Lessons learned from another time.

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This week my daughter’s grade has been celebrating ‘Pioneer week’ and has challenged the students to eat home lunches, wear dresses, not watch television, walk home from school, eat oatmeal for breakfast and the list goes on. We have been noticing everything in every detail we do…brushing our teeth we imagined what the pioneers used—horse hair and animal bone handles, we have talked about how they took baths, washed their clothes, how they didn’t have refrigerators or ice to keep things cold, how they didn’t have running water and had to use an outdoor hole to go the bathroom–no toilets.

It has been a week of thanks, even in the tin-foil dinners we prepared by fire last night. I wanted to try and make a memorable meal over coals, so my daughter would have a better idea of what the pioneers ate, how things were prepared, how things were done. It was a great lesson. She looked at the pile of potatoes, carrots, hamburger, onions, garlic, soup and said “yuck.” She was determined not to eat it, but with some loving nudges, she tried it & enjoyed the experience. She even had seconds. It made us truly appreciate the love that went into everything.

Even though we have so many excessities (my own word) it made us appreciate so many things we take for granted. We have music & television in every room, every car, we have running water, warm showers, running toilets, fruits & veggies (groceries) readily available for the taking, numerous pairs of shoes, more than one outfit, phones that call from anywhere, computers that do so much, cars that drive us anywhere we need to be…the list goes on and on, but this week has been a great lesson in remembering where we once were, where we have come and what we truly should and need to be grateful for. We are blessed daily with sooo much.

My mother is a wonderful story teller & has studied pioneers for years & has many amazing stories she can tell, she researched her own pioneer history & has told stories of children freezing, families selecting what little items they could take on the long journey, children making the journey without their parents, families leaving their dead loved ones behind, lots of illness and death.  It truly humbles you to think of the severe winters, the hardships, the small handcarts that held their life treasures & necessities, the sacrifices that every family made to travel so far (some from distant lands like Australia & Europe) and then arrive in a desert land to begin again…to build, to till, to try and create a new life. It’s humbling because we are given so much, so freely & we take it for granted so easily.

Take a moment and think of your rich ancestral heritage. Where did you come from? What stories are held within your family? What sacrifices were made? What can you learn from them? What can you teach your children about their history? Lots to think about.

Here is a beautiful tribute I came across that has amazing images and a gorgeous song. It made me truly imagine the long walk that the pioneers took to find a better place to live.

Life is like this…a beautiful journey to a higher place. Peace & Love to you.

Happy Earth Day!

ImageMy daughter lit up when she got on google this morning and noticed their fabulous, interactive logo. It was a delight of blooming trees, moving moons, jumping fish, swirls and scenery. It was playful and full of wonder…just like our planet…WONDERFUL!  I sang…because it’s Earth Day!! So today I am sharing tips, tricks and fun things to make your day even better, help the planet and make a small difference…wherever you are!

 

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

1. Little things do make a difference: turn the water off while you brush your teeth, fix leaky faucets or running toilets, put cans and bottles in the recycle bins, clean your air filters to help with efficiency, turn down your thermostat when you go to bed, turn off your lights when you are not using them and unplug appliances, washing laundry on cold not hot settings, take shorter showers, even driving within the speed limit cuts down on gas consumption, which helps the planet.

2. Clean out your closet—I am sure you have something to donate. There are plenty of people who could reuse your items and be grateful for them.

3. Plant a tree: One of the challenges on Earthday.org is to plant one billion trees

4. Change out your light bulbs for energy efficient ones. Even if you begin to change one at a time, the investment will pay for itself in the years to come. Compact fluorescent light bulbs last 10 times longer than a standard bulb and use at least two-thirds less energy.*science 

5. Sign up for paperless bills by paying them via the internet.

6. Ride your bike when you can, instead of driving your car. 

7. Spring clean your community. I am sure wherever you are there is some trash to pick up. Grab a bag, some friends or family and make it fun!! Turn it into a race to see who can get the most amount in a certain time. 

8. If the weather is nice open a window or door and let the fresh air in & turn off your air-conditioning. This will help conserve energy & bring in a little breeze.

9. Get outside and go on a walk, a hike, a bike ride & turn off your television, computers, games. 

10. Begin recycling. There are a lot of people who still don’t recycle. If you are one of them begin with recycling cans or water bottles, paper or sign-up with your community for a recycling service, but do something.  Example: If an office building of 7,000 workers recycled all of its office paper waste for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking almost 400 cars off the road (Source: EPA & Science.howstuffworks.com)

11. Change out any leaky faucets: Slow the flow. A faucet leaking just one drop per second wastes over 1,300 gallons per year! A leak from a hot water source wastes both water and fossil fuel, creating more greenhouse gasses. Please begin to fix this issue. *Rustletheleaf

12. Go to earthday.org and pledge an act of green or just check out some of the things they have going on. Get informed.

13. Cut down on eating meat: I am not against people eating meat, its your personal choice, but cutting down may help the planet. FYI The United Nations have concluded that meat production is responsible for around 18% of global CO2 emissions. 5,214 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of beef, and the EPA estimates that more than 27,000 miles of US rivers have been polluted by livestock waste.  *huffingtonpost

14. Carpool

 

Other ideas:  Fun things to do to teach your family about Earth Day…

Children’s Story: Read this great story to your children to help them understand Earth Day and how one person can make a difference…http://holidays.kaboose.com/earthday-cando.html

Earth day crafts using recycling or reusing materials: http://crafts.kaboose.com/holidays/earth-day/recycling-or-reusing-materials-to-make-new-crafts.html

Another fun link from Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/artsycraftsymom/recycled-earth-day-crafts/

Check out the beautiful nature artist Andy Goldsworthy: Go to Google Images and type in Andy Goldsworthy—amazing. He also has numerous books. Inspiring Natural pieces he creates.

Teaching your children– I just came across this & thought you may enjoy this article (Kids Get Arty: Andy Goldsworthy) http://www.redtedart.com/2012/11/14/kids-get-arty-andy-goldsworthy/

Have a beautiful day. Get outside, enjoy this beautiful world we live in and do something positive to make a small change in your family, your community, your world!  Peace to you.

Put a little LOVE in all you do.

Image“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it.” – Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle

Sticking with the theme of LOVE for the upcoming, grand occasion of Valentines, I have put together some tiny things that we do around our house to show our LOVE. Hope these ideas spark other little ideas to spread love in all you do.

Keep them cuddly: warm up robes and towels when they get out of the bath or shower. Throw a cozy blanket in the dryer when someone just needs to be bundled.

Do something sweet: write a little note (on the napkin or a tiny card) for someone’s lunch–add a fun joke, a sweet treat they will enjoy or a tiny surprise that is unexpected.

Hand writing: When my little girl is nervous about something at school, I draw a heart on her hand to remind her that my love will always be with her.

Hearts & flowers: We are big Dasani bottle drinkers (don’t worry we recycle!) so I write messages on my families water bottles…hearts, flowers, their names, love notes, feel betters, etc.

Dedications: Dedicate a song while you are driving or buy a special song that reminds you of someone you love and share it with them.  (Some good ideas off the top of my head: Bruno Mars “Just the way you are”  Rihanna “We found Love”  Christina Perri “A Thousand Years”   Usher “Without You”   Harry Connick Jr ” We are in Love”   Train “Marry Me”   Colbie Caillat “I do”   Joy Williams “Charmed Life”)

Sign Language: Have a fun personal language that you share with each other. Our family does XO with our fingers or signs I Love You or infiniti hearts, you get the idea. Make your own and make it yours. The love will follow.

Nicknames: Have fun, loving nick names that you call one another.

