Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Preserving Memories

This is the time of year when the leaves change colors, the wind blows cooler, and the gardens are full of beautifully colored vegetables bursting with flavor. It’s the time of year when, like squirrels gathering nuts for the winter, homemakers are canning and freezing fruits and vegetables like crazy. They’re “squirreling away” goodies for those days when snow covers the ground in thick blankets and Old Man Winter paints icicles on the window panes.

Canning season is an ideal time to teach children. Yes, it takes longer when tiny hands help, but children enjoy filling jars, measuring and stirring ingredients and seeing the jars lined up on the cabinets, full of brightly-colored foods. Although they might not like salsa or green beans, they know they helped preserve those foods. It gives them a sense of pleasure to know they helped and you’ve created memories that will last a lifetime.

I spent yesterday morning canning salsa with family. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, so I embraced the morning. My two-year old granddaughter and three-year old grandson were with me. It reminded me of some of my favorites times… canning season with my kids.

We skinned the ruby red tomatoes, diced them, and poured them into a huge pan. After dicing and adding other spices and vegetables such as onions, peppers, olives, and mushrooms, we boiled the mixture. We poured it into jars, covered them with lids, and placed them in the pressure cooker. Later, we placed the steaming jars on the cabinets to cool. What did we gain for our efforts? Aching feet and backs, tired hands, and jars and jars of mouth-watering salsa.

We shared memories, laughter, and companionship yesterday. I miss the days when my children surrounded me and their busy hands were in the middle of this pan or that jar … the days have flown. However, it was comforting having my grandchildren there. Even though they’re so very young, they’ll remember the glass jars filled with the ruby red mixture, and maybe one day they’ll be sharing the same memories with their own children. I sure hope so.

This is a good site for tips and recipes on canning:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Teaching Children Not to Judge a Person by the Clothes They Wear

The beginning of a new school year can be an exciting time. There are new backpacks, new shoes, and new clothes. This is a time when kids compete. It’s also a good time for parents to share a valuable lesson with their children about judging others and compassion.

Kids often don’t know what’s involved in getting them ready for school. They don’t realize what a financial strain it can be on parents.

Children not only need clothes and shoes, but there’s the school supply list to consider. The money needed to get a child started for the school year adds up quickly. If there are two children in the household, the dollar amount doubles. With three children, triple that amount. A parent can become overwhelmed quickly.

Unfortunately, children learn to judge early on. They often judge other children by the brands and types of clothes they wear. Regardless of the saying, the clothes don’t make the man.

A child wearing a tattered pair of jeans and a faded t-shirt doesn’t make him any less important that the child wearing designer jeans and a logo t-shirt.

A health teacher once said, “It doesn’t matter if a person has only one pair of jeans. If that person bathes every day and washes that one pair of jeans every day, they’re just as clean as the person who has five pair of jeans.” I heard my teacher say that when I was in high school. That was a LONG time ago, but it made an impression. How can we pass that kind of thinking onto our children?

Here are a few tips:
  • Talk to your child. Help them understand what compassion is and that they shouldn’t judge other children by the clothes they wear.
  • Explain that some families struggle financially and that there are children whose family can’t afford to buy them new clothes for school.
  • Explain how it makes a person feel when they’re judged because of their clothes.
Teaching a child to be compassionate pays off. It’s easier to learn not to judge at a young age and it’s a lesson that is often carried throughout our lives.

Clip art courtesy of Original Country Clipart by Lisa

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Homework Trouble? Get Help with Your Homework

You’re having trouble with your homework and your grades are getting lower and lower. The trouble is, you’re too embarrassed to ask for help.

Everyone needs help with homework now and then. It’s all right if you have a problem, but don’t wait until that problem gets bigger. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help. Here are a few things you can try:

1. Ask your teacher. Tell the teacher you’re confused about the homework and ask them to explain it to you. Sometimes a teacher can make it easier to understand than your textbook can.

2. Ask your friends. They’re doing the same homework you’re doing. Don’t be tempted to just copy, though. It may seem like the easy answer now, but when it comes time to take the test, you’ll find out it wasn’t such a good idea.

3. Ask your parents. Your parents can give you suggestions and help you try to figure out the problem. They can help you look on the computer for additional help, too.

4. Ask for a tutor. Explain to your parents that you’re still having trouble with your homework and ask them about a tutor. Schools usually have no-cost, after-school tutoring groups. There are also other places that offer tutors, but they do charge a fee.

Don’t put off getting help. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be behind. It’s easier to admit you need help and ask for it. By using the tips listed above, you’ll be able to get that homework out of the way and be able to spend some time with your friends!

Clip art courtesy of Original Country Clipart by Lisa

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cloud Watching

Mommy and I played a game today
We laid flat upon the grass
She said to watch the clouds roll by
She said, “Study them as they pass.”

