Sep 252017
 

Yesterday I was inside and heard voices in my side yard. I went out onto the deck and watched as five young kids piled leaves from a maple tree in a big heap. One of them had a rake. I stepped forward and showed myself and said, “Hi! Whatcha doing?”

Startled, the oldest boy said, “Uh, we are taking your leaves . . . Is that okay?”

“Why do you want my leaves?”

Another boy answered, “Well, we don’t have any in our yard. We want to make a big pile to jump in!”

They seemed embarrassed, but I thought it was wonderful. “Hey, I’ll get you giant bags and another rake!” I hurried to get them. (What luck!)

I wonder what the parents thought when a truck-load of leaves appeared in their yard, right, lol?

-Nealie 😆

 

Aug 312017
 

summer pictureI have to tell you about one of the funniest things I’ve seen recently.

Bruce and I got a trampoline for the yard, and it has an enclosure around the sides. There is a zipper to open the side to let kids in, and then it has to be zipped back up to keep kids from falling off the trampoline.

Ari, my book illustrator and granddaughter, got up on the trampoline and climbed inside the opening. She zipped it up quickly and said, “I’m glad there’s a zipper. That bee won’t get in now!”

I cracked up laughing, “Ari, don’t you think it could still get in? Look, the whole top is open!”

She was embarrassed and smiled when she realized she hadn’t seen the big picture.

But, I have to say that when you are taking a direct hit from something, you block where necessary, and given that, Ari wasn’t so silly.

I remember many stop-gap measures we took trying to parent Lilly. And some seemed ridiculous, like balancing a spool of thread on her doorknob to keep her inside her room at night. If the spool dropped and hit the metal cookie sheet on the floor, we’d know she was out… You may wonder, what about a motion alarm? Lilly learned to dismantle or get past those many times, and the alarms would go off because we or a cat went by, and that alarm noise is unbearable. So, a spool of thread carefully balanced on a doorknob worked for a while. Then Lilly figured a way past that. It gets complicated! 🙂

My point is this:  Do what you can, and never quit trying! Some measures work for a day. Some work for an hour. Some may work for a long time, but you have to block problems as they come. Do not give up. Don’t kick yourself for not always seeing the pig picture. At least you are doing something positive.

And, by the way, that bee gave up and went away. It wasn’t able to figure out that the top was open. At least not that time. Just like Lilly, LOL!

-Nealie

 

 

 

 

Billy Bass Gets A Makeover

 Children, General Humor  Comments Off on Billy Bass Gets A Makeover
Jun 172017
 

Wow, It’s been a month since I posted here! What have I been doing? Making things fun for the kids and grandkids. We have an above ground pool, and we made a “changing room” for swimsuit dressing. I previously had Billy Bass in a bathroom, (much to Bruce’s chagrin -he doesn’t care much for him, lol), so I moved Billy Bass to a wall in the new room.

But not before he got a make-over! What do you think? More like a rainbow trout?

Humor can bring relief when things have been bad for a long while. I know the tenseness that can be in the air; the walking on eggshells around an explosive child. I know how it feels.

Do what you can to lighten up. For your own good. And remember, attitudes are contagious. It will rub off on others.

Billy Bass sings two songs. One says, “Take me to the river…throw me in the water,” and the other goes “Don’t worry; be happy…”

It’s difficult to keep a straight face when a fish sings funny songs while he’s looking you in the eye!

-Nealie

 

May 132017
 

Taking Care of Children by Ari Kuzmik

Three-year-old Nick was whining about being hungry.

After hearing “I’m hungry” for the fifth time, his father said, “Well Buddy, what do you want?”

“I want hugs. I want hugs in my tummy.”

Nick found himself showered with hugs from everyone in the family!

I am proud of my son-in-law for asking Nick what he wanted, rather than throwing him a snack. And because he did, Nick had his true need met.

I think this speaks loudly to all of us.

Slow down.

Ask a question.

Listen for the answer.

And hug!

🙂 Nealie

PS The drawing is by Ari Kuzmik!

 

May 012017
 

the green monster

Kind of a scary sculpture, but Tommy likes sharing his creations with people.  🙂

His mom, Joy, recently asked if I could get Tommy off his bus at the bus stop up the street from their house. After he put his book bag away, I asked him if he had a good day. He announced that he  had an “outstanding” rating from the teacher.  I also asked him who he played with at recess.