Make food with love: blow kisses into the meals you make, make heart pancakes, heart shaped brownies, swirl your soup in heart shapes.

Basic Care: make them take their vitamins, drink lots of water and wear their seat belt. It is the funniest thing to watch my parents fight over taking their vitamins, but my Dad simply looks at my mom and says, it’s because I love you. Who can argue with that!

Love Notes: leave little notes of love and appreciation anytime and everywhere. Leave them on the bathroom mirror, the car window, computer screen, under a pillow, etc. A cute text says you care. A fun note taped to their toothbrush that says, you make me smile=LOVE.

Pray and give thanks: pray always with a grateful heart for the little things you receive every day…for running water, for good health, that your child made it home from school, that your husband has a job, that you can run, walk, see the blue sky.

Thank you: Write a nice note on the envelopes of your bills, or on an email to your service providers thanking them for the services you receive. Thank them that you have power, heat, the Disney channel!! smile. smile.

Affection: ALWAYS give hugs and kisses, special rendezvous and intimate getaways

Surround your family with good things: Having beautiful things around helps your heart sing. Your heart=LOVE. Have pretty music playing, buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers, have inspiring quotes posted throughout the house, allow lots of light in through the windows

Quality time: I can’t stress this enough!! Go on walks, have reading time together, play games and talk.

Connect: Everyone needs to feel connection in their life, so our relationships are key. Take the time to connect. I am going to include some good Q& A topics to discuss with those you love:

Connect Questions for the one you LOVE:

1. What is something that makes you feel good about yourself?

2. What are 5 things you want to do in your life?

3. Has there ever been anything you were afraid to do? How did you handle it?

4. Some of your favorite things?

5. What trait do you feel people like most about you?

6. Do you feel it is easy to make friends? Do you feel you have good friends?

7. Do you feel you like to be social or would rather be home? 

8. What is a truly great memory for you?

9. What does perfect mean to you?

10. What is a favorite gift you have received?

11. What would you like to do more of every day?

12. Answer this…I am happy when…

13. What do you love about your family?

14. What do you love most about your relationship?

15. Think of a tough time in your life…what did you learn from it?

16. Is there anything you worry about?

17. What do you desire most out of our relationship? (good things, things to work on)

18. If you could do anything, what would it be?

19. What is one thing you would change about your life? 

20. What would be your ideal Valentines day?

Connect Questions for you to ask your Kids:

1. What is your happiest memory? 

2. Why do you like being a kid? 

3. One word to describe you would be _______. 

4. What advice would you give your parents? 

5. If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? 

6. What do you like to do for fun? 

7. Tell about a funny time in your life. 

8. What is your favorite thing to do? Why? 

9. What is your favorite thing to do with your friends? 

10. What do you love most about your sibling (or being an only child)? 

11. What was the nicest thing you did for someone? 

12. What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now? 

13. What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? the winter?

14. What would be the ideal allowance? Tell me how you would use it. 

15. What do you think makes a person good-looking? 

16. Name two things we should do as a family on the weekend. 

17. What is the grossest thing you can think of?

18. What is something you love about your mom and dad?

19. What is your favorite vacation we have been on?

20. What are 5 things you would like to do by the time you are married? (or in your life)

Well, I hope these tiny ideas have inspired you to think of little things you can do to spread the love in your world.

Lots of LOVE to you and yours.    -Heather

1 Act of Random Kindness makes a difference

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Hello and hope all is well in your world!! Today I wanted to share one of my favorite weeks in the whole year…RAK (Random Acts of Kindness week). Each year the organization randomactsofkindness.org has a week that inspires people to break away from the norm and share kindness in the world. It is usually a week in February (the month of love–fitting). This year it is FEBRUARY 11th through the 17th!! So I wanted to share some ideas and getting you thinking and planning to do this with those you love. Make it a fun event—plan for it & share it with friends & family, get out and make a difference in your community, your neighborhood, your family, your world!

I was lovingly reminded that this RAK week was coming up as I was watching the sweet movie “Evan Almighty” with my little daughter. It reminded me as Morgan Freeman spelled out the words ARK…1 ACT of RANDOM KINDNESS will make a difference.

So, in the spirit of LOVE, HAPPINESS and making a DIFFERENCE, here are some thought and ideas to enjoy your RAK week…

If you have read my blog you know I have a nine-year-old daughter who is an only child and one of my greatest fears is that she is going to grow up and be selfish!! Especially after reading an article about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who was an only child and personally admitted how selfish he had been. Every red flag went up, Am I doing enough to help this little person think of others??? 

Ever since she was little we have done random acts of kindness…made brownies for the fire department, created hand made valentines for a local old folks home, handed out teddy bears to crossing guards, bought cookies for the McDonald’s employees…

I am always trying to think of ways to get our little family out of ourselves and doing something for someone else. Hopefully we are heading in the right direction, it is an ongoing, loving lesson for our lives. When we think of others, the world is better for it! Our family is better for it!

This last year (during RAK week ) was especially fun because we got others to celebrate RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) with some neighbor girls.  We made a 15 foot banner filled with kindness ideas kids could do & we hung it at their school. In the true spirit of RAK week I made a flyer and sent it to a large local email list in hopes that people would feel the giving spirit & it worked! I received a call from one of my neighbors (that I did not know very well) and she was filled with enthusiasm at the idea of RAK week!

She expressed how her 38th birthday was this particular week and that she decided she was going to take her family and do 38 random acts of kindness in celebration of her birthday!!.

Outstanding idea!

I saw her the next week at a school function and she lit up!! It was soo wonderful to see someone so excited to share in their experience. She told me how they handed out quarters to kids at a local hamburger restaurant so they could use the candy machines. They bought food for the people behind them in the drive-thru, they took a bunch of water bottles and handed them out at a local rec center…the enthusiasm was infectious. I loved it!! Then she got really quiet and she said, “but the best part of it all was that my son (who I struggle with) truly got in the spirit of giving. He is kinder today, he was writing notes to our family, he was moved more than anyone by this experience.”

That was the best part! She even said that he wanted to do the same thing for his birthday!

What a beautiful thing!!

If we can do one thing for our kids…it is to be an example of love, get out and do something random for someone else. Teach them to write thank you cards, help them each week think of some way to serve someone else. Make a dinner for someone in need, take a batch of brownies to someone you don’t know, say thank you to EVERYONE! It is truly the little things that make a big difference.

Here are some additional ideas from the RAK website and other sources:  Clean up graffiti, Donate used books to a library, Give care packs to the homeless (or a blanket), Share your talent of music with the elderly, Help someone with yard work or snow removal, Let someone go in line in front of you, Write a note of appreciation to a teacher, Mentor a child who needs a friend, Pay for a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks, Return shopping carts, Thank your police or fire department with a fun note or treat, Write a letter or email to someone who made a difference in your life, Visit an animal shelter, Take a bag of dog or cat food to your local shelter, pick up trash at the beach or nearby nature trail or neighborhood, Send a nice note thanking a soldier, Be a designated driver, Give someone flowers, Visit someone who is sick, Collect canned food and give it to your local food bank, Donate $1 to your child’s favorite charity, Start a charity day at your work & give the money to a good cause, Help someone with their groceries, Give hugs, Leave a nice note for your local mail carrier, Thank your child’s bus driver or crossing guard, Plant a tree, Give compliments, Send something inspiring to those you have on your email list, Be a nice driver on the road, Take shorter showers this week, SMILE, Start a piggy bank for a cause, Share something yummy with coworkers, Say thank you to your school principal and office help, Tell your parents (or send a letter or email) how much you appreciate them & everything they’ve done for you, Let your staff leave a little early from work & thank them for all they do, give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs, Make valentine hearts for the elderly home, Give someone a “heart attack” on their door (bunch of paper hearts that say nice things), Invite someone new in the neighborhood over for dinner, Have your child take a bunch of fun stickers or suckers and hand them out when the final bell rings & remind everyone that it is RAK week, genuinely thank your waitress for doing such a good job, make and share kindness bookmarks or give them to the school library to give away, Leave a $20 in an envelope and leave it for someone in need, give freely, spread LOVE everywhere you can…

-Spread Love, Heather

–not sure who to credit the picture, but thank you.

