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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Anything Can Happen: 9-1-1 Scripts

I have always been able to memorize phone numbers easily.  I don't know why.  I just can.  I know the local pizza place, the gas station, various doctors, friends, pastors, schools and many others.  I can reel them off without batting an eye.

Years ago, before universal 9-1-1- emergency numbers took effect, I knew that the local emergency number was 325-7386.  I knew it by heart.  I taught my students to memorize it. I made sure my children memorized it.  Then one day my 4 month old baby stopped breathing and was turning blue and.... I had NO IDEA what the number was and had to waste precious time looking it up. [She got help in time and is fine.] The moral of that story is not only how wonderful the simple 9-1-1 system is, but that when you are terrified, you forget the simplest and most important information.  I call it "anxiety amnesia."

So... I now have a script posted by the phone in kitchen by the phone. [All my kiddos are now readers]
It says:

Emergency ?  Calll 9 1 1
Stay calm and Say:   I need help.
I live in Crazytown, Maine, at  231 Chaos  Road.
My name is __________________.
I need help because _______________________________.
Answer their questions and DON'T HANG UP!

I put the town first because we have a regional dispatch so that helps them narrow down the area before giving the street address. This is especially helpful if your road name is Oak Street or something that could be in three different towns your 9-1-1 operators cover. I still teach my kiddos what to do, but after my experience with "anxiety amnesia" I feel more confident if they have a script to follow.

Note: clearly all the numbers and addresses here are fake.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parenting Tips: Family Rules..Pt 4: Privacy Rights

One family rule that is easy to forget is privacy.  When a child invades your privacy you are annoyed, and when a parent invades a child's privacy they are outraged [especially adolescents!]. Head both problems off by establishing family rooms about privacy.  Areas you should be sure to cover:

Be sure your children understand that NOTHING on the internet or email or text is private EVER. Keep them safe from others and from themselves. There is no way to keep ditial information private, no matter how hard you try.

School Lockers-
Kids need to know school lockers are not personal space.

Home: [bedrooms, dressers, purses, etc]  Decide what your family rules are about personal space for children of different ages.

Bodies:  The first step of sex education  safety is teaching children that their bodies are private space.

Take the time to think carefully and decide what rules will fit your family.  Once you have decided, make sure everyone understands.  Don't forget this important aspect of family life. 

Image credits:,,,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Soapbox: My Golden Rule

All this month I have been doing family rules each parenting tip day [Thursdays]. I've done rules for going out, rules about tattling, about privacy, but what about the over-all theme of your home?  Does it address honesty? respect? what? What is the base line for your home?

From when I was a small child I was taught the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  I got that it meant to treat others nicely because you want to be treated nicely. I got that. But when I became a foster parent I sadly learned that there is a step before nice, before love, before anything. A step that most children take for granted and are given automatically, but that others can barely dream of having..... safety.

From my early days of foster parenting I developed my own golden rule that focused on what my baseline was.  My rule was two words.... Safe and Loved.  Everyone in thehouse was to be safe and loved. [I figured that in a way those two words encompassed everything else.  It doesn't directly ention honesty... but....You don't lie to someone you love, you want someone you love to be proud of you, so you hold yourself to a high moral standard in actions and words. etc. etc. Sneaky, but those two words kind of cover a whoooole lot.

Since then I have expanded it a bit because I found that there is something beyond safety, beyond love. I saw that many of the foster children I know seem stuck, even when safe, even when loved. Stuck in their past, stuck in their view of themselves, stuck in their visioning and ability to see a positive future.
Their eyes often lack the sparkle so common in the eyes of their peers. Instead a sadness, an tiredness, even a remaining fearfulness, is often seen.  Everyone deserves to know what it is like to be excited, eager, ...happy. So I added a piece. My parenting goal became: Every child deserves to be safe, to be loved, and to know joy. As a family we wanted that to apply not just to the children in the house, but to the adults, to the pets, and to our guests.

