Monday, October 31, 2011

Love Trick or Treating

Halloween is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year! My family still celebrates the day and trick-or-treats in the neighborhood where we grew up. Yes, my sisters and I, who range in age from 37-49,  still Trick-or-Treat! There are usually at least a dozen nieces and nephews who also participate in the event and my father dresses up to give out the candy. We begin the night promptly at 5pm with pizza for dinner. Then everyone is on hustle-mode to get dressed and be out on the front porch for our annual Halloween picture. At 6pm we are running across the lawns to all of the neighbors' homes screaming, "Trick-or-treat!!!!!" We cover a lot of ground and (truth be told) have been known on more than one occasion to kick out a young kid if he/she couldn't keep up or wasn't in the same positive frame of mind as the rest of us. Yes, years ago when my older sister grabbed my crabby nephew and yelled, "knock it off! We have some serious trick-or-treating to do!" I knew we were a bit over the edge about this event!

Yes, we found a way to take advantage of our small statures and benefit once a year from it! Rarely do we ever get called out for possibly being too old for such an activity. Clearly, I have to cover up my face so the parents can't see my crow's feet and I wear gloves so they don't see my wedding ring. Gotta be smart about this, after all! My older sister didn't get that memo. She was a witch last year and was complemented by a parent on her, there was no was her real skin...and we will never let her live that one down!!!

This year is little somber as the last family from our neighborhood (aside from ours) is no longer living on the street as the parents both passed away. I am so glad to have had all of these years to trick-or-treat! I hope my nieces and nephews will always treasure this holiday and will carry it on when they are parents! Happy Halloween, Everyone!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Laugh splashing in puddles

If you live in Cleveland, then you probably started feeling like you were living in Seattle this past year! We had a heck of a lot of rain this  year! I usually don't recall weather patterns, but this past year I remember, possibly because my golf game was a bit restricted and limited as a result. I decided early on to approach each day assuming that it was going to be rainy, cool and dreary. This way if the weather was actually sunny and warm, well, BONUS!!!!! Yippeeee!!!! It's all in the attitude!

After all, it's only rain. There are still a lot of things you can do in the rain. It rained over our Labor day party, but the kids still swam in the pool. Heck, they were wet already! Why not! My sister, Anne, is just an awesome mother of 4 kids! She's that mom who juggles it all while maintaining a great smile and healthy lifestyle! One week in the Spring it had rained so much that her large back yard flooded. Her kids and she know how to make the best out of situations, so they took a large float from their pool, suited up in rain gear and paddled around the back yard like they were on a lake. The picture she posted of it was classic! Another time her street flooded and the city had it closed to traffic while trying to fix the sewers. Her kids took advantage of having their usually busy street  all to themselves and raced around on their bikes and scooters, in their rain gear, enjoying the rain and splashing in the puddles! Again, the pictures she posted were awesome! Those kids sure do know how to enjoy puddles large and small and make the best of rainy weather!

It's ok to send your kids out in the rain. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure most people don't get "P-neumonia" (as my mother used to call it) from splashing around in puddles. Let them splash and jump and laugh in those puddles! The children will dry. The clothes will get clean.  The memories will last forever!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Believe in Heaven

Heaven. Yep, I'm a believer! Not just because I was raised Catholic and it was embedded in my thoughts long before I could even conceptualize it's meaning, but also because if I didn't believe, I probably wouldn't accept death as well as I do.

A number of people in my life have headed off to the big party in Heaven while I am here awaiting my invitation. Patiently, waiting my invitation, that is:) It started with my grandparents, then some older students from my grade school, a neighbor kid, friends, my mother, more friends, my friends' parents...oh the list goes on. My colleagues joke that I should just be a grief counselor as I seem to spend a lot of time at funerals and wakes. I think it was my mother's death that helped me put it in perspective. She wanted more than anything to be with her parents and brother and eventually got her way.

I developed my own train of thinking about death and felt it was confirmed in Mitch Albom's book, "The Five People you meet in Heaven," along with the books, "Heaven is for Real" and "90 minutes in Heaven." I came up with the "Trifecta" of life. I figured everything else religious seems to be in threes, so this only makes sense to me!

