Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years ResolutionNew Years Resolutions for Parents of Children with Autisms for Parents of Children with Autism

Not that we need more pressure in our lives, but today IS New Year's Eve Day... And with that in mind, I have a few thoughts to share. None are particularly earth-shattering - but all, I hope, will us help our son to be all he can be. From our point of view, that means a whole lot.

Here, in no particular order, are my own "autism resolutions" for 2008!

  • Focus on my son's strengths. Use my lioness-like mommy skills to ensure that he gets the opportunities he deserves to build on those strengths.
  • Assume that my son is bright and capable, and avoid using autism as an excuse for not pushing him to succeed as he is able.
  • Choose just a few key areas in which my son is weakest, and provide plenty of tools and resources for improving in those areas.
  • Notice the amazing moments of achievement that occur so often in the lives of children. Pay attention when my son, for the very first time, asks "what do you want to do?"
  • Encourage my son's creative impulses. Allow him to tell his stories, write whatever he wants, and worry a little less about correct grammar and draftsmanship.
  • Put my son in the spotlight whenever possible. Remember that my children's achievements are... my children's achievements. Not mine.
  • Continue to seek out adults, teens and children who can delight in my son's personality, charm, ideas and abilities. Give my son the opportunity to be with those people as much as possible.
  • Choose just a few significant ways in which I can be of assistance or support to the larger autism community. Act on them.
  • Worry less about anyone else's opinions - about our life choices, our children's quirks, my clothes, hair or weight... or anything else, for that matter!
Autism Blog
Lisa Jo Rudy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What does Christmas mean to you?

Too often during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget the purpose of the holiday. We ask: "What does Christmas mean to you?" Here's what kids have had to say.

"Christmas to me: A celebration of capitalism and a time where we pretend that our good behavior for the day will carry over to the rest of the year. Good food, presents, Hallmark, no school- altogether, a top-notch holiday."...Harlequin (15) Kansas

"What does it mean to me? I used to know, but I'm not sure anymore. Jesus Christ was born on this day so it must mean that this a day for peace and love. After 9-11 All I want for Christmas is for everyone to be happy because even Osama should be happy on Christmas (I hate him!) but if everyone isn't happy I won't be either." .... Teisha (12) Germany

"Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. Not only for the holly and mistletoe but for the true meaning of Christmas. The birth of Christ and that is not all that it means to me it means being with family being with the people you love. I don't think that anybody should be alone on Christmas."....Jessica (16) Colorado

"Christmas means to me when your friends and/or family gather around and celebrate the lords name. It means to thank the lord for everything he's done, to keep us on our feet. It celebrates when he died for us and came back alive, he died for our savior when we were supposed to be punished. I THANK HIM."...Chelsea (12) USA

"I decided to write this passage because some people even people in my family don't know the real meaning of Christmas. To me CHRISTmas is a time to thank the lord for what he has done for the people on this earth and the day that he was born in Bethlehem. Christmas think that it is all about presents and material things. This is a time to forget all worries and the hatred that you have against people. If you have no one to spend Christmas with go meet people because no one should spend Christmas alone!"...Keyana (14) Maryland, USA

"Christmas means remembering when Jesus Christ is born. Also spending time with your family and have a great time with them. All your family come together to spend the time thinking about when Jesus Christ was born. That is what Christmas means to me."....Julie (11) Minnesota

"Christmas is a time to feel a spirit of joy and peace. It is a time to connect and feel especially close and thankful for family. It is a cozy time."....Vickie, Indiana

"Baby Jesus' birth."....Allan, (12) MS

"Christmas means to me that Jesus was born on that day and the Three Wise Men gave presents to Jesus on his birthday and it also means to spend time with your family the most important is Jesus's Birthday and that's what Christmas means to me."....Jodie, (14) Texas

"Christmas to me means to share, be thankful that Jesus Our Savior was born! To Me it also means a day to forgive and to love and the most important part is giving not receiving!!!!!!!!!"....Olivia, (9), Connecticut

"For me Christmas means getting to see my family together all happy."....Skatergirl (16) USA

It's a time to meet all your relatives that you haven't seen for a while, to share laughs and stories that happened over the years. It can also be a time to show off your decorations and also about the birth of Jesus!"..... Jason (15) Wisconsin

"Christmas means you have to give things to poor people."....Brenda (13) Arizona

"Christmas means giving, sharing, spending time with family, and loving."....Zach (12) Illinois

"Christmas means to me, a time of giving to other people and spending time with your family!"....Kira (13) Ohio

"Christmas, to me, means a great deal to me. To me,Christmas is the most special time of the year. Why?? Well, I'll tell you why, because it's the day Jesus was born. The day the heavens opened up for man-kind and other generations. That's what Christmas means to me!!"....Amber (13) TN

"To me,Christmas is a holiday for my family to thank Jesus and God for bringing me into Earth. Christmas means to love your family and friends. Forget all your bad times and nightmares! Have a good day on Christmas. Be a good girl or boy. The choice is yours!"....Jasmine (9) TN

"Christmas means celebrating baby Christ's birthday with family and friends.....enjoying vacation with and exchanging gifts with friends and family and just hanging out and having fun!?!....Cassandra (13)

"Christmas should be a day for family, but any more it has became a day about how much money can be spent and how quick you can open one present to get to the next. I believe the meaning of Christmas has been lost through out the years instead of being about love and sharing and family. Its all about how many hours you can spend in a store and how much money can you spend. It is so sad that we have got away from the true meaning of Christmas. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to give one gift and have a wonderful dinner and enjoy just being with your family instead of over spending and going in debt. well that is is my out look on what Christmas has became and most of you probably understand agree!"....Heather WV

Posted in Kids Turn Central

Monday, December 22, 2008

What does Christmas mean to you?

Too often during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget the purpose of the holiday. We ask: "What does Christmas mean to you?" Here's what kids have had to say.

"Christmas means to me that you should remember the birth of Jesus. It is also to give, share and to care for those who don't have a home or an apartment to celebrate Christmas."....Jennifer (9) California

"Christmas means sharing and to have fun with your family. The most important is spending time with family."....Angela (8) IL

"Christmas means giving and receiving to my family. We give to others like the less fortunate and my relatives. I love Christmas because when I wake up there are a lot of presents under the tree, and I get to open them. This is what Christmas means to me."....Rachael (13) NJ

"What does Christmas mean to me? A lot by thanking God, his son coming to earth, to take all our sins away and give a lot of glory."....Layla (14) UK

"Christmas to me means being able to have family over and celebrate the Christ birth."....Malina (9) Virgina

"Christmas means to me a time when you get together with your family and it's a time when you forget the bad things that have happened to you and think about the good things that have happened to you. Christmas is not a time of presents, that is what kids think, it's just a time for a family to get together."....Arts (9) New Jersey

"Christmas is being with your family, peace and love and that the world needs love and peace no more war. That we all need to come together no matter who you are we all need love and no more hunger. We need to feed the children of the world, we need to give love and peace to the world...that's what Christmas means to me."....Sandy (14) Texas

"I think Christmas is about giving, sharing, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ our savior every time I wake up we always pray to Jesus and asking for forgiveness.......ohhh my bad I forgot something else and thanking him that we are here."....Steve (11) New York

"Christmas means celebrating the birth Jesus ,who died for all our sins. a lot of people forget the true meaning of Christmas because of the hustle & bustle of times now, how they have changed since I was little. I love Jesus and thank GOD his son and what he did for us. The gift of Christmas is a child."....Patsy Delaware

"Christmas is not all about the gifts and family. Yes family is what makes up a portion of Christmas, but the true meaning of Christmas was stated in the most holy of books, the Bible. It said that the true meaning of this time of year is the birth of our holy savior's birth. The birth of our holy lord, Jesus Christ!!!".....Kaylin (12) Colorado

"Christmas to me means a time when people put away their differences and come together to celebrate the birth of Christ. It also means spending time with my family and friends. Christmas is my favorite season not only because of the presents I recieve but the presents that I give. It is a lot of fun shopping for gifts and even making them. It is also a time to stop our crazy lives and focus on prayer and love."....Aadriana (14) New York