So, our family golden goal is:
May everyone who enters this home feel safe, feel loved and experience joy.

I'm sure it will continue to change and shift. What about your family.  What is your personal family golden rule?  Share?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Focus on Fostering: Building a History

Children in foster care and even adoptive children often have few if any photos to remember and commemorate their childhood.  My first foster child came with one wrinkled photo of her with her step father, one of her as an infant, or her siblings, or anything.

One of the kindest things you can do for a foster child is help them start building a history through photographs.  Even if they are only with you temporarily, you can still give this amazing gift.

Start by taking a photo of them the day they arrive as a starting point. [Note: IF reunification with their  bio-family is a possibility you might take one of the child WITH your family and one WITHOUT your family, to give you options as you build their album]. 

Add to their history by taking photos of some of their accomplishments, things they can be proud of, milestones of development, favorites, habits, photos that will document their growth and personality.

Some idea starters:
Baby--smiles, finding their fingers, crawling, walking, etc.
Preschool: Building blocks, playing with playdoh, playground photos, eating favorite foods.
Elementary: learning to skip, jump rope, ride a tricycle or bike, other favorite things
Middle school: sports, extracurriculars, watching tv, on their cellphone, playing Wii
High School:  cooking, doing chores[?], learning to drive, afterschool activities, first job

For school age kids, add in ticket stubs, postcards of places they go, concert programs, clippings of their favorite singers, tv shows, movies etc. 

When every one else has photos of their personal history but you it is very isolating.  Give your foster child at least your piece of their history.

Image credits:,,,

Monday, September 26, 2011

School Bell: Let's Go Fishing Again!

On request I am repeating this post from last year.  People have had great luck with it and suggested I repost it. So... here you are.... Enjoy!

Try this trick for getting your reluctant child to do their homework or practice their spelling or math facts.

Let's Go Fishing!:  Buy a bag of goldfish type crackers. Make a construction paper fishing picture with a boat on water and an assortment of simple outline fish in the water.

You can put on peel and stick fish or draw your own using something like this coloring page of fish you can download and use as an idea starter. When they start their homework put a goldfish cracker on top of each fish on the paper. [You should have 8-15 fish depending on the project or the child's age.] For each question they answer, or each spelling word they get right, etc. they get to eat one of the goldfish crackers.

Let's Go on Safari! :
If goldfish aren't their style try using animal crackers.  Do a safari theme using a download like one of these!] and place the appropriate animal cracker on the pictures.  You can even just take a photo of the jungle and lay the crackers anywhere you want on the picture. Use your imagination. As with the fish, for each answer done they get to eat one of the animals.

The few crackers they eat make a relatively healthy after school snack and often motivate and reward the child for tackling that list of math problems or other dreaded work. Try it!

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Caring Heart: A great training

Unlike "traditional" parents, foster parents are required to take actual training in parenting and take it regularly.  Some are boring. Some are fabulous.

A great training

Wow, today was great!  I came home from the workshop reinvigorated with new hope and new ideas.  Trainings like today are as energizing as the best cup of coffee on a slow morning.  For starters it was great to be in a room full of people who understood some of what my days are like.  A room of people who also have learned to take explosive outbursts, lack of attachment and affection, perhaps even smeared feces in stride.  What an amazing group of people!  The day would have been worth it just for the chance to connect over lunch and breaks with them, to swap ideas, share tricks, and commiserate over war stories.  And the presenter was soo helpful!  I can't wait to try some of the strategies in my home with my kiddos.  I know they probably won't all work, and those that do work, may not work very long. But they give me a new beginning, a new card to play, another tack to take in helping this work more somoothly, more effectively.  And, the day gave me new energy and new hope.  A day well spent!

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, September 24, 2011

Quick Takes: Favorite Quotes #4-6 ...Optimism

Today I offer three quotes about your point of view.  Optimism is a learned skill. It is a choice. Do we focus on all that is challenging, troubling, and wrong, or do we free ourselves by seeking our joy, life, and the possibilities of something better?

