Posts Tagged ‘family bonding’

Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I learned a fair amount about parenting from my “firstborn,” a larger-than-life golden retriever. Perhaps the most important lesson she taught me was to never underestimate the value of a good hello. Every day after work, I would come home to a whirling dervish of a dog. I soon learned that how I handled those first few moments of togetherness could make or break the quality of my (our!) evening.

A quick ruffling of her head with a “Hey there, Sandra McJean!” meant I’d be in for a long evening of “Stop chewing on the armoire!” and “Why are you barking?!” On the other hand, if I gave Sandy 10 minutes of undivided attention upon my arrival, it made all the difference. Given a little play time, some serious petting, and encouraging words, she’d be good to go for the rest of the night. When I became mother to my first daughter, I recognized the drill! Sure enough, the tone for an entire evening had a lot to do with how those first few minutes were managed. Did my daughter feel seen and heard-truly welcomed and full of my love for her, or did she feel overlooked and insignificant, leaving her empty and wanting more, more, MORE!? (more…)

“Are We There Yet?”

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

A few years back, when our boys were 8 and 11, we took a vacation to Yosemite. We stayed at a place more than a few minutes outside the park (read: long car ride!). After several days of driving too long and hearing “Are we there yet?” too many times, we decided to explore closer to our hotel. We’d heard of a nice hiking trail just a few minutes away and set out one morning.

Walking around a corner and going just a bit, we found ourselves transported to our own mini Yosemite experience. We hiked for several hours, discovering so many little treasures, from a sweet horse named Clark to the smallest little friend, a black and yellow caterpillar. We even discovered a couple of small waterfalls with rock ledges. These turned out to be just right for our boys, since they wanted to climb around. By the end of the day, they were happy, relaxed, and ready to take on another car ride the next day!

Moral of the story? Sometimes we just try to cram too much into a family vacation. As adults we want to “see” everything, when in fact there are so many other things to see. By the way, on our drive home, I was not at all surprised to hear that my boys’ favorite experience was our mini Yosemite hike. It warmed my heart knowing that we’d made the right choice to experience part of our vacation on our kids’ own terms.

How a Special Book Helped Our Family

Friday, November 14th, 2008

I wanted to share my story of the impact a Chinaberry book had on my family. (I originally wrote this in autumn 2005–we still love reading this book.) Please share your story of a Chinaberry book that has touched your family’s lives.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

I am a new single-mom who recently adopted twin 3-year-old girls. Due to their background, the newness of our family, and their age, my daughters were having a lot of trouble separating from me when I would take them to preschool, at bedtime, etc. It filled me with sadness when I would see their surprised looks when I came to pick them up from preschool and they would ask me “You came back to get us?” I was looking for books that could help them feel reassured that this Mommy will always love them, take care of them & come back for them.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn was the perfect book to help illustrate that point. At every separation (and any other time they wanted), I would give them a kiss on the hand, ask them to put their hand on the side of their face, and repeat “Mommy loves me.” It sounds so simple, yet it really works. Now, several months later, I am happy to say that the girls are still happy to see me after work, but never surprised. The Kissing Hand book and concept have really helped the girls feel/sense my love for them during the school day & even throughout their sleep. (They also like to give me a “kissing hand” so I can remember how much they love me.)