Remembering Mom

When I think of my wonderful Mom, I remember her being selfless. She looked for the children who needed help and she gave them support. They often didn’t know it, but from our perch at home, we watched her extend kindness to those who needed it most. She was always there to read a story, always there to rock a sick little one with an ear ache in the middle of the night. Always cheerful, truly one of the most positive people ever to live. She’s been gone almost five years and there is not a day that I don’t miss her. If you were to ever ask my Dad, he would readily tell you that Mom was the best cook and baker in the county. I suspect he was right.

So many memories we hold of those we cherish happen around the dinner table. Traditional meals or even daily doings. In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day, I am posting one of our favorite holiday recipes from Mom. She got the recipe from her Mom and we still use it today. My children have the recipe so they can keep it handy for their tables when needed. Four generations, connected by one recipe. That’s powerful.

Cornbread Dressing

4 Cups breadcrumbs (day old biscuits (yeast biscuits) I love that it calls for Day Old Bread–this is probably because they didn’t want to use fresh bread in the dressing as this recipe is from the days of the Depression. They were saving the fresh bread to go on the table.

4 Cups cornbread, (I use white cornbread mix)

1 Cup milk, with 1/3 cup of softened butter

1/2 Cup Chopped Onion, 1/2 cup Chopped Celery

3 Cups chicken or turkey broth. Use this to soften your onions and celery. I use the microwave to heat up the broth with the onions and celery.

After the broth has cooled, add 1 egg to the broth

4 Heaping Tablespoons of Sage (I do not use fresh. If you use fresh Sage, reduce the amount you use.) Salt to taste. (I don’t use salt)

Crumble warm biscuits and cornbread in a large bowl. Add Sage seasonings. Add hot broth with onions and celery to make a soft mixture. Mix well and add softened butter and milk. Mixture should be very soft to allow for loss of moisture during baking–almost soupy! Add more broth if necessary. Pour into a greased pan, bake at 350 for 1 hour, until well browned.

Even though this is a Thanksgiving recipe, I think everyday is a good day to give thanks, so it must be a good day for Cornbread Dressing!

Enjoy and Have a great day!

See you tomorrow.

(c) CK

May 4, 2021

Finding Gratitude

What a Wonderful World

Everyone experiences something hard. Being grateful does not change the difficutly of what you are asked to experience, but it does change your response. I have had to remind myself of this lately! It is easy to get into a pity party when it’s more proactive for you to open your eyes, ask for support and find the support you need. If you do those three things, you will find yourself feeling better. It takes time but it does happen. Gratitude is a daily reminder that helps each of us feel encouraged and “in-couraged” as well.

Deal with your problems and try to be realistic. Accept the things you cannot change and work on those things you can change.

Write this down:

*What is your biggest challenge at the moment? Have more than one?…–Put each challenge on a different sheet of paper so you can sort out how to move forward on each issue.

*Brainstorm five things you can do to help the situation.

*What can you not change about the challenge? How can you reach a level of acceptance if the outcome cannot change? Once you have identified what you cannot change, accept it and let your focus stay centered on what can be done today to make your day better.

I would encourage you to begin a gratitude journal. Start with 50, yes 50, things you are grateful for. Say thank you for those things everyday. Creating this list and setting the habit to list those items everyday will go a long way in keeping your spirits lifted and being more positive. If you don’t have time to write your list down on paper, then begin listing in the shower or when you are driving to work each morning. A mental list works just fine!

Today, I am thankfor for the sun and the rainbows that follow the storms. I am thankful that you took time to read my blog and look at my art. Of course, I am thankful for prayers. If I’m adding to keep my list going, then there are my reading glasses, painting, food in the pantry (no trips to the grocery today) and miracles. That’s only a start to my list! Hope it inspires you to get your list started too.

See you tomorrow.

(c) CK

5.3.2021

It Really Does Take a Village

It’s been said it takes a village to raise our children and this is true. When you brought your newborn home from the hospital for the first time , the village was already forming. Grandparents were present. Perhaps aunts, uncles, coursins, and siblings were there. Most certainly, special friends were invited into the inner circle to support and nurture this new life.

There most certainly are angels among us in this world!

Something happens however when the village expands beyond the home and we find ourselves questioning the expanded world our children enter. When you take your children to preschool for the first time or leave them with a sitter for the first time, you may enter this new world feeling anxious. You will wonder silently, “Will my child feel loved? WIll he/she have a good day or play and learn and make friendships?”

I understand these feelings of uncertaintiy. The village has grown and even though you have done your research in choosing the right “spot or sitter” for your children, you have not had experience with the individuals assigned to watch your children while you are away.

We all recognize today that not everyone in the village will be perfect. Be alert and pay attention. If something seems wrong, ask questions and ask for change. You are your child’s stongest advocate.