Your Happy Family

ImageFamily is a loving gift to me. It is the people who complete our lives. It is only me, my husband and our nine-year-old daughter, Kate that complete our circle, so we are “the three musketeers.” We have a lot of fun together, but with an only child you also get moments of question.  I have literally had people tell me how cruel it is to only have one child, that she will grow up spoiled and alone, so needless to say, there are times when I wonder if we are doing it right, if we are enough to guide her along to the life she needs.

In Utah, you rarely find anyone who has less than four children, it is truly amazing and I commend every mother and father out there who takes on the challenge and makes it a good ride. Cheers to you!! But there is something fun when you meet someone who has been an only child, you instantly want to get to know them, to hear that their life was good and that your child will turn out great despite the fact that she is the only one.

We met a nurse at our local hospital who had an instant connection with Kate because he was an only child. He talked about how fun it was growing up so close to his family, going on great trips (because they could afford to with less children), he enjoyed being an only child. There was a moment of relief for me as he told us about his childhood experiences. There are always the positives and the negatives in everything, so it made me realize, that it is the quality time together that in the end matters most. I knew that, but seeing a grown, only child who spoke of cherished moments with his parents really hit home. No matter what, it’s the time together with one child or ten. Those are the moments that will stay with them, that will teach them as they grow, that will nurture them into the beautiful people they will become.

So here is to our families…here is a compilation of tips, tricks and things to bring your family together to make special memories that will be remembered.

GOOD QUALITY FAMILY TIME

Make memories together out of any occasion: at our house we try to create an occasion out of many things…when we bought our daughter her first pair of roller-skates, we celebrated with a fun movie night of popcorn and ‘Xanadu’—classic rollerskating movie musical!! She loved it! Pulling a tooth may require a special drum roll on our keyboard. We create special made up songs for different holidays and sing them during the special month. We play pretty music and light a candle for a bath or shower to make it a special occasion. We bundle up and go on winter walks during the first snowfall. We pile up fall leaves and make a nest for a special family picture…the ideas are endless, you just need to make the occasions special with your family in mind.

Make sure you take the time to eat together: With crazy schedules and mad dashes to the local market or tennis practice, are you making time to eat together? Whether you plan a special Saturday breakfast or you eat dinner together (at least once a week), make it a priority. We have a special Saturday breakfast where we make muffins, scrambled eggs, hash browns. We sit around the table and ask each person what they are grateful for and it turns into a weekly Thanksgiving. Make your meals memorable. Have the kids help set the table & let them make handwritten place cards (my little girl loves this). Have fun themes for special occasions. Enjoy the time being together.

Plan a fun family weekend getaway: Whether it is to a town two hours away you have always wondered about, a local museum, amusement park, air show, train show, etc. Find out about fun activities going on around you. Try and stay within a few hours of your home and seek out great camp spots, art, music, watermarks, beaches, FUN!! Discuss with everyone where they would like to go and plan a weekend trip. Try to include at least one thing everyone would like to do—get a carmel apple, hike Mt. Timp, have breakfast at Kneaders, etc. Someone may want to sleep in or go on a hike, try to plan something that gets everyone excited for the weekend. Most importantly, have a great time together!!

Create family traditions: See my blog post on that.

Have a family night: Each week or at least once a month have a fun family night–play games, go to your favorite local pizzeria, get chinese take-out, visit the grocery store and buy all the ingredients for a new meal to try together. You can even shake it up and let someone in the family decide the activity and be in charge each week or each month.

Have Quiet time: No matter how old your children are, scheduled quiet time is a good idea.  Set a specific time for everyone to turn off the television, computer, video games and either talk, read, tell a story, share things that were highlights from the day, things you appreciate about one another. Schedule a time that will not interfere with homework, friends or activities–most likely before bed or if you find it too hard—try it once a week on Saturday or Sunday morning. Take the time to tune out noise, to get quiet.  We do a couple of different things…write in a family gratitude journal three things we were grateful for during the day. Then we either tell a story, read a book or a small devotional just before we go to sleep and then say a evening prayer of thanks for the day. We try to also schedule in reading and quiet time.  An interesting fact: The CEO of Disney read for an hour a day when he was a child.

GETTING CREATIVE WITH YOUR FAMILY

Creativity is a celebration of one’s grandeur, one’s sense of making anything possible. ~Joseph Zinker

 

Look for inspiration in all you see and do: To believe and then truly see inspiration in all things is a gift indeed. Whether you notice the pattern of a leaf, see the texture of bark, watch the wind blow across a corn field, see a work of art in a winding stairwell or hear a song within the subway—look, listen and live the inspiration that is all around you. The textures, the colors, the shimmering beads, the torn magazine pages, the sky, the sand at the beach…inspiration is everywhere!

Take time to explore nature: When you step into nature there is a world of inspiration ready to unfold. Take the time to pick up pinecones, acorns, leaves and see their pattern and textures. Feel the grass, pick up feathers, touch the branches of a tree, watch the water glisten, draw in the sand.

Be inspired by all that is around you and begin to understand your smallness in the infinite & know inspiration and creativity are a gift. Embrace the very thought that you are creative and that you are creating with forces that are bigger than you can imagine. You are creating for many, you are giving of your gifts. Teach your family to feel within and take inspiration from all that is around them.

One fun thing about nature is the magic of possibilities. One thing my daughter and I did was collect little acorns, twigs, small pebbles, leaves, etc and made a special fairy house that she loves and adores. We will always have the treasured memory of finding things in nature and then making something magical.

Family drawing and writing time: I love this idea. Make time each week, or every day to sit down with your family and let go creatively. If someone wants to write or color, or paint…have some time around the table to chat, enjoy colors, look at flowers and create. Give opportunities to explore different mediums of chalks, charcoal, watercolors, calligraphy, ink, colored pencils, crayon, etc.

Family music time: This is fun. Let go. Either turn on some fun tunes and just dance, sing or play funny grooves on the keyboard. Let go!! Shine.

Display your family art pieces: Have a special area to display your art. Whether you pick your best and frame them or you have a special magnetic gallery, a hallway or book. Have a special place to enjoy your art. One thing I love to do is to save up ten of my little ones favorites from the year and then I scan them into my computer and have a special yearly book made with her beautiful art pieces and favorite photos from the year. I write a note of Thanks for her being in my life and for all the beauty and creativity that she shares and I give it to her for Thanksgivig. It is a special tradition with great meaning & it makes giving thanks even more memorable.

Family arts & crafts show: Have a annual or bi-annual family arts and craft show. Have extended family join in the fun and have a show. Make it a occasion with a brunch or goodies. Have all the grandkids share their art and explain the meaning of their piece of art. You could also have a small, personal family show for family night or a special occasion within your home.

Take pictures: This advice is good any time. Taking pictures is good for inspiration, memories, images you want to be creative with, or just want to share with those you love. There is beauty all around and photographs are a good way to capture your inspiration. Just have fun!

FUN FAMILY MOVIES

Movie night is always a classic fun at our house, so I am including some of our favorites and then a list from a few other sources. Enjoy!!  Some of our favorites:

The Family Man (2000) is a great movie that is about a man who truly learns what is most important .

