Send anyone this way to read along, but for permission to reprint, please contact Gail.
© Gail Underwood Parker

Monday, February 28, 2011

School Bell: Maps and the News

This past week there were a lot of news stories from the other side of the world.  This is a great time to start mapping the news with your teens. Get an inexpensive world map and tack it up on a wall in a hall or stairwell or in the kids rooms.  I even put one up in the den one time to have it more convenient. Then you grab some push pins and each time you have dinner you try to figure out what news stories you can add to your map.  This past week you could have added Libya, Egypt, New Zealand, Oman, and Somalia. England is a sure thing, at least from now until the royal wedding.  But, the challenge is finding news stories of significance about more obscure countries.

See if you can get all the continents, all the countries in one region, etc. You would be surprised how inspired to study current events your kids may become.  You can work as a family team or if it works better use colored push pins to show which person located a story about which location.

If you have younger kids use a United States map and see if you can get all the states.

Image credits:  fhswolvesden.wikispaces.com, epa.gov

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Caring Heart: Spitting

Sometimes children become so angry and just can't vent with words.  Many hit, swear, kick, yell, or pound walls.  Some spit. This is for those of you who have lived with one who spits. 

Spitting

He spit on me again today.  What is it about spitting that is so demeaning?  I've been drooled on, bled on, and thrown up on more times in my years parenting than I can count.  Yet, deliberate spitting still pushes a button on my that is very different.  It is a visceral button, resulting in disgust that is almost primal in feeling.  Thank You for helping me hold my temper when that happens.  For helping me stay outwardly calm, hiding the revulsion I felt.  After all, it is just wetness, not all that different in content than the baby drool of long ago.  But it is the deliberateness, the intent that infuriates me.  Help ease my anger, help build my patience.  Help open my eyes to the feelings tumbling inside him that led to his impulse.  Help him learn to fight back without debasing, to fight back with words, not spit.  Even better, help me teach him to solve problems before he reaches a point of needing to fight back at all. 

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker     Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Quick Takes: Money Management Tool

I recently purchased something for my older teen to use in money management.  I think it is a brilliant idea.*

 Kids today don't want to use checks, they are the debit card generation.  However, they tend not to keep track of what they have spent with their debit card!  I have long been a fan of this company's banks for younger kids like the money-savvy pig. My boys as they got older graduated to  the money-savvy football!  Now these people have come up with a wonderful new tool ... and a cheap one at that!
Called a "CardGuard" it holds a couple of cards and a couple of bucks and fits perfectly in a purse or pocket.  [For example it can hold their student ID, driver's license, debit card, and lunch money!] But the key part is the tracker system that fits in it also.  Similar [but better] than the old check registers, it helps kids track what they have spent with their cards.

Best part?  It is only $7.50 !!

*Remember, I do NOT get paid or encouraged in any way to promote products on this blog.... I ONLY share things that I have personally found and used successfully. If you have something you have tried and would like to recommend, contact me and I can let you do a guest post some Saturday Quick Take.

Image credits:  msgen.com

Friday, February 25, 2011

Anything Can Happen... Gift of Giggles

If this is your winter vacation week like mine, then your children may be driving you crazy.  Vacation always looks like so much fun, but by Friday they are bored and you can't wait for Monday.  So if the whineys are hitting your house, or the teen age angst is rearing its ugly face.... how bout a quick pick me up remembering times when it took so little to make them laugh.  When you were re-energized for the sleepless nights by something as small as a giggle.....  Check these out these video links!


infant quadruplets laughing

highchair baby boy laughing

Share the laughs with your teen... they usually laugh hardest at the slightly "evil" gigglers or  mini-disasters like these brothers or the tippy baby]

Explore and find more... then bookmark your favorite to have on hand for a bad day.  

Everybody needs to laugh!


Image credits:  innocentenglish.com, inspirational-short-stories.com, phototour.minneapolis.mn.us

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Parenting Tips: Grocery Bingo

Have you ever struggled to keep your kiddos cheerfully occupied while you did the grocery shopping?  No big plastic car shaped cart was enough to distract my kiddos from the brightly colored packages so carefully placed at their eye level. I finally turned to a variation of the traditional car bingo games.  I used a grocery flyer to cut out pictures of food I needed to buy on a regular basis. I glued them onto paper in three rows of three and put the paper in a sheet protector so it could be used over and over.  [Today I might use the computer to find pictures and create and print my bingo cards.] When we went shopping I would give each child a "playing card" and some sticky notes.  Their job was to cover each item's picture with a sticky note when they saw it in the store.  It kept them focused and generally happy while I went aisle to aisle.  [If you know your store well you can plan the card so that there is at least one picture they can find in each aisle!]

