Sliding on the Mom Rainbow

I’ve been sliding on the Mom Rainbow for quite some time now, and I just didn’t know it.

rainYou see, in the beginning, at the very start of the rainbow, the colors catch your attention and you see the upward climb. Your babes are so – present. They are everything beautiful – colorful. They need your eye. They rely on your nourishment. They react to your every pulse. And you to them. Then you climb that rainbow. It seems like at every step you are craving the independence your little one might give so that you might see the growth, the development, the milestones. You can’t wait for them to achieve. To Be. You relish in every moment.

Ahh. That smile. It wasn’t gas. It was genuine. He loves my voice.

And then the realizations of the colors become truer. There is a reality in the climb.

Oh, please. Just keep your eyes closed for ten seconds. Ten seconds. That is all I ask. Don’t make eye contact. Do NOT, by any means, hear me breathe…

I admit I begged this of more than one infant-turned-semi-pro-toddler. I wanted sleep – no I craved sleep – like a drug.

And then they are toddlers, inching their way up the rainbow, sometimes sleeping, sometimes cooperating when you try to wash the sand from their hair, sometimes breathing one final deep sigh before drifting to dreams in your arms.

Shoot! I don’t think I got out all the sand. I’ll try to gently rub away the day’s play.

Shhh. Stay sleeping. Your body is tired, and so is my mommy brain.

Boom. They are reading, writing, and having opinions. They know what they want for lunch, how they want their dolly put to bed, just right, and how you have to sing that last song one more time. The colors of the Mom Rainbow are so bright – everything is alive and active and – well, purely exhausting.

Read this book, Mommy. Do the voice.

I want a bunny. I promise I’ll take care of the bunny. I am getting SO big.

Can we make muffins tomorrow?

How old are you?

I like stickers.

You are my best friend. Well, besides Eric.

Did you notice? Your voice is now their voice. They are participating in the rainbow climb. It is almost like listening to a record (remember those archaic devices?) on skip. The thoughts are chaotic and beautiful. The colors of the Mom Rainbow keep glistening. This is glorious. There are so many things happening. Soccer practice. Church choir. Volunteering together at the soup kitchen. Reading at the library. Days with friends at the park. Living the mommy dream.

And just at the top of the rainbow. The tip-top of the Mom Rainbow, you feel the lurch in your stomach. It is just like what you feel at the precipice of the roller coaster ride. You know the plunge is coming but you deny it. You don’t want it to be so. They are tweenagers, perhaps teenagers, and they are plunging. With or without you. Buckle up, Mom. This part of the rainbow can be a bit steep.

I thought she was my real friend.

Drop me off around the corner so they don’t see you, Mom.

Mom!!! Will you help me with this?!

Mom – relax. This is how all the kids wear it.

Mom…. Where are you?

You are on the mom-yo-yo at this point. They love you. They love you knot. Tied in deep knots of denial, need, fear, and strives for independence. You keep sliding down the rainbow and you have no brakes. You just pray for a smooth landing.

Mom, I have decided on a college! (survive on just breathing)

Oh, Mom. You don’t understand.

I can’t believe this is the last time we will spend Super Bowl Sunday together! Next year I’ll be in my dorm at this time! (insert fake smile to hide the pain)

Mom!?!? Where are you? I need you to fill out this form, wash my uniform, and make sure I’m up on time for class.

Mom?!?! Today was SOOOO long. Can we talk?

And suddenly, as those colors of the Mom Rainbow all start to merge, and you think – OH CRAP – MY KID IS GROWING UP! – you realize this is just the pot of gold. You did it. Way back when you wished for quiet nights. Now you will have them. You will also have a child who grew in your love and learned how to show his or her colors to the world. And what a glorious sight that is. To travel the Mom Rainbow, getting a few splinters along the way – and see your child plunge into his fortunate future.

Sign me up for the next ride, please. Just don’t spoil the ending. This part has been way too good.

 

LEGO Chompy from Skylanders – Directions for Kids (written by a kid)

019If you have young boys in your home like I do, then chances are that at least a few LEGOs are strewn somewhere. And if your kids also like Skylanders, then you probably have an idea of what my house looks like. LEGOs, action figures, Skylanders… all creeping out from under the beds and waiting like ninja knives for me to step on them in the middle of the night.