"What Christmas means to me is spending time with my family and friends and all together celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ are lord and saver."....Erika (14) KY

"Christmas is simply giving love to your friends, family and even to the people who used to hate you or you used to hate."....Aioe (15) Africa

"I think Christmas means family getting together to celebrate the day baby Jesus was born. I think Christmas is a very important date to remember.".....Kirsten (13) IL

"Christmas means having a nice dinner and loving everyone at the table! It isn't about the presents! It is about the love and the happiness.".....Madi (12) Texas

"Christmas means to me when you celebrate young Jesus birthday, have fun, spend time with your family, and eat."....Leia (12) Australia

"Christmas is more than getting presents it's spending time with your family and being out of school yea!!!"....Baby (14) Texas

"Christmas means remembering the birth of Jesus Christ, the one who has died for us. Christmas it's the day you forget all your worries & your sadness. It's remembering that Jesus cares about you. It's the time when you give without accepting anything in return. Christmas time is the time of love, joy & forgiveness."....Christina (15) Amman/Jordan

"Christmas means thinking about Jesus and all the characters involved in the story and also spending time with my family.".....Lucy (9) England

"Christmas means to me is a time for family and friends and spending time with people. Christmas is for giving and spending time with other people and not for presents.".....Ashley (15) Massachusetts

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What does Christmas mean to you?

Too often during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget the purpose of the holiday. We ask: "What does Christmas mean to you?" Here's what kids have had to say.

"To celebrate Jesus and his birthday Christmas is not about the presents it is to worship your creator.Your real father."....Mi'Kayla (10) VA

"Being with your family and appreciating the good health and love you have.".....Liam (11) NY

"It's a time for family and friends to be together."....Alisha, WV

"For me, Christmas is not only about eating and exchanging gifts. It's about being reborn again and purifying oneself. Some of us might not be pure inside and would like to enjoy Christmas just by exchanging gifts and enjoying just because it's Christmas time. Growing up as a Catholic, I have learned to purify my heart before celebrating any holiday such as Christmas and Easter, so, I think people should put some emphasis on how they celebrate Christmas. Christ was born with a pure heart and humbled himself by laying in a manger and I think we have to follow his example and not just pretend to make it look like we really understood the message. Poor or rich it doesn't matter, what matters is what comes from within.".....Han CA

"Christmas is the time where everyone gets together and remembers the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. He is the Reason for the Season!"....John (14) Iowa

"What Christmas means to me is getting up out of bed and waiting impatiently to open up my gifts.Also to spend time with my family.But the real reason is to celebrate Jesus's birthday.That's the real reason.Remember Jesus is the reason for the season."....Tekeisha (13) Florida

"What does Christmas mean to mean to me? Well I used to think it was all about presents but now that I have gotten older I know that is not, it means spending time with people that you love and that love you back. It means waking up and enjoying a good meal with your family and loved ones like friends. That's what Christmas means to me."....Carrie (18) Illinois

"Christmas means to spend a lot of time with your family and friends. Christmas also means giving not recieving."....Cheyenne (11) Arkansas

"Christmas is a time to focus on the birth of Jesus Christ and the sacrifices he made for us on earth."....Marsha Florida

"To me Christmas means to have fun. Begin with your family and to share gifts with each other. Also to be with your friends around where you live."....Georgianna (13) Boston

"Christmas to me is love and friendship. Christmas is a day to be spending with friends and family.Christmas is a special day because Jesus was born on Christmas. Christmas is sharing giving and happiness all around."....Evelyn (12) Washington DC

"Christmas means having fun and spending time with your family and friends. But most of all it is to celebrate the birth of Jesus."....Avery (10) Georgia

"It's all about Jesus's birth. He is the reason for this season. He is our savior and we celebrate his birthday on Christmas. He is 2,005 years old. Time started when he was born. That's what Ii think Christmas is all about."....Kelsey (10) GA

"Christmas means time with your family and friends and to give to people that can't!!!"...Zoe (13) GA

" I'm an ordinary teenager and just being real. Christmas is shopping and buying new clothes and shoes. "....Whittier (17) California

"Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus!!! "....Pamela (17) Michigan

"Christmas means to me, spending time with people you love and I am doing a project and I am glad and surprised that so many people belive in Christ and think that is the meaning. Well I do too.".....Krista (12) Ontario

"It means to me that a Savior was born to die on the cross for us so that all our sins may be forgiven.".....Michelle, Florida

"In the past our family has always gave gifts and this was nice but as I've gotten older I look back and think of how much time we have wasted on giving gifts. If you think about it, giving gifts is a substitute for talking to one another, learning about that family member you don't see during the year except at Christmas. Giving gifts should be something from the heart; like making something. It shouldn't be about worrying what to buy that uncle or cousin who has everything. If you're family is like ours; we've gone to buying gift cards. That's so silly. If I give you a gift card and in return you've given me one....what's the point? Why can't Christmas be about the birth of our Lord. What's wrong with reading the story in the bible, sing Christmas songs and just spend time together?".....Ginny, USA

"Christmas means to me spending time with my family and celebrating baby Christ.".....Cassandra (14) Massachusetts

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What does Christmas mean to you?

Too often during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget the purpose of the holiday. We ask: "What does Christmas mean to you?" Here's what kids have had to say.

"Christmas to me and my family is a day of giving and being together as a family. Christmas is a time of joy and laughter. A time to celebrate the birth of the lord. That is what Christmas means to me.".....Cynthia (13) Indiana

"I think that Christmas is a time to be together with your whole family, a time for forgiveness and love."....Karina (14) Indiana

"Chirstmas to means celebrating the life of Jesus and eating food and getting gifts."....Donovan (14) Indiana

"Christmas to me means a time to be with your family, laughing and eating good food. It also is a time to exchange gifts and it is a time for the best sales.".....Alexis (14) Indiana

"Christmas means to me the birth of Jesus Christ and everything he done for us. However, it is a time for being thankful about giving presents because Jesus was a gift to us, so we give gifts. It's a time to spend with your family and drink hot chocolate by the fireplace, that's what Christmas means to me."....Avi (14) Indiana

"To me , Christmas is a time for celebrating the birth of Jesus. By giving to my family love and joy is a way my family celebrates this holiday. We also celebrate with a Christmas dinner and an exchanging of gifts."....Lace R (13) Indiana

"To me Christmas means a lot of things for me, For example family,friends,and love. On Christmas I get to be with all you family and eat together and open presents. We make tamales and celebrate the bith of Jesus at midnight."....Karen (14) Indiana

"It means food and opening presents."....Jamal (14) Indiana

"Jesus is the reason for the season!!!".....Lanette (11) Indiana

"Christmas means to me that you have a load of fun with your family and then you open all your presents and see what all you got on Christmas day. So the whole point on Christmas to me is having fun and opening gifts but not only that but it is when Jesus was born and when all the angels sang to the sheperds and also when the wise men came to see him."....Nate (14) Indiana

"Christmas is a time for joy and families to come from afar to see there relatives. Also neither friend or foe should fight during this time."....Joseph (13) Indiana

"Christmas to me is when family gets together in love and not hate. What Christmas doesn't mean to me is when your sister goes as far as to steal all your stuff and pawn it like a crazy person that's what Christmas means to me."....Donovan (14) USA

"Christmas contrary to popular belief is not about gifts or presents. Christmas is, was, and always should be about Christ. The Christmas story was one of an infant born in a stable of a humble birth. The infant was given the name Jesus. He was all God and all man at the same time the savior of the world. When Christmas time comes around I break down the word and think of Christ. That is what Christmas means to me."....Kaylin (14) USA

"Christmas means having fun, being with family recieving and getting gifts.".....Kenny (16) VA

"Christmas is for the Lord Jesus Christ because it's his birthday. Some people think its about the presents, it's really not in Christmas the word CHRIST. That's just my opinion."......Kamron (13) Oklahoma

"It used to mean traditions to me! Baking tons of different kinds of Christmas cookies, decorating the inside and outside of the house while Christmas music played in the back ground. Sitting with family around the Christmas tree and enjoying conversations. Celebrating the birth of Christ.".....Dave, Indiana