From the tic-tac-toe style game cards for toddlers you can expand to bingo size 5 x 5 cards for older kids. Once the children are old enough to be on their own in the store, convert from game cards to picture shopping lists with each each child responsible for getting the things on their list. IF you do it by aisle you can stay in the aisle watching the kids while they gather the items in that aisle and bring them to the family cart. As they get older you can teach comparison shopping, name vs house brand, nutrition labeling, etc.

Grocery shopping may take a bit longer with the cards but the lack of fighting and whining will make the time go by much more pleasantly! Besides, they will learn valuable independence skills, and the kids will actually enjoy it. Can you imagine... grocery shopping as family fun!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Soapbox: Patch Adams' Big Ten..volunteer

For the last several Wednesdays I've been tackling the ten challenges set forth by Dr. Patch Adams to change society. Today is just one of the challenges I have to admit I have been avoiding. It is number 8 on Dr. Patch's list:


Could you do ten or more volunteer hours each week to make a healthier world?


Wow!  I admit I can't even imagine finding ten hours each week.  Do I think it could transform the world for the better.. absolutely.  But how?  Some days it seems all I can do to find clean clothes for everyone and be sure there is milk and toilet paper in the house. Where would I find time to volunteer much less ten hours?  


I think that for most people with jobs or families, ten hours is probably unrealistic and just makes people skip it all together.  So, I decided to stop getting stuck on the number ten and just think in terms of sneaking snippets of volunteering into my life.I started talking out loud to the kids using the word volunteering. I started labeling the work I do in the church and for the school. I want the children to grow up with a sense of responsibility to be involved in the community, to volunteer their skills and their time.   


I have the kids shovel out the nearby fire hydrants and help me stop in to check on some older folks I know. I find ways for them to pitch in at church to welcome kids, to help set up the snacks, even to help in Sunday School classes for younger kids. I usually did, but now it is more purposeful as my daughters would say. 


So, Dr. Patch... I don't think I will make it to your standard goal on this one, at least not for a while, but I am glad to be challenged by it.  


Image credits:  ccjhs.shcsc.k12.in.us, associatedcontent.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Focus on Fostering: National Foster Parents Association

Calling all foster parents.... how many of you have heard of or are a member of the National Foster Parents Association? Until last year I don't think I had ever even heard of them. But since then I have been doing some research and I think they are an amazing group of committed, dedicated people and as an organization, more of us should be supporting them and their work.

Often as foster parents we feel that we have no voice.  NFPA can be that voice.  Most of the other agencies and departments that work with children in care are focused, quite rightly, on the children.  But those of us who have chosen to care for and raise other people's children need a voice too.  We need a champion, moral support, and more.  I was shocked to learn how few foster parents in my state are members of the NFPA.  It's certainly not a matter of cost... a year's membership for a family is only $35. They have wonderful resources available for raising awareness of foster parenting issues and concerns. They have a quarterly online magazine: The Advocate. [Click here to see the December 2010 issue.]

There are affiliates in every state and a national conference annually. Check out their website at nfpaonline.org when you have some time to browse. They also have great stuff for promoting National Foster Care Month this May.... It's never to early to start planning!

I am running a write in campaign hoping to represent Region 1 [Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts] a position that is currently vacant.  Wish me luck.


Image credits: nfpaonline.org

Monday, February 21, 2011

School Bell: Board Game Review

Mid-terms are probably over, but with report cards out this just might be a time when you discover the need to reinforce some skills or find new ways to study for tests.  This one is a favorite at my house.

1. Get out your favorite board game. Any game that the players follow a trail from start to finish will work well. 

2. Have your child [or each of them] give you a list of information that needs to be learned or reviewed.  [Spelling, math facts, definitions, people, dates, anything that can be reviewed in question and answer form!]

3. Play the board game with one small change.  When the player rolls the dice, or spins the spinner or whatever....they must answer a question correctly in order to make the move.  IF they are incorrect they stay where they are on the game.  

Try it! One of the coolest things is that it lets you review with more than one child at a time.  Each child just has their own questions [facts etc.] to answer. They can play with you as the questioner or [if they get along] can ask each other questions.

