Car Time

The longer I’m a parent, the more I realize how precious time in the car with my children can be!  We are in the car a lot and I used to dread the rides when my children were little because they would mostly cry or fight.  I wanted to give them media devices or install TV screens in my car so I could just have some peace and quiet!!!  Then I decided there were better options.  I started with Books on CD.  My children were quite young when I played them the reading of “The Polar Express” for the first time. I will NEVER forget how quiet and mesmerized they were by a deep voice reading a book to them in the car.  They were a captive audience because they were buckled in and there was nowhere else they could go, but it kept them quiet, entertained and was teaching them all at the same time. They couldn’t do the really long chapter books at first, so we did some fun Disney stories, Jumanji, and other short ones we could check out from the library.  We would have the cutest little conversations after the book was finished.  As they’ve grown a little older we’ve transitioned into listening to chapter books and it has surprised me how well they listened and retained.  We have listened to:  “Old Yeller”, “Little House, Big Woods”, “Where the Red Fern Grows”, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Prince Caspian”, and several other great classics including the Old Testament (for children).  If we come to a part in the book they might not understand I pause the reading and explain and they can ask me question.  We have had so many amazing discussions in the car because one question would always lead to another. Often times I don’t even turn the book back on because we get so caught up talking. I find out so much about my children and their curiosities during these conversations in the car. I talk to them about so many things, ask them questions and they can talk to ME about anything.

Now that some of my children are older and can read on their own I love to have library books in the car next to them so they can read to themselves instead of just listening.  Some of my friends have kids who get carsick easily and can’t read in the car so that’s where the CD’s would come in handy. Did you know the public library carries a book/CD combo that enables the kids to be able to listen and/or follow along in the book?

I have learned that the car is also a great time to introduce good and uplifting music to my children. Everybody has their favorite kinds of music however I try to feed my children a variety of all kinds of music. I love playing CDs from musicals or great Broadway shows and explaining the basic story to my children. They love hearing the stories behind each song.  It’s fun to see what type of music each child prefers. I let them each choose their favorite track on the particular CD we are listening to and even my little 4 year-old has a definite preference.

Sometimes at home, there is too much going on to have a good long conversation with my children. Our car rides have become our uninterrupted conversation time. My husband and I don’t even bring a video player on long road trips anymore and my kids don’t expect it because they know we will either read, talk or listen to great music.  I never thought that could be possible!!

Our time in the car is so precious!  Listening to good books and music has completely changed the way we fell about out time in the car.

Thanks to my daugther-in-law Karlie for contributing this post!

Remember to be FUN

Annie w dad and comics

Parenting can often seem filled with so many “don’ts” and “hurry ups” and the need to be firm and consistent. As a result, it’s easy to get so focused on business that we forget to BE FUN.

It only take a few minutes to leave what your doing and go wrestle on the floor.  Your child will remember what you did rather than how long it lasted.

Some of my fondest memories with my children were small simple things –

Tickles in mom and dads bed on Sunday mornings.

Wrestling on the floor.  Occasionally dad would “play dead” and could only be brought back to life by a kiss.

Eating lunch or dinner sitting on an old sheet spread on the grass outside (You have to take time to eat anyway, right?). Younger kids would love to eat their food on tiny tea party type dishes.

 “Doing time” with dad. That meant one evening a week a child got 30 minutes with dad’s undivided attention. The child got to choose what ever they wanted to do for the activity.  WARNING: sometimes what the child wanted to do seemed silly to us as adults, but during this time, they chose. Rules might need to be set before this tradition begins, such as; needs to be within a certain distance from home, or can’t cost more that a certain amount of money.

 Read a picture book or 5 minutes from a chapter book.

I asked my kids their memories and here are some of the things they remember:

    • Flashlight tag
    • Coloring on big sheets of paper
    • “Helping in the kitchen”
    • Dancing in the living room while mom played the piano (and getting insanely dizzy from spinning during the “Spinning Song”). Or you can use the radio.
    • Bike/wagon rides
    • Looking through the cedar chest
    • Helping in the garden
    • Reading Sunday comics together in the recliner chair.
    • Being read to each night by the light of the closet, before bedtime.

Kids grow up fast. It feels like you blink and they are teen-agers who don’t want to spend as much time with you, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Holiday traditions

traditions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Traditions can really make the holiday season a fun, wonderful time of the year.  We want to share a few of our favorite traditions with you.  We have also gathered traditions from others.  We hope as you read you will be reminded of your wonderful traditions and possibly find another (or a few) to start doing.

Lindsey here.  I can’t express how much I love this time of the year!  I wait for it all year (and am already sad that it’s almost over when it just barely started…).  I thought I’d share some of my favorite traditions before we shared ones others have shared.

My family helps pass the LONG afternoon before Christmas Eve by playing football at the junior high school down the street.  Then we get Chinese food to take home and eat.

The day before Thanksgiving we make pies at my momma’s house.  This year the nephews joined us.

IMG_0547 IMG_0550

My mom and dad were introduced due to a gingerbread-making class my mom taught.  We now make gingerbread houses every year right after Thanksgiving.  Now that we are grown up, each sibling makes his/her own gingerbread, brings candy and gathers to decorate.

IMG_0559

IMG_0568-1

We debated putting our recipe and pattern here. We ended up not adding it, but if that’s something you’d like, leave a comment or shoot us an email and we’d be HAPPY to get it to you!

Christmas Eve we gather around the Christmas tree at bedtime, turn out the room light, and read the story of the Saviors birth from Luke 2 by the light of the tree lights.

