The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is beginning an Early Childhood Leadership Institute on April 1 from 6 to 8 p.m.
According to their Web site, if you have ideas about what our community needs to be a better place for families or want to learn more about why the early years matter and what you can do to help, then this just might be perfect for you.
It meets for 5 evenings, from April 1 to May 13. Free child care is provided as well as dinner.
For more information, call Smart Start Central Oklahoma at 523-3519 or click here.
Then how about a mountain adventure? For kids a little bit older (my 3-year-old is probably still too young) there is an area to go mountain climbing that’s easy and fun for families.
Check out this blog if you are up for hitting the trails:
If you’d rather save your adventures for the movie theater, then you might want to catch a showing of “How to Train Your Dragon.” Our reviewer says it is one of Dreamworks Animation’s best films, and she gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.
Read the full review here:
We’re in hard economic times in case you haven’t heard.
My husband and I talk openly in our house about our finances, and, so, little ears are always listening. Our discussions are generally that our bills need to be paid or that we’re paying out more than we’re bringing in, at least some months.
We’re not destitute, and we haven’t gotten down to “our last $5,” a story my mom used to tell us kids.
Both my parents lived during the depression, so they had plenty of stories to tell. And, although they lived comfortably when I was a child, they were never ones to spend hard-earned money on needless luxuries. Up until my teen years, I thought we were about to go broke, since they always talked about not knowing if they were going to have enough money to get by. My mom would clip coupons and shop three different grocery stores in town just to get the best deals. They rarely bought new clothes. They made a garden. They didn’t recycle, because they would reuse containers and bags, instead.
They were smart. I mistook it for being nearly poor.
So, when my 11-year-old daughter hears my husband and I talk about money, she has a unique way of processing the situation. She has declared we are never to go out to eat again. (We did last night.) And, instead of spending money on school-sponsored trips (for her sister), we should save that money.
And, sometimes, when she’s been thinking just a little too much, she pops out the question: “Momma, are we going to be hobos?” or “Momma, am I going to be a hobo?”
I envision an older man in tattered clothes hopping in a railcar to travel across the country or maybe an “Andy Griffith” episode about a hobo who talked Opie and his pals into being like Robin Hood and robbing from the rich to give to the poor (in this case, the hobo).
Still, my daughter hasn’t totally rejected the possibilities of such an occupation. Sometimes, when she’s worrying about school or is stressed by something kids stress about, she’ll get to thinking about a life of no responsibilities and declares, “I wish I were a hobo!”
– Linda Lynn
Brandon and Susie Dutcher did what a lot of families would do when told their baby was sick: they prayed and sought the best medical help. Anne Marie wasn’t even born yet when the Edmond couple began the journey they hoped would make their family of six a happy, healthy family of seven. They’ve been chronicling their lives and Anne Marie’s story on their blog in the month since she was born. The doctors aren’t sure she’ll make it. Her parents aren’t sure either, but their extraordinary faith has carried them through. As a parent, I find their updates both inspiring and heartwrenching and don’t read without a box of tissue handy. I check daily to find out how that precious little angel and her family are doing. Go see for yourself: http://www.brandondutcher.blogspot.com/
Ever wonder what the Jonas Brothers’ mom must be thinking these days as her boys deal with megastardom?
Turns out she’s thinking about some of the same things we “regular” moms are – how to keep the clan close, which battles to wage with the kids and which to forget and so on.
Denise Jones is set to speak at an iMom event at a Brooklyn school on Friday, Oct. 23. The nonprofit organization iMom provides support for moms in school and online. The organization has monthly events called iMom Morning, at 350 public schools across the nation.
Here’s some of her advice, some personal principles she’s acquired on her own:
1. Put in the rug time. “I called our family’s spontaneous father-and-sons games “rug time” or “rearranging the living room without license.” But without a word, the boys and their dad called it love. I learned that no carpet or piece of furniture is worth more than bonding that happens in the rug time.”
2. Cook when you can. “Life on the road wreaks havoc on kitchen togetherness but I love to cook and I’ve learned to do it as much as I can. Something’s very comforting about eating food mom cooks.”
3. Never mind the hair. “Moms also know this lesson as ‘choose your battles.’ As issues come up, I’ve learned to weigh each for its big-picture significance and adjust my response. Some things, like a teenager’s hair, I let go.”
4. Buy the drums. “Your daughter wants to play softball? Find a team. Your son wants to sing? Encourage it. Someone’s good at drawing? Quick: paper and colors. At times you have to study your kids. Other times their gifts hit you full force. Whatever the case, give them a chance — then stand back and give them room.”
5. Celebrate the wrinkle cream. “In a store once, I saw a wrinkle cream and mentioned it to the boys that I like it. Next Mother’s Day, I’m unwrapping the wrinkle cream and felt like crying! But the sweet thing is, my sons had heard me and wanted to please me.”
6. Trust the detours. First the news of Nick’s diabetes brought shock. Then we responded as a family. We learned about diabetes, followed the guidelines and stayed the course — and our eyes opened to others with health issues. Bad news has been a back door blessing.”
7. Stay grateful. “With privilege comes responsibility and we’re grateful for all of it. Yes, everything. Our flight is held up? We’re grateful to be going. Our hotel reservation is one room short? We’ll sleep on the floor. Life isn’t perfect, but in every circumstance, our job is to manage our response.”
8. Sit close, hug often. “Our family speaks the language of hugs and we speak it liberally. I’ve learned that when words aren’t enough, holding my child says volumes. Kids outgrow laps but never hugs.”
9. Set internal pillars. “The world presses in with schedules, expectations and exhaustion. How my children withstand that has everything to do with what’s inside them. We don’t just assume our kids will pick up good inner structures such as honor, self-respect, honesty and kindness. We talk about these things and praise our kids when those qualities show.”