Image credits:  mstownbarrie.blogspot.com, gordtep.com

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Caring Heart: Gerbil on a Wheel

Parenting often feels like a race, but a marathon rather than a sprint. I sometimes fee less like an athlete than a gerbil racing around an endless wheel.  For all of you who feel like a gerbil on a wheel here is a meditation I wrote when I looked at my wheel a little differently. 

Gerbil on a Wheel

Lord, I thank you.  So many times I feel like I am a gerbil on a wheel, racing around and around on a wheel that is going nowhere.  Then, just as I feel at the point of exhaustion, there is something to celebrate.  There is a moment, a look, a choice.  There is a sign that it may be a circular wheel, but it is not a wheel to nowhere.  It is a wheel filled with critical purpose.  Thank You for the energy for my wheel.  So many days I wonder how I will keep going and then I find my energy renewed.  I thank You for helping me get around and around the wheel.  It is a wheel loaded with challenges to be sure. But it is also spiced with moments of such hope, such joy that I am re-energized.  Thank You for those gifts.  They are not just gifts for these children.  They are gifts for me.  Thank you.

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker    Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quick Takes: Kids' List #41-50

This is the fifth installment of "Kids List." My "Kids List" is things I wish all kids could get to experience before they are grown up and independent.   This month I am focusing on activities that take advantage of the winter vacation time many have this month.  

  
Kids List #41-50

41. Visit an art museum 
42. Make a snow fort
43. Have a snowball fight 
44. Learn to recognize two constellations 
45. Go to a circus  
46. Hold a newborn baby 
47. Learn a new dance  
48. See a live monkey in person 
49. Volunteer in a homeless shelter or food kitchen 
50. Write a fan letter and mail it 

I try to do one Quick Takes entry each month from my Kids List. Hope you try some of these with your kiddos.  Search for "Kids List" to find the earlier posts. 

Photo Credit: sitejerk.com

Friday, February 18, 2011

Anything Can Happen: Crazy Car Rides

It's Saturday which means Anything Can Happen Day on the blog.  Have you considered having an occasional Anything Can Happen Day for your family?  This time of year can bring about a serious case of cabin fever and boredom.  Spice it up with a crazy car ride for an hour or two.  Besides, if they are out with you in the car, they aren't messing up the house! Pick one of these to try:

1. Crazy Corners..... You may be the driver but put the kids in the driver's seat... no not literally.. but make them the navigators... They take turns at ever intersection... right, left, or straight.  [Assuming all are two way streets of course].   Before long every one is giggling and laughing and in a far better mood.

2. Let's explore... Get out a map and start naming places within a half hour drive Find a place you have never been and go see what is there.  Give each child two "Let's stop here" cards they can use when they see something interesting.

Make up your own crazy car ride idea and share!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parenting Tips: Medical Records...for Real!

My mother was a nurse.  She knew the importance of medical records.  She was a fairly well organized person, Yet it was a family joke that if anyone ever compared medical records of our childhood immunizations and illnesses nothing would match.  She knew what we had been given, she knew which diseases we had, but when??? Rarely a clue.  I was even worse.  She had three children.  I had five, plus foster children.  Which ones had which childhood illnesses? And when??? forget it!

In desperation and frustration [and a measure of embarrassment] I made an appointment with my kids' pediatrician's office for a "records check"  I carefully copied down the immunizations and illness records into a bright red notebook. The notebook went onto the top shelf of my "office" bookcase. It only took about an hour.  The load off my shoulders and sense of accomplishment was huge.

From then on camp applications etc. were no longer dreaded.  I could fill out their forms with confidence.... and accuracy.  So, maybe you are like I was, like my mother was, like so many busy mother's are.... behind in your medical recordkeeping for your children. It's not too late!  Call your doctor's office today and book a time.

Image credits: pochs.org

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Soapbox: Patch Adams...Friendship

Another of Dr. Patch Adams' 10 challenges involves friendship. It seemed a good topic choice for the week of Valentine's Day. He asks us:
7. How can we move to an economics of friendship?
I've never met Patch Adams, and I am not completely sure what he means by "economics of friendship." My desktop dictionary defines economics as "the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services." How many goods and services of friendship do we produce, distribute, and consume?  

My father once talked to me about friendship as a bank account. He was trying to teach me as a child that you must put into a friendship as well as take out. You will certainly lose many friends if all you do is consume the goods and services of friendship. But you are also likely to lose friends if you only produce and distribute friendship.  This was a surprise to me, but has turned out to be true as I grew up.  Part of keep a friendship healthy is the balance of give and take.  Let you friends help you sometimes, just as you help them.  

