliver Jeffers L/l, F/f, P/p
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile  Bernard Waber L/l, C/c
Make Way for Ducklings Robert McCloskey M/m, D/d
Me I Am! Jack Prelutsky M/m
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Virginia Lee Burton M/m, S/s
Miss Nelson is Missing Harry Allard, James Marshall N/n, M/m, T/t
No Roses for Harry! Gene Zion R/r, H/h
No, David! David Shannon D/d
Pete’s a Pizza William Steig P/p
Regards to the Man in the Moon Ezra Jack Keats M/m
Sheep in a Jeep Nancy E. Shaw S/s, J/j
Snowballs Lois Ehlert S/s
Snowmen at Night Caralyn Buehner S/s
Stellaluna Janell Cannon S/s, B/b
Stone Soup Marcia Brown S/s
Strega Nona Tomie DePaola S/s
Swimmy Leo Lionni S/s
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble William Steig S/s, M/m, P/p
Tacky the Penguin Helen Lester T/t, P/p
The Carrot Seed Ruth Krauss C/c
The Kissing Hand Audrey Penn K/k, H/h
The Little Engine that Could Watty Piper E/e, T/t
The Little House Virginia Lee Burton H/h
The Mitten Jan Brett M/m
The Mysterious Tadpole Steven Kellogg M/m, T/t
The Pout-Pout Fish Deborah Diesen P/p, F/f
The Snowy Day Ezra Jack Keats S/s
The Story of Ferdinand Munro Leaf F/f, B/b
The Ugly Duckling Hans Christian Andersen U/u, D/d
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle C/c, V/v, H/h
Three Billy Goats Gruff Paul Galdone G/g,
Tikki Tikki Tembo Arlene Mosel T/t
Time out for Sophie Rosemary Wells T/t. S/s
Wemberly Worried Kevin Henkes W/w
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak W/h
Whistle for Willie Ezra Jack Keats W/h

Growing a Good Reader

rk8_bookbox1Reading Tips for Parents: You can be the key to your child’s success with literacy. As his or her first teacher, you are in a unique position to help instill a love of reading in your child. The first thing for you to do is model reading; your child should see you reading every day for information or for enjoyment.  Having a home filled with books, magazines, comics, newspapers and other print material is a good start.

Not long ago I found myself cringing in the grocery store when I heard a frustrated mom threaten her five year old by saying, “If you don’t stop that, I will take away the iPad and you will have to read.”  Nooooo!  Reading should be a pleasure, not ever a punishment!

Children with a large supply of reading materials in their homes are known to score higher on standardized tests. Why? Think about it.

There is a tremendous difference between digital input and text.  When a child watches TV or plays on a tablet, all the pictures come streaming in from the screen.  When a child reads, s/he has to visualize the text. The act of painting the picture the author is describing is a most creative process.  Reading helps students begin to visualize new possibilities, solve problems, think out of the box, and become the young adult that companies clamor to hire.

Here are some easy suggestions for helping your child develop a lifelong love of reading.

  • Read aloud to your child. Choose material (books, magazines, comics) based on topics your child finds interesting. Ask your child questions about what has just been read…the Who, What, Where, When and Why of a story.
  • Choose a sound and ask your child to cut out pictures of things that begin with that sound. Help your child glue their picture onto an index card and write the letter that makes that sound. Use these cards to review sounds. Create an alphabet of pictures on index cards. Celebrate the letters of the alphabet; make it fun!
  • Surround your children with reading material; give books as gifts, rewards, etc.
  • Encourage a wide variety of reading activities.
  • Make reading an important part of your child’s life. Have them read menus, grocery lists, roads signs, game directions, the comics, or movie time listings.
  • Be knowledgeable about your children’s progress. Schedule regular conferences with your child’s teacher each year.
  • Find out what reading skills your child is expected to have at each grade level. The school’s curriculum will give you this information.
  • Get help promptly for reading problems. Reading problems do not magically disappear with time. The earlier children receive help, the more likely they will become good readers.
  • Let your child gradually share some of the reading aloud. You read a sentence, paragraph, or page, then it’s your child’s turn. Take over if your child seems tired or discouraged. Keep reading light-hearted; focus on the fun, not just hard work.
  • Leave notes in a lunch bag or on the refrigerator for your child to discover and read. Make it simple, using words your child knows or you think they can sound out.
  • Take your new reader to the library. Pick up a library card and make a big deal about it. Let your child know how important and special books can be.