Please know also, that in our schools at least, the large majority of administrators and teachers are there to partner with you. There will parents of future freinds that will be in your expanding village and the list continues if you include doctors, clergy, coaches, tutors and therapists. Each one will be waiting to work beside you as your children grow.

You have been entrusted with a gift. Guid. Love. Protect. Nurture. Learn all you can and affirm you are doing the best you can. Your children will be the recipeints of your dedication but you will received something far greater. For at the end of each stage of develpment, you will look back and know you have expereinced perhaps the greatest role in life.

Chart the course with care as you navigate the journey. I wish you enough along the way and wish for you and your children, al life of joy.

See you tomorrow!

(c) CK

5.2.2021

Learning to Just Be- Happy Mother’s Day

Look for the Rainbows.

I do believe this past six months has taught all of us to do a double-take on what is important and how we prioritize our choices around “being.” With our young children, simply being present and showing up is necessary. Depending on a child’s temperament, it can influence how they see you. Are you dependable? Are you trustworthy? Do you value their time with you or are you distracted? Believe me, they notice.

In being with your children, there will be times that you simply need to just be close by, observing their play as they create. Other moments may need your input and certainly need your hands on investment as you create playful interactions together. Be pro-active. If your children are struggling, observe and ask why. The earlier you uncover roadblocks to learning, the better off your children will be as they move forward. Perhaps it speech, maybe it’s physically needing support. Ask your children’s teachers and get recommendations for support. Whatever it is, you have a duty to invest the energy into figuring it out and moving your children forward in the best way you can.

The Story: Being Present and Recieving the Gift

When my older daughter was four, her preschool class was planning a Mother’s Day Tea. I was excited to go to my first Tea Party at school, but my daughter had other thoughts about the day. When I told her it was time to get dressed for school, she protested. She did not want to go and I decided it was not going to be a good experience for either of us to go, so I called the school and told them we were taking the day off. Had this been another “regular” day, we certainly would have packed up and gone to school, but in reality, I was being a bit selfish because I didn’t want a memory of my first school Tea Party to be one filled with tears.

Once I backed off and told her we would stay home together for the morning, her tears immediately dried up and she shared a secret with me. She had been planning in her mind, my very own personal tea party. Be still my heart!

She led me to the kitchen and we made peanut butter finger sandwiches and lemonade. We picked flowers from the back yard and decorated the dining room table. She was quite specific that she wanted to use the fine china, and carefully she set the plates, cups and saucers at our places at the table.

Having prepared the table, she announced it was time to get ourselves ready and oh, what fun we had going through my closet. She picked out her grown up outfit, picked out my dress, we put on make-up together and brushed each other’s hair.

I must say, the celebration at the table and the actual Tea Party, took about five minutes but the true celebration of her wanting to have this morning together was the true gift. To this day, it is my favorite memory of Mother’s Day. I am forever grateful that I did not miss it. I am grateful I was able to be present and just be-with her. You never know by being present, being playful and being accepting what magical gift awaits you.

Here’s wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day, everyday.

See you tomorrow.

CK

Honoring Teachers

Thank you to our teachers! We are grateful for your faithfulness to the children.

This past year of witnessing the teachers and administrators as they have balanced a teaching schedule around Covid has been mind-boggling and for those on the front lines, it’s probably been mind-numbing at times. I admire the strength and tenacity it has taken for these wonderful souls to teach our children. They most certainly need our thanks for all they have accomplished …and they deserve an extra special end of year present this year.

Here are 5 ideas to get your started:

1 A Gift Card to a favorite restaurant –attached to a plate of homemade cookies.

2 A basket full of books or magazines that your teacher would enjoy. Let your child decorate the basket or write a letter of appreciation to that teacher for all that he/she has done this year.

3 A recipe box, filled with recipes you enjoy the most. Include a casserole (such as chicken tettrazini) with the recipe attached.

5 Give them a gift card for a spa package and include a gift bag filled with bath soaps and hand creams.

The gifts the teachers have given to all the children this year will become a permanent part of their foundation as they move forward into the next year. They will be remembered long after the school year ends and for many children, they will be remembered for a lifetime. We are lucky to have had so many step forward with confidence and teach our children well. Thanks some more wonderful teachers. You have made a difference.


Have a great day. See you tomorrow!

CK

Maintaining Trust

Today’s news is really out of balance. Stories are sensationalized and this impacts our views of the world. If you think it doesn’t affect your children, you should rethink what they are absorbing everyday when news is playing out on the screens.