The sky was blue as the ocean
Fluffy clouds far as we could see
They tumbled and they swirled
Then a puppy looked down at me.

His ears rolled to the left and right
Then suddenly he was gone
That cloud then formed a pirate ship
As I watched there from the lawn.

We saw animals and people
As the day ticked slowly by
There were so many things to find
As we gazed into the sky.

The clouds are always twirling
They look down on you and me.
There’s magic all above us
It only takes time to see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Don’t Let a Bully Control You: Tips for Standing Up to a Bully

If a bully is making your life miserable, it’s time to take control. You’re an important person. No one has the right to threaten you. Being bullied can make you feel lonely, sick, and desperate. Here are a few tips to stop the bullying:

  • Take a stand. Sometimes a bully doesn’t think anyone will stand up to him. When you stand up for yourself, he will realize you’re stronger than he thought. Be brave! You can do it.

  • Tell someone. If you’re at school, tell a teacher. Let them know you’re being bullied and ask for help. If that teacher doesn’t help, go to another teacher. If you’re being harassed in your neighborhood or somewhere else, talk to an adult. Tell your parents, your aunt, your uncle, or another adult. Someone will listen.

  • Get together. Bullies don’t usually pick on one person. Get together with someone else who is being bullied and talk about how you’re feeling. Help each other stand up to the teasing. The bully will get the hint that you’re not taking it anymore.

  • Know you’re an important person. Tell yourself how important you are. You have a right to live a happy life. You don't deserve to be bullied.

  • Don’t sink to his level. Fighting isn’t the solution. Don’t get discouraged, give up, and think that fighting is the answer. It isn’t. Be strong. Eventually, the bully is going to be in trouble for his behavior.

    • By using these tips, you’re taking control of the situation. Remember: Don’t give up! By being brave and standing up for yourself, you’re going to become a stronger person.

      Sunday, July 20, 2008

      Stop the Argument -- 3 Steps to Apologizing to a Friend

      It’s important to apologize if you’ve done something to hurt a friend and the two of you ended up having an argument. Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone you’re sorry, that you’re in the wrong. However, there are ways to make up and save the friendship.

      Here are tips on fixing and keeping your relationship:

      • Don’t wait too long. Let your tempers cool down, but don’t end up waiting too long. Talk to your friend about the argument. Chances are your friend feels as badly as you do. Talking about the problem might keep you and your friend from arguing about the same thing later. If you don’t take care of the problem, the next time, it could be an even bigger issue.

      • Try to understand why your friend’s feelings were hurt. We’re all different people, and we see things differently. Ask them to also understand why the argument happened, and explain why you felt the way you did.

      • Tell your friend you’re sorry and you’ll try not to let it happen again. Your friend needs to know you care about him and his feelings.

        • Even though friendship is work, it’s worth it. Can you imagine your life without friends? You won’t have to worry about that if you use the three steps listed above. Your friends will be glad you care enough about them to work on your friendships.

          Wednesday, July 16, 2008

          Help Your Child Live a Healthier Life

          I realized a long time ago my brain is too food-focused. I can’t count the times I’ve given directions like these…
          “Go up two stop lights, turn left at Logan’s, and then right at Texas Roadhouse.” (Or Taco John’s or Taco Bell… any restaurant could have been a source of reference.)
          Now what’s that all about? Is my inner navigational system linked to every restaurant in town? (Actually, I’m afraid it might be!) Why didn’t I mention Best Buy or Macy’s? Something’s definitely wrong with that picture.
          Our nation is more overweight than ever before. I wonder why. Could part of it be because when I watch television I’m bombarded with commercial after commercial about a bigger burger, cheesier fries, or bigger slab of fish?
          I joke, but it’s actually no joking matter. Dining out too often adds additional weight. It’s harder to take weight off than it is to put it on. It’s not easy to make a wise food choice when faced with so many options. So why not help your child start a healthier lifestyle now?
          Try these easy tips:

          • Our children follow our lead. If we eat unhealthy foods, they’re more likely to do the same. Encourage healthier snacks and meals. The best time to teach them is when they’re young.

          • Eat at the dinner table. It’s easy to overeat while watching television. Make sure the television is turned off during meals.

          • Don’t chastise your child for overeating. Let them know you love them and want the best for them, but tactfully encourage them to watch portion sizes.

          A couple tips about activity:

          • Limit time in front of the television or video games. Once your child has become a “couch potato,” it’s hard to break the habit. Kids need to be active at least one hour a day. Encourage your child to get moving.

          • Exercise. Try some stretches. Add a daily exercise routine or take a 30-minute walk 4-5 times weekly. (Don’t forget to warm up and cool down.)

          The dinner table is a place for families to come together. Our families are pulled in so many different directions during the day. Getting your child to eat healthier and exercise takes work, but it’s work that pays off. By following these simple tips, you’ll have a healthier child, save a few calories and help your family reconnect.