The Princess Protection Program (Disney 2009) is a great movie that teaches many good morales–kindness, believing in yourself, helping others, being princess like.

The Game Plan, Nancy Drew, Dreamer, Ever After, The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie (adventure), Nim’s Island, Nanny McPhee, The Parent Trap (old and new versions), Ella Enchanted, I could go on and on…The Kid, Freaky Friday, Tangled, and National Treasure Series (gets you thinking and kids interested in American history)…

According to Parents.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics

1 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) 2 Ella Enchanted (2004) 3 E.T. (1982) 4 Freaky Fiday (2003)

5 Harry Potter 6 The Sound of Music (1965) 7 Spy Kids (2001)

8 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) 9 Whale Rider (2003) 10 Wizard of Oz (1939)

An article from Belief.net lists Family Movies that Teach Values

This article lists: It’s A Wonderful Life (teaches responsibility), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (teaches Integrity), A Man for All Seasons (teaches Courage), Babe (teaches Courtesy), Remember the Titans (teaches tolerance), Toy Story 2 (teaches loyalty), Akeelah and the Bee (teaches learning), War Games (teaches Peace), A Little Princess (teaches Helping Others), Holes (teaches Fairness)

According to IMDb they listed the top “Family Titles”. I will list their top 10 1. Up (2009) 2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 3. Wall-E (2008) 4. Anand (1971) 5. Some Like it Hot (1959) 6. Safety Last (1923) 7. Vuk (1981) 8. The Cameraman (1928) 9. The Wizard of Oz (1939) 10. The Kid (1921)

FUN FAMILY VACATIONS

Family vacations are a must to create happy family connections and memories. Here is a list according to TravelChannel.com — they listed their top ten family destinations as:

1. Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas    2. Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, Snowbird, Utah (been here & love it!)    3. Tanque Verde Ranch, Tuscon, Arizona    4. Hilton Waikoloa Village in Hawaii    5. Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, Virginia    6. Circus, Circus, Las Vegas, Nevada    7. Out ‘n’ About Treesort, Takilma, Oregon    8. Club Med Ixtapa in Mexico    9. La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA    10. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando, Florida

Would love to hear about any of your family favorites. We just went to the Redwoods this past summer with our daughter and her cousin. They loved staying on the ocean (the cool Oregon coast, which can be sunny & then rainy–they loved it) and then visiting the giant Redwood trees. It was a great trip!!

A funny thing about kids is they just want to be together, having family quality time. We take our daughter to Disneyland each year, but when you ask her what her favorite trip is…she will say going to the Canadian Rockies (which it was fall & freezing) and staying in a tiny cabin on Moraine Lake where we had a fire and made a log cabin out of blocks. It is the quality time that really matters most.

No matter what you are doing, planning, or creating with your family, just take the time to incorporate being present and the moments will last a lifetime.

Cheers to your Happy Family.

What does your ideal life look like?

ImageThe new year tends to bring about resolutions, to-do lists, the changes that you aspire to achieve, but do you really know what your ideal life looks like?

I laugh thinking about my husbands weekly wish lists and meanderings, his seemingly constant comments whirl me into a confusion of his wants and needs. He wants to…move away from winter to sunny southern Utah, then its southern California, then Idaho in the summer. We’ll buy, we’ll sell, we’ll rent, we’ll buy dishes like that when we win the HGTV dream home. He makes me laugh and smile at every turn. I can’t keep up. But even after 19 years of marriage and 14+ moves to Idaho, Arizona, Oregon and back to Utah, I am still a little vague on what would be his ideal.

I understand life is an ever changing canvas and that is the beauty life has to offer…so many colors, choices, kitchens, places to live…

So this new January I ask, What is your ideal life?? Are you satisfied with all that you have? Is it enough? What do you love about your life? Does your life seem to energize or drain? Your life truly is your inspiration, so what is it saying to you right now?

Let’s look at some different areas of your life so you can get a feel for what you need, love and desire for your ideal life…

Take a minute to get some clarity. Say a prayer to help guide the feelings you have within. Your feelings will help guide you to your ideal life, the life you need, the life you are meant to live.

“everything in life responds to the song of the heart.”  -Ernest Holmes

Let’s look at the different areas. Look at the ideas and see if any of them resonate with you. Ask yourself if it is something you need, something you desire, etc.  Does it excite or ignite you? Do you want to skip it all together? Take notice of what your heart is saying. Don’t limit your ideas or needs, there may be something that is not listed that you feel you need–take a note. Listen within for personal clarity and direction.

MIND. BODY. SPIRIT

Personal Time: do you need to have more quiet time, a retreat, more self-care?

Personal Interests: Do you have a hobby you love, but not enough time to do it? Have you made time or desire creativity of some kind?  Do you need time to play? Do you want to serve someone else each week or volunteer for some organization? Is there something you have been desiring to do? What is it? How can you make the time to do it?

Learning and growth: Are you interested in taking a class? reading a book? getting a mentor to help you with some area of your life? Want to learn something online? Listen to a podcast?

Good things for your spirit: Do you want to begin taking a yoga class? Do you need to pray? Meditate? Go on a walk? Get out in nature? Listen to good music? More time to nap?

Health: Do you need to eat better? Begin an exercise routine? Drink more water? Do things that will reduce your stress? Find ways to get better sleep? Take nutritional supplements?

Personal Space: do you have time for just you? Do you have a place in your home where you can go and just be or do something you enjoy? Do you know when to say “when”?

Gratitude: Do you need to keep a gratitude journal? Are you noticing gifts given to you each day? Are you saying thank you? Are you appreciating the little things that are good?

Attitude check: How is your attitude? Do you need to create some personal affirmations that you share each day? How are you talking to yourself? Are you being loving to you?

Self-care: Do you need to take the time to get your hair done or get a mani-pedi? Do you look in the mirror and like what you see? Do you have stress and need a massage? Are you happy with your style? What do you feel you are lacking in taking care of you?

Environment: Do a feel good check. Does your environment(s) stress or sing to your soul? Do you need to paint the walls a soothing color? Do you need things to be clutter free? Do you feel like you have too much stuff and need to dejunk? Do you need to simplify?

Hopes and Dreams: Are there places you want to go? Things you want to do? Something you want to try? What do you look forward to? What do you hope will happen in your life? Make a list and try to find a way to baby step your way dream by dream.

 FAMILY 

Together time: Do you need and want to make the time to have meals together? Do you want to set aside time each month to take each of your children out on a special date? Do you want to have special days where you plan family activities? Do you need a family vacation?  Do you want to get your family involved in local events and activities?

Traditions and Rituals: Do you need to create family rituals? What do you have in mind? Do you need to have time for family prayer? Do you need more play & less routine?

Slowing down: Do you need family quiet time? Do you need to play pretty music to calm everyone down? Do you need to have time for family walks? Do you need to disconnect with technology—limit television, video games, computer, etc? Do you need to do less running around? Do you need to have your kids focus on one extra activity instead of 3?

Communication: Do you need to connect more with your family? Do you and your spouse take the time to talk about everything? Do you need to take more one-on-one time with each person in your family? Do you need more time to talk about the highlights from the day?

Loving boundaries: Do you need to create boundaries for the kids (curfews, phones, gaming, friends, etc), Do you need to create boundaries with your friends? Do you need to create loving boundaries for in-laws or other nearby relatives? Do you need to talk to your spouse about what you both need from one another? What you need from your kids?

HOME

Organization: Do you feel unorganized? Are things too cluttered for you? What do you need to feel more organized? Do you need a trip to IKEA? Do you need to dejunk?

Re-vamp: Do you need to re-vamp and fix up your home a little? Do you need new paint, fixtures, lightbulbs, door knobs, window coverings, a better mattress, etc.

