Kids and Resolutions

Resolutions involving kids usually have to do with one’s desire to in some way be a “better” parent. They often are something like the following:  I will read aloud more to my kids, I will be a better listener, I will be more patient with my kids, or I will do a better job of monitoring screen time.   I propose a different kindof resolution for 2018.

Goals, Smarat How about a family resolution? Together, make a plan that is S.M.A.R.T.  (see goal setting chart).   School age children (5+) through teens probably will be willing to participate in such an experience.   Start the exercise with some brain storming where all ideas are recorded and none are evaluated.     After collecting all the ideas begin to evaluate and eliminate.    Try to shrink the list down to two or three that everyone agrees upon.  Then further examine those to discover if each is truly a S.M.A.R.T. goal.   If your family is a democracy, then vote.  Perhaps parents could each have two votes so that the children don’t overrule.

A secondary idea is a family focus or theme for the year.  This is not my original idea, but I really like it.  This could also be chosen through the family brain storming and elimination method.    The possibilities are endless.  Here are a few ideas: Year of Joy, Year of Gratitude,  or  Year of Grace. “Grateful, Thankful, Blessed” is a popular saying.  Perhaps it could be a springboard for ideas.   The theme does not have to be a character trait or a virtue but could be something fun such as, the Year of Color or  the Year of Running.


Once the theme is chosen, a placque or banner could be created to be a daily reminder.   Perhaps a scripture could be chosen to be memorized.   Play an on-going game of who can most quickly identify references to the theme in music, movies, audio books, sermons . . . .    Commend each other for living and practicing your chosen theme.  Plan some activities, adventures or experiences to understand and apply the theme.

Use your creativity to discover ways to incorporate the theme in your family life.  Establish some fun reminders to keep everyone on track.  Don’t become rigid or legalistic.

January is a great time to establish a yearly family theme or resolution.   But they can happen at any time. Some other “start” times might be the beginning of summer, a new school year or school semester, any holiday, the first of any month, or whatever time works best for your family. January is not the only time we can begin something new.

We all appreciate a fresh start or a do-over sometimes. I think this is the appeal of a new year.   God, by his grace, gives us this when we confess our sin and He forgives us.   A tangible way to demonstrate this to our children is to forgive or do away with the punishment our children deserve. Yes, it is important for them to learn about consequences and be responsible for their behavior. But, I also believe that somewhere in their learning there is a prime opportunity to offer forgiveness so that their hearts can be softened rather than become more rebellious. This could happen in the Year of Grace.

May this be a great year for your family.


Happy Easter

Is Easter a favorite holiday for you?  Why?  I confess I love the jelly beans and malted eggs, but not the Peeps.  I despise plastic “grass”, which like Christmas tree needles can be found in odd places months after the holiday.  Yet, I love Easter for its deep spiritual meaning and its fun associated activities.

As a child, Easter was about the candy and the new outfit.  The outfit included ruffled socks, white patent leather buckle shoes, ruffled under pants, a full slip, a dress, a hat, a purse and gloves.  We usually shopped at Sears for the outfit. Yes, we died eggs, had an egg hunt outside (weather permitting), received a multi-colored fake-straw basket full of candy and we went to church.  I do not recall any emphasis on the Easter bunny.  We knew all our gifts were from our parents.


My mom, pregnant with my brother, my 5 year old sister, and me at almost 3.  The coursages were from my daddy.

As an adult, I still like the candy.  But now the special ham dinner with the family is more important to me.  Even though I don’t like coconut, a Lamb cake is the perfect dessert because it represents Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God sacrificed to take away our sins. I savor Easter worship, and if  I can also include a Good Friday or Maundy Thursday worship, those are a welcome bonus.  I appreciate my Catholic friends’ attitude about, and reverence towards Holy Week, which goes from Palm Sunday to Easter.


with a mouthful of candy

As a parent I used green cloth to line multi-colored plastic baskets that I filled with candy, added a few half-dollars, and sometimes a Christian music CD or DVD. I don’t recall when or why I started giving half-dollars, but they were happily accepted.  The baskets were presented on Good Friday or Saturday so that candy was not the highlight of Easter Sunday.  I generally bought my children a new outfit but not of the same caliber or level of fancifulness as what I wore as a child.

eye patch

doesn’t every boy wish for a pirate patch in his basket?


I think I enjoyed the egg hunts as much as my children.  I still enjoy hosting them for my grandchildren.  At an outdoor hunt there is always the risk that some egg will not be found till August.  Hopefully that egg is not the one with the money in it. At my hunts, I do not let all the children begin hunting at the same time but let the youngest start first and give him or her a few minutes of hunting before allowing the next oldest to begin.  Staggering their starts even just a few minutes apart prevents the oldest child from quickly finding all the easily hidden eggs which the youngest child needs.




Here are a few more family ideas for possible Easter traditions:

  1. Watch an inspirational movie, such as Risen (for children over 6)
  2. Dye boiled eggs
  3. Take a basket to an elderly neighbor or relative
  4. Make Easter decorations
  5. Choose a Pinterest project to do as a family
  6. Go to a live Passion of Christ play
  7. Visit another church for their Good Friday worship
  8. Make a lamb cake (with or without the coconut)
  9. Make Easter egg nests
  10. Attend a sunrise worship service


Easter Egg Nests

(recipe given to me by my mother-in-law more than 30 years ago)

2 12 oz. bags of milk chocolate chips (or use 1 bag semi-sweet & 1 bag butterscotch)

1 large bags of chow Mein noodles

2 bags of jelly bird (small) jelly beans

Melt the chips in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour in the dry noodles.  Mix well enough to cover the noodles.