"What Christmas means to me is celabrating the birth of Jesus Christ and spending time with with the people you love it's not just about recieving gifts although children may think it is but it's a time to celabrate JESUS birth.:)".....Kayla (14) California

"Christmas mean to me about celebrating Jesus Christ, his birth and gathering with families.".....Audrey (14) Australia

"Christmas means family all together.".....Ashley (10) Florida

"It means a time of peace and joy, a time where our family doesn't fight, but most of all a time where we celebrate Jesus our Lord and savior coming down from heaven to save us.".......Amber (14) Iowa

"Christmas means to me: I think of it as a time of caring. Not only was Jesus born, but a new star was also. I believe that from my church, the mormon church.".......Kinley (9) Canada

"Christmas means to me getting a load of presents and spedning time with my family who I love a lot. So that is what it means to me but I am not religious so I don't go to Church on that day and things like that."......Laura (13) England

"Christmas to me means spending time with family and recognizing the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. We think that Christmas is just about getting presents and it's not. Every year people go crazy about what they are getting for everybody when you should really be preparing for the birth of Jesus. You don't need to go out and get a whole bunch of gifts for a day that comes around once a year. All you need to do is get a little for the people that don't have a lot and maybe you will receive a little in return."....Brittaney (12) New Jersey

"To me Christmas means to remember what Jesus has givin us. Also Christmas means to have fun."....Shagun (10) Canada

"Christmas means to thank God for what it has given you and be gratful that you're alive. And to celebrate the death of Jesus. I love God and the people that loves God. So God bless you all and have a Merry Christmas. I love you all. I love God too. Mua to God and help everyone!".....Daniela V. (10) Las Vegas, Nevada

"Christmas really means tome that I get what I wish for and that Jesus Christ is coming and that we get ready for him and when Christmas comes I kinda forget what Christmas really means. I think mostly about my presents and what I show my peeps."......Sha'Ron (14) LA

"Christmas most importantly means to me is that Jesus Christ was born on this day the meisiah without him dieing on the cross none of our sins would be forgivin. This helps to bring all of my friends and family around to celebrate life and each other. We GIVE gifts so we can show the love that is in our hearts for one another. That is what Christmas means to me and my family.".....Katelyn (13) PA

"Christmas can mean a lot of things to me. It's when you just have fun and spend time with family and friends and it is not all about the gifts to me. It's about having peace on the birth of Christ.".....Jamia (9) Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Friday, December 19, 2008

What does Christmas mean to you?

Too often during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget the purpose of the holiday. We ask: "What does Christmas mean to you?" Here's what kids have had to say.

"Christmas means celebrating Jesus Birthday. By giving things away, and sharing. It also means becoming one with your family and having a fun time. That's what Christmas means to me."....Jade (13) Indiana

"Christmas to me is when families come together and open presents and all that other stuff. Also, Christmas is giving and recieving gifts, and to me that is really what Christmas is. This is Christmas to me."....Ryan (14) Indiana

"Christmas mean the birth of Jesus Christ.".....Cutis (14) USA

"Christmas to me is spending time with your family and enjoying their company. Christmas also means giving and receiving. I love giving gifts, but I like receiving them even more. Christmas is also they day Jesus was born. My family is heavily in church so I may be at church for Christmas or Christmas Eve."....Amber (14) Indiana

"Christmas to me does not mean presents or any possessional item, to me it means the birth of the son of my God, Jesus. My family is Christian and we do not believe in giving other people presents. We believe that Jesus was born to die for our sins and Christmas is the time where we celebrate his birth. We all get together, eat, and pray that God sent his son to die, to save us from Hell. We also pray for living for another Christmas and for all we have.".....Cristine (13) Indiana

"To me Christmas means a lot of things. First and foremost it means spending time with friends and family. Every Christmas there is love in the air. It's also about giving. Most people give presents to friends and family. Christmas brings people closer together."....Jasmyn (14) USA

" I believe in Jahovah God and Jesus Christ but Christmas doesn't mean anything to me. The Bible says that when baby Jesus was born, the shepards were tending to their flock in the feilds. Back in that day there was no global warming & no 50 degree weather in the middle of December. Jesus was really born between August and October, not on December 25. As well as the tree, that is not Christian, it is a Peogan tradition. No offense to anyone that believes something different, this is just what I have been taught to believe and these are my views. God bless."....Lindsey (14) Indiana

"What does Christmas mean to me? Christmas means one day of a month a family gets together and exchanges Christmas presents and joy. It is also a time to drink eggnog. Also for little kids who believe in him it’s a time to WRITE LETTER TELING WHAT THEY WANT FOR CHRISTAMS TO SANTA AND tries to stay up and be on their best behavior and see Santa COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY AND PUT PRESANTS UNDER THEIR TREE. LASTLY BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY THE MONTH WE CELEBRATE OUT LORD AND MASTER JESUS CHRIST."....Scott (14) Indiana

"Christmas to me,is Jesus' Birthday. We celebrate it by giving and recieving gifts because Jesus recieved gifts on that day.".....Donovan (14) USA

"To me Christmas is a time to be happy, and to celebrate Jesus being born and not getting but giving.".....Hazel (14) United States

"Christmas means to me a time to spend with your family, open lots of presents and to enjoy great food at your ancestors house. Most of it means celebrating the birth of our lord and savior JESUS CHRIST."....Mike (17) NC

"Christmas is a time of year to share with your family and friends. It is also a time to have fun." (17) CT

"Christmas means celebrating the day of Gods birth and his birthday."......Victoria (9) Texas

"I think the spirit of Christmas means you thank heavenly Father what he did for us, it's not only opening gifts and having partys but he died for our sins. We must share the thing we have with others and I believe heavenly Father died for us and some of my friends don't understand the true meaning of Christmas so I teach them and they understand what I mean and we always have to ponder and pray."....Chandelia (13) St. Marten

"Christmas is an annual holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. Christmas festivities often combine the commemoration of Jesus' birth with various secular customs, many of which have been influenced by earlier winter festivals."".....Ja'Questa (15) AL

"Christmas is the season to enjoy and have lots of fun. It is also the birth of Jesus. In the busy life of ours we often forget our Saviour, but during this festive occassion you can always come back to God and Thank him, glorify him and of course be born again. After all, Jesus is da reason for the season. Jesus lives. God bless you all.".....Gracelin (14) India

"Christmas means a time of giving, a time for friends and family to share. It's not about receiving gifts it's about giving. Christmas is about celebrating the life of Jesus. In other words Christmas is about family friends and loved ones. It is all about giving not receiving.".....Renae (18) Jamaica

"Christmas to me is about Jesus Christ. It is the time of year that we celebrate his birthday. He died for us, so now we should live for him on his birthday. Everybody thinks that it is mainly about family, but without Jesus we would have no family! Merry Christmas To all."....John (13) New York

"Hi, Christmas means a lot to a lot of people. Be nice and care for each other.".....Daniella (15) Queensland

"Christmas is not all about getting gifts. It's about celebrating Jesus Christ birthday. Christmas is also about getting together with family and having fun. This is what Chrismas means to me."...... Jai' (13) WV

"Eating a good dinner with family and friends.".....Chand (14) Texas

"What does Christmas mean to you? It is to have fun with family and freands.".....Dakota (15) Oklahoma

"To me Christmas means a whole lot to me, presents and toys and all kinds of goodies! But most of all Christmas means to me spending time with your family and friends but most importantly Jesus's birthday!"....Cori (10) Colorado.

About 2000 years ago, God sent his son for YOU ! He died for YOU on a cross, for YOUR sins. "For God so love this world, that he sent his so beloved son to save the world through him." (John 3.16) Christmas is (also) the time for you to accept Jesus on your own life. He's comming back soon : please confess your sins to him before it's too late ! Christmas is the time to spread the new: He's not dead for he's risen! Read the Bible and know more about his LOVE! ......Serge (23) Switzerland

"To me Christmas means about Jesus is born. It also reminds me that you get gifts. It's a time to celebrate with your family, friends,and neighbors. It's a time to get gifts and on CHRISTMAS you get to open your gifts."......Tyra (14) CA

What does Christmas mean to you?

