February 13, 2017

Valentine From Mom

It's been a little bit of a tough winter for me. Some of you know, but I lost my mom last fall. She had a terminal cancer so we expected death, but not like that. The year before her death, she was in and out of the hospital several times then had a stroke in August. A month later she passed away from an unknown reason.

I knew she would die. I knew she would die sooner rather than later. Given all of her illness that last year, I suspected we would loose her sooner than anticipated. The night before she passed though, I had her out to dinner and had a lovely night with her. I would not guess that by 2:00 the next day she would be dead. That was the difficult part.

My birthday passed, then the holidays and finally her birthday. It likely did not help that we had little to no sun in January either. I thought I did well, but still felt her loss deeply.

I can't be the only person who has lost a parent, that talks to that parent. In fact, in mentioning that, I found out that most people talk to their deceased parent. I talk to her mainly when it is quiet, and when I am alone. Like when I talk a walk at night or when driving alone in the car. 

In the last couple days though, there have been several times where I just wanted to pick up the phone and talk to mom. I wanted to share a little story about my daughter or share my son's latest accomplishment.

So this weekend when I had to go to Port Huron for Boy Scouts, I went to where her childhood house on the river used to be. My grandpa was the commercial fisherman/bait guy where the Port Huron Coast Guard station now sits. There is a small park there, across the street from my great-grandma's house, so I walked for a bit to talk to her. I walked and told her everything.

 I still had several hours to kill before getting my son and his friends, so I went in search of rocks. Thanks to my grandfather, I am a rock-hound. Much to the dismay of my husband and children, I can easily spend hours siting and sifting through rocks on the beach. Taking the opportunity to walk along the beach, without anyone else sounded divine.

I stopped at three beaches between Port Huron and Fort Gratiot. The first one is across the street of my childhood home, and the other two were ones I have visited many times when I was a child. There was still a small ice shelf on the beach, but the sun was peeking from behind the clouds and there was little wind, making it a nice winter day.

I know what to expect in searching those beaches. Horn coral, small petosky stones, chain coral, favosite fragments, red jasper, unakite, perhaps some beach glass and maybe a puddingstone. For the first time ever I even found a puddingstone!


I was almost out of time when I visited the last beach. Although I had already found several nice Petosky stones, I asked my mom if she would help me find a really nice (big) Petoskey or puddingstone. That's when it happened. I looked down and found a tiny puddingstone with a small red jasper heart. 

I could not believe the little beauty staring back at me. I immediately picked it up and thought perhaps someone had painted the heart on a tone and left it to be found. I was right. I was painted by God and left for me to find. It was a sign from my mom that she was listening and was sending her love to me.


February 7, 2017

Valentine's Day Craft Projects for Kids and Teens

Kid's can make their Valentine a salt-dough 
heart or create other personalized craft 
creations this week at several events 
throughout Ann Arbor.

Photo courtesy of Kaboose.
When I think of Valentine's Day, I am reminded of a Valentine's Day school party in fifth grade. I passed out the typical handcrafted Valentine's Day cards to classmates and even got crafty with salt-dough, shaping it into a Valentine heart that I gave to Hank, my fifth grade crush. Unfortunately for me, even though I didn't label who the heart was from, he knew, and proceeded to tell the entire class I didn't know how to cook. Explaining that it wasn't a cookie was a fruitless effort and quite embarrassing!
Creating Valentine's Day gifts, though, became a tradition of sorts and one that I have passed to my children — everyone loves a good treat, be it baked or crafted, and this week throughout Ann Arbor, there are many opportunities for your children and teens to craft their hearts out!
Michaels Crafts is always a good location for free or low-cost "Make-it Take-it" craft projects, and this week they are not failing to deliver. On Saturday, Feb. 11 from 10:00 a.m. - noon, kids ages 3 and up can drop in to create their own Valentine's cookie. Later that same day, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Buy blank cards in the store and create Valentine's Day cards with free craft supplies during the Michael's Make Event. 

The Ann Arbor Library has a couple events for children and teens to create sometime sweet for their sweethearts. On Saturday, Feb. 11 fat 2:00 p.m. at the Pittsfield branch, kids can create their very own Valentine's card and decoration to give to someone special. Then on Valentine's Day, be sure to stop in and learn all about chocolate. From 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the downtown library, learn about how chocolate is grown,  how to melt and temper it, and what the different percentages mean. This special event is intended for teens in grades 6 and up and adults. The event is sponsored by the People's Food Co-Op. Be sure to log into your Ann Arbor Library account to register!
Do you know of other Valentine's Day events to add to the calendar. Please share them in the comments below!


January 17, 2017

One Glove Wonder? Taking Care of Your Things

I must be the worst mom in the world tonight, or at least one that needs to re-examine disciplining her child and her own very bad reaction to a trivial problem. I actually yelled, very loudly and in a not-so-nice way, at my son for losing a glove. A glove!

I should say though, that after my son’s break-down just last week over losing one of his new Iron Man gloves, I thought he’d have learned a lesson. This entire school year I have been drilling home that his gloves and hat need to go into, and stay, in his backpack when they aren’t on his hands. So why this should even have been an issue. He’s old enough to know better. His crying and carrying on last week over this glove was terrible! I thought of telling him not to worry, since a single Iron Man glove would be of little interest to anyone. However, since the lost and found box has yet to belch out the aforementioned single missing glove, I now have to wonder if there was another little boy missing HIS Iron Man glove… But I digress.

This post is about discipline, both mine and his. It’s also about teaching a child how to care for their own things and about handling the repercussions when they don’t.

I have been asking my son to keep everything in his backpack since the start of school. I have also told him that HE is responsible for his own backpack and lunch bag. However I may have set a bad example when the dog ate through both the backpack and the lunch bag when my son left his bag out where the dog could get at it.

