Children’s Grief Awareness Month

When sitting down to write about this very important topic, I hesitated. Where do I start? What should I focus on? There’s so many feelings that come with grief. And that’s when I knew, it’s important to acknowledge them all….starting with our own emotions and reactions.

To help children, we must first be honest with ourselves and how we feel. Without first exploring this, we can’t truly see any walls we may put up when it comes to helping children. We need to be honest with ourselves and take a look at the wave of emotions, thoughts, and realizations that we go through when someone we know dies. Seeing ourselves more clearly will allow us to enter into conversations with children who do not possess the coping mechanisms or ability to decipher their emotions.

Because when children lose someone they love, they need our support, our love, and our help. They need us to be honest with our word choices about death, but compassionate and gentle with our approach. No adult wants to have children experience grief, but it happens. Their tears and heart ache will trade places with anger, fear, loneliness, and perhaps even self blame at any moment.

It’s important to note that even though they are stages to grief, they do not go in any specific order. Once again, grief has no order. Grief hits unexpectedly, and the “stages” come and go, interchange, and jumble with however someone is feeling at that moment.

Every child is different with how they experience grief. The best thing we can do is to be present, support them, and love them.

Book Review: The Squirrels Who Squabbled by Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field

Themes: Friendship, teamwork

Age: 3-5 years old

Summary: This book is about one squirrel who lives for the present, and another who has worked hard to store nuts for winter. When each notice the last acorn, they both fight to have it. In a hilarious tale, we watch the squirrels squabble over the acorn, taking the reader on a wild ride through the forest, which ends with a ride over a waterfall and…….without the acorn. In the end, the squirrels laugh at themselves and decide that from this day on, they’ll gather food together and share.

It’s a great story to share with children because it teaches them that arguing and fighting isn’t the way to behave. Through funny illustrations, it also shows children that sharing and friendship what’s most important.

Too much tv… to stop the madness!

It started off so innocently. Let the kids watch a show or two, it’s okay. I remember watching tv as a kid. But somehow, it went from one show in the morning, to one in the afternoon and at night. Then, they each wanted to pick their own show, and wouldn’t agree upon what to watch. I gave in, thinking it couldn’t hurt. Before I knew it, we were spending WAY to much time watching tv. They would wake up early to request a show, come home from school wanting shows, and then argue over who got to pick a show at night. Instead being a thing of an enjoyment and maybe giving me a minute, or 30, to myself, it turned into the enemy.

When my kids did get their choice of show, they would want another and then tantrum when I refused. This behavior was definitely not tolerated. It all came to a head when my youngest started screaming at the top of their lungs that they wanted another show, and wouldn’t accept “no” for an answer. Well, that was it! Goodbye tv!

That’s right, I took it away from my youngest for 3 days straight. My eldest only had one show a day, which my youngest wasn’t allowed to watch. Did it go well……no. There was a lot of screaming. I tried to reason with my youngest saying that tv is a treat, you need to earn it. Bad behavior will result in another day without tv. Can you guess what happened???? That’s right, they went wild, got very upset, and lost tv for more days, a week total. To my surprise, after about 5-6 days, my youngest stopped asking for a show. Instead, my kids played games, made crafts, built cardboard houses out of amazon or Walmart boxes. Yes, folks, I’m actually on the side of less tv is better! Somehow I have come out on the other side, with some bruises b/c it wasn’t easy, or pleasant, but it can be done.

I was letting tv be a babysitter, which in the end, wasn’t working for my family. Kids do need down time and brain breaks, but for us, I realized that tv wasn’t helping, only opening up the door for bad behavior.

I’m not here to judge or say how someone should run their family. I’m just sharing my trials, triumphs and failures in hopes that it can help someone else.

Best of luck to everyone out there. Feel free to share your stories with me! I’d love to hear them.

Pumpkin Patch Magic

Today my son and I went with his school on a field trip to the pumpkin patch. The day was beautiful! The sun shone through sparse clouds, leaves rustled under our feet, and the air was filled with giggles and laughter of children. The kids fed a few farm animals and we headed out on a hayride. I’m amazed at how I forget how great it is just to be surrounded by nature. The morning was a tough one to say the least. Being outside, in the crisp fall air, seemed to be just the cure I needed.