Too often during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget the purpose of the holiday. We ask: "What does Christmas mean to you?"
Here's what kids have had to say.

"To me Christmas means that you spend time with your family. Also to share presents with each other. And learn more about each other."....Lyryk (10) Indiana

"I like Christmas because I get to be with my family. I like to see my family laugh and talk to each other. The best part about Christmas is when someones birthday in your family is on Christmas. I like the part when you get to open up the presents.".....Chardonney (10) Indiana

"To me Christmas means to spend time with your family and celebrate the birth of Christ and make the world a better place. GOD BLESS US ALL WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND MAKE SURE CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER IN YOUR NAME I PRAY AMEN."....Jasmine (10) Indiana

"Christmas means spending time with family and friends and people you care about and the fun stuff you can do with them. And the fun thing like putting up lights and buying and wrapping presents and getting presents.But the best thing to do is spend time with your family and friends and people that you care about that is the best thing to do on Christmas eve or day.".....Chloe (10) Indiana

"Christmas means to me is giving gifts and eating Christmas dinner. Getting Christmas gifts is fun because you get gifts you want.".....Jada (12) USA

"It is a holiday. It is fun, and for giving. It is mostly because of Jesus's birth!!".....Skye (9) Indiana

"It means like a celebration to everyone and it's a fun Christmas because you get toys and they will give you the toys that you always wanted."......Zhane (8) Indiana

"Christmas is fun because you have cool toys.".....Noah (7) Indiana

"Christmas means, spending time with your family and friends and it also mean celebrating Gods birthday."....Ariel (7) Indiana

"I love Christmas because you get presents".....Deja (9) Indiana

"To me Christmas means fun... being reunited with family you have not seen for a long time. Giving and receiving presents. A joyful time and a time where you put up decorations. It is a time where you are excited and impatient...".....Anon (14) England

"Christmas is a time when families get together and give each other presents also remember that it is Jesus birthday.".....DaQuarius (13) Georgia

"Christmas to me is about giving and sharing with your friends and family this is a poem I wrote one year ago: Christmas is about giving, sharing, loving and caring. It's about who you are not what you get share with family or who you just met. That's the end I used to think it was to celebrate the birth of Christ until today in R.E., I found out not only did they not have calenders but he was NOT born on the 25 December or in the year 0 he was born May, June, July or September and in the year 4.".....Jessica (14) Cornwall

"Christmas to me is about counting the number of family members you have instead of counting the number of gifts you have under the tree. Christmas is about giving, not receiving. It's about family, not gifts. It's about love , not greed. It's also about showing appreciation for what you have instead of lusting after the things you want. Most importantly, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ."....Kwadwo (13) New Jersey, USA

"Dear Jesus...I'm writing this to you because I celebrate YOUR birth every Christmas and I want to thank you for everything you have given and done for not just me but all of your people. God sent you so people could come closer to you and come to realize that life would be so much harder without prayer and believers sitting with you telling you to say with it because Jesus would never give you a challenge he thought you couldn't handle. I love you and I'm so thankful that you are alwasy with me, even if I mess are the one I go to and pray and right then it gets easier...amazing is what you are. I just want everybody to realize that Christmas is Christmas for a reason and that reason is God sent Jesus and Jesus suffered for us and we need to follow Jesus becuase we have to make the choice to go to heaven becuase right now we are watching the boat but walking closer and closer to it and we just have to get in and stay on the path to the boat which we call heaven. So this Christmas ...stop and think about everything you bought and all the money you spent and all the people you bumped pass without saying excuse me because you just wanted to be done shopping....just think you could have made that a much better situation but you chose not to and how does that make you feel?? God made everything a better go sit down cuddle with your family and watch a great Christmas movie and thank God that you have a family to do that with because some don't and no one should be alone on Christmas....!! {LIVE LIFE TO LIVE ALWAYS} I love you Jesus and thank you so much!!".....Jordan (15) USA

"Christmas means spending time with the people you love like your friends. You can exchange gifts and tell each other much you love each other.".....Kryzzie (13) Indiana

"To me Christmas means a time to give, share, and enjoy your family's company. Christmas is a time to be kind to others. A time to reach out to people who need your help. Even though you should reach out to everyone all the time Christmas is a good time because most of the time it's cold and no one should be out in the cold when others are warm in a house. You need to enjoy everyone's company even if its your annoying sibling or relitive because no one once to be alone on Christmas. That's what Christmas means to me.".....Kristen (13) Indiana

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What does Christmas mean to you?

Too often during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget the purpose of the holiday. We ask: "What does Christmas mean to you?" Here's what kids have had to say.

"To me Christmas means a time that everybody comes together in your family. And you get presents. And you put lights up."......Rane (10) Indiana

"To me, Christmas means to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ .To spend time with your family and friends.Also enjoying the presents you recieve from others.".....Malik (10) Indiana

"To me Christmas means to be with your family and be happy and play. It is a time to celebrate Jesus's Birthday. GOD BLESS US ALL.".....Cameron (9) Indiana

"I think it means a time when families come together and open presents.".....Jamal (12) Indiana

"Christmas means to care about your family and celebrate Jesus's birthday and have a holiday spirit. Also you could have a lot of gifts from your family."......Eric (11) Indiana

"My favorite thing about Christmas is the food and my family. My other favorite thing is toys and a lot more.".....Jarica (10) Indiana

"Christmas means getting and giving gifts. I like it because I get presents. I like to spend time with my family. The choice is yours!".....Victoria (8) USA

"Christmas means to have fun and to laugh out loud. And to spend time with your family. To have a good time."....Paige (12) USA

"What Christmas means to me is that you spend time with your family. What Christmas means to me is it about getting gifts. And playing pool, and watching basketball.".....Destin (18) Indiana

" It is about giving. Did you know that when you celebrate Christmas you celebrate Jesus's birthday? Jesus is the most important thing in my entire life.".....Madison (9) Indiana

"Loving and caring and get a break from school and having snowball fights and building snowmen. The most important thing is loving and caring."....Daniel (9) Indiana

"It is fun to put up the Christmas (tree)".....Roidriggeuss (8) Indiana

"It is a time to celebrate with your friends and family."....Chelsie (15) New Zealand

"Christmas means to me celebrating the birth of Christ. Some people think that it is about gifts and spending time with family but most of all it is celebrating Christ's birthday."....Ragine (10) USA

"Christmas to me means time off of school, snow ball fights, a joyful two days with family. Staying up trying to see Santa. Worshiping Jesus' birthday. Playing tag with my cousins. To sum it up the best time of year.".....Molly (11) South Dakota

Christmas to me means God's son Jesus Christ. He came into this world to each us the "real" meaning of CHristmas. It also means doing nice things for someone who is less fortunate. It means peace on earth and goodwill to all men all the time!".....Janis, Idaho

"Christmas to me means being able to be with family and put all your differences aside and really spend time to just share the spirit of Christmas."....Danielle (14) Wisconsin

"I think Christmas means to start the new year and forgetting about the bad things, also telling your children about Jesus.".....Sadaf (11) Indiana

"Christmas means that we celebrate the birth of Jesus because every Christmas he is born. I like to wrap present. I love to spend time with my family."...... Marissa (7) Texas

"Santa brings presents. I like to wrap presents. I love to spend time with my family."....Alan (6) Texas

"Christmas means presents. I like to eat Gingerbread cookies.".....Ryan (7) Texas

"I think that Christmas is a time when everyone in your family should celebrate the joy of the birth of Jesus, also giving and recieving goodies."....Hayzi (11) England

"Christmas is Jesus's birthday. A day where it is better to give than recieve. A day where Jesus's present will be if you just gave and was happy about it. That's the way I roll.".....Darian (14) Indiana

"Christmas means that I get to spend time with family and get lots of presents."....Rathole (13) Indiana

"What Christmas means to me is peace on the Earth, equality for all fellow men, giving to those who are in dire need of help, and spending time with family and friends.".....Roderick (13) Indiana

"Christmas to means, that it's a time where people celebrate a special day with their families. It's also a time where you exchange gifts with other love ones!"....ShadowMan (13) Indiana

"Christmas means a lot to me. It's the time when everyone in my family gets together at one house (two counting my mom and dad's sides). It's the time when everyone can get together, have dinner, give and open presents, and talk about what's been happening in thier lives and/or other things to talk about. It's also the time for family and friends to celebrate the day Jesus Christ was born (even though he was not actually born on the 25th of December). That's what Christmas means to me."....Cara (14) Indiana

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What does Christmas mean to you?

