House fire sparks loss and gratitude

“While away on vacation, a phone call woke Becky Ogorek, 59, and her husband Keith in the early hours of July 18, 2016. Their sleepiness vanished when their neighbour back home said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but your house is engulfed in flames.” The neighbourhood was frantic as she worried that the car parked in the driveway could indicate that someone was inside.

Except for their oldest daughter, the Ogoreks were gathered together on vacation at a cottage in Michigan. The oldest, in her late 20s, had flown back to Indianapolis to attend a work conference and was staying at her parent’s home. What Becky and Keith found out in the following heart-wrenching minutes was that she’d spontaneously decided to squeeze in an overnight with cousins in Chicago. She wasn’t home. No one was in the house when it had literally burst into flames.” 

Read in full on Forever Young News.

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Navigating European Airports

My family has lived abroad and traveled often in Europe, but after this last trip—with connections in various European airports—I thought how stressful and embarrassing navigating security and airports would be for rookie families.

In short, domestic airports offer no preparation for European airports.

Parents, here’s what you need to know so that you and the kids survive without a break-down. Who wants tears, tantrums, and running mascara, anyway?

Don’t Sweat It: Getting Through Security 

Don’t be me. I once felt hundreds of eyes on me at the Edinburgh Airport security check-point. I was forced to rifle through all my liquids (sunscreen, mascara, hand sanitizer, etc.) in my carry-on tote and roller suitcase. In front of the world, or so it seemed, I had to shove them into one teeny zip-lock bag. The fact is, European airports mean what they say when they allocate one zip-lock bag per traveler for liquids. Better to corral all the family’s liquids from their various pockets, cosmetic and toiletry bags before you reach the security line to confirm everything will fit. You’ve possibly never had to perform this exercise while traveling within the US, but honestly, the reinforcement at European airports is strict. What doesn’t fit will be pitched. Buh-bye, precious moisturizer.

Read in full at Oregon Family Magazine.

Staying Abroad: Handy tips for a successful European Airbnb adventure

“My family recently hopscotched our way around Europe — our seventh such vacation in eight years. Instead of choosing traditional hotel lodging, we opted to stay in Airbnbs along the way. Like many other globetrotters, we were drawn to properties in historic districts. It’s an attractive option — a terrific way to economize while simultaneously soaking up the authenticity Old World cities have to offer.”

Please read in full here: 2019 USA Today Go Escape Summer.

To Text Or Not To Text? That Is The Question

Exactly how often SHOULD you reach out to your college kid?

“I know my college-age daughter will reach out in advance to schedule coffee with me the next time she’s back. She has been consistently great about prompting time together, and yet — I’ll just as certainly spit out my coffee while reading her text scrambling to confirm, moved again by her thoughtfulness.

Her faithful pitch-perfect outreach reminds me of the tension I’ve felt ever since she left for college. The tension spans the spectrum, after all, to be too aggressive or too restrained when reaching out as parents.”

Read in full on AARP’s, The Girlfriend.

Holiday Parties: Getting Your Kids Involved

Holidays guarantee entertaining, in one form or another. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the chaos of hosting, cutting dramatically into family time during a season which should be above all, family-centric.

I countered this once by asking our son and daughter to be servers at a small dinner party we hosted. To my surprise, they took on the task with creative fanfare, devising a plan to emerge dressed “alike.” Our petite daughter stuffed herself into her younger brother’s khakis and plaid shirt, and with a mustache drawn on her face, appeared side-by-side with her khaki, plaid-shirted and mustached brother to greet guests, take drink orders, hand out water glasses and clear appetizer plates as needed. They called themselves “Bob and Bob” and ended up stealing the show. They enjoyed their popularity, and my husband and I appreciated their helpfulness, since we were stretched with finishing the meal and welcoming our guests.

This positive experience reinforced my commitment to invite the kids into the process of planning and executing a dinner party so they participate in a meaningful way.

Read in full at Washington FAMILY.

 

Stirring Up Peace In The Home, Complete With Love And Mutual Respect

With all the confrontation and strife around us, who doesn’t wish for a more peaceful world? I’ve watched people become embroiled in polarizing issues and hope that they’re paying attention to the sphere of influence where they are in control. As one concerned parent, I’ve decided to look first into the place where I can directly stir-up peace: my own home. Here are some straightforward tips to help encourage other parents in the realm where they hold significant influence.

Resist yelling around the house, no matter the size of your home. Walk into the next room and talk face-to-face with your child.

With her characteristic transparency Lori Borgman, grandmother of eleven, syndicated columnist and author of, “I Was A Better Mother Before I Had Kids” pleads guilty to sometimes raising her voice around the home. But, she says, that though it may be momentarily expedient, in the long run, it’s “a horrible habit to develop”. So, if we mess up from time to time, don’t give in. Work intentionally—like Borgman does—to prevent this oops from morphing into a hardened habit.

“Face-to-face is always better,” Bellaire High School counselor Susan Childs told me. She continued, noting that when one person’s voice is raised, it’s reciprocated and pretty quickly, no matter the topic, the point of conversation is lost. Meredith Bodgas, mother and editor-in-chief of WorkingMother.com agrees that the message is affected by its delivery: “Get down on their level so you’re talking to them, not at them or above them. Not only will they may be more inclined to listen to what you’re saying but you’ll also be less inclined to raise your voice since you’ll be so close to their little face.”

Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.

Step into a Fairytale: Exploring Heidelberg with the Family

Once upon a time, in a valley surrounded by towering hills, there was a magical town with a magical castle perched overhead.

We lived in Germany as a young American expat couple and have since traveled back numerous times to visit our favorite city of Heidelberg. Yet, I still felt a thrill this past summer when our family drove across the bridge toward Bizmarckplatz, the main transport square, into the heart of this medieval city, which was largely spared in WWII. Perhaps it’s the magical castle on the hill which makes it so treasured, or the peaceful Neckar River flowing past the city through the valley, or its bustling pedestrian zone. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Heidelberg is home to Germany’s oldest university, contributing to its charming aura with students and professors walking about. Truly, the combined total of Heidelberg’s individual features are what make her special today as when the song, “I Lost My Heart in Heidelberg” was written in the 1920s.

Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.