10. Be the mom. “My kids don’t need me to be a buddy, a sidekick or a maid: They need me to be a mom. Kids need a mom to set limits, set the example and set out what they can be and do. Anyone can be a friend. Only the mom can be the mom. That’s the highest calling — a a big reason I’m big on iMom.”
For more information about iMom, go online to www.iMom.com.
When tragedy hits a family, you can’t help sometimes compare the situation to your own family.
Especially when it is the death of a mother who leaves young children behind.
Shock is the initial feeling I felt when I heard my friend Karen Baker had died Sunday. She and I had been co- assistant leaders for our daughters’ Girl Scout troop, and then co-leaders.
Our children had attended the same daycare and then the same schools. Her children were similar in age to two of my children.
Karen was always smiling, laughing … You always felt good around her.
How saddening was my second thought. Her children. Her husband. Why?
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, my first reaction was fear, but it was quickly followed by a deep, sinking feeling that I might not be around for my children, then ages 1 and almost 5.
Karen’s children are middle school and high school ages, still very young. They still needed their mother.
My heart breaks for this family. And it also renews the worries.
Whether you’re a mother or father, you always want to be there for your children.
– Linda Lynn
School starts back next Tuesday for my kids.
Anyone else ready for their children to get back into school?
I wouldn’t have expected to be so happy about this. But our house has seemed even more chaotic than usual. I’m not sure that it’s actually that the kids are out of school. I think the strain is partially caused by the stress of preparing to go to school.
Beyond the usual requirements of getting school supplies and some added clothing items to round out their wardrobes, we also are dealing with three information day sessions we need to attend, band meetings, band camp, doctors’ appointments, daycare enrollment, transportation issues with busing my young son to and from daycare, freshman orientation, both daughters’ worries that they won’t have friends in their classes, orthodontist and dentist appointments, approaching birthday party planning, passports for an overseas band trip …
And did I mention the frenzy of cash flowing out of our pockets to pay for many *incidental* things?
Last night, as my daughter asked me a question repeatedly after I had answered twice, I started to count to 50 … not 10, but 50.
At first, I thought, “What is happening to our family?” For several days we had all been snapping at each other, voices were being raised. Everyone, except maybe for the youngest member of our family, was ready to get away from each other.
Then, it occurred to me that maybe the stresses, anticipation, extra this and that were taking their toll.
So, yes, I think we’re ready to start school.
Then, we can deal with sleep issues, homework, ballgames, teacher conferences, lunches, juggling schedules and mealtimes …..
– Linda Lynn
My 4-year-old has a quirky little habit. He takes roll call when our family is driving down the highway.
“Ma-MEE!” he will say enthusiastically. I reply, “Yes, Cade?” as if he needs something.
Then, “Da-DEE! is shouted out as promptly as I respond. Daddy says, “Yes, Cade.”
And Cade continues his roll call:
“Issie!” (which is for Kaci)
“Nanny!” (which is for his sister Katie)
If any of us say, “Here!,” like you would in an actual roll call, he protests loudly. Or, if you don’t answer right away, he continues until you acknowledge him.”
“Issie!” “Issie!” … “ISSIE!!” Please, Kaci, answer him.
So, on a recent trip to Texas, one of our oldest daughter’s friends, Alex, came with us.
After a few miles down the road, Cade began:
“Ma-MEE!” …. Yes, dear.
“Da-DEE!” … What, Cade?
“Issie!” … Yes.
“Nanny!” … Yes, Cade.
We all paused and realized he had named Alex “GAH.”
After we quickly explained to her what was happening, Alex responded, “Yes, Cade?”
– Linda Lynn
My mom, “Gwennie,” comes into town about twice a year from Connecticut. While here, she usually packs in a few trips to the local country western outfitters, a visit to a BBQ joint and, of course, enjoys some Mexican food.
For putting up with the craziness her trips usually entail, I’m entitled to some gift … usually of the purse variety, and of a brand I wouldn’t be able to afford for myself.
So there I am last week, searching for my perfect new bag. Alas, I find it but the store is down to two.
Can they hold it for me? Of course – but only until the end of the day … a full week before my mom’s arrival.
Can she charge it over the phone? Of course! So my mom ensures I have my dream bag and charges it over the phone for me. Here’s how that went …
Saleslady: “Ma’am, would you like us to send the bag home with your daughter or would you like it held in customer service until your arrival?”
Me: Super excited to take home my bag.
My mom: “Leave it customer service. She can wait.”
Me (to the saleslady): “Is she serious?”
Saleslady (to my mom): “Ma,am, are you serious?”
My mom: “Yes. I’m absolutely serious. Please box it up and we’ll pick it up Friday.”
After the disbelieving salesgirl shared this with her fellow salesgirls and they all expressed their sympathy for me, I called my mom back and asked “how could you??”
The explanation is this:
My mom wanted us to go pick it up together. She knew how much I wanted it and she wanted to be there to see my excitement to pick it up. She didn’t want it to be “old hat” by the time she arrived a week later. Part of the fun in getting for me was seeing my reaction to having it in my possession.
Three years ago, I wouldn’ t have had an ounce of understanding about this, and thought it was just plain cruel. But being a mom, one of the greatest joys I have is seeing my boy happy. I treasure those moments – the ones of utter surprise, of excitement, of bliss. And I probably will still treasure them when he’s my age. I guess some things never change.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
Have any old family portraits you’d love to send through the shredder? Any of them so embarrassingly mortifying, you’d rather burn them than ever let them see the light of day again?
Here’s a site that shows some of the worst, most awkward, yet funniest family photos. Click here to check it out. If you have any memories of really funny or corny family portraits, let me know! Comment here or send me an e-mail. I’d love to hear some stories.