Raising a reader is a joyous journey for parents and the reward is great. Check back here on the blog for a list of wonderful read-aloud books to share with your child.  In the meantime, snuggle up tonight for a sweet bedtime story.

Magical Moments: Reading Together

Reading with your Beginning Reader

rk8_boy11In my last blog I challenged you to read with your child for 20 minutes each night.  This practice makes a BIG difference in the reader your child becomes.  Yet, parents of young children who are in the process of learning to read may have questions about how to approach this.

Actually, it is pretty easy.  Here are some tips that will help you relax and enjoy the experience with your children as they learn to read.

  • It is okay for your child to track with their finger.  In other words, don’t discourage them for putting their finger on each word as they read it.  As they become more proficient, you can give them a bookmark to slide under an entire line of text at a time.
  • In the beginning, model for your child. You read a sentence and have them repeat it.
  • Next, you can begin to take turns reading.  At the beginning, you and your child can alternate sentences. You read the first one and s/he reads the next.  As your child becomes a better reader, alternate paragraphs and then finally, alternate pages.
  • The discussion you have with your child as you read is very important, so talk about the story.  Ask your child to:
    • Predict what will happen next. You can ask,
      • “What do you think will happen now?”
      • “What makes you think so?”
    • Retell what just happened. You can say,
      • “Tell me what happened first, next, and last in the story.”
      • “What was the most interesting part?” “Why?”
    • Make a personal connection to something in his/her own life. Discuss how the characters are feeling. You can say,
      • “How do you think the character is feeling?”
      • “Have you every felt that way?”
      • “Does this story remind you of another story we have read? Why?”
    • Identify new words. You can say,
      • “Point to a word that is new to you.”
      • “Let’s look at the story to see if we can figure out what it means.”
      • “What do you think it means?”
      • “Let’s keep reading to see if you are right.”
  • Each time your child gives an answer, ask him/her to give evidence from the story to support the answer.
  • Ask questions that require your child to think deeper, to think beyond the surface.
      • Who? What? Where? When? are considered lower level questions; the answers will be right in the book.
      • Why? and How? are deeper, higher level questions that require your child to use the information in the story to come up with the answer.
  • When your child finds a favorite book, they want to read it again and again.  That’s rk8_girl5great!  Re-reading is a great strategy for building stronger readers.
  • Have lots of reading materials in your home.  Talk to your child’s teacher about his or her reading level. Find out what interests your child and help him or her find books on that topic.
  • Check books out from the school library, the public library, give books as gifts and rewards, subscribe to magazines for kids, comics.
  • MODEL! MODEL! MODEL!  If your child sees you reading, they are much more likely to become a reader.

Learning to read is a magical time in a child’s life. Reading opens up a world of possibilities and adventures.  Sharing this is a wonderful experience for a parent.  Don’t miss it…it only happens once.

How to Change a Life in 20 Minutes!

rk8_girl12Does this sound familiar? The teacher sends home a note every week asking that parents read with their child for 20 minutes each weeknight.  You are thinking, “Does she not get it?  I have 3 children! I work all day, have to cook dinner, answer the phone, fold laundry, feed the dog, clean the litter box, sign field trip forms, pay bills, and chase a toddler.  Are you kidding me!?!”

There are days when 20 minutes sounds like an eternity, but, let’s take a moment to look at this reading equation mathematically.

John reads 20 minutes five nights of every week;

Sally only reads 4 minutes a night, if at all.

Step 1:  Multiply the minutes per night X 5 times each week.

John: reads 20 minutes X 5 times per week = 100 minutes each week.

Sally: reads 4 minutes X 5 times per week = 20 minutes each week.

Step 2: Multiply the minutes per week X 4 weeks each month.

John: 100 minutes per week X 4 = 400 minutes per month.

Sally: 20 minutes per week X 4 = 80 minutes per month.

Step 3: Multiply the minutes per month X 9 months per school year.

John: 400 minutes per month X 9 months = 3600 minutes per year.

Sally: 80 minutes per month X 9 months = 720 minutes per year.

Step 4: Divide the number of minutes per year by 360 minutes per day to find the number of days spent reading.

John: 3600 divided by 360 = an additional 10 full days of school spent just reading.

Sally: 720 divided by 360 = only 2 additional days of school spent reading.

So, by the end of 8th grade, or 9 academic years: 

John will have spent an additional 90 days reading.  John has gotten the equivalent of an extra  half of a 180 day school year just spent reading!

Sally will have read the equivalent of 18 days, or one tenth of a 180 day school year.