Too often during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget the purpose of the holiday. We ask: "What does Christmas mean to you?" Here's what kids have had to say.

"Christmas means laughing and spending time with your family and friends but most important of all is celebrating the birth of Christ."....Jen (19) New York

"Christmas to me means spending time with those you love and who love you. It's not about presents as a lot of kids think. It's about enjoying the time you have on this Earth. But most importantly it's about forgetting those bad feelings you might have about someone and celebrating the birth of Christ, Jesus, with the world no matter who you are.".....Ella (11) Queensland, Australia

"Christmas to me: Is time that I'm able to spend with family and friends catching up on times that we weren't able to have. And since I live in Japan it doesn't mean as much any more because I'm not able to be with the rest of my family.....but I still love it, not just for getting presents but still being able to be with what family I have."...Brooke (13) Japan

"I pray a lot during the Christmas season, giving my thanks to the Lord. I have 3 children, so at the same time, I must teach them the true meaning of Christmas which is the birth of Jesus. It also means we as a family decorate the inside of the house, we put up a tree, and decorate outside. My children really love this. I also love to give gifts and I enjoy giving to people. Of course spending time with my family is also important. Its exciting!!"....Angie USA

"A Joyful time."...Anna, (15) Devon

"I think Christmas is the greatest...and it means spending time with our most dear."....Adrian (17) Romania

"To me Christmas means a day with laughter fun and not having to worry about problems and about remember Jesus Christ!!!....Elaine, (16) Florida

"What does Christmas mean to me is, our whole family and friends and the whole world about God to tell us to everything that's right."....Tanaya, (12) Arizona

"Jesus' birth not anything more."....Maria, (13) California

"Christmas means spending time with your family and love ones. It also means celebrating the birth of our lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST."....Chris, (15) Florida

"Christmas mean to me is a time for fun and games. a time for family to be happy. A time to thanks god and everyone who make this day come true."....Joshua, (14) South Carolina

"To me Christmas means having fun, eating, drinking eggnog also it is about celebrating the birthday of Jesus."....Jeremy, (13) New York

"Christmas is all about spending time with family and forgiving and for believing in Santa Claus and don't forget it's Jesus' birthday."....Madison, (5) Alberta

"Christmas means to me spending time with family that you haven't seen in a long time and holidays.".....Bianca (13) Australia

"Christmas to me means when you think of people that love you and the people who are loved by you, not just all the presents and the decorations. It's all about giving and recieving and spending time with your loved ones."....Sissy, (15) UK

"Hello everyone may God bless each everyone of you all. Christmas is such a wonderful Holiday,but actually Christmas day is Jesus Christ birthday our Lord.This day doesn't mean go give gifts, but to realize that this is the day God sent his only son so that we might have salvation.This is what it's supose to mean, but we as people made it seem like a day to give gifts and talk aboutSantaa, when we really should be telling the children the true meaning of this day. Everything else is good the gifts and everything, but it's good to remember the true meaning of Christmas. May everyone have a blessed Christmas "rejoice on this day" ....Carmen (19) USA

"Christmas is to me a day to gather together with friends and family and celebrate the day Christ was born. Also a day to put people before you."....Cassie (14) Florida

"It means celebrating baby Christs birth and having happy and joyful moments with the people who love and care for you."....Ashley (13) NSW

"Many people think that sending a present once a year is Christmas. In my eyes Christmas is the birth of Jesus. Every year, first thing in the morning my mother has my brother and I say "Happy Birthday Jesus", and my mother has us children watch The Birth Of Jesus Movie. Christmas is also to be with family- caring, sharing and loving and just being happy and being together. But one needs to carry that out all year through. Love, sharing, caring, keeping in touch with loved ones all year through. I believe it is Jesus's way to keep the spark lighting with Love, Joy, Peace, happiness, and Hope."....Tiffani (10) Arizona

"For me Christmas means to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it's a time to thank the Lord For What he has done for us in this earth and that he was born in Bethlehem. And it's also time to forget all worries and the hatred that you have against people.. That's all....... may God bless you all."....Kristina (18) Philippines

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nice parent, mean parent

My dad was the enforcer when I was a kid. If I broke a rule or disobeyed in some major way, my mother would march me to my room, put me inside and close the door. "Just wait until your father comes home," she would say, still angry about my misbehaviour. The waiting usually was worse than the punishment. It was quite effective. That's how it was in the 1950s and '60s - the bygone years when parents ruled the roost.

Each parent and child plays a role in the family. We are predictable to each other. We know the other's steps, what they will say and when - and their vulnerabilities. One role that should be shared equally with a spouse is that of disciplinarian. If one parent has to be the "mean" parent all the time, it could harm his or her relationship with the children, while the other parent gets the glory of being the "good," nice parent. Both parents should agree to present a united front in all discipline issues. Decisions should be delayed until the parents confer with one another.


I admit to being a weak disciplinarian. As a result, my children started having problems. I'm better now at following through with consequences when my children break a rule. What has helped me more than anything is saying to myself over and over, "I know that I am doing the right thing," no matter how mad at me my children get, how loud they yell at me or how guilty I might feel after I discipline them. - L.M., San Diego


After bringing home a newborn to a household of older kids, I decided that we needed a system to encourage household responsibility. I created the "Do-Good Jar." Anytime I caught the older children doing something without being asked or with an enthusiastic response, I would allow them to pick an item from the Do-Good Jar. The jar held coupons that could be redeemed for money, videos, a free meal out, free trips, a free movie or even Mom doing one or more of their weekend chores. The children loved it, and the household chores and other responsibilities got done without too much complaining. - Nola S., Roy, Utah

The Chatham news daily

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Trip tip: Keep a journal

Life moves so quickly, and with kids, it's life on warped speed. I can remember using a cassette tape to record bedtime stories the first time we left our first baby, now 11 years old.

"What's bedtime without me reading `Goodnight Moon'?" I asked my husband.

"Honey, a 6-month-old will hardly know if it's you or Grandma," he assured.

But I loved the idea of recording traditions, however big or small, and it applies to so many aspects of parenting. Being the record keeper, especially in the memory department, I'm constantly looking for ways to preserve those precious moments in as many ways as possible. We took the kids on a 10-day trip to California, chock full of sightseeing, visits with friends and family, and lots of memories that were sharp in the moment, but would fade over time. I wanted to preserve as much as possible to extend the pleasure for everyone, and to provide a record of a very important time for our family. My tip for fellow moms: Keep a journal, and let everyone participate in writing it.

It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive. In fact, I took along a blank black and white composition notebook – total cost, $1.99. Here are some ideas for fun ways to fill your family journal:

-Itinerary. Up front, I wrote our basic itinerary – I pasted the outline of cities, hotels, restaurants, sights. Each day, I wrote highlights of what we did, where we ate, etc.

-Friends and Family. Believe it or not, we saw 28 family & friends on our 10-day trip, so I also kept a list of those people. You could even make an autograph page and have the folks you visit leave notes for the kids.

-Funny Quotes. We also kept a "funny quotes" page which the kids loved, where we kept track of the offbeat and funny things we said or heard ("Hey, that RV has a mailbox!").

-Handprints. Our kids are relatively young, so this was a fun keepsake. You could also do footprints of really young kids, which makes for giggly fun. We helped each kid trace their hand & illustate a page including their favorite parts, meals, experiences of the trip to put their handprint – literally – in the journal.