Spring Clean: Do you need to freshen things up throughout your home? Maybe begin to save and have a carpet cleaning budget, paint touch-ups, re-caulk, fix minor damages and give your home a thorough clean, so everything is smelling fresh.

Is everything in working order: Maybe you need to checklist this out to make sure everything is in working order. Do you haven any broken windows, faucets, cabinets, drawers, disposals, etc. Make a plan and create a budget to fix what needs to be done.

Garage & Tools: Do you leave the house and feel overwhelmed when you look at the disarray of your garage? Does everything seem to have a place? Does it need a fresh coat of paint or a deep power wash? Do you have enough garbage/recycling cans? Do you have enough outdoor storage? Is everything labeled, so you feel more organized?

Learn something to inspire you: Do you desire to learn the art of Feng Shui? Do you want to learn about the power of color and how it plays throughout your home?

Find your style: Do you notice a color palette running through your home? Is it calming or do you feel you don’t have any style or pattern? To help find styles you like or are drawn to get a bunch of magazines (store or thrift store) that are home themed. Take some time and flip through the pages and select any image that you are drawn to. You will notice a theme of colors, styles and designs that you may enjoy in your home. Then try changing out pillows, adding a new paint color to a wall, buy a picture that you are drawn to, move around furniture and have fun with the new ideas. Enjoy the process.

MARRIAGE

What do you need: Is there something specific you are needing from your relationship? Do you need a weekly date (at least)? Do you need to hold hands? Love notes, affection? Do celebrations mean a lot to you? Do you know your love languages?  How is your intimacy?

What needs some attention: Do you need more one-on-one time? Better communication? Do your financial pressures affect your relationship? What do you each need on a personal level? Are you a priority to one another?

What can you work on together: Are you communicating your needs? Are you working through challenges with kids together? Are you lifting and building one another through praise and appreciation? Do you need help dealing with anger or addictions? Are you doing anything to nurture your spirituality together? Do you remember the golden rule and think about the other’s needs? Are you leaving a positive or negative legacy for your family?

WORK

Are your enjoying what you do:  Do you get excited or dread going to work? Do you feel drained or creative when you are working? Are you in it for the money?   Do you need to shake things up and do something different? (change dept, go after a promotion, have you tapped out at the top, do you need something different)

Your Power Tools: You shine when you are doing something that you are good at, something you enjoy, something that taps into your natural gifts and talents.

Your Passion: Where does your passion lie? Is there something you desire to do or try? What do you enjoy doing in your free time? (this is often a area that you crave & have passion for)

Invest in your best asset: YOU! You are your best asset, so you need to be constantly investing in your skills, learning new things and challenging yourself. Do you want to take a class? What would it be in? Is there a specific book you want to read? Is there a topic you want to learn about?

FINANCES

Where are you financially: Do you need to save, get out of debt or downsize?

What will help you create a financial plan: Do you need to make a budget?  Do you need to visit with an advisor? Do you need to contact credit card companies to lower your rates? Do you need to refinance your home? Do you need to get a book or program about planning?

Your financial future: Do you need to learn about investing? What about your 401K? Do you need to learn what is the best way to save for the future or for college funds, etc?

SOCIAL

How are your friendships: Do you have any friends that drain your energy? Re-think your friendships with people who are energy drains.  Are your spending quality time with good friends? Do you need to plan a weekend or annual getaway with your friends?  Do you need a weekly or monthly girls night out? Are your friends lifting and building one another or does it seem to be toxic in any way? Are you always gossiping?  Do you leave energized?

Do you feel you need friends or support: Do you need to attend a local church group to connect with others? Do you need to reach out and find a service organization that you can help out? Do you need to volunteer at your child’s school? Are there any community activities that sound fun and get you excited to join?

Feel within and follow your heart to seek what it is that you truly need to create your ideal life. I would love to hear any thoughts or comments about what you feel would add to anyone’s life. Thanks for your support. Cheers to your good life!!

Have a beautiful day! Heather

A beautiful gift to give

The holidays should not focus on the opening of the gifts, but opening our hearts to those we care about.

The process.

If you can give your child one gift…give the gift of your loving words, your prayers for their life, your belief in who they are and the beautiful potential you see in them. Writing a loving letter is a perfect way to express all these things. It is a gift they will cherish and have the rest of their lives. Write as often as you feel necessary (once a year, every six months, as a Christmas present, on their birthday, a special occasion, etc.) You choose the timeline that fits for you.

A few different style ideas:

1. You can just write a letter describing things you love about your child, special memories, their favorite toys, movies, songs, books at this particular age. Include funny things they say, activities they are participating in, how they are doing in school, events they have enjoyed attending, their friendships, their dreams, etc.

2. You can also put a scrapbook heart in the center and branch off of it specific details you love about your child and then write a letter below. Add small pictures to the page (you can have mini pictures 2×3 printed at Walgreens–probably anywhere) that would add to your letter. You can decorate the page in colorful markers, add favorite song lyrics, quotes, words, memories, etc.

Share the Love.

There is no question of the special bond that ties a child and mother, but these letters would be a beautiful gift to anyone. Write one to your spouse, a friend, mother, grandmother, Heavenly Father or to youself (you are important and need to feel loved—even by your own words)

Take the time to share feelings, life lessons, thoughts and inspiration, gratitude, gifts of this life. The people who are part of your life add the little details, the conversations, the heartache, the experiences…they are the witness to your life. Sharing with them the love you have within, makes living more valuable. It creates a full circle of love that continues to grow, sharing in love and leaving letters of remembrance. It is a beautiful gift.

Happy gift giving. Would LOVE to hear about the gift you love giving during the holiday season.

Traditions & Rituals for the Holidays

With the holiday season in the air  I thought I would do a special post to address the holidays. This is a time of hurry, mixed feelings of commercial vs meaning, creating memories and making it a special time of year for everyone.

Taking the time to create meaningful traditions at this special time of year will help ensure happiness for all!

Cheers to the holidays…

Holidays…means ”Holy Days”

Thanksgiving is filled with football games, turkey dinners and pumpkin pie, but you could also take pictures of all the guests and have them write down ‘five things they are grateful for’ and share them with the family around the dinner table—OR have a fabric tablecloth & have everyone write what they are thankful for & keep it for the next Thanksgiving feast. Another fun idea—make a hostess gift for the person who hosted the dinner & have a special apron that everyone signs in thanks. You could also pack a special dinner for a local fire/police department (or someone who doesn’t have family nearby) & have the family deliver it

Gratitude book of love to each child…go to Walmart, Snapfish…and create a 20 page picture book…include pictures from the year and some of your favorite artwork from the year…write a special note & give for Thanksgiving.

I AM GRATEFUL for you…love you…xoxo You can also give for birthday or Christmas or any holiday.

 Another idea I began last year, our ‘giving tree.’ My husband travels a lot during the month of November & December, so we put our Christmas tree up around the week of Thanksgiving. Since the tree is up I started to have every guest (for thanksgiving or any visit) write down something they are grateful for on a paper link. I then link them all together to create a chain that I hang on the Christmas tree.

Christmas

Birthday Cake Story: every christmas eve we go to grandmas house and she reads this story with a basket full of goat cheese, a candle and a birthday cake. It is a favorite tradition that we have done since I was young.