We begin in stage one: The Womb. We are comfortable, warm, fed and don't want to leave the environment.The people outside of the womb await our arrival eagerly, while we reluctantly come out kicking and screaming. The second stage, Earth, can last minutes to decades. Again, we may be comfortable, warm, fed and don't want to leave Earth for, again, the unknown. However, our family and friends in Heaven eagerly await our arrival. Finally, our third stage, Heaven, allows us to spend eternity in peace.  It seems like the party of a lifetime to me! This "Trifecta" comforts me.  I look forward to seeing my mother, other relatives and friends, but am just as eager to spend my life with those still on Earth.

I hope that children can see life and Heaven in a similar way so to be at ease with the process.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Laugh playing board games

Board games were such a  great source of family entertainment and bonding. We spent a lot of time playing such games as Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land and moved up to Monopoly, Sorry, Life, Dominoes and UNO when we were a little older. The competition was healthy and in good fun. The strategizing helped us to learn problem solving at a young age. It was a great way to get the whole family to spend quality time with one another. Of course, this was at a time long ago even before Atari existed! 

It is nice to see that despite the video craze now, my sisters still engage their children in board games. It seemed to be a favorite past-time for my sister, Peggy's kids for many years. They played more strategic games like Battleship and Backgammon. Somehow they were able to balance board games with the popular video games and join as a family to play them. I am please also to see my two younger sisters and their younger children also engaged in such games as "match game" and children's Monopoly.

As adults, my family still enjoys board games, though ones like Scattergories, Balderdash, Taboo, Outburst, Pictionary and What's Yours Like? We tend to forget the board and rules and make it as interactive as possible using as much of the contents of the game that we can. This has become a great way to get the family together during the holidays or just enjoy one another during a party. Whenever we play games, laughter certainly ensues!

Interactive board game playing is important for your child's development. They learn to take turns, work towards a goal, lose, win, count, read and get along with others. They learn patience, sharing, giving, helping, guiding, encouraging and competing. The benefits of playing with their family is insurmountable. This is a great time that the family can forget all of the outside stressors and just enjoy one another's company. Family members of all ages can engage in board game playing!  As my father often says, "You are never too old to enjoy a happy childhood!"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Relax on a rocking chair

Oh, the comfort of a rocking chair!! I remember having one throughout my young childhood! It soothed me when my grandfather passed away, it calmed me when I watched my cat get run over and it probably tired out my darn Jimmy legs (Seinfeld episode)  that had to keep on going even when I wasn't! My childhood chair had a little music box under the back leg that made music every time I rocked back and continued long enough until I rocked back again. It provided great peace and comfort to me for many years. 

Interestingly enough, I have had a rocking chair of some sort in my life ever since! Whether it was a recliner rocker, old fashioned rocking chair, swivel rocker or outdoor porch rocker, I had it and used it. Presently, I have a few rockers of sorts and use them often. There is a unexplainable comfort in rocking. Maybe it came from my first year on Earth when my mother rocked me to soothe and comfort me? (Of course, I'm assuming she did this as I do not recall the details:))

Amazingly, I am still comforted and able to sort through my thoughts when rocking on any one of my assorted rocking chairs around the house. I'm actually rocking on a sofa rocker in my sunroom as I am writing this! Truth be told, I'm a bit hyperactive, so the rocker might not just comfort me, but also slow me down a bit. My mother used to tap my legs while I was in church because I would rock the entire pew.  Kinda funny that my husband has to do the same thing to me years later??!! If only they made rocking a glider...maybe I'm on to something?! Gotta keep the legs going, I guess! 

Are your children energetic? Do they rock or always have to tap their feet or move their legs? How about getting them their own rocking chair? My parents clearly saw this in me early on (and well before there was anything called ADHD!) and gave me a rocking chair....oh, and a drum set, to calm me down and comfort me. Your child may benefit from the same thing (maybe not the drumset?). Rocking helps a child gather his/her thoughts, relax, regroup, concentrate, calm down, and find comfort in his/her surroundings. It can serve as a great time-out tool as children can rock themselves to comfort and calmness, too. Clearly, a rocking chair can help people of all ages to just RELAX!!!!