Love For Our Imperfect Nation, All Year Round

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” ~Erma Bombeck

I do love our imperfect nation. I hope you had a great 4th and I hope we all keep the freedoms and love for country alive in our hearts year-round. Let’s talk with our children regularly about what it means to be an American.

The Fourth, Freedom, And Family

If you’ve been following me a while, you know my whole family is quite patriotic. In my Flag Day blog last month, I wrote, “I joke with people that I bleed red, white, and blue because I love America so much. I was raised in a flag waving, politically active family.”

Check out these pictures of my brother and sister-in-law’s tablecloth and centerpiece on their kitchen table and how she decorated her kitchen windowsill. Especially my grandparents and parents would have been so pleased!

DebDave'sTableFourthOfJuly

Dave, Deb, and I inherited many small vases from my mom. She had a green thumb and was very gifted at arranging flowers in vases in just the right way.  The vase on the windowsill was originally my mom’s.

???????????????????????????????Debbie also makes her own greeting cards. Three lucky relatives or friends will receive these in the mail this week as she took time to wish them a Happy 4th of July.

I encourage you to spend some time going on a scavenger hunt at home with your children. What do you own and display that reminds you of your heritage? Do you display anything red, white, and blue year round or this week? Why or why not? (Neighbors display a flag on an in-the-ground-tall-pole every day of the year. I’m glad they do.)

Make and take time to celebrate the Fourth, freedom, and your family. If you have faith you value, as I do, talk with your kids about it, too, and American’s important and unique freedom of religion.

Celebrating Flag Day, In A Whole New Light

I joke with people that I bleed red, white, and blue because I love America so much. I was raised in a flag waving, politically active family. My grandfather (my mom’s dad) was an alderman in my city for over 25 years and then elected the first full-time mayor.

I have fabulous childhood memories of not only waving flags, but pushing tiny ones into our front yard to decorate on different holidays, including the oft-ignored Flag Day. That’s today – June 14th.

When we use all 8 of our smarts when thinking and learning, we draw conclusions we wouldn’t have when thinking with just our 1-3 natural strengths. Let me try to prove it.

Think about the flag using all eight smarts. Will you draw conclusions you haven’t in the past? Discover a new curiosity? See a new picture? Remember a long-forgotten memory? Let me know.

  • Body: think with movement and touch
  • Logic: think with questions
  • Music: think with rhythms and melodies
  • Nature: think with patterns
  • People: think with other people
  • Picture: think with your eyes
  • Self: think with personal reflection
  • Word: think with words

“The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history.” ~Woodrow Wilson

Memorial Day 2017

All of us here at Celebrate Kids, Inc., are grateful for our past and present veterans, those currently serving our country in military service, and their families.

On this Memorial Day, we especially remember with thankfulness and humility, the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and safety. We will not forget!

“On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation!”  ~Thomas William Parsons

“I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.”  ~Benjamin Harrison

Dream. Dream BIG. Dream Large. Dream Gigantic!

Change. It’s a word and a concept that results in many strong reactions.

There’s not a person alive who doesn’t have something they could change in order to have a better life.

More productivity. More peace. More joy. More friendships. More hope.

Less fear. Less trouble. Less trauma. Less loneliness. Less despair.

Change will more likely work out well when all five core needs are met in healthy ways. This gives us a lot to count on during the sometimes shaky transitional times surrounding change.

How do we get started? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and legacy we celebrate in America today, believed a dream was essential. He was right.

Some Random Thoughts to Enlighten and Brighten 2017

Enjoy some random thoughts about a new year.

Have you thought of some things you want to change? Maybe some things to leave behind in 2016 and not take with you into this year? Great. Remember, you can make these decisions daily. We don’t need to wait for the year to change for us to change.

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I teach that “wishing it so won’t make it so.” If you want to change, it will take effort, diligence, perseverance, humility, … good old-fashioned work. Listen to your language. Are you telling people that you “wish you’d lose 20 pounds” or you “wish you’d be more compassionate when your kids struggle to learn”? It will take more than a wish. Let’s make work fashionable.

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Remember, it’s really hard (if not impossible) to start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the current one. Have you learned from the past what you needed to? Stop reading yesterday’s news and start writing the next chapter.

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We’re each one decision away from something. What decision do you want to make? Anne Frank said, How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

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We need to make sure any changes we desire for ourselves and children are appropriate and realistic. If they’re not, discouragement comes easily. I sometimes use the example of my height. I’m 6’1”. I’m not ever going to be short even if I pray a lot about it. Make sure your goals for 2017 fit. Do the same for your children. In the words of a young child, recorded in the book Really Important Stuff My Kids Have Taught Me, “If the tree had apples last year, don’t expect pears this year.”