As a parent or grandparent or God parent or aunt, uncle or special friend to the family, you need to be a safe place for children when the world around them spins out of control. We all learned this lesson when 911 happened. We learned it again in Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey. Today we are witnessing children being dropped over the border wall. Really? Can you imagine if you are shocked, just how children could be processing those images? It is our duty and responsibility to help our children feel secure and much of that security depends on your responses to those events. Above all others, they will turn to you to guide them to a place of feeling protected. Above all others, you will be their safe place. They are watching you to learn how to respond.

The Story: The Girl Who Saw and Heard Too Much

For many years, I lived in Houston and when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Houston opened its doors and hearts to those New Orleans families needing support. At the time, I was a head of school and our licensing office told us we could extend beyond our regulated ratios as we accepted children who were displaced by the storm. Schools across the city took children into classrooms and families were nurtured as much as possible.

One child I accepted into our school was four. Her home was destroyed. Her grandparents had remained in New Orleans. She didn’t know how they were and they couldn’t reach them. Her Daddy was assigned to a task force to survey and work through the trauma occuring around New Orleans. Needing to to deal with the stress of all he was seeing and hearing, he would talk with his wife about all he was coping with. This young child heard much and her world, along with her entire family, was turned upside down.

For weeks, she didn’t speak. For weeks she didn’t participate in class. For weeks, she was replaying the images she had witnessed first-hand. In short, she was traumatized.

It took a good part of the year to help this child process what had happened to her but supported by counselors, her school community and most certainly her family, she began to heal. She was provided a safe place to release through drawings and talking, just what she had experienced.

Helping children return to a place of security begins with you. And me. And those who make up your tribe. And those who are not in your tribe. We all must model good decision-making so our children can be resiliant as they learn to be strong. AND… you must take care of yourself so you can better take care of the children in your life. We will get through these days that challenge our sensibilities.. Let’s make a deal to do it together.

Sending you good thoughts for a positive day.

See you tomorrow!

CK

It’s Spring and the Birds are Singing

I have been away for too long and must admit that life gives us much to ponder as we focus on what takes place.

For the past few months my sweet husband has been in Hospice Care. It has changed our routines, our expectations of daily rituals. Life has slowed down and we are in the midst of a sacred season. Just thinking about what this season brings, it’s startling… and I have had to take a big break from my routine of posting on my blog. To anyone reading this today, he is doing okay! We know time is limited, but for today, we are grateful.

What this time has given me, in addition to humility and devotion, is a time to paint. I am finding my designs are changing and I am moving further away from preschool stones and into art stones. I hope you will look around! I have updated the site today with new designs and sets. If you see anything you would like to order or have a custom set in mind, please let me know. I love working with clients who have ideas for the stones.

At this very moment, I am sitting by my window, wathcing so many birds enjoy our yard. Robins, cardinals, yellow finches and even quail. This is the first year to see the quail but they are settling in with the others just fine.

As I face the changes that are coming, at least for today and in this moment, the peace I spy outside my window reminds me of the hope we are given as we live each day. I leave you with this snipet of a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and hope it lifts your spirits. Ahhh-sweet spring.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing …

See you tomorrow!

CK

Take Heart! February is Around the Corner!

Februrary is coming soon and that means love is in the air. But did you know there are other celebrations that mark the lovely month of February? There are so many opportunities to teach kindness to your children this month and so below, today’s blog is filled with ideas you can pick and choose to celebrate the first week with deeds that make you smile or make others smile.

Have a Heart!

February 1– National Dark Chocolate Day. Hmm–what to make for someone special–dark chocolate cake? Hot Cocoa? Or perhaps you decorate a bag and leave it full of chocolate bites for a favorite person to find.

February 2-Groundhog’s Day–be sure to look for your shadow today! Perhaps you do a negative space drawing with a design cut out on carboard. Place that over your paper, have your little artist paint and voila-you have a peice of art that you can recognize and they have enjoyed the process of simply painting! Remember to hang it up so your artist can see it. It is validating to him/her when the artwork is displayed.

Februrary 3- National Carrot Cake Day– this is a great day to teach the art of peeling carrots and it’s such good fine motor for little hands. If you don’t want to bake a cake, have your child tear orange paper into strips and decorate a paper plate. Not as tasty, but still fun!

February 4-National Homemade Soup Day. Read Stone Soup and get busy in the kitchen. Don’t forget to find a stone, clean it and add it to your pot!

February 5-National Weather Person Day. Let’s play dress up today. How would the weather person dress to go out and check the weather today? Do you need snow boots, mittens, ear muffs or do you live where you can put on your flip flops? What does a weather person wear in front of the camera? Should you film your own weather report? I think so!

February 6-Pay a Compliment Day–Teaching children to notice something special about someone is a good beginning to helping them be less egocentric. This is also a time to practice, please, thank you and your welcome. Once you begin this art of kindness, keep it going. As the saying goes– practice makes perfect.

