February is a month we think of those we love. Love is expressed in so many ways: a hug, a kiss, a kind word, a smile and the list goes on. Each day we have many opportunities to show people how special they are to us. From the way we greet our family in the morning to the way we respond to the not-so-friendly neighbor, we are modeling love to our children. They will learn a lot about love and kindness by watching how we respond to them, and others, during the day. They will also learn about forgiveness, patience, understanding, relationships and conflict resolutions. We are not perfect, and as hard as we try, we do not always show the “best” to our children. But this is a perfect opportunity to model how we respond to those we love, or those we have relationships with, when we haven’t reacted in a kind or appropriate manner. Some-times how we make amends is a better model of love than our hugs and kisses.
After a hard day we are not as fresh as we were in the morning, or for some of you, who are not morning people, evening may be the best time of day for you. Whenever you are running low on those warm-fuzzies try to give your children a clue that this may not be a good time for you. I used to look at the boys and say, “look at this face, do you think this is a good time for this?!” As they get older you can use humor to release the tension and maybe get a laugh out of the situation. I was on the phone with my sister-in-law when her son (now 20) was having a playdate. I was reminded that timing is everything. She was at her wits end, the children (Joshua, then 5, his friend, Brandon, and the 2 year old brother, Carson) had returned to the house covered in mud (again), she would have to change their clothes (again), she would have to mop the kitchen floor (again), and she would have to wash them and their clothes (again)! As she was talking to me I could hear little Carson talking to her about what she had for him to wear. His sweet little voice brought back the images of chubby little people who used to bring dirt, mud and assorted other “fun” into my life. I would have given anything to be sitting in her kitchen cuddling with that little two year old or better yet sitting outside watching them giggle and laugh as they played in the mud.
Of course, 30 years ago when my little cherubs were riding bikes through the “hugest” puddle in the campground, in the only clean clothes left in our cabin, after a week of non-stop rain and after I had told them “absolutely no more riding through that puddle!” I wasn’t in such a warm and fuzzy mood! Like I said timing is everything!
Just remember that the day will soon be over but the lessons they learn will be theirs forever. Teach them love, compassion, humor, and let them know you will always be there for them and, remember, these memories of toddler-hood and preschool will always be there for you.
There are many ways you can show love to your children and in that expression of love they will feel honored and special. My guys loved it when we left little surprises at the end of a “treasure hunt” around the house, story books with pictures of them as the main character, allowing them to make the menu for the evening meal and then eating whatever is on their menu and sitting around the table listening as they shared about their day. We had special adult friends that also showed them they were important. The friendships with those adults are still in place to this day. It is important to have adults in their lives that are not “the parents”. Grandparents, aunts/uncles, family friends can be there for your child when they need to bounce ideas off someone but they don’t want it to their parent. Joel will still tell Aunt Elysia things that he will not tell us. These adults can say the same thing that Mom and Dad say but it somehow is different coming from them. I cherish the times I have with the “kids” in my life that are my friend’s children and the conversation we can have because I have known them all of their life.
Take time to show the people in your life how special they are to you. Cherish the time you have with these children and remember what a blessing these little people in our lives!
Go on a neighborhood explore...
Talk about the light and how it shines on the snow.
Look for things that are frozen. Can you find ice that is in the process of melting because of the sunshine? Is there ice that has melted and has frozen again overnight?
Shadows! Make shadows on the snow and then on the grass. How are they the same and how are they different?
Snow on the mountains. Ask questions. Why does it stay on the mountains even though it is sunny today? Why does it melt on the street but not on the grass?
Look for snow sculptures, snow people, snow forts. Can you find tracks in the snow where people, dogs, cats and birds have walked on it. Do you see tracks from sleds and from rolling a ball in the snow?
Measure the snow. Is there more snow in the shade? More snow under a bush? Do you see snow on the roof of a house?
Enjoy a walk through the neighborhood on a sunny snow day.
To make an ice sculpture you will need to pick some water proof items to make the interior sculpture with.
After you place the items in the baggie or container fill it with water. Be sure that your yarn/pipe cleaner/string is partly inside the water and part of it outside
Set the sculpture out side in the snow / on your deck or porch. After it freezes remove the sculpture form the plastic baggie / container and hang it up. It will glisten in the sun.
With the cold weather and snow the birds are on the hunt for food — and water. Here is a simple bird feeder you can make with items you have at home. The bird seed may be the only thing you don’t have but you can substitute uncooked oatmeal for the birdseed. It is a little less messy and the birds love it.
First cut a shape from a piece of cardboard, cardstock or something stiff. You can also use a stick or piece of wood. Then the birds will have a natural place to sit while they enjoy your special treat. :-)
Add a string, twine or a pipe cleaner for the feeder’s hanger.
Next you will need bird seed or oatmeal and something to use as “glue”. Nut butter or shortening work well as the "glue".
Shake off the excess — this can get messy so be sure to do it over a piece of paper or outside
Take your bird feeder outside and hang it from a branch on a tree or a place the birds can find it….and probably the squirrels as well. If you hang it near a window your child can watch the birds come and eat from their feeder.