My other favorite quotes can be found be searching "quotes" but I welcome hearing some of YOUR favorite quotes!

#4-- "Some of us thinking holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go." 
                   Hermann Hesse, writer

#5--"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the heels, or any other way you can manage it."
                   Mark Twain, writer

#6--"If you think you have it tough, read history books!"
                     Bill Maher, comedian

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Anything Can Happen: Emergency Wristbands

Earlier this week I talked about the importance of having emergency info gathered together and easy to find in an emergency.  But what if you can't get it?What if you are not with your child? What if you are traveling away from home?  Consider one of the cool new medical info wristbands.  Below is one example of the ones available. It shows the card insert that you can use.

They also make them in children's sizes and colors.

WhileI don't normally advocate purchasing something you can make yourself, this is a really simple solution that makes the info readily available for first responders. And... they're cool enough that kids will actually wear them.  Especially if they see you wearing one during your travels.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Parenting Tips: Family Rules Pt 3 -Tattling

Tattling gets a bad rap.  No one wants their child to grow up to be a constant tattler.  But, kids need to know when telling on someone is an act of love and when it is an act of betrayal.  We need to teach them.  In my house I have 3 "Tell- Not Tell" Questions to help my kiddos decide when they MUST tell, when they can CHOOSE to tell, and when they should NOT tell.  They are to ask all three questions to decide what to do.

1.  Is it true?  [Do they believe that the information they are thinking of sharing is true?]
     NO?  Stop right here.... do not tell.
     YES?  Go on to question 2.

2. Is it kind?  [Is the information they are thinking of sharing kind, complimentary or, good news info?]
     YES?  You may tell. [ Only if the information is verypersonal or private does someone usually object to good things being shared.]
     NO? Go on to question 3.

3. Is someone's health or safety at risk? [Will the information help someone stay safe?]
    NO?  You may choose to tell if it passes  questions 1 & 2 .
    YES?  You MUST tell a person in charge.  Better to lose a friendship than to lose a friend.

Kids need to learn that telling a person in charge [parent, caring adult, authority, whatever] is not only good, but CRUCIAL when it protects someone. Think of the suicides, aggression, bullying, drug use, etc. etc. that are concelaed for fear of being a "tattletale."  We have to educate our children early on and often to help them distinguish when to tell and when not to tell.

It may be true that no one likes a tattletale, but it is also true that sometimes someone needs a tattletale. Start when they are young, because when they are teens they will need to know how to decide.

What rules or guidelines do you use with your kids about this issue? Share, please!

Image credits:,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Soapbox: Why Foster Parenting is so Tough

 A new foster parent asked me this recently and I stumbled with my answer because there is no simple answer. But, the question deserves an honest attempt at an answer. First of all, foster parenting may or may not be tougher than bio-parenting depending on the kids involved. But I believe it is always more complicated than bio-parenting.

Part of it is because the stakes always seem so much higher with kids in care than with bio kids. With my own bio kids I had the typical challenges of peer pressure, adolescent mouthiness, risky friend choices, fighting the temptations of smoking, drinking, etc., and the typical rainbow of issues. When I felt overwhelmed, particularly as a single parent, I could always seem to find other parents around me who shared the same struggles. We could commiserate and encourage each other.