This time around, instead of me sharing my own ideas about ways to engage kids with creative learning, my LEGO loving son is taking a turn and he is sharing his own directions for making a LEGO Chompy character from Skylanders.

After all, if we’re going to lose our toes in the middle of the night because of these razor-like toys, we might as well make sure the kids are at least learning from and enjoying them during the daylight hours!

So, from Ethan’s inspiration – share with your own LEGO and Skylander fans the legochompy (he even took pictures to help).

Homeschool Questions – Critics or Curiosity?

homeschoolAnswering Questions About Homeschooling

As wonderful as it is, homeschooling is hard. There have been days when the educational and life successes of my children has weighed so heavily on my mind and I wonder if I somehow forgot to teach someone to count by threes or how to identify prepositional phrases. These self-doubts weigh heavily enough. Then as homeschoolers we some days feel the added crush – from the in-laws, the neighbors, the clerk at the grocery store who wonders why you’re there with a full minivan at 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. That crush can sometimes make those challenging days of self-doubt squish you more than a minivan full of your own kids – plus their friends – all piled in for “park day”.

I used to memorize statistics of the benefits of homeschooling, armed and ready to tackle the critics and the questioners. Then I realized that in a way my family was a curiosity more than something people were criticizing. Sure – there are still those critics who feel perfectly justified telling me of the multiple ways my children (who are all thriving) will undoubtedly be ruined by homeschooling. But for the most part, people are curious and sometimes it just comes out awkwardly and uncomfortably for all of us. Which is why over the years I have tried to move from defense – relaying all of the positives about homeschooling, to humorous offense – having fun with my life and being proud of our decision to homeschool.

Top Questions for Homeschoolers

(and how to answer them graciously with a side of humor)

Are all of these kids yours?

My stretch-marks would confirm for you that, yes, these children are all mine. My favorite one is the kid who brings me fresh coffee every morning (FYI – none of my kids bring me coffee in the morning so ergo I don’t have a favorite).

How can you stand spending so much time with your kids?

Before I know it there won’t be any choice and they’ll be off living their own dreams. When I am older and greyer I will probably spend sad moments in the bathroom when no-one comes knocking, needing to know at precisely the moment I sit upon the porcelain throne what we are having for lunch, where he put his math book, and how many pieces of gum I guess he just fit into his mouth.

(This is the question that actually bothers my children the most. They always remark about how sad it is to hear parents speaking of the relief they feel when fall rolls around and it is time to send the kids back to school.)

Do you work at a real job, too?

Nothing gets more real than taking on the responsibility for the education of children for 20 years. My paycheck must just be lost in the mail. (BTW – I also work at a real job as a writer and editor, but I don’t worry too much about handing out my resume. I also don’t ask other people for their resumes unless I’m working.)

Or

According to my coffee mug I am a domestic engineer.

How long do you plan to do that?

We “plan” to do this until it doesn’t work. Right now it works. It has worked for more than 15 years. I’m less worried about how long I plan to do this than I am with how can I make this continue to work for our family as long as possible?

No school today?

Oh my gosh – we forgot!!! (smile)

Or

We homeschool – every day is a school day. Poor kids don’t even get snow days or time off for parent/teacher conferences – that’s just me talking to myself – again.

What about college?

Been there, doing that. With one senior and one freshman in college what we’ve learned is that colleges embrace homeschoolers. In fact, in my daughter’s first semester one of her professors made a general announcement in class that in his years of experience, there are two kinds of students who do well in college: homeschooled kids and music students. They know how to independently study and ask questions.

Are you worried that your kids won’t be socialized?

If you mean socialization by spending 8 or more hours a day with age-segregated groups in a socioeconomically flat environment, then, hmmmm. Nope. If you mean the stereotypical kinds of socialization (prom, bus ride antics, etc.), some of my kids get that, too by participating in public school sports (and I’m pretty certain they would still thrive without those experiences).

Full disclosure – I know wonderful kids who attend public schools. Some of the best friends of my kids (gasp – my kids have friends!) get on the school bus every morning. My kids also have friends across age and experience demographics, and feel comfortable in a wide variety of social situations. They have the time to experience more in their homeschool classroom – their community (or wherever we happen to travel). Although some days I do dream of a day of seclusion from the rest of the world like those fake visions of homeschoolers so that I wouldn’t have to get out of my lounge pants and remember which activity needed the snacks and which community education class needed the samples of pond scum – you do not want to be the mom who messes up those two things. Socialization – check.