Change is possible, but expectations must be real or disappointment and despair can set in. We can pray about and hope for juicier apples. Redder apples. Bigger apples. More apples. Tastier apples. Fewer worm-filled apples. But, not pears from an apple tree. If you want pears, plant a pear tree.

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Daily, weekly, and monthly, let’s make 2017 great. That reminds me – instead of telling the next person you talk with to “have a great day” encourage him or her to “make it a great day.”

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Do you have any enlightening and/or brightening random thoughts to add? Please leave a comment! Would love to hear what you have to share.

The Greatest Fulfilled Promise of All Time…

The birth of Jesus Christ is the greatest fulfilled promise of all time.

God keeps His Word. He keeps the promises declared in His Word. Look for them and be refreshed. Keep the miracle of Jesus’ birth alive in this way.

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” ~2 Corinthians 1:20

Choose the “Best”, Choose to Initiate

Initiative.

If you’d like something different to think about this week and next, choose initiative.

Especially if you’ll be with others, and you want to be a blessing, choose initiative. Talk with your children so they’ll do the same.

Initiative is recognizing and doing what needs to be done before being asked. Initiative is action. It’s helpful. Purposeful. Directed. About others. Tasks to bless people.

Initiative is “just do it” now.

Choose to see what you can do for the people you’re with. Have ears to hear. Help your children see and hear in these ways, too. Talk about this idea. Model the behavior. Reward it with “Thanks!”

Picture your family at your mom’s for dinner. She’s cooking when you and your children arrive and the table isn’t set. There are maybe four possibilities for your children.

  • They don’t notice the need and do their own thing. This is not good.
  • They pay some attention to their grandmother and ask, “Do you need any help?” This is good.
  • They ask, “May I set the table for you?” This is better.
  • They know where the dishes are and set the table knowing it needs to be done. This is best. This is initiative.

You arrive home with a car full of groceries.

  • Adults and children who are home pretend to not notice they could help. This is not good.
  • Someone yells from another room, “Do you need any help?” This is good.
  • Someone asks, “May I help you bring the bags in from the car?” This is better.
  • Someone stops what he or she is doing, meets you in the garage, and carries as much as possible into the house. This is best. This is initiative.

Using initiative honors others. It’s efficient. It decreases arguments. (Imagine not having to declare, “I could use some help in here!!” ever again!) Initiative can increase peace and joy.

Initiative feels good. A few minutes ago, while I was working on this post, my brother needed to locate the serial number on the back of his TV cable box. He moved it with one hand and had his phone in his other hand talking with the tech person helping him. There wasn’t much light in the area and I knew the numbers would be small. So, without being asked, I stopped writing, put down my laptop, and stood up and walked toward him as I turned on my phone’s flashlight. I positioned the light so Dave could see the numbers. He was able to read them for the person on the phone. He was grateful. So was I.

I’m not special. You can do this, too. So can your kids. It feels good. It is good. It is initiative.

Christmas + Children = Play Time! Here’s How The 8 Great Smarts Can Facilitiate The Joy

Christmas and children – they just go together, don’t they? Perhaps you’re looking forward to spending time with children and teens later this month. Maybe you’re still shopping for their gifts. You’re not alone. Stores are still full. Website traffic is high.

Games and toys are some of the best ways to awaken and even strengthen their eight great smarts. Here’s a short list of suggestions taken from the end of each chapter of 8 Great Smarts.

Shop strategically. If you don’t know how the children are smart just pick one or two that sound interesting. If you do know, think about whether they’d enjoy a game for a smart they’re already developing or whether to buy one to better awaken one they haven’t used as much. Or, buy both!

Word Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Scattergories: If you can quickly come up with a list of, say, things at the park, in a drawer, and that you wear that start with the letter t that no one else thinks of, you can win this game.

Play Apples to Apples: One player draws a card. Each player selects a word card from their hand that they think is most relevant to the word on that card. If the judge picks your card, you win that round. Unlikely connections among words make for lots of laughter!

Logic Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Blokus: Players take turns placing pieces of their chosen color on the board. It’s tricky because each new piece must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. You win if you place more pieces than anyone else.

Play Clue: Crack the murder that took place in the mansion by asking the right questions to win this classic game. Junior version available.