February 7-National Fettucini Alfredo Day. Yummy! Get busy in the kitchen. Cooking together teaches children math (measurements), time, science (properties that change as foods cook) and of course creativity. For example–could your noodles be dyed a color?

This gets you going for the first week of Februrary. Think ahead so you can celebrate everyday. I will add activities for the 2nd week of February soon.

Speaking of celebrations, today is MLK,Jr. Day. It’s a good day to take time to discuss his gift of seeing the person as a person and not as a color. If you are looking for a way to discuss differences with young children, make a chart with how people are alike (all have eyes, ears, nose and a mouth.) How could those be different? Eye color, hair color, sight vs. sightless, or the ability to hear. What if a child has no hair? Does that make that child less of a friend? Of course not.

We were designed to each be singular. Teach your children that everyone has something to teach and offer to another person. It begins with you as the parent, your child’s first teacher to begin the discussion.

Have a great day!

CK

The Block Box!

Children love to build. As they begin, you will notice as they lay blocks on the ground, side by side. Our builders then progress to stacking blocks one on top of another and then proceed to knock the blocks down. This is developmental and they are learning cause and effect! They are toddlers at this stage and everything is new!

Once they have completed this stage of discovery, you will see them begin to build towers, followed by simple structures. Eventually, your active builders will move to more complex structures with roads and enclosures, such as four blocks creating a square to hold such things as plastic animals. This developmental step usually occurs around older 3’s to age 4.

The block box is necessary as it teaches problem-solving and is a good shared activity for introducing team building. It allows for imitation of the world with abstract objects and it allows for spatial awareness.

Suggested equipment:

Legos and Duplo blocks * Tinker Toys * Lincoln Logs * ABC Blocks * Tabletop Blocks * Floor blocks, colored and natural * Colored toothpicks with stryofoam sheets for building * Cereal boxes and juice boxes make great building tools too!

For children under two, I would suggest using soft blocks such as cardboard or foam. Always double check the block sizes offered to prevent choking.

Children need props. Jus setting out commuinty helper figures, play cars, trucks, fire engines, boats, trains, airplanes, or small plastic animals, extends the interest and allows for complexity to occurs as the children play.

One final tip for today:

Take a plain white shower curtain to create a well-defined playspace. With colored tape, you can mark off roads and make circles for ponds. Let your children be a part of the process by giving them markers to draw houses, tall buildings, trees, fish–whatever they wish to add to the scence. The curtain provides a non-verbal invitation to play and imitate how they see the world. If your curtain is thick enough, it can be used on either side, creating two play environments from one curtain!

Blocks have one final gift–they give children a place to learn about cleaning up. Be sure you have tubs or baskets that make it easy for them to get the blocks put away.

“I have a block that I pick up

Can you now pick up two?

I will grab three… if you agree

and now there’s less to do!”–(c) ck

Have a great day! See you tomorrow.

CK

It’s a Strange Mess

We need to hit the pause button.

I am watching with sadness, sincere sadness, as our country unravels. There is so much hurt everywhere and I wonder how in the world did we arrive at this time in history?

The hurts people feel are real but are they acceptable? Is it okay to loot store fronts and call that anything less than vandalism? What happened in cities across America over the summer, was violence.

And then there is the attacking the Capital building last night, waving the American flag, my American flag and believing it’s justified. It’s worse than vandalism. It is barbaric.

For those hurting, get your voices heard in another way. Violence is not the answer and the damage you are doing to everyone, including the future of your children and your grandchildren is being affected.

I wonder… Where did all the people come from? How did they organiz? Who is funding the masses that show up to riot, beginning with Minneapolis this past summer and leading right up to last night in Washington, DC? Using violence and force as a way to express themselves is not okay. If we follow the money, we might just find out who the puppetmasters are, pulling the strings and tearing us apart. We should hold them accountable. They are the root of the problem.

To our political leadership at the top, in the middle and–on both sides. Stop playing with our lives. My life is not a game piece on your board. You have been entrusted to uphold the Constitution and to represent the people of this country. You are part of the problem. Find your integrity and vote accordingly. If you cannot work across the aisle, then please leave.

To the broadcast media, let me say that I really don’t want your editorial comments. I want the news. Period. If we listen carefully, we hear words purposefully inserted that cause the public to become argumentative, angry, aggitated. So stop it. You are a citizen just like me. If you want to give your opinion, do it on your own time, not on a newscast. And… if you insist on giving your opinion on a newscast, then start labeling with a scroll across the bottom of the screen that states it’s your opinion, your editorial. Like it or not, you are part of the problem.

I am one small voice in a sea of many, but I am also overwhelmed by all we are witnessing. We all need to do better.

CK