If you homeschool – how do you handle all of those questions from curious people?

The Unwitting Business Partner

partnersI don’t think he signed up for this. In fact, I often wonder if he knew what life would really be like with me as a work-at-home homeschooling mom – if he would have turned tail and run for the hills. But so far – thankfully – my husband maneuvers through the days with me, never knowing how many hours I’ll be spending in the office each week, whether or not supper will be ready when he walks through the door, or if I am on the verge of a freak-out moment because somehow in the next 9 hours I have to create lessons for the kids, edit 40 pages, and write three articles. Forget about the dust and the laundry. Oh – and sleep somewhere in there, too.

Your Spouse Can Be the Best Asset to Your Work-At-Home Job

Spouses of work-at-home parents are often the unwitting business partners. No one can truly know the chaos working at home might bring to the entire family – so unwitting has to at some point move to either unflappable [he expects life to be crazy and embraces it] or unwilling [this crazy life is too much for him].

Work-at-home mom is redundant. It implies that there are moms, and then there are moms with jobs that require work. However, I still can recognize the inherent differences and I consider myself a work-at-home mom because I have outside work for which I am responsible (and I don’t mean the lawn – although I am responsible for that, too). As a work-at-home mom I spend a good chunk of time at the computer writing, on the sofa editing, and in the kitchen sticking notes on the counter as I brainstorm my way through the supper dishes. For the most part I cloud commute, rarely meeting clients face-to-face. Add in to these responsibilities my main job as Mom, and homeschool Mom on top of that, and I absolutely couldn’t do it without the cooperation of my husband.

Along the way I’ve developed some strategies and realized some important lessons when it comes to work and my most valuable partner – my husband.

Be Proactive

Being a work-at-home mom requires the scheduling dexterity of a time-savvy ninja and the energy of an 8 year-old who was fed caffeinated pop at Grandma’s. Don’t wait until you are frustrated with an overload and you explode sticky notes and dirty laundry all over the place. Let your partner know when you need help, or when he should probably just wash his own socks and underwear.

Be Specific

Don’t just say you have work to do and you need some quiet time. Say, “I have at least 3 hours of editing (or whatever your task might be). Please take the kids out of the house from 4-7 so that I can complete this work and meet my deadline.” If you need his help finishing the load of laundry, doing the dishes, or driving the kids to and from practice, be specific and don’t expect him to read your mind and your hectic schedule.

Be Thankful

If your partner listens to your needs or anticipates your needs and actively helps you accomplish what you need to do, let him know! Tell him right away how much you appreciate his efforts. Then make sure you also regularly acknowledge those efforts by reciprocating in some way. Sometimes I even just tuck notes inside my husband’s briefcase that let him know I noticed and I appreciate him.

Be Present

If you say that you have 3 hours of work to complete that evening, don’t suddenly look up after spending 5 hours at the computer and wonder why he might be upset. Make sure you find a way to devote time and energy to your partner like he sees you devoting to your work. I appreciate it when my husband comes home from work and puts the laptop away for the evening and devotes time to us as a family. It can be challenging when my work always just seem to be here for me to do the same, but I need to be conscious of not letting the lines between work and family get too blurred.

Working at home while actively being a mom is rewarding, exhausting, and empowering. Without the support of my husband, it would be too overwhelming to do each day, and impossible to do well at all.

Calm Down, Women Everywhere

War Between Women
War Between Women

Time to Stop the War Between Women – There is Room for Us All

Last night I found myself telling my daughter – who is a senior in college and planning on attending veterinary medical school – that being a woman with choices isn’t always all it is cracked up to be. In fact, it is hard. And what makes it even harder isn’t this glass ceiling. It is other women. We place expectations on each other and at times are the last ones to offer support. We make it harder for ourselves and other women.

Women have bountiful education and career choices, for which I am so thankful. However, those choices come with frustrations and judgments, and most often from other women. Just as women 50 years ago were criticized if they purposefully decided to work outside the home full time, women today are shunned by many for choosing to put their careers on hold while they stay home to raise their children. At a party not long ago I kept overhearing conversations floating between a group of women – all commiserating with each other about how “boring” it would be to “just be” a stay-at-home mom. These women all work full-time outside of the home and all were agreeing that stay-at-home moms have too much time on their hands, not enough challenges, and just can’t be fulfilled.