What did I do? Went right out and bought him a new backpack and lunch bag. I suppose I didn’t think about what message this would send my son, after all he needed both, as the backpack and the lunch bag were beyond repair. But what does that say to a child? Don’t worry mom will just buy more, right? How would it have better been handled? He did pretty well too until the missing, well-loved glove incident of last week. Mostly though this is due to my constant reminder for him to be aware of his things.

Today my son was emptying his backpack and yet again said the dreaded words, “Mom I lost a glove.” What makes this even worse is that it is actually 3 missing gloves since his (also new) Batman gloves were double-layered gloves that included two black full gloves with two fingerless gloves on top. I was going to suggest that from now on he would have to wear one Iron Man glove and the now single Batman glove, the problem is the remaining Batman glove is the fingerless one!

I told him that tomorrow he and his father would have to go out and buy two new pairs of gloves, with HIS money. I just can not discuss the gloves again. I still think I missed the mark though. My biggest concerns as a parent though are ‘why should missing one glove cause such an eruption of my emotions’ and more importantly, since it did, what will happen when my son truly does something “bad” and I get mad? I also need to consider him coming to me with his real issues; if I react so poorly won’t he choose to not come to me as a parent?

So here I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, and knowing fully well that I handled the entire situation very poorly. I know I am not alone as there are at least 20 single gloves in the lost and found that would likely produce likewise unhappy parents, I just need to re-examine my own behavior over the missing glove incident tonight as well as how to handle my son’s need for new gloves.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I am currently reflecting upon some of the following questions:

How do you teach your children to respect personal property? How do you teach a child the value of ‘things”? At what “age” should children be expected to be responsible for belongings? How do you discipline a child when something “necessary” is lost or damaged?

republished from annarbor.com 2010

January 12, 2017

Events: Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.

In Ann Arbor, the celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. provides families with several free and educational programs. From library events to musical performances to speeches and other free events; there will be several well-run programs for everyone in the family to enjoy.

MLK Celebration for the whole family will be held at YDL-Michigan (229 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197). On Monday, January 16 at 1:30 p.m., honor the memory by sharing your dreams. watching Selma or making a fleece blanket for the Hope Clinic. at 6:30 p.m. artist Rodney Leon will guide adults and teens in painting a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barak Obama.

At YDL-Whittaker (5577 Whittaker Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197), kids can create change at 6:30 p.m. while hearing the music of the Civil Rights Movement or through watching Selma (PG-13).

Families can get Free Admission to Henry Ford Museum (20900 Oakwood Blvd. Dearborn, MI 48124-4088 ) in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday too.  Come to The Henry Ford Museum for live music, dramatic presentations, make and take activities or sit in the seat that Rosa Parks did. Thanks to the generosity of Target, admission to the Museum and parking are free. Activities include live musical performances, make and take activities and free giveaways!

The annual MLK Day for children and youth in Ann Arbor is being held at the University of Michigan at the Modern Languages Building (812 E. Washington, Ann Arbor). The full day event (8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.) allows participants a day of free activities filled with fun, creativity, dialogue and entertainment. While early registration is closed, youth can still be registered at walk-up.

The Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) is hosting an MLK Day Concert
with the Biakuye Percussion Group at 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room. The free event is intended for grade K-12. The performance features the Akan languages of West Africa, biakuye means unity. Biakuye’s energetic performances bring together a wide range of African and Caribbean music and dance. Their music reflects the unique journeys of its members, which have taken them from the U.S. to Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Trinidad, and Haiti.

As I find other programs for MLK Day I will add them to the list.

January 3, 2017

Be careful what you say, because kids repeat everything

As a parent with little ears that now repeat everything I say, I’m starting to think about my communication style, especially what I say and how I say it.
OK it’s a dream of mine really, to actually think before I speak, that has eluded me much of my life. I get so excited, or fear I'll forget, that I just spit it out; it's like my thoughts simply bubble out of my mouth. Lately however, I have really tried hard not to say the things I don’t want my children to repeat. Certain phrases, slang or catch-words are off-limits in our household, and I have certainly tried to stop my children from saying them after hearing their friends or other family member’s utterances of them. But that is really hard to do.
Yes, my sweet little blue-eyed baby girl has been heard to blurt under her breath, "dammit!"
Apparently this is an parenthood epidemic even worse than catching the flu in a room filled with snot-nosed, sneezing and slurping first-graders. I know my friends all tell me it's true. Why, just the other day one of my mom-friends was telling me of her experience with her son.
At any rate, the boy came over to spend the evening with my son. As they were playing together, the young man said to me matter-of-factly, “You know my dog got neutered.”She told me that their dog had recently gotten fixed, and she was trying to get her son to say that their “dog had gotten neutered”. Apparently she expressed one too many times that the dog had gotten his balls chopped off. Although, who knows, maybe she said it just once. After all that’s all it takes!
“I know.” I said.
And this is where it gets tricky, as my son then chimed in, “What’s neutered?”
I could have said that’s when they remove the dog's testicles, but that sounded too technical for 5-year-olds. Besides I really didn’t want to explain the term when I wasn’t sure what the other parent would think. So taking a moment to pause, and taking a huge breath, I told him, “That’s when the animal doctor, the veterinarian, makes it so the dog can’t have babies.”
Simple. Honest. To the point. And hopefully something that was not likely to get into the great ‘where do babies come from’ debate… Except then I heard from our young guest:
“No that’s when they chop his balls off.”
There was a moment of silence in the room, followed by gales of laughter ringing in my ears, my own laughter, as two young boys stared at me like I was a crazed lunatic. I couldn’t help but wonder, what my children are repeating to someone else…
Raising children sure makes life interesting!