After the hayride, everyone picked a pumpkin and two gourds. I gotta say, my son picked out some pretty awesome gourds! Out of all the ones there, he managed to find the only swan gourd….way to go bud.

On days where things seem less than sunny in your world, try stepping outside for a minute and take in a little nature. It definitely worked for me today. Well that, and a fun trip to a pumpkin patch as seen through the eyes of a child.

Feel Love

Today I dropped my son off for afternoon school, then went to swing by my daughter’s school to see how she was feeling. She’s on an antibiotic for an ear infection, and the nurse said I could bring in Motrin for her if she needed it. I got there right at lunch and went over to my daughter. She knocked me over with how surprised, happy, delighted, ELATED she was to see me! There was so much LOVE coming from her! Hugs and cuddling close to me while she ate….it was so nice!

Our world has been stuck in a rut of not listening, bad behavior and time outs that it was so nice to feel love. To GIVE love and have that great feeling of being a parent. It’s not always like that is it? But when it is, GRAB onto it, cherish it, and be in the moment as much as possible. Your kids do love you! We can just get caught in the cycle of being a disciplinarian that we forget that these little people are our loves.

If you’re feeling stuck, try shaking up your routine. Maybe take a spontaneous adventure, a walk in the park, a night car ride with glow sticks (my kids favorite), movie night with popcorn or anything you can think of that will bring back some plain love and fun into your family. Days can get hard, but we ALL need to feel love.

Friday Faves:. The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers

I feel like I stumbled on a secret treasure with this book! The Night Gardener is the debut novel from Eric and Terry Fan, real life brothers. This story takes place in a dull world on Grimloch Lane that gets transformed by a magic gardener who works at night. Over the course of a few days, trees are turned into works of art, and the community begins to change for the better. No one has ever seen the night gardener, except for a boy named William, who has a chance meeting with the night gardener. The two work together and the boy’s life is never the same. I really encourage you to read this book. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed, and brings the lovely story to life. I highly recommend The Night Gardener! Happy reading!

Friday Faves: The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton

Happy Friday! Today I want to share with you The Extraordinary Gardener. It is a gentle, sweet book both written and uniquely illustrated by Sam Boughton. This story is about a boy named Joe, who lives in a world of gray. Joe loves to go into his imaginary world filled with vivid color, plants and unique animals. Joe gets an idea and decides to plant a seed, water and care for it. One day, it blooms and changes the world he lives in. My kids and I really enjoyed this story. I hope you give it a chance and it finds it’s way into your home. I’m sure you’ll like it! Enjoy!

Gifts for kids 6 and under

Old school groove with a new school twist

I’m not sure about you, but I’m always on the lookout for hands on toys that requires kids to use their imagination. I know I remember loving certain toys and games from my childhood, and most of them didn’t involve a screen. (Well, with the exception of using the running pad at my friends house that hooked up to a video game!).

The following is a list that still thrills kids and you won’t believe how simple they are:

  1. Play-doh. Yes, it can be messy, but so worth it.
  2. Play foam – this stuff is magic! Less mess but super fun to mold
  3. Bubble wands- my kids are 4 & 6 and still like bubbles
  4. Chalk
  5. Design rubbing plates – (see Melissa and Doug) you can create your character by putting plates together then run on top and you get your character to color
  6. Craft supplies – craft sticks, piper cleaner, paper, google eyes
  7. PUZZLES! These are so amazing! Kids can use their problem solving skills and work on their focus
  8. Card games – Old Maid, Go Fish, Crazy 8s
  9. Pinwheels – I know! But they can take them outside and play in the wind
  10. Magna- tiles
  11. Legos for older kids
  12. Board games – Guess who, Hoot Owl Hoot, Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, Surprise slides (They have all different kinds) Sorry! (My kids really like this surprisingly)
  13. Bead kits
  14. Food and kitchen items (Melissa and Do ug)
  15. Cash register
  16. Old school phone
  17. Memory game – ugh, I lose every time to my kids, no joke
  18. Stamps and stamp rollers – can also be used in play-doh too
  19. Train and wooden train tracks
  20. Books!!!!!!

Anyone have any toys their kids love?