There is a lot of talk in the news about our economy of money.  One of the things I enjoy on the news are the people stories of those who have stepped up in these tight times to help others.  The people who are definitely producing and distributing the goods and services of friendship.  But we can all do it better I expect. Maybe we could keep track for a week of how many actual goods and services of friendship we each produce distribute and consume.  How many quick check-in phone calls, or an occasional long listen to someone,or a visit, or card, or kindess extended?  If the economics of friendship were monitored as much as the financial economics I suspect the strains of a rough stretch would be far far easier to bear.

Image credits: nazarsudhakar.blogspot.com, selfempowermentsecrets.com, boncherry.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Focus on Fostering: Mood Thermometers

My kiddos often had moods that were very hard to read. The typical feeling charts with their assorted faces were far too many choices for them, plus too hard to read. I decided to make our own and to start with just three feelings: happy, sad, and mad.  

I had one of my cherubs show me what he looked like when he was a little happy, medium happy, and crazy happy, sad, and mad. I took pictures. Together we made the chart/poster you see. [It was his idea to make the sad thermometer go down as it got sadder.]

We used the chart 2 main ways.
1- He could move a magnet to show where his feelings/moods were.
2- I could move a magnet to show where it seemed his feelings/moods were.

I could say a lot more, but simply put... it work mini-miracles! This worked perfectly for us.Try it and let me know how it works for you! If you need more info about the other ways we used this, let me know and I will happily send you more info.

Monday, February 14, 2011

School Bell: A Valentine's Day Apology

Each year as Valentine's Day approaches and I supervise my kiddos preparing valentines to share at school I cannot escape the memory of my Valentine's Day fiasco in fourth grade.  It was many years ago now, but I still remember it vividly. Little cards, kind of like the old Garbage Pail kid cards, were really popular. They were sarcastic, insult cards that were for some reason considered funny that year. I thought I was much too old for syrupy little cards like the one at left.  How could I send that to a boy I secretly had a crush on?  Sarcastic seemed safer somehow... making light of the whole valentine thing. 


So, I carefully wrote the names of my classmates on the envelope of each small card.  One for every classmate as I had been taught to do.  I took them to school and put them in the boxes on each child's desk. That night my parents got a call from a very unhappy set of parents whose daughter had come home in tears over my Valentines card to her.  It had read:    [front] "I'd climb the highest mountain..."     [back]  "...to get away from you!" "Happy Valentine's Day!"   It was no more insulting than any of the other cards, but unfortunately it happened to be the ONLY card the girl had received and her parents [and she] apparently were not aware of the "humor" of those popular sarcasm cards. They were not amused. No matter how I apologized, no matter how hard I tried to explain, things were never the same between Linda and me.


In googling this morning [half a century later!] I see that such insult, sarcastic, yes--maybe cruel, cards are still out there. The one above I would not find funny, even if it were intended to be.  The pirate ship one to the left I think might actually get a child in serious trouble in today's school society!  I know that I for one will never ever again send a card that could somehow be mistaken or misunderstood, much less one that is actually rude or frightening. 


That Valentine's Day back in 1958 taught me a valuable lesson about impressions and mistaken intentions. So, be aware, be cautious, and Linda Cayea ... from Mrs. Klotzbach's fourth grade ....  if you are out there.... I never intended hurt your feelings at all, much less so badly! I have never forgotten you. I am still sorry!!


Image credits: dianne-stewart.tripod.com, pizzabytheslice.com, epicfunnypictures.com

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Caring Heart: Saying "I Love You"

What else could I choose for the meditation on the day before Valentine's Day than this.  Saying "I love you" is so simple for most children.  Said from the heart by a child in care it can be a prize beyond measure.

"I love you."

He meant it. He said the words, "I love you."  He said them first.  Not after we said it to him.  He said it first.  It was so wondrously special.  Not because it was the first time he said it.  He has said it before.  When he first came he said it all the time.  Automatically, like some people say, "Have a good day." Said it without really understanding what it is supposed to mean.  Said it without meaning it.  He knew it.  We knew it. But he said it anyway.  They he didn't say it at all for a long time.  Then it gradually reappeared.  Like tiny glowing fireflies at night, a mment here and another moment there.  But unlike fireflies, it always came in response to something.  Response to us saying, "I love you."  An over-the-shoulder response to the school bus' arrival.  Or, because he was heading to bed, or saying goodbye.  This was so different. Unexpected.  Without particular reason.  He just walked in and said, "I love you guys."  Then, seeming shyly and embarrassed added, "I just thought you should know."  He said, "I love you."  He meant it.  