Christmas eve pajamas: have special pajamas that can be opened christmas eve

So many things to do…Read or watch Luke 2, make gifts to give to neighbors and friends, go to the salem pond lights and enjoy the carriage ride while singing Christmas tunes, participate in some sort of giving tree, make a turkey dinner for someone in need, download and share some of your favorite holiday tunes, putting out birdseed and bread crumbs & reading the book “Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect” is a nice touch… Make a list of all the things you would like to include this holiday season. Is it making gingerbread houses, visiting a local old folks home to sing carols, visiting temple square, going to see a production of the Nutcracker, seeing holiday lights, drinking eggnogg by candlelight after a winter walk in the snow, making homemade gifts for family and friends, celebrating the advent, lighting luminaries and making wishes, sharing the story of the nativity on the eve of Christmas, watching the nativity, visiting a live nativity, visiting family Christmas day, making snow angels, making ornaments and garland for the tree, having a special tree for Jesus with adornments made with love, ice-skating at the park with homemade hot cocoa, playing games on Christmas day, a special story read the night before Christmas,talking about the history of Christmas and learning about the real St. Nicholas, cutting down your own tree, buying a a live tree and then planting it after the holidays, planting herbs to share as gifts, going to church services, lighting a special candle every day for the month of December, having the 12 days of Christmas, or giving the 12 days of Christmas, making homemade soup and bread bowls, serving dinner at a local shelter, go on a winter sleigh ride, make christmas birdseed balls for our feathered friends, etc. Choose activities that will be memorable for everyone. Have a good balance of personal family time with holiday activities.

12 days of Christmas books, stories or Movies: Pick your 12 favorite holiday books and put the titles on pieces of paper & place in a jar—draw one each evening. (Polar Express, Twas the Night before Christmas, God gave us Christmas, Why Christmas Trees aren’t Perfect, The Grinch who stole Christmas, Who is coming to our house?…create your own or check out Amazon.com and buy your first book and each year add to the collection)

Christmas guest: a little magic comes to visit to remind little children that they need to be on their best behavior—have a special elf, christmas bear…come with a special note, holiday book, holiday yummy… and have the little visitor watch over the family. If someone is not listening…the visitor leaves to report to the north pole. This little guest does help keep the peace & is something every child looks forward to.

Christmas games: Christmas morning have santa leave a special game created just for this special morning…dice game with stickers (make a giant dice out of cardboard or use a larger toy dice & have stickers on every side–the stickers match the presents), price is right, scavenger hunt, Christmas to do drawing (have someone choose a special thing to do before opening a present–yell ‘Merry Christmas’ out the front door, sing a christmas tune, say something you are grateful for, etc), Christmas around the world—(Its a small world song, bought a little wood globe with people from all over & shared a little trivia & info. before opening a present). Have a string run throughout the house that everyone has to follow to find the family gift.

Break up your day: Have a special holiday breakfast, open a few presents, then break at a specific time to make holiday treats to share with lonely neighbors or someone who needs some holiday cheer, then come back and open another present, have a nice lunch together…spread the fun and festivities throughout your day.

From Family Fun:

Inspired by Eve Bunting’s book Night Tree, the Watermans get together each year with friends and family and trek into the woods to decorate a tree for the animals. The evening begins at home, with the preparation of appropriate goodies: pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed, popcorn and cranberry garlands, orange and apple slices suspended from pipe cleaners. Once the feast is complete, the assembled throng bundles up and heads out into the night. Tree-decking is followed by sharing hot chocolate, holiday cookies and Christmas carols.

Recycle Toy Shop: have your kids pick a day to go through their old toys and fix them up to give away. There are many charities that need items, so clean-up old trucks, brush the dolls hair and spread some cheer.

Light a candle & share the joy to those not near: For family that is not close to home, send invites and have a special day and time where everyone across the country lights a candle, shares a poem, hot cocoa, special chrisstmas tunes and sends out special holiday wishes and cheer.

Surprise someone local: Firefighters, police officers and many other public servants give up their holidays to make sure that ours are safe and happy. Do something nice for someone local–take cookies, dinner…

Putting Christ back in to Christmas

Having a hard time balancing Santa Claus and Jesus?? Turn the holiday season into a season of giving.

Explain the reason for the Season (Jesus), but also include the story of Saint Nicholas and his giving heart.

Talk to your family about having a balance of holiday gifts (to represent the gifts Jesus was given)

and being ‘present’ with the giving heart and true meaning of the season.

Ask What Would Jesus like us to do to celebrate his birth?

Would he like us to have a ‘gimme.gimme. I want attitude’ or would he want us to be more like

Saint Nicholas and create an intentional giving holiday full of family, love, giving and gratitude.

Have a special tree for Jesus. Adorned with ornaments that symbolize Him and his birth.

Have a special manger that you fill with kind and loving deeds

Have a little stocking for the baby Jesus and each year write something you were grateful for or

something you would like to work on to be more Christ like for the coming year.

Celebrate daily with a advent (which means ‘coming’) calendar that is filled with a scripture

or a kind deed for the day, a spiritual activity or service idea for the family.

Candles (originally go with the advent wreath) to be lit every Sunday of the month of December

4 purple candles that symbolize HOPE we have in Christ LOVE God showed in sending His son PEACE that comes through knowing Jesus as our Savior JOY (pink candle) reminds us of the Joy of Jesus’ coming

Then one last white candle that is to be lit Christmas Eve and represents Jesus and His purity

You light a candle every Sunday.

All candles lit=the fulfillment of Jesus’ coming to be the light of the world.

You could light special luminaries as a family and create a special tradition that revolves

around His Light, the Light of the world, ways to be a light within your own life, etc.

30 Day Challenge (between Thanksgiving and Christmas)

Do 1 thing that sets your day with Spirit

(music, prayer, daily pages, quiet time, sweets for your fam,etc)

Give Sweets to your Family

(morning hot cocoa, dryer wamed blankets or coats, sweet notes of love)

Daily or Weekly act of love and kindness

(pass along something inspirational, story, music, affirmation)

Express your Love

(notes, hugs, Quality time, simple I love you, date night with each child, etc)

Notice the Ordinary Miracles within your life

(the warmth of a fire, the winter walks, making snow angels, the touch of those you love, candle glow, cozy sweaters, warm kisses, falling snow, your breath on a cold morning, making breakfast together…etc)

Create ‘Christ’mas meaning within your day

(embrace beautiful stories/songs of the Beloved, bring Christ into your Christmas season)

Share meaningful gifts during this beautiful time of giving

(give gifts that will be remembered and cherished: special photo/story, cd of music, special ornaments they can hang every year, personalized notecards, no matter what a personal card that says something you love and cherish about them)

I would LOVE  everyone to add additional traditions that you do for the holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays! 
Heather

A time for family rituals II

What gifts will you give that will make your family come together…rituals & traditions.

Yesterday I began with some family rituals and ideas to help connect your family on a daily, weekly, special occasion basis. I am following up today with some additional ideas to help bring everyone together. 

Alone time:

You can always set aside some personal time and journal, light a candle and listen to beautiful music, go on a walk all alone, etc. Society often makes us feel that it is not normal to want to have some alone time, but being alone is good for the soul. It helps you take the time to revitalize the body and connect with your spirit. Quiet time is quality time.

Bath:

At any point in your day you can stop, light some candles, add bubbles or bath salts, quiet your mind and float in a warm bath. Relax. play pretty music and enjoy the candlelight. When done…blow out the candles and say Thank you.  This is so wonderful for your children as well–helps them learn to appreciate self care.

My daughter did not enjoy bathing or showering, so I decided to make it a special occasion. I light a candle and tell her to relax and enjoy her time in the water. It definitely helps & she is always feeling better when she is done.

Birthdays:

Birthday book: have a photo of the child/adult on the front of the album—inside have everyone–friends, guests, relatives, children write something special within the album (they could bring a photo to add to the album, a poem, quote, memory, etc)

Every year I make a special book for my daughter with pictures from the whole year. I write a special letter inside and make it special. I also try to make a DVD of special videos from the year. It makes a fun gift!