Stay-at-Home Moms Under Attack

This attitude that women who choose to stay home are inferior has been reflected again and again, in the media, politics, and among women across the United States. Deborah Jacobs, in an article published at Forbes.com, attempts in a backwards way to defend moms who work at home by extolling the virtue of not judging by appearance. As a mom who works outside of the home, Jacobs repeatedly remarks in her article about how she fantasizes about the lives of stay-at-home moms who wear elegant yoga attire – but then goes on to say that,

“A lot of those moms may wish they were employed outside the home but can’t find a job, or can’t find one that would pay more than the childcare they would inevitably have to compensate someone else to perform. Or maybe they are in an abusive marriage with someone who controls them, won’t let them work, and belittles them if their body fat gets higher than that of a supermodel.”

Insert my eye rolling here. Her reasoning for why we should not judge stay-at-home moms is because they might not be able to get any other type of job that pays enough for a babysitter or because their husbands are abusive and controlling. That’s the kind of defense stay-at-home moms can do without.

Why Moms Choose to Stay Home

I know I don’t live in a bubble. I’m just too claustrophobic for that. Of the many friends I have who stay home with their kids, I don’t know any who do so because they can’t get a better job or because their husbands won’t let them leave the cocoon of the home. Stay-at-home moms choose their job because:

  • They want to raise their children without outside help.
  • They are fulfilled staying home with their children and thoroughly enjoy actively planning and participating in every day.
  • They consider the care of the home and family to be of significant value.
  • They can’t imagine missing out on moments they can’t get back – 1st steps, words, etc.
  • They plan to pursue an outside career when their children are older and more independent.
  • They want to homeschool their kids.
  • It is their dream job.

This is my dream job. Staying at home, making the choice to raise my four children by being present every day in their lives, homeschooling them, making the choice to put my career on hold and meet whatever those consequences may be, these are all a part of my choice. These are all a part of my dream job. There are challenges and there are worries and there are downright agonizing moments. But I am guessing that is true for women all over the world, no matter how they spend their days.

In yet another article that devalues the choice a woman makes to be a stay-at-home mom, Judith Warner claims that when women choose to stay at home,

“Their position of equality with their husbands is by necessity somewhat eroded. They lose the sense of strength that comes from knowing that, come what may, they can keep themselves and their children afloat economically. They lose intellectual stimulation (assuming that they were lucky enough to have it in their jobs anyway), the easy companionship and structure of the workplace, and recognition from the outside world. And if they don’t have the money to outsource domestic jobs, their freedom from paid work comes at the cost of repetitive thankless tasks — laundry, cleaning and the like — that test their patience and can chip away at their self-worth. The pleasure in this life of course is time with the children, but school-age kids leave a void that many find hard to meaningfully fill.”

When women reflect like this on other women who make different choices, it creates an atmosphere of judgment, resentment, and worse. Let’s calm down a bit and ask ourselves two questions:

1. Am *I* happy with my choice for me, regardless of how the group of sneering women at the party feels?

2. Am *I* thankful for the women around me who have made their own choices, no matter if they are different from mine?

I am not just happy with my choice. I am a woman with no regrets who gets her dream job. 

I am thankful for women who choose not to stay home.

Yes. You read that right. I am thankful for women who are working outside of the home. She is the doctor who cares for my children and who I trust with their health. She is the Autism resource provider who gives me support and resources for my child. She is the health aide who lovingly cared for my grandmother during her final days. She is the dance instructor who gives her enthusiasm to my child in the studio. She is the woman who works at church, developing community resources for those in need. She is the boss where my daughter works and who provides leadership and mentoring as my daughter pursues her own dreams. She is my sister who volunteers every weekend after working full-time during the week. She is my mother who was a teacher and who helped to influence the lives of her students. I am thankful for all of these women, and so many more, who give their time, talents, and dedication to entities beyond themselves in their unique ways.