Drop by the heaping tablespoon onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.   Add 3-5 eggs (jelly beans) onto each nest.    Put in refrigerator to harden.


I received a request from a friend in Florida to send a Valentine’s Day card to her acquaintance, a nine year old boy with autism.  He will be receiving a Valentine’s card from me.  I know that all children love to receive mail.  Children enjoy celebrations of all kinds.

I have been reflecting on children and Valentine’s Day and wholesome celebrations. Family celebrations can help de-romanticize the holiday for children and adolescents.  Try focusing on expressing love to others.  Perhaps make and send valentines to grandparents or single adults.  Homemade decorated heart-shaped sugar cookies are always a hit at home or to share.  Having a hand in the process makes them more delicious.

heart cookies

these delicious and beautiful cookies were made by my daughter-in-law

Have you ever studied the history of Valentine’s Day?  It is the fascinating and inspiring story of a priest named Valentine who honored marriage and refused to obey a third-century Roman law to stop performing weddings.   Adventures in Odyssey, album number 44: Eugene Returns, an audio series from Focus on the Family did an outstanding job telling this story in the episdode titled “The Last I Do.”

aio 44

Start your own Valentine’s Day family traditions.  Maybe each child could choose an activity which they love and all could participate in it.  Perhaps there is something the entire family loves and could establish as a tradition on this holiday.  Is there a silly song or movie that could become your family Valentine’s Day standard?

When our daughter was an older teen, the bookstore that employed her sponsored a Fernando Ortega concert at which she was asked to work.   Initially, she was a bit bummed at having to work on Valentine’s Day.  At home after work she received flowers and a sweet card from her dad, and candy from mom.  She realized that her Valentine’s Day had actually been quite nice because it included a concert, candy, flowers and a card.

IMG_2275When our children were young I found and purchased four red, plastic, heart shaped dishes.  Every Valentine’s Day my children enjoyed receiving these dishes filled with candy and maybe a small trinket.   They were almost as good as a getting a Christmas stocking six weeks after Christmas.

Romantic love is not the only kind of love to be celebrated.  There is also brotherly or familial love. Within the family we all need to experience unconditional love which accepts and forgives even when we disagree or mess up and hurt each other.  That is the kind of love God has for each of us.

Happy Valentine’s Day.



Traditions.  Are they confining rules or comforting structure?  Most families have many holiday traditions. Did my children love our traditions?  I don’t know.

I have many holiday traditions. One of my favorite Christmas traditions was the late night quiet hour on Christmas Eve when my husband and I stuffed the Christmas stockings.  The children were asleep – well, probably they weren’t, – but they were at least behind closed doors in their rooms and quiet.  We played Christmas music to cover any sounds for which little ears may have been listening.  I drank a cup of hot chocolate and we both ate candies as we sorted the bags full of loot making a pile for each child and dividing the candy equally.  Everyone received an orange flavored & shaped ball of chocolate in the toe of their stocking and everything else went in after that.  Often the sock was overflowing and sometimes items were placed on the mantle nearby.  Because I did 98% of the shopping it was not until this hour that my husband even saw the items I had purchased. H filling

D filling

On Christmas morning the children were required to stay in their rooms until 7 a.m.  Then we gathered in the living room and they each received their stocking.  Next came a breakfast including birthday cake for Jesus, eggs, bacon, hot chocolate and fruit salad. On the cake was a candle for each person at the table because Jesus came for each one.  Furthermore no one can fit over 2000 candles on one cake.  After breakfast we read the story of Jesus birth from the Bible and then we opened the presents under the Christmas tree.


Some people love dependable order and tradition.  They are comforted by knowing what to expect and their role in events. Others love variety and surprises. If you have more than one child, then you probably have one of each.  Husband and wife may even vary.   Each family has to figure it out for themselves.   Compromise is usually the way to peace.  There are also grandparents, adult siblings and extended family on both sides to consider.

As each new family is established they must navigate through the murky waters of instituting or initiating its traditions in view of the past traditions of two families.  Communication is the key to working through it all.    There is more than just Christmas to consider, what about the other holidays or birthdays and anniversaries?   How is gift buying handled?  Who does the shopping or gift wrapping?

Once you get it all figured out be willing to continue to make changes and adaptions.  That is what happens in life.  New normals are constantly being established.  DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.   Talk about everything or holidays will become overwhelming and stressful.   This is especially important to revisit as your family grows and ages.  Teenagers have very different ideas about holiday fun than do ten or two year olds.

T & S


A whole new realm is reached when your adult child gets married and brings another person’s expectations and traditions into the family.  They must be given freedom to create their own plans and traditions.  Doing this may disrupt your norm.  Let them know they are welcome and you would love to have them around, and then say, “Here is what we are doing.  Please let us know what you want to do.”   Truly be okay.  Don’t hold a grudge or be unhappy or shaming.

Have I done this perfectly?  No.   Sometimes I have not clearly expressed my desires or expectations.   Last Mother’s Day my daughter and I reviewed my expectations of that holiday.  It was shocking to me that she didn’t already know what I was thinking!