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“Do As I Do” List

January 19th, 2011 Comments off

When you think about all of the things in your life that you are thankful for, hopefully it is a very long list. And when it comes to our children, there is truly so much that makes us smile. But have you ever thought about being grateful for the person you strive to be because of your children?

I love my parents dearly, but I was a child in the fifties when “Do as I say and not as I do!” was a standard philosophy of parenting. Fortunately, times have changed, and many parents have chosen alternative approaches to parenting. I know I tried my best to be honest and fair when communicating with my children, but the communication we have with our children does not necessarily leave the impact that we hope for.

My children are adults now, and I am about to become a grandmother for the first time. And as I wonder what type of parent my daughter will be, I find myself reflecting… how many traits did I assimilate from my parents and pass along to my own children unknowingly, even though I tried to overcome the “do as I say and not as I do” approach? This takes genuine self-evaluation, and I have come to realize that this is extremely important throughout our parenting journey.

If I did not have children, I might not be looking so closely at my own character traits. However, I can now look back and say with all certainty that parents’ behaviors are an integral part of parenting and highly contribute to the values that children carry with them into adulthood. Children grow up in an environment where they are constantly exposed to their parents’ values, choices, feelings, attitudes, opinions, interactions, reactions, etc. And, in spite of everything we try to teach our children, our behaviors ultimately reveal to them what we think is important. So, if we want our children to be the best they can be, we must also try to be the best we can be as individuals.

My suggestion is to make a “do as I do” list. Think about the values you believe are important for your children to learn. Start compiling a list and put it on the refrigerator. Then, start with the first thing on your list and observe yourself for a couple of days… Are your behaviors modeling this value that you think is important for your children to learn? If so, put a check next to it and move on to the next thing on your list. If not, do some problem solving and try to determine probable causes and solutions. Check the list daily and continue to add to it as time passes. It’s a process, but a rewarding one for everyone in the long run. Children allow us to see ourselves in a way that no others can. You’ll find that both you and your children will continue to grow as individuals who have self-respect and respect for others.

Here are just a few examples to think about:

Value: Do you want your children to value the importance of being respectful of others by learning to use “indoor” voices when it is appropriate to do so?
Behavior: However, do you find yourself yelling out requests and/or the names of family members in your own home?
Solution: It takes patience to stop what you are doing and walk over to someone to speak to him or her instead of yelling from where you are. It also gives you an opportunity to give a hug, kiss, high-five, or pat on the back… benefits of communicating face-to-face. (Add patience to the list!)

Value: Do you want your children to value the importance of being respectful to others by learning to be punctual?
Behavior: However, do you too often find yourself running late?
Solution: Be realistic about how long it takes you to do things and plan to leave enough time to calmly get to meetings, appointments, friend’s homes, etc. on time. Becoming more punctual involves both the self-discipline of not getting sidetracked with unnecessary endeavors when you are expected somewhere at a certain time and the willingness to overlook unfinished chores to get where you need to be. (Add self-discipline and adaptable to the list!)

Value: Do you want your children to be confident and have self-respect?
Behavior: However, do you find yourself speaking negatively about yourself in front of them? … Whatever criteria you use to criticize yourself, children will most likely use those criteria to criticize themselves as well.
Solution: Put conscious effort into focusing on your positive attributes and avoid complaining about your failures. (Add positive attitude to the list!)

The Very Old New Year

January 4th, 2011 Comments off

Ancient Babylonian Calendar

Did you know that celebrating a “new year” is one of the oldest holidays in history?

The ancient Babylonians began the tradition of a New Year’s celebration over 4,000 years ago. However, there was something very different about the Babylonian New Year celebration. It began when the crescent moon appeared after the first day of spring, which is called the Vernal Equinox. This time of year was very special because spring is the season of new beginnings when farmers plant new crops.

You see, 4,000 years ago the Babylonian calendar was very different. People did not know that it takes Earth 365 ¼ days to revolve around the sun, so they depended a lot on observing phases of the moon to design their calendar. They also observed the sun, planets, and stars to help with their calendar. Unfortunately, different rulers kept changing the calendar and it became very out of sync with the sun.

Then, about 2,000 years ago, a famous Roman Emperor named Julius Caesar consulted with astronomers from Egypt. The astronomers told him that a year is 365¼ days long. So, Julius Caesar created the Julian Calendar and officially made the new year begin on January 1. But to coordinate the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year last 445 days. Wow! People must have been really happy when the next new year finally arrived!

A Wampanoag Garden

November 24th, 2010 1 comment

The Wampanoag were a tribe of Native Americans who lived in the Eastern Woodlands. They had a very organized way of life that was completely respectful of all the natural resources provided by our incredible planet. These amazing people understood the importance of “reduce, reuse, recycle” and only took from nature what they needed to survive.

It is the Wampanoag people who helped the Pilgrims and taught them how to plant food in ways that are good for the soil and crops. The Pilgrims came from Europe, where it was a tradition to plant only one type of crop in a field. However, the Wampanoag taught them a better way, which we now call “organic” gardening. And, the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvesting food that helped the Pilgrims to survive.

So, if Thanksgiving reminds us of being thankful for family and all the wonderful things we have in our lives, let it also remind us of the kindness of the Wampanoag people and their respect for Earth. Next year, think about planting a Wampanoag organic garden. Then, celebrate the harvest of your organic food during your Thanksgiving meal and share some of your harvest with those in need. Here’s how you can plant an organic Wampanoag garden:

Begin by watching the leaves on trees in the spring. When the leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear, it is time to plant. Prepare the soil by burying a fish in the soil about every three or four feet apart and a couple of inches deep. Then, build a mound of soil above each buried fish. The fish are the fertilizer that will help the plants grow.

Next, start with the first mound. Plant bean seeds around the circumference of the mound and corn seeds in the rest of the mound. As the corn grows it will also help to support the bean plants, which grow on vines. In return, the bean plants give nitrogen to the soil, which is important for keeping the corn and soil healthy.

After the first mound is planted, move on to the next one and plant squash seeds in it. The squash plants have large leaves that grow along the ground. These leaves will help prevent weeds from growing and keep the soil moist for the squash, corn, and beans.

Continue to rotate planting the mounds with corn and beans together and then squash. Along with the benefits already mentioned, planting the corn, beans, and squash will attract insects that eat up the destructive pests you do not want in your garden.

As you watch your organic garden grow, you can marvel at the beauty of nature and the ingenious farming skills of the Wampanoag people. When it is time to harvest your crop, think about donating some of it to a local food bank or charity. And next Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to appreciate the celebration even more as you enjoy food from your organic garden and know that others in need have benefitted from your efforts to share.