Foster kiddos have all those traditional rainbow colored issues. But they all too often have an additional rainbow filled with issues colored so deeply that foster parents frequently feel isolated and alone, with no circle of friends to go "Oh, hey, I remember when my kiddo did that... you'll make, it passes." In a conversation among foster parents [especially treatment or therapeutic level children] the talk is less likely about backtalk and misbehavior. Common topics may include firesetting, self-abuse, lack of bowel control, seemingly uncontrollable mood swings or rages, and more. Certainly not topics likely to be shared at your run of the mill parent's association group! The issues bred by abuse, neglect, trauma and loss complicate every parenting strategy and method.
Even so, I don't think the extra issues are what make foster parenting so tough. I think it is the way the issues and the social culture can lead foster parents to feel isolated. The lack of support, encouragement, commiseration and understanding from a peer group or circle makes the process far more difficult. Your friends and family may question your sanity or may support you. Either way your relationship with friends will be forever altered. Even family members will have to shift and adjust and react differently than they would have if you never welcomed new children into your family circle. Some will do it well, some will not, and it will shift periodically. Some shifts will bring wonderful blessings. Some will bring pain and sorrow.
Foster parenting can be a wonderful blessing for the children to whom you offer love and a home. Fostering also can bring blessings and growth to you and those around you. But not always. Sometimes you will feel totally alone. Sometimes you will feel heroic, sometimes you will convinced you are a failure. Bottom line? Foster parenting is like any life... a mixed bag, not really in your sole control. It is a choice and the only thing you can be sure is that your life and the lives of those who know you will never be the same.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Focus on Fostering: Family Medical "Go Bags"

Foster families, more than most, need to have a system for organizing and locating medical and identification information, because the family changes.  Foster parents often have different insurance than their kiddos, different contact info, and different people to give medical permissions.  Other families would be wise to have Identification Cards for each family member in an emergency "Go Bag" but for foster families it is even more important. Schools have them.  Pets have them.   Here's a purchase one.  But you can make your own easily.

Make an identification card for EACH member of the family. [That way, as family members are added or subtracted you don't have to start all over, just add or pass one the pertinent card/s.] Here is the information I recommend and don't recommend.

Each Family Member's "Go Bag" Identification Card:
Current Photo 
First Name, Height [if desired approximate weight]  [full name for grownups is ok]
Town and State where you live
1-3 Emergency Phone Numbers  [one of which is not immediate family household]
Crucial Medical History [diabetes, epilepsy, life-threatening allergies, etc.]
Medication List:  any medicines being taken regularly
Family Doctor Name and Phone Number

***Please notice I did NOT include the child's last name. [This is for confidentiality, for protection, and to avoid confusion of a variety of family names.]
***I did NOT include your street address.  This is for protection. In an emergency, the precise address of where you live is not as crucial as a person they can contact.
***If you cannot give permission for medical treatment, be SURE to include the contact info for that person, office, and label it clearly.

Take a new photo each year of children [and of adults if their hair color or style changes significantly].

Try to put the together in a location near the front door, easy to grab and run in case of a medical emergency, easy for someone else to find if someone is looking.  [I keep mine in a small inexpensive photo album [$1 store] with "EMERGENCY INFO"in bright red letters on the front.  It hangs on a hook by the front door. I also have a photocopy of pertinent insurance cards in one of the photo envelopes.]

Note: Friday --- carrying id cards for children and adult

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Monday, September 19, 2011

School Bell: Teacher Introductions

Now is the perfect time to start building a spirit of cooperation and support with your child's teacher/school. Classrooms across the country are faced with increasing budget cuts.  This gives you a simple opening to make contact with your child's teacher.  Don't just show up at school and pump them with questions.  Arrive after school ends, and as any guest, bring a hostess gift.  No, you're not bribing them any more than a dinner guest is bribing their host.

Bring things that will help the teacher support your child and the rest of the class. Things that are never covered in a school budget but always needed to keep a classroom running smoothly. Any of these can be found at your local dollar store. Bring them as they are of tie them with a ribbon and a "Have a good year" tag. Hold the barrage of questions for later... the teacher will remember you as being helpful and thoughtful and the stage will be set for good communication. If there is a pressing concern, write it in a note and send it the next day or by email.

     1. extra pencils or pens

     2. cheeze/animal cracker snack bags.

