Sometimes you just have to stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. Am I right? That’s why, even though it’s March 23 and we just got four inches of new snow, I’m refusing to photograph it. Instead, I’m posting pictures of these hyacinths. Yes, they’re forced blooms, but their perfume fills the entire first floor of my house. It may be winter on the outside, but it’s spring on the inside.
What a difference a year makes; it’s been a relatively mild winter in Chicago. Recently I happened to be downtown early on a Saturday and snapped this image by the Chicago River. The combination of hushed streets and morning light was pretty wonderful.
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The holiday season is upon us. What does that mean to your kids? Is it time for them to gather with family? Celebrate their faith? Give to those less fortunate?
Or, is it time to sit down with a stack of catalogs and create a multi-page, color-coded and tabbed index of everything in the world they want from Santa?
If it’s the latter, don’t feel bad. Many of us think our families could do better in the “spirit of the season” department. It seems that as soon as Halloween ends, an onslaught of toy commercials hypnotizes our kids and turns them into “gimme monsters.” It’s not cute, and it’s not what we want for our families. But do not fear: There are many ways to put a giving spirit back in kids’ hearts during holiday time.
Reasons to Give
Why might families want to increase their focus on giving during the holiday season? Perhaps your faith calls you to be generous. Or, maybe you’re just tired of your kids asking for things when they clearly have enough toys, electronics and sports equipment to fill a warehouse. These reasons are motivation enough, but here are a few more:
The need is so great. In case you missed it, this has been a rough year around the world. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa and conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Sudan have upped the demand for humanitarian aid significantly. As a result, global humanitarian organizations are stretched to their limits. Yet, a poll of 2,000 Americans conducted by World Vision shows that most (80%) have no plans to increase their holiday charitable giving this year. I’m not sure why that is—lack of awareness, inability to afford giving, or simply thinking someone else will do it—but we can do better, folks.
Giving makes you happier. It’s a scientific fact! This study shows that giving actually increases happiness in kids. Why not capitalize on kids’ natural altruistic tendencies and bring some feel-good to your family? You’ll find that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.
It’s a tax deduction. As the end of the year approaches, it’s nice to know you can significantly lower your tax bill just by giving money (or goods) to a qualified charitable organization. Just make sure you know the rules and document your giving.
How to Get Started
Now that we’ve covered the whys, let’s get into the hows: How do you make giving a priority this holiday season? (more…)
“I don’t really know what my mom does all day, but she used to be a writer.”
That’s what my son wrote as part of a “getting to know you” writing assignment in school last year. I don’t know what was more upsetting about reading that sentence: Discovering my “former writer” status, or absorbing the implication that I don’t presently have much of a life.
I have to admit, it stung. I was tempted to hand my kid a list of all the “mom chores” I do every day, or point out the writing projects (both paid and volunteer) I have done in the past year. I did neither.
I did think a lot about recognition, and why it hurt me so much to feel unrecognized. Clearly, I had not earned “mom of the year” status in my son’s eyes, despite all my momming around, since he couldn’t even figure out what I did all day. And my writing exploits were, apparently, far from impressive. At least, they didn’t make much of an impression on him. That one sentence in my son’s essay stirred up a hornet’s nest of doubts about whether I was performing well at either of my “jobs.” Of course, those doubts had been buzzing in my brain for a while. Being a mother can be a thankless job. The benefits are fantastic, but the pay sucks, and there are no trophies. In my work as a freelance writer, I seldom get any public recognition. All the “glory” goes to my clients, which is the way it’s supposed to be. I do get a paycheck at the end of the project, most of the time.
So, I’m stuck with a recognition deficit. Only time will tell if my kids ever recognize what I did all day, and truly, I don’t really care. It’s not their job to fill me up. But it is nice to have a community of other parents to say “hey, I see you, and you’re doing a good job,” and then say it right back to them. If you’ve ever felt the same way, I’d love to hear from you.
Visiting Chicago this summer? Or do you live here, like me, and need a good “staycation” idea? A day (or half day) exploring Millennium Park is a great choice for a laid-back, free-to-cheap, kid-friendly excursion. If you haven’t taken your kids to explore this downtown oasis, now is the time. Millennium Park is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and the city is planning plenty of extra activities. The giant “head” sculpture below (one of four) is part of a new art installation by Jaume Plensa commemorating the anniversary. It’s so serene; I loved it. The free public art—from the stunning Pritzker Pavillion to the iconic Cloud Gate—as well as free cultural activities, are what make Millennium Park such a community jewel.
There’s plenty to do, from strolling the Lurie Gardens to cooling off in Crown Fountain. You can snag a free guided tour or simply wander. Catch a concert at the pavillion; take your picture reflected in “the Bean.” Pack a picnic lunch or just grab a Lemon Chill on the Chase Promenade. It’s all good. Get the specifics on all these suggestions in my “Do Millennium Park” list on Raved Mobile! I’d love to hear your suggestions as well.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Millennium Park? Tell me in the comments!
Spring is showing up in fits and starts here in Chicagoland. I captured this wind-splayed tulip over the weekend. I do not know the variety, but I purchased the bulb last summer in Holland, Michigan, one of my “happy places!” When closed, the tulip petals make a nice flame shape to complement their blazing color.
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