And I hope out there exists a group of women who are thankful for the stay-at-home moms. These are the women who step into the classrooms as teacher-helpers. These are the women who volunteer during the day for community services, teaching the next generation how to do the same. These are the women who keep extra eyes on the kids in the neighborhood and have open arms for them when needed. These are the women you call when you need a babysitter at the last minute, a ride for Billy, or a place for Suzie on a snow day from school. These are the women who provide foster care. These are the women who stop for coffee with the elderly neighbor after time at the park – the only visit this neighbor will receive each week. These are the women who nurture, educate, and provide hands on learning experiences for the children who will eventually inherit the world.

Women – for all of their love, compassion, and strength – are also the harshest judges, the coldest critics, and the cruelest when it comes to other women. I’ve tried on many hats as a woman. Stay-at-home mom, work-at-home mom, and working mom. I know where I am happiest and where I believe I contribute most to the world. I won’t tell you what is best for your family if you don’t proceed to assume I’m bored, unfulfilled, lazy, or unhappy with mine as a work-at-home homeschool mom. It’s time to calm down, women everywhere. There is room for us all. There is need for us all. Let’s calm down, women everywhere, and take a moment to thank the women in our world, no matter what paths they choose.

Banish the Book Banning

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Book Banning and the Call for a Rating System

As I sat watching the original “Footloose” with my daughter last night, I thought of how so many things had changed – the hairstyles, the shoes, the dance moves – and yet how so many things have stayed the same. There is a scene where parents toss books into a burning bin – fearful of the words on the pages. It seems that no matter how modern our society becomes, it is still difficult to get over this fear.

Death, witchcraft, gore, and sex. These are just some of themes that you can see on the covers – and within the pages – of books in the children’s wing at your local library. And these are just a few of the reasons why some adults want books either banned from the children’s wings of libraries, or to have a rating system on books (much like the movie rating system). 

Should Books Be Rated for Kids?

The author of the Vampyre Labyrinth series, GP Taylor, is now changing his tune and pushing for age certifications on children’s literature. He admits that some of the books he has written are too frightening, and says that, “I have changed my mind: I think children’s literature has gone too far.”

Part of this appears to be stemming from a recent analysis of award-winning children’s literature. This analysis shows that modern children’s literature is more likely to feature characters with troubled or absent parents, or children who have been abandoned. However, if you ask one of my sons, Disney movies have been doing this since its inception. Long ago at the tender age of 6 this sweet son of mine swore off Disney movies – detesting them because the mom always dies. From Bambi to Cinderella to Finding Nemo – this theme of motherless children forced to endure life on their own has been a mainstay of classic children’s moviesMy son banned Disney movies for himself – but we hardly ban them from the house as he discerned for himself what he felt good about watching or not (and now he loves scary movies – but still not Disney).

Opponents to book rating systems say that all it would do is create an almost innate desire in kids to read the book on the top shelf. It must be really good if it stays on the top shelf. In our library right now we have the children’s wing separated by signs – Early Readers, Young Adult Fiction, etc. – and that seems to work well enough for most families. Beyond creating the mystique that a rating system would do, rating books based on content would be such a subjective act. Who would be assigned or corralled to determine what books, at what ages, my kids should read? The only answer I am comfortable with is: my family.

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Banning Books – Still a Modern Practice

While you don’t really hear of book burning in the news, you probably also aren’t hearing of book banning – but it is still happening. In fact, book banning is still trending enough so that there is an entire coalition, backed by the Library of Congress, dedicated to ending the practice. You can even check out the map of book banning across the United States. Banned Books Week, recently held September 30th thru October 6th, aims to protect literature (and readers) from the judgments of a select few.

Targeting The Hunger Games – and Other Modern Book Banning

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is just one recent title that some people have attempted to ban in libraries, schools, and bookstores. I was even asked recently by a parent if I would dare to let my kids read the series, to which I gave a smile and then proceeded to talk about how my kids not only read the books, but attended a book club devoted to the story. I reminded this nervous mother, who had been hearing from other parents how this book might be too violent for kids, that books aren’t inherently bad – it is how we interpret and use them that matters.

Parents use censorship all of the time – we monitor what programs our kids watch on television, we monitor the conversations in which they participate, and we monitor their activities. Book banning and rating, however, mean that someone else gets to choose what is best for your child.

A devout Christian will likely get much more out of The Chronicles of Narnia than will an atheist, because there is Biblical context for the Christian that he applies to the book, while the atheist views it merely as a form of literature. It is the context of life that we provide for our kids that they will use when discerning how a story does or does not relate to them.