Half birthdays: Some families may find joy in creating a half birthday–some because a child’s birthday is during the summer and can’t celebrate it during the school year or many just want a party every six months. ideas: The child selects ONE present of their choice and they get to go out to a family dinner of their choice. You could also honor them with a half birthday cake or royal treatment for half the day.

Siblings: have siblings create a special card for the birthday. Dollar store gift item that represents sibling.

Birthday letter: Each year write a personal letter to the birthday recipient. You could include special letters from mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, etc. Give the book of letters to them on their 18th birthday.

Story of the child’s birth: Type it up and share it with your child every birthday.

Little fun ideas: fill their room with two dozen balloons while they sleep, so this is the first thing they see. Have a special thing you add to their cake—Little doll each year, specialty gift, piece of jewelry in cake…

Yearly Picture: Have a special article of clothing, a blanket, a special spot (on grandma’s swing, childhood chair) and take a picture each year in the same place, shirt, blanket, etc.

Include: Favorite birthday breakfast, surprise decorations, no chores or responsibilities for the day, do something they have always wanted to do, special dessert, dinner, etc.

Special School Lunch: check the child out of school on their birthday for a special birthday lunch.

Other cultural birthday ideas: In Mexico Pinatas are always fun for any festivity, in Argentina children get pulls on their earlobes for their birthday, in the middle east there is a special chair decorated with flowers and fun & the child is then lifting and raising it once for each year of life – plus one more for good luck!

Coming of Age: Many other cultures have ways to celebrate womanhood or manhood…here are a few ideas. Quinceañera is a celebration within the latin culture—it is a special party when a young woman is 15. It could have a theme, but a sweet sentiment is the passing of flat shoes to heels.

Or a special daddy/daughter dance OR Mother/son

Changing from child to adult comes with responsibility…you may want to have a special dinner and have a special handing over of more responsibility, a savings account, additional chores (laundry)etc.

Teaching and educating them through this transition is key…helping them make good decisions about their free time, friendships, and personal values. This is when they begin to leave the nest.

Special ritual: have friends and family sit in a circle (represents the flow of life, the never-ending circle of growth)–Have the mother and child hold hands (or joined with a ribbon) enter the circle and the mother says something like this.. “I brought you into this world and our spirits will be forever joined. However, up until this time, I have led you through life and you have listened to everything I said. If you are ready, then today our relationship changes, and I offer my guidance and ever lasting love, but know that you have started down your own path, and may not always listen. I do hope that our new relationship is one of trust, honesty and warmth. You can cut away our old relationship today, but I will always be here for you.”–break the hand holding chain to a loving hug or cut the ribbon as a symbol of change followed by a loving hug.

This might be a nice time for the song to be played or sang, or a prayer said, then the leader can invite everyone to come forward, take a flower from a vase and give it to the teen (who you have seated by now), and tell them what they wish for their future and adulthood.

Adoption:

I like this idea for Foster Kids as well.

Special Ritual: Invite friends and family (if you want). sit in a family circle. Light a pink candle to symbolize the groups love for the child. Begin by thanking the child for coming into this family. Go around the circle (starting with the parents) and have everyone talk about how important it is to have this child in the family and the community. Add feelings (change, worth, new beginnings, etc). Have everyone share something about themself to allow connection and have the new child share (if they want) something about them and their likes…

Appreciation Box: (for parents or child) Have a special box or basket on a specific day “Parents Day” or “Gotcha Day”—-the day a child arrives or a specific day of the year–celebrate with gifts of appreciation and love. The box or basket is placed outside the recipients door and everyone places gifts of love (put cookies, drawings, a letter, object of love, etc) into the box or basket throughout the day. A little twist: you could place the box outside the door in the early morning & everyone has to fill it before breakfast, then the recipient brings the basket into their room to look through & this clues everyone else to bring in breakfast in bed.

 
Dealing with Anger:

Anger Sticks, drum: (make them at family night)

When anger comes–encourage the feelings to be released–pound a pillow, cry, shout (not at others), beat the drum or stick…eventually the anger will fade. Then write down a list of what made your child, your spouse angry. Then together burn the list and release the anger.

Anger corner: Have an anger corner within your home with lots of pillows

Anger actions: Have your child do a special action when they are angry—Volcano, count to 10, etc. This worked really well when my daughter was a toddler and couldn’t express herself very well. I would have her shoot her arms into the air like a volcano and change her pattern of anger. It was great to see her switch from anger and focus on releasing it with her little actions.

Express through drawings: have your child draw or write a story about a person who gets mad and what makes them angry—this will help you understand what is upsetting your child.

Healing a fight:

Have a safe place in the home (fireplace mantel, specific shelf, a room, etc)

Make peace doves as a family–1 per person (paper, clay, magazine cut-out, ornament, etc) & put name on it.

After a fight or argument each person (on their own time) goes to the safe place and writes a letter or tape records their feelings–I feel angry because….. NOT “you’re mean. I hate you”

Then each person will turn their dove with their name facing out to symbolize that they wish to make peace (or you could have a small help sign next to the dove–to symbolize wanting to make peace)

The other person(s) involved can come and read the letter or listen to the recording and write their own.

They turn their dove over–which is a symbol that both with to make peace.

They make a time to talk and to make peace. Forgive and hug.

“Contemporary American families are entropic, meaning they drift toward falling apart,” says William Doherty, head of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Minnesota. “Rituals combat that entropy and help hold families together. Whenever you do a ritual, you are saying `No’ to other activities or people, and becoming what I call an intentional family. Most of us just drift into habits, doing what is most convenient. But ritualizing means to take a hold of activities and ask: does this meet the needs of our family? If it’s something like sitting in front of a TV night after night for dinner, then the answer is `No.’”

 
First Times:

First day of school, first time driving, first job, new school, first sleep over, first speech….

Power Shirt: create a special power shirt that says “courage” or “confidence”–can be worn under clothes.

First day of school: give the ‘courage’ shirt with a stuffed lion and tell your little one “this shirt will help you feel courage and protect you”

New job: the ‘confidence” shirt will give power and confidence

New School Year: end of summer (or new year) light sparklers together as a family and do a special cheer to new friends, new school year—remind them of the special light  within…shine on and be a light to all those they meet.

Have a special family blessing to bless each child as they enter their new year of school. You can have a special blessing chair or give them a special token of best wishes for their first day.

Sweet 16: Special dinner date with Dad/Mom(parents). Give a special piece of jewelry to symbolize letting go of childhood and growing toward becoming a adult.

Decorate their car with cans, signs, balloons in congrats to getting a license.

Cheers to you: Any successes, good grades, making the team, new job. Have a special dinner in honor of the accomplishment. GO around the table and have each person give a cheer of something positive, complimentary, nice about the person, the event, the achievement. Cheers to you!!

Family Tapestry/Project: Create a family tapestry, mosaic table, stone wall (each fabric tile, stone, piece of glass) represents a milestone in the family and is decorated and added to the family project.

 

Well, that is all I am going to leave you with today. I will continue with the family ritual ideas tomorrow. I will include great holiday ideas to share, so make sure you read my part III.

fyi: many of the ideas I share in the family rituals are taken from a variety of places like Barbara Bizou, Real Simple, Family Fun…I just hope a collection of these ideas will get you creating rituals and traditions with your family.

Happy day. Heather

 

A time for family rituals

The very word RITUAL is derived from an Indo-Eurpoean root, means “to fit together”

Family therapist Ron Taffel asked kids (nursery school -sixth grade) “What is your favorite thing to do?” 80 percent–four out of five–cited everyday rituals with their parents.