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker      Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Quick Takes: Easiest Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe Ever!

A perfect first cookie recipe for your kids !

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix together well. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Flatten with a fork [or hand] if you want.

Bake till light brown on the edges.

Warning.... they are addictive! My kids [and I] love them.  After once or twice even young children can make them without help. My kids love taking them to church suppers, school bake sales,  or giving as gifts and saying...
I made them all by myself !


Image credit: life123.com

Friday, February 11, 2011

Anything Can Happen: Commercial Ideas

Hey there! Remember my post on finger tapping table dancing?  [Dec 7, 2010]

Well, I just saw the same folks on a new McDonald's commercial.  It made me think. --

Who came up with a way to connect McDonald's and finger/table dancing?

How about doing the same for some of my other favorites?  Where's the commercial for a chalk artist? Like the sidewalk art at left  [and Nov 12, 2010]

Maybe an Advil executive could see commercial potential for the hair lady [Jan 7, 2011]




And can we work the upside down houses [Oct 1, 2010] into one of those insurance ads,

or better yet, in a Barbara Corcoran segment on the TODAY show?


Hmmmmm.



Image credits: tracyleestum.com, vanillajoy.com, all4humor.com

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Parenting Tips: Valentine's Love Jar

Here is an idea you can start on now to make this coming Valentine's Day a special one for your children, one that will brighten and cheer them all year long.  Valentine's I Love You jar for each child.

1-- Find a jar that you and your child can reach into without getting stuck!  It can be clear or not. It does NOT need to be fancy.... though this time of year you might find some with hearts or add heart stickers if you want to.

2. DO personalize the jar somehow with their name or photo.

3. Take rectangular pieces of paper or cut index cards. You will want at least a dozen. They can be different colors if you want to make it look colorful.

4. On each one write something about your child that you love. Think of good habits [or ways they are working to get good habits], their smile, their laugh, the way they hug you good night, they way they keep going when they are discouraged, the way they talk to you [or just tell you] when they are sad... whatever you want to use. Use words that are at their age level.  If they are pre-readers use pictures and do it rebus style  [I (or eye picture or drawing)  (heart) u (picture of hugging) for example]. Do what works for you but have fun with it and make it fun to them.

4. Fold each "note" in half an put in the jar. Put on the lid. Give it to them on Valentine's Day.

This Love Jar can become a treasured keepsake. Encourage them to keep it out in their room to reach in and take a "love-you vitamin" each day to start their day well. You can add new cards whenever you feel like it. As they get older you may need a bigger jar, but don't throw away the notes from when they were little.  They will enjoy remembering that early love!

 P.S.  This is good for people older than children too!

E N J O Y ! ! !

Image credit: onlinelabels.com

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Soapbox: Patch Adam's #3...Honor Elders

Today another look at Patch's Prescriptions for a Better Society. This week I challenge us to try another, perhaps more complicated one of Dr. Adam's questions:  

If no one wants to end up in a nursing home, what kind of community can celebrate all ages together and honor elders? 

This seems a tough one to tackle if you are an individual.  But, think of small ways to integrate elders into your life and your children's lives on a routine basis.  Yes, it would be wonderful if there were developments or blocks with a tidy mix of ages and generations, but those are harder and harder to find as families spread out across miles and miles.  As a grandmother raising younger children I know both the blessings and the challenges of mixing generations. I think the blessings far outweigh the challenges. [At least most days I do!] 


Look around your neighborhood for people of other ages. If you attend a faith organization that may be the easiest place to find a range, but you can find them without that if you look.  Teach your children to make eye contact with elders in the neighborhood, smile, and say hello. Don't just stop at their house when your children have a magazine or gift wrap sale, stop by other times.  Consider inviting them to supper once in a while.  Maybe take them some leftovers now and then. [I almost always have enough leftovers to make a meal for a elder woman or man living alone.] If you are making a grocery run, check if they need something. If your kids go apple picking, share some.  It may not build a bond every time or with every one. But, for each connection you make your children will be richer and will have enriched the elders life as well. In this day when grandparents often live a distance away, your children will have other elders to cheer them on, celebrate their special days, to share stories of the past with, and more if you just start teaching your children to reach out and share their lives. 


Make and send them or deliver a Valentine's Day card!! It is a perfect excuse for starting to connect. 


Image credits: gmathur.blogspot.com, associatedcontent.com

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Focus on Fostering: You ARE loved!