-Favorites/Highlights. It was fun to share favorite experiences, and to see what gave the kids the biggest thrills. Our tour of Alcatraz was a universal favorite for a while, until we saw Shamu at Sea World, and I fulfilled a life-long dream of swimming with dolphins. But even the seemingly smaller adventures got lots of votes – throwing a football at sunset on the beach; eating ice cream before dinner; watching seals sunbathe on a pier; driving Lombard – the Crooked Street (three times!); and on and on.

Then, I started writing, and writing. My husband and kids also made entries, so it became a great collaborative effort. With young kids and long days, you end up in hotels with lots of time on your hands, but it's hard to blare the TV or radio when little ones are asleep. It was so fun to curl up in a chair and remember the fun of each day. Plus, on long car rides between our stops, it made for some fun reading & recalling.

We wrote only on the right-hand pages, and I plan to add souvenirs/keepsakes like tickets, brochures, etc. to illustrate the book. I'm the least artistic person you'll ever meet, but this was a fun, simple way to capture and preserve the moments ... together.

Amy Kossoff Smith, Founder of The Business of Motherhood, is a nationally recognized Mompreneur who owns a Web site,, and blog, Available 24/7, just like Moms, the Web sites offer parenting tips, resources, and a host of ways to manage the job of motherhood.

The Business of Motherhood

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rearing children is a perplexing task

Recently trying to console a longtime friend, a parent with heart broken by repeated misbehavior of a child old enough to know better and do better, reminds us how extremely difficult it is to raise children in this mixed up, messed up world.

"Things are not what they used to be," may be the understatement of the century. Both parents and grandparents scratch their confused heads and ask: "When did children begin to think they were supposed to run the world?"

I do know, in another time, I never had the slightest idea of removing control from my parents. One reason was that my father had his own strong opinion on what was meant by "rearing" children.

Although not always as effective, the method of "parental permissiveness" came along after I married and we had children of our own. This child-rearing philosophy does not always work, with parents who say to children: "Listen to me! No! You are not going to do it! And that's my 'semifinal' word on this matter!"

President Harry Truman, who had one child, Margaret, said: "The way you get along in raising children is find out what they want to do, and tell them they can do it."

Strong, fearless leader of the free world that he was, this hardly seemed consistent with President Truman. But it does show that when it comes to raising children, usual logic goes out the window.

Picture that first big date: Dad gives teenage son the key to his car, a bonus allowance, let's him wear his new sports coat, but he can't tell the boy, "Son, have a good time!" The boy would probably say, "Don't tell me what to do!"

Posted in Times Herald

Jim Griffith

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Faithful gay unions don't threaten marriage

In the early-morning hours of May 1, New York Congressman Vito Fossella was arrested in Virginia for drunk driving. Fossella, a married man with three children, was released into the custody of retired Air Force Lt. Col. Laura Fay, a woman with whom Fossella was conducting an extra-martial affair. The affair resulted in a child that’s now three years old.

But Vito Fossella and Laura Fay aren’t the biggest threats to marriage; it’s monogamous gays and lesbians. At least that’s the notion many religious conservatives are attempting to sell.

The issue of marriage rights for same-sex couples reappeared on the political radar last month when the California Supreme Court ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. It’s not surprising that religious conservatives are trying to get the decision reversed via referendum this fall; they have genuine religious convictions on the issue. What is peculiar, however, is their obsession with same-sex marriage and bizarre insinuation that monogamous gays pose a greater threat to marriage than adulterous straights.

Even if gays and lesbians are at odds with Biblical teachings, it’s difficult to argue that their relationships put heterosexual marriages at risk. The biggest threats to marriage are unfaithful spouses, abusive spouses and parents who neglect or abandon their children. To blame gays and lesbians for these wider societal problems is nothing more than ugly scapegoating.

Monogamy, which should be the core of the same-sex marriage debate, is one of Christianity’s great gifts to mankind. It’s the belief that no matter how rich or powerful an individual becomes, he or she only gets one spouse. It’s a form of sexual egalitarianism that has delivered predominantly Christian societies unprecedented stability and happiness. Surveys show that married people in durable, long-term and monogamous relationships are more content than society as a whole, and there is no reason this beneficial arrangement shouldn’t include gays and lesbians.

Marriage is strengthened, not weakened, by including people who accept the worthy idea of faithful, lifetime relationships. The belief that a committed, loving same-sex couple can somehow undermine a committed, loving opposite-sex couple doesn’t pass the test of logic. Vito Fossella is a threat to marriage. Those seeking what Vito Fossella threw away -- gay or straight -- are not.

Editorial post in the tomah journal

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The hardest part of my job is that everyone lies about parenting

When I was growing up, there was lots of chatter in the media about how models gave girls bad role models. Today that’s old news. What we should talk about now is how the media portrays moms.

Take a look at the spread in People magazine of Jennifer Lopez and her one-month-old twins. The photos are so elegant that at first I thought it was a parody. But in fact, it is mommy porn: the visual fantasy of what being a working mom could be. And it really could be that, if it weren’t that someone like Jennifer Lopez must have a household full of helpers in order to keep her career on track while she has kids: a cook, a trainer, two or three nannies, a cleaner, an assistant, a stylist. And others I’m sure I can’t even imagine.

Here’s another example of mommy porn: Angelina Jolie, and her fifty kids. She has a rule that the nannies (plural, yes, each kid has their own) cannot be photographed holding the kids, because it’s bad for Angelina’s image as a mom. But this is the problem: It looks like these very successful women have it all, even though they don’t.

Here’s what happens: Some reporter interviews someone about their big job. And then the person ends up talking about the mythic work-life-balance topic. And they say something like, “Throughout my career I did [insert something that is supposed to be wonderful for children] for my kids.” And now, of course, we must assume that the kids are doing fine. But why do we believe that? Why do we even ask? We have no hope of learning the truth. After all, there are very few people in the world who are in a position to say that their career is, as they speak, harming their kids.

So journalists writing about moms being moms are not reporting the truth. It is propaganda. It is parents saying that they lived their lives in a way that was good for their kids. But really, who knows? The reporter has little ability to check. So all we’re left with is the parents giving their subjective and hugely biased opinion that their kids are turning out fine.

I’m not saying that every kid is messed up from their parents’ careers. I’m saying that I’m sick of learning about how famous families want us to think they are doing by looking at what is really only mommy porn, what is really just parenting propaganda.

So look, in the interest of truth-telling, I’m telling you this: people are not being honest about what it’s like to be with kids. People are scared to admit that they would rather be at work than with their kids, because work is easier than parenting. (Notable exception: Sally Krawcheck.) If I have to read about how much someone loves their kids one more time, I’m gonna puke. Because we all know that parents love their kids. It’s not interesting. It’s not helpful. It’s not even very relevant. For anyone.

What’s interesting is the part where parents love their kids but don’t love being with them on a daily basis. It’s very scary to write. But I’m telling you, if the feeling weren’t ubiquitous then there would be no one to be in middle management working 9-5 because they’d all be home with their kids, doing freelance work after bedtime.

People are choosing to go to work rather than stay with their kids all day. But no one talks about making this choice because they are scared their kids will read it. I’m not sure what the right answer is. I just know that somehow there has to be a more honest discussion of parenting in this world.

So with all the mommy porn, the media does a lot to make us think that work life balance is possible, in the same way anorexic bodies without treatment for anorexia is possible.

So there’s real damage from mommy porn. Everyone begins thinking that every woman should be parenting gracefully while working full time. This gives people the temerity to ask me, nearly every day: Who takes care of your kids?

That’s right. The genesis of this rant is that I was meeting with an investor – a guy in his early 40s – and we were talking about my travel schedule and he asked, “Who takes care of your kids?”

I told this to one of my board members and he said, “What??? Why did you answer that question?”

I said I answer it because I get the question every single day. Literally. And I don’t think twice about it anymore. But in fact, it’s a totally offensive question. Here’s how I’m so sure: I tried it out on Mr. Sales Guy. And even though Mr. Sales Guy and I work the same number of hours, he said something to the effect of, “I’m not really sure what goes on with the kids all day, you have to ask my wife.” He answered the question as if we were doing girl talk. As if I had asked him, “What brand of tampon does your wife use?”