Food for Thought:

  • Which student would you expect to be a better reader?
  • Which student would you expect to be more knowledgeable?
  • Which student would you expect to be a better writer?
  • Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary?
  • Which student would you expect to be more successful in school?
  • Which student would you expect to conduct a better interview?
  • Which student would you expect to be more successful in LIFE?

So there you have it. Twenty minutes a day can make a big difference and set your child up for success.  Will you do it perfectly?  Probably not.  But if you teach your child to value reading by reading together, you will definitely have a positive result!  You are your child’s most significant role model and I already know that you like to read…you are reading a blog!  My guess is…you’ve got this!

How do I help my child…

figure out a word when we read together?

Here are some strategies to use when decoding unknown words:
1) Have your child look at the picture. If the word will give your child help with the word, tell your child that the word is something that can be seen in the picture. If not, the picture is a clue your child can use.

2) Suggest your child look for chunks in the word. Chunks are little pieces of a word that are familiar like it in sit, at in hat, and in stand, or ing in jumping.

3) Ask your child to get his/her mouth ready to say the word. Show your child how to shape his/her mouth to say the first letter sound of the word. Sometimes that beginning sound is all it takes!  Be sure to look at the sounds that end the word too.

4) Ask your child if the word looks like another word s/he knows. For example, if your child knows the word car, star, far, hard and jar are similar words. Look for similarities together.

5) You can suggest your child go on and read to the end of the sentence. Many times the other words in the sentence will help him/her figure out the unknown word.

6) If your child says the wrong word while reading, ask questions. Some good questions to ask are:

  • Does that make sense?
  • Do the sounds in that word match the sounds of the letters in the word?
  • Does it look right to you?

7) If none of this works, tell your child the word. Tell him/her how you were able to figure out the word, which strategy above worked. Then, be sure to revisit the word so your child sees it again.

HURRICANE IRMA & ME: It’s all about the STUFF!

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I am among the millions of folks who have been evacuated in preparation for the landfall of  Hurricane Irma.  I have posted before about the fact that I try to find the silver lining in every cloud.  So, of course, I am searching for things to be happy about as I hunker down here in a small hotel in a small town on the Mississippi border.

First of all, I am declaring this Irma-cation 2017.  That certainly puts a positive spin on it, right?  It isn’t really a “-cation” of any sort, but Irma-cation certainly sounds better than “mandatory, forced evacuation”, at least in my thinking!

I am a very reflective person most of the time, and this has certainly given me time to slow down and think about what’s going on in my life.  The first thing I needed as I prepared to evacuate was the reassurance that those I love would be with me ~ my fiancé, my son, my daughter-in-law, and our pets.  The rest of the family live in New Mexico, Connecticut, Ohio… far from Irma’s reach.  Yes, a big sigh of relief that everyone is out of harm’s way.  But now, on to the topic of this post: STUFF!

My “stuff” gave me a great big headache, for sure.  I remember years ago George Carlin did a hysterically funny bit on “stuff”.  I still laugh every time I think about it.  The gist of his routine was that we surround ourselves with stuff.  We keep all of our stuff in a “box” called an apartment, a condo, a home.  Then, as we accumulate wealth, we buy more “stuff” and then have to buy a bigger “box” (house) to hold all of our stuff.  We sit happily in our “box” surrounded by our stuff until something out of the ordinary happens and we have to travel!  YIKES!! That is when the trouble starts! Now we are faced with the horrible decision about which pieces of  “stuff” are important and must accompany us and which pieces must, sadly, be left behind.

And that is exactly what happened to me!  I sat in my house last week surrounded by my  “treasures”; I am certain that my collection is much too valuable to be referred to as simple “stuff”. I know, go ahead, it’s okay to giggle; I’m giggling now too, but at the time there were some tears involved. Anyway,  I kept wondering how in the world I was going to walk away from my lifetime’s collection of treasures.

We are traveling in a small sedan.  I can’t take my grandmother’s china hutch or the antique tea cart. I have to leave my mother’s grandfather clock behind chiming for no one to hear. My father’s desk, the pictures from my trip to Russia (taken before photos became digital)…the list goes on. So I stood with an open suitcase filling it with the non-negotiable “stuff”. Clothes, underwear, nightgown and slippers, make-up, shoes, laptop (a MUST for me!), snacks, and a bottle of wine all made the cut and came with me. All the rest was left behind.