     3. box of tissues [perfect for fall allergies & colds]

If your child is particularly challenging or had a rough start, one of these ideas might fit well:

     4. Roll or bag of life savers...
Note: "You were a real life saver these first few weeks for Johnny."

     5. Box of paper clips, rubber bands, whatever...
Note: "Thanks for helping Susie keep it together these first few weeks!"

     6. fun sticky notes or glue sticks
Note: "Thanks for sticking to it even on the tough days!"

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Caring Heart: Fights over Medicine

Many children today are on regular medications.  Even more children in foster care are on regular medications.Anyone who has a child who has to take medications is likely to be familiar with occasional struggles around that need.

Fights over Medications

He won't take his medicine again. I get so tired of this battle.  I think this hurdle is crossed.  I start to trust him when he says he took it.  Then I find pills stashed under a lamp or thrown in the trash.  It's not that I mind having to watch him until he takes it.  But it often guarantees a battle.  I suppose I would hate having to take meds too.  But they make such a difference and when he is taking them, he knows they help. And when he misses he can spin out of control so fast.  Sure he is sorry afterwards, but the damage is done.  Help me find a way to give him his medicine before he is at that point.  Help me to find a way to give it to him and wath him swallow it in a way that he doesn't find demenaing.  Help him recognize his need and accept the gift of medicine that can help so much.  Help him gradually learn to accept taking his medications and work towards independence and dependability in managing his needs.

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, September 17, 2011

Quick Takes: Creative Rewards #51-55

Today's quick take is five more creative rewards for your kids. This is generally a once a month feature to come up with alternatives to stickers and food and purchases for treats and rewards.  Examples are for a mix of ages and genders and locations. Adjust for your own kids and your own region. [Creative Rewards #1-50 can be found if you search "Rewards."]

51. Have an extra bedtime story
52. Face painting
53. Have a squirt gun fight
54. Pick bouquet of flowers from your yard without penalty
55. Outdoor Art/Craft time 

P.S. Remember that these are not just activities for young children.... teens can have fun with these too.

Image credits:,,,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Anything Can Happen: Complaints, Surgeries, and Improbabilities

I rarely write about my day to day goings on.  However every once in a while day to day life bumps into my blog. The last week or so has been a definitive anything can happen spell.

One of my cherubs has a rich history of what is called somatic complaints.  He is overly aware of everything in or on his body. He also has an anxiety disorder. Not a good combination. In other words he is constantly worrying about this of that twinge or pain or itch and convinced he needs to go to the doctors or the hospital to be checked.

Over the last I don't even know how long, he has sometimes worried that he was having a heart attack.... that he had chest pains.  He is 16. Most of his complaints are of no concern.  When he was insistent, he was checked out and the doctor reassured him that he was not in fact having a heart attack, that he must be experiencing muscle pulls, twinges, etc. typical of growing kids.

Long story short... a bit ago he had an "episode" that surpassed his usual routine and combined with his pallor and cold sweat got the attention of everyone.  Several doctor visits, one ultrasound, and many blood tests later, my 16 year old, male, skinny, non risk ethnicity child was in the hospital having his gall bladder removed which proved to be chock full of gall stones more than even the ultrasound showed.

Now if that isn't stretching the odds enough, once discharged from hospital and home recovering, he developed a rash which the doctors thought was chickenpox. [Which by the way he had already had, but his sister had twice!] Only one of mine could go into the hospital, lose a gall bladder, and gain chickenpox.  The post script is that the rash is not classified as "unknown origin" rather than chickenpox so he can start back to school next week.  But the moral of this story is.... 1- Anything can happen, including gall bladder attacks in a skinny young boy.  and  2- The minute you are sure of something, fate will delight in proving you wrong.

Note: Some of you regular followers may have noticed that there was no blog posted on Wednesday this week... one of I think only two days I have missed in the last year. Now you know why.  I ran out of blogs I had "banked" for a time crunch. 