By using rituals, we help ourselves and our children make better sense of the world. They begin to regard even the mundane—a bath or a family dinner–as sacred moments of connection and togetherness. -Family Rituals by Barbara Biziou

A December 2002 review of 32 studies affirms that family routines (such as bedtime, chores, and dinner time) and family rituals (such as birthdays, Christmas celebrations, and family reunions) are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, academic achievement, children’s health, and stronger family relationships. From About.comUpdated: November 24, 2003

 
November and December are big months for bringing family together, so I am going to take a few days to share some ideas to bring rituals into your family life.
Take some time to create rituals as a family.

EVERYDAY RITUALS

Make sure everyone is included on creating the rituals and traditions used within your home. The more invested each member is on the planning and creating, the more meaningful it will become. You may go to the soccer games, the dance lessons…but the quality time is within the home. Make the time, plan the memories…its a family thing. Family should come first!

Mealtime Blessings:

“We all know that sharing food is the ultimate symbol of nurturing and togetherness.”

Decorating the table: make the table beautiful—candles, flowers, thought…You may have a special item (goblets, candlesticks, china, decor) that is only used when you eat together as a family.

Prayer: You may want to hold hands while praying, or have a special prayer that you share together.

Breakfast–Use breakfast as a time for a early morning break. Encourage the family to quiet their mind, enjoy the meal before a busy day.

Weekly Family Dinner: Have a specific time each week (at least) to share a family dinner. Give everyone an opportunity to plan the whole meal, the decor, the theme, the job assignments, etc.

Ex: Mom may love a flower theme (flowers, china, manners, dressing up, classical music, etc),

Brother may want a soccer theme (soccer ball center piece, BBQ, game plan for place mats, etc), Sister may want a tea party (tea cups, little sandwiches, dolls & stuffed animals as guests, etc), Dad may want a mustang theme (model cars for the center piece, BBQ ribs, Mustang fun facts for table, 60’s music, etc). Have fun with the planning and the whole idea of family connection.

DInner fun: You can have a family dinner fun…have a jar with random questions or buy the family dinner games Family Time Fun Dinner Games and Activities by FamilyTime Fun–there are even conversation cards.

Family Unity:

Hold a family meeting once a week–schedule the time to be together as a family to talk, to listen, to be with one another. Everyone is free to discuss whatever is on their mind. Report weekly events.

Plan upcoming holidays, activities, ideas that will help connect the family.

You may want to incorporate a talking stick—get together to make the family stick and talk about how  it will be used during family weekly meetings. The idea…whoever is holding the stick has the right to speak. No one is allowed to interrupt or criticize the speaker. Have the family paint their names, decorate it, make it your own. Before incorporating the talking stick into family meetings make sure everyone understands how it is used. This stick is to allow anyone and everyone to share whatever is on their mind (frustrations, good things, or anything they would like to get off their chest) Stress that no one will be criticized or punished for any wrongdoing and that using the stick is not a time to “get” someone else. It is to help share feelings without interruption, to heal hurts and bring connection through emotions and the feeling of safety within the home.

This is also a good way to stop daily arguments or fights—simply tell the children…I do not want to hear about this right now, it sounds like something that should be brought up during our family meeting.

Family Vision Board: have everyone select pictures that are meaningful to them on a personal level (ie: soccer, ballet, new job, a home, a garden, thoughts, quotes, family connection, etc) pick your favorites and create a family vision board that is put somewhere for everyone to see, to think about.

Share history: help your children to know and understand what it was like when you were growing up–what you did and didn’t do, activities you participated in..your history. Kids love to hear stories about you & them!!

Also share the meaning(s) behind symbols within holidays—the symbols of a christmas tree, why eggs are used at easter, candy-canes, etc. The history of different meanings within the holidays.

Weekly Chores and Pizza–have a specific time each week to do family chores together and then order pizza. You could also incorporate daily chores into the overall weekly goal…they do their chores every day and on Saturday night they get pizza.

Play Day–have a weekly ‘play’ activity with the family. Try to make it the same day and time each week and rotate who chooses the activity. Ex: Friday Night Fishing Night—pretend fishing game with fun goodies attached.

OR this could also be a day you keep your kids home from school and play hooky (maybe do this once every six months) and spend the day playing games, eating in bed, doing whatever you want as a family. I call these special days “Mommy/Missy Days” (since I have a young daughter) but you could have a special name for them too.

Date night–This goes for mom & dad–at least once a week, BUT you also need to schedule some “Daddy/Daughter” or “Mommy/Missy” or “Father & Son” “Mommy & Me” dates. Try to take each child on a special date at least once a month—it doesn’t have to be anything huge…a special trip to get ice cream, to go to the mall to window shop, an evening walk…something that just gets the two of you connecting.

Little things–Saturday morning cartoons & a big pancake breakfast, Dad takes the kids to buy donuts on Saturday morning while mom sleeps in, after the dentist/doctor go play skeeball at Chucky Cheese or go for ice cream, a monthly breakfast to IHOP for crepes, create a FAMILY playlist of songs that play in the car (a little something everyone will enjoy), warming up coats in the dryer on a cold morning, or the simple act of throwing a towel or robe in the dryer before someone gets out of the bath/shower, writing love notes on napkins that are going in lunches or a simple “I LOVE YOU” in lipstick on a bathroom mirror at the beginning of the week. Helping your kids with responsibility—chores and allowance.

Quiet time: every evening before bed…homework done, nice music playing, alone time, everyone is quiet…journaling, relaxing, unwinding from the day.

Weekly service: Choose someone who needs a little cheer and make them cookies or take an elderly neighbor their favorite fast food sandwich and shake, take an inspiring note or story to a special teacher or friend.

Shake up your family night: Have a camp-in where you bring in the tent, sleeping bags and light a fire, have smores, tell stories….or make a huge tent in your living room out of blankets and have pizza…OR do something you would not ordinarily do, like go to the symphony or an art museum or see a prof. sporting event.

Play Genie: Grant three small wishes to each family member on starred calendar days. (Be prepared to have quesadillas for breakfast or go to the movies on a school night.)* Real Simple

Bedtime:

Nightime– Saying prayers, reading a book, singing a song or simply relaxing helps ease into bedtime.

Create a ritual to sing a special goodnight song. Give your child a special foot massage while talking to them about the ‘highlights’ of their day. Is there a special story to share or special back scratches.

Special Bedtime Buddy: have a special buddy to help create security and safety through the night.

Highlights of the day: talk about the highlights of the day while unwinding into bed.

Dream Pillow: Make a special dream pillow–you can spray a scent like lavender to help with sleep. This pillow is to help with sweet dreams–if your child talks about fears or concerns with their day, express that sleep will take them away and the dream pillow will bring good dreams.

Nightly Ritual: special foot massage or back scratches

Goodnight prayer.

For adults or older children:

To release the day…No clutter or work in your bedroom. Cover any television or computer screen with a beautiful cloth and begin to quiet your mind.

Have a special journal or notebook to write down any worries or concerns from the day.

Self-love journal: I created a self-love journal for my daughter, a friend and a niece. I wrote questions throughout that would help them reflect on their day, their thoughts, their dreams, their personal ideas, etc. It is a fun gift to give for many occasions. Take the time to write questions they can answer. It will be a gift to themselves.

Breathe in and out. Write your worries. Rip the worries out of your notebook, crumble and burn or toss.

Light a candle and write down everything you accompished throughout your day–things you are grateful for, special highlights…the good things within your day.

You will end up with a beautiful notebook of good things within your life.

Say a prayer of thanks and blow out the candle to let go of the stress and sleep in bliss.

Well, that is all for today. I will continue with more ideas tomorrow.

Happy creating! Heather