My English teacher mother loves to write notes. Growing up she would leave us notes in our lunches and our backpacks, she would replace our bookmarks with a little note….all so we would know that she was always thinking about us…and that what she was thinking was that we were special…and important…and that she loved us.
A funny comic strip that reminds her of us….an article she thinks I will find interesting.
She sends mail to each of the kids as well: coloring pages, jokes, cut and paste activities.
Her very creative return labels are always in the corner and when I pull them out of the mailbox ….I’ve got a big grin on my face.
I’ve made it a point to add some of that extra love to SuperBoy’s lunches over the last two years. He always giggles. I’ve heard other parents say they just don’t have time for that. I’ve heard you can BUY notes to put in your kids’ lunches. I take issue with this. As is often the case with parents and kids: parents think kids need more than kids actually do. Kids don’t need a major production in their lunch box. A sticker on their sandwich bag will both entertain them and make them feel special because you added a little something special to their day.
Now, if you are a masochist like me…you may like doing crafty things and you may want to put cutsie-pie notes in their lunches. You may foster a neat idea in your head for a girlfriend party where you drink wine and make notes one night before school starts …. and it may take two years for that idea to come to fruition. That’s okay too!
Yes. For two years I’ve wanted to have a night with my girlfriends where we drank wine, gabbed and got our craft on making a stock pile of notes to send off in our kids’ lunches and school bags throughout the year. I’ve never managed to get this done … until NOW!
Last week I had some friends over and we dumped out our collection of stickers, stamps and paper …poured several glasses of our favorite wine …. and went to work.
There are a few notes that got fancy-schmancy…. but mostly we just put stickers and googly eyes on little pieces of card stock and wrote little notes on them. We made several that were blank so we could add a message on special days. We had a really good time…and poured ourselves into these notes to brighten our kids’ days (and gossiped and laughed and reveled in each other’s company).
We spent less than $10 each on this project. I found packs of card stock that were just the perfect size at Michael’s which cost $3 for a pack of 100. We used clearance stickers we had picked up and bought some cute scrapbook paper that was on sale. And we had a really great time.
Like I said: notes to your kids don’t have to be fancy…they don’t even have to be notes. Stickers, smiley faces…even a lipstick kiss on a piece of scrap paper tucked inside their bag will make them smile. But if you are craftily inclined….this might be a fun idea for you, too.
Jesus Money is a tradition that my great grandma started with my brother, my cousins and I when we were little. Now that my kids are old enough to be saving money for toys and games…. I figure its time to start saving Jesus Money, too.
Every year at Thanksgiving, after the turkey and pies had been devoured and after the dishes were done and we were all laying around bloated enjoying each others company my grandma would break out the board games. Right before that, however, she would bring out little tin banks that looked like little houses, each one bearing the name of one of the grandkids.
We were each handed our box and given the instructions to go home and earn money for Jesus.
We would do extra chores our parents thought up for us, we would stash away coins we found laying around. We did what we could to fill those boxes full of coins and the odd dollar bills.
When we came back together at Christmas we would round up the little tin houses once again and empty our earnings together at the nativity. What seemed like meager earnings quickly added up when you multiplied it by 5.
Once the money had been counted and we knew what we had, the grandkids got to decide how to spend that money. How would we spend that money in a way that would make Jesus proud? What birthday gift would we give Jesus with that money we had earned?
One year it would be given to a local food bank, another to a homeless shelter. As we got older and understood more of what was going on in the world our chosen destinations for that money were more and more thoughtful. One year a local family lost their home to a fire a few days before Christmas. My cousins called around and we decided that we would round up the Jesus Money a little early and pass it along to that family who was so desperately in need of a little extra cheer.
All of my siblings, cousins and I have grown into adults who feel the importance of supporting and helping the world around us. We are active in our communities and in the world, helping to promote kindness and generosity to humankind. I like to think that this small tradition instilled a greater purpose in us as children and was, in part, responsible for the kind of people we turned out to be.
In our house, we still play Santa. I will as long as my children will let me. But there is another focus … the focus on the birth of Jesus and the spirit of giving, sharing and helping. A spirit that I hope they will learn to carry throughout the year …and throughout their lives.
This is the story of the four minutes I spent in the Apple Store in Leawood, Kansas on Wednesday:
I wanted to make a quick run by the Apple Store in Leawood today because, well, we were in Kansas City and I really wanted to get the camera connection kit for iPad to use during my photographic outing tomorrow.
All three kids (ages 2, 4 and 6) in tow… I steeled myself and we headed into the store.