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Parenting Tips: Family Rules pt 2-- 5 W's

With a new school year starting, you can expect your children to ramp up the requests.  Whether it is a preschool playdate, an elementary student getting invited over after school, a middle school hang out at the playground, or a jr high trip to the mall, or a high school party with friends, kids will always be asking permission for this or that adventure. 

Family rules…Remember the guidelines in last week's post about starting early and modeling. It is a KEYto heading off teenage whines of "It's not fair!" etc.

The reward for all that early work?  If you have always answered these questions for them and have helped them answer those questions for you from early on, sharing this kind of information will become automatic communication style in your home.

In my home I use the 5 W's plus H.  The list is posted on my door just to remind me and my adolescents.  They know that if they want a thumbs up "Yes" to their request, they should come to me prepared with the answers to the 5 Ws and H.  I even made a small wallet-sized version for one child who often called me from school with her requests. Here is my list... What is yours?

Who ?   
Who are you going with and who will be there?

What ? 
What do you need to bring and What are you planning to do?

Where will you be if there is an emergency and I need to reach you and where else should I check if you are not there?

When do you plan to be back and When should I worry if you aren’t back yet?

Why should I feel safe letting you go and Why do you feel safe with your plans?

How will you reach me if you need help getting home and How can I help you?

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Focus on Fostering: Game Tokens

So, when was the last time your kids fought over who got to be the thimble in Monopoly, or the blue playing pieces in Sorry, and on and on?  You get out a game for a few minutes of family bonding and before you even can start it seems they are at each other's throats. Sound familiar?  Try this.... take the caps off old medicine vials. Take some extra school pictures or old snapshots of your kids.  Cut the face of each child in a circle matched to the size of the cap. Glue the picture to the cap.  Voila... personal playing pieces!

For games like Monopoly you will only need one picture playing piece for each child.  For games like Parcheesi, Sorry etc. you will need a set of playing pieces for each child. Use matching pictures or a mix of pictures of each child. No problem remembering who is what color or what symbol.  No fighting over colored playing pieces.  Kids love moving "themselves" around the game board.  Plus, for kids with attachment or self-esteem issues, personalizing is a real plus.
And don't forget to make them for the parents too!  

For an extra kick make some for frequent playmates of your children. My kiddos' friends are always excited when they discover I have made a playing person just for them out of an old snapshot.  Try it!  Let me know how it works for you.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

School Bell: September 11th School Slide Show

Pearl Harbor Day was indelibly etched in the minds and hearts of the country on Dec 7, 1941.  September 11, 2001 was also etched.

I was teaching 5th grade at the time. As part of our response my class started a project to send cards to the workers at Ground Zero.  In less than a week our  class and a few others had created over 300 individual cards and letters and I drove from Maine to NYC one weekend to deliver them. I took photos during the time in NY and made a power point slide show for my students and their parents. The focus is on the compassion and the response across the country and world to the events of 9/11.  There are no photographs of the World Trade Center buildings collapse. [There is one slide that shows pictures posted on an outdoor board of one of the fire trucks at Ground Zero and there is one slide of a dump truck carrying concrete fragments. ] I wanted the children to focus on the shared compassion and kindness and the sense of one-family that grew out of the tragedy.

Because of my class' desire to connect with the rescuers there are photos of them and description of how I met and talked with them.  My class went on to send packages and notes almost weekly to one particular firehouse and one particular police officer for the entire school year.
Brownies, salt water taffy, cookies, class-made sea glass ornaments from sea glass gathered off our beaches, photos, patches, flags, all kinds of things went back and forth in the boxes and letters between the firehouse, the police units, and my group of 5th graders in Maine. And the children got letters several times a month in return.  I am still in touch with two of the letter-writers ten years later! There was also a second visit to the firehouse by me in the spring, and a June 2002 trip to Maine by one of the firemen correspondents to meet the students that had become friends over that year. He has made return visits as well... including his honeymoon!  The students learned the power of even a ten year old to make a huge difference even in the middle of enormous events and learned the human side of both tragedy and compassion.