Now I have a choice to make. I can either sit and worry about the fate of my “treasures” left behind while I listen to endless hours of Irma coverage in the hotel coffee shop, or I can focus on celebrating the fact that I am in a town I have never visited before, meeting new people here sharing my evacuation experience, and enjoying time with my family. I choose the latter.  So, here’s to Irma-cation 2017.  Indeed, I am richly blessed!

Happy New Year?

celebrate!The Happy New Year that Wasn’t…

I was looking at my FaceBook memories they share each day and it got me thinking about what it means in our lives to look ahead and look back.  I found a jubilant post I shared out at about 11:45 p.m. on December 31, 2013.  In it I shared pictures of highlights from the year. “Join me as I bid farewell to 2013 and eagerly welcome 2014. Each of you has enriched my life and I am so thankful to be sharing this time and space with you. Let’s take time to look back on the year past and reflect on what was…learn and grow from those experiences. Now let’s look ahead to all the adventures awaiting us. May 2014 be a wonderful year filled with friends, family, and fun!”

I was so happy that night sitting beside my husband of 43 years, sipping champagne, and toasting the new year. At midnight I called my sister and spoke with her and my mom just as we had done every year.  I didn’t know at that moment that I would lose both my mother and my husband that year.  Yet, in the space of 12 weeks, they were both gone. So, 2014 turned out to be a most difficult, sad, and challenging year.

None of us know what awaits us. Yes, we have control over much of what happens in our lives, but most pivotal events are orchestrated by God’s hand, not ours. I have always believed that not knowing protects us from fear and sadness.  I suspect that if I had known what was in my future, I would have been frozen, awaiting the inevitable, rather than living a life filled with laughter and giggles.

Today I am in a new place.  I miss my mother, but losing her has helped me realize that even though my child is an adult, I can continue to be the best mother possible.  I miss my husband and will always hold him in my heart, but I have found joy again in a new and loving relationship. This relationship is stronger because of what I have been through. Tragedy forced me to examine who I am and how to move forward. I had to get tough – pump my own gas, eat alone at the sushi bar, overcome my fear of heights and climb the ladder to change the lightbulb, balance the checkbook, wander through the maze of Social Security…the list goes on. Today, the woman I bring to all my relationships is changed, more confident, more resilient, more balanced because of the struggle brought about by loss.

So, knowing what I know now, would I change the post from 2013? Come midnight on December 31, 2017, will I still look ahead with joyful anticipation? The answer is unequivocally YES! I will treasure each moment, each person, each relationship, each adventure.

I encourage you to stop for a moment and flip through the pages of your life. Look at your mental snapshots of the places, the family, the friends, even the pets who surround you. You and I, we are richly blessed!

 

 

 

 

Turn that frown upside down…Smile!

Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” I blogged about faces yesterday, and have continued to think about the power of our expressions. So, today I want to explore a bit more…

Don’t you just love it when someone smiles at you? Smiles are like the bubbles in a soda – they make your face sparkle! When someone smiles at me, I just automatically smile back. And then, as I walk away, that happy feeling follows me. 

One of the first things a baby learns to do is to recognize the important faces in their lives – momma, daddy, grandma or grandpa, brother, sister. Remember the first time your baby smiled up at you and you knew they recognized you?  That is such a special memory, isn’t it?  Smiles never lose their value; they are important to you and to your child.

Now, let’s do a reality check.  You work all day and afternoons are terrible for working moms. I remember when my son was little, I referred to the time between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. as “Arsenic Hours”. There were days when taking poison seemed like a good alternative…kids crying, homework battles, dinner burning on the stove, phone ringing, toys all over the floor.  You know the drill. Looking back, I got so caught up in “getting things done”, I forgot to stop and enjoy my time with my child.  Before I could really relax, it was bath and bedtime and a new round of arguing began.  I mean, how many times do you really have to remind your child to use soap?

So, what is my message today?  I guess it is that I want to encourage you to welcome your child home each day with a genuine “I’m so glad to see you!” smile.  Focus on the positive.  The toys won’t be littering the floor forever; and I promise there are days when I can’t wait to have a grandchild so I can spend time stepping over toys again.

I was watching TV one afternoon and heard Dr. Phil say that we teach others how to treat us.  In other words, we create the atmosphere we live in.   Smiling makes that atmosphere so much more pleasant.  When we smile, people smile back.  We can’t resist; it’s human nature.  Maya Angelou said, “If you only have one smile in you, give it to the people you love.” So promise me you’ll take a second to give your child a big grin and see what happens.