“Sergio,” he replied. “We played Diabetes!”

“Uh, what did you play?”

“We played Diabetes. The person who is Diabetes is “IT,” and he chases other people until he catches one, and then they are Diabetes.”

I explained that diabetes was  a health problem that some kids had, and he needed to go back to saying, “Tag! You’re it!”

After school is out for the day, we parents or grandparents need to find out a few things:

How was it? Give a 1-10 scale, or offer three words that help describe it, like great, awful, ordinary.

Who did you play with today? What did you play?

Mix the questions up  and don’t make them the same old after-school drill. Include something of your childhood recess or problems from time to time.

Boys will give shorter answers than girls, but try to engage them soon after they’re home, so if they have had a stressful day or a problem you can work through it.

And please see if your kid has homework. I volunteer at a school for an hour or so each week, and the kids that I work with are the kids who don’t have support with their homework at home. So sad!

Nealie

Feb 122017
 

I have three grandsons who live near me, and they are all in the 8-9 age. For the past year I’ve been giving them information about how I want them to treat me when I’m old. I told them that since I always feed them either at a restaurant or at my house, (and drive them all over creation), that I want them to do that for me when I am old. Here’s the basic conversation…

Me: When I get old, you guys have to come see me, and you need to bring food, and sometimes take me out to lunch.

Sev: I know. I’ll do it.

Travis: What do you want to eat again?

Me: Mashed potatoes, BBQ chicken, and watermelon.

Tommy: I’m going to pick you up in a truck, not a car.

Me: That’s okay, I like trucks!

Sev: Uh, so you want watermelon? Do you have to have mashed potatoes, too?

Anyone could ask these boys about what’s going to happen when I get old, (as far as it concerns them), and they will tell you exactly what you’ve just read.

Not long after our fiftieth conversation about this, I was holding Tommy’s hand, and patted him on the head.  He commented, “You held my hand and patted me on the head.”

I replied, “I know. And when I get old, you’ll hold my hand and pat me on the head.”

He looked thoughtful and said, “And when you get old and die, we’ll put you in the cemetery.”

“Whoa, Tommy! That’s a looooong way away, though.”

“The cemetery?”

He had no clue why I couldn’t stop laughing! 🙂

And then I remembered Lilly telling me not to sell our house, because when we die, she wants to live here!

Seriously, I think we need to communicate our expectations to children, and be examples for them. I don’t believe that a child should be the center of the family universe, with everything and everyone rotating around that child so that his every wish is met. Instead, offer him the gift of beginning to think about how other people in his little universe have feelings and needs, as well.

 

-Nealie

 

Dec 192016
 

fire safety

I was baking with my granddaughter, Ari, and had a candle with three wicks burning on the counter. Watching the flames made me think that  it would be a great time to give a little kitchen-fire safety talk.

I went over the basics:  if oil or grease is involved, never put water on it; put a lid on a pan that has caught fire; if there is no extinguisher; dump flour or sugar on the flames; stop, drop, and roll, etc.

Not more than two minutes after I finished, a napkin near the candle caught fire! I snatched it up to get it to the sink, but it burst into a fire-ball halfway there, and landed on the floor.

Ari yelled, “Dump flour on it!”

I did.

Do you have any idea how big of a mess that made? 😀

I still can’t get over how weird that all was, but please, go over fire safety with the kids, especially during this season when so many candles are burning.

Merry Christmas to you all!

🙂 Nealie

 

Nov 302016
 

Two scarecrows

Over Thanksgiving holiday the grandkids drew pictures, did crafts, and ran up and down the stairs a thousand times. Here are a couple highlights:

Tommy drew a picture. I wasn’t in the room at the time, but I overheard his mother ask him, “I see the car. Who are these people?”

“They are two scarecrows and their car.”

“That would be very scary driving, because their heads would be stuffed with straw,” she said.

I tried to picture it. Hey, that would be blonde drivers…

 

That same weekend, Tommy and Travis were here, in their p.j. bottoms and no shirts, running all over the house. They wanted to go to the Lego store to spend their money.

Tommy asked, “When are we going?”

I said, “I’m not taking two dirt-bags anywhere.”

Tommy started to laugh and said, “That’s funny!”

