engaging kids outside the home

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“Summer is greeting us with her cheerful grin, but parents who couldn’t come up for the air needed to plan for her grand entrance are not doing a happy dance. It looms instead like an epic black hole, begging for definition. Camp registration deadlines came and went a long time ago, but maybe, your kids aren’t keen on camp, anyway. You don’t want summer to be a chore for you or your kids. So, what’s a good parent to do?

There are plenty of life-changing ways to occupy your children over the summer besides sending them to camp and, ample evidence that these experiences are deeply formative. In my case, an older friend needed help weeding her flower garden and asked if my 12-yr-old daughter (who wasn’t a camp-loving girl) wanted to earn some cash. In fact, she did, and though it was a hot, humid undertaking, my daughter was glad she said yes. Weeding side-by-side, the two bonded over their love of fiction and started their own book club, reading “The Wheel On the School”, “Ruby Holler” and “Number the Stars”. My daughter grew from that summer, on her knees beside my dear old friend, picking weeds and talking books.” 

Read in full in Houston Family Magazine.

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Keeping our kids safe: what our leaders are doing and what we as parents can do, too

“Many anguished parents across America have come to recognize Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter, Meadow, in the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14. With his face flashing across various news channels, his passionate anger is palpable when he says straight into the camera, No more. “We’ve had 200 school shootings in America and it’s got to stop,” he recently told CNN. His life-long goal going forward, he says, is to make schools safe. “My agenda is to have kids go to school without worrying they’ll be shot.” His posture and message serve to summarize the mood of every parent: Fix it! Enough already.”

Read in full in Houston Family Magazine.

Sick As A Dog: When you have an ailing pet, it affects the well-being of everyone in the family

“FaceTime rang and up popped my daughter’s face, bringing her all the way from college into the living room. Her voice filled our home and, as we’ve come to expect, Ezzy started whining, desperately trying to connect with her old buddy. That we miss our daughter acutely around our home is no surprise, but it’s painful to watch our beloved family pet cry for her.

“How’s she been lately?” our daughter asked, alluding to Ezzy’s health.

In answer, our 16-year-old son picked Ezzy up and put her sheltie nose—such a cute one—into the camera. Ezzy is confused. She hears the familiar voice, but can’t find the person behind it and continues whimpering.”

Read in full on Purple Clover.

Family Travel Helped Our Kids Make Their Own Memories, Not Simply Step Into Ours

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“We lived in Germany as a young expat couple and a decade later traveled back to show our daughter and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts. I thought it promised to be a sweet walk down memory-lane, where our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago.

Instead, they insisted on pulling us in new directions, almost as if they, first-timers in Germany, were the tour-guides. A huge dancing mess of little prints resulted, sprinkled wildly around our larger ones. I should have known the kids would insist on making their own footprints, creating original memories driven by them.

They transformed our time in Germany into a nonstop quest to conquer towers.

Any signage with Schloss (castle), Feste (stronghold), or Burg (fortress) sent our car careening in that direction as if driven by the giggling youth in the backseat. Without exception, we would climb to the upmost height of the ruin, up the cramped, damp, spiral stairs to the lookout tower.

These ruins–unlike American historic sites—lacked the warning signs, the guardrails, the attendants and the guides. There were no disclaimers posted, no emergency phones available if help were needed, no brochure map to navigate the castle ruin’s maze. Kids sprinting from dungeon to teetering tower were solely under the protection of their parents.”

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine

Teaching Our Kids to Love Fully in an Unfair World

Today, a bird slowly died in front of my children. The impact against our sliding glass doors was deafening. Housebound by a winter storm, the kids and I quickly abandoned our hot chocolate in our rush to discover that a bright crimson cardinal had struck the glass. It now lay helpless in the snow.

Be honest and don’t construct a cover-up. What’s been seen can’t be unseen: I watched, helpless to intervene or make my kids unsee this tragedy. The suffering we were witnessing elicited, “Mom, let’s help it!” “Should we bring it inside and nurse it?” “What do we do?” “Poor bird.” Our 12-year-old’s large eyes were brimming with tears. Her younger brother couldn’t look away. I wanted as badly as my kids to watch this bird miraculously fly away. But the cardinal grew still and we, silent, mourning the loss of an innocent bird.