There is a picture book called The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.  At some point during the season we read this aloud as a family.

Christmas morning (despite the fact that more than half my family lives away from home) we meet in my parents’ room around 6:00.  We have a family prayer then walk down the hallway to the living room together.  My dad always goes first so he can turn on the video camera.  We then go around and take turns opening presents.  We all watch as someone opens so that we don’t miss anything and it takes longer than if we all opened at the same time.

My husband’s family has a White Elephant gift exchange every year.  We bring food, eat, visit, steal gifts, and end up with a present at the end of the night.

My husband’s family also does humongous stocking!  You know the stockings that are 3 feet tall?  They use those.  Since they are so huge everyone helps fill them up.  Each family member buys a few things to contribute.  Late Christmas Eve we all go over and put our gifts into the big stocking.  They are usually filled with food, treats, gag gifts, small trinkets, and little gifts.

Whew!  That’s enough with me!  Let’s move on.  Thanks to those who shared their holiday traditions with us.  Here are traditions we have collected from readers, family, and friends:

A 9-year-old girl said they go to their grandparents’ house (in another state) to spend Christmas. On Christmas Eve all the grand kids build a “nest” out of blankets and pillows in the Family Room then lay in it. They watch Christmas movies until they fall asleep.

Several mom’s said their families drive around to look at Christmas lights then drink hot chocolate, on the way home or when they get home.

One reader wrote “Last year, we went Christmas Caroling to widows and widowers we know.  They loved to see our girls!  We sang a couple of song and gave them a card my girls helped make.  Baking was too much for me. We kept the list short so we could visit a few minutes with these sweet people who miss their closest loved one, especially during the holidays.  It was such a sweet experience for us and for them!”

“I like to have my kids make an ornament every year–it can be simple or complex–but have them write their names on them and the year.  My kids love putting them on the tree each year!”

One girl said that her mother re-married and changed all their traditions. She missed the things they used to do. So remember, if you’re blending a family there can be so many changes that keeping traditions the same can be an anchor for the children.

One family reads the book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Another family eats Mexican food on Christmas Eve and reads the story of the birth of the Savior from Luke 2.

One family in my neighborhood has a number of fun traditions.  They open matching pajamas every Christmas Eve.  They then wear then to bed and match the next morning.  They also read The Little Match Girl by Han Christian Andersen.  During the holiday season, their grandma comes over with a batch of sugar cookie dough; they then cook and decorates cookies with her. In addition to all these wonderful traditions, they play the Right Family Christmas game.  I had never heard of this one and I love it!  They also invite a few family members over to dress up and act out the nativity.  Christmas Eve they always read T’was the Night Before Christmas in the Desert.

Another fun tradition that was shared was a family that goes to see A Christmas Carol every year at the Hale Theatre.  Some years they invite another family, sometimes they enjoy it with just their immediate family.

One of my good friends grandpa owned a hotel.  Christmas is one of the busiest days in that industry.  If her father’s family opened presents on Christmas Day, his dad would miss it.  So they would open presents on Christmas Eve.  Now, 2 generations later they still adhere to that tradition (even though the family is no longer in that business).  Santa still brings one big gift for Christmas morning, but other than that all the presents are opened the night before.

I heard from two separate families that they have a white stocking for Christ.  On Christmas Eve each family member gives a gift to Christ.  It’s supposed to be a way that you will remember Him during the holiday.  They write it on a piece of paper and put it in the stocking.  It could be anything from being nicer to a family member, to being more helpful to others.

Many families shared that they eat a fancy dinner Christmas Eve.  They have a ham, use China, and have a nice big family dinner.

A Christmas Eve hike with a fire on the top of the mountains is a tradition for one family.  At the top as they are around the fire, they talk about forgiveness and tell stories.

A couple families who have private pilots in their families fly over Christmas lights at night.

A friend told me about her sister who has an enchanting tradition.  She, her husband, and young child had just moved across the country for her husband to start attending Harvard.  Money was incredible tight that year.  Since they couldn’t afford a tree of any other decorations she decided to make her own decorations.  She took newspapers and old school textbooks and cut out paper snowflakes.  She hung them ALL over the house.  Since then (over 20 years ago), the whole family makes snowflakes each year.  They pick their favorite one each year, write their name and the date.  They have saved snowflakes from EACH year and when they decorate, their living room is covered with snowflakes from all the years.

What ever your traditions are, we hope that you have a wonderful season!  Thanks for stopping by and have a happy holiday!

 

Your traditions

tra·di·tion noun \trə-ˈdi-shən\ : a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time

The holidays are knocking at our door!  We have been thinking a lot about holiday traditions.  Every family has different, fun traditions and we want to hear about what you do!  We will be putting together a blog post all about holiday traditions soon.

What do we want from you?  Let us know what you do around this time of the year that makes the holidays special.  If you’re up for it ask your children and let us know what they say (kids always have a different perspective).  It can be anything from a family activity to a favorite recipe.

We have some delightful traditions that we have and will be sharing as well.  Here’s a little sneak peak:

IMG_1880

Michelle Johansen put it well when she said; “The holiday season is a time to build lifelong memories with your family.  Traditions also help you bond and reconnect with loved ones, friends, and neighbors.”

So, please take a quick moment and write to us a favorite holiday tradition you have—you can leave a comment here, click over to the “contact us” tab, or shoot us an email @ askaparentorteacher@gmail.com.  Then tune in shortly to read our collection of  holiday traditions that you might want to start in your home!