As the store shelves overflow with all things valentine it is easy for children in foster care to feel a bit unloved.  Separated from their biological parents, or with bio-parents who were unable to care for them, they may need some extra support and reassurance.  One thing I have done is to find concrete ways several times a year to remind my kiddos just how many people care about them. Valentine's season is one of those times.

It started with just a small box that I decorated with hearts. I started with a small box because I wanted it to seem full when I was through. [Since then I have bought some nice heart shaped boxes in the post-valentine 75% off aisle.] The first year I also included red tissue paper to fill the extra space.

Next I bought a bunch of foam shaped hearts in one of those bulk containers at a craft store [$3.99 for 200 shapes!] For the boys I bought ones with smiley faces.  For the girls some with different patterns on them.

What mattered was that each had a plain side that could be written on.  Cardboard or paper hearts would do just as well.  Wooden ones work too, but they are more expensive.

On the plain side of each heart I wrote one name. A teacher, a friend, a pastor, a relative, a classmate. I made a heart for each person who during the last year had shown kindness and love to the child.

Now the boxes have been replaced by bigger boxes.  I no longer have to explain the hearts as I did the first year. People who have attended my workshops have begun "Love Boxes" in their own homes.  Children cherish their boxes and sometimes participate in labeling the hearts inside. Some families make it part of their Valentine's Day traditions.  Some families keep the boxes out all year long. None of that really matters.  What matters is that those children see that regardless of how tough their  beginnings, there are many people who care about them, many who love them, and that over the years their lives have been blessed by each of those people.

Image credits: brandine.com, ikickshins.net, reallygoodstuff.com, dadcando.com

Monday, February 7, 2011

School Bell: A New Reading Tool

I found a neat new tool for encouraging my little folk to read.* I just received my order in the mail and can't wait to use it. [The other thing ordered I will tell you about after I try it out.]  It is from knock knock a fun company that makes all kinds of slightly irreverant lists, sticky notes and pads. This is a pad of mini checklist and sentence book reviews for kids.  60 stickers are included [which can also be viewed at their site if you check out view 3.  You can see it close up with their site's magnifying glass feature.

Each sheet starts with the child's name, the date, and book title. Then the child checks off a box to show who they read the book with [or by themselves]. Next the child checks off one of eight descriptions [ex: long, scary, funny] or fills in the blank. They have several blank lines to describe their favorite part.  The child finishes by saying if they would like to read it again [yes, no, maybe, or again and again!]. The prospect of filling one of these in is not at all intimidating. The lines are spaced well for those who find writing difficult and there are few enough lines that those who dislike writing won't be put off. Also, you can always serve as dictation secretary to start with until the child is hooked. If you want to make a collection of the filled in sheets for a record of your child's reading the pads are the perfect size to 3-hole punch and put in a small [7x9] binder.


*Reminder: NOTHING I recommend on this blog is promoted or motivated by free goodies. I get nothing for recommending anything except the fun of sharing. They are all things I find and use myself.



Image credits: knockknockbiz.com

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Caring Heart: When They Fear You


This meditation reflects the fact that children live in their reality not ours. Just because someone or something is safe doesn't mean that the child will feel safe.  We have to be alert and be understanding.  This fear reaction is so common an event when raising formerly abused children that this meditation is in the "Milestones" section of my book.

Her Eyes Showed Fear

Oh God, help me.  I saw fear in her eyes today.  Fear of me.  She has absolutely nothing to fear from me, and yet something in my voice, something in my movements, something in the events, made her fear me.  I could see it in her eyes.  How can I prove to her that she is safe now?  How can I convince her that she will never again be beaten or mistreated?  That my arms and hands will only hold her in love and comfort her, never, ever be a source of pain to her.  Help me to shape my face, my body, and my voice, in such a way that she senses the safety she so badly needs.  Help her feel the calm and security that is hers.  

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker     Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quick Takes: Creative Rewards #21-25

Today's quick take is five more creative rewards for your kids.  Since this is February, maybe you can surprise them with a valentine reward just because you love them. Examples are for a mix of ages and genders. [Creative Rewards #1-20 can be found if you search "Rewards."]

 21.  Backwards Supper.... dessert first, then the main course 

 22.  Go ice or roller skating [with hot chocolate afterwards for a really special reward].

 23.  Freedom to sleep in as late as you want... no penalty. 

 24.  A "Get out of Timeout" card to be used whenever they choose. 

25.  First choice of seat in the car for a day or a week.  

Watch for the next installment of creative reward ideas a month from now.

Image credit: elitebridalconcierge.com