Monitoring Book Choices for Kids

If you are concerned about a book selection your child is eager to read, don’t just put the book on the top shelf, out of reach, and walk away (or worse yet – try to ban it so others don’t have access to it).

  • Read the books with your kids, either aloud together or each grab your own copy.
  • Don’t banish scary stories – research shows that kids benefit from the imaginitive and emotional process when they are exposed to scary stories.
  • Talk about the themes, the plots, the characters, and the parallels (if any) to real life.
  • Talk about the differences between fiction and non-fiction.
  • Find a book club for your kids so they can discuss these ideas among peers.
  • Find other books with similar themes that you think are more appropriate and start there, willing to continue to the next level if your child still seems interested.

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Famously Banned Books

You can put books like The Hunger Games in the same category of books such as

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Call of the Wild
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Invisible Man
  • The Red Badge of Courage
  • And so many more influential pieces of literature

All of these titles were criticized and in some places, banned. Yet, on a historical plane, all of the above titles have contributed to literature as an art and as contributions to humanity. Before you jump on the book banning bandwagon, ask yourself this question.

What is it about my child that worries me in regards to this book?

Maybe it is that your child is not yet mature enough for the plot, not yet sensitive enough for the emotions, or not yet morally grounded enough for the ideas presented. Then consider if the book is really the issue. If a book is going to thwart my child’s development, set his moral compass askew, or threaten what we know and believe about respect, integrity, and relationships, then the book is the least of my concerns.

Easy Activities that Bring Gratitude to the Table

Thanksgiving Activities that Bring Gratitude to the Table
Thanksgiving Activities that Bring Gratitude to the Table

Printable Activities to Put the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving

Great food, amazing family, and fun & games – three keys to a Happy Thanksgiving for our family. Each year I anticipate Thanksgiving through the eyes of my children, and try to draw them in to the spirit of the holiday with an attitude of gratitude and an abundance of fun. For we know that once Thanksgiving is over, we are in a tumble, rumble, roll towards Christmas with our children. So put the brakes on for a bit and plan some fun and meaningful activities for you and your entire family this Thanksgiving season!

Printable Activities for Attitudes of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is the kick-off to a wonderful holiday season, but it can be so easy for our families to get wrapped up in the chaos and commercialism of the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Help keep your kids grounded and form a little perspective this Thanksgiving (and Christmas) season with a few fun and easy printable activities you can do right at your Thanksgiving table.

I Am Thankful! – Print this form for an acrostic poem (you can do one for the family, work in groups, or print one for each person). It just takes a few minutes to complete, and it helps bring everyone together to share in some gratitude.

Blessings in a Box – Make these table decorations that also serve as reminders to have attitudes of gratitude and thankfulness. The instructions are on the printable sheets, and you can print as many tags as you need.

Our Thanksgiving Feast – This is a holiday twist on traditional mad libs that gets your kids using their grammar skills (shh – don’t tell them while they’re on school break). Play it the traditional way, having one person as the “caller” who asks the others around your Thanksgiving table for the various parts of speech to fill in the blanks (without revealing the story). When the caller has written in all of the blanks, he or she reads the story aloud. Even though it brings a bit of silliness to the table, it can remind your kids to think about why they are thankful.

Extending the Gratitude

Before we know it the pies will be eaten and the day of thanks will come to a close. If you are heading out for Black Friday shopping and jumping right into the next phase of this season, keep a sense of gratitude with you. (I’m as eager as the next person for a great bargain, but it is also my time to hang out with my daughter and make great memories.)

  • Make the first item you buy for someone in need.
  • Take your kids to the craft stores to buy supplies to make homemade gifts.
  • Make the last stop of the day to do a good deed for someone else – grab the kids and take dinner to an elderly neighbor, encourage the kids to do a chore for a family member or friend (walk the dog, help clean the garage, etc.).

Keep the spirit of thankfulness in your hearts – and keep looking for ways to bring it more to life each day with your kids. I am thankful for the family and friends who surround me, the faith that guides me, and the opportunity to look forward to each day doing things I love to do.

The printable PDFs I created are yours to share and use this holiday season, but not to be sold or redistributed for commercial purposes. Thanks!

[I originally shared some of these ideas at BetterParenting.com :)]