So I want to tell you something: Women earn more than men in most major cities today. And in corporate America, up and down the ladder, women and men are on equal footing in the workplace in terms of who gets paid what, as long as neither party has kids. But the level of expectations people have for parenting is absolutely insane. The mommy porn feeds this problem. Everyone is drawn to the ideal of Angelina Jolie as the perfect combination of careerist and mother like the Pied Piper’s tune, and these attitudes are more exhausting to me than any amount of actual parenting ever is.

Penelope Trunk is a career columnist at the Boston Globe. Her syndicated column has run in more than 200 publications. Earlier, she was a software executive, and then she founded two companies. She has been through an IPO, an acquisition and a bankruptcy. Before that she played professional beach volleyball. Her book is Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success (Warner, May 2007).

Posted in

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rising gas, food and other costs magnify struggles of raising children alone

Single parents look for outside support to get through day-to-day.

Finding joy

At Fair Havens, Dean said her 4-year-old and 1-year-old have finally landed in a place they love as she's able to spend time with them playing outside during the evening.

Cooper said the support of her church and its activities for her young kids have helped get them through the last year they've been ready to question why dad's not around anymore.

Church support is one way to "celebrate" these single-parent families when society often doesn't, said Burke Brack, singles minister at Golf Course Road Church of Christ.

The church helps take singles and their children to a camp every summer where they get an affordable vacation and a chance to talk with people going through the same things.

It's conversations like these that help Guy McKenzie know he's doing an OK job with his 17-year-old daughter, who he said he's often a little protective of since he knows what's going through teenage boy's minds.

"It's really good to have the insight of other singles," he said. "To know that things are just normal and not so out of whack."

Since Green knows she doesn't always have the time or resources to do anything extra with her kids, she's enrolled both in Big Brothers Big Sisters where they get to participate in a variety of activities and talk with someone else about everything from gymnastics to more serious things they might have asked their dad.

"They want two parents in their home," Green said. But, since that isn't the case, the support of other adults has been a great release.

Tisdale said these mentors are meant to give kids like the Greens some extra attention and show them life isn't always serious -- a sentiment many single-parent families can't always make a reality.

Trying to do that, though, and taking time for self-maintenance is something Hagler said single parents have to learn.

"Nothing is ever done," Hagler said. "You just learn to go to bed knowing there's dirty dishes in the sink."

Some resources for single-parent families:

- First Baptist Church offers divorce care and other programs for single parents and their kids. For more information contact Minister with singles David Nobles at 683-0611.

- Helping Hands, 699-4900 distributes food weekly and offers assistance with rent, utilities, medical expenses and other things.

- West Texas Opportunities, 685-8311, is currently distributing free diapers and baby wipes as well giving assistance with utilities and other necessities.

- St. Vincent de Paul Ministries, 684-3887, opens its food pantry each Saturday morning and offers short-term assistance with rent, utilities and other things.

- Casa de Amigos, 682-9701, offers health and dental services, education and social services for families with essential needs.

- Midland Fair Havens, 689-3411, serves single mothers who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless and aims to equip them for self-sufficient living.

- Big Brothers Big Sisters, 687-0195, provides mentors for children missing a parent. They are currently seeking volunteers, especially men as most of the requests for pairings come for young boys.

- Golf Course Road Church of Christ has a singles ministry and helps take families to single-parent camp each summer. Contact Burke Brack for more information at 694-8836.

- MidCities Community Church has several small groups, community service and other activities for singles. Contact Associate Pastor of adult ministries Tom Vermillion for more information at 522-1330.

- Crossroads Church is hosting a conference for Single adults June 13-14. Visit for more information.

Post in My West Texas
Kathleen Thurber
Kathleen Thurber can be reached at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rising gas, food and other costs magnify struggles of raising children alone


Single parents look for outside support to get through day-to-day.

Scheduling chaos

Though it's not the highest paying job, Cooper said, they're flexible in letting her attend school functions or taking her kids to the doctor if needed -- which in her case is a crucial benefit.

For Green that's simply not an option. Her 9-year-old son Christian has Klinefelter's syndrom and needs to attend summer school to keep up with his class, but because school transportation doesn't run during the summer and classes let out while Green's at work he's unable to go.

Even if it's after work, parents said, juggling schedules without a partner to pitch in takes skill and sometimes means having to tell children "no."

Kathy Hagler, who adopted her 7-year-old daughter as a single a few years ago, said she quickly learned the stress of trying to be there for her adoptive teenage son who was working his first job and getting home long after her daughter's 8 p.m. bedtime.

Childcare costs

Hagler's daughter attends Washington Elementary where she receives free after-school care during the year, she said, but even with attending one of the lesser expensive childcare centers during the summer costs have still gone up.

"It's a big chunk out of our budget," she said.

The average cost of daycare in Texas in 2008 is estimated between $5,700 to $7,400 per child depending on age, according to the National and Texas Associations of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.

With the median income of single mothers in Texas at about $20,860 -- nearly $3,000 less than the national average -- those childcare costs often take about 36 percent of a mother's income, according to NACCRRA.

Getting the basics

Next to housing assistance, area social service agencies report requests for utility bill assistance and food supplies are on the rise, as well.

To keep young children healthy, said outreach specialist at West Texas Opportunities Michael Barriga, parents often have to run the air conditioner to some extent. Staff at Catholic Charities said in addition to that summer expense, some families are in need of more food because their children aren't able to get to their public school each day to receive the free and reduced lunches they may have during the schoolyear.

"I think we're just seeing the beginning of it," said Big Brothers Big Sisters' Executive Director Sandra Tisdale. "The full ramifications have yet to be felt."

Of the roughly 25 million workers receiving food stamps -- which translates to about $7.16 per household per day -- more than 50 percent go to single-parent households, according to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group.

Dean said she's been stretching her food budget by cooking everything at home and making a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, though she said she's noticed her food stamps don't buy quite as much as they used to.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Support to Busby SEO Test

Even though searches haven't crawled this site, i still wonder if this will make an impact in my friend's efforts to have her Busby SEO Test page work.

In any effect, this is as a support. Check out the video below created by another contestant.

<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rising gas, food and other costs magnify struggles of raising children alone


Single parents look for outside support to get through day-to-day

Brandy Dean stopped taking her medication a few weeks ago.

One of her children is being treated by a specialist in Odessa and with gas prices inching closer to $4 a gallon combined with the cost of medication, the single mom had to eliminate spending everywhere she could.

To meet rising food, gas and other costs, Christy Green has spent much of the last few years working for the Department of Public Safety during the day and waiting tables at night.

Even with babysitting help from her mom, childcare funds from West Texas Opportunities and previous stints of food stamps, Green says the day-to-day of single parenting continues to be a struggle.

"I can't just get away," said Green, who said the only indulgence she allows herself is sometimes wearing makeup. "I don't even try."

With the average cost of food increasing about 6 percent from this time last year, coupled with record fuel prices and local rental rates that in some instances have nearly doubled in the last few years, even many nuclear families are feeling the pinch. But for some of the more than 880,000 single-parent families in Texas, the financial squeeze is straining what was already a tight situation.

"Especially in a booming town like this you really start to see the disparity between the haves and the have nots," said Kevin Harrington, who helps organize the St. Vincent de Paul Ministries that offer short-term support to low-income families.

Housing crunch

While requests have increased in most social service organizations across the board, Harrington and others agreed the biggest need for single parents locally is assistance with rent as many going to re-sign their lease realize they can't afford the jump in monthly charges.

Dean came to Midland Fair Havens in November after she was cut off from food stamps and struggling to pay rent and daycare costs that exceeded $1,300 a month.

"I don't know how we made it then," she said.

Fair Havens houses single moms who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless while they work to become more self-sufficient. Dean is studying to become a nurse and working at Midland College. She also participates in narcotics anonymous meetings while staff at Fair Havens watch her children.

R'Ev Finley, a single mom whose kids are now in their 20s, said for many of the single pregnant women she sees while teaching at the Life Center, it may come down to living in groups to get by.

Though she said this communal style is not "the American way" it's going to have to become more accepted if many local young women want to have shelter and food for their children.