Travis stared at him. “She’s talking about us, Tommy.”

 

I can’t handle chaos everyday, but happy chaos can be wonderful.

For a limited time, lol!

Nealie

 

 

 

 

15 Awesome Alternatives to Screen Time

 Children, General Information  Comments Off on 15 Awesome Alternatives to Screen Time
Nov 112016
 

too much screen timeTime is short for raising our kids to be productive and happy adults. I think there are four groups of parents when it comes to kids and screen time:

-One uses gadgets for a babysitter and to free up their own time.

-The other group begrudgingly allows screen time, because that’s what all kids want to do, and they don’t want their child left out.

-The third group is a combination of the the other two: a little babysitter and a little of wanting their kids to have what’s popular.

-The fourth group opts out in favor of other activities. Steve Jobs was a surprising example.

The kids want TV and electronics because they are entertaining. At what cost? And eye contact, what is that?

Awesome Alternatives:

Give your child have a blank page on the computer to write a story. Their story-telling creativity might surprise you. Or they could write a letter. You could teach them how to scan, email, and print – all practical skills a video game can’t teach.

Indoor or outdoor challenges, like how many times can you bounce a ball without losing control of it? Then try to break the record! We have done an indoor balloon game where a balloon gets tossed in the air between two people, back and forth while you count how many times it was batted before it eventually lands on the floor. If the hits total 50, then next time try to get past fifty and break the record.

Reading. I used to have the kids read and then be prepared for questions when they were done with the book. Read a book together if your reader is young, by alternating pages between you.

Legos and Lincoln Logs increase manual dexterity and require creative thinking. There are many building-type products out there.

Scouts (They do all kinds of things!)

Life skills. Do your kids know how to wash windows, set the table for dinner, do a load of clothes, change a vacuum bag or empty the vac receptacle? Are you preparing them to be on their own someday?

Exercising. Most homes have the possibility for somehow doing laps in the house if the weather is bad. Right now, one grandson is up to 54 laps indoors. He runs through the kitchen and does a loop through the living room, down the hall and back to the kitchen. On the way, he scoops up a small weight and carries it a lap before bending down to put the weight back on the floor for the next lap, and alternating.

Play Doh sculpting.

Teach how to make a homemade birthday card or a thank you note.

Service to others makes a person feel good and teaches empathy. Ask, “What could you do to help so-and-so?”

Cards and board games teach winning and losing gracefully, and not quitting.

Scrabble. An awesome game that allows breaks between plays if they are needed.

Classic Battleship. If you’ve never played it, you have no idea what fun it is out-maneuvering your opponent.

Simple kitchen tasks that help with meal preparation will go a long way toward the goal of independence one day. Meals don’t magically appear!

Take a walk, ride bikes….fight couch potato syndrome and childhood obesity.

Love my readers, Nealie

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 242016
 

For a long time every morning I would pass a sign that said, “Miss a Day, Miss a Deal.”

I hated that sign. I don’t even shop there. But that slogan … it made me slightly anxious, because it implied that I was missing something.

Stupid, I know. It goes in the same category as comments such as, “Why did you do that?” Why did I do what?

I remember being at my sister’s house when she was dying. She ordered me to pack her things in boxes, and to use packing tape to seal them. I haven’t been able to hear that rip of packing tape without sadness since that day.

Think of something that causes a little anxiety for you. If little things like these can get us going sometimes, imagine what might trigger a traumatized child.

The color of a room may bring back bad memories.

A certain noise may be a trigger. Maybe it preceded abuse.

Seasons, holidays, people with dark hair/light hair -who knows? We need to be sensitive to the things that may seem to be triggers, and not just chalk-up behavior to disobedience or defiance.

If there are problem behaviors that defy reasoning, then maybe something like this is at work. Pay attention to repeated reactions to certain people or things. Trauma kids often don’t even know why they get upset, so we need to help them by paying attention. Say a child has a memory of dropping their ice cream cone and getting beaten for the mess it made. It would be easy to assume that ice cream could be a trigger. Who would think that something that is good and fun to you, could be a negative for a child?

Keep a log of episodes and what went on those days. What season was it? Where were you? Any sounds in the background? Any different foods served?

A therapist with trauma training and knowledge can be valuable.

Listening to other trauma-parents can also be helpful.

Love my readers, Nealie