Click here to get to slide show. The slide show link will be on the right hand side of your screen when it opens just below the clickable Power Point download. I hope you will view it and enjoy this slightly different perspective of 9/11 on this 10th anniversary.

A GREAT online resource forparents and teachers of  kids grades 5-12 offers  "inspiring stories of individuals who were directly impacted by September 11, 2001 and who, in response, developed projects to help make this world a more peaceful, tolerant place."  They can be found at the World Trade Center Toolkit with videos and even lesson plans.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Caring Heart: 9/11 plus ten

9/11 plus Ten

Ten years.  It has been ten years.  It seems like yesterday and yet forever ago.  My little guys barely remember 9/11.  Ten years ago tragedy struck and for a magical time the whole country was united in compassion and caring.  Yes, there was patriotism.  Yes their was anger and in some a desire for revenge.  But mostly, in the days and weeks that followed there was compassion. People of all ages rushed to help, rushed to support each other, sent messages of any and all kinds.

I can't do a regular Caring Heart meditation today. [Tomorrow I will reflect and share a slide show I made ten years ago for my students after a visit to New York.]  But today I want to celebrate the compassion that was in everyone's caring hearts ten years ago.  I want to pray that we recapture that compassion and never ever lose it. I don't want us to forget the pain and heartbreak and shock of the events of ten years ago. But even more I don't want us to forget the compassion, the unity, the caring and empathy. Ever.

Ribbon image from a photo I took in NYC near Ground Zero September 2011

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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quick Takes: A Book Find!

Hey I found a great book... one that many others have discovered already as evidenced by the 9 awards it has won, including the Mom's Choice Award.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?   A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
by Carol McCloud  Illustrated by David Messing

This book has been out since 2007 and was originally self-published. [take note you writers out there!]
Using simple, but charming illustrations and plain language the book leads children to  see the joy THEY will dsicover when they are kind and thoughtful and loving as part of their daily lives.  They see not only how rewarding it is for others, but for the giver as well.  Using the image of a bucket gives a concrete sense to a more nebulous concept of kindness and warmth. After reading this with your kids you have an easy cue to remind them about "bucket filling" and "bucket dipping."

Her book has now grown into an array of books and other products, even a website.  Her program of bucket fillers is not in schools complete with wristbands, posters, car decals, and t-shirts for elementary and teens alike.  If you haven't seen this yet.  Get it!  [It also makes a great gift.]

Reminder: I am not paid or compensated to recommend ANYTHING on this site.  I NEVER recommend something unless I have personally used it and found it successful or useful.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Anything Can Happen: Possibilities and Louisa May Alcott

It is hard to let go of the limits we are used to feeling.  From early days of praise for staying inside the lines when coloring, to warnings that we must "be realistic" and more we learn to stifle our dreamings.  To at the very least... recognize that they are dreams.   But dreams can sometimes come true.  Even if they don't they can inspire us. Wishing may not make it so, but the things we do after dreaming might move us closer.

Consider this quote about dreams and aspirations by Louisa May Alcott [author of LITTLE WOMEN and others]:

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead."

Why not listen to Louisa and give it a shot with your kids this weekend?  Anything Can Happen Day, right???

Gather some poster paper [or large construction paper]. Grab some old magazines, crayons, glitter, glue, and miscellaneous stuff.  Have each child put their name on the paper and then fill the paper with images of what they would dream for this coming school year.  Maybe a bike, or a pet, or an "A" or a date, or , or, or, .....

Let their imaginations and dreams have free rein.  Do NOT limit them by what is or is not achievable.
Then post them where they can "look up and see their beauty."
While you're at it... make one for yourself too !
Anything Can Happen....

P.S.  Louisa May Alcott was the first women to register to vote in Concord, MA [1875]

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