The kids were immediately wide eyed and in a manic trance when they spotted row after row of sleek iPads and MacBooks. Having been pre-
threatened warned advised to keep all hands and feet to themselves, they ran frantically forward yelling “Mommy! Look at THIS one!!” and before I could look they were on to the next shiny object. At one point SuperGirl exclaimed, “This store makes THE BEST THINGS!”
Why yes, yes it does my brilliant child.
I quickly filled my Apple employee in on what I needed and told him to “run like the wind” as it would be less painful for all of us.
Poor thing looked shell shocked.
He was all of 24.
He was friendly; while checking us out he said to SuperBoy, “Maybe if you’re really good YOU will get one of these one day!”
SuperBoy looked at him with what I thought was a look reserved solely for me when I require something obscene from him like “Change your underwear”.
“We already have our own iPods. Mommy and Daddy have iPhones. Mommy just got one of those iPads and her computer has that Apple on it, too…I just don’t know what its called.”
SuperGirl, who was whirling by, stopped for just a moment and chirped:
“Don’t forget the Apple TV!”
I remember reading a parenting book when I was pregnant with SuperBoy and what resonated with me this idea:
As parents, we want to encourage our children, build their self esteem and make them realize that they can take on the world; do whatever they want to do. Consequently, we too often don’t allow them to fail. We also get busy and frequently offer “blanket praise”… a “That’s Great, Honey!” Kids eventually realize that no matter how far out of the lines they color, we will say “That is amazing and beautiful!” The book went on to teach that not only can you be honest with your kids (gently and with a kind heart, of course) but that when you are praising them, be specific. Make your compliment or praise unique so that they realize it is not that blanket statement: “I really love the way you made the whole picture purple! It reminds me of grapes and those are my favorite fruit.”
I’ve tried very hard to adhere to that idea. To take those few extra seconds to be specific, to truly appreciate what they’ve done rather than spitting out a rote compliment.
Recently in a parenting group I attended at church it was suggested that while sharing with our children how proud we are of them, ultimately their self esteem must come from themselves….they need to be proud of themselves. (Well, duh. I hate it when something obvious finally becomes, well, obvious.)
So I readjusted my mindset and made a determined effort to say “You should be really proud that you chose to follow directions and get your room cleaned” … (or other such daydream material).
A few weeks later I had the revelation that while I was headed in the right direction…I was still telling them what to be proud of. The idea of pride in one’s own work was there…. it was however ultimately provided by me.
As being a parent is a very obvious progression and work in progress, I made another adjustment to my “style”.
Now, at the end of each day, I ask my two big kids, “What have you done today that makes you proud?”
I was stunned the first time I asked this question and got blank stares. They didn’t understand what I meant. *deflation of self-proclaimed master parent status*
We talked though what they did in the day and eventually landed on what they were proud of. Now SuperBoy(5) gets it and is starting to provide a quick reply. SuperGirl (3) still has a rough time with the definition of “proud”; she seems to think it means something she likes so I often get the answer “The dessert we had after dinner….”. I’m getting good at redirecting: “You mean that you are proud of yourself for making good decisions so you got to eat some yummy dessert?”
“NO! I mean the dessert!”
Okay. We’re all learning.
What Have You Done Today that Makes You Proud?
I raised three beautiful children.
Watching my children last week I got a glimpse into their three very.distinct.personalities. We were playing outside after it had been raining. The patio was dry and there were a myriad of dehydrated worms scattered about. We talked about the worms, how they live, why the are on the patio when it rains…. that was that. I thought.
SuperBaby was tossing his little basketball into his Little Tykes basketball hoop and then stomping through the flowers running after the ball when it went askew. I decided to move the hoop in hopes of preserving my garden so it would be easier for him and when I did there was a wet spot and several plump, juicy worms. This is where I was slapped in the face with the inherent differences between my children:
SuperBoy laid down on the ground and began talking to the worms: “Hey there little wormy wormy! You better get back into the ground before the birds come and eat you! Yes you should!”
SuperGirl ran at top speed to SuperBoy’s side to see what he was up to… screamed “SNAKE!!!!” and then ran around in circles screaming bloody murder (with an enormous grin on her face): “SNAKE! SNAKE!! AAAAAAHHHH! SNAKE!”
SuperBaby waddled over, squealed with glee and plopped his big ol’ rear down in the center of that puddle and began squishing the worms one by one with his pudgy baby fingers….laughing and grinning from ear to ear.
I couldn’t ask for three more diverse and amusing personalities in my children. This is going to be an incredible ride.Read More