Show sensitivity and respect for their particular attachments: Unlike adults, children fall in love fearlessly, without baggage. Maybe it’s toys as much or more than the people surrounding them they cherish. In the case of my children, it was their stuffed animals—each complete with name and personality.

As enjoyable as it was for me to witness the creative powers at work in my children’s play, I knew that the depth of attachment would create a storm of trouble if any of these animal kingdom favorites were lost. After all, these were real as flesh and blood friends in my children’s world. On many occasions, we did come close to losing a stuffed friend. At the grocery, in the airplane, on the sidewalk, silently fallen out of the stroller.

In every instance, the look of shock and pain in the affected child’s eyes was a small step into the brutal world, where fierce affection is often accompanied by sorrow, a pain equal to the love.

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine.

Through the Sand: A Driving Lesson From Dubai

Image 7-10-17 at 3.54 PMRead in full at The Manifest-Station. “I posed a million-dirham ($272,260.72 into today’s US dollar) question: “Do the children of Dubai play in sandboxes?” Our family, newly transplanted from the Washington, DC area where sandboxes had provided our children with hours of fun in earlier years, mulled over this question the summer we moved temporarily to the desert metropolis of Dubai. Even with all of Dubai’s development, if one catapulted high enough above the impressive skyline, Dubai seemed not too unlike one massive sandbox with ribbons of various roads lying thickly near the coast and rapidly thinning out in numbers the further away from the sandbox’s edge of the Arabian Sea, until only interminable sand remained.

The subject of driving, however, quickly claimed our attention as it rapidly morphed to the level of top priority. This critical arena of living required quick-study because learning this new turf involved navigating Dubai’s roads, roads which often betrayed the foundation they were laid upon: sand.

Continue reading “Through the Sand: A Driving Lesson From Dubai”

Teaching My Kids The Simple Life Gave Them A Taste Of The Good Life

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Our values as parents will be past down to our #kids. What do you #cherish? Happy to be adding my voice to Red Tricycle‘s #March discussion on #minimalism#stuff #materialism #place #space #recycling #goodlife#parenting #location #publicspace #purging

“We knew that our young daughter had internalized our commitment to place over space. At school she was asked to define “neighborhood” and she wrote confidently from her own experience: “A neighborhood is a place where people live, work, and play.” Not bad for a six-year-old.

At its core, the simple life for us was wrapped up in our appreciation for walkability. That summarizes our family’s definition of a good place, and that’s what we tell our realtor every time. We want to be able to walk to the coffeeshop, grocery and pub. We’ve resided in apartments and townhouses. Once we even tried a single-family home. Today, as a family of four, we live in a downtown high-rise with two teenagers. We haven’t owned a lawnmower since 2001.

The urban life necessitated a smaller home out of which blossomed the simple life.”

Read in full herehttp://redtri.com/teaching-my-kids-the-simple-life-gave-them-a-taste-of-the-good-life/

The Dangers Of Online Sharing

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“As social media mavens, we want to be remembered. Often apt personal anecdotes are the best way to connect with our followers or Facebook friends and drive a post’s popularity. But when it comes to sharing about our significant other and children, the line of decency can often feel blurry.

The question is weighty, worth the internal wrestling.

The What, When and Why: My personal habits on sharing family-related content start with timing. I allow time to pass before I post about an experience that directly involves either my husband or children. Looking back on an experience affords many advantages.”

Published in Sonoma Family Life Magazine‘s November issue on pg 14.

What Happened When I Quit Helicopter Parenting

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“When I coddle my kids, I hurt them. If I keep myself at the center of their universe, helicopter parenting and serving their every need, the goal of independence is undermined. It’s much harder to stay in the shadows and watch them successfully dodge one bad decision only to perform a dramatic faceplant when the next major obstacle reveals itself. But how else will they learn?”

Thank you, San Diego Family Magazine, for publishing my essay on the perils of helicopter parenting.

Read in full: https://www.sandiegofamily.com/resources/parenting/1981-helicopter-parenting

Once Upon An Expat

 

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With great excitement I present Once Upon An Expat now available in paperback on Amazon. Connecting with this talented, fascinating group of writers from all across the globe under the leadership of Editor Lisa Webb has provided me a singular writing high point for 2016.

Go to Amazon for your Kindle or paperback copy and while you’re at it, check out my  author page!