Picture Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Telestrations: Picture the “Telephone Game” using drawings instead of whispering something into your neighbor’s ear. Lots of laughter.

Play Pictionary: Make quick sketches that others will hopefully guess correctly. Junior version available

Music Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Cranium: Answer trivia questions, create art, hum, act out clues, and use your vocabulary skills to win. Relevant to many smarts.

Play Encore: Draw a card with a word on it and sing at least six words of a song with that word in it. Judges memory, not musical ability.

Body Smart – Let’s Play!

Play tag (or any outdoor game).

Play Twister: Give the spinner a whirl and follow the directions. Just try to keep from falling over!

Nature Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Qwirkle: Match colors and shapes and use wise maneuvers and a strategy to win.

Play Rock On Geology Game: Rock and mineral collection includes fifteen specimens and fifty-plus polished rocks and minerals; five levels of play.

People Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Headbanz: Everyone but you knows what role you’ve been assigned. Ask questions to try to figure it out before you run out of time. You could be a mouse, dirty sock, or cash register.

Play Guesstures: You only have a few seconds to use classic charades techniques to get your team to guess the word on your assigned card.

Self Smart – Let’s Play!

Do quiet things together that your child chooses, such as completing a puzzle, coloring, building with Legos, playing with dolls, or playing a car game like “Who Am I?”

Shop, shop, shop! Play, play, play!

Making Christmas Memories a Priority

Making memories might be one of the most important things to do during this month.

When we concentrate on making memories rather than just “doing things” chances are that our experiences will be richer and go deeper. We’ll pay attention to the people we’re with rather than just the tasks at hand. Therefore, stronger emotional ties will be established. Other adults and children will be blessed as we interact with them intentionally.

Think about all the things you have scheduled and other tasks to accomplish. What if you think about them in the context of memory making? You might’ve already done some of things I list at the end of this post, but maybe you can now have rich conversations to still broaden the potential for positive memories that last.

What would it take for these activities and things on your to-do list to become memories that are thought of fondly next year? If you think back to past Christmases, what do you remember? Why do you remember those things and those people? Your answer to these questions may help you do things differently to create richer memories for your family this season.

Did humor make your list? I suspect it did because it’s often during times of joy and laughter that bonds are deepened. Look for opportunities to really enjoy each other this month.

Did you think of something that involved a surprise? That’s often the case for me as I reflect on strong memories of my childhood and even adult years. For your family this month, add something surprising that you’ve never done before. Or you could add a twist to something you have typically done. This will make it more memorable.

I was reminded this past weekend that some of the best memories are those about small and seemingly insignificant things. Seeing my sister-in-law putting newly-baked Christmas cookies into a tin that belonged to her mom and has been used for maybe 40 years or more. Hearing a song on the radio and remembering who I was with when I heard it performed at a concert last December. Wrapping paper that my mom would’ve loved. A recipe that was hers that her grandchildren still love. Dessert plates hand-painted by my grandma when she was about 18 that we still use at my brother’s home.

It’s the conversation surrounding these things that make the memories – and, therefore, the people involved – come alive. Let’s purpose to talk a lot about meaningful things as we’re out-and-about and in our own homes. Let’s get pods out of ears and eyes off of devices and talk. It can be done! Expect it. Have high expectations. Listen and talk. Talk and listen.

No one in our family would know about the Christmas cookie tins if Debbie wouldn’t tell us. My nieces and nephew wouldn’t know their great-grandmother painted the dishes their cake is on if we didn’t tell them. They wouldn’t know that the food they enjoy was first served by their grandmother to her father on Christmas Eve many, many years ago if my brother and I didn’t tell them.

Make memories, not just cookies. Make memories, not just a clean house, make memories, not just purchases. You get the idea.

How might concentrating on making memories influence the way you do tasks like these?

Choosing a tree. Decorating a tree. Shopping for a present for your child’s teacher. Choosing presents for friends and loved ones. Wrapping presents. Planning menus for times when family and friends will come over for dinner. Choosing outfits to wear here and there. Watching favorite Christmas movies together. Choosing recipes to make for different events. Making them together in the kitchen. Practicing the piano for an upcoming recital or to play for a visiting relative. Making cookies together. Eating some with hot chocolate in candlelight. Driving to see Christmas lights and decorations. Visiting shut-ins. Surprising neighbors with flowers, Christmas cookies, or something you know they would appreciate. Singing Christmas carols. Cleaning the house so it’s more ready for relatives to arrive. Attending church. Having meaningful conversations in the car on the way home. Practicing for and then attending church or school Christmas programs.