Tag Archives: holiday

Back to Bedtime

kevinrosseel_032008_056This past week, we’ve been visiting with relatives, so our schedule’s been a bit off. The children participated in a lot of fun late-night activities, such as basketball games in the park, movies with snacks, and just hanging out with their cousins. Now that we’re home again, we have just a couple of days to get back into a routine — and get back to a regular bedtime.

The first thing we need to do is re-establish just what time is “bedtime”, and then get back to our bedtime rituals. After the younger three get ready for bed, we usually read a couple of picture books together, and then head upstairs to listen to a radio theater drama on a CD or online. Then it’s lights out for Luke and Lillie, while Cassie does some silent reading. During this time, John is finishing up the day’s school assignments and reading on his own as well.

If you’re working on establishing (or like us, re-establishing) a bedtime routine for your children, here are some other things you might want to include:

  • Warm bath or shower
  • Reading aloud from a novel with all of your children
  • Snuggle up with your child and talk about the day’s events
  • Say bedtime prayers together
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Sing to your children
  • Brush their hair for them
  • Make up a story and tell it to your children
  • Hug and kiss them

A smooth and consistent bedtime makes getting up in the morning that much easier — which will be the next thing we’re going to work on. We need to get back into the groove before co-op on Monday. At least, we need to be able to get up on time. 🙂

Large Family Stuggles — or Benefits?

mfgroupDuring the Easter holiday season, we took off some extra days for spring break and headed to Florida to visit with family. This week, my children have spent time with cousins ages 6 months to 26 years, and for the most part, they’ve had a lot of fun together. Interacting with so many people, though, means there will likely be some problems. Even within the immediate family, personalities are so different that they’re bound to clash sometime; multiply that number by four or five, and there will be more than a few arguments.  Small disputes and bickering are likely to occur, especially when so much time is spent together.

But if you have a large family, you know that’s actually one of the benefits of having so many relatives. Within the safety and comfort of the extended family, my children can learn to relate to all kinds of people, ones they get along with as well as ones that don’t share their same views. They learn how to be kind and include someone in a game even if they don’t want to, and they can come to adults they know well for help if difficult situations arise.

Interestingly, this time there was even peer pressure at work among the teenage/pre-teen cousins. When my daughter Cassie was looking for something to do, she asked her cousin if she had any ideas. “No,” the cousin replied. “I just do what the others want to do so they’ll include me.” Cassie , who at 11 years old falls in between the “older” and “younger” groups of cousins, was very surprised, but it was a good lesson. Even among family, someone can feel pressured to fit in.

So while this week has been a nice break, it’s been a time of learning as well. Time for my kids to relate to others  a little better, and a time for me to sharpen my parenting skills. And as the extended family continues to grow and change, I know we’ll grow and change as well.

Easter Events

Cenetaph027One of my favorite memories of Easter when I was growing up was attending a church musical about the Resurrection. The church was a large one, so the production was quite grand, especially to a young child. I still remember the name of the musical — “The Life Giver” — and the chorus to one of the songs, the song where Peter realizes that Jesus is the Christ. It was so long ago, but it made such an impact on me. So, when we have opportunities to attend a cultural event during the Easter season, I try to take advantage of them. This year, we had two.

For the past few years, a friend of mine has done a Passover presentation, during which she explains the significance of the Passover feast and how it relates to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. In previous years, it had always fallen on a day when we weren’t able to go, but this year we could. She sent everyone instructions on how to make a Sedar plate and what to bring along.

After we arrived, she helped us set everything up, and when each family was ready, the presentation began. She took us step by step through a shortened version of the Jewish Passover, pointing out the symbolism and meaning of different parts of the feast. I learned things I had never heard before, and the children and I had a lot to talk about on the way home.

Yesterday, we had the chance to hear a musical presentation entitled Saturday, 29 A.D., relaying a possible dialog between Pontius Pilate and his wife. Mark Schweizer of St. James Music Press wrote and performed one of the parts, and it was both powerful and thought-provoking. We talked about it before we went, so the children knew what it was about and what to expect. They were quiet and listened intently, and the older ones understood most of it as it was being performed.

Besides being enjoyable, however, these presentations also help put us in the right mindset regarding the holiday. It’s fun to dye Easter eggs, go on egg hunts, and eat candy. But the real reason we celebrate Easter is to remember the work on the cross and the Resurrection. The holiday is an ideal time to again tell our children the Easter story, to remind ourselves of His great sacrifice, and to share the Good News with others. Let’s take advantage of such a great opportunity.

A Heart Of Gratitude

img-0285This Thanksgiving, we’re spending time with family, enjoying each other’s company. My children will be playing with their cousins, enjoying lots of good meals, and taking a break from school. But it’s hard work getting ready for a trip: making the lists, running errands, washing the clothes and sorting through them, cleaning up the house, and getting the pets settled for someone to care for them. It often seems as if the kids don’t appreciate all the effort it takes to provide them with a nice holiday time. Rarely does anyone ever say, “Thanks, Mom, for getting us ready to go.”

Sometimes I wonder how my children will learn to be grateful. They need this, they want that, and they want it right now! But there must be a better way then giving them lecture…after lecture…after lecture.

Then I wondered, how often do I thank them? Did I thank Cassie for spending extra time cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing the craft paint off the cabinet door of the sink? Did I thank Lillie for helping Luke choose which toys he wanted to bring along? Did I thank John for running to his Grandma’s house to borrow some eggs for breakfast? I thank my friends for favors they do for me, but I don’t often thank my husband or children. Perhaps the things we do around the house are expected or required, but it’s still nice when someone appreciates it.

Instead of just telling them to be thankful, I need to show them by example. They need to see me with a thankful attitude. I need to appreciate them not only for what they do, but for who they are. And they need to hear me thanking every day God for all He has given us, not fussing about the things we lack.

They need to see me with a heart of gratitude.

Family Land

streamdr5About 25 years ago, my father purchased some property in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. He had several different plans for the land, including a youth camp and a place for his retirement home. Sadly, he passed away before his dreams could be realized. We still enjoy the property, however, as a family reunion site every Memorial Day weekend.

 This year was one of our biggest gatherings yet. My mom and seven of the eight children made it, along with spouses, 26 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Some of older grandchildren went hiking while the younger ones played in the river. Some slept in the cabin while others camped in the valley. We played volleyball and soccer in the open field. We painted rocks to look like bugs and mice. We cooked hotdogs over a fire and ate more than a few s’mores.

Traveling to see family has always been a priority to me, and this past weekend was a good reminder of why. What a blessing it was to see my children having such a great time with all of their cousins – cousins who ranged in age from one year to twenty-six years old. They played games with aunts and uncles and talked with their grandmother – it was good to watch them just enjoy each others’ company. 

Even though my mom and siblings live quite far from us, we’ve been able to maintain close relationships, due in part to get-togethers like this one. And the family continues to grow. This year, one new great-grandchild has already arrived, and two more are due in the months to come. We’ll take trips to see them, and hopefully they’ll make it to the mountain property next Memorial Day.

 Though it may not be exactly what my dad had intended, I think he would be pleased with how the land is being used, as it brings his family together again and again.