"I don't say it's impossible," she said of raising children completely independantly. "But it's a feat."

Alicia Cooper and her two children have already followed this advice to some extent. She moved in with her mother after she and her husband divorced last year so she'd have someone to share basic expenses with.

"If I didn't have my family to help me I'd be broke all the time," said Cooper, who took a job in the Children's Ministry at First Baptist Church after joining their singles group last year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Raising children lessens retirement needs

How does the cost of raising a family affect your retirement planning?

The answer is good news in a backhanded kind of way.

When we have children we voluntarily reduce our adult standard of living so we can raise the kids. Since our adult standard of living is lower than it would otherwise be, we don't need to replace as much income at retirement.

We could figure this out by using actual estimates - you can get them by Googling "cost of raising a child" or by checking the links with this article on my Web site.

But let's try a simpler method.

I call it the "N" factor. While there is a great deal of research on how the size and age of a household affects its cost of living, a simple algorithm comes pretty close.

Here's the algorithm: The cost of living for a household is the square root of the number of people in the household. So if you are single, your cost of living is the square root of 1 or 1.

But if you are recently married, your cost of living is the square root of 2, or 1.414. Yes, two can't live for the price of one. But they can live for only 42percent more than the price of one. Economists call this "economies of shared living." As economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff and I show in "Spend 'til the End," to be released by Simon and Schuster on Tuesday, the size of your household while working has a major impact on your retirement needs.

You can understand this by figuring out the cost of raising children.

Using the "N" factor, your cost of living with one child is the square root of 3, or 1.73. Have a second child and your cost of living is the square root of 4, or 2.

So how much of your cost of living is accounted for by having two children?

Answer: About 30 percent. You and your spouse account for the other 70 percent of your cost of living.

Now let's consider a more concrete example - a young, single-earner couple with an income of $100,000 a year, two children, and the usual assortment of debts. They'll pay 7.6 percent of their income in employment taxes, about 8 percent in federal income taxes, and they'll save perhaps 4 percent in a company 401(k) plan.

The conventional wisdom of the financial services industry says they might need to replace as much as 85 percent of income in retirement because the usual 70 percent to 85percent rule ignores two of the largest realities of life in America - debt and children.

Talk about major omissions.

About 25 percent of this couple's income will go for debt service - their mortgage, car loans, credit card and education debt. With a bit of attention they can manage to pay off all these debts by the time they retire.

That leaves about 55 percent of their income to pay all their other expenses, including the cost of the kids. But the "N" factor tells us that the kids cost about 30 percent of that - call it 16 percent of their gross income - leaving 39 percent for the parents.

Of course, adding taxes back in might increase the percentage of gross income that must be replaced, but the total is still a ballpark away from the 70 percent to 85 percent used by the financial services industry.

In fact, this household probably won't pay taxes.

Social Security benefits at full retirement age will replace about 24percent of a $100,000-a-year worker's wages. (They will replace a higher percentage for workers who earn less.) The worker's spouse will be entitled to a spousal benefit equal to half the worker's benefit, if he or she is the same age. That's another 12percent, for a total of 36 percent.

Note that 36 percent is pretty close to 39 percent - the income they had to spend on themselves most of their adult lives.

Indeed, under current law they could take $18,000 a year (another 18 percent of replacement rate) from their retirement savings plan and still pay zilch in federal income taxes. That means they can spend 54 percent of their pre-retirement income, well over what they had while raising children!

Maybe our collective futures aren't as dismal as the financial services industry wants us to believe.


Posted in Daily

Scott Burns

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My mother criticizes my parenting

It drives me crazy. How can I get her to back off without hurting her feelings?

The question

My mother's driving me crazy with her criticism of my parenting.

She's always saying we spoil our children, going on and on about how she did it in her day, and so on.

I actually blew up at her on Mother's Day and I feel incredibly guilty. I love her to death, but it makes me crazy when she criticizes me about my kids. I think I'm doing a good job. How can I get her to back off without hurting her feelings?

The answer

Well, on the one hand, don't even get me started about how annoying unsolicited parenting advice can be.

For years I was a stay-at-home dad.

Moms complain about all the unsolicited advice they get from random busybodies, sanctimonious babushkas and Nosy Parkers on the street.

But imagine, ladies, when they got a load of me!

A huge, stubbled, confused-looking man pulling a bottle of "express milk" out of the cargo pocket of his army pants and jamming it in the craw of his screaming, tomato-faced kid, trying to shut him up.

The babushka would freeze, her hump tingling with anticipation. Her whole life - all 176 years of it - was a preparation for this moment. Throwing herself in the path of my stroller, she would point an ancient, crooked finger like a gnarly old oak twig at my then-infant son, Nicholas (who's now a brilliant, beautiful, eminently sensible and exquisitely sensitive 11-year-old, by the way, babushkas of the world), and croak out her edict: "Your baby cold! Needs another layer!"

Or - and this one would always kill me - "He needs his mommy!"

That line was like a knife in my heart, would make me want to drop to my knees, clutch the hem of the babushka's traditional mourning garment and sob: "No, babushka, no ... don't say ... that ..."

But all I ever did was smile and say: "Thank you for your input. You've certainly given me something to think about." And roll Nick away with a frozen rictus of faux gratitude affixed to my kisser.

Why? Because, ladies, that became, in time, my policy.

At first, I would bristle and argue; but I came to realize there was no point, it was a fruitless waste of energy. People who love giving free, unsolicited advice are not going to change their ways just because you act haughty and say something frosty. All you do is create friction and bad blood.

And sometimes, horribly, the busybodies actually have a point. If you drop the bristling and listen, from time to time you can get good advice, even in this unsolicited, off-the-street format.

It can be tough to implement this "smile and say thanks" policy, I know - especially, I found, in the face of parenting wisdom from people who don't actually have kids themselves.

And FYI, having "nieces and nephews" does not confer expert parenting status on you, people. Anyone can be an uncle. You come in, distribute a few presents, a toy or two, some loose change, maybe bust a couple of magic tricks, then leave on a high note, bidding adieu, pressing your bunched fingers to your lips.

Trust me, there are times we parents would also like to leave on a high note, bidding adieu, pressing our fingers to our lips. But we don't have that option.

Unlike various aunts and uncles, though, your mother does have a lot of direct parenting experience - from raising you.

And her experience was this: For something like the first 30 years of your life, you were wrong about pretty much everything. So it's automatic for her, it's second nature to correct and reprove you and attempt to steer you in the right direction.

Second, parenting has changed unbelievably since her day. And sometimes (like when I go to a restaurant where someone has brought their kids) I think parents of previous generations have a point when they say our kids are spoiled, undisciplined and obnoxious, and we're too precious with them.

I think of my kids as reasonably well-behaved, but after a weekend in the care of my wife's parents, I'm amazed at the transformation: When we arrive back home, they file out of the kitchen, in single file, hair parted neatly on one side, seen but not heard, practically addressing my wife, Pam, and I as "Sir" and "Madam."

Of course, it only lasts until the grandparents' car disappears down the street, but sometimes one can't help but wonder: What if they were like that all the time?

Now I'm not qualified to say what way of bringing up kids is better or worse. All children are different and so are all parents. Suffice it to say you could probably learn a lot from your mother if you stopped bristling and being defensive.

But you're responsible for how your kids turn out. Therefore you have the final say in how to handle them. There is such a thing as being polite yet firm, of saying something such as: "Thanks, Mom, I appreciate it, but I prefer to do it this way."

Still, you owe her an apology. She gave birth to you in pain and suffering. She had horrible nights and frustrating days with you, as you now know. She compromised her dreams, ideals, figure, social life, rest, independence and so much else to protect you and keep you warm, dry and happy, as you now know.

She's owed at least one day on which she is honoured with unstinting patience and tolerance. Since you ruined that with your outburst, why not make it up with a bunch of flowers, maybe a nice dinner and a card that reads: "Mom, I appreciate everything you've done for me, including and especially bestowing upon me the gift of life."

Because hey: If she hadn't done that, you wouldn't be around to feel irritated, now, would you?

David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.

From Friday's Globe and Mail